Selecting Your Instrument

Information to help you decide!
Our Brands  |  New or Used?  |  Choosing the Type  |  Instructor's Role

If your child is interested in playing in the school band or orchestra, this section will help you learn about brands, new vs. used, and levels of instruments for Portman's Music's proven instrument rental program. You'll also understand your instructor's role in helping your child choose an instrument.

Our Brands

Unless you are a musician yourself, you are probably not familiar with musical instrument brands. Therefore, it's important for you to be able to trust the people who help you get your instrument! Portman's Music has been in business for over 69 years, with a reputation for fine products and services - and for treating people well. Our buyers select instrument brands on the basis of quality, value, durability and reliability.

Your child's band or orchestra instructor may suggest that you investigate particular instrument brands for your child. Usually, instructors "approve" certain brands, based on the experience of prior students, and by testing the instruments. At Portman's Music we are careful to offer instrument brands that are educator-approved. Brands we carry include, Antiqua, Armstrong, Artley, Boosey and Hawkes, Buffet, Bundy, Cannonball, Conn, Fox, Gemeinhardt, Jupiter, Kellworth, King, Leblanc, Selmer, Vito, Yamaha, Bach, Benge, Bessen, Blessing, Conn, Getzen, Holton, Jupiter, King, Selmer, Paderewski, Maltinsky, Meisel, Paesold, Glaesel and more.

Should you buy new or used?

If your child is a beginner - is new or used a better investment for you? There's no hard and fast rule about whether a new or used instrument is a better investment for a beginning student. Here are pros and cons about the options we offer at Portman's Music:
  • Is a new instrument the best investment?

    Pro: New instruments carry manufacturer's warranties for durability and reliability.
    Con: New instruments are more expensive than reconditioned or used instruments of the same quality.
  • Is a reconditioned instrument the best investment?

    Pro: We offer different levels of reconditioned instruments, based on brand and condition. Generally, reconditioned instruments which have been returned to Portman's Music after a rental are in "like new" playing condition, especially after our service technicians carefully check each instrument over and sterilize it. Like a new instrument, a reconditioned instrument will perform very well (we guarantee it will play like a new instrument) for a beginning student and a reconditioned instrument will cost less than a new one.
    Con: These instruments have been used by another student, and therefore my not be cosmetically perfect.
  • Is a used Instrument the best investment?

    Pro: These instruments are trade-ins from other Portman's Music customers and can be less expensive than new or reconditioned instruments. Used instruments have been shop-checked by our technicians.
    Con: Used instruments from a private party may require work to make them playable, and may not be the correct size for younger musicians. Before purchasing a used instrument, check with your local Portman's Music. Quality varies based on brand and condition.

Choosing the type of instrument

For Best Selection: Portman's Music is home to the southeast's largest inventory of new, used and reconditioned band and orchestra instruments, We have literally THOUSANDS of instruments from which to help you find the right one for your child and the right one for your budget - and that's a promise!

Beginner, Intermediate or Professional? Instruments are designed to meet the different needs and expectations of various skill levels. Most manufacturers produce three levels of instruments: Beginner, Intermediate, and Professional, with variations in size or appearance between these levels. Talk with your music instructor or with us about the different levels of instruments and which would be best for your child.

  • Beginner Instruments perform well for young starting musicians. They are durable and modestly priced. Many have special features that make them easier to play. For information about some of these features, check Brass Family and Woodwind Family descriptions.
  • Intermediate Instruments offer features that more advanced musicians appreciate. For example, a clarinet may have a wood body, instead of a synthetic body, and a flute may have a solid silver head joint.
  • Professional Instruments are designed to enhance sound quality through construction techniques, uses of special materials and of alternate keys or key adjustments. Precious metals and solid woods may be used. A high degree of hand workmanship may make these instruments more fragile, requiring significantly better quality cases.
Your child's band or orchestra instructor has probably recommended a particular type of instrument for your child. If not, and your child isn't certain about what kind of instrument he or she would like to play, here are some suggestions:
  • Initiate a conversation about your child's musical interests and capabilities with your school instructor.
  • Talk with a Portman's Music sales representative at one of our stores.
  • Take your child to a band or orchestra concert and together identify the names of the instruments and the kinds of sounds they make.

Your instructor's role in choosing an instrument

Count on your child's school band or orchestra instructor to help your child:
  • Identify the best instrument type for your child's mouth shape, hand size and other physical characteristics.
  • Encourage your child to learn and practice so that he or she can contribute and enjoy playing in the school band or orchestra.
  • Offer feedback on your child's progress.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to perform with the band or orchestra.
Many schools host a band or orchestra parent information session during each school year. This session offers you an opportunity to meet your school's band or orchestra instructor and make arrangements for your child's instrument. Representatives from Portman's Music will be available on site to help you arrange to get an instrument for your child. If your school does host one of these sessions, you will be notified by your school. We hope to see you there!

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