Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / Cheap Alto Recommendations

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Brian G
User ID: 9154853
Jan 28th 8:38 PM
Hi everyone. I have an old Bundy I, and while its been an excellent sax for the $150 I payed for it, it's about to kick the bucket mechanically. My main horn is tenor, and I'm really not wanting to spend more than $600 for a replacement. I also want it to sound at least as good or preferably better than my Bundy I. While the Bundy is only a student horn, it still sounds better than most new intermediate horns, I guess due to being based on the Buescher Aristocrat body tube. It's not dead yet, but I'm beginning to wonder about what a good replacement for it would be. Any suggestions?
Andres
User ID: 9007973
Jan 28th 9:15 PM
Do you want new, used, vintage...what?

If you want to say around $600:

New, I'd say choose one of the "better" asian clones (saxophone.com, Unison, etc.).

Used...hmm...dunno. I've always like Yamahas. Maybe a YAS-52? Plenty of other good used horns around this price. Dig around.

Vintage...I'll defer to someone else...
Brian G
User ID: 9154853
Jan 28th 9:20 PM
I dont care if it's new, used, or vintage. I can adapt to keywork. The important thing is it has to sound at least as good or better than my old Bundy, and despite the fact that student saxes are supposedly dead sounding, my old Bundy sounds very good, maybe even better than my aunt's Selmer USA AS100.
Brian G
User ID: 9154853
Jan 28th 9:21 PM
I should probably also add that I stripped the lacquer off of the body of my Bundy, which warmed up the sound a bit and made it feel a bit more "alive"
[email protected]
User ID: 0701364
Jan 28th 11:36 PM
Sounds like you really like your bundy. Why don't you get it fixed. I know that they are not worth a whole lot, but if you want to play it, instead of sell it then its worth it.
LL
User ID: 0317884
Jan 29th 6:41 AM
Public service announcement: someone tell us where one can get a "better" Asian clone for $600?
Isn't it more like double, or triple that cost?
Andres
User ID: 9007973
Jan 29th 7:13 AM
saxophone.com, for one....there are plenty of other retailers out there...check out the Inexpensive Sax Brands forum, and Saxophone Buying and Selling.
LL
User ID: 0317884
Jan 29th 7:26 AM
saxophone.com, if I am not mistaken, did not make the "top echelon" of eastern global saxes. (Not my vote, but sotw ers)
Unison, Cannonball, maybe pro Antigua Winds, if memory serves, are tops, and not cheap. I don't know if those long threads are still around wherein players and dealers discussed why the clones worth having are comparatively expensive. But well over a grand is a given, for the good clones.
$600 would get someone some vintage Conns, Bueschers, maybe a King Voll True/Zephyr or a noncollectible Martin. Possibly a good Selmer Signet.
If you are very lucky you might snag a Buffet Superdynaction, in alto, or a JK stencil. Kohlert vintage, or other European vintage, is probably in that price range too. A YAS 32 will be excellent and cheap, since few know it's a 52.
There are lengthy arguments about cheap sax quality over in Inexpensive Sax brands; I just had concern about a novice thinking they could buy a great cheap Asian horn. Great ain't cheap.
Merlin
User ID: 7691763
Jan 29th 9:08 AM
If you go used, look around for an old Keilwerth clone.

I've seen the following stencil brand names on Keilwerth saxes:

Marly, Tone King, The New King, Royal, Jubilee, Couf, Armstrong (not all of them though...) ....and I'm sure there are others.

I've seen altos like this go for as little as $150 CDN in playable condition.
KevinS
User ID: 0192094
Jan 30th 8:45 AM
The best deals are the F.E. Olds Saxes serial # 45xxx and older. This basically includes the French versions made in the 60s, (imo) the best Olds saxs ever made. Can't mistake them as they all have made in France engraved on them. Most experts that I've talked with believe they were made by SML. Also the 40&50s saxes that were mostly Martin stencils, really good old saxes. Olds kind of killed its reputation in the 70s by being one of the first to sell cheapened Asian made horns.
For this reason the resale is very low.
I've seen some great horns go for under $200.00.
KevinS
User ID: 0192094
Jan 30th 9:29 AM
Well - just cheacked ebay and sure enough there one is. This is basically the same Olds alto as mine except mine hase been set up with Selmer style pads with brown plastic resonators.
Buy this one put $150 into it to have the broken key repared and repadded with resos, and you'll have a killer SML/ Selmer mk6 type sound for a heck of a bargain. I promise if you were happy with that Bundy, you will not believe your ears with this baby. I know this for fact, as I started on the same bundy as you have, b4 buying my olds 20 years ago. Another thing you will find is that this sax articlates like lighting compaired to your Bundy. The precision is very tight and well engineered. I've tested many saxes through the years and have never found one superior enough to the olds, that I had to have it.
modre
User ID: 0415304
Jan 30th 9:35 AM
This morning I just ordered another Woodwind house brand alto for another daughter starting up. Woodwind & Brasswind sells them for $500.

The first daughter has had hers for a year or so now, and for the money (shine-y new horn) they can't be beat. A Yamaha 23 sells new for $800-ish...and school rental programs suck all the way around.

