Beginner Sax I could use a little advice, please


New Member
Northern Michigan, USA
Hi folks, I have a couple questions that I would like some advice on. I'll give you a little back ground about whare I'm at currently. This will be a sure laugh for many of you...
I played alto sax from the 4th grade to the 10th grade in H.S. My old and probably decent sax was sold many years ago......because I'm now 46 !
Several months ago I bought a real turd of a sax on ebay......only so I could say I had one and thought that someday I would blow some air through it. Well, I've actually been messing with it for an hour every night for the last week and have noticed that it's really hard to hit some highs and also some deep lows.
I read music as a child and now have no clue what note is what. SERIOUSLY!
However, I've been listening to some David Sanborn ( who I seen perform last week ) and I've been poking around and have actually begun to find some notes that sound right. At any rate....I'm having fun and relieving some end of the day stress.
The more I play the worse this thing sounds. I got on another sax forum and had asked a couple questions but the activity seems a bit slow from these people, so now I'm here.

I have to fess up about something....the "turd" as I now refer to it, that I bought on ebay was $200 :)))....and it was NEW :w00t:

Ok, enough laughing!

So before I got off the other forum I asked what would be a decent alto I could find some better sound with and a man who owns and plays 4 different sax's said that a Yamaha YAS23 would be a good student sax that would hold it's value if it's been taken care of and not abused. He said that I could find one perhaps on craigslist for $400 to $600 that would be better than the turd.

As it turns out, I've found one that the lady removed from the listing about 3 weeks ago and it's about an hour from me. She said that it was bought brand new for her son and he played it for 6 years in school. It has sat now for 7 years as the son is now 25 years old. From our conversation it sounds like they are a very musical family and I am guessing that it's not been abused.

I called a local music store and explained to the man on the phone how old it was and that it was new and not a rental refurb. He also said that it would be a good sax for me to mess around with and certainly better than the turd. He said that I sould bring it in and let them look at it for free to give it an over-all check up. BUT he said if it needed new pads then it would be $350 :shocked:

The challange is that the lady lives an hour one way and this store is almost an hour the opposite direction from me. She's not interested in letting me take it and run all over creation with it without paying and I thought it to be a bit of an insult to say I'll pay you but if the store says it needs $350 in pads I want my money back.
As it turns out....I've got that Italian Disease....MaFundsrlow AND with my work being on and off my wife didn't think it a good idea to get to deep in music at the present.

SO! With all that said.....this lady is asking $300 and said she would take $275 when I asked her ( sight unseen ) if she would take $250.

Now , here are a few questions.
1. is the YAS23 a decent sax that I could become an ok player on with practice?
2. are new pads REALLY $350 ??
3. Since it's only a 13 year old sax and not abused to my knowledge, would it demand new pads from setting in the case for 7 years after 6 years of play?
4. does $275 sound like a good price? ( it's really about all I can do right now without jepordizing my marriage ;}

If someone could get back to me in somewhat of a short time I can firuge out what to do....or not and maybe get this squared away tonight yet.

Many thanks in advance

Hi Sandelman, first of all, welcome to the cafe.
Yamaha certainly do make good sax's although I have no knowledge or experience with them.
As for whether it needs repading after sitting in a cupboard for six years rather depends on the cupboard I suppose. Put it this way, I bought a 1960's Amarti from a lady with a very similar story to yours. It was bought new for her son who played it for three years blah blah blah. When I got it I found it to be great and very playable although it was in need of a service. I had it serviced and the tech replaced two pads. All in all, it cost me £160 to buy and £180 to service. That was four years ago and she's still going strong now! I suppose what I'm trying to say is that for £340 I've ended up with a very playable horn that's earned me a fair amount of cash (and a camera but that's another story) so you have to weigh up the costs.
Good luck with your venture.
It's impossible to say whether or not it will need new pads. Beware, some technicians would say it does even if it doesn't. I find that rarely does a saxophone need a repad, often it's just a case of replacing a few pads here and there. But if it does need a total $350 is a good price.

What is exactly wrong with the "turd"? There are many very good and cheap saxophones these days, often all they need is a little bit of tweaking. Sometimes a cork or two comes off during shipping and this can make the instrument unplayable, until you take 5 minutes to fix it.

I find it odd that people on a forum and a technician are able to say that the Yamaha is better than a saxophone they haven't seen. Many (but not all) of the cheap saxes from China do compete well with earlier student saxophones.
Since a quick look around the American sites reveals a YAS23 at $1759 (see for example), I would have said that even sight unseen it's got to be worth $250. A quick run over when you get there to make sure there are no dents, bashes, bent rods, or posts coming away which will add considerably to the cost of repair and if all is ok then buy it. If you subsequently find that pads need replacing and you haven't got the money at this time then just wait, persevere with the cheap one and get the Yam fixed when you can, at least you will have it.

Hey, you may be in luck and find the thing is perfect as well.

You know you want it and at that price, I'd have it.



