Quality Instrument Guide

The most important thing is that the student begins on a quality instrument on which they can get a characteristic sound with ease and love the sound of. Here are a few basics that you need to know before we get started with this exciting journey:

  • Before playing for the first time, students should read the beginning pages of Essential Elements Book 1 for instrument assembly instructions. Be careful!
  • We HIGHLY recommend a “Rent-to-Own” program at a local music store. The best ‘RtoO’ programs include FREE repairs during the length of the program, if your child switches instruments all money applied to your child’s first instrument will be applied to your new instrument, and help you get the most out of your investment with “Step Up” programs to purchase an intermediate or professional instrument through a trade in program.
  • PLEASE BE ADVISED – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! There are a number of online or ‘big box’ stores that sell cheaply made instruments. DO NOT PURCHASE THESE! They are poorly manufactured, come with no guarantee or warranty and most music stores CAN NOT repair them due to the fact that replacement parts are not available here in the USA. This makes the repairs nearly impossible, and there is no support from the instrument manufacturer after the sale. Please contact the band directors with any questions about instruments.
  • Recommended brands of instruments and required accessories are found below. These are included in a “RtoO” program.
  • Local music stores are located belopw. You are not required to purchase an instrument at these stores, or any store for that matter, in order to join the band. We simply ask if you purchase an instrument through another store that you have the band directors look it over to make sure the instrument is a quality instrument. Please only purchase an instrument that has a natural metal finish, no colors as they produce a poor quality due to the extra layers of paint and lacquer.
  • Only students playing baritone or tuba will receive 2 instruments to use from the school because of their high cost to rent. One is for school and one is for home practice. Please care for them as if they are your own to make sure they stay in good quality.
  • If you plan to use an instrument you already own please bring it to a band director to check if it is a quality instrument to use, then take it to a local repair store to make sure it is in good working order. A store representative can also pick up the instrument at school.


In order to assist you in your investment, we have done extensive research and provided some guidelines for each instrument. These recommended models have proven to be the best beginning-level instruments you can purchase based on reliability, retention of value, mechanical workmanship, longevity, and most importantly, the quality of sound your student will be able to create. If you choose not to go with our recommendations of instruments please be cautious in your purchase and seek advice first. Never buy off the internet without seeing in person first!  Many parents have been burned by trying to save money up front, but end up spending much more in the long run due to multiple and frequent repair issues as well as students falling behind because of lost practice time. Please ask the band directors any questions as they arise. 

To increase your child’s opportunity for success, please refer to the following recommendations:

InstrumentModelRequired Accessories
Flute– Yamaha 200/221/222- Gemeinhardt-Silk swab-Essential Elements Book 1 for Flute-Wire music stand (for home practice)
Oboe– Yamaha YOB 241- Fox Renard Model 330- Yamaha 441 (Wood)- Yamaha 441A (Plastic)– Silk swab- Lesher Medium Soft Reeds- Essential Elements Book 1 for Oboe- Wire music stand (for home practice)

– Plastic: Yamaha 20 or Yamaha 250/255- Selmer and Jupiter are also quality
-Marnay or VanDoren B45 mouthpiece (recommended)-1 box of Mitchell Lurie strength 2 ½ reeds (we switch to Vandoren strength 3 in January)-Cleaning swab (silk preferred – it cleans better and lasts longer)-Essential Elements Book 1 for Clarinet-Cork grease-Wire music stand (for home practice)
Alto Saxophone– Yamaha YAS 23/26, YAS-200AD- Cannonball and Jupiter are also quality– Marnay or Selmer C-Star Mouthpiece (recommended)- Rovner Ligature- Essential Elements Book 1 for Alto Saxophone- Wire music stand (for home practice)
Must have working 3rd valve slide with ring.– Bach 1530 or 300- Yamaha 2335 or 200- King, Conn (now called Conn-Selmer)-Bach 5C mouthpiece-Valve oil-Mouthpiece brush-Slide grease-Essential Elements Book 1 for Trumpet-Wire music stand (for home practice)
Trombone– Bach 300 or 301- Yamaha 354 or 200- King, Conn-Selmer-Bach 6 1/2AL, Yamaha 48, or Schilke 51 mouthpiece-Mouthpiece brush-Slide oil-Slide grease-Essential Elements Book 1 for Trombone-Wire music stand (for home practice)
EuphoniumSchool instruments are available.

