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Buying a beginner saxophone?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by pocketgroove, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    Hi everyone,

    I don't know if this belongs here, but I couldn't figure out where else to post it.

    My little sister wants to start playing the saxophone, which I think is great. However, I don't know the first thing about saxophones. I don't know what decent starter saxes there are, or what to look for in terms of problems when going to check one out.

    What are some decent quality, inexpensive starter saxophones that will hold up and won't be a nightmare to play, but won't cause too much pain financially if she stops playing?

    Assuming we're buying used, what are some things to look for, or telltale signs of problems?

    Thanks a ton everyone, I really appreciate the help!

  2. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Music stores often have a rent to buy deal. Find one that stocks orchestral instruments and start from there.
  3. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    If you're buying used, go ahead and try to snag yourself a decent Yamaha. IMHO and IME, the quality of the sax plays a huge role in how easy the instrument will play. I grew up using a cheap Vito horn, and while I could get a good tone out of it and play it decently enough the instrument was holding me back after a few years of training.

    A few things to check are the pads and the mouth piece. You want to check for any air leaks or sticky/non responsive pads and keys. TBH, if you don't know anything about sax then I highly suggest you find a couple horns you're interested in checking out and then see if you can hire a sax teacher to come out for an hour to test the horns for you. They'll be much more qualified to determine if a horn is up to snuff. Considering how much more it'll cost to replace pads, keys, or a mouth piece, it's best just to pay an actual player to look instruments over with you.
  4. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'm assuming you'll be looking at Alto saxes?

    Student models like the Yamaha YAS-23 and Bundy II should be abundant on the used market that you could pick up cheap. However, since they're student horns, they have a tendency to be banged up. If you find one in good shape, you can usually pick them up for a good deal, and they're easy to play.
  5. I second the rent-to-buy deal. She may be able to get a package deal on horn+lessons.

    For some reason most people seem to start with alto, even though the tenor is the higher-profile working instrument. Switching between them after the fact isn't a big problem---they're in different keys, but the notation transposes to conceal that from the player.

    It's a fun instrument. I need to dig mine out and try to remember how to play it.

  6. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    Thanks for the help guys. I went ahead and just bought a new starter package that's rated pretty well...couldn't justify spending much until I know she'll stick with it, but if she does, we'll definitely upgrade. Worst case scenario, the sax shows up and it's just terrible, we'll send it back.

    Thanks again!
  7. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Yep. Yamaha YAS23s are ubiquitous on craigslist and nice instruments. They sell cheap too. Ask someone to play pretty low notes on the sax , if it plays with a nice tone, it's good to go.

    BTW, I have been a working sax player for many years and I play a Yamaha.
  8. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Yamaha knows how to make good stuff.