Alto Saxophone Lesson I
How do you get a Saxophone?So you want to play the Alto Saxophone and you don't have one to learn on? The first thing you have to do is get an Alto Sax. This can be very complicated for the first time buyer because there is so much contradicting information on the web and every music store seems to tell you something different.
The most common ways to get an instrument are renting, buying and borrowing. Sometimes rentals have an option to buy once you have paid enough of the rental to cover the full retail of the instrument being rented.
THE QUICK NOTE -
You can read the full article below, but for those looking for the quick answer.
Renting a new or used SaxophoneRenting can be a good option if the sax student is young or has a history of trying things and moving on. Rentals usually have a 3 month minimum commitment and many times that is all that's needed to decide whether interest is growing or done. The cost of 3 month rental might run 150.00 but far less than a purchase that could run 1200.00-2200.00. The loss on a resale of a saxophone would exceed the 150.00 rent, often times by a good margin. So, if you think it might be just a faze, try renting thru a local music store.
Borrowing a used Sax from a friendBorrowing a sax is a great deal since the price is right and it seems silly to not use a free sax when available. The issue that can arise is the saxes playing condition and repair costs. If the borrowed instrument needs a lot of work to be in good playing condition, the cost can be really high and the sax is not even yours. If we are talking about 75 bucks, it probably would not matter, but if the sax needed an overhaul and the bill was a couple of hundred dollars, you would have some thinking to do. One other note, a new or rented sax should come with the needed accessories. These include a mouthpiece, reeds, ligature, mouthpiece cap, cork grease, cleaning swab, and neck strap. Buying used and borrowing a sax will probably mean you have to purchase these things.
Buy a Used SaxophoneBuying a sax has 2 options; used and new. Buying a used sax can be very costly on the repair issue again. I got an email asking why a used sax repair could cost 300-500 dollars and some new saxes cost 500 dollars on ebay. Saxophones have lots of moving parts and repairs can be made to every one of these moving parts. The time involved to check over the sax, replace the old parts and adjust and readjust that sax can really add up. The parts costs don't add up near as fast as the time. In the pro world I can spend a thousand dollars getting my Alto overhauled by a good repair man. It is specialized work and done right, it's expensive.
Buying a used sax for a first time buyer could cost a mint getting it playable. A sax teacher or sax player could be used to help make a used sax purchase, or possibly getting permission to take a sax to a local repair shop to get it checked before putting the money out. Otherwise - Buyer Beware.
Buy a New SaxophoneBuying a new sax has really been complicated over the past few years. We now have Taiwan making saxes with anyone's name on it, so there are more "name brands" than ever before. Some of these saxes are great and some suck. Some are sold as high dollar pro horns and some as student lines, and many are the exact same saxophones. I have seen the same basic sax selling for a thousand dollar difference because of the name on the bell. The name does not make it work any better. Add the Chinese saxes that are about half the quality of saxes from Taiwan and you see saxes selling new for $450.00 online. Problem is, many of these amazing deals do not play. I have played many cheap saxes and a few where good, most really sucked. To be fair, the cheap saxes have been improving, but they can still be very inconsistent, leaving your child with a pretty, shiny sax that no one could ever play. For the record, a saxophone is far more complicated than a trumpet or flute and these cheap saxes do look great, but will kill any interest in music your child once had if they never get better. Buyer Beware.
Buying new and safe, quality saxophones has cost. The name brands that are great names for quality and resale if your child gives up music for football next year are Selmer and Yamaha. The Selmer Bundy and Yamaha YAS-21 - YAS-23 are both great student saxes to learn on. Other quality starter Altos would include Keilwerth, Yanagisawa for major companies and Mauriat, Cannonball, Hollywood Winds, Baptist and LA Sax to name a few of the newer makers.
The going price will be 1200-2200 for a nice playing, student Alto. If you are going to spend any money at all, you might want to ensure your child has the chance to experience success and enjoyment with their music.
Conclusion on Saxophone BuyingMany have asked, "Isn't a 500 dollar sax better than no sax at all?" I have always answered, "NO!" You are better off waiting than killing the interest in music because of an unplayable instrument. We only enjoy the things we are good at. How long would you try blowing into a tube and never hear a note come out? I had a flute student that came to 4 lessons and never got a sound. She was totally done with flute and I moved her to Piano for 2 years so she could build self confidence again.
More Alto Sax LessonsAlto Sax Lesson 1 - Buying My First Alto Saxophone
Quick Notes or full article - Buy, Rent or Borrow?
Alto Sax Lesson 2 - Alto Saxophone Accessories
What do you need to play an Alto Sax?
Alto Sax Lesson 3 - Alto Sax Assembly
How do I put my Alto Sax together?
Alto Sax Lesson 4 - Play Alto Sax
How do I blow and finger my Alto Saxophone?
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