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Beginner Sax Gifting a beginner saxophone for Christmas - advice on which to choose needed

AlxBLu

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Sweden
This year for Christmas I am planning to gift my partner a saxophone - it's the only thing he has repeatedly said this past year that he would love to have. It would be his first saxophone, though he does play other instruments already such as, the guitar and piano. I have been doing weeks of research trying to determine which saxophone would be best to purchase but as I am not so musically inclined myself, I am still not quite sure which would be best/he would like most.

For everything I've read, it seems that generally Altos are recommended over Tenors for beginners and with that in mind the Yamaha YAS-280 is highly recommended for beginners, though I have also read good things about the Selmer Paris and Jupiter saxophones. My next step is to visit the music shop in my area to see what they recommend, but I recently came across this forum and thought some expert (unbiased) opinions would be good to have before heading to the shops. In my area the following saxophones are available:

  • Yamaha YAS-280 (~1300 $USD)
  • SML Paris A420II (~650 $USD)
  • Jupiter JAS-500Q Altsax (~850 $USD)
  • Crafton Altsax Eb m.etui SALSX-20 (~790 $USD)

Any advice/tips are very much welcome - thank you all and happy holidays!
/Alexa
 

Jeanette

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An adult doesn't need to start on alto. It would be best to try and find out which size he would prefer. Who does he like to listen to on sax?

Jx
 

Pete Thomas

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Note the SML Paris is not the same as Selmer Paris (which would likely be costing >$6000)

SML was a highly esteemed brand though (aka Strasser Marigaux Lemaire) and were great horns, however I believe in this case that is not one of the highly esteemed vintage SML, but a modern Chinese company using the SML brand name - the actual SML company being long gone.
 

DavidUK

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The 280 is worth the extra over the Jupiter. Will hold its resale value far better too should he ever upgrade.
Forget the other two.
But do check if he'd prefer a tenor. Some regard tenor as the iconic model.
Tenor will be more expensive
 
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nigeld

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+1 for checking whether your partner prefers alto or tenor. Either would be fine to start with. Altos are usually recommended for children because altos are smaller and not so heavy, and cheaper. But an adult can start on any size.
When I started I was in no doubt that I wanted a tenor, because I preferred the sound. Other people prefer the sound of the alto.

Preferably you should take him to the shop and let him hold an alto and a tenor to see which feels best - some people find one more comfortable than the other. Letting him have a honk is a good idea too, even if it is just a honk, or asking the shop assistant to play the candidates. But you would probably have to book a time with the shop for this.

In my opinion, the Yamaha is a good step above the others in your list. The 280 is an excellent saxophone.
The Jupiter would be number 2 in the list for me. The other two are probably cheap Chinese instruments - they can be excellent, but you need to have an expert try them out because their quality control is not so good.

The Yamaha sax should come with a Yamaha mouthpiece and ligature. If you get one of the others then it would be worth buying a Yamaha mouthpiece as well - the mouthpieces that come with cheaper saxophones are not usually much good.
Don't forget to get some reeds and a neck strap if one isn't included.
A stand is also very useful.

@thomsax lives in Sweden, so he may be able to give you some advice about places where you can buy.
 

jonf

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I started on tenor, as a child, at the age of 15. OK, I was pretty big for a 15 year old at 183cm/6ft, but I found tenor no problem at all to start on. So it's no impediment to getting going, so, as others have said, try to determine whether he'd prefer alto or tenor.

Of the list you have made, I would go for the Yamaha every time, if you can afford it. Jupiters are OK, but the JAS500q is their bottom of the range sax, not that great.
 

AlxBLu

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An adult doesn't need to start on alto. It would be best to try and find out which size he would prefer. Who does he like to listen to on sax?

Jx
Thank you Jeanette for your reply! It is very good to know that an adult can start on either alto or tenor, if I am being honest I am terrible with musicians names but I do know that he has said before that he prefers the sound of the tenor sax - definitely will look into the tenors as well in this case. Thanks again!
 

