How to Buy a Viola

After a young musician has at least a year of experience, buying an instrument is often the best choice, financially and in sense of ownership. Your student has demonstrated her commitment and is ready to maintain and practice on her very own instrument.

Since purchasing a viola is a bigger investment than renting, it’s important to make sure you’ve carefully compared retailers’ inventory, prices, financing options, setup and equipment options prior to buying. If and when you are ready to commit and invest in purchasing a viola, keep in mind the following guidelines and tips.


A student viola will cost roughly $400-$500. An intermediate one will cost anywhere from $900-$2000 or more.


To choose the right viola, one should test them out at a good violin shop. Test playing violas will give you the chance to see which size feels most comfortable and if the sound quality is to your liking. Since the viola has a lower pitch and the range of a tenor voice, it is important that it has great projection.

Remember to stick with well-known brands when shopping. Beginning violist should start on a viola with scratch resistant varnish and soft strings. Intermediate and professional players should look for a viola carved from aged wood with an oil varnish. Flamed maple should make up the scroll, ribs, and back. It should also have an ebony fingerboard and a top made from resonant spruce wood.


Along with your purchase, check that a protective case, wooden horsehair bow, rosin, soft cloth, and name tag are included or can be added. Some other items you may want to pick up are a chin/shoulder rest and an extra set of strings.

If you question whether or not a music stand is necessary, keep in mind that it is important to develop and reinforce proper playing posture and technique. A music stand at the right height will help to improve breathing and prevent back aches from poor posture.

The Instrument Place instrument outfits come equipped with everything needed to get started in class, plus a free music stand with every instrument purchase!


Be sure to look for a company that offers a full warranty and friendly customer service. Knowing you can return to visit should any questions or further musical needs arise puts the mind at ease and makes the purchase as simple and stress free as possible.

Rent-to-Own or Lease-to-Own Option

Installment plans are an excellent option if you’re ready to make the commitment of buying an instrument but can benefit from deferred payments. This way, you get the freedom to pay over time, with the ultimate reward of owning the instrument. If you choose a rent-to-own or lease-to-own option, however, it’s important to check the fine print to make sure there are no hidden fees, and you should investigate the cancellation policy as well. Never sign up for a plan that traps you into payments if your child loses interest in playing an instrument. Look also for retailers who offer affordable damage protection during the installment term.

At The Instrument Place, we have an unmatched Lease-to-own program. Besides a one-time origination fee that is explained and charged upfront, we NEVER charge interest or additional fees. We do not inflate our regular price or charge any interest throughout the installment term. This plan gives you the freedom to pay over time and, after completing all of the payments, you own the instrument. All our instruments are brand new at the beginning of your lease-to-own period and you have the additional option of paying for damage protection during the installment term.

Our goal is to get an instrument in the hands of every person who wishes to play, without it being a financial burden. We believe you should never have to feel trapped making payments or that you are wasting money on an instrument you no longer wish to rent or purchase for your child. If you are still not sure whether or not you should buy or rent a viola, or you still have questions, feel free to give us a call at (800) 789-2707. Our friendly team of professionals are here to answer your questions and help you find the best viola for your child’s needs and your budget.