Saxophones Someone asked me what their first sax should be...

wemeetagain

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stratford on avon, warwickshire
i know someone who wants to start playing sax, he is going to start by learning alto, and he asked me what sax he should buy, he intends to keep it for quite a long time. I suggested a yamaha 275 what else do you think would be suitable? How would it compare to a yamaha 275? both the saxes i play are vintage but i started on a trevor james would a vintage sax be suitable to start on?
 

RedBottom

Member
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191
Nothing wrong with any of the Yamahas. I know a lot of people who've started on a 275, sometimes a 475, and had it last them a number of years before going for an upgrade.

Vintage? There are much more experienced players than me on here who will be able to tell you all the pros and cons of learning on a vintage horn and which makes/models are most suitable. I only know that my tenor, a 1934 Buescher, bought after I had been playing alto for four or five years, is a beast to play. It's heavy, takes a lot of getting in tune and the bell pads are all on the 'wrong' side of the instrument. Nevertheless, I put up with it because it sounds gorgeous and, when it is behaving itself, is a joy to play. Would I recommend it to a beginner? No way!
 

TomMapfumo

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Skabertawe, South Wales
Hi There!

It all depends on how much your friend wants to spend, of course. The problem that I have with Yamaha "student" instruments is that several alternatives exist which offer better value and an equal/better sound quality. In the sax world Bauhaus Walstein produce excellent saxes - with an alto available for under £400 new compared to the YAS 275 which is often around £800+. Also Hanson, also John Packer are very good quality just MUCH cheaper. He could buy a BW Alto AND Tenor for less than a 275.

Similarly in the Brass world - the Yamaha 354 Trombone is considered the student benchmark, but the John Packer231/Rath Trombone is easily its equal and more. Cost of the Yamaha is £520+, whereas the JP231 is £350. There are similar examples with trumpets/cornets and others (I won't bore you with the details, but there are similar stories to be had). The point for me is that Yamaha student instruments are good quality but not as good value as several alternatives or as good sound wise. If Yamaha was the way to go 10/15 years ago I would say that things move on.

So, I would recommend the above as options - BW are available at Woodwind & Brass (Hants), Sax Heaven (Oxford) and Studio Saxophones (Abergavenny) all of which do mail order. Hanson are available by mail order, and John Packer are based in Taunton (also online)

The other thing would be that there is no reason why your friend shouldn't start with a pro horn (YAS 62, Yanigasawa A901 -plenty of others around) as it can be a false economy buying a beginner, then intermediate, then pro horn - unnecessary commercialism at times.

If it was me starting, with a high level of commitment, I would probably get a BW, and may/may not upgrade in several years time. Once you are hooked you may just want to buy another sax anyway, whether or not you need one!

I hope this helps.
Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

jthole

Member
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225
would a vintage sax be suitable to start on?
In my opinion, not really. At least not until he has developed a feeling for the tonal and intonation aspects.

I think the most important things for a beginner are intonation, and ease of playing. It's great when his first sax has "character", but that's not what is needed to learn how to play.

Now, of course, the beginners of 50 years ago also learned how to play on a vintage horn, so they are not totally unsuitable either ;)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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I've got a vintage alto - it's easier to play than a modern chinese one that I bought to practice restoration on.... And intonation is much better. So I'd say - it depends. But in general something recent is going to be a better bet, especially if you don't have an expert along to test the horns you're thinking of.

Don't rule out he earlier yamaha models YAS 21 or higher etc. Also the Jupiters. Most of the altos I see at the music school are Yamahas, Jupiters ....
 

kevgermany

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If you get a good used 275 at that price, it probably won't drop in value as long as it's looked after - the original buyer has taken the new vs used hit, but a BW at that price is going to drop, as it'll no longer be new. Don't forget to budget for a reasnable starter mouthpiece - such as the Yamaha 4C or a Rico Royal B5.
 

TomMapfumo

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Skabertawe, South Wales
Hi Again!

I am always wary when lots of a particular instrument are available secondhand - why? I have a BW curved Soprano Sax. The only decent step up would be a Yanagisawa which is nearly £2000, and the BW has a very high rating. They are both very good - just try and find a used one. Plenty of Yamaha Trumpets, Cornets and Trombones available secondhand also. I do not have THE answer, but my speculation would be that either too many are bought and people move on to "Better" instruments sooner rather than later; or that people religiously follow the path of beginner - intermediate - professional instrument without necessarily questioning it (with Yamaha saxes its 275 - 475 - 62 - 875). Try and find a used BW sax, and you will realise that people tend to hang on to them, rather than trade them in - monetary value is fairly irrelevant if you don't sell it. Also price is influenced by supply so I would be surprised if you would lose much if you ever did decide to sell a BW, for example.

Pete Thomas reviewed 4 Tenor Saxes recently (2 Vintage, a YanagisawaT901 and a BW - generally rating the BW highest!). £500 should get you a decent sax, used or otherwise, and you may be very happy with a YAS 275 at that price - the BW usually comes with a Yamaha mouthpiece, and the two recommended above are both very good.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:

Sax Heaven in Oxford has quite a selection of Alto saxes from £239 - £495, including BW, used, and Vintage so you could try some of them out for yourself if you can travel the 32 miles from Stratford. They also have a YAS275, which you could try by comparison (costs £849). I have no allegiance to either of the companies that I have mentioned, but I am concerned in value for money, and that certain brands can dominate the field without necessarily continuing to justify such reputations/price.

Final Addition: have a look at www.shwoodwind.co.uk where there are several reviews of Alto saxes amongst others which may help.
 
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OP
wemeetagain

wemeetagain

Member
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91
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stratford on avon, warwickshire
thanks, thats more or less what i suggested, i will take a trevor james and yamaha from the person who wants to buy the sax tomorrow, but i will also suggest trying out a BW as they are great value for money.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
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5,232
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Skabertawe, South Wales
Of course you could try and locate a used Selmer Mk VI..............Oh, I've just noticed the above post:shocked:

Of course, the BW has a better intonation and warmer sound, but slightly less street cred in our ex colonies.....;}

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 
OP
wemeetagain

wemeetagain

Member
Messages
91
Location
stratford on avon, warwickshire
haha, times the amount the buyer wants to spend by 10 and that would be the sax to get! but he only wants the sax to learn more about the instrument and casually play as he is a musician (mainly pianist) already.
 

griff136

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I live in Exmouth Devon.
If you can stretch your buget try and get a sax that has been cryogenically treated, non chemically de laquered and hand polished and then fitted with oversized crinkled gold plated resonators had fitted by naked teenage nymphs. well worth the extra! and it willl sound so much better!
 
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