6 Tips For Buying The Right Saxophone


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  1. Are you ready to start playing, but your don’t own a saxophone?
  2. Are you confused about all the options available?
  3. Do you want to get going but you don’t know how to choose the right saxophone?

Looking for answers to these questions? Then look no further. The information you need is right here!

The Right Saxophone Could Save Your Musical Life

  • A poor quality instrument could suffocate your learning
  • A poor saxophone could cause a beginner to quit. Definitely an unnecessary premature musical death.
  • Have a long musical life. Let’s get the right saxophone!

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The List (Tip #1)

The models I recommend are on the lists below. For your convenience I have placed the model names at the bottom of this post for ease of “cut and paste” when performing a search online.

Update 10/20/15- Looking for advice on a new saxophone in the $300 range? Here’s some guidance in purchasing from the “Cheap” saxophone market. Check it our here!

Student/Beginner Models

Selmer AS 500, Selmer AS-711, Yamaha YAS-23, Yamaha YAS-26

Selmer AS 500, Selmer AS-711 (Prelude), Yamaha YAS-23, Yamaha YAS-26

Intermediate Models

Selmer SAS280 (La Voix II), Yamaha YAS-475, Yamaha YAS-575, Yamaha YAS-480

Selmer STS280 (La Voix II), Yamaha YTS-475, Yamaha YTS-575, Yamaha YTS-480

Professional Saxophone

Selmer Super Action 80 Series II, Selmer Super Action 80 Series III, Yamaha EX, Yamaha 62, Yanagisawa 991

Hey! My favorite saxophone isn’t on your list!

Hey! My favorite saxophone is not on your list!

 

Yes, there are many excellent saxophones out there.  I recommend the brands on the lists because of their consistency in regards to quality. I want to make sure your new saxophone is the proper tool for you, so you can start playing right away!

There are additional models made by these companies that would work well too. For example, an older student model by Selmer is the AS 300; this too would work well as a first saxophone. If you become interested in a saxophone that is not on the list and would like my opinion concerning the quality and price, please feel free to e-mail me (jeff@learnsaxophoneonline.com) or post a comment below. 

Should I Buy a Beginner, Intermediate or Pro Model? (Tip #2)

The professional saxophone is designed with the professional musician in mind.Which saxophone should I buy? If you are a person who likes to buy professional equipment (as a beginner), there is nothing wrong with making that purchase.  However, if you purchase a good beginner model (as a beginner) you will have all the tools necessary to succeed in the beginning stages. Just know that beginner saxophones are significantly less expensive and are of lesser quality.

If you are considering a brand new beginner model, then I would strongly suggest taking a look at a new intermediate saxophone too. The prices of these two categories have become quite close recently, and the intermediate saxophone would be worth the extra money in terms of quality.

A Questionnaire

Which is the right saxophone for you?

Are you a:

How To Make Money With Your Saxophone (Tip#3)

When spending money, it’s always nice to know if there is a possibility of a return on your investment. Beginning and intermediate instruments depreciate in value after original purchase.  Professional models, over a period of time, retain their value. A few actually exceed their original retail price!

Don’t Avoid The Used Saxophone Sales PersonNew Saxophone vs Used Saxophone (Tip #4)

It’s possible to purchase a used intermediate horn for about the same price (or less than) a new student mode. The intermediate saxophone is a significant step up from a beginner model. 

A used saxophone does not diminish in quality unless heavily damaged. Depending on the amount of money you would like to spend, the intermediate category becomes a stronger option when purchasing a used horn.

Additionally, you can find some deals on a professional horn that are just a few hundred dollars more than a new intermediate horn.

Take a Test Drive (Tip #5)

There are many options for trying out a saxophone.

  1. Call your local music store and see if they have any of these models.  You will be able to try the saxophones at their store.  It may be helpful to take someone with you who knows how to play the saxophone.
  2. Contact online stores about their trial programs and return policies. They understand that customers like to try before they buy, and can be quite accommodating.
  3. Check out Craigslist.  There can be some great deals from this website. Before you buy a Craigslist horn, take it to a repair shop and have them look it over. It’s important to make sure it works properly; you don’t want a faulty horn. This can create difficulty and frustration during the learning process.
  4. Ebay is another option; make sure there is a return policy so you can follow the same guidelines I have given when purchasing from Craigslist.

Note- Just because a saxophone does not play well at first, it does not mean that it can’t be fixed. Most used saxophones (without major damage) can be repaired to a new or nearly new condition.

Renting – A Great Option (Tip #6)

for rent

Many music stores rent instruments.  Some of these stores incorporate the monthly rental price into a “rent to own” deal. Some will even give you credit towards an intermediate or professional instrument purchase as you rent from them.

The benefits of renting include:

  1. Confidence in knowing that you have a good instrument
  2. Some retailers will provide annual maintenance on the instrument at no charge to you
  3. Monthly payments instead of a large lump sum
  4. Rent to own option 
  5. Building store credit toward the purchase of an intermediate or professional saxophone

Free Lessons!

These 6 tips will guide you in choosing the right saxophone. Once you have your saxophone, start with free lessons by clicking the button below. Fill out the form, and you’ll be playing your first song in 1 weeks time (possibly in just a few days)!

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Want to improve your tone, learn to read music, and play your first song? Do all of this in 1 week with our free lessons!

Makes and Models

Beginner Saxophones

Alto: Selmer AS 500, Selmer  AS-711, Yamaha YAS-23, Yamaha YAS-26

Tenor: Selmer TS-500, Selmer TS-711 Yamaha YTS-23, Yamaha YTS-26

Intermediate Saxophones

Alto: Selmer SAS280 (La Voix II), Yamaha YAS-475, Yamaha YAS-575, Yamaha YAS-480

Tenor: Selmer STS280 (La Voix II), Yamaha YTS-475, Yamaha YTS-575, Yamaha YTS-480

Professional Saxophones

Alto and Tenor: Selmer Super Action 80 Series II, Selmer Super Action 80 Series III, Yamaha EX, Yamaha 62, Yanagisawa 991

Question

What’s the most important characteristic to you in a saxophone? Brand, price, color, easy to play? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below! If the comment box is not below, Click Here!

Comments 206

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your question. If you are looking in that price range for a new instrument,there are going to be a lot of similarities between models. I have not personally played on one of these saxophones so I can’t give you a strong opinion either way. However, Antigua is a company that is working on becoming bigger in the saxophone world (they also sell instruments that they label as intermediate and pro). This may be a stronger name brand to purchase from (rather than from another saxophone company who only makes 1 saxophone). If you decide to purchase this saxophone, I would suggest to do so from a place like wwbw.com who are a large online retailer. They have a return policy so you can return the instrument if you don’t like it, and I would think they would sell products that have a low return rate. Let me know if you have any other questions or would like more details. Have fun playing!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey Nagwan,

      There are so many saxophones available out there and not all of them are great. This is not a commonly known saxophone brand and my luck with such companies has not been good. If you are looking in the price range of $500-$700, I would suggest purchasing a used Yamaha student model. You can probably buy it for less than $500 too. Let me know what you find. Good luck!

    1. Post
      Author

      Buffet makes top of the line clarinets and has done so for years. This is a good sign for their saxophones. I have never played on their saxophones, but I have only heard good things. I’m sure it will work well for you. How do you like it? Which model do you own?

  1. I am an alto sax player,and i would like to buy YAS-480 as an intermediate model.The horn costs 1500,00 euros.Do you think that this is a good horn?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Billy. Yes that would be a great saxophone to purchase, however, over here in the states you can purchase a used Yamaha 62II for around $2000 USD. It’s a professional saxophone and the 480 is an intermediate horn. I would try out both as see what you like. Let me know what you find!

  2. I bought a Buescher Aristocrat Tenor Sax in 1968 with paper route money. How does it rate with your tone and quality scale?

    I also bought a Selmer/Bundy II alto sax from eBay in the last few years–What is your opinion on both of these?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Steve,
      Glad to see that you’ve already purchased a couple of horns! Which one do you prefer? There are ups and downs to both newer and older saxophones. It all depends on what you prefer. Some of the older saxophones really produce a nice tone but the key work is not as friendly as modern instruments, even compared to modern student models. However, some of the newer student models won’t last many years. With the older horns (like your Buescher), you know they’ll be around a long time if you take care of it. If you’re a beginner, both saxophones will work. I suggest taking both saxophones into a shop and ask them to play on it- just to make sure the horn isn’t fighting you. I would also suggest (while you’re at the repair shop) playing on a modern horn so you can get an idea of the differences. That way you can make an educated choice concerning which horn you should be playing on. It needs to feel good and sound good. As you progress you’ll get a better handle on what you’re doing and you can always upgrade at that point. Hope this helps!

  3. Hi there,

    I want to buy and play sax (previously I played all kinds of guitars and a little bit of a piano).
    The problem is that I live in Croatia which means there are not too many places to buy sax and I don’t want to buy used ones or from another country as then I don’t know where to take the sax to repair it.

    Now…the only sites I found were these (please copy paste it into a search bar because I can’t make it a link)
    (website addresses edited)

    Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Smon,

      That is a tough situation to be in when finding a saxophone. Here’s the problem: no matter if you purchase a used saxophone or a new one, you still need to have a service shop available to you. When I bought my Selmer Series II (brand new) they told me to bring it back within the next month or so because the leather pads change shape. This is understandable when realizing that the pads have never been used, and then they are exposed to moisture and drying out on a daily basis. This is prone to warping which will cause the saxophone to leak. This is why I would look for some type of service shop in your area (or a place you can ship it to in order to have service performed).

      As far as saxophones you asked about, I would say that they are all descent student models, but they seem to be the same price as a used model that are recommend in this article. I would suggest the article recommendations.

      Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

      1. Hi, my name’s Simon actually haha (made typo)…

        I would like to buy recommended sax but I would also like to stick to “local” shops.
        Could you tell me which one to buy from that sites?

        Thank you.

        1. Post
          Author

          Thanks for letting me know the correction in your name Simon!

          Just to make sure I understand your request- the websites you sent me are local stores and you would like to purchase from one of them. Is that correct?

          1. Post
            Author

            Thanks Simon- I still have the site addresses. I do have a hard time recommending other saxophones, especially the less expensive saxophones. Some of them tend to fall apart after a short time. Laying that aside, (even though I have not played on these saxophones myself) I have seen some positive reviews on the Roy Benson and Amati brand. If they are authentic (and not a knock off displaying the name) then they can be a good beginner horn. The Amati intermediate horns are sold by big name retailers here in the USA, so that might be a good choice knowing that large retailers trust the manufacturer. As you go into the shops, make sure you follow the suggestions mentioned in this article. Make sure they have at least a year 1 warranty on their saxophones where you purchase the saxophone. That way, if anything goes wrong in the first year they will fix it for you without needing to ship it off to the manufacturer. This type of free warranty is common here is the US. I hope this helps. Let us know how it goes!

