There are certainly differences in rental plans from store to store. Our plan is designed to be simple and straightforward. If you choose to rent with us, rest assured that your child will have an instrument with which they can succeed. We feel confident that we offer some of the best rental values in terms of both price and quality anywhere in the state. So, make your decision based on your child's personality and on your family's needs and budget. With our plan you have the benefit of:
Many people take advantage of our rental plan (some stores call this a "Lease" program). Under this plan you have the use of a well-maintained instrument for the term of the rental. If you should decide to buy an instrument during the course of the rental or 30 days after it ends, you can apply your rental payments towards the purchase price of a new step-up or pro instrument, or receive an additional 10% off the cash price of a new student instrument. See below for details.
The best way to think of our plan is as a trial. During the trial you get the use of a real musical instrument for a small fee. Should your child decide that music is for them, you can rent until you are ready to make a purchase. And if music is not for them, you can turn in the instrument and owe nothing more. There is never an obligation to purchase the instrument or continue with the rental.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Q: What is the difference between "Standard" and "Deluxe" instruments on your site?
A: "Standard" instruments are those which we have rented in the past. These are always classic models from solid, well-known and respected manufacturers. All are well-regarded and approved by local music teachers. All are well maintained and are in top playing condition. As older instruments, they will often show wear from previous use. Any wear is superficial and will never affect the playability of the instrument. "Deluxe" instruments are those that are either brand new or have only been rented a few times at most. In general, those that are not brand new still look as though they are new. Like the Standards, they are all classic models from top manufacturers that are highly regarded by music teachers.
Q: What about Grampa's old trumpet in the attic?
A: Some of us may have an old instrument a family member or friend used to play when they were younger. In many cases these instruments are perfectly acceptable for use in today's school music programs. And in some cases, they are not. We are happy to give you a free assessment of your old instrument and tell you if it is suitable. In many cases old instruments can be used "as-is" with little more than some cleaning you can do at home. And in others, some work may need to be done to bring the instrument up to snuff, such as freeing stuck slides or replacing the pads. If we feel the repair work will cost more than the instrument is worth, we will tell you. We are not out to make a sale—we just want your child to succeed.
Q: Are there fractional sized band instruments like there are for string instruments?
A: No. Unlike string instruments, if band instruments were made smaller they would be pitched higher and sound different, making them much harder to play and unusable in band programs. Instead, band instruments for children are built differently to compensate for little hands (and less careful hands too!). They may have different balance points, bore sizes or keywork. Sometimes, in the case of flutes, baritones, or french horns, especially compact models are available. If your child is *exceptionally* small, much more than his or her classmates, a compact instrument might make sense for you. These are extremely limited (owning to the rarity of these situations) and may not be available all the time. Please ask us or inquire to your music teacher if you are concerned about sizing.
Q: What About Dimestore or Auction Site Instruments?
A: In our opinion, purchasing a band or orchestra instrument from an auction site or a non-music store may seem to be a value at first, but if the instrument is of poor quality or in bad adjustment, your child may have difficulty playing the instrument, getting a good sound, playing in tune or keeping up with their classmates. We have found this to be especially true with brand new instruments offered at extraordinarily low prices. The old adage "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" is especially fitting here. We have found that many such instruments, often referred to as "Instrument Shaped Objects" (ISO's for short) are constructed of such poor materials that they are not able to be adjusted or repaired. Often the only solution is to discard the instrument and purchase a new one, like so many other disposable small appliances sold today.
We believe that if your child uses one of these, they may be more inclined to quit early because they are unable to produce a sound, play certain notes or keep up with their friends. For these reasons, many teachers do not allow these ISO's into their programs, regardless of the cost paid to purchase. The result is not only a loss of your dollars invested, but also a loss of a promising educational opportunity for your child.
