Should I let my friend borrow my bass clarinet?

(Yes, I posted this in the MMP thread too. Hope it’s not illegal to post here too.)

I own a rare and special bass clarinet with extra notes. A friend of mine who lives far away wants to rent it for the summer, because he needs a bass clarinet with extra notes for a show he’s playing in. He’s offered to me to pay for borrowing it, and I imagine he’ll come here to pick it up.

I’m still trying to decide whether to let him borrow it. On one hand, I do need some money, and bass clarinets with extra notes can be quite hard to find, and I don’t know where else my friend can get them from. On the other hand, I might want to play my bass clarinet during the summer, there aren’t any good repair shops near where my friend lives (and my bass clarinet, while good, is old, and often needs repairing), and besides, I’m attached to that instrument like mad, and worry about something bad happening to it.

I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to let down my friend, but I also kind of want to continue playing the bass clarinet through the summer (and worry about what might happen to it when I’m not there to take care of it).

I’m wondering if maybe I should ask my friend if he can maybe try to find another arrangement, and say I’ll lend my instrument to him if he absolutely can’t find another one?

Advice is appreciated. Thanks.


Personally, I’d say no. The clarinet means more to you than it would to him, and if something happened to it while in his possession, you’d be crushed. But I have no idea of the real value, and if he insured it you could potentially get another. Would another of the same model be okay for you?


Hmm, I’m not sure if it’s insured or not.

I was just talking to my friend online. I’m going to try to find some local music stores that could rent him a bass clarinet, and if that doens’t work out, I said that maybe he could borrow mine. It wouldn’t be for a long time and I’m sure he’d take good care of it. Also, if it’s not insured, I could easily get it insured in the next little while.

Just how fragile is this thing?

Do you think your friend is the type of person who takes care of things and, in the unlikely event of an incident, would take responsibility for a loss or damage?

If so and this isn’t a family heirloom or has similar sentimental weight, I think I’d go through with the loan. I wouldn’t personally charge cash for it, though. Maybe dinner or something.
I’d rather a friend play my rare old instrument (and I do have a rare old instrument, too) than keep it in the closet in case I may want to play it.

I would say no. By what you say, this clarinet seems to be too crucial, special, and precious for you to just give away like that for an extended period of time.

I would not lend my best friend my custom Martin guitar for the summer. Or rent it to him. I have let him play it if I’m in the same room with him.

No, I wouldn’t lend anyone my top of the line ukulele. For one thing, it is too expensive and precious to me, and for another thing I play it every day. So no. And I wouldn’t have any difficulty telling my friend this. My musical instruments are very very important to my emotional well being, and I can’t be without them. YMMV.

Do you own the bass clarinet outright or is it supplied to you by your school? If you own it, it is up to you to insure it. If you’re still living with your parents, it’s probably covered by their home owners’ policy, but it’s a really good idea to make sure that the value of the instrument is documented with the insurance company. Same goes for you if you’re living on your own. My apartment complex required that I have renter’s insurance when I signed the lease. If the instrument lives at home, it’s probably covered. However, if you take it back and forth to school/work, you should check with your insurance agent.

Years and years ago, my brother left his university basson in the backseat of the family station wagon, and it was stolen. IIRC, both the car insurance and the school’s insurance covered it, and there was some back and forthing, but the school was reimbursed, and my brother got off with a stern talking to.

I named my high school bass clarinet Thor. I miss Thor.

Speaking of insurance, I would get a separate policy specific for the instrument. The deductible on homeowners policies are generally too high to make them of much use for covering musical instruments. The insurance is fairly cheap. When my kids were in school, I insured their band instruments.

First of all, what the hell kind of show requires a bass clarinet with extra notes? And why can’t he use a bassoon instead?

Secondly, If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t lend him the clarinet. You have every reason not to, and no real reason to do it. You say you could use the money, but on the other hand you’re willing to buy insurance. If you do lend it to him, have HIM pay for the insurance.


