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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Rent? Rent to buy? Buy Used? Buy New? Student? Pro? HELP!!! in the General forums; On of the most common questions I've seen posted in forums where beginners or come-backers are common is the one ...
  1. #1
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    Rent? Rent to buy? Buy Used? Buy New? Student? Pro? HELP!!!

    On of the most common questions I've seen posted in forums where beginners or come-backers are common is the one covered by the title above. Let's break the possible customer into three types: youth beginner, adult beginner, adult comebacker.

    Youth Beginner...frequently the parents are trying to get "Jr." an instrument that they can "see if they'll stick with it" on for a year or two. Virtually all of the larger music stores will be more than happy to "rent" you an instrument with different options (insurance, buy-out price) etc.

    What happens to the dollars is this:
    1) the horn is inevitably a student horn...probably not too bad quality for the price (some better than others). Mom and/or Pop will be plunking down somewhere in the range of $15 to $20 a month, maybe $5 more with insurance on it. What does it cost you for that beginner horn for a year? $20X10 is $200 a year. What have you got at the end of the year? NADA!!! NOTHING. Expect slightly lower prices for two, three, or four years "locked-in" contract. Your cost for four years? $700 if you're lucky.

    2) rent to purchase (actually a useless option). After a time period (say 4 years) the horn is yours to keep. You (or your parents) have paid somewhere around $900 to $1,000 (they charge slightly more for this option) and you've got a well used student horn on your hands that is "maybe" worth $200 on EBAY. Your cost for the four years? $700 if you're lucky.

    3) buy a decent, used "pro" horn with help from a teacher or someone else you trust who knows what's good and what isn't. Expect to pay $600 to $800. In four years you can probably sell it for around $500 to $700. Cost? $100.

    OK, so much for the youth beginner.

    The adult beginner is in a better position...he or she most likely has some income and already knows that he or she is going to stick with it. Two viable options here: buy pro used or buy pro new. You've already done the math and know that the rental deals are for those who prefer to lease rather than buy under the mistaken impression that it's cheaper. In reality, leasing means paying someone else to undertake the financial risk. That doesn't come for free.

    Comebacker: has had some time on the horn, realizes that what he's working with is probably his old, student horn (which may very well be of excellent quality). He or she knows that there is always better out there but wants to get his or her face back in shape so that they can actually EVALUATE PROPERLY the purchase of a "new baby". Doesn't need any advice from this hack.

    Personal experience goes like this: Eldest daughter is going from piano to band in Grade 7. Uses a student grade, school owned french horn for two years. She decides she wants her "own" horn (and has a small inheritance from a distant relative to finance it). We evaluated a well-beat up old King Eroica....hardened bumpers, loose valves, dents, etc. No way.

    We then heard that one of the local music shops was transferring across the border and delivering to Banff (for an international French Horn Symposium) a collection of 5 Conn pro horns (8, 9, and 10 D for those who know horns). Price is about $3,200 each; that was 8? years ago. We managed to get all 5 tested, she picked out one...we paid a deposit and wrote down the serial number. The horns went to Banff, came back a week later and we picked it up, paying the balance. This same daughter competed in Canadian National Music Festival competition this summer, is graduating in Music Peformance in the spring, and is still playing the same instrument.

    Bottom line? TANSTAFL.

    That means "There Ain't No Such Thing As Free Lunch".

    Get thee to a forum, ask questions, listen to the answers, and go with what your brain tells you. Most likely the people in there will have had enough experience to guide you towards the right purchase...which may very well be a horn priced in the student/intermediate range but actually of "almost" pro quality; I can think of several including Yamaha 23XX, Kanstul 6XX and 7XX, Getzen Capri, and "possibly" the Zeus G or the B & S "series I" although I've personally never tried either of those. Oh...and read Jim Donaldson's "The Trumpet Gearhead" website. You can find it at: http://www.dallasmusic.org/gearhead/ . Jim is a trumpet teacher who has amassed a huge amount of general information in addition to his obvious addiction to Schilke products.

  2. #2
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    Woowhee, I wish this forum had been around when my son started band. I would have saved myself some bucks.

    The first mistake some parents (I'm included in this) make when their child is getting into band is the "my child might quit so I'll rent until we know for sure if he/she is going to stick with it" syndrome. Typically its a local music store that has come to the school with their instruments and their "special prices" and "guarantee's". "If you think your child might quit, then renting is definately the best route", they will tell you. Usually the "new" instruments have over inflated prices so the rental seems reasonable and attractive. Never do they mention used prices. Preying on the naivete of the parents makes this entire process work for the store and the unsuspecting parent is taken for a ride. By the end of a contract, the parent will have spent several hundred more than the horn is worth. Buying a used student horn shouldn't cost more than $300 (high estimate), if you sell it after a year for $250 then you're only out $50, not $500 for the cost of renting.

    My second mistake with the process of getting my son an instrument was thinking that the music store was acting in the best interest of the parents and the student because the school invited the music store there. If the school and band teacher invited them, then they must be trust worthy, right? They must be giving good prices and the best quality for the money........... WRONG!!!!! The music store is acting in it's own best interest and is going to make as much profit as it can. When the student is entering band, this is a feast for the local music store. Beware, some band teachers get kick backs from the music stores, so the teacher might have other motives too. Hey, a new horn or $10 bucks for every horn signed can add up quickly and is attractive if the teacher goes this route.

    Third, and where I finally woke up was the second round of new instruments being introduced to the student. This is usually done at the end of their second year or the beginning of their 3rd year - 7th grade. "Your child has grown beyound the current horn and it may be necessary to upgrade." Typically, the upgrade will be an "intermediate horn" or if your student is exceptional the "pro horn". My son came home from schoool with special prices being offered, for instance, the Bach Omega "special student price" $1100 and the Bach Strad 37 was only $2200. Guess what, I started looking and educating myself and learned some quick lesson about local music stores.

    Don't buy an intermediate horn, they are a student horn with a few more frills but they are NOT an upgrade. Your student can play the student horn for quite a while. Don't feel guilty when all the other students have shiney new horns.

    Buying on the internet has it's risk as well. Imagine a large chain, it gets 10 new Bach Strad's in. A few locals know of the delivery, so they cull the best sounding horns. The store owner might know a few "good" customers that are sold the better sounding horns as well. What happens to the ones that no one wants, the poorer quality sounding pieces. When someone mail orders or buy on the net and they don't know a "good sound" from a "bad sound" they keep the horn and the store just sold a piece of junk no one else would have purchased. Buyer beware.

    Parents, if you need to buy an instrument for your child (and you know nothing about instruments) find someone that will evaluate the horn for you. Go to your local community band or the college, typically they will know someone that can help. Going to an instructor at a local music shop might not be best because the instructor (depending on their contract with the store) might only represent the store and not the students interest.

    Shop around, there are a lot of good used instruments out there too. I don't want to suggest that all music stores are untrustworthy either. I've found that in my area, their prices are unreasonable and weren't that helpful to the parent that knew nothing of horns.
    53' Olds Ambassador

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