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Beginner Sax Suggestions For A Good Beginner Alto Sax

OutToLunch!

New Member
Messages
23
Hey everyone, I'm a guitar player but want to start learning the alto sax. I'm a total beginner so I don't want anything ridiculously expensive but am serious about learning so I'd like something that's of good quality, has good tone and intonation, and that will last me a long time. Preferably an alto with a high F# key. I suppose I'd like to spend somewhere between 400-600 but nothing higher than 800. Any and all suggestions are much appreciated, thanks.

-Alejandro
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,916
I'm a relative beginner myself, but since nobody's replied yet...

In that price range I expect you'll see a lot of recommendations on here for Bauhaus Walstein. Never touched one myself, but i don't think I've heard anyone have a bad word to say about them. FWIW, i bought my alto second hand for £200 and 8 months later am still quite happy with it, but then I had the luxury of borrowing it for a few weeks first.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,666
Hi Alejandro, with your budget, you cant go far wrong with a Trevor James or a Bauhaus Walstein as Martin said. I don't have personal experience of either but reviews of both are good. Don't forget to put some of your budget towards a decent mouthpiece. You don't have to go mad and spend hundreds on a mouthpiece, some good ones come in the 20's 30's and 40 pound mark. I'm sure others will recommend some decent pieces.
The best advice is to take your time choosing and go to as many sax shops as possible and try as many as they've got!
 

OutToLunch!

New Member
Messages
23
Thanks for the responses guys, I'll check out some used Trevor James's and Bauhaus Walstein's on eBay. I looked at that KesslerMusic site and came across this for 600:

http://www.kesslermusic.com/KesslerCustomSax/kcast/sax.htm

And man is it a beautiful horn. It's got the high F# key and a tilting Bb spatula (what exactly is the latter?) and comes with professional setup prior to ship, this one's looking real good right now. Does anyone have experience with the Kessler student models, does it sound and play as good as it looks?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Does anyone have experience with the Kessler student models, does it sound and play as good as it looks?

Sound is really dependant on the player (and mouthpiece). Doesn't matter which horn you get, you'll sound terrible at first. Just don't blame the instrument. As you learn to play, it'll start sounding better and develop into what you want it to be.

Playability is much more important. Make sure that either the mouthpiece that comes with it is OK, or get hold of a good beginners one with the horn.
 

OutToLunch!

New Member
Messages
23
Sound is really dependant on the player (and mouthpiece). Doesn't matter which horn you get, you'll sound terrible at first. Just don't blame the instrument. As you learn to play, it'll start sounding better and develop into what you want it to be.

Playability is much more important. Make sure that either the mouthpiece that comes with it is OK, or get hold of a good beginners one with the horn.

Obviously (sorry if that sounds curt not my intention), it's the same with any instrument, I suppose I was just looking to see if the sax itself was intonated well and the like.

Which mouthpieces would you recommend? I read that some make the horn sound "darker" than others, which I would like - essentially to make an alto sound as dark as it can. Thanks very much for your input.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,923
I think a mouthpiece with big chamber and no baffle helps the player to get a "dark", "mellow" .... tone. Some players says this mouthpieces are "classic mouthpieces".

If you are a beginner I think you should learn to play with the mouthpiece thats come along with your sax. Otherwise I think Yamaha and Rico Royal Grafonite are good mouthpieces for beginners.

Thomas
 

Mack

Senior Member
Messages
521
Second hand Yamaha YAS 275 - plenty on ebay, so you can be choosy. They will keep their value - try and get one of the earlier Japanese built horns - it will be stamped on the horn by the serial number. Then practice practice practice and don't look at ebay ever again - I am now cured but at one point I had 3 altos - waste of time and money.
 

saxyman

Member
Messages
267
I suggest you do what a few others have and thats rent one for 3 months or more, you can get a T James for a nominal fee and it comes off the purchase price if you decide to buy. I had one to start with and found it very easy to play, then I moved upto a new Selmer It sounds beautiful but I found it more difficult to start with. Changed over to Tenor now as I prefer it.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Just get a decent Bauhaus Walstein Alto imported from UK - several firms do this quite regularly. Get a Runyon 22 5/6 tip mouthpiece (asplayed by CharlieParker) in the US for about $36 - get a Rovner Alto legacy Ligature, some Rico 2S or 2M unfiled reeds and get on with it.

