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Beginner Best way to start playing Saxophone?

Xstasea

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Manchester
Hey everyone,

Great forum, have really been enjoying reading all the threads.

I’m based in the UK and play Guitar and a bit of piano. I have always wanted to learn how to play the sax as I love the blues, and that more slower emotional style of saxaphone.

I was just wondering what you guys would reccomend is the best way to start. I don’t really want to hire the instrument and would much rather buy one. Unfortunately in Manchester there really aren’t many shops to visit and try out a sax in person and even on things like Gumtree there just doesn’t seem to be anything good available.

So going via the online route I’ve seen some good packages on places like sax.co.uk and Gear4music as well as on Amazon. I’m just wondering what you guys would reccomend?

With a guitar getting a basic setup is pretty cheap but obviously the quality is pretty poor (although much better these days than when I first started many years ago). I have also seen people rave about the Jean Paul AS and it looks nice . For budget I’d really be looking at 500 GBP max.

Second, in terms of learning to play. Is the sax an instrument similar to guitar where you can just learn to play songs pretty easily or will I have to go to a qualified teacher and do gradings, learn how to read music. The whole jazz side does not interest me at all. But the classic/blues style is something I love.

All help greatly appreciated :)
 

Phil

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500 can get you into a more than decent used sax. Id look into that from a reputable dealer. Stay away from ebay and auctions. You can really easily buy a money pit that will eat your budget and beyond. Id look at a yas-23, a used vito or jupiter with good pads and already adjusted. You are better off with a good used sax than a cheapo new one. It may be glossy but thats about all.
 

mizmar

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Is the sax an instrument similar to guitar where you can just learn to play songs pretty easily
Seems to me not or not much, but that doesn't imply you need grades or sight-reading.
The sax really needs to be voiced. It's just doesn't, for the most part, play the note pressed. So it's often recommend to get a teacher to get the basics of noise generation in good shape - not to mention reed faffing, transposing etc. With your experience, you probably have quite good ears, so it won't be too hard.
 
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greenstripe

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Definitely recommend getting a teacher for a few one to one lessons to get you started and before you pick up any bad habits. They might also be able to point you in the right direction and help you choose a first saxophone.

There's also the dilemma about which type to start on -tenor or alto, both are a decent place to start but purely from a budget point of view: like for like alto saxophones tend to be cheaper.

You should be able get a decent used alto from a reputable dealer for £500.

Set up of a saxophone is very different from a guitar as in your can tell straight away on a guitar that hasn't had a decent setup. A saxophone maybe less apparent for a new player still finding their feet and doesn't know if the problem is their technique or the horn.
 

greenstripe

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And to add: saxophones and accessories tend to multiply in the same way as guitars!

Alto player here (1 year): I've just bought a tenor which is in with the tech for a setup and check over.
My teacher is looking forwards to me starting on tenor and doesn't feel that there will be any problems learning both at the same time and doing lessons on both.
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
I recommend you try a recorder first. The basic finger shapes are the same. You can learn fingers without struggling with a reed. Then when you pick up a sax you have a basic idea of what's happening.
If you can't get on with a recorder you won't get on with a sax.
There's lots to learn with a saxophone. For a start it's a transposing instrument. Tenor and soprano in Bb. Alto and baritone in Eb.
It doesn't play in tune and needs player input.
Reeds are a minefield and a nightmare. So much choice and a drain on funds.
It's also a high maintenance machine and needs regular adjustment and service.

Having said all that, it's a rewarding, expressive and addictive instrument that will delight and frustrate in equal amounts.
 

Colin the Bear

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Xstasea

New Member
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4
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Manchester
Wow thank you all so much for the help. Yeah Liverpool might be a good shout as that’s the closest place that seems to have good stock. As I said here in Manchester it’s pretty dire. That’s good tbh, if I can learn how to play Baker Street in the first year that will be enough of an achievement for me lol. Luckily there are a few teachers here.

Thanks for the link to the Thomann startone. Does anyone here have any experience with it? I was looking at the Sukussu ones on sax.Co.uk. The package they sell for 350 Pooh da seems pretty good and comes with everything to get started. Same as the Jean Paul AS - 400 which seems to get a lot of positive reviews, I don’t know why but the sound of it to me doesn’t seem quite right .
 

