|My child is wanting to start playing an instrument. Should we rent or buy?
|We offer student instruments for both rent and purchase. Which option to choose depends on your preference. Our rental program offers maximum flexibility, because 80% of your rental payments can go toward purchase of an instrument in the future (if your child loves playing) and there is no long-term commitment so you can stop the rental at any time (if she doesn't). We also offer high-quality student instruments for purchase that will carry your child through many years of making music.
|How can I rent an instrument?
|Visit the Rental section of our website for details on our rental program. You can fill out our secure, online rental application there as well. You can specify the date you want your rental to begin, and you can even order the supplies you'll need to get started. No payment is due until you actually have possession of the instrument. We strongly recommend that you fill out the application online before coming into the shop. We might need a little extra time to get your instrument prepped. If we know what you need in advance, we'll be able to make sure your instrument is ready when you need it. Our rental program is generally open to all, but we do have a couple requirements. Our rental program was set up with younger students in mind. We do rent instruments to people of all ages, as long as they are actively taking lessons with an instructor. For help finding a teacher, check out our strings education center at www.palmerstringstudio.com Minimum rental term is three months. If you need a shorter term rental, we might be able to help. Please contact us to check availability
|What is covered by the rental repair coverage?
|All of our rental instruments are covered by our rental repair coverage. It's not an extra charge or something you have to opt-in to, rather it's an essential component of our rental program and is included in your monthly rate. If there is anything that needs to be repaired on your rental instrument, bring it in to us and we'll fix it in our workshop, free of charge. Instruments get dropped, sat on, run over, left in the rain, etc. etc. We've seen it all! If we can fix it quickly, we'll get it back in shape and can deliver it to your student's school. If it's a repair that is going to take a few days, we'll issue you a loaner instrument while yours is in our workshop. And if something catastrophic has occurred and rendered your instrument unplayable, we'll issue you a different instrument. Common repairs are broken bridges, open seams, broken or hard to turn pegs, loose soundposts, but there are all sorts of repairs we do for free every year for our rental customers. The only exception is if the instrument is intentionally damaged or vandalized by the renter. In that case, you will be liable to pay for the instrument's replacement, but you will be able to use your accrued rental credit toward that replacement. This has only happened twice in the 15 years that we have been running our rental program. We understand that some wear and tear is normal, this is only for extreme cases that are very, very rare.
PLEASE NOTE that our repair coverage does not include strings. Strings can break and wear out and need to be replaced from time to time. We consider strings to be an over-the-counter retail item, rather than repair work. They can be replaced by your teacher, by our staff (in about 20 seconds), or with strings from another retailer. When you pick up your instrument, it will have brand new strings. About 90% of our rental customers never break a string in the first place because our instruments stay in tune better, meaning students are having fewer struggles with pegs which is the most common cause of broken strings. Shops that do offer plans that cover broken strings also charge additional fees for that service, usually $5-$30 a month, depending on the instrument. We've found that our customers prefer to pay for the occasional broken string, rather than paying 4x the actual cost of a set of strings annually. It's not a great deal for the customer in the end, especially if they never actually need a string replaced.
|Do rental instruments include the case and bow?
|Yes. We rent the entire “outfit,” which includes the instrument, case, and bow. There are other accessories that you might need, such as a shoulder rest, rock stop, and rosin. You would purchase those items separately, and you would keep them when you return or exchange your rental instrument.
|At what age can my child begin playing?
|Private teachers often begin teaching children very young – as young as 3 or 4 years old. The smallest violin is a 1/32 size violin, and we provide those instruments to our tiniest customers. Most middle schools in the area begin students in the 6th grade. Of course, you can learn an instrument at any age – we have quite a few customers who are adult beginners.
|How do I know what size instrument I need?
|Violins, violas, cellos, and basses all come in “full size” and a variety of smaller, or “fractional” sizes (3/4, 1/2, 1/4, etc.). Adults usually play full sized instruments, while children often play fractional sizes. Your child's teacher can measure your child to determine what size instrument she needs, or you can bring her into our shop and we can measure her as well. Children who begin on fractional sizes will need to “size up” as they grow. Our rental program provides the option to size up whenever needed, at no charge. You never know when your child will go through a growth spurt and suddenly need a bigger instrument! Flexibility with sizing is one of the main benefits of starting with a rental vs. purchasing a smaller instrument for a beginner.