I'm sure that you will soon be producing a decent sound within your budget. The cheapest BW Alto available is currently at www.studiosaxophones.co.uk at less than $485, and Pete Scaddam is a really helpful bloke.
Kind regards
Tom
 

OutToLunch!

New Member
Messages
23
Thanks a lot Tom, I'll look into that as well as the mouthpiece, ligature, and reeds. So the Bauhaus Walstein would be a better choice over the Kessler I linked in the previous page?
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Me from Wales, no speaky Kessler...................check via Sax On The Web for views on the Kessler.

I play a BW Curved Soprano which is marvellous - crazy price for the quality (almost up to Yanagisawa standard at 25% of the price.
Kind regards
Tom
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Thanks a lot Tom, I'll look into that as well as the mouthpiece, ligature, and reeds. So the Bauhaus Walstein would be a better choice over the Kessler I linked in the previous page?

I'd go for the Kessler, it's a lot less trouble. And there's local support if there is a problem.
 

OutToLunch!

New Member
Messages
23
Yeah I think I'll probably go with the Kessler, looks like a fine quality horn for the price. Thanks very much to everyone for the input.
 
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OutToLunch!

New Member
Messages
23
So I received the Kessler! If anyone can give some general care tips it would be much appreciated; proper way to put on/take off the neck, etc. Also is a double lip embouchure recommended or is that something more experienced players do? And one more question, what's the proper way to get quarter note and its subdivisions on the sax?
 

saxyman

Member
Messages
267
Like anything to do with the Sax, just take care, after all it is a delicate instrument. I myself always have a very, very slight smear of cork grease on the tenon of the neck. and I normally put the mouthpiece on before fitting the neck to the body, others may do different. I try and treat it with care again because it is an investment and I LURRRRRVE it (almost take it to bed).
As for the other questions I am not that experienced to comment, I am sure others will.
All the best.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
No to a double lip embouchure - i.e. oboe/bassoon. embouchure that you should aim at should be open lips (not curled inwards) about a cm or so onto the mouthpiece with your top teeth resting on the top of the mouthpiece. The lips should form a seal and ideally you should appear to frown when playing in order to achieve this - do look online for youtube clips regarding embouchure etc. which will provide useful visual support. Congrats on getting your sax!

Re your other question - you may need to spell it out a little more fully in order to offer some help.

Kind regards
Tom
 

OutToLunch!

New Member
Messages
23
All right thanks very much guys, yeah I really need to work on the embouchure I keep getting notes an octave higher than what I'm playing that gradually go down to the desired tone.

As per the other question, I took a lesson and the teacher said that to do quarter notes my tongue should be brushing against the reed, doing a "ta". I'm having trouble with this and was doing them just by sort doing staccato breaths into the horn. Either way I'm having trouble getting it down.

Also, every time before playing it's a good idea to soak the reed in a cup of water for a couple minutes correct?
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi There!

If you are producing notes an octave above then you must be gripping the mouthpiece too tightly - it might be reeds are too hard, mouthpiece tip is too large, or your embouchure is a little tight. The tonguing should be easier if you take more of the mouthpiece in and play notes very slowly to start with until you have the hang of it. Soaking the reed in other than saliva is helpful - some of us use other substances than water, such as vodka, or mouthwash (my favourite) as they also protect the reed from damage ) saliva is not good for it. It is also useful to massage the reedbefore and after playing (with thumb & on flat surface from the butt end towards the tip, in order to compact the reed and remove excess moisture.

Keep the qiuestions coming, no problem.
Kind regards
Tom
 
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