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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, I'm on a very, very low budget. $500 is actually already too much for me...

This page shows some cecilio alto saxes I am considering.

I see the main differences between them is in what type of plating, or lacquer it uses.

I read some things about laquer and plating, probably prefer plating for sound and lacquer for maintenance.

I guess nickel is harder than gold or silver. would nickel saxes sound different than golden/silver ones?

Could nickel plated saxes compensate the bright tones of lacquer?

I'm a little hesitant for the cheapest saxes there, the black sax link here seems ok to me but I fear ending up with a lemon at that price, or at least a bad sounding one.
I think the slightly more expensive ~300-$500 saxes won't have as many issues.

Thoughts, suggestions?

I found the cecilio tenor saxes NOT very nice sounding. They had a mid-bump somewhere, which clearly was there when comparing it to a selmer sax ...

Their soprano saxes sounded very good though!
look at this youtube vid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UNcE2yDcHY

I'm a beginner, probably going to start playing in a band in 3 months after purchase. It needs to be ok for practice, and rehearsals with a band.
 

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Crivens!

It seems pretty clear that the colour of the sax and plating vs lacquer has zero effect on sound. What counts is the shape of the interior of the sax (especially the mouthpiece and neck). So on that basis the best choice (all other things being equal) is the one that you like the look of the best, or that fits your budget the best (or both, if possible).

But you would probably be better off getting a second hand sax made by a reputable manufacturer - I think there are likely to be altos out there in the price range you're looking at, although you may have to look around a while to find one in your price range. There are plenty of people here who can comment on this. Have you browsed the marketplace? Even if there are no currently available saxes you can get an idea of what sales there have been in your price range.

Good luck!
 

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+1 to Edwin. While I have not played a Cecilio specifically, I am very, very familiar with that class of Chinese horn, and they are wildly inconsistent in quality. The intonation can also be a huge problem and very discouraging for a beginner who is already fighting the learning curve; much less their own horn. I am sure there are people here with respectable student horns they will sell you in your price range.
 

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You are going to get what you pay for......

I'd rather wait, and save up for a better one, or RENT one from a local music shop. Most music shops let you apply the rental price towards a purchase. Then you'd know what you are getting, you can try it out, and if something goes wrong, you can get it fixed. I have seen and heard of horror stories of these cheap saxophones. You can't get parts, things break off of them easily. Things that look like metal are not. Most repair shops won't touch them.

So.....you have to think of the bigger picture.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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You are going to get what you pay for......
By that, do you mean the more you pay for a saxophone the better it is. I haven't this to be true, especially in the last few years.

I would agree that buying any cheap saxophone could be risky. I haven't tried a Cecilio, have heard good and bad reports so I would recommend to buy it only if there is a return policy. Jason is right, check it for intonation if you do buy one, it could be great or it could be a bit dodgy (though this could just be down to needing a bit of a tweak by a good tech that most new saxophones need , even (or especially) Selmers.

If the budget is tight go for the cheapest finish, it won't sound any worse.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
thanks, but I'm not looking in second hand gear. My budget is limited to 350 for a sax, $500 would be a far stretch, and it has to be new, so it has to be one of these (or another brand that has a good reputation, still sounds good, and is cheap).

I personally would not know why some saxes are sold for over $3000 when others are sold for 300.
Both use about the same amount of man hours to manufacture, one perhaps uses a bit better materials, and thus they should be nearly identical (if you don't care much for art and engraving).
I can understand that a sax sold for $350 will be off here or there, with lousy manufacturing, but a $600 sax is a serious jump in price. For that increase the manufacturer could have a better QC, and use of better materials; leaving me with the impression that for $600 you can find quite some good horns (that apart from minor control issues, and looks don't differ much sound wise)..

but leaving complaining aside, is there much difference in sound quality between student horns and intermediate/professional horns?
I can understand professional horns use the best materials, and should be better, but student horns are made of nearly the same material, perhaps the valves don't open as fast, or close as well, and perhaps the tone holes are off by a fraction of a mm, but tonal quality wise, are there many differences?

I suppose I could always visit my local sam ash dealer to test out new mouthpieces, which have become ridiculously expensive I'd say. Back in the days paying $80 got you quite a good mouthpiece, but nowadays they are over $120!
For a piece of plastic not even accounting for 10% of the horn.
 

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Hi ProDigit,

Let me try to answer some of your questions.

1. In a truly free market, the manufacturing cost of any item has little direct influence on how much an item sales for. Even more than supply and demand, the price point is set at what the customer is willing to spend. So perceived value is everything. Old Selmer Mark VI saxophones are extremely common. But they fetch high prices because they are highly valued by players.