AlxBLu

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Note the SML Paris is not the same as Selmer Paris (which would likely be costing >$6000)

SML was a highly esteemed brand though (aka Strasser Marigaux Lemaire) and were great horns, however I believe in this case that is not one of the highly esteemed vintage SML, but a modern Chinese company using the SML brand name - the actual SML company being long gone.
Thanks as well Pete, and silly me for assuming SML was somehow an abbreviation. Well noted on the actual brand and quality associated with it. This is very helpful!
 

AlxBLu

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I started on tenor, as a child, at the age of 15. OK, I was pretty big for a 15 year old at 183cm/6ft, but I found tenor no problem at all to start on. So it's no impediment to getting going, so, as others have said, try to determine whether he'd prefer alto or tenor.

Of the list you have made, I would go for the Yamaha every time, if you can afford it. Jupiters are OK, but the JAS500q is their bottom of the range sax, not that great.
Thank you very much David, Nigel and Jonf for your very informative thoughts and votes for considering a tenor! Jonf my partner is about the same height, so I am thinking that maybe a tenor would suit him best in the end but I am now leaning towards Nigels very good suggestion of booking a surprise visit to the music shop in town where he can choose one himself. I think that is an excellent idea to have him have him be able to hold and test out an Alto vs Tenor and decide which would suit him best - this seems like quite an important, individual choice in the end. I will keep in mind though the overall suggestion of Yamaha as the better quality instrument, for the long-term. Thank you all again for your incredibly helpful advice :)
 

DavidUK

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You might like to come back again after the music shop visit and relay which ones are in the running and before he decides on one to buy.
A tenor which is nice to hold in a shop doesn't mean it will be nice to play once his fingers get going.
We can further advise which of his short list are generally accepted as good or poor from a playing, quality, investment, and value for money point of view.
Also, ask what secondhand instruments they have, whether they have been overhauled before sale and by whom, what cosmetic damage they have (ask a knowledgeable member of staff to point these out and look yourself), and what warranty.
A secondhand Yamaha tenor for example might be 65% of the price of a new one, yet be in great condition and will maintain most of the price you pay when he upgrades in future and sells it on.
A new Yamaha will lose 25% as you walk out the door.
Other brands might lose 50% as you walk out of the door.
Good luck!
 

thomsax

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Alto or tenor? I started to paly alto but when I was 16 I got my first tenor. I'm a tenorman.

Yamaha 280 "safe saxes". Easy to find a tech if you need service.

Jupiter 500 ? Maybe a Jupiter 700 is better.? Windcorp (Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö) have thier own workshops for service and repairs.

Crafton I'm not familiar with this brand. But Musikbörsen is a fine company.

SML. Never played one.

Jonas Näslund in Stockhol and Uffes Blås in Deje (Värmland) are also selling fine saxes.
 

Colin the Bear

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Jimmymack

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From the ones on your list get the Yamaha, alto is a good place to start, I wish they had been available when I started playing. The Yamaha is by far the best on your list. Be wary of buying a "vintage"/second hand instrument. He's a lucky man. I look forward to hearing from him here.
 
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Wonko

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From the ones on your list get the Yamaha, alto is a good place to start, I wish they had been available when I started playing. The Yamaha is by far the best on your list. Be wary of buying a "vintage"/second hand instrument. He's a lucky man. I look forward to hearing from him here.
I started on tenor 20 years ago, bought myself a Yamaha (YTS32) that I still play. That particular model is no longer made, was replaced by the 480 model. This sax still plays better than I do.
About second hand instruments, if you buy it from a reputable store, and it was overhauled, and they give some kind of guarantee, I would not be afraid to buy second hand.
I bought a second-hand baritone about 2 years ago (not from a store, but through this forum) and have not regretted it at all. maybe I was lucky?
I would recommend that he takes lessons to get started on the saxophone, to make sure he doesn't start of bith any bad habbits.
 

Pete Thomas

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@AlxBLu - how did you get on?
I was also wondering because @AlxBLu there is a Jericho tenor currently for sale right here on the cafe whicj looks like a very good contender. These are great horns and exceptipnally reasonable price. Granted it's in the UK so would probably mean import VAT for Sweden but still a very decent price.
 

JayeNM

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Maybe he did something bad... and ended up with Coal in his Stocking, instead (?)
 

Colin the Bear

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Coal is having a hard time over here. The older alternative was horse muck. Soprano?
 
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