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Upgrading Your Band Instrument

Your child has been playing their band instrument for a couple of years now.  The music store you have a rental contract with has contacted you with the news that the end is near.  You have a decision to make.  Do you purchase the current instrument or do you “step up” to an intermediate or professional model.  Many stores will include the option to apply the rent already paid to the purchase of your current or even a brand new instrument.   However, this may or may not be your best option.  Many rental contracts have this term called “residual value” which determines how much money over and above the rental payments is required to purchase the instrument outright.  The “residual value” is the expected value of the instrument at the end of the contract.  In other words, they anticipate how much that instrument will be worth at the end of two years or so (or however long the rental contract) and that is the price they use to determine the final cost to you.  The catch you have to look for - - - the residual value in the contract is often based on the retail price of the instrument when new.  This is not the true value of the instrument when used for two years.  So it is very possible you would end up paying way too much for that used instrument.  If you are interested in purchasing the instrument, try negotiating the residual value amount with the music store to a more reasonable figure.  If you perform a little research online, comparable prices for used instruments can be found.  Use that for the negotiations.  However, you should be aware that it is fair to you and the music store for you to pay a little more to purchase a rental instrument than if you bought one outright.  The music store is in business to make money as they should.  They have taken a risk to rent an instrument to you and you have had the benefit of using an instrument with minimal obligation for a period of time.  Also, band instruments have a limited useful life in the rental industry.  So, the store has costs involved there as well.   A fair price would be the total rent paid already plus the discounted used instrument plus maybe 20% - 30%.  So an instrument that costs $600 new should worth about $480 after two years.  If you paid $25 per month rental, then about $20 of that will be applied to the purchase of the instrument (remember not to include the damage waiver insurance when applying rental payments to the purchase price).  So after two years, $480 has been applied to the price of the instrument.  Add about 20% - 30% and you have a final price of $96 - $144. This is meant as only a guide and is not a hard number. Also remember this is for the same used instrument you have been renting and not a new instrument.

If you decided to purchase a new instrument, the music store may insist that you pay retail price for the new instrument to which the rental payments apply.  Since new, brand named instruments are available online at a 30% to 50% discount, this may not be the best deal either.  Again, if you research prices on the internet and band store catalogues, you can use these prices as a basis of negotiations.  Many stores will match the discounts if the instrument is purchased outright, but it may be more difficult to get a good price if rental money is applied to the purchase price.  Keep trying though, because you may be able to get close to the discounted price if you are persistent. Here are some links to national discount music stores: