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Saxophone Buying Guide

Ideally see if they will come with you when buying a saxophone. But bear in mind some teachers could be getting a commission from the store or manufacturer. Be wary if they insist too heavily that you only buy one make or from one shop if others also seem viable. Someone starting out as a complete novice needs to think very carefully about your first saxophone purchase. Here are a few points to bear in mind:

saxophone buying guide

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If you are buying a vintage instrument, you can often get a very good professional level instrument for a very good price, though some vintage saxophones command very silly prices (e.g. Selmer MK VI or SBA). Some vintage instruments are not suited to beginners as the ergonomics, consistency of sound across the range and intonation may not be as good as modern horns, though some are better. More information about these on the Vintage Saxophones page. If you in doubt, many shops will let you hire an instrument for a while, then take the hire charges off if you decided to buy it.

Over recent years the gap between cheap and expensive instruments has been narrowing, almost to the point where a 200 saxophone is very nearly as good in every respect as a 2000 instrument. To the majority of players the most important thing is obviously the sound of the instrument, but other factors to take into account are intonation, consistency of tone across the range, build quality (will it let you down during a performance?), feel (does it feel and sound good to play, irrespective of the sound projected?), ergonomics, cosmetics and resale value.

The saving in price is usually reflected by a not quite so rugged build quality and a more utilitarian finish. Many are made in Taiwan, which could be a saving for manufacturers compared with Germany, France or Japan. Being made in Taiwan does not mean the quality is any worse, in fact most Taiwanese instruments are extremely well made. More recently there have been some newer models from Taiwan including P.Mauriat and Cannonball which would definitely give any so called professional saxophone a run for its money.

The main thing to realise is that it may cost ten times the price of a saxophone that is almost as good, and that if you find the saxophone is not for you, you will have made quite a considerable loss due to depreciation. I cannot recommend any particular one of these, they are all built to last and have good intonation and sound. Which one is best is very subjective.

Each different make or model can have a distinctive character in the way it sounds or the response you feel from playing it. This is possibly a reason to wait until you are more confident about your playing before buying a top of the line horn. Having said that, I recently tried many saxophones at the Frankfurt Musikmesse exhibition and my favourites were a Rampone & Cazzani alto and Inderbinen tenor.

Beware any shop that tries to sell you too many unnecessary accessories. Unless you buy a professional instrument, you will probably need to buy a mouthpiece, as generally the ones supplied with the saxophones are not very good. As well as this I would recommend you get some reeds, a good strong and comfortable neckstrap, a swab or pullthrough and a stand. Accessories that may be a waste of money include padclamps, padsaver, gigdust, pad treatment and fancy ligatures.

Some advanced players learn to be proficient with a number of different voicings. However, many saxophonists hone their skills on one particular saxophone type, developing their own, distinct solo voice.

Other factors making the alto a popular first saxophone is its generally lower cost as well as the wealth of classical repertoire written for the instrument. Moreover, most of the skills that will be learned on the alto are readily transferable to other saxophones.

For players who are just starting out, bass or baritone saxophones have the advantage of being relatively mobile, compared to other bass-clef brass and woodwinds such as tubas. However, they can sometimes be difficult for younger players to reach the complete range of keys, particularly with bass saxophones.

That said, the soprano saxophone is an excellent choice for those who want to produce a rich, full sound in the higher registers. The soprano is tuned to Bb, two-and-a-half steps higher than the alto, and it fits in particularly well with orchestras and concert bands. Notable jazz players such as John Coltrane have included the soprano saxophone in their repertoire as a means of expanding their tonal coloration options.

Professional saxophones offer a significant step up in tone, response, and intonation. There is usually a lot of handwork, such as hand-hammered keys and elaborate hand engraving, on the bell. The metal alloys, solders, and other materials used are of the highest quality, resulting in advanced playability and full expressiveness.