2. Any report here on the quality or lack there of concerning Cecilio saxophones is basically worthless. The Chinese are able to make quality saxophones as well as manufacturers anywhere else. The problem is that there is very little trademark enforcement in China. So while one saxophone engraved as Cecilio might be found to have great build quality and excellent performance, the next saxophone engraved as Cecilio might have absolutely nothing in common with the other and also be complete junk. So you cannot chose a Cecilio sax based on name brand alone.

3. The finish of the saxophone is absolutely no indicator of quality. A $50 sax with a $400 gold plate finish plus a $100 hand engraving is still a $50 sax with a $550 price tag.

4. These cheap no name saxophones are fine if you just need an extra sax as lark. Some SOTW members have bought cheap curved sopranos just so they could have a curved soprano. And sometimes these little horns are reported to be okay. But they are rarely used as primary instruments. A player's main instruments need to have a level of reliability so they are unlikely to fail during repeated performances and most importantly, they must be good enough not to substantially limit the player during development of skill.

5. Your best bet at a cheap new saxophone is to try them out in person if possible. The second best way is to buy from a reputable distributor like Kessler music.

6. I strongly suggest you reconsider your decision not to buy a used instrument. For $500, you have several options for a well-made, reliable used alto saxophone.
 

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thanks, but I'm not looking in second hand gear. My budget is limited to 350 for a sax, $500 would be a far stretch, and it has to be new, so it has to be one of these (or another brand that has a good reputation, still sounds good, and is cheap).
Why not? For $300 you can get a much better used sax that you ever will a new one.
 

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I'd like to echo earlier sentiments, and strongly encourage you to look into used horns. I got my tenor on the same kind of budget you're looking for, but I went used. Instead of a horn that may or may not be suspect in the quality department, I got to do the ultimate, and in my opinion one of the only worthwhile, test; I played the horn. Aside from one tiny scratch right up by the neck-strap ring ( and if anyone's ever seen a used horn without this, please, tell me, I'd be amazed), it looked new. Newness is by no means an indication of quality, playing the horn is the only real way. And, if you go used, you'll be able to get a little older, fantastic horn that will, if taken care of properly, last a lifetime. The same used horn I got a year ago for well under 500, I use to perform in a quartet that does very well, and will surely serve me well in college. I've tried a few Cecilio's, and found them to be mediocre at best, and awful at worst. There's (usually) a reason that the big brands have gotten such a name for themselves, and I think it would be well worth your time to look into some used horns, you might just find an awesome horn at the right price. The guys here at SOTW will almost surely have a horn that will both meet your needs and give you a real quality horn to start on.
 

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A good used yamaha YAS-23 can be had for around this price. I believe there is one for sale here at SOTW for around $300 (not mine, its sold). A good name sax will last you for years and will resell for what you paid for it. I found a $125 King Cleaveland 613 and it was/is in excellent shape - in fact its a beautiful little horn, my son chose it for jazz band over the YAS-23 and he is in love with that saxophone.

If you have to have a new sax, consider the rent to buy option - our local music shop rents an Antigua Winds alto for $28 a month x 24 months - and then you own it. You may be able to get a very good saxophone this way - even a Yamaha YAS-23 or 275 - don't just jump in there and buy the cheapest sax, do your homework first. If you have your heart set on a new Chinese sax, shop around, find a sax that has a good reputation, one that your local tech can and will work on. While you are at it go visit some of your local techs.

BTW, where are you located.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm located in S Florida.
I've always been this way, I rather buy a shiny new instrument that has a chance of playing less good, than buying second hand.
I never buy second hand (except a car), simply for the fact that:
Some second hand stuff wears out, looks plainly ugly, and quite often just simply isn't me.
Quite often when I go to music stores I always feel when a sales person tries to push an old instrument in my hands to sell it, and honestly I am not fond of it.
I find that a new instrument that plays less good, often makes up for it in looks, and simply because it fits more with my style and personality.

Buying a second hand instrument is like buying second hand clothes. I just don't go together with that principle.

Other reasons: damaged lacquer instruments (corroded) are irreparable unless you pay a premium to get it polished again, and even then...

I really appreciate the input of you guys, but I feel like I'm kind of in a group of people where everyone thinks the same, and does not dare to look outside the box, and just buy a new one!
I know sound quality means everything to you guys, but is there really THAT much difference from horn to horn?
NO!
Saxes sound between 80 and 99% identical.
Yet some look totally different due to corrosion, and damaged parts (like a bent horn caused by a fall to the floor or so).

Now unless we're talking about second hand saxes that have been used for less than a few months, don't really have a lot of visible differences between a new one.

I guess I'm strongly opinionated about saxes, or just about any musical instrument, for what it's worth. In my mind buying a second hand sax gives you only a marginally lower possibility to have one with sound properties you don't like than when you'd buy a new one.
And at least buying a new one does not bring you before the surprise of a bad looking sax.
 