  4. Hi, I’m deciding between Selmer SAS 280 or Allora Paris Series Professional Alto Saxophone. Musiciansfriend.com is selling the Allora Paris for $1129 and the Selmer SAS 280 for $2439. What are you thoughts on these two saxophones?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Sam,

      I would recommend the Selmer above the Allora- if price is not a deciding factor. Depending on where you live, you could probably find the Selmer at a local music store. Sometimes they match online prices too! For the price range you’re in, I would also suggest a used Yamaha 62 II. They are a professional horn at the same price range your considering (the other 2 are intermediate saxophones). If you buy used, make sure you can play it first, or that it has a return policy. I’m interested to know which one you choose. Let us know!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Paula,

      To answer the second question first, you should avoid any cheap saxophone. There are so many of them (and they can pop up at any time) that it would be difficult to name them all. You can identify this level of saxophone by its price. If the saxophone is around $300 (or less) brand new, chances are it’s not a great saxophone. Many repair technicians won’t even work on an instrument in this category, which means you’ll need to do your own repair. These are the saxophones I would avoid.
      Concerning the Jupiter- there are a lot of people who like this brand and they have some great players on their artist list that sound great. My personal experience has not sold me on this brand. As of today, a new Jupiter is in the same price range as a used Yamaha 62. I would suggest the 62. If you have a music store near you, go and try out all their saxophones and that might help you with your decision process. If you found a Jupiter for a great price, I’m sure it could be a good horn for a beginner (it’s great for some pros!). If you buy used or new, try to purchase from a company who will give you a money-back guarantee. Bottom line- I’ve never suggested a Jupiter to any of my students and would suggest the brands named in this post.

      1. HI,
        When you say go and try them out in the stores.. I just started taking lessons and can really only play twinkle, twinkle little star, or jingle bells so far… Will I know when I try it out if i like it when I’m still brand new at all of this? I have a Jupiter and I’m getting used to it… I do plan to look for an intermediate or professional sax once I know how to play… Do you think I can adequately judge the saxophones when I’m still so new?

        1. Post
          Author

          Hi Victoria,

          Great question! I think it would be difficult to judge at this point, but as you mentioned, down the road you will be interested in a different saxophone. At that point, you’ll be more advanced and you should be able to feel the difference between your saxophone and the “step up” saxophone. Of course, if you can’t tell the difference, that may be a sign that there’s no need for a new saxophone as of yet. When you do compare to yours, make sure your saxophone is in top working order to adequately judge and compare. You can always have your lesson teacher meet you at the store and have him/her try it. Or, maybe you have a friend or an acquaintance that plays saxophone that could check it out as well at the store. I would love to hear how your search goes, and thanks for the question.

          1. Thanks so much! Great advice. I will keep you posted. There is an event locally in April called “Horns of plenty”. I will go browse with a sax playing friend… But as you said, being a novice, I should probably wait until I know what I’m doing. Again – Thanks for he great advice!
            Victoria

          2. Post
            Author

            “Horns of Plenty” sounds like fun and hopefully a great opportunity to explore a bunch of saxophones. Bring your mp and reeds, because if it’s like a saxophone convention, they want people to try their saxophones. I think it’s smart to get some playing under your fingers before spending a big chunk of change on a saxophone. Good luck!

  5. Hi Jeff, I would like to ask you a couple of questions as I see you have been very helpful. I am a student playing saxophone for 5 years now, and I have been playing a fairly decent Selmer AS-300. I do not plan on makig a career in music or anything, but have taken to playig quite seriously. I have been interested in getting something better. I was looking at a particular YAS-82Z selling for 2500 nearby. Do you think that is a reasonable price? Also what can i expect from the 82Z? My second question, I have attempted playing tenor and bought a Selmer Mark 7 nearby for what I thought was a very good deal. Now Tenor just doesnt fit me it seems and I would like to sell it. What do you think about this series (yes, of course in the shadow of the Mark 6), but how much do you think I could sell one in good condition for?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Sergey,

      The Yamaha Z is a great horn, and for $2500, you can’t get a price better than that! As far as today, they sell new for $4000- at the least. Just understand that the Z is designed for the jazz player. I would suggest playing a Z and an EX side by side and see what you like best.

      Concerning the Mark 7, it depends on how much you originally spent on the horn. I’ve seen prices around $3000, as of today. Take that number, in relation to how much you spent, with the addition of how fast you want to sell the instrument. If you need to sell it fast then price it at the bottom of what you think is acceptable. Hope this helps. Let me know what you decide on the alto!

  6. Jeff,
    Thank you for the article. I have a 10th grade daughter that has been playing in school. She’s not a serious player but does enjoy playing. She has been using a King Empire Alto that has been giving her troubles and her mother is looking at wanting to replace it with the Selmer AS500. Is that a logical replacement for $650? I’m off to the shop to have the King looked at again for troubles. Unfortunately I cannot play and therefore don’t know if she is really having issues or really wants a new saxophone.

    Thanks,
    matt

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Matt,

      First of all, I’ve never played on a King Empire but I know they are a beginner saxophone and have mixed reviews online. The AS500 is one of the better student models, and they were selling at one time for $1800 brand new. Now they are (as of the date of this comment) $1400, brand new. So the $650 is a good price (considering it’s in good condition). Definitely, have your repair tech play on your saxophone and move forward from that point. If you decide on a new purchase, the AS500 is one of the better ones!

      1. Thanks Jeff,
        It was a small, for lack of a better term, nipple that had come off from under one of the keys high on the body and fortunately she had kept the piece! The shop said that without this she is “leaking air like a sieve” so I will be picking it up Wednesday afternoon. The concern was that I was trading one low end for another low end model and the shop is pushing Yamaha.

        matt

        1. Post
          Author

          I’m happy to hear they were able to fix the saxophone. If you’re even in the market for another student model saxophone, the AS500 and the newer Yamaha student model saxophones are among the best. I hope your daughter continues to enjoy the saxophone. I know she’ll notice a difference with the repair (if it was leaking as much as they said), and I’m sure the instrument will be easier to play. Thanks for the update!

  7. Jeff,
    Your article was very helpful. 😀 This is my dilemma though… A guy is selling a Yamaha YAS23 and a Selmer AS300 both used and both for the same price in fairly good shape. What do you think would be a better buy for a beginner? Thanks in advance!

    1. Post
      Author

      Going for an alto- good for you! They’re both comparable, and are both beginner instruments, but the AS300 was the model before the newer AS500- which I have posted on the list above. I would suggest playing them both and choose the one that works best for you. Think of tone, response, intonation, ergonomics, etc. I don’t think you can loose with either choice, as long as you can play each before you make your choice. Let me know what you decide!

  8. The 2 important thing to me personally is that it is easy to play and that it is a quality brand saxophone.
    I have a Selmer Mark VI alto sax that I paid $450.00 for some years ago and I’m well pleased with it as a saxophone. I found your website while browsing on the web. I play in church (no’t solos) every Sunday behind the choir. I’m shoing some improvement, but my playing is still pretty basic and I can only play comfortable playing in the most basic keys (C, G, and F) Our musicians play by ear and not by reading music.

    I’m not very good at improvising or playing riffs or the like. Also on the majority of the songs that the choir or praise team sings modulate in half step increments 4 or 5 keys. I need to, and really want to improve so that I can really play at a much more advanced level, all to the glory of God.

    I’m really looking forward to learning from your course / program. May God bless you for the same.

    Lester

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Lester.

      Happy to have you with us! I can’t believe you purchased a Mark VI for that price; that’s the best price I’ve ever heard of! Concerning your goals, we can help you get there. We work through all the keys on the saxophone and work on ear training too. With the ear training exercises, you’ll become good enough that you can copy and play in any style you want. Let me know if you have any issues along the way, and please send in recordings for feedback- the learning greatly accelerates when this is done. I look forward to working with you!

      Best,

      Jeff

    1. Post
      Author

      Great student model saxophone Jide! The YAS-280 is the UK/EU version of Yamaha’s student saxophone. The YAS-26 is the student model saxophone in the US. You’ve got a perfect horn for getting started. Enjoy!

  9. Hi, I am debating between a new Antigua Liberetto, new Allora Vienna or Paris, used Buescher Aristocrat, or finally, a used Keilwerth ST90 Series II.

    The prices are below:
    Liberetto is $499
    Vienna – 799
    Paris – 999
    Buescher – 1099
    Keilwerth – 650

    The used ones are in very good condition. This would be primarily for my daughter who is a beginner but I would also occassionally play it (I grew up playing and am definitely partial to Keilwerth’s but the ones I really want are WAY out of my price range :)). The Buescher has had a complete Buescher style recondition accoriding to the website.

    What do you think would be the best option for us? Any questions I should ask regarding the used models?

    Thank you.

    Don

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Don,

      Good question and a tough one because this comes down to personal preference. Whichever horn you choose, make sure there is a 30 day money back guarantee if you’re buying online. You want to have a chance to play the saxophone, and the seller should understand that.

      I would recommend a newer saxophone as the ergonomics tend to be better. Some of the older instruments are less friendly in this manner and can be a stumbling block for some beginners. If the Keilwerth is newer, and it has a return policy, I would start with this saxophone. If you have a chance to try some saxophones around town, that may be helpful in distinguishing a brand of preference. Good luck and I would love to hear what you end up with!

  10. Hey Jeff,

    I’m fourteen and I’m playing the saxophone for almost 7 years now. I’m planning on switching from my yas-275 to a tenor sax. Here the two options I consider:

    – A used yts-480 (1-year-old, not used very much) for 1500€ (meyer “G” 6 included)
    – A brand new yts-280 for around the same price.

    I know the choice for the yts-480 seems very obvious considering the price but my question was if I actually needed an intermediate sax. Is the difference in quality that big ? And what are those differences exactly ?

    Thanks,

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Willem,

      It’s great than you’ve been playing so long- keep up the good work!

      Here’s the question: do you plan on playing the saxophone for many years, or just until you’re 18 year old? According to the prices you gave me, you could purchase a used YTS-62 for the same price, or just a couple hundred dollars more. Plus, the 62 is one of Yamaha’s professional saxophones! If you’re planning on playing for many years, then the 62 would be my suggestion to you (check out this post on tips for purchasing used). If you’re only playing for 2-4 more years, then I would suggest keeping your current saxophone. If I had to make a choice between the two you mentioned, I would suggest the 480- there are some slight differences, but the 62 will bring a much better horn for the same price, or just a little more. Good luck!

  11. Hi,
    I’m a beginner but I would like a long term instrument. You didn’t clearly mention your appreciation or not about the Allora tenor professionnel model. Ther’s some good deal on this model. I understand that you recommend more the Selmer Model. The price si an important factor for me. Could you first Tell me your impressions for the Allora Paris tenor professional model ? And second where do they match the price for a Selmer?
    Thank you

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Serge,

      Yes, I usually recommend the selmer and yamaha saxophones. However, I know that price can be an important factor as well in choosing the right horn. When dealing with selmer and yamaha, a used beginner saxophone will get you in the price range you may be looking for. In fact, at times you can buy a used intermediate saxophone (a selmer or yamaha) for the same price as a new beginner saxophone (other less expensive brands).

      I can understand wanting to buy a new horn too. There are a lot of inexpensive instruments that work well, but their longevity is not always proven as of yet. A long term instrument would be a pro model- you would never need to buy another saxophone-unless you wanted to. If you buy a beginner model, your future will hold the purchase of a better saxophone. But, if you want a long term beginner saxophone then my suggestions are the same. If you want to buy the Allora (which has many great reviews), it could last as long as you hope, or it may not. Once again, we do know the selmer and yamaha saxophones will last. And if longevity and price are most important, then I would suggest a used yamaha or selmer (possibly intermediate model) or buying an instrument (such as an allora) from a dealer with a 30 day return policy- like wwbw.com. They match prices.

      Jeff

    1. Post
      Author

      That’s a tough call Johan. Preference of tone has to do with the person listening, as well as the saxophone itself. The nicest sounding saxophone I ever played was a Selmer Mark VI. The Reference series saxophones I’ve played on have a warm sound as well, as well as the Jubilee series. I’ve just mentioned Selmer saxophones, but other brands have warm tones as well. From the Yamaha Ex to the newer saxophone makers such as Cannonball. There are many options now a days, and the best thing to do is try out as many as you can. Thanks for asking the question!