Yamaha YEP201 or Jupiter JEP 470
-Bach 6 1/2AL, Yamaha 48, or Schilke 51 mouthpiece-Valve oil-Mouthpiece brush-Slide grease-Essential Elements Book 1 for Baritone BC (Bass Clef)-Wire music stand (for home practice)
Percussion– Yamaha Student Bell Kit (comes with bell kit, practice pad, stand, and bag)- Mapex Percussion Kit- Vic Firth, Ludwig, Pearl Kits

Additional notes– Most of these kits have an option to include a snare drum, that is student/parent preference- It is recommended to step-up to a Xylophone kit starting 7th Grade
– Vic Firth EP2A Educational Mallet Pack (includes sticks, plastic & yarn mallets, and timpani mallets- Innovative Percussion FP2 Education Pack is a good substitute- Essential Elements Book 1 for Percussion- Wire music stand (for home practice)- Evans HQ 12” Real Feel 2 sided practice pad (recommended step up pad)- See a director for “Step-Up” stick/mallet recommendations

QUALITY MATTERS! Quality does not mean it has to be expensive or brand new, but a quality instrument will greatly aid your student in finding success and enjoyment as they learn their instrument. A high quality instrument is like a well built foundation of a house – it provides a strong foundation for a long and happy future of use.

These are the four areas to look for in a quality instrument:

1. PLAYABILITY: Your child needs an instrument that plays as easily as possible – and plays in tune. Every instrument is difficult to play for the first time, however a quality instrument helps the student play well and improve quickly. Sadly, there are MANY instruments on the market today that are poorly designed and constructed. These instruments hinder progress and will not last over time.

2. DURABILITY: Students will be traveling with their instrument to-and-from school, playing for many years and putting general wear and tear on them. Instruments need to be built well and made of high quality parts to last throughout the years of band while being reliable for daily use. 

3. REPAIRABILITY: All instruments need repair at one point or another. What makes for a happy musical experience is an instrument that can be repaired locally using commonly available repair techniques and replacement parts. Unfortunately, many stores are selling instruments that once broken cannot be repaired or are costly and difficult to repair because they are made of poor quality parts, do not use commonly sized parts, or the manufacturer is no longer in business. Frequent repairs due to poor quality can hinder a student’s progress due to lost playing and practice time.

4. WARRANTY-ABILITY: Whenever possible, only consider brands that offer a warranty to protect your investment and get the most bang for your buck. Factory warranties vary in duration; get all the details before you buy, especially if you buy from an online source! 

Be extremely cautious when purchasing instruments online. If purchasing an instrument online, make sure it is a quality brand, in excellent playing condition and will allow for returns (if used and it is delivered damaged or not in the same condition as listed).  

If you have any questions please contact Mr. Nabozny and Mr. Weber at band@csredhawks.org.

We truly want the best for each student and that starts with a quality instrument!

“Nothing discourages a child from playing music more quickly than an instrument that doesn’t perform well – and a bad instrument is a very bad reason for any child to lose interest in music.”

Music Store Guide

Please use this list as a guide to choosing which music store to rent an instrument from. We recommend a rent-to-own program that includes free repairs during the rental period and one where rental payments go toward the ownership of an instrument. If your student chooses not to continue with band the instrument can also be returned and payments stopped without the worry of having to resell. This list is based on past experience and our professional research but you are free to choose any company you would like to do business with. 

Local Music Store Guides

2855 Lake Eastbrook Blvd.
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Phone: (616) 975-1122
Alt. Phone: 1-800-792-0123
Mon-Thu: 12pm – 6pm
Fri: 12pm – 5pm
Sat: 10am – 3pm
https://www.meyer-music.com/ – Online Rent-to-Own available
3601 Plainfield Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Phone: (616) 447-8124
Mon-Thu: 12pm – 8pm
Fri: 12pm – 5pm
Sat: 12pm – 3pm
https://westmichiganband.com/ – Online Rent-to-Own available

If you have any questions, please contact the band directors at band@csredhawks.org. We strongly value instrumental music education which starts with making sure your student is set-up for success with their first instrument!