I have to disagree with almost everything "lovevixen" said. I have worked in manufacturing (the Schilke Co.) and as an employee and owner in retail music. The root of the problem is that the large manufacturers are no longer owned by people who are comitted to the musical instrument industry. They have all been swallowed up by corporation who slice and dice the assets and outsource to the cheapest supplier. Good brands have been lost (Benge, King, Holton, Martin) and others have been degraded, especially at the student level. Rental programs are up to dealers, manufacturers have nothing to do with them. The assault of cheap Chinese instruments and the advent of big box music stores such as Mars and Sam Ash all but killed the rental business for mom and pop stores. The stores have to buy the instruments from a manufacturer, often on a floor plan, which means debt. Then they have to gamble that they can rent or sell enough of the instruments to cover expenses. The rent to own option is for people who don't want to comitt to purchasing an instrument outright because they are not sure if the child will continue or they are hung up an having a shiney new instrument and that is the only way that they can swing it. We were always up front about the differences and always had good used instruments at reasonable prices and cash discounts on new instruments. In the end we stopped stocking new instruments alltogether because we couldn't afford to have our capital tied up. Nobody was more upset than the repair community with the influx of Chinese instruments. We refused to work on them. "Take them back to WallMart" was our answer. Parts were non-standard, tolerances were so loose that pads would not remain seated and metal so soft that keys were always bending and, especially woodwind instruments, going out of adjustment. Thank the WallMart cheaper is better mentality for that.