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Saxophones Buying a tenor for a student -- Clueless mom seeks advice

bookmobile

New Member
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4
Greetings -- I am the parent of a 13 year old who plays tenor sax in his middle school jazz band and hopes to continue doing so in high school next year. He is a good musician and committed to playing and practicing.

He's had a loaner instrument from the school but it's time to buy him his own tenor. But I am daunted at the prospect, knowing little about what we should be looking for. We don't have a fortune to spend, but are willing to pay for an instrument that he will be able to use for some years to come. In other words, something better than the standard rent-to-buy-in-fifth-grade tenor sax; something he can continue to grow with.

Any advice on what to consider? Any particular types or brands to look for, or to avoid? Don't know where to begin, and his band teacher, while a great guy, is not primarily a sax player. Suggestions most gratefully welcomed. Thanks in advance.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,947
Ha, difficult one. Trouble with asking on a forum like this is that there are many different opinions, some of them conflicting.

As a starting point I'd suggest you get hold of Stephen Howard's Haynes Saxophone manual. The first part of it is dediacted to questions like this, but as you'd expect it doesn't cover specific brands. Available through Amazon and other booksellers, it's money well spent and as a bonus it covers care & maintenance as well.

There's a lot of mileage to be had from older saxes, they offer good value for money, but must be checked out by a technician first. Good names amongst the older brands are Conn, Buescher, Martin, King, Selmer, SML, Kohlert, Keilwerth, Yanagisawa, Yamaha, Jupiter, Vito, Couesnon but there are many others as well. With older instruments ease of playing falls as the instrument gets older. But for these makes anything from the last 30 years should be OK. Probably better to avoid a 'vintage' sax, though.

Brands to avoid - no-name & 'fake' brands from places like Ebay. Impossible to name them all. Having said that there are decent instruments to be had, but you need to know what you're doing.

Current brands that get recommended a lot here are J Packer, Bauhaus-Walstein, Yamaha, Yanagisawa (I've probably missed a few) in increasing price range, with many saying the Bauhaus-Walstein offer best price performance. There are some advantages to buying a better known brand, the teachers know them, the quality is there, and if you need to sell (e.g. trade up) the resale value is better.

And don't forget to budget for a decent mouthpiece. Doesn't have to cost a fortune, but bad ones really affect the playability.

Taking a look around sax.co.uk will give you an idea of what's on offer. And there are a couple of members here who're in the selling business - Jules and Birdman. May be worth contacting them for advice, assuming you're in the UK. Depends where you live.

But.... The important thing is that the sax works for your son - and if you can, get him to a dealer with plenty of models & mouthpieces to try. Good idea to take some music with as well. And buy him some lesons outside of the band practice.
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
That is a great answer from Kev.
Next step would be to narrow down the possibilities. That is when conflicting opinions really take off as people split hairs based on personal reasons/experiences.
I think buying from shop instead of online will carry a price mark up that is worth paying first time around using their expertise and they will be sensible about price to make a sale if they are off the mark. It much reduces the risk.
So that in turn, leads to buying from somewhere established in this field rather than a shop who are willing to just get you one.
We have people on the forum from all over so it would help to know where you are in the world as dealer names worth their salt and the ranges they sell should come flooding in.
So where are you?
And good luck!
 
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bookmobile

New Member
Messages
4
Thanks

But.... The important thing is that the sax works for your son - and if you can, get him to a dealer with plenty of models & mouthpieces to try. Good idea to take some music with as well. And buy him some lesons outside of the band practice.
Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed response. We have gotten him some outside lessons, but his teacher (a great young guy but not a music 'professional') hasn't had very specific instrument recommendations. We will try to take him along with us and go to a dealer with a good selection, as you suggest. I appreciate the input.
 

bookmobile

New Member
Messages
4
We are in New Jersey, USA. I know there are dealers in the area, but not knowing what to look for and consider, it has been overwhelming to contemplate. Thanks for your advice.
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
Have a look HERE

It seems like a good start.
USA HORN is one I know people deal with, certainly for vintage horns.
 

Greywolf

Member
Messages
59
Another consideration is maintenance. Often cheaper instruments tend not to take the inevitable knocks of everyday life (especially being humped around school by a 13 year old) quite as well as more 'professional ' models and can sometimes be trickier to repair.

Stephen Howard will be able to say a lot more about that. Better instruments take the rigours of everyday life better, are often easier to repair well and hold their value better.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Do look up JunkDude online - top man Dave, and wife Theresa who will both offer great advice - also have some good stock available from $400 up - he would be able to make some dealer recommendations in NY.

Kind regards
Tom

+1 for Phil Barone - great guy!
 

MMM

Senior Member
Messages
911
I also hear great things about TK Melody saxes, they sell only online but offer a returns policy.

Cheers,
 
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