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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Store Addresses

I will add stores here as people mention them in the thread.

Tom Lee Music's Beijing Mega store
No. 57, Tiantanlu, Chongwen District
北京市崇文区天坛路57号
+86-010-6702 0099
(Recommended in thread. Beijing's biggest all-around music shop.)

China Yangzhou Longfeng Qinzheng Co Ltd
No. 91, Xinjiekou Nan Dajie, Xicheng District
北京市西城区新街口南大街91号
+86-800-8288 114
(Many brands, but but sellers aren't players. Be able to shop without direction. Bought mine here.)

Beijing Fuyue Hang Qin Hang
No. 96, Xinjiekou Nan Dajie, Xicheng District
北京市西城区新街口南大街96号
+86-010-6616 3316
(Deal in horns, but have not bought from them. Can't vouch for quality.)

Chinese horn makers

Here is some contact information for Chinese horn manufacturers. You can call them to ask where in Beijing you can buy their instruments if interested.

Tianjin Jinbao Musical Instruments Co Ltd
金宝乐器制造有限公司
+86-022-2926 7388
(Several alto models, only make one tenor and one soprano. Most known for their guitars.)

Jinyin Musical Instruments Co Ltd
河北金音乐器制造有限公司
+86-318-3727 387
(Many saxes, many models)

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Hi all,

Just wanted to share my shopping experiences here in Beijing. I will try to avoid dropping any of the discussion bombs I've seen so far since I know some people go into seizures at the mention of horns sold or made in Asia.

Judging by Taobao, the local equivalent of eBay, it seems like Tianjin or Shanghai may be a better place to shop for instruments, since almost all the mouthpiece and horn sellers are there. In fact, I just bought my new soprano tote bag off a Shanghai seller. From what I've gathered through friends and my own experience, the two main places to buy music instruments in the city are Liulichang (near Hepingmen station) and Xinjiekou Nan Dajie (two blocks south of the Jishuitan station).

Based on my trips to Liulichang, I cannot recommend that area too much. While it is a well-known area for arts, and many people go there to buy fine art supplies, the area's music supplies are quite disappointing. That doesn't stop it from being the first name locals throw out for where to buy an instrument. The stores there were home to countless counterfeit goods. They had Les Paul tacked on random guitars with drips all through the finish and no other markings, their saxes were all quite shabby looking with every color of synthetic padding imaginable and tone holes which closed poorly, and the two shops there dealing in vintage instruments had horns that looked like they would make better lamps than for play use. If you want an old 30s to 50s sax that you will have to pour your heart into fixing up, it might be a good place to stop.

Xinjiekou is considerably less known, and is more known for its small clothing shops than a two-block stretch of nothing but music shops that has been dropped in the middle of it. While there are still a lot of shady goods there, you will find far more brand name stuff, and the finish and pricing really give me no reason to suspect they are fakes. There are around 5 stores on the street which deal in a respectable number of saxes -- as in the store has at least 20 horns on display with more in the back on request. Most all horns sold there are either intercepted US shipments or Japanese-made. Speak Chinese well, because no one there speaks English except for numbers.

The two notable Chinese brands are Jinbao and Jinyin. You will find neither of them here. Initially, I planned to buy a really cheap Jinbao since they are at least well-known in the Chinese music scene (but not for saxes). When I asked the shopkeepers why they didn't stock them, they said the instruments are terrible and they wouldn't want to deal with after-sales complains. The dominant labels were a few local ones I never heard of, and in order of price range, X-G, Heinrich and Yamaha. There were quite a few Yamaha to be found, though I never saw anything like a Yanagisawa or Selmer.

I had to ask for more information about all the horns. The Yamaha all seemed legit based on appearance, and they were priced comparably to what they would be in a US music shop. According to the seller, the Heinrich horns all come from Japan. They are made in Japan and sold in Japan, and don't appear for export. You can find info on them on Rakuten or some similar music vendor sites, but it seems to be a decent horn and it's the one I went with. The X-G horns are one of those weird deals where the parts are made overseas, then sent to China for assembly, then sent back overseas. I haven't been able to find anything about them online, but a few people I know who work in US stores tell me they've seen X-G.

