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Beginner Sax Advice for a new starter - Second hand instrument

robbo100

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Hi all,

I am looking to buy a tenor saxophone for my teenage son to learn to play. I used to play the clarinet when I was younger, so have a bit of an understanding of reed instruments, but I didn't play for long and wasn't very good, hence the need for advice. :)

My son is a fairly accomplished musician already, being about grade 8 on the electric guitar. He is really into Jazz and wants to learn tenor sax in order to continue his learning of Jazz music. We don't want to spend a fortune on a sax at this stage, until he has decided that it right for him. However, equally, we know how much a good/bad instrument can influence the effectiveness and enjoyment of the learning process.

With this in mind, we are looking to get a second hand instrument in the region of £400 to £500. Something that will hold its resale value, so he can upgrade later if his skills develop, but good enough to be nice and playable.

I have found an Arbiter Pro Sound Tenor, which is for sale for £425. It looks in good condition, but I have no idea if this is good value or not. I have seen that they have historically sold for a lot less on ebay, but it is impossible to tell whether this is a like for like comparison.

So, my questions:

1) Am I right in thinking that the second hand route is going to be far better than getting a £350 new instrument from Gear4Music (as an example).
2) Does £425 see reasonable, or is that far to high and are Arbiter Pro Sound saxophones good for a beginner
3) Are there any specific things we should be looking for, or alternative routes we should consider?

Thanks in advance for the help.

Robbo
 

Stephen Howard

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1) Am I right in thinking that the second hand route is going to be far better than getting a £350 new instrument from Gear4Music (as an example).
2) Does £425 see reasonable, or is that far to high and are Arbiter Pro Sound saxophones good for a beginner
3) Are there any specific things we should be looking for, or alternative routes we should consider?

1) Definitely - at least over the long term
2) Seems a bit on the pricey side to me. It's a decent-enough horn though
3) At around £400 you're definitely in Yamaha 23/25 territory - and you'd be hard put to beat those horns.
 

robbo100

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Thanks @Stephen Howard

Am I right in thinking that the Yamaha 23/25 are alto sax? According to my son, the Tenor is more widely used for Jazz music. Is he right in assuming this, or would an alto also be good for that genre?
 

robbo100

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Actually, he has just corrected me - he is really into John Coltrane, who plays the Tenor, so that is why he is keen to go for that type of instrument.
 

Stephen Howard

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No, the 23/25 is a series number. So you can get a YAS23 (alto 23) and YTS23 (tenor).
Tenor more widely used in jazz? Hmmmm, well that's debatable. For as many well-known tenorist that people might be inclined to mention, there's an altoist.
Thing thing is not to focus on the horn, but on the style of playing that your son prefers. For example, who does he listen to? If he's listening to Charlie Parker, Lou Donaldson, Tom Scott etc, then he probably wants an alto.
If he's listening to John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Tubby Hayes etc. then he'll want a tenor.

Or you could surprise him with a baritone...
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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Welcome to the Café.

A used Yamaha YTS-21, 23 or 25 tenor would be a safe buy, but I think you will need close to £700 to get one in playable condition.
 

robbo100

New Member
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9
Thanks everyone for the warm welcome and the helpful advice.

Looking on the second hand market there aren't many YTS models on the market at the moment and £700 is a but too high for us to be honest. Also, given the current lockdown situation, I am nervous about buying before trying. I watched a youtube video from Jamie Anderson, where he bought a second hand YTS for £400, but then had to spend another £250 getting it into shape. Still probably a good price, but not something that will be easy to resolve in Lockdown.

I think I will see if the Arbiter Pro seller (who is selling through a shop, so has had an inspection and check) is willing to drop their price to something more do-able, and maybe go for that. If not, then keep looking and see what comes up.

Thanks again everyone

Robbo
 

robbo100

New Member
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9
The other option, is a 1970's Conn Shooting Star from Hanson for £550 (not sure if it comes with a case or not, and seems to be without a mouthpiece)...
 