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i'm located in s florida.
I've always been this way, i rather buy a shiny new instrument that has a chance of playing less good, than buying second hand.
I never buy second hand (except a car), simply for the fact that:
Some second hand stuff wears out, looks plainly ugly, and quite often just simply isn't me.
Quite often when i go to music stores i always feel when a sales person tries to push an old instrument in my hands to sell it, and honestly i am not fond of it.
I find that a new instrument that plays less good, often makes up for it in looks, and simply because it fits more with my style and personality.

Buying a second hand instrument is like buying second hand clothes. I just don't go together with that principle.

Other reasons: Damaged lacquer instruments (corroded) are irreparable unless you pay a premium to get it polished again, and even then...

I really appreciate the input of you guys, but i feel like i'm kind of in a group of people where everyone thinks the same, and does not dare to look outside the box, and just buy a new one!
I know sound quality means everything to you guys, but is there really that much difference from horn to horn?
No!
Saxes sound between 80 and 99% identical.
Yet some look totally different due to corrosion, and damaged parts (like a bent horn caused by a fall to the floor or so).

Now unless we're talking about second hand saxes that have been used for less than a few months, don't really have a lot of visible differences between a new one.

I guess i'm strongly opinionated about saxes, or just about any musical instrument, for what it's worth. In my mind buying a second hand sax gives you only a marginally lower possibility to have one with sound properties you don't like than when you'd buy a new one.
And at least buying a new one does not bring you before the surprise of a bad looking sax.
rofl:faceinpalm:
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I'm located in S Florida.
I've always been this way, I rather buy a shiny new instrument that has a chance of playing less good, than buying second hand.
I never buy second hand (except a car), simply for the fact that:
I totally understand that, and I think at your budget a second hand saxophone could be good, but it's a big risk. There are new saxophones at that price that are great and come with good warrantees, if you were in the UK I'd be able to make some recommendations of saxophones that I think are a much better quality than most used ones at that budget, plus a good no quibble return policy which is important. The problem with that is they are usually 7 or 14 days so once shipped to the US are out of time, plus your cost to return is hardly worth it.
 

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I bought a new Cecillio Soprano Sax (The Gold Plated Model) from Mendini Musical Instruments in California. It's Octive key would not function properly and some of the keys were a bit sluggish. I returned for full price less shipping. They were very quick in refunding the purchase price. I believe it was within one week of having returned the Sax.

Good luck with Sax.

George
 

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Discussion Starter #15
One thing I've also noted is that when buying a new sax, that is very basic, most users recommend upgrading the mouthpiece, which is an additional $100.
Which means I really am not going to find any sax below $600 anyways.
If you would have the chance would you buy a $500 sax with a $100 mouthpiece, or just go for a $600 sax?

I thought about it, and perhaps I could use my taxes to get a slightly more expensive sax.
In that case I can spend not a dime more than $720, but remember, it will be my first sax, and buying an instrument at that price point I definitely hope it sounds good.
I like sweet higher frequencies. I've been looking into some material builds, so far found nickel saxes seem to have a more bright sound to them, but am still investigating.

I also found this sax:
http://www.wwbw.com/Prelude-Student-Tenor-Saxophone-465028-i1144555.wwbw?mode=1

Seems to have a lot of good reviews (though probably many by people that don't know much about saxes)
 

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I have worked on a few Cecilio alto saxes that came across my bench in the repair shop. They were poorly made, with substandard quality materials, and played very out of tune.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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One thing I've also noted is that when buying a new sax, that is very basic, most users recommend upgrading the mouthpiece, which is an additional $100.
Oh no it isn't. Just get a Yamaha 4C.

The same usually applies to a used sax as you will either get no mouthpiece, a rubbish one or (if you are lucky) an OK/good one.
 

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There are noticeable differences between saxophones. Even if you truly believe that they all sound the same, the playability, durability and intonation does vary.

The reason people here are urging you consider used saxes is mostly because of your budget. If you get up around $800 or $1000 or so, you would get a vigorous debate on here between the new-horn faction and the used/vintage horn faction. Or if you just asked for the best new horns in that price range, you might get more useful answers.

Your posts seem to indicate a combination of very little knowledge and very strong opinions. So rather than recommend specific saxes (which you wouldn't like, because they would be used), I would just echo the recommendations that you go somewhere and try out as many as you can with an open mind. (Although if you are a true beginner, you might not be able to tell much.) If you are worried about high-pressure sales, don't bring your checkbook or credit card.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for the suggestions artstove!
I raised the bar to $720, hopefully I can get a good deal like 40% off of MSRP, and still snatch a good sax.

I'm looking into LA sax, and Orpheo saxes.
 
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