      1. Hi Jeff
        Thanks for your prompt response, I really appreciate that… There is an Yamaha YTS 8x-7s available (for $810), and I was wondering how does this instrument measure up against producing a warm sound, it’s ‘playability’ and your experience of the type of horn.
        Kind regards

        1. Post
          Author

          Hi Johan,

          To be honest, it’s not a saxophone that I have actually played. It seems to be an older/vintage saxophone, so the benefits of newer saxophones (such as ergonomics) will probably be absent. It’s not a model that is usually discussed as a possible option for aspiring musicians either. I would definitely want to play it (myself) before making the purchase.

  12. Has anyone heard of the Sebastián Alto Sax? I seem to not fimd any info aboutnit, but I saw one on sale (Used) the other day. Can anyome tell me about this Sax?

    1. Post
      Author

      To be honest, I have not heard of this saxophone. There are so many makes and models available now a days. Some stick around and others do not. If you can’t find any information about this saxophone online, then that’s a red flag concerning it’s quality. What’s your price range for purchasing a saxophone? I can make some suggestions to help out if you like.

  13. Hi Jeff, glad i came accross to your site. Just wondering if Antigua winds AS1203LQ is a good choice for a beginner like me. My budget is not more than $600. Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author

      It looks like this is an older model, but Antigua is a brand than can be trusted. If you have a chance to play on it, and you like it, then the Antigua would be a good option.

      1. Im planning to buy it online as i cannot find a good brand in our local store i live in middle east. Can you please advice which a good horn to get with my budget I mention. Is second hand horn would be a good choice? Thanks!

        1. Post
          Author

          The Antigua would be a solid choice, and purchasing used is great too- as long as you have some money left over to have a repair tech go over the instrument. Up keep is normal, and used instruments can save you a lot of money. Check out the make and model of saxophones I suggest in this post. You should be able to get a student, or even a intermediate saxophone for your price range.

    1. Post
      Author
  14. I have repeatedly read that the YAS62 is a great intermediate/professional horn. However, I have seen it listed as YAS62, 62II, and 62III. What is the difference?

    1. Post
      Author

      Numbers such as II and III are the newer versions of the same model. The higher the number, the more updated the saxophone will be. The 62III is the only version that is sold new at this time. When they make a IV, they’ll stop making the III.

  15. Jeff,

    I’m an adult beginner, a complete novice. I’ve always wanted to play saxophone. I’m looking at a vintage 1924 Martin alto sax. It was recently serviced and appears to be in great shape. Asking price is $995.00. I won’t be able to evaluate it because I can’t play it. Should I take a risk ?

    Thanks, Jan

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jan,

      Are you interested in vintage horns exclusively, or are you open to other options as well? I do have a difficult time recommending a saxophone that you can’t play until after your purchase- especially an instrument that is 91 years old.

  16. Hi Jeff
    I’m an adult beginner looking for a used Yamaha YAS 23 and I live in Toronto Canada.
    The prices up here range from $650 to $900, Is there a difference in price depending were the instrument was made?
    I have seen them advertised made in Japan, US, and China, is that going to limit the resale price if I want to sell later on?
    The other question is, how can I tell were the instrument was made?
    Thank you.

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      Hi Jose,

      Instrument makers can be found from all around the world. Instead of choosing according to where they are made, I would choose according to who stamps their name on it. For example, the Selmer AS500 has the Selmer brand on it, but is not made in Paris like their pro models. But, they are really good beginner saxophones, which is not surprising since Selmer put their name on it. But as far as the price you stated, that’s a reasonable price for a used YAS 23, as long as it’s in good condition. Generally speaking, the student and intermediate models don not retain their value like the pro models.

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      I’ve never played one myself, but I hear mixed reviews. As far as prices, that does seem steep. The most expensive price I could find (just a quick search) for that model was $700. For $1200, I would suggest a used intermediate saxophone from the list in this post.

  17. I am a high school student that is involved with marching band and wind ensemble. I have been playing for four years and I will be continuing for college. What do you think is the best alfo saxophone for me? Thank you!

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      Hi Star! I do have a couple of questions for you before I answer your question. What saxophone do you own right now? Are you going to be a music major in college? Go ahead and let me know, and we can move forward from there.

  18. Hello,

    I am a college student (not a music major, but I intend to keep playing on the side), and have been playing the saxophone for about twelve years now. I currently have a Selmer mark VII, which I love, however I worry that marching with it could be bad for the horn, because we march in all weather. I am looking to get a different saxophone that is more appropriate for marching band, and perhaps a bit more durable. We do a lot of horn movements, so I was thinking something lightweight. What would you recommend?

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      Hi Shania,

      Thanks for your question. I agree, I wouldn’t want to use my pro horn while marching either. I think it’s a smart choice to purchase a different saxophone. I don’t think you’re going to get a saxophone that weighs less, but I would suggest looking at Craigslist and look for a saxophone that meets your budget. Just remember, you may need at least $100 to have it worked on after you purchase it. If you’re uncomfortable making the purchase on your own, see if you can take the saxophone into a repair shop before you buy it (or have the seller meet you there). That way you can get a repair tech’s opinion and estimate (if any) for getting the saxophone to where it needs to be. As far as brand, I’m not too picky when it comes to marching band, but it’s always a good choice to stick with the big name brands.

  19. I’ve been playing on a YAS 23 for about 20 years. Looking at upgrading as its getting to the point where I would need to put more money into it, than it’s worth. My local store has a used YAS575 AL for $2000. Wondering what you thought of the price and notice it’s on the bottom of your list of intermediates. Is your list in order of what you would recommend first? Thanks in advance!

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      Hi Jessie,

      Since I wrote this post, Yamaha has discontinued the 575 but they have a 580 that is available. However, it is difficult to find a mainstream dealer that is selling the 580. They tend to sell the 480 instead. Is the 575 you’re looking to buy used or new? I just did a quick look online and found several used 62 models in your price range. I would strongly encourage trying out a 62 as well before you buy. By the way, the list was not in order of preference, and the 575 is a solid saxophone.

  20. Hi Jessie,

    I am a band director in a large program. We are interested in purchasing 1-2 Tenor Saxes that our students can then rent/use. I’ve had 3 models recommended to me. These will be used in both middle school and high school ensembles; jazz and concert. Prices are all similar, so I’m interested in which one you think would be a good durable horn that plays the best.

    Yamaha YTS-480 Intermediate Tenor Saxophone Lacquer $1919

    Selmer STS280 La Voix II Tenor Saxophone Lacquer $1613

    Cannonball Big Bell Tenor T5-L Professional Tenor Saxophone $1854

    Cannonball Vintage Tenor TVR-L Vintage Reborn $1797

    Any preference on these or should I be looking at something completely different?

    Thanks!

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      Hi Joe,

      I would suggest the Selmer or the Yamaha saxophones. I haven’t tried the Cannonball Vintage Tenor TVR-L Vintage Reborn, so I am unable to advise on that particular model. The Cannonball company make some great horns, but you really need to play through each saxophone before you buy- to make sure you have a good one. There are some inconsistencies with quality and intonation (at least with the older saxophones like the Big Bell), so as long as you know what to look for, a Cannonball could be a good choice.

      However, besides consistency (which Selmer and Yamaha are really good at doing) Selmer and Yamaha will most likely hold up better (as far as durability) when being used by middle school and high school students.

      If you have additional questions, just let me know. If you would like to talk, you can call me at 816-895-2541

  21. Hi Jeff, I came across your website looking for advice on buying an alto saxophone for my son, who is going into 8th grade, and has played the saxophone for two years now. His band teacher suggested that we buy him an intermediate saxophone, so I think that is what we are going to do and I am going to use your list to help in my search. A quick question on this, do you think $1,000 is a good price for a YAS-52 in “excellent” condition? From what I understand, the YAS-52 is the older model of the YAS-475. Are they comparable in quality?

    Unrelated to the saxophone search for my son, I have an old saxophone given to me by my uncle many years ago. It wasn’t in playing condition when I got it and I have never touched it. I just dug it out of my closet to take a look at it and am wondering how I can learn more about what I have. From a little research, I believe it is a Conn 6M VIII “Naked Lady” alto saxophone. I think the serial number is 282180. It clearly needs A LOT of work.

    Thanks!

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      Hi Rufus,

      Good question. $1000 is a good price for the 52 (yes, it was replaced by the 475) and they are good saxophones. Most 62 saxophones (a pro model) you can find used for around $2000. Sometimes you can find one for a few hundred dollars more than the $1000 price range too. If you can, that would be well worth the extra amount. If you are unable to find the 62 for your price range, then the 52 would work well. The 475 can be found used for around the same price, so I would suggest trying the 52 and 475. Either way, you’ll have a good horn.

      Concerning the Naked Lady. This is a classic vintage horn, and when it’s all fixed up, I have seen prices anywhere from $800-$2000. Definitely something to look into. Here’s a good review on this saxophone: http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Tenor/Conn10M_tenor.htm

  22. There is an opportunity to buy a ‘cleaned’ second hand Selmar Pennsylvania tenor sax for my son for the princely sum of £600. He requires a good quality intermediate instrument. However, I know little about this model. Would you be able to advise?

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      Hi David,

      I’ve never played one of these saxophones, and there seems to be some confusion out there about this saxophone. I believe it was made by Kohlert, but possibly influenced by Keilwerth (who may have had close ties with the company). This information is based off of some quick research, so you may want to look into it a little more. I’ve also seen this saxophone priced low, but then again I’ve seen this priced at over 2 times the amount the price you named. I apologize that I don’t have a more definitive answer for you, so it all goes back to taking it to a shop- have them look it over, and see how it plays. You can easily find a used saxophone (the beginner models) that I mentioned in this post at your price range.

  23. Hi Jeff,
    I am looking to buy an alto sax for my son. He has just started playing a borrowed sax and is doing good. I have found a used King Alto sax that is scratched for $350 with a satchel type case. The seller was a former band director, and says it is in good playing condition. It is just ugly. I have also found a used Yamaha Alto sax in good shape for $250, with a hard case. The seller says it was played for 1 year in the band and was previously owned by a music shop owner. I have also found a new Eldon EAS410LN for $575. This one is at a pawn shop with a 1 year warranty. Can you tell me what is the better deal and how do I choose?
    Thanks Wendy

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      Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for your question. As far as Eldon, they are part of the Antigua company which is known among saxophonists. I have never played on the Eldon, but Antigua is not my first brand of choice. Concerning the King, what is the model? I’ll be able to assist a little more with that information. Usually you can’t go wrong with a student model (or any) Yamaha saxophone. Just make sure that you have someone play on it (take to a repair tech) before you buy. Or, that it has a return period so you can return the saxophone if the repair tech provides a negative evaluation. I know there are a lot of saxophones out there, and it can be confusing. There are many good saxophones available that I have not placed on this list. But that’s why I recommend the saxophones in this post- to simplify. You can’t loose with these choices, and you can skip all the frustration of finding the perfect saxophone.

  24. A friend gave me a Conn Alto sax. The pads have recently been replaced . Is this a good instrument as a starter. Don T

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      HI Don,

      The Conn Alto saxophone will work fine. They are very durable and have been around for a long time. In fact, my first saxophone was a Conn. It helped me start on the right foot. Especially since the pads have been replaced, this saxophone should work well for you.

