Violas are expensive, there’s no denying that. Even if you are renting a viola, the monthly bills add up quickly. In order to help you budget for a viola, we have laid a basic guide to make sure you are making the most of your money and can afford a viola.


Can you afford a new viola?

The first thing you need to decide is whether you have enough money to buy a new or used viola outright. Typical entry-level new viola outfits range from about $75-$250 depending on the quality of the workmanship and materials. These outfits usually include the viola, a bow, strings, and rosin – everything you need to get started playing the viola very quickly. Buying each of these accessories individually will end up costing a lot more than the bundled package. If you have enough spare cash to buy a viola outright, then we highly recommend doing so as you will not only save a lot of money on all of the viola accessories, but will also own an instrument that will retain its trade-in value for years to come.

If you really want to buy a viola outright, but don’t have the cash available right now, try setting aside money each month. Start with $20 a month. If this isn’t affecting other aspects of your financial life and you are still able to pay all of your bills, try upping this to $30, $40, or even $50 per month. You’ll quickly have a savings account filled with cash you can use to buy a new viola.


Is renting a better option for you?

Another option you have to get a viola is to rent one from your local music shop. Renting a viola typically costs about $15-$25 per month plus insurance. While this is a great short-term option for monthly payments, the long-term costs and lack of trade-in value make this option a lot more expensive. We’ve done a complete cost comparison between buying and renting a viola that you can read if you feel renting may be the better or more feasible payment method for you.


Your financing options

If you’ve decided to buy a viola instead of renting it, but still may not financially be able to afford it, you have some options.

  • Amazon Financing: If you are purchasing your new viola through Amazon, they actually provide a special 12-month financing option for musical instruments if you spend $599+ in a single order.
  • Credit Cards: While not the best option due to frequent 10%-25% interest rates, paying with a credit card to manage monthly payments is always an option.
  • Private Financing: Many local music shops will offer their own financing (which is usually done via a relationship with a bank), such as Potter Violin’s HELPCard partnership. If you’re buying your viola through a local music shop ask them about financing options.


Other options:

  • CraigslistWhile Criagslist wasn’t very popular in the late 90s, my parents still bought my first viola for $80 from the classifieds. If you’re in the market for a viola for a new student, check Craigslist first to see if anyone is selling a used viola that you can take off their hands for far cheaper than a new viola.
  • Local charities: If you are unable to afford a viola, a local charity may be able to provide you with an instrument and even lessons depending on your financial needs. Give the Gift of Music is one such charity that accepts donations of instruments and gives them to children in-need.
  • Schools: Many elementary and middle schools actually offer loaner violas to students who can prove that they’re unable to financially afford their own viola. Ask your local school’s music department if this is an option they provide and whether you can take advantage of it.