supportTutorialsCDsPPT mouthpieces

What should a beginner buy? instrument recommendations for an improver?

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,405
Location
The Malverns, Worcs
Hello all, this is my first post here, so please be gentle :)
I am an adult alto saxophone learner. I have been learning for 12 months and currently play a Jupiter 500 series sax which I picked up second hand from a friend of my sister. (My sister is a secondary school head of music, her friend was emigrating and his daughter had this instrument when she was a learner. She has moved on to bigger and better things!).
I am thinking of upgrading a little and wondered if there are any recommendations for an instrument to move on to.
I prefer jazz / swing to classical. I am preparing to take my first grade (grade 4) later this year.
To be honest, I don't know much about instruments - I learnt to play the violin (very badly) at junior school, then the trombone (much better) at secondary school, but as an adult, I've wanted to learn to play the sax for years, an finally got round to it last year, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
So... any advice of makes / models to consider, or indeed to avoid would be most useful.
Many thanks in advance.
 

Mamos

Member
Messages
691
Location
Falmouth Cornwall
What sort of budget do you have.

The market for intermediate instruments has been blown wide open over the last couple of years with the introduction of high quality horns from the far east and rock bottom prices.

Have a look at Mr Howards website for some reviews of what's available

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/

mamos
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
I'd agree with both the previous comments. What is missing from your current set-up and how much budget do you have?

There are great horns from Bauhaus Walstein, Yamaha, Hanson, P Mauriat, Yanigasawa, Cannonball etc etc. You'll find advocates of them all on here. Prices range from £400 or so upwards.

They all feel differently and have different sound characteristics so it's a question of try some and see what you like the best. Ideally get to a good shop where they have lots to try. Sax.co.uk has probably the largest range around but other shops can be pretty good too.

Then there's finish to consider, they all vary from each other - even raw brass through various lacquer finished to gold or silver plated.

But I would emphasise that you should identify what's missing from your current sax that you'd like to sort or else you can spend a load more and get very little extra.

Finally there's mouth pieces, stick with the old one or change and you should possibly also consider just changing the mouth piece on your current sax.

Of course you may just want something new and shiny but much of the above still applies even to magpies like me. :w00t:
 

fishpond

Member
Messages
143
Location
Havant, Hampshire
Just A thought,
Depending on what you expect to change given a new sax, it may be worth having a chat with Stephen Howard to see if the one you have now can be tweaked a bit.
This is purely because I am thinking of doing the same with my Yas 275.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AlistairD

Member
Messages
158
This is my personal view...

I was in a similar position to yourself after playing for about 12 months... I had an eBay purchased Bentley Tenor which was great to start with and it convinced me that I wanted to play sax.

I started to look for an upgrade and played a large number of saxes and decided to go for the best I could afford in the hope that this would mean two things:
  • I would not have to upgrade again
  • I could never blame the sax for my problems, it would always be me!

I was lucky enough to find a reasonably priced Reference 36 that had been on the shop's books for about 12 months so they wanted to shift it. It also suited me better than any others...

I did consider changing the Ref a few weeks ago and tried a couple of others but the Ref is much better...

I'm not saying that's the answer for you, just my personal experience...
 

Ben Cain

Member
Messages
108
Location
Essex, UK
HI
From my point of view, I started renting an alto sax, loved the attempt and then bought a TJ Sig alto as an upgrade which I really like but after some time of playing am considering selling (as it is in perfect bmint condition) and go for a warmer more jazzy sound (selmer saII or yani 992 etc)
The went to tenor, Buffette Evette starter with link mpc, got me going then came a big change to the JK sx-90r, wonderful response etc
These have always been considered when I have reached a point of wanting a certain sound and mpc etc has not always let me find it. I'm not saying that for everyone the answer is to change horns or look for the grail within the horn world but one has to be happy with the sound but in all of us there should be I think a yearning for the sound that is indefinable but is a sound you have in your head., The sax is so flexible and an enigma.
I just love it!
I suspect I got right off the point of the post and said to much, sorry.
Ben
 

Mamos

Member
Messages
691
Location
Falmouth Cornwall
I have always fancied a Trevor James Signature Custom Tenor Un-Lacquered.

Are they actually made in England or are they just assembled here.

I find it very difficult not to be swayed by the big names in saxophones so a Sig Custom would fit the bill if they are indeed made in England.

mamos
 

Ben Cain

Member
Messages
108
Location
Essex, UK
HI
I believe they are made in England. My alto is the shot blasted silver plate with gold keywork. I changed from the link 5* rubber to a Ponzol metal mpc, wiw what a difference.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,232
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
I would say that common advice is not to bother with an upgrade to an intermediate instrument, then go for a pro instrument - just get a pro instrument!

Bauhaus Walstein are certainly worth a look, as are Yamaha 6 and 8 series, Yanigasawa, and there are Selmers available S/H for just over £1,300 or so.

You may want to look at mouthpieces/ligs/reeds if you have not already done so - often a top set-up will make a noticeable difference at source.

I, too have a Selmer Ref (54) and need no other - do have a look at what is available on the used market - PM me and I could suggest various decent sources.

Kind regards
Tom :cool:

Was that gentle enough....?
 

