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Saxophones Beginner alto sax advice please

beginner's mum

New Member
Hi all

I am looking for advice on purchasing an alto sax suitable for an enthusiastic 9 year old beginner. She has been wanting to learn for some time but was considered too young/small to start and so has played clarinet in the interim. She is still very keen and has proved herself to be both able and diligent.

We live near Maidenhead so the music teacher has recommended the Windcraft sold/made by Dawkes at £395 inc VAT. However, I was wondering how it compares to the Altona Solar from Umbrella Music which is substantially cheaper at £230 inc VAT.

We REALLY don't want to spend more that we have to but at the same time want to make sure it is a decent instrument to last her a few years at least. Is anyone familiar with either or even both instruments? Or do you have another suggestion altogether? We could at a push visit Umbrella Music but we know nothing whatsoever about saxaphones.

Any advice would be gratefully received!
I won't give you advice as to which sax to buy for your daughter ...

But ...

I believe this is one very big step for her to take and could be quite a long journey that your daughter seems keen to begin ...

I would recommend you give her the best you can from the outset ... rather than start with the cheapest and maybe change later to something more expensive ... That's often the way things go ... ;}

Ask your daughter what she thinks, involve her in the decision making process, it will help her understand many things [including value] and it will also help cement her dedication to the journey [music/sax] if she helps to make those often difficult choices ...

I hope you get the drift of my ramblings ... They are meant to help ... :thumb:

Other members here will be along soon - and they will be more able to help you choose [they are all nice people] and offer very good advice ...

PS - I must point out that outright purchase is not the only option for you - many sax traders offer - Hire schemes as well ... check them out ...

Best wishes ...
I've just had two cheap altos, both originally sold as beginners instruments. Both were unplayable due to setup problems.

One came with a nice Selmer mouthpiece, which helped make it a little easier to play - but didn't fix the sax. Whoever had it before must have been put off for life.And I think it was a young girl.

As a parent of three bidding musicians I understand the costs... But it'll be cheaper and better in the long run to get something that's good enough to play properly, so your daughter can learn to play, not learn to fight the problems..... Trouble is you're going to have to trust someone to sell you something that works, AND provide good backup/service afterwards.

Hopefully someone will give you some feedback on Dawkes. If you're completely in the dark, Bauhaus Walstein are well thought of here in the forum. And I wouldn't discount the benefit of having the teacher on your side if there's a problem with the sax.

There's a Yamaha YAS 23 for sale on the forum (look in the yardsale). Even though it's not new, I'd buy that before either of the choices you mention in your post. It'll play well and outlast her if she takes care of it.....
I'm fairly sure that at 9 years old some of the satisfaction is likely to be owning a new sax but in reality the best value when all things are considered is likely to be a used one.

The optimium blend of build quality, tonal quality, minimum depreciation etc from the beginner budget that represents best value for money is most likely to be found in a very good condition used sax.
Would this effect the enthusiasm?
If not, the next step is to find some one who can assess locally advertised ones on your behalf and advise with your best interests at heart.
Perhaps thats easier said than done unless any of the established forum members here knows of any.

But thinking about new ones for a moment, there is a much greater choice of budget saxes than when I started playing and many of them are priced today as I paid in 1987. Circa £400.
Sorry I've been out of that range to long too offer experienced review.
Good luck
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Sunray is spot on, what ever sax you get, your daughter is the one who will playing it so she needs to be trying them to see, apart from everything else that the one she ends up with feels right,
i would also agree with Sunray that hire schemes are a good option
Double post oops!
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The only advice i can give is don't fall into the trap of buying a really cheapo Chinese made sax, they can be hideous bits of kit and some don't even play in tune! (bit like me) and known to many as saxophone shaped objects, on the other hand better made Chinese sax's such as the Bauhaus Wallstein are reportedly brilliant.

Have you considered renting one from somewere such as ? maybe a better idea at the moment than purchasing something you know little about.
The only advice i can give is don't fall into the trap of buying a really cheapo Chinese made sax, they can be hideous bits of kit and some don't even play in tune!

This is true, however I have tried the Altona Solar (Altone?), and for £230 it's a stunningly good saxophone. I haven't tried the one at Dawkes so i can't comment, except to reiterate that many of these very cheap instruments are not good.


It's also on the thumbs up list from Stephen Howard:
Also, as I mentioned before, if your daughter is having lessons at a state school, you can purchase the sax via the school and not pay the VAT.
I think if it's a private school, or a private tutor, then this cannot apply.
Don't forget to beat the bushes for a relative who used to play and still might have their horn. It's surprising after you plunked down some serious money for a decent instrument how many people found out that, oh yeah, Uncle Bob used to play and still has his sax.
Thanks for all the great advice folks :)

Though our budget is virtually nonexistant I am keen not to fall into the trap of making a false economy. Very happy to buy second-hand, in fact this is what we did for said daughter's clarinet. But I was buoyed by the write-ups on Stephen Howard's site saying thae some of the 'ultra-cheap' instruments are actually pretty good, possibly even better that some of the £400 price mark stalwarts (eg Jupiter).

One turn-up is that on chatting to another parent at my dd's gymnastics club I discovered that her daughter had just started. She said she made the mistake of buying an ebay cheapie which was rubbish and sent it back. She/her daughter tried the Windcraft and the Yamaha at Dawkes but eventually, on recommendation bought a sax from SMS and she says it is fantastic and likens it to the Yamaha. She is bringing it on Thursday so that my daughter can try and we are go to Dawkes on Saturday. The Altone is out of stock.

Yes state school and aware of the very useful VAT scheme.

And Gandalfe, I have shaken the old family/facebook tree but nada! That's how we got a flute for my older daughter :)
. The Altone is out of stock.

Stephen is right, some of the very cheap ones are great. But it\'s a pity the Altone is out of stock, it's what I would have gone for given the budget and all the alternatives.
Stephen Howard posts here sometimes. Trouble with the Chinese stuff is sorting out the good from the bad. And most of the set-up problems are only fixed after a trip to a technician. One reason Bauhaus Walstein are so well thought of - it's already been done.
If you live anywhere near Huddersfielf/Oldham, I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Hanson Music in Marsdon village.
Alastair Hanson is a lovely fella, and extremely knowledgeable about all brass/wind instruments.
They have some very good deals going, including free servicing, and they certainly used to have a 'rent-to-buy' scheme.
I haven't tried their cheapest saxes lately ....I started on one of their intermebiates(SA-5), but they'd be worth a visit, if you are not far away ....the coffee and welcome are always warm!
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If you look on his website he has an SA1 beginner alto sax kit for £239 (£160 reduction) - well worth it!

Also do have a look on - there are a number of alto saxes at the £200 which have hardly been used - a new player has given up quite early on, and there are often complete sax kits with minimum useage. I find it a very reliable site and have used it several times.
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Hi Nik

I would just add that it is near-essential that you do try before you buy, as at 9 you may find some makes/models don't quite fit your daughter properly.

My #2 son started playing at 7½ on my clunky old Amati alto, and it was a year later we went shopping for a saner instrument for him. At least one of the 3 we tried, he couldn't reach round the palm keys! But we did find one that was OK, and thus didn't have to go the Alphasax ("cut down" for smaller hands) route.

For what it's worth, we ended up with a Yamaha 275, which would appear to have held its value pretty well (and, of course, plays and sounds great), so you could do much worse than come to an arrangement with jonf for his YAS 23 (see the Yard sale), assuming you can try it out...


Its just a thought. Your daughter could take out membership of the Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain for £5. The autumn edition of the CASS magazine has 23 year old Amy Roberts on the front cover with her alto.

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