JSI logo
My Account
Shopping Cart
Our storefront is now open! Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm | Curbside pickup is available. Please order online for curbside pickup.

Instrument Rental FAQ's

Current renters. Use your account to:

  • Pay your bill
  • Order an exchange
  • Order free replacement strings
  • Close your account
  • Much more!
  • Sign in

Can We Answer Your Questions?

What are the benefits of renting an instrument versus purchasing outright?

For first-time players, we typically recommend renting an instrument as opposed to purchasing. This will enable you to get a feel for the instrument and decide if you would like to continue, without making such a large financial commitment right off the bat.

Also, since young children play smaller instruments, our rental program allows for size exchanges at any time and eliminates the need to periodically purchase new instruments as the student grows.

By including our comprehensive Liability Damage Waiver, you will not be responsible for the cost of repairs due to accidental damage, normal wear and tear, and broken strings - benefits not available under policies for instrument owners - giving you unparalleled peace of mind and saving money on routine maintenance.

Additionally, our Rental Credit plan puts aside a portion of your rental payments which can be used to purchase an instrument when the time is right.

How do I go about renting an instrument?

If at all possible, we encourage you to come to our store and have one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members help you to start out on the right foot. Getting a new rental violin, viola, cello, or bass involves sizing, play-testing (if you've played before and want to try out different instruments), and filling out a contract - you 'll need a valid credit card, and the whole thing usually takes about 15 or 20 minutes.

Teachers are always welcome to help with the rental process! If you live too far away to come into the store, you can still easily rent from us (we have renters all over the country!). Give us a call at (800) 359-9351 to set up a rental contract and make arrangements to have an instrument shipped to you (we regret that we cannot ship basses at this time).

All of our shipped rental instruments conform to the same high standards as the instruments in our store, and are personally set up and selected by our Rental Maintenance department. Shipping charges are $15 for violins and violas, and $30-$45 for cellos, depending on the size of the cello. In many cases, we can ship your rental within 48 hours (some instruments may take longer, depending on availability). Complete information on rental rates, instruments, and pre-registration.

For what types of players are your rentals suitable?

We offer three grades of rental instruments to accommodate players of all skill levels, from beginner to professional. Our Standard Rental instruments are suitable for beginning and intermediate players and are set up and maintained by our staff of professional luthiers to meet exacting standards for playability and tone.

For more experienced players, our Advanced Rental option provides enhanced sound quality via a better instrument and upgraded bow. Master Rentals are finely crafted instruments, many selected from among our sales stock, which are suitable for professional players and the most discerning students.

This is my first time renting, is there a minimum term?

The first time you rent an instrument at Johnson's, your initial three months of rent is non-refundable. This is to accommodate the costs involved with getting our instruments ready to be rented. If you've chosen a payment longer than three months, you are eligible for a refund if you return the rental to us early.

Please note that due to the costs involved, we do not offer "trials" of our rental instruments. If you have questions, please call us for more information.

Do I need a credit card?

We require all of our rental customers to have a valid credit card number on file while an instrument is being rented. The credit card holder becomes the responsible party for the account, and should be the person who registers for the rental through our website.

When will my credit card be charged?

Rental fees and the cost of items you have selected to purchase will be charged to your credit card based on how you'd like to receive the instrument. Shipping orders are charged the day that your order ships. Delivery orders, if we are meeting you in person, are sometimes charged after we have delivered your instrument. This helps accommodate last-minute requests and adjustments. Hold for Pickup requests will be charged as soon as your order is confirmed. Hold for Pickup requests are confirmed via telephone within one business day (M - F).

Does the cost of renting go towards purchasing an instrument?

Our Rental Credit Policy allows a portion of what you pay in rent to be applied towards the cost of an instrument of equal or greater value - either from our rental stock or from our sales department.* You may use 100% of the first year's rental fees (excluding LDW and tax), and 20% of all subsequent rental fees, toward the purchase price.

* Please note: Rental credit may not be used to purchase bows, cases, electric instruments, or consignment instruments. Rentals are sold as outfits only, with bow and case included. Rental credit will be valid for two years after the close of your rental account, after which time it may be forfeited.

Can I rent an instrument if I live outside of the United States?

At this time, rentals are available only within the United States and its territories. Import duties and shipping charges become very expensive when renting from abroad.

Is the Liability Damage Waiver included?

Include our Liability Damage Waiver (LDW) in your rental to provide coverage for accidental damage to, and repair and maintenance of your instrument. Some special circumstances may apply. Details will be provided for you during the pre-registration process.

What equipment comes with a rental?

Every rental comes with an instrument, a case, a bow, and a cake of rosin. All bows are strung with horsehair to provide the best possible response and tone. Please note that for cello rentals we provide soft, backpack-style cases, instead of hard-shell cello cases. These are much easier for young children to carry, and help us to keep our rental rates down.

Can I rent a wooden bow?

Carbon fiber bows are provided for our Advanced and Master levels of rentals. Carbon fiber has all the great playing properties of a wooden stick, without the typical mechanical issues that occur with inexpensive wooden bows. Wooden bows may be substituted by special request by adding a note in the Additional Notes field at Checkout, or by calling 800-359-9351.

Standard instruments come with a durable, lightweight fiberglass bow that works well for beginning students and young children. Carbon fiber (or wood by special request) can be provided for our Standard outfits for an additional fee. ($6/month for violins and violas, $8/month for cellos) Please note that you cannot rent a bow by itself, but only as part of an instrument outfit.

