This document is divided into sections that address the most frequently-asked questions about buying a saxophone. They can be purchased through a variety of retail stores as well as online ones. After all, it's now yours! It'll probably say something like "Pattented 1914" and have an A by it. Your attitude will improve your playing more than any horn ever can. E&S models are E13`s. Does the horn still have its original factory finish, or has it been relacquered? Also, there should never be rust by the screws or ends of the rods. These horns are manufactured in Taiwan, and are hand assembled. I have driven many miles to look at a horn, only to find it sold when I got there, or not at all as described. This reflects their general misunderstanding of used instrument values and quality. A salesperson who is working on commission (the normal means of compensation in a chain store) is more likely to say what you want to hear. Old lacquer develops a dark hue and inevitably wears down in places where it is in contact with skin, clothing and the case. Mark:  Can you tell me what the engraving looks like? The worst danger is that a repair person will take off too much metal in the process. Allora AAS-450 Vienna Series Alto Saxophone. Most of the time, especially with vintage horns, the horn has been sitting for a period of time (usually years) and will leak fairly badly. You must know how to ask the right questions to determine this ahead of time. This is another good consideration for a vintage pro horn. As the 40's came to a close, Conn saxophones began losing the race to Selmer, and most players acknowledge that their production quality became inconsistent at that time. If there is a specific reason for some anomaly, perhaps they can explain it. worst saxophone brands. Some possible clues of a relacquered horn are: It's hard to see, but this 1950 Selmer Super Balanced Action alto has been relacquered... notice the shallow engraving on the top part of the bow. Saxophones were first invented in the 1840s by Adolphe Sax, an instrument designer from Belgium. Pictures in an auction can be very misleading. The bottom line is that you are making a significant financial decision and need to be as informed as possible to make a sensible judgment. New horns can cost up to 10 times as much as their used counterparts (not necessarily the same manufacturer and model, but a comparable professional horn). If you know you are going to have to pay to get rods replaced, you should figure this into your offer for the sax. The preferred places to start looking for a saxophone allow you to actually play the instrument or have someone play it for you. These instruments are fairly good, and they are generally sold at a low price. Honestly we haven't had a whole lot of experience playing these horns, but they really have developed a big following, and they even made some horns for King for a little while. Some possible warning signs for stolen horns are: When buying or selling a horn, always try to find a way to confirm someone's physical address or phone number before completing the transaction. This is yet another case of where having someone along to try it is a good idea. Sometimes people forget (sometimes on purpose) to tell you that it says "Bundy" after the "Selmer," or "Cleveland" after the "King." How do you know? Your health is more important, so bring along some anti-germ stuff. If you have questions specific to a certain model, you may have to do a little research to find out your answer. Mouthpieces are a separate purchase and will be covered only briefly in this guide. These are the questions the owner should be able to answer. The only down side of these horns is the action, which can be a little cumbersome compared to a modern horn, especially the Bb spatula key cluster. A year after my horns were stolen and all but one returned, I got a call from a guy who said he had a bari that he wanted to sell. As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of differences in the quality and manufacturing of saxophones. Many of their early models were downright peculiar. (I will address student models in detail later.). This can be a repair nightmare and can cause a great deal of expense. When searching for a new or used saxophone, there are literally hundreds of places to look on-line for it. This model also kept the "tuning neck" which was found on earler models. And even still, just because SLC has a Jazz Festival doesn't make it the birthplace of jazz that New Orleans is, let alone a culturally relevant jazz city. The rolled tone hole models, 67R for Altos and 66R for tenors, have a huge, robust sound that comes pretty close to a vintage Conn sound. You know that it has the most modern mechanism available and utilizes all of the modern production techniques. We have played Reference models that were just as good as some of the best Mark VIs, but we've also played some that were just okay, and if you are going to spend that much bread on a new Selmer it should be one of the great ones. The one difference in the way the finish can seiously affect the horn is in the case of relacquering. In mid-song, I once saw the featured Bari player change reeds. A lot of Buescher True Tone saxophones are gold plated. In fact, some music stores even rope them off or put them in glass cabinets. The E12 was not a Evette & Schaeffer, it was an Evette. Sometimes a careless player will pull down on the neck while it is inserted in the horn and cause it to bend down. In our experience, the type of finish does affect the timbral characteristics, although not in an extreme way. http://www.saxophone.org/museum/saxophones/manufacturer/61. Considering that the sax is a versatile instrument that comes in a myriad of types and styles, it can be difficult to choose … Often younger students have just decided that they want to play the saxophone, and parents are left not knowing much, if anything, about what they need. To the untrained eye, it looks like they have lots of glowing feedback, but the truth is it is all self-generated. Compare the feel of a new horn versus an older horn. A Brief History Of The Saxophone. They are great professional level saxophones, and stand up right alongside all of their counteparts offered from other manufacturers. That's not to say you can't find good deals at pawn shops. Never bid on an on-line auction that does not have photos either in the listing or available through e-mail, and ask specifically for photos showing any damage or wear. Mississippi Music and Morrison Bros. don't always have large selections of reeds. A music store with a Mark VI sitting in the window is going to act as though the horn is made of solid gold. You just never know what you may turn up. With the advent of on-line auctions, such as eBay, there was a fantastic resurgence in the number of these saxophones available, but it has started to die off in the last couple years. There are two techniques in place for evening out tone holes for proper pad seating. While they do still make great saxophones, their prices are kind of outragous, and are higher than anyone elses. Instead, we will share our subjective experience with Conns and describe their characteristics.Vintage Conns can be broken up into several models, although many do not explicitly state the model on the sax itself. We expect to see big things from Keilwerth in the future. Why should you pay X dollars for this horn when you can pay the same money and get a repadded, guaranteed instrument? Small (less than 5mm across) dents will not affect the sound of the horn, but excessive dents should be figured into the price. Not so with this sax. The web sites of these businesses are good places to go for the research phase of your purchase. alternative to a new horn. Here is a link the Conn section in the online museum to help you better aquaint yourself with what a good vintage Conn should look like. The neck is a removable metal tube that attaches to the top of the body (the soprano saxophone follows a different set of rules that I will cover later) and is covered with cork on the very end of it to allow a mouthpiece to slide onto it. A used saxophone is the most cost-effective option. Gerry Mulligan and Harry Carney were both notable Conn baritone players. In the past, curved sopranos took a bad rap for playing out of tune. A lot of pull-downs can be fixed, but if the neck has had previous repair it should figure into the cost of the horn. This is another good consideration for a vintage pro horn. The straight tone hole models, called the System 76, have a little more resistance, and are a little more comparable to a vintage Selmer.These horns have a great feel and intonation is very solid all the way through. In the worst case of getting a saxophone that has major issues that are too expensive to fix, you at least have buyer protections through ebay and paypal. They all make good, long lasting, great sounding horns. If pads do not completely cover the holes, the saxophone will not play properly and will be a great source of frustration for beginning and intermediate students. These horns can literally do anything you want them too, but they are also vey expensive. Were it not for the Internet, it is quite likely that Selmer saxes would be selling for $5000 a piece no matter what their condition or quality, although there would still be regional inequalities hiding in the Heartland. Now days, most pawn shop owners are fairly well educated as to the high dollar saxophone brands. Contents. The neck should be completely smooth with no dents. The saxophone is a complex instrument. On-line auctions have a similar feeling, although with a certain sterility. Pros of buying a used saxophone: A used saxophone is the most cost-effective option. Play nice too. The Aristocrat horns are usually fairly inexpensive and reasonably easy to find. Pads should be soft to the touch and completely cover the adjacent tone holes. Conn-Selmer. The tenor saxophone is a large instrument, and is also a B flat. Anyone can now pick from hundreds of Selmer Mark VI saxophones available 24-hours a day, every day, and at reasonable prices. This is mainly because of the number of sax brands on the market producing very similar models, meaning it can be hard to find stand out products. New (8) ... Open quick view dialog for Allora AAS-450 Vienna Series Alto Saxophone. If not, they may be waiting for the right person to purchase a misrepresented