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Buying a musical instrument can be pricey whether it's your first one, another one for your collection or one your child will use to explore their talent for music. Several hundreds or even thousands of dollars may stand between you and the instrument of your choosing. Luckily, you can finance an instrument with a personal loan or intro 0% APR credit card—all without breaking the bank.
How Much Do Musical Instruments Cost?
The price of an instrument varies widely based on type, brand and quality. A beginner-friendly guitar or keyboard can run a few hundred dollars, but a decent violin or piano can easily cost $1,000 to $5,000—or even more for higher-quality equipment.
Depending on your instrument of choice, you may need to expand your budget to protect yourself from buying something that's hardly playable. You'll also want to consider the additional costs of musicianship, such as instrument setup, music lessons for a budding bass guitar player, an amplifier for your electric guitar or regular upkeep and replacement parts for a woodwind instrument. And, if you have an aspiring drummer in the house, you'll have to factor in the added cost to your peace and quiet.
How to Finance Your Musical Instrument
When you start a new musical endeavor, consider all your best cost-cutting options before you purchase:
- Buy strategically. You may be able to combine discounts and promotions to whittle down the overall cost. For example, you can keep your eye out for clearance items, discounts during annual sales or reduced prices on items that have been returned or slightly damaged.
- Buy a used instrument. Pawn shops, antique stores and music retailers can be great places to find a deal on a used instrument. If you have a Guitar Center close by, you can browse used instruments in person; for online shopping, Reverb and Sweetwater are good options.
- Consider renting. Practice is essential when learning music, so check rental terms carefully if you go this route. Music & Arts is one retailer that rents out instruments, and it allows you to apply your monthly rental charges to the overall cost of the instrument if you decide to purchase it later.
Paying for your instrument with savings you already have set aside is ideal, but you may instead choose to pay over time. To avoid incurring extra interest costs, a credit card with a 0% intro APR offer or a low-interest personal loan can be great options. Consider the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (16.49% to 26.49% variable thereafter; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months), plus a one-time $200 cash bonus if you spend $500 within 3 months of opening your account. Check which intro 0% APR cards may be right for you and which of our recommended lenders can help you finance your instrument.
Retailers may also offer financing options, such as the Sweetwater Card, which provides up to 48 months to pay off your purchase, interest-free.
How Not to Buy a Musical Instrument
Now that you know more about starting your instrumental journey, let's take a look at what not to do:
- Don't buy (too) cheap. Yes, that ukulele in the store is pricey, but opting for the dirt-cheap option might cause more trouble than it's worth. Instead, look for instruments that have been checked out and approved for sound quality and playability by the music pros. Try to find the balance between quality and affordability to get the most satisfaction out of your purchase.
- Don't rely solely on reviews. Rave reviews alone shouldn't convince you to purchase a potentially inferior product. If possible, try the instrument for yourself and compare it with others within (or above) your price bracket. Even if you don't know how to play, you can still get a feel for the quality of the instrument in your hands.
- Don't pay interest, if possible. Don't pay more for your musical instrument just because you swiped a credit card at the register. Making payments over time can be beneficial, but try not to add to your bill by using a high-APR card.
The Bottom Line
Sure, you could snag the first, cheapest option a search engine spits out, but you risk not getting much bang for your buck. Buying a low-quality instrument to save money might end up turning you off your musical pursuits entirely. Musical instrument purchases warrant extra attention for the time and money they require, so ask the experts at the music store and do your own research to secure quality products.
With a little planning and the financial intelligence you gained just by reading this article, you can get a quality musical instrument—without making your first composition a ballad mourning the price.