It is our opinion that our rentals, even though most are used instruments, are of a superior quality than many cut rate "ISO" instruments now available. We believe that our instruments will offer a superior experience for your child and help them move forward in music and in their education in general. We believe our instruments will be easier to play, have a better tone and be better in tune. We know they can be repaired or adjusted. If in doubt about whether a particular instrument might be an ISO, please consult your child's music teacher or give us a call. We'll be honest—many instruments available online and elsewhere are perfectly fine. Since our focus is to help your child succeed, we will help you make the right choice even if it results in your deciding not to rent with us.
This statement represents our professional opinion on this matter and is not intended to be represented as fact. We strongly encourage you to consult with a qualified music teacher or professional musician if you are in doubt as to the quality or usefulness of imported, off-brand, auction site or department store instruments.
Q: Can I buy the instrument I am renting?
A: No. These instruments are strictly rental instruments and are not for sale. If you like, you may purchase an instrument exactly like, or very similar to, the one you are renting. With our rental program, you may apply the rental you have paid, or receive an extra discount, towards the purchase of a new instrument. See below for details.
Q: Is this a Rent-to-Own program?
A: No. Our instruments are rented on a "rent-to-rent" basis. Some call this a "lease." If you wish to purchase an instrument, you can apply the rental you have paid, or receive an extra discount towards the purchase of a new instrument (see below for details). We feel this plan is the best and most affordable way for you to have use of a high quality musical instrument and make a sensible and affordable purchase when the time comes to own an instrument.
Q: What is a Student instrument? Why is it better for my child?
A: Student instruments are specially designed for beginners, young and old. They're not simply cheaper versions of pro instruments. They are built stronger to be more durable, and are generally made with less expensive materials and at a lower level of refinement than instruments for advancing players. Most importantly, they have technical features specifically designed to make the instrument easier for a novice to get started. Some of these design features actually get in the way of the intermediate player's progress (keywork on flutes, bore sizes on clarinet and various brasses, slides on trombones, etc.). We feel it makes more sense to rent a student level instrument to start out, with an eye towards purchasing an intermediate or "step-up" instrument at a later date. Our plan is built around this philosophy.
Q: Do you rent professional or intermediate level instruments?
A: Our program is mostly for student level instruments. Some of the more expensive instruments that we rent are often in the intermediate class. These include open hole flutes, wooden clarinets, double french horns and F-attachment trombones. These are available on our site at slightly higher prices due to the instruments themselves costing more.
Q: Does Peace of Mind cover loss of the instrument?
A: No. Peace of Mind (POM for short) functions as a warranty to cover damage and repair service to the instrument. It does not cover loss or theft. If the instrument is lost or stolen, you will have to pay to replace it. Check with your homeowners/renters insurance agent for more information.
Q: Do I need a credit card to do a rental?
A: Yes. Either a credit card or a debit card bearing a credit card logo (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express) is required to do a rental. If you have neither, your bank can usually provide a debit card off of your existing checking account for little or no fee.
Q: Can I make my monthly payments via cash or check instead of credit card?
A: Technically yes, but you have to be diligent to avoid a double payment or an inadvertant charge to your card. Your card will be charged on the renewal date automatically unless you make a payment beforehand. If your payment arrives after the card is charged, the payment will be used for the following month's rent. Regardless of your intended payment method, you still need to have a credit card on file and available in case your cash/check payment does not reach us in time.
Q: What are your rental-purchase options?
A: We have two.
Option 1 - 100% Rental Credit: You may apply all of your rental payments, excluding Peace of Mind, sales tax, and any other additional fees, towards the purchase of a brand new intermediate or professional instrument of a similar kind in our store. The rental credit will be applied against the new instrument's current MSRP price, and then our current discount will be taken. This can result in a much lower purchase price - and in some rare cases, even "free" if you have rented for a very long time. There are of course some rules, and here they are:
Now What? Ok, so there's a lot of information here—feel free to give us a call or stop by the store if you have questions. Whether you rent, borrow or purchase an instrument, let Hickey's Music Center work with you and your child to create a great musical experience!