  25. looking to purchase alto sax for my son.I have found a used yamaha ys300 or a new yas480 for about the same price< Which is the better purchase thank you in advance

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      Hi Patrick,

      That is a very good question. It turns out that the 300 has a standard neck with the body of the 26. The 480 has a professional neck (62) with the body of the custom series saxophones (their pro line). It’s based on the custom series, but it’s not a professional saxophone- it’s an intermediate. Supposedly the 300 provides more control for the beginner, and the 480 offers more flexibility for the intermediate player. I don’t think a 480 would be a bad fit for a beginner, but it will definitely be a saxophone that can be used longer than the 300 (in regards to helping the student succeed long term). If you can, try them both and use this information to make the choice best for you. Either way, you’ll have a good saxophone.

  26. Hi, I want to rent to own a new sax…What about these in your opinion ?

    Blessing AltoSaxophone Outfit

    Marinelli MAS230 Alto Sax

    Tribal Alto Student Sax

    F.E, Olds NA62MN Alto Sax

    Thanks,

    Juan

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      Author

      Hi Juan,

      I’ll send you an email to get more information about companies you’re interested in renting from, and the budget range you’re looking into.

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      Hi David,

      I would suggest two different methods for renting. The first is online renting. Online renting can be less expensive than method 2, but unfortunately I don not have specific companies to recommend at this time. The second method is your local music store. Most band/music stores provide rentals, and sometimes offer a purchase option, kind of like a rent to own. You would need to contact your local stores for specifics. Let me know if you need additional assistance. Enjoy your search!

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      Hi Jay,

      I’ve never actually played one of these horns so I can’t provide a personal opinion. I’ve heard good things for the price range, but it also depends on what you want out of a saxophone. I’ll send you an email with a couple of links that may be useful for you.

  27. Jeff
    I recently applied for the free lessons & you were good enough to follow through & contact me. Just wanted to let you know I bought a Yamaha YTS 62S for a great deal. Will be arriving early next week. I live in a small east Texas town with no teachers available. I plan to go “all out” & use your method to learn as much I can, as fast as am able. Thanks for the personalized feedback. Look forward to working with you.
    Thanks,
    Mickey Lancaster

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  28. Hi Jeff,

    This is a great site, thank you so much for your invaluable information. My daughter is fifteen and has been playing alto sax for almost six years. She really likes it, and enjoys all the band experience (concert, jazz, symphonic, small ensemble, marching), goes to her county schools’ summer music camp, and takes private lessons. She has been playing on an old instrument of my father’s, a Martin from the 1950s, and possibly the instrument is older than that. While certainly vintage, we love the sound the instrument makes, just such a nice smooth and rich tone. We figured, though, as she is getting more advanced in her playing, and may want to major in music when she goes to college, a new (or maybe new to her) instrument would be good. Would she be better playing an intermediate level, or a high quality student level instrument? And is there anything in a reasonable price range that would rival the sonorous sound that her Martin makes? Any guidance would be most helpful. Thank you very much,

    Erica Snipes

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      Hi Erica,

      Thanks for your inquiry. Yes, there is something unique about the vintage sound, and it seems like instrument manufacturers are always trying to capture that sound in a modern saxophone. One of the benefits of modern saxophones are the ergonomics- this can make difficult passages more manageable. You could always purchase a Selmer Mark VI, but these usually cost as much as a new saxophone. If you do decide on the Mark VI, make sure it has a high F# key. This is essential as a music major.

      Some music faculty will only accept the “big four” saxophones as legitimate tools for the artist, and in their studio. There are many excellent saxophone available now a days (that are not part of the “big four”), but would not be recommended in a university setting. I’m not saying everyone will do this, but it is possible that a saxophone professor may not recommend a newer saxophone company. They may even require a different instrument to be purchased if you showed up with a saxophone not part of the “big four”. However, with all the quality saxophones being manufactured today, this opinion may change in the future (if it’s not already). If your daughter has an idea of where she would like to go to college as a music major, have her email the saxophone professor and ask their opinion on qualified saxophones. By the way, the “big four” are: Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa , and Keilwerth.

      Here’s an interesting link to hear some various brands and their tones: https://youtu.be/2XYErnWlKRg

      If you need anything else, let me know!

  29. Oh, and her Martin instrument is a “123876 Low Pitch”–don’t know what that means? This goes with my previous comment. Thanks!

    Erica Snipes

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      In addition, “low pitch” refers to intonation. Low pitch is now the standard, so if you ever find a saxophone with “high pitch” some alterations would need to be made on the saxophone itself, in order to play in tune with other “low pitch” instruments.

  30. I have been playing alto for 6 months but listening to jazz for 30+ years, so my ears are way ahead of my playing ability. I turned in my Selmer student rental and bought an antigua winds alto…nice but the tone is a little thin for my jazz ears. I have read and have been told that tone is greatly affected by mouthpiece and reed etc…having said all that, I have a much harder time controlling the lower pitch notes…D for example….The selmer just seemed a little easier to play and and wasnt quite as bright – using same mouthpiece and reed. I am within return window on the AW and I am thinking about an alternative. I have about 1500 to spend. I anticipate stepping up to a true pro sax in another 2 years but I want a sax that feels and sounds inspiring now. I like cannonbal adderly, art pepper..desmond too but he is about as soft as I would go…any thoughts to help me think it through would be great !

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      Hi Kev,

      Thanks for sharing information about your situation. You have a lot of information in this paragraph, and each question you have is a topic to discuss on its own. Instead of writing out a long answer (it would be several paragraphs), I’ll send you an audio to answer your questions. I’ll send an email to the account attached to this comment. Thanks for your question!

    2. Post
      Author

      Hi Kev,

      Thanks for sharing information about your situation. You have a lot of information in this paragraph, and each question you have is a topic to discuss on its own. Instead of writing out a long answer (it would be several paragraphs), I’ll send you an audio to answer your questions. I’ll send an email to the account attached to this comment. Thanks for your question!

  31. Hi Jeff, seeing that you have been very helpful to many others, I thought I should ask a question of my own: For the past 3 years (as a student) I’ve been renting a keilworth alto saxophone from my local music shop and I have been thinking about taking a step further and I’ve been looking into getting a new saxophone. My teacher recommends a good old Yamaha but I don’t know exactly what model would be best for me at this stage. A little information on what to do would be great! Talk to you soon!

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      Hi Billy,

      Thanks for your question, and what an exciting time for you! I hope you enjoy your search and find the best fit for you. Concerning Yamaha saxophones, they’ve really come a long way in the last 10 years. They’ve always produced top of the line professional saxophones, but it seems they have improved the overall tone of their saxophones.

      The Custom saxophones are their top models. There are two of them- the Custom Z, and the EX. I encourage my students to try both, but I would suggest the EX over the Z. The reason? The Z is designed for jazz, and even though you can play multiple styles on it, playing classical can be a little bit of a challenge. It doesn’t always produce the focused, pure tone we are trying to obtain.

      On the other side, the EX can be used for all styles (it doesn’t hold you back in regards to classical or jazz). Even though the Z is a great horn, you’re not required to purchase a “jazz” horn to play jazz. Main stream saxophones of the past were not designed (as far as I am aware) to play in one specific style. Bottom line: If you’re going to play classical and jazz then the EX will be a good fit. Keep in mind that when you try it, you really need to like it as well.

      By the way, Selmer just came out with the Selmer Axos. I have not played on one yet, but they are advertised as a Pro model, probably competing with the Yamaha 62 (they are around the same price). If you can get your hands on one, it may be worth trying it out to help in your decision making process. Let me know what you find. Good luck!

  32. Hi, Jeff

    I have been looking on wwbw.com and have researched these saxophones you’ve mentioned, including the Yamaha 62; how would you rate this saxophone? Also it’s not crazily cheaper than the ex and z, so what makes this a professional and not a custom sax? Also, I do love jazz, especially fast songs like In The Mood and maybe even Take The A Train. I have an Eb real book and I want to keep playing these songs, but I have to play slow slow songs and classical music in my regular school band. Would the ex still be the better choice over z? Thank you for you information and your answer! Talk to you soon!

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      I would recommend the EX, especially if you’re in school and considering music as a major in college. If you’re not going onto college as a music major, then I would suggest purchasing the saxophone that you like best. The 62 is a pro horn as well, so make sure you try that saxophone as well and compare with the EX and Z. All 3 saxophones are great horns, and you won’t lose with any of them. Try out as many saxophones as you can and try to get the best fit for you.

  33. Hi,
    My son is in eighth grade and has played the tenor sax for three years. When he began we purchased a Vito saxophone on craigslist. It was in great shape and was priced right. We weren’t sure if he was going to stay with it so it was the perfect horn for us. He loves it and is planning to continue playing. We are considering upgrading his horn for high school. I’m looking at a Selmer st280 LaVoix II tenor sax. What are your thoughts on this horn? What would be a good price for a used one in excellent condition?

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      The La Voix is a good intermediate saxophone, but I normally don’t suggest purchasing intermediate saxophones. The cost of a new intermediate saxophone is similar to a used Pro saxophone. In the last year, a student of mine purchased a Selmer Series II saxophone on EBay for $2500. These saxophones are nearly $7000 new. If you’re looking in the $2500 range I would suggest looking for a used Yamaha 62, Yamaha EX, or Selmer series 2 or 3. Pro models retain their value, so if you need to sell it down the road, you’ll probably be able to sell it around the same price you paid. In addition, when buying used, make sure there is a return policy and take it in to your local repair tech to make sure all is well. If you would like more information on Intermediate saxophones, just let me know!

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      Are you referring to the OLDS brand? If you are, they are an older saxophone that would be a good beginner horn. However, with some of these vintage saxophones, the ergonomics are not as good as modern saxophones. I would suggest comparing with a modern saxophone before you buy. That way, you know you’re getting the right saxophone. But, if this price is right or you don’t really have other options, then this saxophone would work fine. Here are some tips on buying a saxophone- click here

  34. What’s your opinion about P Mauriat LaBrava? My son wants an “intermediate” sax and there is a not a wide disparity in intermediate sax pricing and pro. Your advice — and your time — are greatly appreciated.

    Penny

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      Hi Penny,

      I have not tried this particular saxophone, so I can’t give you a personal recommendation. However, I know many saxophonists like the brand in general- especially for the price. But you are right- you can get a pro model for a little more money. Plus, the resale on the pro models (especially Selmer and Yamaha saxophones) doesn’t drop over time. If you have a chance to try one of the pro models next to the Mauriat, that might help make the choice as well. If you need more information, let me know.

  35. Hello Jeff- I am an adult total beginner. I’m looking to buy an alto. My budget is 800-900.
    I prefer new and hopefully intermediate. Been looking for awhile and it’s becoming a bit dizzying.
    So I ask if you were me what would you do? Your recommendations in the intermediate list
    are a bit out of range, budget wise. Is there another company you can recommend? Thank you.
    Regards, James

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      Hi James,

      Thanks for your question, and I know exactly how you feel in regards to being “dizzy”. Here are a few options in regards to intermediate saxophones. Some of the companies I list below are not mentioned in the main body of this post, but are solid saxophones. They offer both professional and intermediate saxophones for a price (generally) less expensive than Selmer and Yamaha. However, I have listed a Yamaha below that would be a great fit. There’s only one new saxophone on the list that’s in your price range. To stay in your price range, everything else would need to be a used saxophone- nothing wrong with that! You can check out this post about buying online: Buying Online

      Here’s the list:

      Yamaha 52- About $800 (used intermediate)
      Prelude by Conn-Selmer AS711 (new student)
      Cannonball (used intermediate models)
      Jupiter (used intermediate models)
      P.Mauriat (used intermediate models)

      Another saxophone that may be a good fit for you is the Kessler saxophone. They have intermediate saxophones in your range. It’s worth checking out. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  36. Hello Jeff,

    Greetings.