Please Note: Upgraded bows are not available for 1/16 and 1/10 size violins, 1/16 and 1/10 size violas, 1/10 size cellos, and all standard basses.

What do I do if my rental instrument breaks a string or is damaged?

Most types of accidental damage and all broken strings are covered by LDW if you included that with your rental. Customers are welcome to visit the shop at any time to have a broken string replaced or damaged instrument/bow exchanged. We can also ship a replacement string or instrument/bow. Simply place an order via your online account, or via phone at 800-359-9351. Broken string replacement orders ship for free.

For instruments and bows, the customer is responsible for both outbound and inbound shipping costs. In most cases we will ship the replacement instrument, and the customer would use the same box to ship back the damaged instrument within 2 weeks.

To return instruments, customers are welcome to purchase a prepaid UPS Return Label at Johnson String Instrument standard shipping rates, which are often much cheaper than UPS Store or Post Office retail rates. Information on different types of instrument damage.

How do I size my child for a rental instrument?

The best way to size your child is to bring them into our store and have someone on staff size them or to have your teacher size them. When this isn't possible, there are a few options. This information page, with charts and a video, will help show you approximate arm lengths for violin and viola, and approximate heights for cello and bass.

What happens if I need to get a larger size of instrument?

You can exchange your rental for another instrument of the same type at any time. Exchanges will not interrupt your rental payment, or the terms of your rental agreement.

What if I want to rent more than one instrument?

In order to make our pre-registration process as simple as possible, we only accept one rental request per transaction. If you would like to request more than one rental instrument, please repeat your transaction, once per requested rental instrument.

What happens if I exchange my rental for a different kind of rental?

You can upgrade your rental outfit at any time. Rent paid on your account will be pro-rated to accommodate the new type of rental instrument.

What happens if I return my rental early?

A refund will be issued to you if there is sufficient rent remaining on the account. Some special circumstances may apply. Details will be provided for you during the pre-registration process.

I just got a Rental Renewal Notice in the mail. What do I do?

As a courtesy to our customers, we send out Rental Renewal Notices at least two weeks, and usually 3-4 weeks, before your rental is due. There are three easy ways to renew your rental: you can send a check before the due date, renew with credit card through your online account, or call us at (800) 359-9351 and renew your rental over the phone using a credit card.

How do I return, pack, and ship my rental to you?

If you wish to return your rental instead of renewing, we will close your account once we receive the instrument. You can return a rental instrument in person to our Newton store, through a school trip, or by mail. For in store returns, stop by anytime during business hours. If you are planning to return an instrument to a school, please contact us and let us know ahead of time either by calling 1.800.359.9351 or emailing [email protected]. For instruments returned by mail, please follow the steps below.

Please Note: Basses cannot be shipped and must be returned to our Newton store.

  • Call our Customer Service Department during business hours at 1.800.359.9351 to purchase a discounted UPS return label.
    The label will be emailed to you from UPS directly within 24 hours of your order, and must be used within 30 days.
    Cost of the return label
    Violins and violas $15
    1/10-1/8 size cellos $30
    1/4 - 4/4 size cellos $45
  • Place a note in the instrument case telling us who you are and why you are sending the instrument.
    Please include: Your name, address, and telephone number.
  • Pack the instrument and/or bow carefully:
    • Padding should be placed gently on both sides of the bridge, under the strings. This prevents damage to the top of the instrument in the event of a broken bridge during shipment.
    • Padding should also be placed around the sides, so that the instrument does not shift inside its case while being handled.
    • If you are sending a bow, be sure that the hair has been loosened, and secure it with the case’s bow holders.
    • Packing material should be stuffed firmly around the case so that it does not shift inside the shipping box. Protect the case by adequately cushioning it on all sides.
    • * If you are packing a cello, use our how-to guide on our blog.
  • If you have questions, call us! We can help guide you through this process.

What about shipping fees?

Shipping fees are not included with the cost of the rental. This helps us keep our rental rates low. As a long-distance rental customer, you are responsible for payment of both outbound and inbound shipping costs in the event that an instrument needs to be shipped. Please call our Customer Service Department during business hours to receive a discounted UPS label in the event that you need to ship an instrument.

Is rent taxable?

In accordance with state laws, rent is taxable for residents of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York State, as well as all in-store transactions. All other states are not charged tax.

Will you be coming to my child's school to pick up or drop off instruments?

If you live in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York or Rhode Island, your child's school may be part of our rental service program. We visit a large number of schools at least twice a year (at the beginning and end of the school year), and some schools receive more frequent service trips (every 4-6 weeks). We have a complete listing of upcoming service trips. For other questions please call our Rental Delivery Director, Natalie Harrington, at (800) 359-9351, ext. 110.

Can I easily change my account information?

Have you moved or changed your email address? No problem! Let us know.

Can I pay for my rental online?

Where are your stores located, and how do I get there?

Our store, including the bass and guitar shop, is located in Newton Upper Falls, MA, just west of Boston.

Driving directions.

Additional Resources
Carriage House Violins

Located in Newton, Massachusetts, Carriage House Violins is the instrument sales division of Johnson String Instrument.

Learn More


Whether searching for a job, learning about the "Mozart Effect," looking for a summer music camp, or choosing the right instrument string, you need look no further.

Learn More

Johnson String Project logo
Johnson String Project

A charitable foundation whose goal is to provide high-quality instruments to children who live in under-served communities and who are participating in El-Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts.

Learn More

JSI Blog

Information and helpful articles about the music and instruments we love.

Learn More

JSI Media logo

Helpful "how to" videos and useful information about JSI and the products and services we offer.

Learn More