item. Sometimes you will see these for sale and shops will tout them as Selmer! Though I doubt that no reed is 100% consistant. Also, band directors forge relationships with local music stores that give them the best prices on merchandise and instruments. In this instance, you probably know what you are looking for, so we'll mainly focus on choices for limited budgets. Neck damage can be an elusive and troublesome problem. Saxophones are one of the more classical instruments that have gained popularity in recent times. Older Yamahas had weak construction with rods that bent easily and came out of adjustment frequently. There are so many models and brands that summarizing them could take forever. Dealers were forced to compete with the local-level market on the same terms as a national competitor, since the Internet provides, Before the Internet, individual dealers offered a change of pace from national retailers. "Typewriter" Right Hand Keys      "Typewriter" Left Hand Keys. If you buy a cheap instrument, make sure that you test play it so that everything is working and look closely so that it’s whole and well-made. : Yes, I'm sure. I wish you the best of luck on finding a sax. Here is a link the Martin section in the online museum to help you better aquaint yourself with what a good vintage Martin should look like. Sometimes these used student models belonged to people who stored them in a closet for years. These stores tend to have a good connection to the community as well as a good in-flow of used instruments. Martin changed models fairly frequently until they settled on a model simply called "The Martin _____" where the blank is soprano, alto, tenor or baritone. I assumed it was an extraordinary 6M, but instead it was a Mexican-manufactured student model. The Buescher is the best kept secret of vintage horns. So if you can't afford the best and most expensive horn on the planet, try and make the best decision you can with what you have, and remember that the music is what it's all about. Horns which in. The best way to purchase a saxophone is to bring someone who knows how to play it and have them try it out. And, unfortunately, some people will try to take advantage of you if you don't know what you are doing. They were sort of OK on alto but unusable on tenor. When you go and look at it, you already know the basic parts of the saxophone and general problem areas, such as rods and pads. The more horns you look at, the better equipped you will be to know exactly what you are looking at. A new sax has special appeal. When you are first starting out, it's not the sound of the saxophone that matters, it's how it looks. Has the horn ever been seriously damaged? Their crowning jewel is the Super 20 model, which in it's Silversonic version sports a solid sterling silver neck and bell, mother of pearl on every key, and sometimes even gold plated inlaid engraving (even on the larger key cups)! Included in this list are news groups such as rec.music.makers.saxophone, and alt.music.saxophone. With the advent of on-line auctions, such as eBay, there was a fantastic resurgence in the number of these saxophones available, but it has started to die off in the last couple years. Wholesale products are those that are intended to be value-added, meaning they receive some treatment by the final seller that enhances their overall value. Seller: Yes, I'm sure. http://www.saxophone.org/museum/saxophones/manufacturer/16. In reality, they are just average USA manufactured horns that have the Selmer name. Most of the time, especially with vintage horns, the horn has been sitting for a period of time (usually years) and will leak fairly badly. This may not seem like much up front, but there are many hidden parts to the added value such as a return policy, an 800 number, electronic communication, and business-level recourse in the case of fraudulent activity. If I had been someone else looking at the horn, I could have easily bought it for $50 and no one would have been the wiser. We will go into greater detail about these items as the section progresses so you can try and determine if the horn's current owner is telling ou the straight story on the saxophone in fro, nt of you. These horns are very good, and have an extremely dedicated following. You may like something completely different and unique. Pads are generally light brown in color, being made of leather, and will commonly have metal or brass discs on them called resonators. Certain parts of the bell may be shiny while the rest of the horn is satin finish. There are also other brands that specialize in saxophones, such as Jupiter's 669 student alto saxophone, or Cannonball's beginner Alcazar models. The Buescher professional model of the 40's (the Aristocrat) is an incredibly well-designed and well-produced horn. If you want to take your music seriously spending a little more to start with will mean you don’t have to replace your sax and spend more money because you’ve outgrown your sax or worse it couldn’t stand up to the amount you want to play! The retail price includes this value-added portion. Adolphe studied flute and clarinet, but he longed to create an new instrument – one that had the power of the brass family but