The horns were quite interesting. They had this beautiful X-G made of solid copper with a black dye thrown into the metal that gave it all kinds of swirling patterns. It was very beautiful and had a deep, rich sound. My brother almost bought it when he came to visit me here in town, but was saving his money for a guitar purchase back home. I've also seen quite a few other odd metals with matte finishes to prevent corrosion but avoid that shiny appearance of lacquer. There seem to be a lot of experimental things to be had for a low price, but as always, it's buyer beware. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Chinese shopkeepers are shrewd, and they won't be selling something for any less than it should be.

Be prepared to haggle, as with everything in China. The posted price is never the real one, and I've seen firsthand a horn go from 6,800 yuan (US$900) down to 4,000 (US$525).

Also, just a side point, has anyone here tried Rillion reeds? They run about US$6 per box and I've found them to be excellent practice reeds. They seem like they rob and combine the dynamics of quite a few other brands, and generally, the price is right. I'm playing 2½s in both my saxes now.

Anyone else shopped for instruments here in Beijing? What have been your experiences. Post please :)
 

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I have a good experience with Tom Lee Music in Tiantanlu, just east of the northern gate of Tiantan Park. He has a nice selection of international brands of saxophones, including Yamahas and Selmers, fair prices and excellent service. Highly recommended.
 

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dsobodash,
I'm planning a trip to Beijing and I may check out Xinjiekou.
On X-G, I've heard of this. Where "overseas" exactly are the parts made? Did you try playing them? How much do they go for?

bjornblomberg,
I've also had good experience with Tom Lee in Beijing although I find their sax collection limited to Japanese and Taiwanese. The same is true for their shops in Hong Kong. They don't sell Chinese-made saxes (not yet anyway)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
According to the shopkeeper, he said the parts were made in the states, then shipped to China for assembly, then shipped back to USA for sale. I only asked once or twice what the lowest he'd sell for was since I didn't intend to haggle -- you don't fight over price unless you really plan to buy.

They played pretty well, especially that copper one. I mentioned that my brother really liked that one, and he's worked in a repair shop for a year and consequentially had the opportunity to play a lot of saxes.

The average price was about 2,000 - 3,500 yuan (US$260 - $460), but it should be noted that all X-G horns had synthetic pads. Some of them closed well, some of them didn't -- that seems to be the case with everything bearing synthetic pads. The quality varied horn to horn. I enjoyed playing them, and several sounded quite good. The keys were very, very firm and the horns felt like they had some real weight to them.

I have heard that Jinbao has a distributor north of Jishuitan station, but my girlfriend and I walked quite far down that street and never spotted them. It could be a warehouse type deal buried in a building. You might need to call the company to find their address if you are interested in the Chinese-company horns, because I couldn't find many sellers. These guys stuck mostly to assembled in China or Japanese-made.
 

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dsobodash said:
According to the shopkeeper, he said the parts were made in the states, then shipped to China for assembly, then shipped back to USA for sale. I only asked once or twice what the lowest he'd sell for was since I didn't intend to haggle -- you don't fight over price unless you really plan to buy.

They played pretty well, especially that copper one. I mentioned that my brother really liked that one, and he's worked in a repair shop for a year and consequentially had the opportunity to play a lot of saxes.

The average price was about 2,000 - 3,500 yuan (US$260 - $460), but it should be noted that all X-G horns had synthetic pads. Some of them closed well, some of them didn't -- that seems to be the case with everything bearing synthetic pads. The quality varied horn to horn. I enjoyed playing them, and several sounded quite good. The keys were very, very firm and the horns felt like they had some real weight to them.

I have heard that Jinbao has a distributor north of Jishuitan station, but my girlfriend and I walked quite far down that street and never spotted them. It could be a warehouse type deal buried in a building. You might need to call the company to find their address if you are interested in the Chinese-company horns, because I couldn't find many sellers. These guys stuck mostly to assembled in China or Japanese-made.
Thanks for this. You're right. Based on my own experience the problem with Chinese-made horns (whether assembled with foreign parts or completely manufactured locally) is the absence of a common standard of quality.
This is probably because they are outsourced to the cheapest labour available which consist mostly of apprentice workers just starting to learn which end of the sax goes into the mouth. :D To most of them the sax is a foreign instrument/device/gadget which they have never, and will never, play. It's just a means to earn a few bucks and the more they make of it the better, with no thought to quality or good craftsmanship. While manufacturers have quality control most of them usually opt for the minimum level to keep the prices down.
For what it's worth, anyone who buys a Chinese made horn now (even a well-made one) should probably not expect to it last more than a few years at best, which is fair considering what you pay for it.
My two cents.
 

