The “Disposable” Saxophone

A Disposable World

When you hear the word disposable, do you think of the following?

  • Cheap
  • Short term use
  • Plastic

There are probably dozens of reasons why so many products on the market today are disposable (cell phones are a good example). One reason comes from technology. It progresses so quickly, that new (and more advanced) products are coming out all the time.

With these advancements, the general public purchase the newest product (and maybe their older product isn’t even worn out yet). So, the companies who build these products don’t see the need for longevity. In the saxophone world, the disposable saxophone is a very new idea and often rejected. Longevity, quality, pride, and tradition have been the goal in saxophone manufacturing. However, times are changing and we have a new player in town.

Last Week

Last week we covered saxophones that are made by trusted companies. Many of these saxophones will last a lifetime- probably even longer. The rest of the consumer world has moved onto disposable products, but the saxophone world has not. Trusted saxophone manufacturers have a strong tradition and take pride in their craft. They’ve probably never even considered manufacturing a disposable saxophone.

What is a “Disposable” Saxophone?

First of all, companies don’t label their saxophones as “disposable”. This is a label I have given this category of saxophone for the purpose of this post. These saxophones will look nice- even beautiful! When you look at the price tag, it will be priced at $200-$500 for an alto saxophone. In addition, the brand name may be unknown to many. In summary, here are some general signs of a disposable saxophone:

  1. Can look as nice as a professional saxophone
  2. Price of Alto: $200-$500
  3. Many saxophonists won’t know the brand name

What Should I Expect

Actually, I have been surprised by how well some of these saxophones play (some have played poorly, and some have played well). If you want to give this type of saxophone a shot, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, these saxophones may be a good fit. But, you should keep this point in mind: these saxophones are most likely disposable, meaning they’ll probably only last 2-5 years.  If that meets your needs, then you may want to consider this category of saxophone.

Who’s Interested?

The big name saxophone manufacturers are not making disposable saxophones, and maybe they never will. The mindset of the musician has not moved on to disposable saxophones either. In fact, there might even be uproar if companies such as Selmer started making a saxophone that only lasted a few years. However, some people are interested in this category of saxophones. Who are they, and why are they interested?

It May Be You

If your needs match the list below, you may be in the market for a disposable saxophone:

  • I don’t want to spend much
  • I don’t know if I’ll play for very long
  • I don’t know if my child will stick with it
  • I want a new saxophone at a low cost
  • I want a saxophone that provides enough quality to get started
  • I am a beginner
  • I don’t mind if the life of the saxophone is 2-5 years

Where Can I Find a Disposable Saxophone?

An online search will provide many options. If this is a category for you, then I would suggest buying a disposable saxophone from established retailers such as wwbw.com. Yes, the disposable saxophone is beginning to be noticed by big name retailers. This is good for the consumer, because these large companies have a return policy. If you don’t like the saxophone, or if it’s broken, you can return it.

Wait! Don’t Throw it Away

Just to be clear, “disposable” doesn’t mean that you should throw the saxophone away after a few years of playing. It’s simply an attitude or mindset you should have when shopping for this type of instrument. There’s even a chance that some of these saxophones could last many additional years. However, you should not be surprised if the life of the disposable saxophone is very short.

A Warning!

Many saxophones will play well, but there will also be saxophones that won’t. If you are interested in purchasing one of these saxophones, here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure it has a return policy
  2. Take it into a repair tech and have them look it over
  3. Inform them of your “disposable” point of view
  4. Some techs won’t work on these saxophones- make sure this isn’t a problem

Summary

The most trusted brand names in saxophone manufacturing build quality instruments. Because of this, the price for a saxophone can be extremely high. These prices can actually dissuade people from learning the saxophone. To fill this need, new manufacturers have surfaced. Saxophones can now be purchased at a price that is shockingly low. But the reduced price comes with a sacrifice. The quality of these saxophones is much lower, resulting in a new category that should be looked at with new eyes: eyes that can see the purpose of the disposable saxophone.

If you liked this post, please feel free to share it with the social media buttons on this page. Do you have a disposable saxophone? If you do, please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section. It will be an informative conversation for everyone involved. Thanks!

 

Comments 18

  1. I bought a Etude 100 alto sax before I got the weekly post about the throw away
    sax. I am not considering a Selmer AS 500 student sax and a cannonball vintage professional. So confusing.

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      Author

      Hi Charles. Let’s see if we can clear things up so they are less confusing. First of all, I’ve had a few students purchase the Etude EAS-100 and they really liked it. However, they understood that it was an inexpensive option that would be a good saxophone until they were able to buy higher quality instruments down the road. The Selmer AS500 is a beginner saxophone but is a better quality instrument compared to the Etude. They are both saxophones for the beginner, but the Selmer will last much longer. The Cannonball company manufactures quality saxophones, and their prices are competitive in the market. They are not considered a cheap saxophone, as professionals play these saxophones (such as Gerald Albright and Branford Marsalis- as mentioned on the Cannonball website). If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

      1. Hi Jeff. This is a great blog. I purchased a Mendini Soprano through Amazon for about $200. I played the clarinet for about 65 years and in high school and college I played a tenor sax in dance bands. Two things about the soprano sax, you were correct, it is a difficult instrument to master; and, a good quality soprano is much more than I want to pay. Your sax course helped me develop well enough to be invited to play in three retiree jazz bands. At 82 years of age playing with these groups really helps me in many ways to cope with the challenges of aging. I have been looking at better quality sopranos for some time now and my issue is will I outlive the sax I now own? Several players (and all are quite good musicians) are now playing “plastic” horns. Our lead trumpet player has a “disposable” horn because he lost use of his left arm from a stroke. Our trombone player is wheel chair bound and she plays a mean trombone — it too is plastic and her tone is great. Her horn weights less than three pounds. I was considering buying a Cannonball soprano but the price is more than I am willing to pay at my age. Thanks to your course and the blogs on developing tone, breathing, etc. I get to play solos. By the way, the music is not easy. One of our groups uses the Belwin jazz series. We are now into the “Green book.” Thanks Jeff, your course is wonderful and the personal critique you gave me on my lesson submissions is far better than I got from my music teachers years ago.

