We know. It's tempting. You or your child want to start playing the clarinet, and the thought of buying them a new $700 instrument they may or may not continue to play is less than appealing. You find a clarinet at that very convenient website that shall remain nameless, and it comes with all the bells and whistles. It's only $100 and you won't have to think about it again, right?
Brand new clarinets around the $100 range often seem to good to be true, and in most cases they are. If they come with a case, reeds, cleaning kit, instrument stand, and extra barrels, it may be worthwhile to consider how much money actually went into making the clarinet itself. We can tell as soon as we open a clarinet like this at our front counter that it will hold a student back from being able to play, and ultimately discourage them during the learning process.
What are some typical issues we see in inexpensive new clarinets?
Pads fall off or won't seal: these are the organic (or sometimes synthetic) cushions that seal off the holes on the clarinet making the pitch change when a key is pressed down
Tone holes and plastic pieces are sharp: if the holes we mentioned above are too sharp, they can cut into a perfectly good pad, ruining the seal, allowing air through when trying to play
Rings are loose: clarinets have a lot of parts like bells, tenons, barrels, and mouthpieces and when the rings that help connect these are loose you can run into situations where your instrument wont properly fit together
Metal keys bend very easily: high quality clarinets usually have keys made with a durable nickel silver or solid silver that will take quite a while to fall out of alignment with regular use (it happens), whereas cheap clarinets often have keys made of pot metal, a flimsy and easily bendable metal with a very low melting point making it easy to cast but also incredibly easy to break
We see these instruments come into our repair shop all the time, and unfortunately there's not a lot we can do to help without completely surpassing the value of the instrument in repairs. Even still, the body of an instrument like this leaves a lot to be desired and in some cases there's no getting something like this to play well.
IMC rents high quality instruments (like the one pictured above from Yamaha) that are built to last. We only carry instruments from brands who put care into their products. We KNOW when we open the box the instrument will be ready to play, comfortable, will stand the test of time, and won't hold your student back.
Imagine your child is starting soccer and you buy cleats that don't grip the grass, or start to rip and tear after the first week. Your student may think they're terrible at soccer and want to stop playing when in reality it's their shoes making it harder to play. If they did notice their shoes were the culprit not all students would think to ask a parent for help. The same is true of musical instruments.
Our rentals are all 100% rent to own. For under $100 you or your student can start playing clarinet and fall in love with an instrument that responds the way it should, and comes with all of the basic equipment needed to start playing. We have no long-term contracts though, so if the instrument isn't a fit, there's no harm no foul. You can cancel the rental at any time.
If you love the instrument you rent you can keep renting until you own it, pay it off early with a discount, or use your rental payments to buy something nicer down the road. It's all up to you. We also offer insurance for young players for when accidents happen, to keep their instrument in playing condition at our repair shop. It even helps when an instrument gets knocked over, stolen, or left on the bus.
Renting is the best way to ensure your student has a high quality, working instrument to play, gives you the freedom to take your time in the decision making process, and sets the stage for a successful career as a musician.