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Saxmusiclover said:
For what it's worth, anyone who buys a Chinese made horn now (even a well-made one) should probably not expect to it last more than a few years at best, which is fair considering what you pay for it.
My two cents.
I really don't know about that. People say the same thing about Chinese electronics, and I have a 15 year old Chinese TV that works beautiful aside from a line at the top. My Chinese phone has already proved itself far more durable than any of my friends' Nokias. My local-made washing machine is crammed with moving parts and spins great despite being churned out in '87.

There's a lot of great products here, but far more bad ones.

If you are careful, do some research, talk to other owners, and trust your own judgment, you can sometimes walk away with excellent stuff that will last you for years.

You're right that it's unrealistic to expect these horns to be getting refinished and played as vintage ones 80 years from now, but I see no reason to think that a good one won't hold up for at least 10 to 15 years if given a lot of love. I don't think anyone would expect a horn that costs US$200 to come with a lifetime guarantee :cool:

Carbs said:
I don't know it is kinda fun to haggle.
Well, if you're into it, sure. But sometimes, sellers here will get incredibly pissed if you haggle 20 minutes then just walk away. And I'd rather leave on good terms in case I need to go back to their shop :)
 

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Well, if you're into it, sure. But sometimes, sellers here will get incredibly pissed if you haggle 20 minutes then just walk away. And I'd rather leave on good terms in case I need to go back to their shop
No I went to Jamacia on a Mission trip a few weeks ago, and on the last day we went to an open air market. And they wanted outragous sums of money for their wares. I wanted a few pieces of Jewerly to give away to friends up here in the states and to keep one or two pieces myself. They wanted $6 for one Necklass, which is not reaslitic. I worked the price down on 4 of them to 4 for $10 U.S., and I walked away because well I didn't like the price and my group was checking out a different portion of the market. The guy called me a Jerk, and 5 minutes later I went back and bought the necklasses at 4 for $10.
 

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Necroing for fun and profit, and for the well-being of the mods:

Any updated information on where it’s possible to shop for saxes in Beijing? Probably going there sometime later this year, and will primarily be interested in trying some of the cheap-but-possibly-decent domestic stuff such as Taishan.

It’s hard to find good information on this on the interweb. I see that Xinjiekou South Street is sometimes mentioned here and there, and I have also seen mention of the alluring name “Wangfujing Musical Instrument City” in the Lisheng Sports Shopping Mall on, well, Wangfujing Street.
 

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If you visit Wangfujing Road there are many musical stores selling all kind of instruments. With the assistance of a seller that was also a sax player I bought my soprano sax at a very good price.... There are many blocks along the street full os musical stores there... I recommend visiting that street... But beware, there are many clones and it is better to play test the instruments in order to check intonation ...good luck
 

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Thanks for the tip. I’ve been some blocks along Wangfujing a few times before, but never noticed anything that was clearly a musical instrument store. Mostly malls and department stores, snack street, book stores, sporting goods, high end watches and the Apple store.

It’s possible I haven’t been far enough north from the Wangfujing subway station. Also, I find that some Chinese shops are not so big on storefronts...
 

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If you visit Wangfujing Road there are many musical stores selling all kind of instruments. With the assistance of a seller that was also a sax player I bought my soprano sax at a very good price.... There are many blocks along the street full os musical stores there... I recommend visiting that street... But beware, there are many clones and it is better to play test the instruments in order to check intonation ...good luck
So, Humbardi, any specifics on where along Wangfujing I need to look,or where you ended up buying? Was it the sporting warehouse with pianos and cellos? What brand was the soprano you got?

Anyone else with recent firsthand experience? I'm assuming I'll only have one evening, two at most, to spend hunting for horns.
 

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Selmer MarkVII Tenor
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Dear fudidudi :
I bought the soprano in May 2011... It is a Gulf Instruments Mark Soprano Saxophone..( I do not know it is a kind of "clone" of another brand...)... It has good intonation and after 8 years I have not had any problem with it.
I do not remember where I bought it, sorry
 
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