Beginner Sax Alto Yamaha 275 used....how old is too old?

kazkou

Member
Messages
9
Locality
Paris
Hello,
I need to buy a saxophone for my 10 year old who is continuing with the saxophone after 2 months of lessons last year. She loves it but she is 10, so not sure if she will be studying the saxophone for many years to come (I hope so, who knows?)

Her sax teacher at the Paris local conservatory has requested she get a Yamaha 275 or 280 with a Selmer 90/110 mouthpiece and of course the 2.5 reeds etc. This comes to 1070 euros brand new from the most affordable music shop (a bit more from smaller boutiques). That 's a lot for a family and I need to get a trombone for my son too! The teacher doesn't quite understand how money works so I am asking others what to do..

I have found only a handful of used saxophones for sale and they are not from saxophone dealers but families selling their kids' Yamaha 275 that the kid grew out of or stopped playing :) I found one for 580 euros that is 6 years old. Lady says it has been well taken care of by her son. Looks nice in the photos, will see it in person tonight.
Is this too old? Is it not worth it and risky? Should I go with the new and not worry about pad damage etc? My daughter will try it out, but she's pretty new at it, so not sure she will notice a subtle problem.

Any advice is appreciated.
Thanks
 
I just wanted to add that of course I will still need to get the mouthpiece which is 135 euros. the new sax on its own costs 900 euros in stores.
 
As a general rule, a 6-year old Yamaha saxophone is not too old. Well-made saxophones, such as Yamahas, last for a long time. I play a Yamaha that is 20 years old, and another sax that is 50 years old. The best thing would be if you could take a competent player along with you to try it out.

But any used saxophone really needs to be checked and serviced by a competent repair person, especially an instrument that has been used (or misused) by a child, so you should include money in your budget for this.

Most people would say that the mouthpiece that comes with a Yamaha saxophone (Yamaha 4C) is fine for a beginner, but if the teacher insists on a Selmer mouthpiece then you probably don't have any choice.
 
Buying anything second hand without knowing a great deal about the item carries some risk. As Nigel says above, if you don't know what you're looking for, if it's possible, take someone who does. As your child's Teacher is insisting on a particular setup, are they able to go with you?
Don't believe the hype that a 275 or 280 is a beginners instrument that your child will grow out of quickly. That's a nonsense :) The only way I'm going to move on from my 280 is an irrational urge to purchase, not through being'too advanced' for it.

Good luck with your search.
 
I'd be looking for a new teacher if they insist a 10-year-old "needs" a €1000 instrument after two months of lessons!
I can see the argument that learning on a poor instrument is frustrating and counter-productive, but does it really need to be that expensive? Possibly a bit of an extreme case, but my old Amati alto I've had since the mid-80s still does everything I need it to do, and it's apparently worth about £150 on a good day.

Is this a specialist music school or is that the norm now?
 
thank you for your responses.
DartmoorHedge, to answer your question, it's the city's conservatory, but I don't think all the teachers there are as demanding as her. However, it seems that many conservatory teachers in the Paris region are asking for this model.
 
thank you for your responses.
DartmoorHedge, to answer your question, it's the city's conservatory, but I don't think all the teachers there are as demanding as her. However, it seems that many conservatory teachers in the Paris region are asking for this model.
It saves thinking for themselves or being told they are giving the wrong advice.
Sort of like with computers it was said no one ever got fired for buying IBM.
 
It saves thinking for themselves or being told they are giving the wrong advice.
Sort of like with computers it was said no one ever got fired for buying IBM.
Yup.
 
I just wanted to add that of course I will still need to get the mouthpiece which is 135 euros. the new sax on its own costs 900 euros in stores.
I actually have MORE of a problem with THIS than the suggestion of the Yamaha 275. Fer chrissake ! This is a 10-year old player with not even a year of experience yet. And the teacher wants you to fork out $135usd equivalent for a student ? I know pros who play on $60 mouthpieces....so this seems an extremely unreasonable request/expectation to me.
I have found only a handful of used saxophones for sale and they are not from saxophone dealers but families selling their kids' Yamaha 275 that the kid grew out of or stopped playing :) I found one for 580 euros that is 6 years old. Lady says it has been well taken care of by her son. Looks nice in the photos, will see it in person tonight.
OK, so obviously have your kid play-test the saxophone. If you happen to know another sax player, with slightly more experience (perhaps a slightly older schoolmate ?), and can bring them along too, bring them along so both your daughter and the other player playtest the sax.

In addition to the mouthpiece and whatever price you may offer on the used sax, keep in mind that it is likely the sax will also need to go to a tech for some servicing and adjusting. I usually suggest to people to set aside around $100usd even if the horn appears to be in good shape and plays fairly well up and down.

So factor that in as well.
 
Last edited:
Generally, I expect the price of a ready-to-play fairly-new secondhand saxophone to be between half and two-thirds of the new price, depending on condition.

If the price of a new YAS-280 is €900, then €580 seems to me to be at the high end for a used 275, which is the previous model.
So for that price I would expect it to be in near-perfect condition (no scratches or dents) and not requiring any work.
Even then, I would try to get the price down.
 
Just bought a YAS 25 for a student of mine. Paid 400 Euros. Damned good horn, ready to play any kind of music without seeing the doctor first.
My student will play with the 4C MPC, as it is good enough.

In my opinion, it is the teachers work to find a good horn at a low price. There are bargains, and there are lemons out there.
That is true for Yamaha horns, although they are very consistent, and even more for Selmer MPCs! So a skilled person has to try out.

