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Easton Green
Easton Green

How To Buy A Saxophone


Ideally see if they will come with you when buying a saxophone. But bear in mind some teachers could be getting a commission from the store or manufacturer. Be wary if they insist too heavily that you only buy one make or from one shop if others also seem viable. Someone starting out as a complete novice needs to think very carefully about your first saxophone purchase. Here are a few points to bear in mind:




how to buy a saxophone



If you are buying a vintage instrument, you can often get a very good professional level instrument for a very good price, though some vintage saxophones command very silly prices (e.g. Selmer MK VI or SBA). Some vintage instruments are not suited to beginners as the ergonomics, consistency of sound across the range and intonation may not be as good as modern horns, though some are better. More information about these on the Vintage Saxophones page. If you in doubt, many shops will let you hire an instrument for a while, then take the hire charges off if you decided to buy it.


Over recent years the gap between cheap and expensive instruments has been narrowing, almost to the point where a 200 saxophone is very nearly as good in every respect as a 2000 instrument. To the majority of players the most important thing is obviously the sound of the instrument, but other factors to take into account are intonation, consistency of tone across the range, build quality (will it let you down during a performance?), feel (does it feel and sound good to play, irrespective of the sound projected?), ergonomics, cosmetics and resale value.


The saving in price is usually reflected by a not quite so rugged build quality and a more utilitarian finish. Many are made in Taiwan, which could be a saving for manufacturers compared with Germany, France or Japan. Being made in Taiwan does not mean the quality is any worse, in fact most Taiwanese instruments are extremely well made. More recently there have been some newer models from Taiwan including P.Mauriat and Cannonball which would definitely give any so called professional saxophone a run for its money.


The main thing to realise is that it may cost ten times the price of a saxophone that is almost as good, and that if you find the saxophone is not for you, you will have made quite a considerable loss due to depreciation. I cannot recommend any particular one of these, they are all built to last and have good intonation and sound. Which one is best is very subjective.


Each different make or model can have a distinctive character in the way it sounds or the response you feel from playing it. This is possibly a reason to wait until you are more confident about your playing before buying a top of the line horn. Having said that, I recently tried many saxophones at the Frankfurt Musikmesse exhibition and my favourites were a Rampone & Cazzani alto and Inderbinen tenor.


Beware any shop that tries to sell you too many unnecessary accessories. Unless you buy a professional instrument, you will probably need to buy a mouthpiece, as generally the ones supplied with the saxophones are not very good. As well as this I would recommend you get some reeds, a good strong and comfortable neckstrap, a swab or pullthrough and a stand. Accessories that may be a waste of money include padclamps, padsaver, gigdust, pad treatment and fancy ligatures.


One of the most popular saxophones for the beginner is the alto. It is heavily featured in melodic sections of the woodwind score, and many band directors are happy with many alto sax players in beginning band programs.


Tenor saxophones are what most people think of when they picture a saxophone. The tenor is incredibly popular in jazz and other styles of music for its mellower, lower pitched sound compared to the alto. While somewhat bigger and heavier, any beginner who is able to handle the weight and size of a student tenor saxophone will be making a great choice. As with the alto, the embouchure and playing techniques will allow you to move easily between other styles of saxophone.


The sopranino, soprano, baritone and bass saxophones are better suited to intermediate saxophonists who have already mastered the alto and/or tenor sax. In general, beginner sax players are steered away from these much smaller and much larger models. However, should you choose to play any of these styles, there are some excellent options out there.


Players who are starting out should be sure to stock up on quality sax accessories. After the instrument itself, saxophone mouthpieces and saxophone reeds are the most important items to purchase. Every student saxophonist will have his or her own preferences when it comes to mouthpieces and reeds, so be sure to try out many different brands and styles to determine what works best for you.


Some advanced players learn to be proficient with a number of different voicings. However, many saxophonists hone their skills on one particular saxophone type, developing their own, distinct solo voice.


