Instruments FAQ

Can I rent an instrument from the Center for Irish Music?

Yes!  The Center for Irish Music rents out Irish-specific instruments like uilleann pipes, Irish flutes, harps, bodhráns (Irish frame drum), tenor banjos and mini-accordions for beginners. If you are looking for a more common instrument such as a fiddle or guitar, we recommend contacting a local music shop to rent or buy a quality instrument.  To rent an instrument from the CIM, contact the office at admin@centerforirishmusic.org

How do the instrument rentals work?

A limited number of instruments are available for rent from CIM. To find out which instruments are available for rent, contact the office at admin@centerforirishmusic.org.  Generally, there is a $10 per month fee plus a refundable deposit (20% of replacement value). The deposit is payable in full at the time of rental.

When the instrument is returned, the deposit will be refunded, minus the cost of any necessary repairs. The condition of the instrument will be determined by one of the CIM instructors upon the instrument's return. The monthly rental fee will be charged through the student's Jackrabbit portal.

Where should I go to rent/purchase a fiddle?

Here are some places that our students have been happy with:  Groth Music (Bloomington), Quinn Violins (Minneapolis), and Fein Violins (St. Paul)

Where should I go to rent a lever harp?

We recommend Groth Music.

What's the best first whistle to get?

A whistle in D, sometimes called a "high" whistle.  We recommend Generations or Waltons.  Irish on Grand carries them as do most local music shops.  Groth Music has a wide selection of whistles in different keys.  You can also purchase one for $10 at the CIM at your first lesson. Contact admin@centerforirishmusic.org in advance to make sure we have them in stock.

What if I want a nicer whistle?

Michael Burke D whistle narrow bore in brass (expensive, but good and always available), John Sindt (long waiting list), Tony Dixon Alloy High D Whistle (quality varies widely, we recommend to try them out in store if possible, available from Hobbgobblin in Red Wing or at their booth at the Irish Fair of Minnesota).  If you can get a hold of a O'Riordan whistle, they are great.  Jerry Freeman tweaked Generation whistles are a great deal.  Keep in mind that there are always new good whistles being made, so we encourage you to do your own research.

What kind of Irish flute should I buy?

For your first flute purchase, we recommend getting the highest quality keyless flute that you can afford.* Keyless flutes are generally made of two materials:  Polymer or wood.  Polymer flutes have the advantage of being low maintenance in Minnesota's harsh climate and they are less expensive.  Recommended polymer flute makers are David Copley (he offers CIM students a 10% discount!) M & E flutes and Desi Seery.  Wooden flutemakers our students have had good luck with are Brian Byrne, Eamonn Cotter, John Gallagher, and David Copley.  There are many excellent flute makers in the US and around the world, many of whom have wait lists.  Talk to your instructor for wooden flute recommendations.

*There are some terrible, cheap flutes for sale online. If you buy a cheap Irish flute, make sure there is a good return policy and have your instructor try it before the return deadline.