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Elm House Farm, Crosby, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6SH
Tel: 01900 813200
Mob: 07718 394355
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Saxophone Buyer's Guide BUYERS' GUIDE

BUDGET SAXES

Saxophones are now cheaper than they ever have been, in relative terms. This has made the market very competitive with a number of cheaper instruments of poor quality starting to appear on the market.

Recommended budget buys are (Selmer) Elkhar seriest II and Elkhart Deluxe, Yamaha 275, Trevor James' ‘The Horn’, Jupiter 767, and Fremont.

N.B. Most of these companies make cheaper Chinese models, sometimes referred to as ‘pre-budget’ instruments. These can often be cheap Chines instruments. The ones mentioned above are Taiwanese, which tend to be built to a higher standard.

Decent Chinese saxophones are available from Bentley.

WHAT TO AVOID

It's becoming harder and harder to keep track of all the numerous instruments available. There are many Chinese instruments which are ‘badged’ with different names but are essentially the same instrument. The cheapest ones tend not to be too good.

NOT CHEAP IN THE LONG RUN

I recommend avoiding the cheapest instruments which include Parrot, J. Michael, Intermusic, Symphony, saxophones. Be wary of anything that has no name. The numerous garishly coloured instruments found on internet auction websites may well be poor ones. Some well established companies, (Bentley, Fremont, Venus etc) source well made saxophones, but other instruments that look very similar aren't as good.

Almost unplayable reproductions are finding their way from India. Often they have the name Hawkes and Son on them, or Boosey and Co and/or Besson. If they are new then we know they aren't made by the Hawkes and Son - which merged with Boosey to form Boosey & Hawkes.way back in 1930: so if a Hawkes is shiny bright and new, with a case with plastic bits on it - give it a miss!

A brand new instrument for £200 or less is going to be a cheap Chinese instrument which is best avoided. You're better buying a second hand, well made student model.

It may be better buying a second-hand Taiwanese instrument, such as a Elkhart Series II, which often sell from £100 on auction websites.

SECOND HAND SAXES

On the second-hand market there are numerous makes and stencils. (A stencil is an instrument produced by one company with the name of a different company or supplier engraved on it). Be careful what you buy as it may be a bit different to what you think it is! On the internet auctions you will come across saxes needing "a little work". If there are bits missing and large dents and things hanging off it'll need a lot more than a little work!!! (And always check the crook key - we've seen quite a few with half missing!)

WHAT TO CHECK FOR

Check the mechanism for rattles and wear.
Check that the crook fits and the octave system works correctly, raising and lowering the both octave keys.
People will always tell you to check the pads. (These are the leather things that cover the toneholes). This is important but if you find a really good sax with duff pads it could still be worth buying - just be prepared to pay for new pads on top of the price of the sax. For instance you may come across a Weltklang / Meister / Berg Larsen tenor sax (all the same thing), for around £250 - quite a bargain, but it may cost around the same amount for a repad. For about £350 you will get a better instrument and it's still a bargain.

BETTER QUALITY SAXOPHONES

Better quality instruments are Yanagisawa (all are professional quality instruments), Selmer Paris, Yamaha 475 (intermediate) and 64 (pro), Keilwerth (avoid SX90R which has fake rolled toneholes. SX90s are OK, though). Borgani saxes are very good, P. Mauriat are very nice, essentially Taiwanese copies of Selmer Mk.VI.

Saxophones come in various sizes. They are heavy instruments so be careful of lumbering your child with something they can't handle. A curved soprano as made by the likes of Selmer Elkhart can be a good starter's instrument. If their hands are too small to reach on that then wait a year or two and let them grow.

MARSHALL McGURK, Elm House Farm, Crosby, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6SH Phone: 01900 813200