My personal horns are a series III sop, a Custom alto, series II tenor, and a Couf bari...I fully understand the difference between a student horn and a pro horn...and the WW house brand is surprisingly nice for what it is...(worlds apart from a Selmer/Bundy or King/Cleveland ect...)

I can't see putting a REAL nice horn in a beginner's hands...so if the main criterion is bottom line money, all you moms and dads (and part timers) should at least consider the WW house brand...just get a $60 Runyon plastic Custom w/spoiler mouthpiece to go with it. $550-ish will set you/them up adequately until college level needs demand the big bucks.

The fact that I bought 2 should say something more than they don't get to abuse my good stuff.
KevinS
User ID: 0192094
Jan 30th 12:18 PM
As usual good sound advice Modre.
I agree with you concerning Beginner horns.
It can be very frustrating to start out on a used horn. I had to do this when I started, and what is frustrating as a beginner, is that you have no way of really knowing whether it's your playing ability or a horn probem. ie. can't hit those low notes, is it me or a leak??? We hear it all the time on this forum.
The vintage saxes should be left for those who have learned the basics already.
Seems to me Brian has meet those requirements. So go for that Olds Brian. Ha! just kiddin, it's just a suggestion on how to get into a Pro-quality horn, cheaply.
Brian G
User ID: 9154853
Jan 30th 12:37 PM
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I'm keeping an eye on that Olds, Kevin. It has 4 days 11hrs left on it as I'm looking at it. The only thing is that I'm not sure if my local repair shop can handle a key repair that daring. They specialize in "school band" and I've always had problems getting them to do what I want on my Bundy and on my Yamaha YTS-52 Tenor. As far as the Yamaha's go, I'm not crazy about my Tenor. It tends to go out of adjustment A LOT, and the longer rods, especially the ones going to high E and high F# are very easily flexed. If the Alto model shares any of the same problems I'd much rather stay away from them. I've also chosen not to get the Bundy overhauled, because when I bought it before 7th grade from a local guitar shop, I didn't know enough to tell that the neck wasn't original. I'm not sure what sax the neck came from. It looks kind of like a Bundy II neck, but without any kind of markings. It's served me well for the last 5 years, but I think it's time to move on to a horn with a little more potential.
KevinS
User ID: 0192094
Jan 30th 12:38 PM
Ok - not that I haven't already said enough, but a correction is needed before more of the horn experts read this tread.
Correction - I meant to say my Olds looked to be made by "Buffet" not SML.
Check the one on ebay and tell me what you all think. Mine actually has better engraving, that looks like the Buffet SDA, and nickle keywork, another Buffet trait.
Otherwise it's the same sax.
KevinS
User ID: 0192094
Jan 30th 12:57 PM
Brian - I'm pretty sure that key can be fixed. It's the same basic style as on all most Selmers, Yamahas.
You might want to email the seller and have them send you a picture and description of the sax of the tone hole area where the key is missing and of the key as well. Also see if you can get the measurements of the key cup and length.
It's a great little sax though and a well kept secret. I've been quite about it for a while because, I too now play Tenor as My primary horn and have been hoping to "steal" one of these in a Tenor.
There was one on ebay last week but I've seen em' for less, and my old Martin Tenor is great for the rock band that I am playing in, for now.

KevinS
User ID: 0192094
Jan 30th 1:26 PM
Ok Brian - it's your lucky day, cause another alto just popped up on ebay. This one is identical to mine, and looks very clean. Even has the pads with resonators and a new case.
The seller thinks it's a Tenor, so to find it just look under Olds Saxophone.
Notice the endraving is a little fancier.
Boy, I wish that was a Tenor or Bari.
If you are lucky enough to get it, try a Jody Jazz custom Mouthpiece. For $100.00 it'll make it sing. I use a size #8 tip opening which is very easy to blow. jodyjazz.com.

Good Luck
Brian G
User ID: 9154853
Jan 30th 2:00 PM
Kevin, maybe I'm overlooking something, but the only thing I see broken on the Ambassador is the touchpiece on the high E key has come detached from the rod. What tone hole and pad cup are you referring to?
Brian G
User ID: 9154853
Jan 30th 2:03 PM
Unless you're referring to the missing alternate F# keyguard, which i'm sure is easily replaceable and doesn't concern me at all. I marched a school-owned Signet Tenor that didn't have that keyguard my freshman year.
KevinS
User ID: 0192094
Jan 30th 4:12 PM
Actually I was referring to both. When a gaurd is missing it's a good Idea to make sure the tone hole is not out of shape.
For the broken key, it's not as bad as I thought originally, so probably will not have to be replaced, just resoldered. I was just saying to get the dimensions in case it has to be completely replaced. Doughtful though.
This sax will need the key gaurd replaced as that's what controls it's range of travel and will effect tonation. Doesn't have a stop post like some saxes.
Have you checked out the Parisian Ambassador yet?
It looks ready to play! Very similar to mine maybe a little newer, but still of 60s vintage, French made. Basically the same sax as the Amb. you looked at, but set up with the better pads.
which look to be in very good shape. The reso. pads are important! They really sweeten up the sound, of any sax.
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