Instrument Rentals

Currently Available Rental Instruments

All prices are for an 8-week rental, coinciding with our session dates, for current Old Town School students. All rentals include a carrying case. For non-student rates, call 773.751.3398 or email rentals@oldtownschool.org.

Once you have registered for your class, please call the Old Town School Music Store at 773.751.3398 to reserve your rental.

  • Autoharp - $65
  • Banjo - $65
  • Bass, Electric - $65
  • Conga - $65
  • Djembe - $75
  • Guitar, Acoustic or Electric - $65
  • Hammered Dulcimer (limited quantity) - $85
  • Squareneck Resonator - $65
  • Mandolin - $65
  • Violin* - $75

*While we have many of the books and accessories that are needed for Kid's Fiddle classes in the Old Town School Music Store, we do not rent kid sized fiddles. However, the following folks violins and will help with sizing and pricing (scholarships sometimes available):


I've signed up for a class and don't have my own instrument. Now what?

Well, you have a couple choices: rent or buy. If you are new to your instrument, we suggest you rent for at least one eight week session. The skills you learn in a beginning class make you a much more knowledgeable shopper. You are able to apply a percentage of your rental fees toward the purchase of a new instrument. When you're ready to purchase your own instrument, let us know. We'll be happy to assist you in selecting the perfect instrument.

Okay, how do I rent an instrument?

You'll need a few things to complete the rental transaction. First, you'll need a valid ID (Driver's License, State ID or Passport). Your ID should have your current address. Second, you'll need a security deposit to cover the cost of the instrument. Normally, we'll hold a credit card number as deposit - we will not charge your card unless your account becomes delinquent (over 30 days past due). And, finally, you'll need the rental fee (see Rate Table, above). We accept cash, Visa/MC, American Express, and Discover.

Do I need to make a reservation?

If you are certain that you will need a rental instrument, it is highly encouraged that you make a reservation. You can either make a reservation during the on-line registration process, or (if you are registering on the phone or in person) by calling the Old Town School Music Store. This makes it much easier for us to be sure that we are stocking sufficient instrument quantities and allows us to take care of everyone who needs a rental.

When can I pick up my instrument?

You should pick up your instrument on the day/evening of your first class. Please, arrive at least 30-45 minutes before your class begins to allow time for paperwork and processing. Remember, you will not be the only one renting an instrument on the first night of class. Expect a line. Don't forget to get a songbook if your class requires one.

When is my rental due?

Your rental instrument is due for return or renewal eight weeks from the date it is issued to you. This should coincide with your last day of class. There is a $15 per week late fee for all overdue accounts. If your rental is not returned by 30 days after the due date and you fail to contact us, you will forfeit all credit and be charged for the full retail cost of the instrument.

Do you automatically charge my credit card for a re-rent?

No, we do not automatically re-rent your instrument for you. You must stop in or call to make payment on your account.

The other store location is closer to my work. Can I return my rental to your other store?

Sorry, you must return your instrument to the store from which it was rented.

I really like the instrument I'm renting. Can I buy it?

We don't sell our rental instruments, but you can definitely apply any rental credit you've accumulated towards a new instrument that is the exact same brand you are renting. Or better yet, you can apply your credit towards an instrument that is the next step up.

Can apply my rental fees toward the purchase of a new instrument?

If your rental account is in good standing when you return your instrument, a percentage of your rental fees can be applied toward purchase of a new instrument of the same kind. (i.e. If you're renting a violin, your credit may only be applied to a new violin - not to a guitar, banjo, books, or accessories.)

How do I tune this crazy thing?

Tuning your instrument will be among the first skills you'll learn in class. Until you get the hang of it, you can bring your instrument into the Old Town School Music Store for free tuning.

What if I break a string?

Once the instrument is issued to you, you are responsible for all maintenance and repairs (including new strings). If you need help changing a string, we'll be happy to help. We can usually change a single string while you wait.

What if I break something bigger?

Again, you are responsible for your instrument for the duration of your rental contract. Don't worry, almost anything can be fixed. We understand that accidents happen and will work with you if anything unfortunate should happen to your rental instrument.

I come to class straight from work. Can I store my instrument at the School?

No. Unfortunately, we do not have the space to store any rented instruments at the School. Besides, you'll want to have your instrument at home to practice.

What if I don't see something on the list I need for my class?

If you don't see something on our rental list that you need, it is likely that we have it available for purchase in the store. If not, we can definitely point you in the right direction.

© The Old Town School of Folk Music, Inc. 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago IL 60625  •  773.728.6000