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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

My boy really wants to start learning the sax, so what should I get him?

Horns that I've been looking at are the Sukkusu, Trevor Horn Classic II, and Yamaha 280 (or any of its predecessors).

Are there others I should look into? Any of the above that I should avoid?

The price of the Sukkusu certainly appeals, especially as I don't know how dedicated he'll be. I can't afford a new Yamaha (nor the Trevor Horn really), but am pretty sure i could find something used.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Ben
 

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Thing is, the first two brand names you mentioned, along with dozens of others, are just brand names. What they are, is saxophones made in mainland China or Taiwan to the order of a distributor or music retailer in Europe or the USA. They'll stamp any name on it you want. The general design of all these is essentially the same. They have various finish options. The real difference will be in quality of materials and construction. This runs the gamut from very good and totally functional, to very bad. Some of the distributors/music stores who order these kinds of instruments impose contractual requirements about quality control, others don't. The key to obtaining a good quality stencil Chinese/Taiwanese horn is in the constant assiduous attention paid by the contractor (music store/distributor). Also, as there are multiple factories over there doing this, the same name can be applied to instruments from completely different factories depending on when they were made. Subcontractors are also critical and there's precious little control over that.

Yamaha, by contrast, are an actual musical instrument manufacturer themselves (of high quality). They do subcontract some of their instrument manufacturing but every indication is that they apply quality controls of similar rigor to purchased items as they do to in-house manufactured items.

The only other name in student priced horns I can think of offhand that is similar to that is Jupiter which is the trade name of KHS which is also an actual manufacturer.

So if you get a Yamaha or Jupiter you can be pretty confident what it is that you're getting. If you get a [insert randomly chosen Euro-sounding name here] made in China or Taiwan by a contract manufacturer and stamped for the distributor, it's going to be a total crap shoot what you get - it could be very good, it could be mediocre, it could be very bad; it'll totally depend on the individual horn.

There are also some stencil brands that have pretty good reputations (P. Mauriat, Kessler, etc.) but I have a sense they're going to be higher priced than you're looking for.

Of course with a used name instrument (Yamaha YAS-23 comes to mind) condition will be everything, which pretty much rules out buying sight unseen off Craigslist or Ebay unless you have the skills to assess and put right.

There are some vendors who regularly post here and deal in student instruments that they've gone over and made playable; I'd contact some of them.
 

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The best value would be a gently used Yamaha YAS-23 or it's Vito equivalent. Those can be picked up around $400 in my area. After a "play condition" by a competent tech, usually around $75 - $125 you will have an excellent instrument for a beginning student. If you must have a "new" saxophone in a lower price range I would recommend a Chateau student model or a Cannonball Alcazar.
 

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So if you get a Yamaha or Jupiter you can be pretty confident what it is that you're getting. If you get a [insert randomly chosen Euro-sounding name here] made in China or Taiwan by a contract manufacturer and stamped for the distributor, it's going to be a total crap shoot what you get - it could be very good, it could be mediocre, it could be very bad; it'll totally depend on the individual horn.
Not that you're wrong, and going with Yamaha is never a bad idea, but e.g. Trevor James has a very good reputation as well.

What is OP's budget?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not that you're wrong, and going with Yamaha is never a bad idea, but e.g. Trevor James has a very good reputation as well.

What is OP's budget?
I think a maximum of £500 (including any work done on a used horn)
 

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I’d get him one of those long wooden things to start with. He’ll thank you later.
I recently had a 17 year old young man sit in with me on tenor a couple of weeks ago and the first thing that came to my mind was how much better my sound was at that age.
Starting with clarinet is the standard I’d advise any young person to do.
 

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I think a maximum of £500 (including any work done on a used horn)
Definitely check for a used Yamaha, e.g. a YAS-23. Best of luck :)
 

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What about a Trevor James Classic II @ £450?
I don't actually know much about that particular model, but I have their "pro" level tenor called Trevor James Signature Custom and it's a fantastic horn. I think TJ are known for good student horns too.

There's another saxophone forum that is more UK focused, run by Pete Thomas. Google and you'll find it. I'd ask the same question there, might be helpful as they'll know the UK market and brands (like TJ) better than people here.

Btw, I think starting sax at 9 is a great idea :) Make sure he gets a good teacher and a decent starter mouthpiece.
 

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Looks like there are a bunch of solid inexpensive horns at 2nd Ending! I really like the ethos of these folks (and the guy who runs it posts here on the forum).

http://www.2ndending.com/saxes.html

If they'll ship to the UK, that would be a really great place to look: used instruments that are very affordable, but that have been thoroughly gone-over and set up by professional techs who know what they're doing. Looks like they have some Yamaha and Conn options, among others.
 