If you have any doubt, say no.

No matter who you lend something to, you HAVE to take the position that it may be lost, stolen, damaged, etc. (This goes for books, too.) Don’t lend anything out unless you can live with yourself if you never get it back in one piece.

I asked to borrow a good friend’s classical guitar when I started to take lessons. But her late husband had given it to her and she just didn’t feel comfortable with anyone borrowing it, and I’m her closest friend and I’ve known her (now) for 50 years. I understood completely. I wound up buying one of my own and now have three. :slight_smile: Your friend will find a way.

Don’t do it. You won’t regret not loaning it out, but you might very much regret doing it.

Probably because a bass clarinet and a bassoon are totally different instruments - I would not expect someone playing one to be able to play the other unless they were a music educator and could play every instrument in the band/orchestra. It’s a bit like asking why doesn’t he play a piano instead of a trumpet - because they are different to play and have different sounds.

As far as the piece, there’s a number of composers that wrote music for whatever local orchestra/band/whatever was nearby, and if that band had (for example) 7 bassoon players, there would be seven bassoon parts, even if the normal complement is 2. I imagine whatever composer wrote that piece wrote it for a group with a bass clarinet that had extra notes and he decided to make use of that fact. The better question is why did the director of the current band pick that piece knowing he didn’t have the instrumentation to perform it?

I would lend it to him because of this -

If I felt that maybe, I could possibly, at some time, perhaps feel like playing the instrument during the next three months, I would rather see it in use. I say this knowing I’m not full of shit because a friend has both of my guitars on loan because he’s making music with them and I wasn’t.

I kind of feel this way too. He’s got a paying gig. A bass clairy, with extra notes, is a musical oddity. You own one but you just want to play it for yourself.

Plus, it’s not that good to be so attached to things. Your friend is a person, your bass clarinet is a thing. Which is more important to you?

This hippy-dippy-new-age-kumbayah “logic” doesn’t make one bit of sense to me. The question of which is more important doesn’t begin to enter into it. If her friend needed the clarinet to save his life, yeah, his life is more important than the instrument. But to loan the clarinet, which has value and meaning to her, to someone when she has doubts… no, she doesn’t have to do it. She also doesn’t have to use it over the summer to justify NOT lending it out. What kind of thinking is going on here?? I see an attempt to guilt the OP, and it’s completely inappropriate. JMHO.

Huh? Every single choice you make is about which choice is more important. No, she doesn’t have to loan it out, but she is saying that she values the clarinet more than she values helping out her friend. And, yes, some people think that is shameful. I wouldn’t go quite that far myself, as I don’t know how close they are nor whether the friend is likely to damage the instrument. But I do understand people thinking that she should loan it out based on their values and the information given.

In fact, my advice, upon opening the thread, was just going to be to make sure they come and pick it up themselves, and to make sure they would take good care of it. And if I’d have thought of it, I’d have recommended trying other options first, and I’m glad the OP thought of it.

The idea of saying no would have never occurred to me, as the idea that she was more than just a bit nervous never would have occurred to me. I was not expecting the value she had in her instrument as indicated in the OP. Again, I don’t think it is shameful, but I do think it is unusual.

I think the question is how expensive the instrument is, and how truly upset you’d be to lose it.

I have lent instruments/amps/etc out to people on many occasions, but they are all things that, with a little extra cash, I could replace if it came to that.

Have you seen how your friend treats his own instruments? Do you know he’ll take care of yours? Does he know the replacement value? I would make sure that he does, before he takes on the responsibility of caretaker for it.

If the clarinet costs more than a few thousand dollars (and I’m assuming that it’s not a student model and it does), then I would definitely think about getting it insured, whether or not you lend it out (and, read the terms to see if they cover loss and damage while in the temporary care of someone else).

I was responding to this comment:

which was not a statement about which choice is more important, as you said, but shaming the OP because she seems to be saying an object is more important than a person. Which the OP wasn’t doing at all.