    I bought a CONN SELMER PRELUDE ALTO SAX – 700 recently. Obviously its a Student model Sax. I could not find this model in your recommended list. I got it in used condition. Of course in immaculate condition scratchless , perfect laquer & Good pads. I paid 575$. I got this sax with Jupiter 5C mouth Piece. I have bought a new Selmer S 80C* mouth piece for better quality of sound. Using RICO 2 1/2 redds.

    kinldy advise me. Thanks. Regards.

    Sabnavis

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      Hi Sabnavis,

      I’ve heard mixed reviews on this particular saxophone, so I would love to hear what you think after spending some time with it. Either way, it will definitely work as a beginner saxophone. You can start out on the Jupiter mp with the reeds you have chosen. If it seems too difficult to play (after giving it a week or so) then switch to the Selmer mp. Give that a try and let me know how it goes. On the other hand, if one mp plays much easier than the other, then choose the mp that is easier to play. After you get used to the mp and reed, and everything is clicking, we’ll make any adjustments when necessary.

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      The Selmer AS400 is a good fit for a beginner saxophone, but it’s not intended to be an intermediate saxophone. The Yamaha 475 or 480 are solid intermediate saxophones. Hope this helps, and let me know if you have further questions.

  37. I want to buy a good quality sax but I don’t have more than $300. Advise me on which one to buy and how I can get it easily. I just want to start learning.

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      Hi Jesus,

      Thanks for your question. There are many new saxophones available in your price range, but it’s important to understand what to expect with a new saxophone in this price range. You can read more about what to expect here My two suggestions for that price range (as far as today’s date) is a used Yamaha 23 or 26, or a Selmer AS 500 or 300. If you want a new saxophone for that price, once again read the post link, and check out the Etude EAS-100. Let me know how your search goes and if you have any questions. Good luck!

  38. I just upgraded my alto from a Yamaha YAS23 to a Yamaha YAS480.

    I tried both the YAS480 and the YAS62 and found that the constructuion was similar, the feature the same,
    and I could not hear any difference in tone quality. Although I wanted a Pro horn the difference in price was $600 which
    was the deciding factor. Besides I play a Yamaha tenor YTS475 which is the older model of the 480
    and a horn that I really like to play.

    Ted

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      All great saxophones Ted, and I hope you’re excited with your new purchase. I would love to hear you play your new saxophone sometime. Feel free to send in a recording.

  39. Hi
    I started playing Sax around 7 months ago but really got into it and spend maybe 3 hours a day just love it.
    So I quickly realised I wanted to move forward with my instrument and changed my student model alto for a 280 le voix in Nickel, its just fantastic fast and smooth love it.
    I got a huge deal on it and paid just 800 uk pounds.
    So then when I wanted a Tenor I looked for the same but couldn’t find one here, finally I found one in Germany so imported it. Its a standard gold laquer 280
    Thing is this plays fine except low B when I always seem to be in tune but an octave high, I can play low C fine but drop to B and always an octave high, so would you suggest that this is either my in ability to control air flow as these are really free flowing, or is it likely to be a leak? I have another tenor and can play low B without issue, so I dont want to rush down to the repair shop yet until I am sure (I dont have a specialist any where near me)
    So if you have any thoughts on this I would really respect your oppinion
    kind regards
    Mark

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      Hi Mark,

      I’m happy to hear that you found a saxophone that works for you; one that you really like. The 280 is definitely a good saxophone. Regarding the tenor low B response, you hit it on the head. It’s most likely a leak in the saxophone or the air. Just to make sure I understand, when you play the low B, it wants to play a B an octave higher- is this correct? If this is the case, then try the following suggestion.

      Before taking it into a shop, try this: play the low B, and warm up your air. Thinking “warm air” opens up the throat and helps bring down notes that are jumping up the octave. To accomplish opening the throat, think of what it feels like to create warm air out of your mouth compared to cool air. Another way you can think about this is to imagine swallowing a golf ball. What would your throat feel like (in regards to openness) when swallowing a ball of that size? Once you have the throat open, play the low B with this “warm air”, and then apply to all the other notes- yes, even higher notes respond better with an open throat.

      If this suggestion doesn’t work, let me know and I have another idea.

  40. Hi Jeff
    Yes that was it low B played exactly an octave higher
    So thinking warm air never heard it put that way but now I finally understand how to draw the air lower and open my throat, isn’t it strange how the same instruction can be put so many different ways and yet just hearing it the way you finally understand.
    I just breathed into my hand like it was cold in winter and hey understood.
    OK so back to dear old Sax took me around 40 minutes low note blowing plus scales and then it came so it is there finally played True Love ways finishing with D to Low C To B then D and back to C sounded Beautiful (well OK ) remember its me playing.
    Anyway thank you and I have now signed up by the way and will start at the beginning as I am sure there are many other things I have missed along the road so far.
    Kind Regards
    Mark

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      Author

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for letting me know about your success with getting the low B to speak. Sometimes that low B can be the most difficult out of all the low notes (that and low C#). I’m excited to have you join the lessons, as it looks like you’re a dedicated person. Yes, go ahead and start at the beginning of the lessons (the free lessons are the beginning) and go over the embouchure section- this part is essential, even for someone who has been playing for a few years. I’m excited to be working with you and keep up the good work!

  41. Hey Jeff,

    My son is going into grade 9, at a “music high school”. They have a prestigious music program there, which is well known within the province, and the country. I have a budget of about $3500 Canadian, and would like your input on which tenor saxophone would be good for him. If you have any questions or you require additional information, I would be happy to help.

    Thanks,
    Ryan

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Ryan,

      If the school your son will be attending has a major focus in music, then I would suggest the following. Sometimes teachers have preferences for brands, and they want you to choose from their list of recommendations. I would email the teacher/saxophone instructor and see if they have any suggestions for saxophones. That way, when your son shows up to school he will know he has the right equipment. If there is a list, it will probably include the Selmer Pro models (Series II, Series III, Reference, Mark VI), Yamaha (62, EX, Z), and the pro models of Yanagisawa. I would also suggest (if he will be in marching band) to have a secondary saxophone. Buy an old students model Yamaha or Selmer. Saxophones can take a beating during marching band, so cheap and durable is the way to go. Here in the US you can find these saxophones from $150-$500. But to answer your question specifically, for a tenor (in your price range) the saxophone I would recommend is a used Yamaha 62. It’s a pro saxophone but not as expensive as the top line pro models. It’s a great saxophone. If you have any questions about this instrument, let me know.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Allaine,

      I’m sure you’ve found that some of the Yamaha models can be confusing, and figuring out the difference between them can be a research project. In fact, I’ve called up Yamaha USA in the past and asked them to describe the difference between certain models (older ones included). They themselves had to get back to me so they could figure out the exact difference (to be fair, I asked some pretty detailed questions). But they did get back to me with the proper information.

      The AL (Intermediate saxophone) is going to be the nicer saxophone, and I would say the 52 is a “lower” intermediate saxophone. When they made the latter, they were one step below the Pro model 62. Now the 480 replaces the 52. So both saxophones are categorized as intermediate, but the better saxophone will be the 575AL (the 580AL is the newer version). I’ve had a number of high school students buy this saxophone and we they never had any issues with the instrument. I think the 52 would be a little more limiting in regards to playability/tone, and the 575 would be an instrument that would help your child succeed musically. If you have additional questions, let me know. Good luck! (And of course, if you have a chance to play both instruments before you buy, I would suggest that. Both are good instruments and your child may prefer one above the other).

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      Author
  42. Hi Jeff,

    Have you ever tried any of the Eastman tenor sax models? Specifically the 52nd Street? If so, how do you think they compare to the P. Mauriat tenors in terms of build quality?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Marianne,

      To start off, I have never played on the Eastman 52sd Street saxophone. They do have some well-known artists that play their saxophones; these include Bob Minzter and Harvey Pittel. Anytime Bob Minzter makes a recommendation on a saxophone, it’s worth checking out. P. Mauriate makes great saxophones as well. As far as comparing, that would take a playing to truly determine the best fit. It may not come down to which saxophone is the better company either. They may be comparable in quality, but the person playing the saxophone may prefer one over the other. In addition, I don’t the exact date that P. Mauriate began making saxophones, but both companies are newer to making pro models (compared to Selmer and Yamaha) so they could be similar in their history as an establishment. I find that newer companies can make a really nice saxophone at a less expensive price than some of the bigger names. With these two companies you have qualified artists using them, and if you can try first (either in person, or online with a return policy) then you should give them a try.

  43. Dear Jeff,

    I’ve been taking lessons and playing alto sax for about 2.5 years and recently joined a community band. I’ve been using about a 30 year old borrowed Vito instrument and would like to upgrade. I’ve tried a few different instruments at our local music store and very much liked the feel of the Selmer AS42, but did not feel it had as rich a tone as some of the other instruments in the same price range. Looking online, I find such a large number of different Selmer alto saxophones that I’ve become thoroughly confused about their differences and the benefits of one over another. as an example, what is the difference between the LaVoix II series and the AS 40 series. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Chet,

      You definitely have some good questions, and here’s part of the confusion with Selmer. There are two Selmer companies: USA and France. The French (or Paris models) saxophones are among the highest priced saxophones and are known for their quality. The USA Selmer company, in the past, has been looked upon as second tier, compared to the Paris models. Because of this, the USA brands are less expensive and are often looked upon as intermediate saxophones.

      This is one reason why the Selmer brand can be confusing. There are so many Selmer saxophones around, and they’re being manufactured by two separate entities. In addition, these saxophones are manufactured by each company with different standards. And just to make things a little more confusing, the two Selmer companies teamed up and made a saxophone together. The AS42 and AS32 are a result of this collaboration. It’s a USA body and a Paris neck and mouthpiece. To me, it looks like the 42 is aimed at the same audience that would be interested in an entry level pro model. If you’re looking at this range, then I would compare the 42 to the Yamaha 62. The La Voix is an intermediate saxophone. But with the prices so close, I would definitely recommend the Yamaha 62 over the La Voix. Compare all three if you can. Here are some items I would look for: high F#, ribbed construction, a tone I liked, a feel I liked, and the common tuning tendencies of the saxophone to be in place. Here’s a post that discusses a little about tuning tendencies.

      Let me know if you have additional questions. Good luck!

  44. In my humble opinion! I feel the most important characteristic to me in a saxophone is the Brand and Model.

  45. Thank you for responding Jeff.
    I’ve decided on the 52nd Street tenor from Eastman after testing a couple of them (comparing against others). I kept coming back to the Eastman because of the intonation, ease of play and the ergonomics (ideal out of the box, but with adjustable palm keys). After I peppered friends, a local pro shop favoured by jazz musicians (Eastman pro horns are popular here in Ottawa) and a product manager at Eastman with questions that they all enthusiastically and patiently answered, I decided that the Eastman community was also a big selling point.
    Wish me luck channeling Ben Webster and Lester Young!
    Marianne

    1. Post
      Author

      Great Marianne! I’m happy to hear that you found your saxophone and that the Eastman community was helpful. Buying a new horn is very exciting, and I’m sure you’re enjoying the experience. I think you hit on some important points in considering a saxophone: intonation, ergonomics, etc. After you have some time playing on it, I would love to hear your thoughts down the road. Have fun playing and thanks for the update!