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I’d get him one of those long wooden things to start with. He’ll thank you later.
I recently had a 17 year old young man sit in with me on tenor a couple of weeks ago and the first thing that came to my mind was how much better my sound was at that age.
Starting with clarinet is the standard I’d advise any young person to do.
That may be the best approach if you ultimately want to be able to play both the saxophone and clarinet to a high standard. The consensus appears to be that moving from sax to clarinet is trickier than moving from clarinet to sax. However, there's no indication in the OP that the student falls into the category of potential future doubling pro. All we know is that, "he really wants to start learning the sax." I'm not sure that telling him, "About your saxophone studies -- here's a clarinet for you!" will produce the desired outcome.

Fwiw, I started on clarinet at age 8, but it wasn't for the purpose of eventually becoming a saxophonist. It was to learn the clarinet.
 

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That may be the best approach if you ultimately want to be able to play both the saxophone and clarinet to a high standard. The consensus appears to be that moving from sax to clarinet is trickier than moving from clarinet to sax. However, there's no indication in the OP that the student falls into the category of potential future doubling pro. All we know is that, "he really wants to start learning the sax." I'm not sure that telling him, "About your saxophone studies -- here's a clarinet for you!" will produce the desired outcome.

Fwiw, I started on clarinet at age 8, but it wasn't for the purpose of eventually becoming a saxophonist. It was to learn the clarinet.
You're right, there's quite a bit of advice that's kind of missing the point in this thread, as usual :) Don't get your son a clarinet if he really wants to play the sax...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I won't be getting him a clarinet. He wants to learn sax to play with me; something we can do together.
 

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I won't be getting him a clarinet. He wants to learn sax to play with me; something we can do together.
I, for one, think that's just fine. I started on clarinet, and that's fine, but I know plenty of phenomenal saxophonists who started on saxophone and stayed there. It's much better for a kid to play the instrument that he or she is genuinely excited about playing! Much better chance of staying engaged and enjoying it. The more they enjoy it, the more time they spend playing, the better they get.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Looks like there are a bunch of solid inexpensive horns at 2nd Ending! I really like the ethos of these folks (and the guy who runs it posts here on the forum).

http://www.2ndending.com/saxes.html

If they'll ship to the UK, that would be a really great place to look: used instruments that are very affordable, but that have been thoroughly gone-over and set up by professional techs who know what they're doing. Looks like they have some Yamaha and Conn options, among others.
Thanks for this, but I think I'd like to buy locally.
 

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When younger students 7 - 10 are a bit small for their age making even an alto saxophone a bit unwieldy, as a music educator I always recommend piano lessons for a few years until they have grown. Learning to read music and count rhythms will put them farther ahead and allow them to progress more quickly when they start on the saxophone. I have seen some parents start them on curved soprano saxophones and Eb soprano clarinets without much success.
 

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Yamaha, Jupiter as long as the model number doesn't begin with S (STS, SAS), as those were the evry early ones and they honed/upped their game after around the first decade of their production...

The chinese-made Evette Schaeffers by Buffet are NOT bad student horns at all, too...and quite cheap used.

The Keilwerth ST90, same can be said there (not sure if those are chinese or Taiwanese).

Folks in UK particularly seem to like Trevor James....I have no experience with one so cannot say one way or the other. They are a boutique brand and some boutique brands can be respectable, others meh notsomuch. I guess all I have to say about contemporary brands with a very short track record and therefore not a firmly established reputation is:

If you buy a brand-new alto and it costs $500-600usd......you will get precisely what you paid for 95% of the time.....

As you are a player and as you can playtest used horns, it's sort of a slam-dunk that your $ will get you more in a used horn if that is your price point.
 

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The Trevor James horns are available over here also.
The tenors I tried were not great.
The alto’s come up pretty regularly on the secondhand market for a few hundred dollars.
Personally I wouldn’t waste a few hundred on the ones I’ve seen and tried.
These were not their pro models though and perhaps they are a lot better, but I imagine a lot more expensive also.
The Jupiter 500 series is a decent horn for its price on the used market.
Often they can be had for half the cost of a Yamaha 23 and some are in excellent condition.
I also think some of the older Horns like Amati Super Classic etc are good value and have a better sound than both the Yamaha and Jupiters.
I actually picked up a tenor in good shape last year for $150 Australian.
Didn’t need any work and played nicely.
Ergo’s were perhaps a little clunky but workable.
 
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