Stick with Brand Names Only!

Click on these links for used brand name alto saxophones:


Buying a musical instrument on EBay can be a great experience - or not. It is important to stick with brand name instruments. Don't look for the lowest price - cheap instruments may need so much in repairs that the cost will offset any preceived savings.

The EBay listings below are limited to recognized, brand name instruments. Take a look at the current offerings and read the remainder of this article on choosing an instrument.

Good luck in you search for an affordable, quality musical instrument.



The traditional starting place for the beginning saxophonist is with the alto saxophone. This is in part due to the fact that that vast majority of classical saxophone literature is written for the alto. Additionally, the alto requires slightly less air than does the tenor, and the smaller key scale often fits more comfortably in a young person's hands. Further, the angle of air flow as well as the embouchure required to play alto is very much transferable to all of the saxophones. These points do not, however, preclude a beginner from starting on tenor or baritone saxophone. With proper guidance, repertoire and technique can be adapted to all of the saxophones. Consult your local music store, school music teacher, or private teacher for suggestions on which brands and models to try. See if your private teacher would mind trying out a few instruments on your behalf.


Generally, student horns play well, but lack features and craftsmanship of professional instruments. As you move from a student horn to an intermediate horn and then finally to a professional instrument, major differences will become apparent.


A great deal of effort has been taken by many manufacturers to produce student instruments that are both affordable and musically satisfying to play. Most student horns produce a pleasant tone with considerable ease and feel relatively comfortable in the beginner's hands. In the case of a younger student, check to make sure that he or she does not have difficulty closing keys, especially the "spatula" keys. A student horn is a good way to go if you or your child's commitment is questionable. After three or four years of good use, a move to a better instrument can be made, possibly facilitated at least in part by a trade-in of your student horn.


As you can imagine, the intermediate horn is a little easier on the pocketbook, yet it has some features that resemble a professional horn. The key work feels similar that of a professional horn, yet it may not produce quite the same quality of tone. Intermediate horns usually lack the hand work found on professional models


Response, intonation, and tone quality are greatly improved with a professional instrument. Great care is taken in designing the tube through experimentation with different metal alloys, their weight and thickness. The design and placement of tone holes and posts is given much consideration, using silver solder in many cases. Adjustment screws and adjustable felt bumpers are also included on professional horns. Much more hand work is done as is the case with hand-hammered keys and hand-engraving. Also, choices with respect to finish become available. These include clear or colored lacquer, and silver and gold plating. Professional horns in general, feel more comfortable and substantial in one's hands. Finally, the resale value of a professional horn usually is quite satisfactory.


The standard finish for a saxophone is clear lacquer, however, different colored lacquers are now available. The color of the lacquer does not significantly affect the sound, but plating can. Silver-plated instruments, purchased for the most part by military and marching bands, produce a slightly brighter tone than lacquered horns. Gold-plated horns have a warm, heavy sound and can cost considerably more.


A used saxophone is a viable option to purchasing a new instrument. For a similar amount of money, a jump can be made from a new intermediate instrument to a used professional instrument, for instance. Be sure to check the used instrument for dents (recent and repaired)and re-soldering, as well as the condition of the pads. The pads should feel soft and appear to fill up the key cup to its edges. Also, ask if the horn has been re-lacquered. A re-lacquered horn is not necessarily a bad thing if you are happy with it. It could, however, affect the resale value of the instrument down the road. You might find used student horns at your local music store, perhaps an instrument that was rented out for the school year. Often, both used instrument dealers and local music stores offer a basic warranty with the purchase of a used instrument.


Beginners should start on a hard rubber mouthpiece with a small tip opening and low baffle. After deciding on a mouthpiece, try out some ligatures. Look for one that holds the reed in place while not compressing it at the sides. A "reverse" ligature, one with the screws on top is best. It is important to pick a good-quality reed, since it is the reed which triggers the vibration of sound within the instrument. Beginning students are, however, often careless with their reeds, so reed care accessories are recommended. Teaching a beginner to simply put the mouthpiece cap on will prevent destruction of the reed, not to mention the mouthpiece.


A sturdy neck strap or harness is a must. For reed care, a reed case, knife, trimmer, and re-surfacer are most helpful. A mouthpiece pouch protects the mouthpiece while in the case. A swab is good for keeping the tube clean. A music stand, method books, and a good selection of CDs will get things started.


There are a few options available when purchasing a saxophone: your local music store, a mail-order service, or private party selling a secondhand instrument. Each has its benefits, but important things to consider are price, quality, and service. Improper maintenance and accidents can lead to potential problems, such as damaging dents and dings which can affect more than just the looks of the instrument. You may want to choose a music store with a repair person on-site or, if you purchase from a mail-order service, it would be wise to have a repair shop available to you locally.

You can take advantage of discount prices through

The Instrument Place.
Visit their website and order online!

Portions of this aticle were reprinted with permission of School Band and Orchestra Magazine

Please visit them at www.sbomagazine.com


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