Beginner Sax Decisions, decisions.

Isaac Pryce

New Member
Hello Sax people.
I wanted some advice on buying a Sax for the first time.
I've narrowed it down to two saxophones.
Ones a Selmer Buescher student tenor saxaphone thats in excellent condition and has recently been serviced.
The other is a 1957 La Fleur (Boosey and Hawkes, foreign) tenor which is in very good condition and hasn't really been played for 30 years.
The La Fleur is quite a bit cheaper at £155 and the Selmer is £325.

I'm swaying towards the La Fleur because I like old stuff haha, and maybe because its cheaper.
But maybe the Selmer will be a better instrument to start on. I'm not sure.

Any help would be brilliant.


Well-Known Member
If my assumptions about the two saxes is correct, neither will be particularly good.

My first sax was a Selmer Buescher tenor, from the 1970s. I presume that yours is the same. They are not really very good, although I do still have mine after 36 years of ownership (I am pretty sentimental). I wouldn't say it is worth £325. Build quality is pretty poor, action basic, tone OK. Nowhere near as good as a modern student tenor.

Most of the Lafleur Boosey and Hawkes saxes I have seen (particularly those marked 'foreign' have been Amati-built models. these are OK, a bit crude but again, not as good as a modern student sax. I've owned a few of these, and they're OK as rock n roll blasters. Mostly from a little later than 1957. Where did you get the date from? The price is about right, but personally I'd keep my eyes peeled for a decent used far Eastern tenor at about the £200 mark.


Café Supporter
There's stuff on the internet for both models.
I don't know how you narrowed it down to these two but if it's your first sax, there are a lot of things you'll be unable to check in used - especially vintage - horns. Things like intonation, dynamics, leaks, 'playing action' and ergonomics.

In general, even vintage saxes that play well are more difficult to play than modern saxes. The ergonomics of modern saxes are generally better. That's why vintage saxes are not recommended for beginners. These days quality control is a lot better too. The only real way of deciding whether a vintage sax (whatever make/model) is a good deal is to play it with one or two mouthpieces and reeds that you 'normally' use. And compare different saxes to find one that feels, plays and sounds best for you. If this your first sax, you're not going to able to do this. So at the very least you should try and get an experienced sax player to try them both out.

I agree with @jonf that you're better off starting out with a good modern student tenor (new/used/ex-rental) from a reliable dealer. If your heart's set on a vintage sax, then you'll be in much better place to choose one in a couple of years. There's a lot of junk on e-bay sold as 'cheap saxes' but there are also good and reasonably priced 'Eastern' makes/models.
You can find some good buying advice, reviews and recommendations at:
- Taming the Saxophone
- saxophone.org



Well-Known Member
if the Lafleur hasn't really been played for 30 years, chances are the pads are old and may have lost their suppleness and some of them may not seal properly - getting it sorted out and playing well might add significant costs to the price of the horn and Lafleur's aren't worth a great deal. Difficult to tell without seeing the instrument first hand - that's the problem with buying a sax when you're a beginner, you don't know enough to tell if it's any good or not and can't play well enough so if you do try it you can't tell if it's you or the horn that's the problem. And the person selling it may not be a sax player so can't demonstrate if it plays properly. Having an experienced sax player go with you when you're checking out an instrument is ideal, but not always possible. Maybe one of our members is local to you and could help
I'm not familiar with the Selmer Buescher but I'd guess it's similar to the Bundy saxes that were made in the 70's - not brilliant horns, but if it's been overhauled properly and the pads are all sealing well then it won't be a terrible instrument, I learnt on worse, but there are better instruments out there...
'recently been serviced' is a phrase that can mean a lot of things and sometimes with cheaper saxes it can mean 'bodged just enough to make it playable' - or you might be lucky and someone could've had it properly serviced... without playing it there's no way to tell.
Are these the only two choices available to you? Without knowing where you live we can't recommend any good sax shops nearby where you could check out a decent range of instruments..
I never found the ergonomics on old saxes to be a problem when I was learning, but I was already playing clarinet so it didn't really matter what the keywork was like on the sax, it was going to be different to the clarinet and I was going to have to get used to this strange brass thing that was going to take over my life. Other people seem more bothered about the 'ergonomics' of old saxes, so it's down to the individual
My general advice is - does it feel comfortable to you? Do your fingers fit on the keys nicely?
If you have any doubts at all, keep your money in your pocket and think it over - trying to play an instrument that you're not really happy with is not going to be fun. Learning to play on an instrument that you are happy with and you can't wait to get it out of the case is an enjoyable experience and to me that's what it should be about.
Try to get the best you can manage when you're starting out and it'll be less of a struggle

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
The Athens of The North
Forget both of them and get yourself something modern and reliable. Old instruments can cost more to fix than they are worth.

Check out John Packer instruments, new or ex-demo.


Alameda, CA, USA
I agree with Justin Chune.. forget both...
..check the Sakusu, it's a very good sax to start and not very expensive...
Good luck hunting

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