PS I accept no responsibility if the thing turns out to be a dog though. Caveat emptor!
Dog-gone-it! I just replied to most of the comments and questions and apparently hit the wrong button and it's gone!
So, I'll try to be short and do this again.
Thaks for welcoming me. I really like to be on a forum with quick replies, good communication and knowledgable folks.
Taz, I really do expect the YAS23 I'm going to look at to be in playable condition. I also hope to not have to invest anything into it ...for now. This instrument will NOT earn me money, cameras or even kind words :) Honestly, I can't play scales or anything that resembles a song, but I have been spending about an hour every night or day with the turd and was listening to a favorite cd and then trying to find the notes, it was a good feeling inside to have a sax in my hands again. So I'm really not going to know what to do when I go see this sax today. I thought I'd look it over really well and try to inspect the pads best asI can and attempt to hit some high notes and lows. I won't have anything impressive to play that's for sure.
Pete, I don't know what's wrong with the turd except that it's a SKY brand with flying goose brand 2.5 reeds. I don't think either are real companies :) When I first started blowing the sax it seemed to be decent for what I was looking for....then it started sounding worse as the days went on. I noticed a spring that wasn't straight and in the straight position it didn't really have pressure on the I bent it behind the note stem and it seems to play that note fine. I then noticed that there are a couple notes that when released don't seem to POP back into place but rather slowly release, almost like a hydrolic movement. The higs were really not there in the beginning ( I'm sure that's me ) but now a couple highs seem to be muffled no matter how much air I put through it. It sounds really off, bad! And NOW I'm seeing these little pieces about a 1/4" to 3/4" of very hard, orangeish matter broken pieces of glue of some sort that is in the bottom of the horn. I just tip it upside down and they fall out until it happens later, then I tip it again.
I just want to get rid of it, put the money I may recoop from it into something else and move on with something that I believe to be a better quality instrument, then the problems should be me and not the sax.
And Pete, I am always leary of a salesman selling me what I don't need :)
Moz, I know that the YAS23 would be a better instrument even if it has challanges.
So tell me folks, so I don't look really stupid when I get to this ladys home today, what should I do to really look this sax over well?
How can I tell if the pads are in good condition?
What steps would you take?
I really hope not to have it at a store so they can mislead me.
I have to leave for an appointment in about 15 minutes and will hope to hear from someone in a short time so I have an idea of what to do. I want to thank you for welcoming me and sharing your thoughts and advice. I appreciate you big time :)
I hope I'm answering this quickly enough, just make sure that all the keys move freely, those that are held shut with springs should just "pop" open when you press the keys, those that are held open by springs should close easily when you press the key end then they too should just "pop" open again. As Martin said, just check for dents and bent rods, check that the posts that hold the rods are all fixed nicely to the body and check that when you fit the kneck to the body it should fit quite tightly. The pads should have a smooth indent where the tone hole sits and should not have any cracks on them, although as Pete says it doesn't cost much to replace a few pads.
Good luck and I hope this helps
Taz, I got your message. I was not going to get the sax when I left a while ago. I am now going to give a call and plan on heading over there. I was going to take my mouthpiece and blow it a bit....that couldn't hurt could it, even though I suck ? :)
I will do as you and others have suggested. I'm pretty excited about it. And who knows, maybe I will be able to look at the Yam and see how to identify what's the problem with the turd. Knowing that this family is a musical bunch, I really do expect things to go well. I will let you all know when I get it home and perhaps snap some shots if they are allowed here and if I can figure out how to do it.

I've bought a few saxes unseen. Here, where laes are pretty strict, a sax described as needing attention usully needs little more than a pad or two, or just a bit of adjustment.

Your lemon may need little more than that, as pointed out above. Trick is finding a decent, honest tech.

A good start would be to learn about saxes and what goes wrong. Stephen Howards saxophone manual is a good, inexpensive start. Another is sites like, music medic and Stephen's own web site, shwoodwinds.

At the price the yamaha sounds to be a bargain.

Another thing that may be holding you back is the mouthpiece & or reeds. Flying goose are a little plank like. And the mouthpieces supplied with low end saxes are often pretty useless. Good budget starting mouthpiece suggestions - Rico Royale Graftonite B5 and Yamaha 4C. Try Rico or Vandoren reeds, maybe a 1.5 for starters with vandoren or a 2 with Rico.
Thanks for the advice and info. I've written down the mouthpiece and reed names and sizes so I can check a local music store. Do you think that I would be better to buy online or a store for the better deal on these items?
It's worth getting to know your local supplier. May cost a little more, but not only does it keep them in business it gives you a source of help, suggestions, music to browse through and other help. Many people complain about mouthpice quality - two supposedly identical pieces are sloppily made, one works well, the other doesn't...
I had just posted on another area about my discovery today and forgot one thing. I am getting 4 new pads and a tune up / adjustment for the YAS23 I just bought :) I'll have $305 into everything including a simple electronic tuner and a few reeds. I didn't mention this and thought since it was suggested in this section I'd reply here. The YAS 23 I bought came with a Selmer Golden Tone mouthpiece. I've cleaned it in alchohol and have used it to see how it would work. The guy at the music store who is doing the work said that it would be equal to the Yamaha 4C that was suggested I buy. SO :) I think I'm on the right I know that if it sounds really bad when I get it back.....IT'S ME :)

Thanks everyone...I really appreciate this forum, you all are AWESOME !
I trust you will supply a recording of your playing so we can all hear the results of our inputs... :)


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