Cheers
 
Has the teacher said they will refuse to teach her unless she gets the exact horn and mouthpiece? If the teacher insists, then I'd first ask if they are willing go along to play test the used horns. It the teacher refuses and demands that particular horn, then I'd be looking for a new teacher. Being unreasonable and dictatorial are not what I'd consider admirable traits in a teacher, especially for a very young student.

I'm particularly sensitive about this as my first teacher was abusive and had violent tendencies. He was unfortunately am old "mate" of my father's. It took a year before I could get away and found that I actually liked playing sax.
 
it is the teachers work to find a good horn at a low price
I agree. Teachers must keep abreast of an ever changing market. I think that teachers need to try and assess the type of person that is in front of them and converse and treat them in a manner that they think will be the best way to connect. Expecting a student or their parents to part with £1000 on day one isn't part of that. I suspect the teacher then gives them an expensive list of music to buy too.

When I last taught at school level Jupiter was a really good horn to recommend but I found their box mouthpiece questionable, so £23 bought a Yamaha 4C. Some parents simply wanted to buy a more expensive horn. Fair enough, the student Yamaha was still a good buy as it holds its value well. A quick look on the web has a Jupiter at under £700 and a Trevor James under £600. S/h prices will be, as @nigeld says, around half to 2/3rds the price. Quite a bargain. Along with other Yamaha that are older models.

Requesting the Selmer mouthpiece is really going quite far. The 4C is very playable.

Sometimes the situation is reversed. I had a student who was a decent school player, maybe grade 6 or 7. She made noises about wanting a better horn and a trip to sax.co.uk. I asked her to let me know when that might be, and not to buy anything on the day, treat it as a fact-finding mission and report back. Have a sax put by for a few days if you're that convinced. One day, she turned up with a sterling silver Yanigisawa. I was really disappointed. Of course, she loved the look of it. Of course, she still sounded the same as she did on her previous horn...
 
A lot of good advice has already been given. I would just add that the age of an instrument doesn't matter nearly as much as how it was cared for. A best case scenario would be for the seller to take a refundable deposit and allow you to take the sax to a reputable repair tech to get a professional opinion as to the condition and playability. I concur that a Yamaha 4C is a suitable mouthpiece for a beginning student. The advantage over the much more expensive professional Selmer mouthpiece is the the design of the 4C is more forgiving to a developing embouchure and will support a more a more positive experience as the student learns the skills required for good tone production.

In my own experience I had played alto sax for about 6 months on the mouthpiece that came with the instrument before my teacher suggested I get a Selmer D. I chirped and squeaked off and on for about two weeks before I learned to control the wider tip opening and thinner side rails than my old mouthpiece. Had I sounded like that when I was first learning to play, there is a good chance that I would have become discouraged and quit.
 
thanks again everyone.
the seller agreed to meet me at the school and the teacher checked out the horn with me. turned out it needed a good cleaning but was in good condition. does need a tune-up in a few months but that's ok. I figured it would. I negotiated a bit, but the surprise was that there was a Selmer mouthpiece (cause it is apparently standard at the conservatoires) in the case, hiding. needs a good cleaning but we are good to go and now off to find a trombone.
Thank you everyone. I really enjoyed reading all your thoughts. Seems like a wonderful group. I may be back...for example to ask --- what's good link to learn how to properly and thoroughly clean a sax and a mouthpiece?
cheers
 
Has the teacher said they will refuse to teach her unless she gets the exact horn and mouthpiece? If the teacher insists, then I'd first ask if they are willing go along to play test the used horns. It the teacher refuses and demands that particular horn, then I'd be looking for a new teacher. Being unreasonable and dictatorial are not what I'd consider admirable traits in a teacher, especially for a very young student.

I'm particularly sensitive about this as my first teacher was abusive and had violent tendencies. He was unfortunately am old "mate" of my father's. It took a year before I could get away and found that I actually liked playing sax.

I am very sorry to hear about your experience. aside from equipment demands, her teacher is quite kind and patient. my daughter likes her very much, but I will keep an eye out. my early experiences with my music teacher were bad too (not abusive but cold) so I understand how much a teacher's attitude can play an important role in a student's love for music
 
I play an alto saxophone that is 85 years old. A 6 year old saxophone is a baby. Whether buying a new or secondhand sax, it is best to have an experienced player try it out before you buy.
As for the mouthpiece, everyone sounds good on a Van Doren Optimum AL3.
 
what's good link to learn how to properly and thoroughly clean a sax and a mouthpiece?

It depends how dirty the saxophone is, but for normal dirt I use a 1” paint brush, a duster, and an aerosol can of furniture polish.
Squirt the polish onto the brush, then give the saxophone a good rub with it. Finish off by polishing with the duster.
Don’t spray the polish directly onto the saxophone because you may harm the leather pads.

For information about cleaning mouthpieces, look here:
Saxophone Mouthpiece Cleaning

It is important NOT to wash the mouthpiece in hot water, only tepid or cold.
 
You have received a lot of great advice from the CS sexy saxophone team.
It's an incredible investment for a young child.
I have been through a similar predicament with two children and a private teacher. My solution was extremely simple. Of course, I laughed and purchased the cheapest instruments available. My children had to prove/show a serious level of commitment before they would receive a higher quality instrument. Instructors/teachers forget that children love green today and purple tomorrow.
 
Back
Top Bottom