  46. I am a former guitarist, having some hand issues that make playing at a level I find acceptable, too difficult to continue. I used to street perform, singing and playing.
    I began playing clarinet last month, and have been making very good progress. I bought the clarinet as something to doodle on, and have some fun entertaining myself. However, deep down I have always wanted to try playing a saxophone.
    Last week, I read that the best way to prepare for sax is to learn clarinet. I had no idea that was the case, when I bought mine.
    Now the bug is in my head, and I’ve begun the mind-boggling search for a tenor sax.
    If I sell my Martin Limited Edition guitar, I should have some decent money to work with.
    My problem is that I’m sixty-six years old, and it seems a bit foolish for me to spend even close to $1000 on something that will probably never become more than a hobby.
    I’m retired and live on a fixed income, so I’ve become a little more careful of my money than I used to be. If I were to spend somewhere between $1000 and $2000 on a sax, would the likelihood of it holding its value be higher, or do you really have to exceed that price point to get something that will hold its value?
    To answer your question, tone is where it’s at for me. I really don’t care what a horn looks like, if it produces those magic sounds, I hope to coax out of it.
    Thanks,
    Darrell

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Darrell,

      I’m sorry to hear about your injury, but I hope you’ll be able to find the right instrument to continue on with your musical creativity.

      The whole clarinet debate can go either way. Some think it will help, and others think it can make playing the saxophone more difficult when beginning. Most will agree though, that learning both is a great idea. I would suggest paying special attention between the posture and embouchure differences.

      Unfortunately, you would need to spend more than $1000 to consider the saxophone an investment. The Big Four saxophone brands are your best bet with the value increasing. Right now, the least expensive of these saxophones start at $3500. You could buy a used 62 for around $2000. The investment would appreciate slowly, but you would have a quality professional saxophone. It would probably appreciate at a slower rate compared to the Yamaha EX and the Selmer models.

      On the other side of the spectrum (if you’re strictly considering this a personal/private hobby), you may want to look into what I call, “The Disposable Saxophone”. You can learn more about the category of this saxophone by clicking here. You can find these saxophones for less than $1000. The link will help you determine if this is the right saxophone for you. Let me know how it goes!

  47. Hi,
    I have been playing the saxophone for 10 weeks but I am committed and wish to buy a saxophone for life, I am young so that’s a long time! What type of saxophone should I buy?

    Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Megan,

      I hope that you have been having fun with your first 10 weeks. Concerning a long term saxophone recommendation, I’ll just need to know your budget range and then I can make some recommendations. If you have any additional questions about the saxophone, feel free to ask.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Megan,

      With this price range, I would recommend a used saxophone from the intermediate and beginner level saxophone lists posted at the top of this page. If you would like a new saxophone, then I would recommend the Etude EAS-100. Keep in mind that I categorize the Etude as a “disposable saxophone”. You can click here to learn more about this category of instrument and if it’s the right saxophone for you. Hope this helps!

  48. Hi,
    I have a Selmer Bundy alto sax. Original owner. 😉 I started playing it in 1974. I played daily until I graduated high school. (marching band, jazz band, pep band, symphonic band. This sax has done it all) Then I took a 32 year break. My family had it over-hauled as a surprise 3 years ago and my daughter convinced me to join community band with her. She just graduated and is moving on to college. I think I’m going to continue to play in community band without her, but am contemplating an upgrade. I saw what you’ve suggested, my question is should I upgrade? If so, pro or intermediate? Finally, what about a P. Mauriat brand?
    Thanks for your time!
    Tracy

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Tracy,

      I’m happy to hear that you made it back to the saxophone after 32 years, and that you are keeping it up now. Wow, what a great experience- to play with your daughter for 3 years in a band; I’m sure you enjoyed it.

      Your question about upgrading is a good one. How often do you practice and how often do you play? Do you feel like your saxophone is limiting you? These are question to consider when thinking about a new saxophone. The answer is always yes, in regards to upgrading, as there are many advantages to a pro horn. However, in order to make the investment worth your time and money, then consistent practice is part of that equation. If you just play at the community band once a week and you don’t play the rest of the week, then your current saxophone is fine. Of course, if you really want an upgrade, and you’re okay with playing once a week on it, then it certainly won’t hurt your playing, but will make some things easier. By the way, what saxophone does your daughter have? Have you played on it? You may just want to try a few saxophones just to see how they play. This may motivate you to buy, or you may decide that your saxophone is sufficient. As you can see, upgrading is something that is really personal. As far as the P. Mauriat, many people play on them and they seem to be good saxophones; here’s a detailed review. I would also consider checking out the Cannonball brand if you’re in the P.Mauriat price range. Let me know what you discover, and good luck!

  49. Hi Jeff,
    Thank you for your feedback. I only play once a week in public, but try to practice a few times a week because I need to, but also I just love to play. (I had forgotten that)
    Saxophone shame here….my daughter plays French Horn, Mellophone and Trumpet. I have no earthly idea how that happened! LoL (she’s very good though. Proud Mom. 🙂 Best band moment ever for me, was when she said her best community band memory was getting to play with her Mom. Pretty cool.
    I think you gave me the answer. Go test drive a few, and see if they convince me to upgrade, or say it’s not worth it.
    I sometimes feel my old horn is a little clunky, and my fingers aren’t quite as nimble at 51, as they were at 17. So I’m wondering if something newer would have faster action, and require less force to engage low C/C#/B and Eb?. If that makes any sense….thanks for the review, I’ll read it over, and check out the Cannonball too.
    Thanks for your time!
    Tracy

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Tracy,

      That is a pretty cool experience; thanks for sharing! No shame though, my daughters do not have the desire to play the saxophone. One is involved in music though, and it’s nice to work with her.

      To be honest, the Selmer Bundy is one of my least favorite beginner saxophones. I think you’ll find that many of the saxophones that you’ll try will sound better, feel better, and respond better. Have fun searching too! Yes, the low notes will be much easier to play as well. The P. Mauriat and Cannonball saxophones will be a world of difference- you probably won’t want to go back to the Bundy. Let me know how it goes!

  50. Jeff,
    I’ve read through these reviews and could use your advice. I have a $1K budget and I’m thinking of buying the Allora Vienna Series Tenor Saxophone ($999) for my 14yr old son. I’m not able to travel to local shops and I’m kind of limited on internet access. I have been able to look at ebay but the price ranges on tenor saxophones is a little out of my reach. At least on the brands you’ve suggested. He is borrowing a saxophone right now but will have to return it at the end of August.I want to buy him a new instrument but I don’t want to get him a product that’s going to make him lose interest. Please advise.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Roberto,

      Thanks for your question; it’s a good one. I’ve never been too impressed with the Allora brand, but I would hope they have improved them over the past few years. My experience would place this brand under the disposable saxophone category. I hear the saxophones from 10-15 years ago are nice horns, but the Chinese versions (which I understand is the only kind you can buy today) are not the same quality. You can give this brand a try, but make sure you have a return policy. Your son will be able to tell if the saxophone is an improvement over his current saxophone, and that may be good enough. With your local and internet limitations, this may be your best choice. And if he’s happy with it, it could be the right fit. If not, you can always return it. Keep in mind that saxophones can lose some of their playability when shipped (it doesn’t matter of it’s a pro model or student). I would have a tech check things out to make sure all is right with the saxophone and the pads before you make your final decision. Let me know how it goes!

  51. Hi, we are looking to buy our nephew a sax and have looked at a few used ones, is the libretto or selmer alto ones better. Thanks…

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jamee,

      It all depends on the model of saxophone. Selmer makes some of the best pro saxophones, but some of their older student saxophones are lacking in many areas . Let me know what models you are considering (plus prices) and I can give provide some suggestions.

  52. Hey Jeff. I’m at a cross roads right now in my playing. I’m currently playing both football and the sax in school. I switched from Bari to alto this year and I am looking for an intermediate horn. The only problem is that none of the local shops rent out intermediate horns and I’d have to buy it, which I can’t do because I already own a violin and my parents are only willing to buy me one instrument. Thus, I was wandering if you knew any begginer horns that were really good sounding and could almost be classified as intermediate.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for writing in. I think it’s great that you are so active with sports and the arts. Finding the right saxophone at a beginner price can be a challenge, but we’ll give it a shot. What saxophone do you have now? What is your budget? Go ahead and answer these two questions and we’ll point you in the right direction. I look forward to your response!

  53. Hi – my daughter has been playing on a Selmer AS300 since 6th grade. It was purchased used at the time and it tends to need repairs regularly. She’s now entering 10th grade, has a year of marching and concert band under her belt. She keeps telling me how it’s limiting her and her desire to make all-state, etc., so she is really pushing me to get her a new intermediate alto sax. While she’s unlikely to pursue music in college, she may play in a concert band (?). I’m thinking of keeping the Selmer for marching season but upgrading for concert season. Her section leader has suggested a Yamaha YAS480 or a Selmer LaVoix…prices are higher than I’d like..and I’m having trouble finding a used one locally. What are your thoughts on a good intermediate alto sax to purchase…and perhaps buying online? I’m skeptical of the online buying process! Thanks so much.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Rose,

      You have some good questions and you’re on the right track. I think it is wise to keep the 300 for marching band. Saxophones end up having significant issues after a full season of marching band; this is completely normal. Keep in mind that it’s normal to service a saxophone every 6-12 months.

      The 480 is a great intermediate saxophone, but if you’re buying new I would make another suggestion. Instead, I would buy a used Yamaha 62. It’s a professional saxophone that is about the same price as a new 480. In addition, the selling value will be much greater for the 62 down the road than a 480.

      Strictly discussing the 480, it would probably be sufficient for her high school goals. Here are a couple of links in regards to buying online. If you have any questions after looking through these articles, just let me know. Good luck!

      Post #1
      Post #2
      Post #3
      Post #4

  54. Hi, I am looking for a tenor sax for my son. He has played an alto for 2 years now, and wants to try the tenor now. I am looking for an instrument either used or less than $1000. I saw a brand new Zonda tenor for $850, but cannot find any reviews online. Do you know anything about this instrument?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Nathalie,

      Thanks for writing in. Finding the right saxophone can be difficult, especially with so many options. Zonda saxophone reeds are trusted by many players, so it’s a name we are familiar with. However, they have always been a reed company and it looks like they have entered the market for selling instruments. I don’t know if they actually make the saxophone or not (sometimes companies pay someone to make it and then stamp their name on it), but their description looks as if they are involved in the manufacturing process. Here’s what they say on their website:
      Zonda Brass and Woodwinds were first conceptualized in October of 2011 and introduced to the musical instrument market in January of 2013. Although the offering is new, the people at Zonda are extremely experienced and grew up in band rooms and on marching fields.

      So it seems they are trying to provide a quality beginner instrument that won’t cost a lot of money. I would categorize this under “the disposable saxophone” category. Of course, this category is becoming better and better.

      I have never played one of these saxophones (or heard of anyone else playing on them), but the name is a trustworthy one. In addition, if you think of it as a disposable saxophone (one that will work 3-5 years, possibly longer) and they provide a money back guarantee, it may be worth trying. If you are looking for something around $1000 a used Cannonball Big Bell Series (There’s also a Big Bell Stone Series- but they are double the price) can be around that price as a used instrument. If you have additional questions, let me know!

