Renting vs Buying a Violin: How to Decide?


It can be overwhelming to know which direction to turn when looking for a beginner violin.

Not only are there many options to choose from, but there is also the decision of renting versus buying a violin. Luckily the process doesn’t have to be so daunting.


Younger players are going to grow much faster, meaning they will quickly outgrow the size of the violin they currently play. This is especially the case for students sized for 1/4 violins or lower.

In these cases, renting is a good option because you are likely going to be changing sizes more frequently than say, an older student. “Frequently” in this context may look like changing size every year, whereas students playing 1/2 sizes and larger are likely to change every two to three years.

Buying a violin begins to make more sense for students sized for 3/4 or full-size violins. Another argument for buying a violin is if a family has multiple children who may all want to learn the violin. Then, the smaller size can be passed down to another family member when the time is right.

Student’s Level of Interest

If a student has a serious interest in studying the violin for a long time, with maybe even professional aspirations, then buying is definitely worth considering. When you buy a violin, you’re investing in something that will gain value over time, unlike a car, for example.

Buying a violin can often mean finding something of slightly higher quality than you would if only renting. However, if the beginning violinist is uncertain of how long they will actually study violin and has competing interests with other activities and hobbies, then renting is a good option because it keeps the commitment low. 

Budgets & Instrument Care

While the idea of renting seems like it could save money, in the long run, it could actually add up to spending more money on long-term renting than it would to buy a violin package complete with case and bow. However, one benefit of renting is that it almost always includes continuing instrument care. So if the bridge collapses or the pegs slip, the dealer you are renting it from will usually take care of these problems as a professional courtesy.

And if the violin ends up needing too much work, they can always swap out the rental for a different one. When you buy a violin, you will always be on your own to find a luthier to help with maintenance and repairs. For more tips on violin care, check out our article: Violin Care & Maintenance Tips for Beginners.


Rental programs often offer rent-to-own deals so that eventually you make enough payments to own the violin.

This is a good option for those who play a full-size violin because then you’d have the violin for life. But for fractional sizes, it may just leave you with a violin you’ll eventually have to sell when the violinist outgrows it. Unless there is another family member who could also use the violin.

Bottom Line: When to rent and when to buy?

You should rent if…

  • The student is unsure how long their violin studies will last
  • The student is sized for a 1/4 violin or lower size
  • You want to rent-to-own
  • You want the security of on-going instrument care with the dealer

You should buy if…

  • The violin student has long-term ambitions to study violin in college or pursue a professional career
  • The student is sized for a 3/4 or full-size instrument and plans to study for a long time
  • The student has younger siblings who also want to learn the violin – smaller sizes can be passed on to the younger children


There are benefits to renting or buying, so you really can’t go wrong either way. It’s just a matter of figuring out your priorities and choosing accordingly.

Vena Johnson
Vena is an American professional violinist and teaching artist with a passion for collaborative music and performance art. After studying, teaching, and freelancing in the greater-Philadelphia region for 10 years, Vena set off to travel the world with her violin. Her travels have almost always intersected with her passion for music performance, bringing her to Italy, Ireland, the Middle East, Nepal, India, China, and Japan, where she currently resides.

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  1. My wife and I have 4 amazing kids, 4 amazingly indecisive kids who all decided they wanted to play instruments. My two oldest, both girls (12 and 13) wanted to play violins. They showed intrest in them for months and constantly begged for one each of their own. We caved and got them each one for Christmas. They haven’t been touched since the end of January. One said it was too hard and the other complains about it hurting. I also can’t get my money back for their lessons either. Moral of the story, if you have children who are just starting out, rent them!


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