Rent or Buy? Stringed Instrument Advice

Can't I Buy a Violin Anywhere?

String players and educators strongly advise against purchasing instruments you may find online via eBay or Craigslist. Simply put, if you’re paying $100 for a violin, you’re getting a $100 violin. That means a low quality instrument with poor tone and inferior craftsmanship. These instruments are often difficult to play and can hinder the development of young string players. In the case of stringed instruments, incredibly low cost almost always equals incredibly low quality. Quality instruments cost more because they are quality instruments.


Unfortunately, many families who opt for these low-cost instruments are forced to spend hundreds of additional dollars on repairs and maintenance in a losing battle to improve the playability.  Purchasing from a reputable instrument dealer in the first place would save these families frustration, time, and money.


Instruments found at consignment shops, thrift stores, and estate sales pose a similar risk. These instruments may be purchased for very low cost but may require hundreds-in some cases, thousands-of dollars in repair work to be playable once again. Just because it “looks” to be in good shape does not meant that it is. Hairline cracks in the wood, invisible splits in the seams, broken sound posts, and warped wood mean many of these instruments are simply unsalvageable, and families find out too late that their “real find” was simply a real mistake.


String players and educators do not speak of stringed instruments in terms of “brands” but in terms of “makers”. Stradivarius is not a brand, but the name given to instruments made by Antonio Stradivari, the world’s finest violin maker. In other words, fine instruments are not iPads; they do not peel off assembly lines with each one exactly the same as the last. Every stringed instrument is different, depending on the tonewoods, varnishes, age, and overall craftsmanship of the instrument. Additionally, they are sensitive, and can easily produce different tones depending on the strings, overall set up, changes in temperature, and humidity. Because of these nuances, no student should ever purchase an instrument they have not had the opportunity to personally play and examine, and should never purchase an instrument without their teacher or other adult with knowledge of fine strings assisting them.


Purchasing a quality orchestral instrument can be intimidating, but the White House String Shoppe is here to help. Our instruments are priced attractively and speak to the expert care and attention that has been given to each and every one. All of our instruments are crafted by reputable makers and have been professionally inspected and adjusted by our string repair technicians. Our string specialists test each instrument daily to ensure that it is in perfect performance quality at all times. Because we understand that this is an important purchase for your family, we offer affordable financing options so that owning an exceptional instrument is within reach of every musician who wishes to do so.

We recommend beginning students rent a quality instrument through White House of Music's Lease to Learn program to start. As stringed instruments come in various sizes, leasing allows you the option of exchanging your instrument for a larger size as your child grows. When she's ready for a full size instrument, we invite you to visit the White House String Shoppe to explore your options.

Trust the experts at the White House String Shoppe with your instrument purchase! 

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