|I saw a cheaper instrument on EBay / Craigslist / at a garage sale. Why shouldn't I just buy that?
|It's always possible to get a good deal from one of these sources – but in our experience, it isn't likely. If an instrument is not being sold through a shop, there is usually a reason. These are often instruments that someone has found in their attic, that are in poor (or no) playing condition, or that a shop has refused to sell. If you have found an instrument locally that you can try out (and especially one that you can show to your teacher for feedback), this can be a viable option. But we strongly discourage buying instruments from the internet, sight-unseen. Is the instrument properly set-up for playing? Can you return the instrument and get a refund if it does not meet your needs? Is there a service warranty or guarantee? Does it come with a good case and a bow? (Does the bow need rehairing?) What happens if your teacher does not approve? What about trade-ins? We often have the experience of people purchasing an instrument from EBay, discovering that the instrument needs a case/bow/bridge/strings/sound post/extensive repair, and bringing it into our shop for help. In such cases, the instruments often become a money pit and you end up spending more money than you would have had you rented or purchased from a shop.
|Do you sell accessories?
|Yes. We sell all accessories required and recommended by our local schools. This includes rosin, music stands, music books, metronomes, tuners, shoulder rests, chin rests, etc. You can purchase items through our website and we'll ship them to you. If the items are for a student at one of the school programs in our area, we could deliver it to their school as well.
|Do you teach lessons?
In November 2023. we will be opening a string education center in Bentonville. You can find out more about it, and get on our waiting list, by visiting www.palmerstringstudio.com Rest assured, Mr. Palmer will remain behind the workbench at our Rogers location and will NOT be teaching. We'll have a staff of great teachers handling all levels of instruction on violin, viola, cello, and bass.
|What do you mean when you talk about an instrument's "setup" Why does that matter?
|The “set up” of an instrument refers to the parts of the instrument the musician actually interacts with: the pegs, strings, bridge, tail piece, and sound post (inside the instrument). These are the parts of the instrument that make the sound. None of these parts of the instrument are glued. They are all held together by tension. When the bow's hair is dragged across the strings, all of these parts vibrate. This vibration echoes through and inside the instrument (which is basically a wooden sound box), which creates and projects the sound. All of these parts of the instrument have to be adjusted to very tight specifications (down to the millimeter) in order to play and sound like they should. Luthiers are professionally trained to make these adjustments. That's why having this done by a professional luthier makes a huge difference in how easy the instrument is to play and how good it sounds. Poorly adjusted instruments are harder to play (and listen to!) and can even cause the musician finger, wrist, or arm pain.
|Do you work on guitars?
|No, our staff is trained to work on bowed stringed instruments, and they're very different from guitars and other plucked instruments. They're made from different woods, finished with different varnishes, even glued together with different glues. There's really not a lot of overlap between the two families of instruments.
|What is the difference between a violin and a fiddle?
|This is a really common question, and the answer is... not much. The term "fiddle" is usually associated with various styles of folk or popular music, like bluegrass, jazz, old time, western swing, country, etc. Violin is usually the preferred term of the classical world. The instruments themselves are the same. The difference comes down to the kind of tone that is needed for different styles of music. An instrument that's playing in an orchestra generally needs a tone that blends well with the other voices in its section. An instrument that's playing in a bluegrass band, for example, needs a brighter, sharper tone in order to be heard over a guitar or banjo. We can make various adjustments to the instrument to try to get the desired tone. Something as simple as a different set of strings can change the character of an instrument quite a bit. We'll also sometimes make adjustments to the curvature of the bridge crown to suit fiddlers. We can make them a bit flatter so that they have an easier time playing double stops. That's usually not the preference of classical players, who want to be able to exert maximum force with the bow without worrying about hitting extra strings. We enjoy working on all sorts of instruments at Palmer Violin Shop! Variety is the spice of life.