Saxophones have either ribbed or non-ribbed construction, with most modern instruments being ribbed. This refers to how the posts (the knobs that protrude from the body to hold the keys) attach to the body. Individual posts are attached to plates or sheets of brass with high-temperature solder or brazing material. These rib assemblies are then attached to the saxophone body with lower-temperature solder. Ribs strengthen the bond between the posts and the body helping to keep the instrument in adjustment longer.

Most modern saxophones have a high F# key, though it is possible to play the note without the key. A growing number of soprano saxophones offer a high G key, though again, the note is playable without the key. Selmer Paris Series III altos include a C# resonance key for improved clarity of middle C#. Low A keys are now seen on most baritone saxophones.

Renting is a good option for students who are not 100% sure if this whole playing saxophone thing is going to work out or not. Also, renting a few different models or types of saxes is a good idea. Do you like the feel and sound of a tenor or an alto, baritone, or soprano? Most students start with alto or tenor. These two types are also easier to find as rentals because of their popularity. A good thing to note is that once you learn how to play one type of sax, the others are very much the same. Fingering is identical and so is the embouchure so picking up a different one is not very different, except for the feeling of size difference.

Selmer was founded in Paris way back in 1885. They produced several types of woodwind instruments along with mouthpieces and reeds. Their saxophone production began in 1922 and started to feature models 22, 26, and 28. These original models preceded the now very famous and highly sought after Balanced Action which came out in 1936.

The next highly popular model, and probably their most sought after saxophone of all time came out in 1954 and was called the Mark VI. It boasted mechanical and acoustic improvements over the earlier models. It was made for the six most popular saxophone types: sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass.

The WO series began replacing some of the 900 models a few years ago. This series is their most recent and most expensive line of saxophones. The price of a new one can be in the $9,000 to $10,000 price range. Certain used models can be found for a few thousand dollars though.

Newer models have a much quicker response and tighter all-round feel. As with anything else, this is all due to the progress in the technology of the industry. Still, some players like the sound (and feel) of these older vintage horns. Personally I prefer the feel of the newer saxophones.

Generally speaking, stay away from Chinese made saxophones. I say generally because there are a few that are good because they were produced for a specific company from outside of China. North American has been flooded with really cheap saxophones made by the Chinese.

Image 3. With this saxophone, the hand and fingers look far more natural and comfortable. Even a very small difference in the shape or position of the keys makes a huge difference in avoiding discomfort and encouraging playing enjoyment.

The Octave Key takes you from the lower notes to the higher notes of the saxophone and is operated by your left hand thumb. For more than the first 50 years of saxophone production, this key was pivoted from the right to the left. Because your thumb pivots from the left to the right, eventually most makers changed the basic design so that the key follows the natural arc of your thumb. Generally, we would recommend that beginner sax players will find the modern octave mechanism more effective however, for some younger sax students, the older style mechanism may be more suitable, This is a very important decision and you may need our help.

Unable to visit us in person? Then phone 03 9699 9099 and talk to us. Alternatively, if you are confident about which instrument to buy, then please click here for alto saxophones or tenor saxophones. We check our pricing regularly and you can be assured that although we provide the highest level of backup support and advice, our pricing is always competitive.

Although soprano saxophones are more typically built with a straight body, curved instruments are also available for those who prefer them. You can find soprano saxophone models in both styles for players of all levels at Phil Barone Saxophones.

A complete pad job on a saxophone starts at $600, so it's important to consider the condition when evaluating the total cost and value of a used saxophone. Buying a used saxophone that has been checked and serviced, like the ones at Gina's Flutes and other reputable dealers, is a smart and economical choice for owning your saxophone. Gina's Flute's checks each saxophone for sound playing condition. Our satisfaction guarantee allows you to buy the saxophone at no risk.

Brandon's expertise with saxophones and passion for music is evident throughout the video, but especially in his closing comments. A quality saxophone, new or used, brings out the best in the player, whether student or professional! 041b061a72


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