could be played with the agility of a woodwind. Yamaha (recommended) Gemeinhart (2nd opt.) I suggest an extreme level of caution when buying horns from national dealers. Student Clarinets. Good rod, side-to-side between the supporting posts. This is HUGE when buying any horn!!! Any others that anyone knows of? It needs to be in good condition in order for the sax to play well. Moreover, each of these saxophone types have different saxophone Voices that correspond to various playing techniques and musical genres, from vibrato playing and jazz to classical music. These dealers typically relied on the premise that vintage horns were incredibly scarce and extremely valuable, a premise that the Internet has radically dissolved. These brands are, in no particular order, Selmer Paris, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, and Keilwerth. Picking up a starter clarinet doesn't have to be an ordeal, especially with the Prelude by Conn-Selmer CL711 Bb Student Clarinet. Seller: It says "Made by something...."  uh maybe Conn? All of the writing will be easy to read, and the serial number will be completely legible. If you are a beginner with very little money, a student model will probably fit your needs. King saxophones are considered one of the “vintage” brands of saxes. This is a big decision when it comes to buying a saxophone. Be sure that you evaluate the purchase price of the horn as a whole (including the interest) and compare it to your other options. This raises another possible complication of buying a used horn from a private party (and sometimes even music stores). The major advantage of this kind of retailer is that sometimes pricing reflects the regional cost structure. That way you know you are receiving all of the information on the horn and getting a horn that is properly restored. Here are a couple of things to help you out. The brand also has high quality felts and pads. You must decide if you are a player or a collector. The Conn brand dates back to … This is tough for us because we are very loyal Selmer enthusiasts. When on-line auctions began to materialize, this became painfully eveident, and the huge disparity in prices began to equalize. My personal experience with individual dealers has been highly variable and usually negative, as detailed in earlier sections. The neck is a very sensitive part of the horn. The brass used is top notch thereby making the keys stronger and not easily bent. The actual market value on the horn was closer to $300. Here are the questions you should have answered so far: Some of these questions, especially the question of new or used, will require more information to make an informed choice. Before discussing the pros and cons of a new horn vs. a used horn we would also like to say that it is always a great idea to purchase a saxophone from a professional saxophone shop. Hopefully after reading this guide, you will be better equipped to determine these important facts. "We'd all play like Stan (Getz) if we could" - John Coltrane, VerticalScope Inc., 111 Peter, Suite 901, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1, Canada. Choosing the Best Cheap Saxophone from the Best Budget Saxophone Brands. Top saxophone brands 24 items ranked. I had to think carefully about reviewing this instrument. The worst brand of reeds ever made is not even on the list. As you can probably tell we only have a few different brands mentioned here. We will try to focus on the horns which we have had. It might not hurt to ask if the tone holes are drawn or soldered. We have played many Mark VIs that really didn't sound that great, and some others that outplayed nearly any horn we've ever tried. Replacing rods on most models isn't a big deal, but there are some older horns out there that are much trickier. Some players love a certain horn and others hate it. Here is a link the Buescher section in the online museum to help you better aquaint yourself with what a good vintage Buescher should look like. Yamaha is a good brand. If I didn't know what gold plating looked like, I could have easily been fooled. They normally allow you to look at pictures and prices and get some idea what price range you'll be looking in for the horn you wish to buy. The consistancy level is very high horn to horn with Keilwerth, but there are small differences in timbre, and you might find one horn that just feels a little better than another. Our recommendation is to purchase vintage Selmers from recommended dealers such as Saxquest, or one of the other Pro-Shops around the country. Even trained eyes can be fooled by a good relacquering job. Another excellent choice in the vintage saxophone realm is King saxophones. $11.99 (No reviews yet) Write a Review Write a Review × Saxophone. The Mark VI is a little harder to nail down. Working with a dealer may be a much safer way to spend your money than private party sales, if only because as a business they are bound to a higher level of governmental and community control. You also want to make sure the sax looks like a horn you want to play. In my opinion the best known model of Alto Saxophone is a Selmer Mark VI. To avoid these unforeseen expenses it’s a good idea to avoid these Six 5 th wheel brand