DavidUK

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Good to mint YTS-23/25s come up for sale (in my world of bargains, NOT on eBay!) quite often at £250-450. On average once a fortnight. They do sell fast at that price and lockdown doesn't help as tenors are particularly tricky to post/courier (Parcelforce the cheapest via Interparcel.com - so it's insured for loss AND damage).

I'll keep an eye out for you. Whereabouts are you?
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Looking on the second hand market there aren't many YTS models on the market at the moment and £700 is a but too high for us to be honest. Also, given the current lockdown situation, I am nervous about buying before trying. I watched a youtube video from Jamie Anderson, where he bought a second hand YTS for £400, but then had to spend another £250 getting it into shape.
I don't mean to be a doubter, and I don't know the UK market as I do the US one...but, anyone landing a play-condition, no-work-needed Yamaha-branded 23 or 25...for 400quid...is a very, very (did I mention 'very' ?) lucky bloke.
Am not saying give it up....and with David being your second set of eyes that ups the possibility...but there ARE other options out there besides a Yamaha student horn.

~ BTW, in case you are unaware - look also for Vito Tenors. Vito was a brand which subcontracted all of their saxes out to other factories, and Yamaha made them for quite a long time (30 years or so). They will have right-side bell keys, that is one tipoff.
They look exactly like Yamaha 21/23/25 saxes, just engraved "Vito".

Here in the states, those tend to go $100 or so cheaper than one engraved "Yamaha", odd as that seems since theya re literally identical horns/models.

~ I am gonna say this again.... and I suspect folks are getting sick of reading it....

.... but (sit down and hold on to the armrests now)...believe it or not....

a Yamaha 21/23/25/whatever....is NOT the ONLY GOOD, viable option for a used, budget, beginner/student Tenor.

~ If you come across any Jupiter tenors, those are IMHO as good. Just look for ones with the model designation JTS as opposed to STS...the latter being their earlier horns, and it took jupe around 10-15 years to get with the curve on producing respectable saxes...by the time they relabeled them JTS, they were strokin'.
A 6XX or 7XX or 8XX series, or a Carnegie or Capital series, are good, solid saxophones, and can oftentimes be found cheaper than a Yamaha.

~ Buffet "Evette" or 100 models. Also good horns. Interestingly enough, on a recent thread here we have been discussing the likelihood that the Evettes are actually Jupiter-made.
The 100's are not, they are their own thing, ROC-made as well but actually, finer horns than a Yama 23-ish horn. You can occasionally find a 100 Tenor for $600 on this side of the pond, so if again one has some luck you might be able to nab one for 500-ish quid over there.

Just mentioning these because @robbo100 , in your search do not dismiss other reputable brands and models. Yamahas are often a default suggestion (with good reason), but they are not the only models worthy of consideration....

the Conn 16M, you mention, for example..a VERY good horn. Even if a USA made one (it will read USA on the bell) the price is a tad steep, unless the horn has been completely repadded and cleaned. But a good choice for a beginner player, for sure....I just dunno if you want to wade into the vintage sorta models. There are a good half-dozen pre-1980's Tenors which would be quite appropriate suggestions if you do.
 

DavidUK

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I've only ever seen one Yamaha Vito tenor in the UK for sale. I had an option at £250 but it needed work. Plenty Yamaha Vito altos (be wary of Vitos by other makers - ask here if in doubt) at £50-200 in the UK. I've had three, still have one now, but tenors rare here.
 

DavidUK

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Jupiter 500 series here: London

Bought new for his son, lasted 4 lessons then put away 2 years ago.
Best price £260 and you arrange courier (approx £25 via Interparcel.com and Parcelforce).

Negatives? Student model; seller isn't a sax player; packaging help may be needed, i.e. how to safely pack; check condition, how does he know?; may need a service or set-up.

Pay ONLY by PayPal for goods, not friends and family. Risky buying blind.
 

DavidUK

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For hiring, see also: Saxophones - Seeking advice for a returning player.
Yamaha YTS-280 £29/mth minimum 3 months from Richard. Give him a call maybe?

Guards against buying a lemon (Sequoia excepted) until Covid has gone and your son can go try out a few in person. With that in mind, and the possibility he may not take to sax, as many don't, this would be my recommendation rather than buying right now.
 
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