  55. Hi, I am a trumpet player. A really really good one, in the top band at my school. My school is huge for music. I am looking for a saxophone to buy. I have a alto saxophone and it is really flat. The bell is the biggest one I seen in my life. Point of the matter I believe it is the bell that makes it too flat. I cannot move the mouthpiece down any further to make it more sharp. I will send it in to music place to be check at. Spite all of this, I think I may need to buy a new saxophone, I am willing to spend a good amount on one not too expensive but not super cheap. I like tenor saxophone a lot, with sound at least. I am wondering which do I buy? Alto or Tenor. I just want one to learn on, yet if I am good with it. Then I will go on with it wherever that takes me. I am not quiting Trumpet. I love playing the Trumpet a lot. So just putting that out there any help would be nice.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your question and I’m happy to hear that you are playing multiple instruments. The more we can do in the music world, the better. What is the make/model of your saxophone? Usually a big bell will not cause that much error- usually these companies say that the big bell provides a bigger sound. If you like the tenor saxophone, then go ahead and start with the tenor. Are you planning to be a music major in college? If so, this may change my answer.

      In regards to intonation, when you say “down” are you referring to pushing the mp further onto the cork? Yes, that will make the saxophone go up in pitch. Also, make sure the tuner is set to 440 and that you tune on a F# (with the octave key). Let me know if you are doing these things and we can move forward from there.

  56. Hello Jeff
    I am looking for a alto sax for my son. 2nd grader.
    Can you please tell me your opinion about BUFFET CRAMPON BC8101-1-0 (SERIE 100)?
    Thanks a lot in advance!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Veselin,

      The way musicians usually try to answer this type of question is by providing a recommendation for the best saxophone. However, parents are not always looking for the best saxophone, but the best one at a certain price. In this case the Buffet is a good horn for a young student when not looking to spend thousands of dollars. There are also other brands that may be considered for around this price range (a used pro Cannonball for example). To be honest, I would go to a local store and see if your son’s hands fit the saxophone. Sometimes children at your son’s age can’t play the saxophone because the saxophone is too big (even the alto). Before buying, see if it’s a good fit.

      If you decide to move forward, you could also consider buying used from Craig’s List or Ebay. Usually a used horn for a beginner is a good thing. I hope these ideas are helpful. Let me know if you need anything else.

  57. Hello!

    We are looking for an alto saxophone for our 10 years old son who just started school band. Currently, we are renting a Bundy from a local music store, but we would like to buy one for him. Aswe was searching Yamaha yas-23 and yas-26 at eBay, we found a clean yas-200AD. It seems that it was made in China. Could you tell us your opinion about yas-200AD?
    Thank you so much!!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Riko,

      As you can see they have designed these saxophones to be very similar, and discerning the difference can be difficult. In fact, I have called Yamaha before and they had to get back to me to let me know the difference between some of their models. The majority of differences had to do with technical differences that would be necessary for a pro but not a beginner; in addition the difference was simply the saxophone being a different color. I don’t have an exact reason how these two saxophones are different, because they are so similar. However, I would suggest the 23 (or 26) because they have been making them for so long and have some history behind them. On the other hand, Yamaha makes great products so if you decide on a 200 you can’t lose on that either. They are so close to each other (as far as function and technical aspects) that I don’t think a student (who is a beginner) would be disappointed with either one. Let me know if there is anything else I can for you!

  58. Hi
    I went a local music store to purchase a YAS-26 for 7th grade son. But they don’t have the YAS-26 so, they recommended a Selmer AS500. We took it to home then I have checked the both prices, YAS-26 is about $2100, Selmer AS500 is about $1300 but I paid $2000 for the AS500. What is real price for the Selmer AS500?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Moony,

      A couple of years ago the AS500 was a $2000 instrument. It’s difficult to find a new 500 online today, but it seems Selmer may be replacing it with the 400. On paper, the 400 looks like a better saxophone, but it’s also around $700 less. That makes me think that the quality is not as high (which is an assumption and could be an inaccurate statement) but would still be a good instrument. But back to your question, yes, when the AS500 was easily available as a new saxophone, $1800-2200 was a common range for this instrument. I have played this particular instrument and I thought it played very well.

  59. My son has been playing the saxophone now for 3 years in middle school and is also completing his first year of marching band. He really loves playing and is looking to upgrade from his student model. He would also like to get a better mouth piece. I’m seriously considering a professional model since he seems to be so devoted to playing. What are your thoughts??? He is also interested in playing the clarinet. Any experience with what to start with there??? Or maybe I should invest in a really good model (intermediate or professional) for that as well???

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Shannon,

      I’m happy to hear that your son is enjoying the saxophone and that he is committed. Let me know if he is playing alto, tenor, or bari and then I can recommend some mouthpieces. Regarding a saxophone purchase, I would need to know your saxophone budget. If you would prefer to communicate over email, you can do so at jeff@learnsaxophoneonline.com

      I look forward to your response.

  60. Hi Jeff,
    My daughter is a music major in college, specializing in Flute and Piccolo but also studies piano, guitar and voice in her major. She is interested in expanding her repertoire by playing Saxophone as well. We have put a good deal of money into her flute and piccolo studies and recently just purchased her both a brand new piccolo as well as a new “used” professional level flute. With that being said, we are not in the market to be able to purchase a professional level saxophone and have been doing some research. Do you have any knowledge of the Jean Paul AS-400? It is $450 and although it is I believe a beginner/intermediate level intrument, it seemed like it had excellent reviews from profession level musicians at a recent instrument convention. I have very limited knowledge of instruments and do not want to include my daughter on this as I want to get this as a gift for her. I appreciate any guidance you can offer. We are likely limited to a price range under $600, MAYBE pushing $700, but that is a stretch.
    Melissa

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for your question and it’s great to see that your daughter has so much interest in music. Thank you for supporting her too. This new market of saxophones can be tricky because you hear good and bad things about $500 saxophones. However, it’s important to understand the quality for each level of saxophone. The $3000-$6000 range for an alto is a professional level saxophone. It will play well, and if taken care of, it will last longer than the owner. Then you have the beginner- intermediate saxophones from $1000-$3000. These saxophones are intended for beginners, but they don’t play as well as the pro models. However, these saxophones will last a long time as well (generally speaking). New saxophones, with the price of around $500, play well (sometimes as well as the intermediate saxophones) but have a very short life. Some saxophones work just fine for a number of years, and some break in the first month. I know this because I have had students purchase these saxophones and that is what is common. However, they are fixable. But be aware, these saxophones are basically disposable and you should not expect durability with these saxophones. In my opinion, they are for a person who wants to try out a saxophone but understands that they will have to buy a better saxophone in the near future (if their interest remains high). In short, it’s basically a tester instrument at a low cost. Here’s a post on this category of saxophone:

      I have not played the JP AS-400 myself, so I am unable to provide specifics on this saxophone. However, many saxophones in this price range (new) tend to have the same characteristics. If you are looking for a good saxophone for $500, then I would suggest purchasing a used Selmer or Yamaha beginner saxophone (they have durability and longevity). If you have additional questions, just let me know. Thanks for asking!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks for your input and quick review on the Buffet. I’m glad you are enjoying your saxophone and have taken the time to post your experience so others can see. Thanks!

  61. Hi Jeff,
    I wanted to ask you a question regarding the Yamaha 875EXII Alto saxophone and the Yamaha 82ZII Alto saxophone. I’m currently in high school looking into both saxophones above. I currently play on a Selmer Concept mouthpiece and a 3.5 v21 Vandoren reed and am focusing on classical playing right now. Which would you recommend because I have done the research on both and am soon hopefully will be able to play test but I just figured I’d ask for statistics and opinions. I just didn’t know the real difference between the two horns and which would give me more leeway with playing with a classical style and tone.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Lucas,

      Thanks for your question. The Z is designed to play jazz and the EX is designed to play in any style (with jazz and classical being the big focus). Because the Z is designed for jazz specifically, the goal is to make it easier to play in that style. That also means that it will be more difficult to execute classically compared to the EX.

      Because the EX is designed to play in both styles, the classical side will be easier to accomplish and the jazz side will be more effort than it would take with the Z. Keep in mind that most saxophones designed today (and for the last 100 years) work effectively in both styles. Adolph purposefully invented the saxophone to be very flexible. If you’re going to do nothing but play jazz, then I would suggest the Z. If you are going to play jazz and classical, then I suggest the EX. Both are great horns and you won’t be disappointed. Have fun with the playing test, and here are a couple of links for our recommended process for play testing saxophones. Let me know how it goes!

      Part 1
      Part 2
      Part 3

      Part 2 & 3 discuss more in detail about choosing a saxophone, and Part 1 is more like an introduction.

  62. What are your thoughts on an HENRI SELMER PARIS Mark VII Brass Lacquered Plated Tenor Saxophone ? The price is around 2500-3000 US, vs a used Yamaha 62?

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      Author

      Hi James,

      That’s a tough question to answer in a sentence. Here’s the problem: the Mark VII was the next model after the Mark VI (arguably one of the best saxophones ever made). So right from the start, the Mark VII had to live up to a “near perfect” saxophone. We see this all the time in sports when a sports legend retires and the person who replaces the legend has some big shoes to fill. Because of this the Mark VII is frowned upon by some and is not a highly sought after saxophone. If you end up buying the VII, you may get a few looks of disapproval from the saxophone community.

      However, it is a Paris Selmer and there are some who speak highly of it. For me, it all comes down to the playing test. If you like it, and everything functions as it should, then it may be a good fit. However, you can buy a brand new Yamaha 62 III from wwbw.com for $3100 (as of today). You’ll get a great horn, a great tone, and all the feel of a modern saxophone. You could get a hit or miss with the Selmer, but you’ll mostly likely be pleased with the Yamaha purchase.

      1. Thanks for the insight and quick response. I notice that you lean heavily on the Yamaha YTS-62iii’s, what about the previous models? Your comments are appreciated and seriously considered.

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          Author

          Hi James,

          The previous models are great options too. If you prefer a II or I, that’s fine; some people prefer the older over the newer. If you have a chance to try the saxophone (whichever you choose) before you buy it, then make sure you look for intonation, response, key placement (ergonomics), and if you like the tone. The response may be something that can be resolved by a repair tech, so it’s always good to take any horn in to have it looked over.

          Have you been playing long? Are you just staring the saxophone or have you been playing for awhile?

          1. Only been playing sax for about 6 months. ( 55 years of piano and guitar) I started with two throw-aways, an alto and a tenor Glory, to see if I wanted to continue. While looking to move to a used, pristine YTS 26 at USD 1400 for durability ( the Glory’s are in for tune ups) I ran across your site and the great advice. Ebay is addictive, but recognizing that even new instruments require adjustment/tuning/minor repairs, I’m checking my options. It keeps me out of the pool hall. Thanks for your time.

          2. Post
            Author

            Hi James,

            Thanks for the back ground. Just a quick note about buying new: if you buy from a local music store, they usually throw in a free year of repair because they know that adjustments will be necessary (especially in the first year). I’m happy to hear that you’re enjoying the site as well. Even though you’ve been playing piano/guitar and saxophone for the last 6 months, I would encourage you to sign up for the free lessons. There are some basics in there that you’ll probably already know, but the free lessons also provide information (especially the pages on the embouchure) that will mostly likely help improve your tone. I even taught this to my college saxophone majors, as many didn’t have this information before they came to me. If you have any questions about the content, let me know.

  63. New sudden thought—-Selmer Paris Series III Model 64 Tenor Saxophone, assuming made in Indonesia, but marked as above. Any thoughts on a price? Or are these counterfeits? We’re talking in the neighborhood of USD 2000.

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      Author

      Correct James. All Paris models are made in Paris, and are not made anywhere else. I’m sure that’s one reason why they’re so expensive!

  64. How do you feel about new Selmer TS44’s. Or used ones, for that matter. Sooner or later I’ll make a decision. Thanks

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      Author

      Hi James,

      These saxophones are the top of the line for the USA Selmer brand. It’s the first collaboration between the USA and Paris companies. I have not played one myself, but they seem to specifically compete with the Yamaha 62. Jim Snidero endorses the AS42 (which I believe is the alto version of the 44) saxophone and he is a great player. They are worth checking out. I would compare the 62 and 44 side by side.