campers. Another good brand that has come out Taiwan that has recently come across our radar is called Chateau. I can get less squeeks from a popsicle stick.They do not work for me at all. If the horn doesn't play, you don't know how it sounds, and the value should drop accordingly. Another feedback-boosting tool some sellers use is buying or selling lots of inexpensive items specifically to receive good feedback. They have also snatched up a lot of big name saxophone artists as endorsers along the way. For someone who wants to spend a long time with one horn and has a couple thousand dollars to spend, the choice and search become more difficult. For younger or beginning students, that can be a big deal. Keilworth saxophone brands have been associated with high quality since their inception. : It has gold-colored rods. Also, weak rods are a sign of an inferior horn. If you suspect it is not, don't be afraid to question the selling party. A well-polished silver plated saxophone will still have some black tarnish on it around the posts, even if it is shiny and not satin finish. The problem, for me at least, is one of independence*. This means that the finish looks sand blasted (matte) instead of shiny, like satin. Have your checklist handy when calling, and write down ALL of the answers. Many times the seller is uninformed and misrepresenting the instrument they are selling. Do you know any specific information such as manufacture date? This pushes the dent back up, but also distorts the lacquer where the dent is. In these all-too-common cases, you must try to determine if you can get a good enough idea about the horn to decide if you want to buy it. We have mentioned some of the renowned brands and presented a diverse range for your assistance. This was the first time that a widely-distributed media revealed local pricing structures that had been previously hidden by geographic and economic diversity. A horn that has no dents and has 50% of its original lacquer probably plays very well -- otherwise it wouldn't have a good body with a lot of finish missing. Find out the serial number, the finish, the condition, and the repair history if available. We have tried the King Marigaux(Marigaux is the M from SML) sopranos, and they are fantastic. As you learn more about saxophones, you will be better able to take advantage of potential deals from pawn shops and avoid the potential pit falls. Just because David Sanborn plays a 144,000 series Mark VI alto and a Dukoff mouthpiece doesn't mean that you have to. Pictures can also be digitally edited. Read the section on models to learn how not to be deceived by bogus or exaggerated "professional" claims. Generally, the best way is to use common sense. The Used Saxophone. At worst, a dropped or ill-placed saxophone can become dented, which can be expensive to repair or unrepairable altogether. For saxophonists today, these old horns can offer a unique. Are there resources locally to try them, or do I need to look outside of my area? One of the biggest decisions you will face will be new vs. used, and even vintage vs. modern, so you may want to look those sections over first. A local pro player we know who mostly played tenor just never had the cash to buy an Alto, and he would show up to gigs playing on a King 613 student alto. um... whichever particular brand i'm playing on for the moment. All about saxophones. On some horns, especially those manufactured by Martin, the tone holes are soldered on instead of drawn from the metal of the body. We've also learned what to watch out for and what some likely scenarios are for getting ripped off. What this conversation told me was that this Conn saxophone was a "New Wonder" model alto that had probably been relacquered and was missing the original neck. In the last few years, starting around the late 80's, these problems were addressed, and the new horns are quite good. As you continue, you can narrow your focus to a specific model or brand and then start looking. Make sure you don’t skimp on quality though. Chances are that the one you are looking at isn't the one Bird used to play ". Another thing to consider is the level of instrument you wish to purchase. If you are an intermediate player with a modest budget, you can look into intermediate model horns such as the Selmer USA models, or Yamaha 52 series, or you can try and buy a used, vintage horn such as a Conn M series, or Buescher Aristocrat. It seems that there are some years that are consistently good (the 50,000 to 110,000 serial range), and after that, it is trial and error. It became clear that the Internet was a global market with thousands of people willing to pay lots of money for the items they were buying. Most 5 digit Mark VIs usually command a higher pirce than those starting in the 100,000 range. If you have a saxophone-playing friend along, make them test every note against a tuner, and play loud and soft. The internet is the mainstay of national saxophone sales in today's world. Selmer also offered workmanship and true hand-crafted quality that no other manufacturer could touch. Rods can sometimes be the only way to tell if that shiny new saxophone is made to last! 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