Mikec

Member
Messages
201
Location
Buckinghamshire, UK
I had a Jupiter 500 as my first tenor, and found the action "clunky", so I traded it in for a Trevor James The Horn Revolution II, which was much better. Two years later I tried a Bauhaus-Walstein tenor and found it an improvement again, so I bought one which I am very pleased with. The main difference for me is in the ergonomics and feel of the instruments.
These are subjective things. If you are happy with the Jupiter, then keep it. Many people use them. If you have specific problems make sure they're not just a matter of a check-over by a technician to fix a minor problem; or that you simply need more practice. If you do decide to buy another one, it's essential that you play a few before you buy.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,045
Location
I live in Exmouth Devon.
I would firstly look as others have suggested at your set up - what mouthpiece are you using.

A good quality mouthpiece can be had for under £100 and will improve your tone if combined with practice.

Secondly, as the jupiter 500 is a basically sound horn with good ergonomics, I would suggest you have your saxophone checked over for leaks and adjusted so that it is playing at its best - this will also be money well spent around £50 as if you do decide to upgrade your instrument it will sell better if in top playing condition.
 

Tommy Ng

Member
Messages
583
Location
South Yorkshire
I had a Jupiter 500 as my first tenor, and found the action "clunky", so I traded it in for a Trevor James The Horn Revolution II, which was much better. Two years later I tried a Bauhaus-Walstein tenor and found it an improvement again, so I bought one which I am very pleased with. The main difference for me is in the ergonomics and feel of the instruments.
These are subjective things. If you are happy with the Jupiter, then keep it. Many people use them. If you have specific problems make sure they're not just a matter of a check-over by a technician to fix a minor problem; or that you simply need more practice. If you do decide to buy another one, it's essential that you play a few before you buy.
My £150 Jupiter 500 is pretty good ... just kidding :D
 

RobatBlueRock

Member
Messages
100
Location
Forest Of Dean, Gloucestershire
Of course you may just want something new and shiny but much of the above still applies even to magpies like me. :
:welldone

Yeay!!! Buy a new one (if you got the dosh) we all know that buying new golf clubs & instruments make you play better!
I still find, after 30 years of playing guitar, buying a new intrument inspires me to continue the journey.

Go on.... "you know you're worth it". ;}
 
OP
MandyH

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,405
Location
The Malverns, Worcs
Wow, many thanks all for your replies. I am still pondering answers to some of the questions raised.
I have a selmer C* mouthpiece, but the ligature is the original that was on the Jupiter - so a brass skeleton sort of thing with 2 screws (I guess it probably has a term but I'm not that well educated in the terminology). So that's something that I could look at upgrading.
What's wrong with the Sax I have? - nothing much I suppose; I seem to be able to get a fair sound out of it, there are a couple of minor issues that would be resolved by a good service - mainly that the top F pad (operated by the key above the B key) doesn't really come far enough off the hole as it's missing a piece of felt, so hitting that note sometimes can be hit-and-miss.
I would say the whole instrument is very "clunky" - I am very aware of the sound of the pads and key closing / opening above the sound of the music that I am producing.
As for why do I want to replace - the direct/honest answer is that I fancy a new Sax! I guess built into that is that I saw the Jupiter as a "beginner's instrument" when I bought it, and fully intended that once I got into playing it I would upgrade to something of my own chosing rather than something that happened to come my way cheap because it's previous owner needed to get rid of it to move abroad. I suppose I don't feel very connected with it.
And for budget, I was thinking between 800 and 1000 GB pounds.

Looking forward to more of your helpful thought and comments.
Many thanks
 

RobatBlueRock

Member
Messages
100
Location
Forest Of Dean, Gloucestershire
And for budget, I was thinking between 800 and 1000 GB pounds.
That amount of budget is going to give you a lot of choice in the student/ mid-range market. I haven't got my Tenor yet (on order) but was originally thinking of spending about the same amount and ended up going for a Bauhaus Walstein at nearly half that price based on reviews that it was such good VFM.

I found a lot of other stuff in that price bracket, which were
previously rated as the best VFM but appear to have been squarely knocked of their pedestal by the lastest BW stuff.

Look at studiosaxophones.co uk and maybe speak to Pete (aka Birdman) there is a lot of competition for your budget. I know didley-squit 'cos I haven't started playing yet, but I do know how to spot a bargain when I see one. :sax:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Rock Lobster

Member
Messages
124
Can i ask fishpond what you mean by "tweeking", I have a Yamaha 275 and am very happy with it as i am a beginner and hope to develop more before i move up, (advice i got from the guys at Sax.Co incidently, i have always found them very helpful). Is there something i can do to improve or are you talking about changing the set up to change the sound?
Sorry to appear thick.
 

RobatBlueRock

Member
Messages
100
Location
Forest Of Dean, Gloucestershire
. Is there something i can do to improve or are you talking about changing the set up to change the sound?
Nooooo! It's an 'itch thing' or should we say GAS!.......... she just wants to get her own nice new shiney thing, and not have to play someone's hand-me-down!

Go on, do it!.. do it!.. your head and everyone else will try and talk you out of it ... but you'll give in, in the end!
Might as well give in now... you won't be satisfied untill you do!

Get on with it! :welldone:welldone:welldone Buy a nice new one!

Rob :w00t:
 
Last edited by a moderator:
OP
MandyH

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,405
Location
The Malverns, Worcs
Nooooo! It's an 'itch thing' or should we say GAS!.......... she just wants to get her own nice new shiney thing, and not have to play someone's hand-me-down!

Go on, do it!.. do it!.. your head and everyone else will try and talk you out of it ... but you'll give in, in the end!
Might as well give in now... you won't be satisfied untill you do!

Get on with it! :welldone:welldone:welldone Buy a nice new one!

Rob :w00t:
'tis true.
I am going to try out a few different models on Tuesday and hope to come away with a nice new shiney thing :sax:
 
Top Bottom