Other factors making the alto a popular first saxophone is its generally lower cost as well as the wealth of classical repertoire written for the instrument. Moreover, most of the skills that will be learned on the alto are readily transferable to other saxophones.


For players who are just starting out, bass or baritone saxophones have the advantage of being relatively mobile, compared to other bass-clef brass and woodwinds such as tubas. However, they can sometimes be difficult for younger players to reach the complete range of keys, particularly with bass saxophones.


That said, the soprano saxophone is an excellent choice for those who want to produce a rich, full sound in the higher registers. The soprano is tuned to Bb, two-and-a-half steps higher than the alto, and it fits in particularly well with orchestras and concert bands. Notable jazz players such as John Coltrane have included the soprano saxophone in their repertoire as a means of expanding their tonal coloration options.


Professional saxophones offer a significant step up in tone, response, and intonation. There is usually a lot of handwork, such as hand-hammered keys and elaborate hand engraving, on the bell. The metal alloys, solders, and other materials used are of the highest quality, resulting in advanced playability and full expressiveness.


Saxophones have either ribbed or non-ribbed construction, with most modern instruments being ribbed. This refers to how the posts (the knobs that protrude from the body to hold the keys) attach to the body. Individual posts are attached to plates or sheets of brass with high-temperature solder or brazing material. These rib assemblies are then attached to the saxophone body with lower-temperature solder. Ribs strengthen the bond between the posts and the body helping to keep the instrument in adjustment longer.


Most modern saxophones have a high F# key, though it is possible to play the note without the key. A growing number of soprano saxophones offer a high G key, though again, the note is playable without the key. Selmer Paris Series III altos include a C# resonance key for improved clarity of middle C#. Low A keys are now seen on most baritone saxophones.


Welcome to the Saxophone Buyer's Guide! This project compiles over 20 years of experience spent buying and selling saxophones on a regional, national, and international basis. Over the course of these years, we've learned what to look for and how to find it. We've also learned what to watch out for and what some likely scenarios are for getting ripped off. As with any purchase, there are hazards in buying both new and used saxophones. However, by educating yourself and taking a common sense approach, these hazzards can easily be minimized. Hopefully this information will serve you well when it comes time to purchase your first or next saxophone.


This document is divided into sections that address the most frequently-asked questions about buying a saxophone. One of the biggest decisions you will face will be new vs. used, and even vintage vs. modern, so you may want to look those sections over first. Another thing to consider is the level of instrument you wish to purchase. Saxophones are made in student, intermediate, and professional models. Today's market is full of many manufacturers who claim to offer cheap "professional" model horns. The reality is that cheap still means cheap and in most instances you would be better off with an older American made student model sax than one of these so called cheap professional instruments. Read the section on models to learn how not to be deceived by bogus or exaggerated "professional" claims. Older saxes (pre-1980) are generally refered to as "vintage". Don't always equate vintage with good. Don't get us wrong, there are many fantastic vintage saxes out there and these should definitely be considered. In the vintage vs. modern section we will give some tips as to determining the quality of a vintage horn.


As part of this project, we must state that the information here is presented only as a representation of our personal experiences and opinions. Your decisions about purchasing a saxophone should include this information, but should not necessarily be limited to it. The bottom line is that you are making a significant financial decision and need to be as informed as possible to make a sensible judgment. Buying a saxophone is not too terribly different from buying a car. There are LOTS of things to consider and after following the logical list of do's and don'ts the ultimate decision is a very personal one that relies as much as anything on your "gut" feeling about that particular instrument and how it responds to you. Hopefully this guide will serve you well in your sax quest.


This section is for people who might be purchasing a saxophone for the first time. Often younger students have just decided that they want to play the saxophone, and parents are left not knowing much, if anything, about what they need. Schools will make recommendations, but these should be taken with a grain of salt. Sometimes these recommendations are made with little or no consideration given to resources outside the immediate community. Also, band directors forge relationships with local music stores that give them the best prices on merchandise and instruments. This discount may not apply to you as a consumer. The best course of action is to include recommended sources in equal stature to the other sources that you find. 041b061a72


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