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Saxophones New or used?


New Member
My 12 yr. old has been playing a couple years and really enjoys it. I'm con sidering upgrading him from his decent rental to a quality instrument of his own. What I'm unsure of is if it makes more sense to look at brand new instruments or vintage instruments in good conidtion that have been well maintained. It seems to me that a well taken care of, used instrument may have more tonal character and possibly even be easier to play. Any input from experienced players and teachers would be appreciated.

Skot 10/26/11

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
St. Mary's
Many vintage instruments are not easier to play from an ergonomic point of view, and also regarding intonation, especially with modern mouthpieces. It is less and less the case IMO that a vintage instrument is the way to go for good quality on a budget, as many of the modern budget horns are now much better in general than they were 10 or even 5 years ago.

The ones I like are the Bauhaus Walstein brand, I bought a soprano and baritone and for me they are good enough to use professionally. There will probably be many more different recommendations....

If you do buy used or vintage, you really do need to know what you are doing as a damaged or neglected saxophone can easily cost anything between £100 and £400 upwards to get in good playing order.


Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom
Another +1 for Pete's advice.

Alternative plan might be to go for a used modern sax like a BW, Yamaha YAS475, Trevor James SR, Yanagisawa A901 etc. These are kind of 'medium quality' horns that play well enough to last your son into his A-levels, but are fairly easy to play and for a technician to mend if necessary. By buying second hand you are saving on the VAT and therefore can potentially get a better quality instrument for student sax money. Make sure you (or your son, or his teacher) try the sax before you buy though, to make sure it is what it purports to be.



ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Just north of Munich
Is the offer still open for students to buy new instruments tax free?


Is the offer still open for students to buy new instruments tax free?
Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS) - For Schools and College

The AIPS enables students at government funded Schools and Colleges to purchase musical instruments at VAT free prices.

The School or College buys the instrument on the student's behalf including VAT and charges the student the ex VAT price (a small handling charge of up to 5% can be added by the School or College administration). The VAT is reclaimed by the School or College in the normal way provided that the conditions below have been satisfied.

In order for a student to purchase an instrument under this scheme the following conditions must be met:

  • The instrument must be for the student's own use and be a necessary part of their music education (for example you cannot study flute without a flute).
  • The tuition must form part of the normal School or College curriculum.
  • The instrument is required for regular classroom use (for example, weekly).
  • The instrument must be portable (ie. brought to School or College by the student).
  • The student must be receiving tuition in School or College from a qualified tutor (either School or College teacher or external music tutor).
  • The instrument must be appropriate to the needs of the student.
  • The instrument must be purchased by the School or College on behalf of the student and handed to the pupil in a School or College teaching room.
  • Payment is made direct by the student to the School or College at the School or College's agreed price prior to instrument delivery.
  • The School or College cannot make a profit on the sale otherwise VAT must be paid (the school can levy a handling charge but this must be clearly stated to the purchaser on the receipt of the instrument).
Also, I think not all schools or LEAs run the scheme.

So it's quite simple, really. Unless you learn piano. Or the school's a private one. Or they don't do music lessons.




I bought a Taiwanese alto for my daughter as a learner instrument.

When I got it, I took it with me to my quartet, and to the big band I am playing in.

Everyone was impressed, including me :D

Taiwanese instruments have made a real quality jump in the last years!
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