How to Choose the Right Student Instrument

Posted by Getzen on March 19th, 2005

Adapted from NAPBIRT publication

At Getzen, we understand the early years are the most crucial in the education of a young musician. The availability of a quality instrument is key to the development of their skills. However, it is unrealistic to expect parents to spend several hundred or thousands of dollars on an instrument for a child that may or may not stick with it. There are several things parents need to consider before making the decision to purchase a new instrument for their son or daughter. Here are just a few questions and answers that may help you with this decision.

Q: My 12 year old decided to join the band. Should I buy a brand new horn or rent one from the local store?

A: Rental or lease programs are often great choices for many parents. With low initial investments, flexible payment plans, and included maintenance plans a rental program is very attractive for equipping the beginning player. They are a great way to get started until your student advances to the point of knowing that he or she is going to stick with the band. Also, many dealers offering rental programs work side-by-side with the local educators ensuring that you will be receiving a quality instrument that is approved by the school’s band director.

Q: Before I decide what to do, what should I look for in a student horn?

A: When considering what qualities to look for there are two things you need to remember. First, this is a tool for your child’s education. Making a decision based solely on price could be a considerable handicap to your youngster. The second thing you need to consider is that this instrument should be able to last at least three to four years. This is due to the fact that after that long, most students have advanced to the skill level that they are ready to move up to an intermediate or even professional level instrument. There are three basic issues that need to be addressed to determine the quality of an instrument.

  1. Playability – This is first and foremost on the list. The most important thing your child needs is an instrument that he or she can actually play… and in tune. Unfortunately, there are some “instruments” on the market today that are built so poorly that they cannot be played at all. It is unfair to expect a student to learn how to play if they are learning on an instrument that even a highly trained professional couldn’t perform on.
  2. Durability – As every parent knows, if it can be broken a child will find the way. This is true with musical instruments as well. When you consider the daily trips to and from school, rehearsals, concerts, parades, and pep band performances there is a never ending stream of potentially dangerous situations. That is why it is important to put an instrument in your child’s hands that is built to stand up to this. Strong bracing, tube joints, and solid bell construction are all key points to look at.
  3. Fix-ability – As mentioned above, kids will be kids and their instruments will need repairs. However, some low end instruments out there are so poorly built that repairs cannot be made. In fact, there are some instruments that reputable repair shops won’t even touch. The key question to ask when looking at a new instrument is “Can it be fixed?” You want an instrument that can be easily repaired at your local music store using parts that are readily available from the manufacturer or a company such as Allied Supply. Ideally, you want an instrument that is backed up and covered by a comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty. Something hard to find on professional instruments let alone student horns.

Q: I decided to buy a horn, now where should I go shopping for it?

A: While some parents find internet auction sites attractive for finding good deals on used instruments, a great deal of caution should be taken. It is difficult to determine the actual condition and quality of a used instrument without actually touching, playing, and looking it over in person. If you do decide to go with a used horn, have it looked over by a quality repair shop in your area. When shopping for a brand new instrument parents have basically three options. They can buy from their local music store, from an internet retailer, or from a discount store. There are pluses and minuses to all three. The least expensive of the three is generally the discount retailers. However, often times they lack any kind of service and only offer low, low end student instruments. When considering quality as well as price, online retailers are very attractive. Great deals can be found online for quality student horns, however, they lack some of the service advantages found at local music stores. At your local music store, your child can hold and play test the instrument before you buy it. You can also take advantage of the knowledgeable sales staff for advice and recommendations. The local store is also the ideal location to take the horn for future repairs and maintanence. In the end, parents have to weigh all three options and decide what is most important. Price, quality, service, or a balanced combination of all three.

If you’re looking for a brass instrument that meets these criteria, look no further than the Getzen 300/400 Series line of trumpets, cornets, and trombones. Our student horns are built by the finest American craftsmen to the highest possible standards while keeping retail prices low. With features not found on other student instruments such as hand spun bells, precision honed nickel pistons, hand lapped slide tubes, and manually straightened handslides it’s plain to see why they are slightly more expensive than some import “instruments”. However, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for and every Getzen 300 & 400 Series instrument is built to last and is backed by our 5 year Gold Warranty and legendary Lifetime Valve Warranty. Most importantly though, each is built to perform and to grow along with your young musician.

Visit the Getzen Buyer’s Guide

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