Xstasea

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Manchester
Just need the sax first

It’s really tough finding one to be honest, many cheap options and many more mid range options. I’ve checked eBay and gumtree and unfortunately there’s just nothing close by where I can go and check it out in person. Do you guys potentially have some recommended stores in the North West of England?
 

nigeld

Too many mouthpieces
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I agree about having a teacher to get you started.

You need to decide what size sax you want. Most people start with tenor or alto. It's a question of which you think sounds nicer and which feels more comfortable in your hands. In general, altos are cheaper.

If you can find a good secondhand instrument then you should get more for your money than buying new. Yamaha YAS-23 and YAS-25 are very good instruments, also the YAS-280, but that will probably cost more because it is newer. You would be lucky to get one for £500.

There is a good, cheap tenor sax in the Café YardSale right now.

+1 for Curly Woodwind in Liverpool.

Another place to look for secondhand instruments is Hanson's in Marsden, West Yorkshire:

I don't know whether WoodwindExchange in Bradford is still going, but that would be another possibility if so.
 

greenstripe

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West Yorkshire Woodwind in Bradford have this: Yamaha 21 Alto Saxophone - West Yorkshire Woodwind

Gear4music have a big showroom in Leeds -not a Woodwind specialist but they have a vast stock, they only sell new and ex-demo though


Curly Woodwind in Liverpool:
 

DavidUK

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You've cited some alto models so far. Is that what you want for sure?

I started on a Jupiter alto and still prefer alto today (although somehow I've added 5 tenors recently). If you can find a Jericho alto they are a great alternative to the ubiquitous Yamaha for half the money.

If you'd like a tenor the Jericho in Yardsale is one of the MkII versions from 2019. I had one of these which I sold recently for £300 so the price is OK. Plus the seller is a well-known member so everything should be as described.
 

Jeanette

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+1 for Hanson's, they are poor communicators by email but brilliant if you visit in person. Might be worth a telephone call first. No sales pressure.

Jx
 

Colin the Bear

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Gear4music horns aren't what they used to be. Also I ordered a mouthpiece which was very poorly finished. When I requested a return they said keep it and gave me a refund. Very strange. As if they knew
I'm very impresssed with my startone baritone from Thomann. It causes quite a stir at gigs.
Cheapest new alto out there. 3 year guarantee.
 

MikeMorrell

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Hi @Xstasea and welcome to the café!

FWIW, I played (as an amateur) different guitars from the age of 10 up until the age of about 45. So I gradually learned to distinguish between individual guitars in terms of 'tone', 'action' and 'playability' (w.r.t. price).

When I first hired and later bought a (tenor) sax, I didn't have a clue! I had no playing ability on sax, let alone fluency. I had no idea which mouthpiece and reed combination would be suitable. I was lucky in that my 1st sax was 'very playable' and had a reasonable tone.

Years later, I bought a 2nd (vintage) sax. At that time, I had much more playing experience and I was more sensitive to 'tone', 'action' and 'playability' on sax as I was previously was on guitar. I tried out out a couple of different new and vintage saxes and eventually decided on one that (for me) was the best.

Bottom line: I highly recommend that you try out different saxes before buying. Preferably with an experienced sax player. A sax that just 'fits', 'plays' and 'sounds' right is probably going to motivate and support your sax playing than one you bought at random online.
 
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DavidUK

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This seems a good buy, but beware - NEW eBayer!
Suggest messaging for more detailed info first to (a) see if the reply and (b) find out about condition. (Why is postage in dollars?) Looks can deceive!...


See @Stephen Howard review here: Yanagisawa A-500 alto saxophone review

As it's a buy it now item, it will probably be gone fairly soon I think?
 

nigeld

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This seems a good buy, but beware - NEW eBayer!
Suggest messaging for more detailed info first to (a) see if the reply and (b) find out about condition. (Why is postage in dollars?) Looks can deceive!...


See @Stephen Howard review here: Yanagisawa A-500 alto saxophone review

As it's a buy it now item, it will probably be gone fairly soon I think?
I'm a bit suspicious about that one. It's a 30-40 year-old Yanagisawa that looks unplayed, so it's a bargain if it's genuine, but the fact that the seller is a new eBayer, and the price in dollars for an item sent from London seems a bit odd. I guess it's possible that it was bought years ago on a whim and never played much.

I would want to know more about its history, and whether it is in playable condition - for example whether the pads are OK. A picture showing some of the pads would be reassuring.
 
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