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Rules for Hire of CUMS Instruments

How to Hire

To hire instruments from CUMS please go to the hire page, and select the instruments you would like to book. The automated system will check whether they are available, and if they are, they will be reserved for you.

Invoices and Payment

After you reserve your instruments, an invoice will be displayed on screen, and will also be emailed to you. Please pay the invoice by cheque or BACS within 7 days of the performance. If there are any problems with the invoice or payment, then please contact the Instrument Management Team and the Treasurer as soon as possible.

Collection and return of instruments

Instruments should be collected from and returned to the Instrument Cupboard at the Music Faculty, 11 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP. (Telephone: 01223 335180). To prove that you are authorised to borrow the instruments, please bring a printed copy of your invoice.

On the inside of the door in the cupboard is a diagram of where the instruments are located. Please make sure that the instruments are returned to the correct place within the cupboard when returning them.

The Hire Period

The hire period runs from 12.00 noon on one day until 12.00 noon the next. As the instruments are often solidly booked, please ensure that you do not return them late as another group could be waiting to collect them. Please allow at least 15 minutes from arrival at West Road to collect or return instruments.

Opening Hours

Instruments may be collected and returned when the faculty building is open, usually between 0900 and 1700, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). Please be prepared to wait on arrival until there is a suitable break in proceedings to prevent any awkward clashes in the foyer!

If there is an event taking place, the faculty building may be open at other times (including at the weekend), but please call 01223 335180 to check this in advance with the Custodians. Please note that access is not available on Sunday mornings between 0930 and 1300.


The Hirer is entirely responsible for the safe collection, use and return of the instrument and for payment of the bill, whether sent to the Hirer or to another person on the Hirer's instruction. Please note that, despite appearances, most instruments are extremely delicate and easy to damage. Any loss or damage must be reported to the Instrument Management Team immediately, but liability for said loss or damage remains with the Hirer or their insurers. If you in any concerns about the safe handling of the instruments, please contact the Instrument Management Team, who will be more than happy to help and advise you.

Hirers must be members of CUMS

For insurance reasons, instruments can be hired only by an individual who is a paid-up member of CUMS for the period of hire. The CUMS membership subscription is £20 per year or part thereof and can be paid for at the time of booking the instruments. The membership period runs annually from the 1st October to 30th September. If you have any other colour you need to renew it.

Advanced Booking

Bookings should normally be made at least 7 days in advance of their collection date. It is possible to make bookings later than this, including for collection on the same day. However, if the booking is made less than 7 days in advance, CUMS is unable to guarantee that you will be contacted in the event of unforeseen difficulties or problems with the instruments.

Bookings can be made at most 180 days in advance. If special circumstances require a longer advance period then please contact the instrument manager.

Time multiplier charge

The charges shown on the hire page are the basic charges for hiring that instrument for part of one day or night. For longer periods, a time multiplier applies. Also, there are discounts available to Cambridge University Societies.

Length of timeMultiplier
1 nightx1
2 nightsx1.25
3 nightsx1.5
4 nightsx1.75
5 nightsx2
6 nightsx2.25
7 nightsx2.5
8 - 12 nightsx3
13 - 14 nightsx4
2 - 3 weeksx5
3 - 4 weeksx6
4 - 5 weeksx7
5 - 7 weeksx8
7 - 9 weeksx9
9 - 12 weeksx10

Extending Hire Periods Due to Faculty Closure

If you wish to hire instruments for a concert or rehearsal one evening, and the faculty will not be open on the next day (e.g. a Saturday night concert when the Faculty is not open on the Sunday), then it is possible to hire the instruments, free of charge, for an extra day. Please contact the Instrument Management Team to arrange this.


A discount of 50% is available to societies registered as University Societies with the Junior Proctor and appearing on their website. The discount is also available for groups registered as charities with the Charities Commission and appearing in the Register.

The system is not aware of any other discounts; if you have arranged one with the instrument manager, please mention it in the "any extra comments" box, and pay the amount as agreed, not as invoiced.