  65. I have a very cheap starter alto, a Jericho, and it is lovely to play. But after 3 years I decided to upgrade and bought a Yamaha YS26. I hated it from the beginning. I find it very difficult to blow, especially the Octave key notes D, E, and G. The G always sounds flat and the D and E have to be blown extra hard. I sent it back to the suppliers and they said several experts had played it and could find nothing wrong. I thought it must be my embouchure and I have persevered, but to no avail. It cost three times the cheap one and I know which I prefer.
    Would so much appreciate your comments. Anne

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      Author

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your question. That is a surprise that the Yamaha is inferior to the Jericho. I have a few questions that may help with providing a suggestion. Is the Yamaha a used or new saxophone? Have you taken it to multiple techs (at least one other) to try out? Have you had a chance to try another Yamaha?

      To get to the bottom of the issue, there are a couple approaches to consider. One, you can take the saxophone to someone who is impartial (someone that you trust) to try the Yamaha, or two, try out multiple Yamaha saxophones yourself to compare. Basically, you’re looking to see if the Yamaha you have is truly not playing well, or if that’s the way all Yamaha 26 saxophones play.

      Keep in mind, that it may not be in proper playing condition even though they said it was. Sometimes techs have so many saxophones to get through that they may not be as thorough if you are not standing there. Not because they are being dishonest, just because when someone is standing there showing interest in playing saxophone, they appreciate that and really make sure all is well.

      Basically, we’re first looking to see if the saxophone is working properly (we need a second opinion). Once we establish that, then we can move forward. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but if you can get your Yamaha to a local tech, then we can get some answers.

      1. Thank you so much for your very helpful reply. It is a new Sax, bought in February and under guarantee. I’m sorry for my error but it is actually a YAS280, alto. I have not had chance to try another Yamaha but I will ask my teacher. I will also go to the music store in the city where I hope to get an impartial opinion.

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          Author

          Hi Anne,

          Oh, you have a teacher! That’s wonderful. That will make things much easier to determine. Have your teacher try both saxophones and provide an opinion. If you take the saxophone in (and it’s a long drive), I would suggest calling the store before hand and let them know that you’re coming, and for what purpose. This will ensure that the right person will be there and not have the day off. Keep in mind the duration of your return policy, too, if you were offered one. Let me know how it goes!

  66. Hi Jeff,
    First of all thank you for taking the time to reply to all of these comments- you must be an extremely busy man aha!
    Secondly, I am considering purchasing the Yamaha YAS-480 alto saxophone for my daughter, as she has been learning for approximately 6 months on a awful school saxophone. She has been playing the flute for 4 years and the oboe for 3, but I was wondering if this particular saxophone will be too hard for her to play on and love, because I have heard that it offers more ‘resistance’ than the Yamaha beginner model YAS 280. I feel that she may be playing for a long time and I want her to have the best saxophone that she can play, so which one of these two would you recommend?
    Thank you for reading and I am looking forward to your reply,
    Sara

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      Author

      Hi Sara,

      Being busy is a good thing, and helping people with the saxophone makes it a joy. I appreciate your question, too. First of all, yes, the 480 is a great saxophone and it would not be too difficult for her to play. The resistance is very free blowing compared to an oboe. In addition, if she played the two saxophones next to each other, I don’t think the resistance would be a determining factor in her choice. In short, there should be no hesitation with purchasing the 480 in regards to resistance.

      Another thought: the 62 is a better horn than the 480 (the 62 is a pro model) and is only a few hundred dollars more. If you buy a used 62 (on Craigslist or eBay), it will be the same price or less than the new 480. She could use the 62 for the rest of her life. Also, the 62 would have a higher resale value than the 480. If you have any other questions, let me know!

  67. Hi Jeff I’m totally new and looking to rent a tenor sax. Is the marinelli m357 student brass tenor a suitable option?

    Thanks

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      Author

      Hi Joshua,

      There are a couple different thought processes for renting a Marinelli saxophone. This is not a well known saxophone brand, so it would fall under our disposable saxophone category. If you’re learning an instrument it’s crucial to have a saxophone that is dependable. Even though this brand would not qualify as an appropriate saxophone (in my opinion), it is a rental saxophone that is backed up by a rental company. If this is the case, I would find out about repairs, and if you’re in charge of that or if you can send it in for repair anytime you choose. You really want a saxophone that will help you succeed, and trusted saxophone brands are your best bet. However, if the rental company fully backs up the saxophone and provides repair, this may be a more affordable saxophone option. Keep in mind that you can always purchase a used Yamaha or Selmer students saxophone for around $200-$500 on Craigslist or EBay. Let me know how it goes!

  68. Hi:

    I am a beginner, I want to purchase an intermediate sax though. I wanted to ask what is the difference between tenor and alto? what so you recommend the most for a beginner who wants to play the sax as a hobby and nothing else. What do you recommend?

    Thanks!

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      Author

      Hi Patricio,

      Thanks for your contact, and I’m happy to answer your question. As far as a beginner, both the tenor or alto would be fine. Whatever saxophone tone you prefer, is the saxophone you should choose. The alto is smaller than the tenor, so it plays at a a higher pitch. Because it’s smaller, the alto also costs less than the tenor (generally). If you have a chance to try both before you buy, I would recommend that.

      In summary, either the tenor or alto will work for a beginner. The fingerings are the same on each instrument and they basically play the same way. Some minor adjustments are necessary between the two, but consistent practice resolves those small differences on their own.

      If you have any other questions, just let me know!

  69. Hello I’ve been playing alto sax for about 3 1/2 years. I use a £300 John Packer saxophone that I bought when I started.

    My teacher recently said I could do with an upgrade and suggested a price bracket of £1000 – £1500.

    What I’ve found is a Chiltern A-M6 DVL Dark Gold Alto Sax at a shop for £1380. Have you heard anything about this saxophone? It feels a lot easier to play than mine and I really like the tone. I also tried a Yamaha 480 but this was more expensive and I preferred the sound of the Chiltern.

    I’m also wondering if I need a saxophone that costs so much or if it’s a bit of a waste since I’m still in school and not a professional. Is it common to spend this much on a saxophone?

    Thank you!

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      Author

      Hi Emily,

      Thanks for your question. Yes, it does make a difference concerning the saxophone you use and the quality of the make and model. The instrument you currently own is a great place to start if you don’t know if you’ll continue after a year or so. Since you have passed that mark (congratulations!),I would agree that it could be the right time to purchase another saxophone (especially if you are consistent with your practice sessions).

      Traditionally, the best saxophones actually did cost the most money,but in the last 10-15 years other companies have made competitive saxophones for less. So the makes and models on this post are the more expensive brands, but that’s because they are proven companies. I have not played on the Chiltern saxophone before so I can’t recommend it. For the price you are looking at, I would recommend a used Yamaha 62. You may need to keep your eye open, but you may be able to find something near your price range.

      The main thing to do is decide on your budget (you generally will get a better saxophone with a higher price), decide on a few models, keep your eye open, and test out as many saxophones as you can, even the saxophones that are above and below your budget. This will give you experience concerning the consistencies and inconsistencies of the saxophone and help you make a choice you’re comfortable and confident with. If you need anything else, let me know!

  70. Hi Jeff! I’ve been playing drums and guitar for quite a long time, and I want to pick up sax now (tenor). I’ve been searching for some saxes, this is what I’ve found:

    – Jupiter JTS-587 @ $1600
    – Used Yamaha YTS 23 @ $1500
    – Used Selmer Bundy II @ $1300

    I really don’t want to spend more than 1500, plus a lot of stores told me that they are running low on Jupiter. Thing is, I really don’t know what to look for on saxes. I’m thinking about starting lessons, which I’ll surely need anyways, and go with the teacher to check them. I did listen to them, yts sounded amazing, but I can’t tell any more than that because I really don’t know.

    My question is, what should I look for on these used saxes? They do sound great, but any structural things to look out for?

    Thanks!

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      Author

      Hi Tom,

      Choosing a beginner saxophone is a fun experience, and I am more than happy to help answer questions. The brands that you mentioned will all work, it’s just a matter of preference. Personally, I would place the Yamaha at the top, mostly for the ergonomics and durability. The Selmer is durable as well, but they ergonomics just feel strange to me and can be limiting when required to play quickly. Jupiter would be my third choice, mostly because of feel and tone response.

      The price seems a little high though. If you go on eBay, you should be able to find a used 23 between $500 and $1000. I would suggest buying from a dealer who has worked on the saxophone and has a refund option. Check out Criag’s List too. If you have additional questions, let me know.

  71. Dr. Cunningham, wonderful website. You’ve taken the time to answer everyone that asks questions, which is commendable. I wanted to chime in about the Selmer USA 40 series. First, my main alto is a 75,xxx Mark VI, that is what I consider the best, and a Selmer 164 tenor with a Mark VI neck. When looking for backup horns, I went with the Selmer AS42 Alto, and TS44 Tenor. The big draw was the Selmer Paris necks on each. The neck seems to be the single most important part of the saxophone in the sound production, along with the mouthpiece. They also come with a specially designed Selmer Paris mouthpiece, as well as genuine Bam cases. The cases are the best around, worth about $400 on their own. The mouthpieces, though, are not very useful for anyone above a beginner (very closed, very bright.) I keep them in a drawer.

    As to the saxes themselves, I went into a local Sam Ash and play tested them against my Mark VI, a Yanagasawa 991, P. Muriat PXMA 67, & Yamaha 62. The others all had unusual ergonomics for me, and didn’t feel comfortable, and their sound was somewhat dark, and dull sounding. But the AS42 felt just like the Mark VI, as far as ergos. The AS42 is a much heavier horn that the VI, but the sound was very close. I went with it.

    I have used the AS42 and TS44 both for recording, where I can compare sound against the Mark VI and my Selmer tenor, using the same mouthpieces and reeds. The Selmer Paris saxophones just have a more beautiful sound, especially for classical playing, but with the right mouthpieces, they are very similar. A round chambered mouthpiece is best for these horns. I feel the 40 series is more for jazz and rock playing. This makes sense, since the Selmer product manager considers the 40 series to be based on the Series II (Paris) body and a Series III neck. So I got a Series II neck for the AS42 and it makes it a more rounded sound, usable for classical playing. It takes a very experienced and discerning ear to hear the difference between the Paris pro horns, and a 40 series.

    The only problem is that very few retail music stores carry them in stock, so it’s hard to find one to test.

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      Author

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comments and taking the time to share your experiences concerning the Selmer saxophones. I agree that the AS42 and TS44 can be challenging to find, but (as you probably know) they are becoming more accessible than they were a couple of years ago, especially online. Thanks again for your comments, and feel free to comment anytime!

  72. I woudl like to purchase a beginner sax. I am seeing lot of +ve reviews about Jean Paul USA AS400 Alto saxophone. What is your opinion out this brand ?

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      Author

      Hi Vasudevan,

      That’s a good question. Before you purchase a saxophone in that price range, it’s important to know what they’re designed to do. This post explains their purpose, and if it matches your needs, then go for it! If not, then I would suggest purchasing a used Yamaha or Selmer (check out the beginner models on this page). If it does match your needs, then I would suggest purchasing one of these saxophones from a music dealer, such as wwbw.com. They have a saxophone with the brand name of Etude. This would be my suggestion in the price range.

      If you have additional questions trying to decide, just let me know.

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