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          Author

          Hi Ed. It’s great to hear from you and I’m glad that things are going well. I think it’s great that you’ve come so far and that you’re playing challenging music. I’m sure it’s very rewarding. Keep up the good work and thanks for your post!

  2. Hi Jeff! I recently got a Lazarro 370 alto saxophone from Amazon. Learning to play the sax has been a dream of mine since I was in band many years ago, yet a saxophone was not in the budget and I ended up playing a handed down trombone. I decided to get this one so I could start learning to play. I think I have my youngest son convinced to play the sax when he enters band in a couple years, so I’m thinking he might be able to start on this one and I’ll move up to a trusted tenor at that time.

    1. I forgot to mention that the reviews indicated to get a better mouthpiece, so I got a Yamaha 4C to start. I can make a decent tone, but I’m still working on my embouchure. My daughter, who has been playing clarinet for years, seems to do well on it.

    2. Post
      Author

      Hi Micah,

      Sounds like a good plan. I’m happy to hear that your realizing your dream of playing the saxophone; let me know what your needs are, and I can help out! The Yamaha 4C is a great mp, and I would also suggest 2.5 Rico Royal reeds to begin. My only suggestion about the saxophone is to take it into a repair tech, just to make sure all is in working order. Please send me updates and feel free to send in a recording as you get going. I look forward to your progress!

  3. Hi Jeff
    I have always wanted to try playing a saxaphone, yet cost was an issue. I now rent an esprit alto sax for £10 per mth. I can rent it for 1yr, then return or buy it. The rental paid is deducted from the final price. I think this is a disposable sax, but has a good tone (sometimes ha ha) and has given me the experience I longed for.
    Regards Paul

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for sharing. One big benefit of inexpensive saxophones is that people are more likely to give the saxophone a shot, as there’s less hesitation because of price. I’m happy to hear that your saxophone works for you and you’re able to do something you’ve always wanted to give a try. Good for you! I look forward to your progress.

  4. Hi Jeff! I have a Selmer 300 and a Yamaha yas 23 and I am trying to sell them but I have no idea how much to try to sell them for. What do you suggest? Thank you

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Stacey,

      It depends how old the saxophone is and its condition. It also depends on how anxious you are to sell it. If I were to throw a number out there, I would say between $300-$500 for each saxophone. For a precise value, you could take the saxophones into a repair shop, have them look it over and have them provide their opinion on how much each is worth. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with. Good luck!

  5. Hi Jeff, l am a determined senior adult who wants to learn to play alto saxophone. I play piano and have always been in love with the saxophone. Have been trying to pick a saxophone for over a year. I would like one that I can grow with and not have to trade it in as I get better. Must be reliable and have excellent tone for solos and playing gospel jazz. My price range is up to $1200. I like fancy decor on bell. What do you think about the Allora Paris Alto Sax? Any suggestions? I appreciate your input. Thank you. God Bless you for all you do.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Vonsa. Thanks for your question and I’m happy to hear you’re adding the saxophone to your instrument list. As far as purchases, any of the brands that are on my suggested list would of course work. However, some (even with the big brands) are not made as well as others. If you’re looking in the $1200 range, the best suggestion I have is to find a used saxophone. On online auction sites, I have seen used Yamaha 62 saxophones for around your price range. Some other brand names to consider are Cannonball and P. Mauriat. For both companies I would only suggest their pro models. Some of them will also be in your price range. You can check out their websites to learn about their pro models. I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions. Have fun!

  6. Hi, what’s your take on the intermediate Allera Vienna series tenor sax? My middle schooler, who already plays oboe, wants to take up tenor sax too. Since I’m already budgeting for an oboe upgrade in the next couple years, this seemed like a nice compromise…your opinion?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Martha,

      Did you mean Allora? If this is the case, this brand is not one I usually recommend. For that price range you can find some used saxophones found in the beginner section in the following post:click here. When buying used, I would suggest playing the instrument before you buy, or if you’re buying online make sure there is a return option. Let me know if you need any more help!

  7. There was a company named Aquilasax whose saxes were built in China to more exacting specs, then checked out by the owner in New Zealand before they were shipped out.

  8. Hi, I am looking to buy a straight soprano saxophone but I am not sure what the best brands / series are out there. I found one for a good price from allora Vienna (I think that’s the brand?) this is a gift so I don’t know much about it but if I could find a better quality or brand for maybe not professional level but also not beginner, (Yamaha maybe?) for a few hundred more .. then I’d rather spend a little more and get a better instrument. Or is allora Vienna a descent brand/quality? Can you help please?

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      Author

      Hi Alma,

      I have never been too impressed with the Allora brand. However, I have not played one in a few years, so they may have improved. No matter what brand you buy, a soprano is going to be difficult to play. That’s why I normally suggest staring on alto or tenor first. It’s easier to get an appealing tone and you’ll progress much faster on these two saxophones. Then, once you have a good tone, it’s easier to move to soprano and have success with this instrument.

      As far as brand names, Cannonball is less expensive than Selmer and Yamaha, and they make a good soprano saxophone as well. If you need additional information, let me know!

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