Reciprocal Arrangements

CUMS has reciprocal arrangements with the Faculty of Music and Anglia Ruskin University which allows these organisations to hire instruments for free. If you wish to hire instruments on behalf of these institutions, please contact the individual within your organisation with responsibility for hires, or the Instrument Management Team.

Beaters and Sticks

Beaters and sticks are only provided for the Tubular Bells, Tam-Tams, Gongs and Bass Drums as percussionists usually owns sticks for other instruments. CUMS owns a number of specialist sticks for unusual instruments or repertoire. However, these are not generally available for hire and can only be used with the prior permission of the Instrument Management Team which must be explicitly granted on every occasion.

Music Stands

Unfortunately, the CUMS music stands are not available for hire and should only be used by CUMS ensembles. This is because too many of them are lost or stolen to make hiring financially viable.

Instrument Stands

Stands for instruments which require them (such as cymbals, gongs, contrabassoons etc.) are included in the hire price for the instrument. Please make sure that both the stand and the instrument are returned. Buying replacement stands cost CUMS nearly £1000 in 2004-5.

Reporting Damage

It is in everybody's interest that the Hirer should report wear and tear, defects or damage immediately to the Instrument Management Team by either e-mail or writing it in the maintenance book, inside the cupboard.

Private practice

Members of CUMS Ensembles are usually able to borrow instruments free of charge, in order to be able to practice their CUMS Ensemble parts, as long as they only use the instruments for this purpose. Other members of CUMS may also, from time to time, be able to borrow instruments free of charge for private practice. However, in both situations, an application must be made directly to the Instrument Management Team in advance.

Excess Charges

CUMS reserves the right to charge the following excesses:
Up to 50% of the invoice total, if instruments are returned late, not returned to their correct place in the cupboard or instructions from the Instrument Management Team or Custodians are ignored.
Up to 150% of the daily hire rate for instruments removed from the cupboard without being booked on TIMPANI.
Up to 200% of the daily hire rate for instruments removed from the cupboard without being booked on TIMPANI when another group has booked them.


Cancellations up to 48 hours before the commencing of the hire period can be made, free of charge, on application to the Instrument Management Team.
For cancellations made later than 48 hours prior to the start of the hire period (12.00 noon on the first date of use) a charge of 50% of the hire fee will be made.

Total Charge

The total charge is thus:

        Sum of basic hire charges for instruments
        * time factor multiplier
        * discount where applicable
        + membership of CUMS (if you are not already a member)
        + Excess surcharge if required.

The payment should be made by cheque, payable to "CUMS" and sent to the treasurer within 7 days after the performance. Please note that TIMPANI is a fully electronic system, and will issue the invoice by email. Should you require a paper copy, please print it.


Some instruments are duplicated. For example, we have two double basses, 'Double Bass #1' and 'Double Bass #2'. These are essentially identical, but are identified as '#1' and '#2' for convenience.

Special hire conditions (June 2021)

Following a lengthy suspension as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CUMS Instrument Collection is again available for hire from 1st June 2021.

Please note that in the event of a change in the public health situation as applicable to the University or West Road Concert Hall, we may have to suspend the service at short notice; this is likely to entail cancelling existing bookings in which case it will be the responsibility of the hirer to make alternative arrangements.

If you have any queries or would like to discuss specific requirements, please contact the Instrument Management Team.

Covid security – Percussion instruments

Please use the cleaning products provided in the cupboard to spray the instruments when you pick them up and when you drop them off – we are not cleaning them between hires so please ensure that you use the cleaning products when you collect the instruments. Details of the products to use and directions for use will be on the inside door of the instrument cupboard.

Covid security – Wind instruments

Wind instruments are currently not available to book on the website as they need to be professionally cleaned between use and quarantined. If you would like to hire a wind instrument, please contact Chloe Davidson at .


The data you submit will be used within CUMS for invoicing and will also be passed to the Custodians of the Music Faculty in West Road so that they may issue you the instruments. Also, in order that other people can check the status of CUMS instruments and avoid clashes, all users of the TIMPANI system will be able to view the details of your booking.


Errors and omissions excepted. "To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer." In case of glitches where the invoice is obviously wrong, neither you, nor we will be liable. This should never happen, but if in doubt, please ask.