End of the Story
As I promised last week, here’s an update about my student who ordered a Yamaha EX. After trying 3 separate Selmer Series II Jubilee saxophones, he received the EX; he loves it. It doesn’t have the Selmer tone that he fell in love with, but the EX sounds great and plays as it should. There weren’t any surprises or anomalies found, so this particular saxophone will not be fighting against him, but will help him succeed.
Now, let’s move to our list. This list takes you through the process that any trained musician would follow, when buying an instrument.
Are You a Beginner?
If you’re completely new to the saxophone, some of the items below may be difficult to attempt. No need to fear, just do your best. At the end of this process, if you’re not comfortable making a decision, you can ask one of the following people to run the saxophone through the steps. I realize this list of individuals may not be accessible to everyone, but it’s worth bringing up:
- A friend who plays saxophone
- A local repair tech (many music stores have tech shops)
- A local band teacher
- A local university with a saxophone professor (this may be a tall order, but it’s worth mentioning)
#1: The Structure
Even if you’re not mechanically inclined, take a look at the structure of the saxophone. Is there anything lose, bent, or out of place? If something is out of place, it may be noticeable, even if you’ve never held a saxophone before. You may not be able to tell if something is bent, but if it’s drastic enough, you may be able to see it. A lose part, something rattling, a felt, or a pad that has fallen off may be noticeable in some instances as well. If a felt (black, green, or red) has fallen off, the saxophone may not play properly.
You don’t need to spend too much time with this step, but take a quick look and see if your eye can catch anything out of place.
#2: The Tone
Tone is another name for sound, and it makes sense that you should like the tone of your saxophone. Before you begin the list below, make sure you’re in tune. If you don’t know how to tune your saxophone, you can learn by clicking here. It’s a pretty quick process in regards to mouthpiece placement.
Once you’re in tune, do steps 1-4 below. If you’re choosing between two saxophones, and you’re not sure which saxophone you want, run it through this process and you’ll have a better idea of the right saxophone for you.
- Play a scale
- Play a technical passage
- Play a melodic passage
- Play each multiple times (especially if you’re comparing multiple saxophones)
What did you hear? What did you like? This playing test should bring out the differences in the saxophones. Or, if you’re playing one saxophone, you’ll hear what you like and what you don’t. Many times, you’ll like what you hear and all will sound as it should. So if you don’t find any problems, that’s ok.
Try it Out
Try out the 2 steps above on your own saxophone, or the next time you go saxophone shopping. No matter what (and I’ll mention this again next week), after you’ve tested out the saxophone, I would strongly suggest taking the saxophone to a repair tech before fully committing to a particular saxophone. This will give a professional a chance to check out things you may have missed. This will help in making the right choice.
We still have a couple of steps left to cover, and we’ll finish that up next week. Until then, what are the most common issues you have found with your saxophone not playing properly? I’ll start the conversation off by sharing a common issue with saxophones that is easily fixed. You can find that in the comment section. I look forward to your comments!