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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just bought a used sax from eBay ( Vito japan alto yas-23 stencil).
I have never played the sax before and was wondering what tests I can do on the horn when it arrives to know if it is in an acceptable condition. I don't know anyone who plays it so I can't just get a friend to test it and there are no instructors anywhere near me.
Sorry if this post is in the wrong section, I didn't know where else to put it

Thanks in advance
 

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Tenor: Eastman 52nd St, Alto: P. Mauriat 67RDK, Soprano: Eastern Music Curvy
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Hello, welcome to the forum!

Seeing as you haven't played before, and from the sounds of it, aren't going to be taking any lessons here are a few suggestions for you. Before you worry about the horn, read up on proper ways to assemble the horn, proper embouchure and fingerings. Here are a few good links:

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?30232-FINGERING-CHARTS-Books-and-more

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-embouchure.html

http://www.saxontheweb.net/Learning/index.html#BeginnerCorner

I believe these would be a good start.

As for testing whether the sax is good, the main issues you will want to look for are intonation, proper key function, and leaking pads.

The first thing I would check is key function. You may not know how each key is supposed to function, but just by looking at it you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what the keys are, especially if you have gotten the fingerings down. Press down each key and it should come back up when you let off. Check this for all the keys

Here is a great link of things on how to check intonation:

http://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-intonation.html

Tuners make this a lot easier, but here is something that can help you do it without it.

http://www.onlinetuningfork.com/

This will play a concert A, which is F# on your instrument. If you know the take the time to learn the fingerings first this will be easy. You should get it to sound on the exact same pitch by moving the mouthpiece, as it says in the link above.

Finally comes the pad leak test, and this one will be very hard to do for a beginner. The easiest way to check for leaks is to play each note, and if it feels like the note is really hard to play, and/or the air is being drained out of you while you are playing, then you probably have a leak. This can be tough, because it takes time to be able to control the full range of the horn, especially the lower notes (which are also very commonly the ones with the problems in leaks).

Ultimately, it is a lot easier for someone with a lot of experience to check your horn, but I know you're out of reach with someone like this, so I think these will help you to try and achieve your goal. If you get the chance however, find someone who can test your horn for you, and start searching for a technician. Most ebay horns need a little bit of work to be in optimal working condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah I was planning on that. I just wanted to give it a test myself so that the shop might have less chance of ripping me off.
 

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Brass...
it's like testing a car if you don't know about mechanics and can't drive... (no offense, I understand your situation).
Exc. advice from jmoen, but I beg to differ re. pad leaks. If (I said IF) you can get a light inside the horn (I am using a light from a broken toy from my daughter's, others are using decorative Xmas lights, do a search "leak light" or check out ebay), checking for leaks is easy. You have to be in a darker place though and depress each pad gently and check all round the pad. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes there are microleaks who have little influence on how the horn plays to the average, non-pro player.
If there are several shops and they can give you a repair/adjustment quote for free (generally the case), check them all out.

Good luck, your horn is a good base to start with, generally solid and easier to repair than many other models.
 

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The first horn I bought was from a pawn shop and was unplayable. I knew nothing about saxophones. I was able to learn the basics and make repairs on that sax myself. I am not a genius. You will at least need a beginners DVD or CD with a book. You should be able to sound a note without depressing any keys. With some work you will be able to sound a note with your fingers closing all the holes. That is the lowest note. If you can play the low notes, the horn probably doesn't leak much. You work the octave mechanism with your left thumb. When you depress it you should be able to play most any note an octave higher. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Again, thanks for the reply. I really appreciate the help.
I know that I won't be able to do a proper test on it myself, I just want to go in to the shop a bit more informed.
Sadly there is only one place accessible to me for repairs so I can't go around getting quotes
(And before anyone mentions it about my name I know a sax is a woodwind and not a brass:))
 

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Tenor: Eastman 52nd St, Alto: P. Mauriat 67RDK, Soprano: Eastern Music Curvy
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Well, before you do anything, come back here with a price. Sometimes its better to ship your horn off, especially if they are going to overprice you. Ah Cheung has some great advice, as you can do that. I've never checked a horn myself, but I hope to become good at it someday.
 

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It looks like you got a good buy and that the horn is in reasonably good condition. This Vito appears to be made by Yamaha and it will be a good horn for you. These are well built, in tune horns that will take you a long way in learning the sax. My advice is to take it to a tech and have it checked for leaks, adjustments, etc. If you don't like what he has to say and feel you're being taken advantage of, don't leave it with him. I would also suggest that you invest in lessons, either the in person variety or the internet offerings by some of the members of SOTW. Congrats. Looks like you got a nice horn.
 

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Yeah I was planning on that. I just wanted to give it a test myself so that the shop might have less chance of ripping me off.
Ask the guy at the shop to blow it for you. And don't assume a shop will rip you off -- most good repair shops are fully reputable (this isn't like an auto mechanic). If they give you a big quote for repair and the seller said it was perfectly playing, ask the seller to contribute to the repair.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ask the guy at the shop to blow it for you. And don't assume a shop will rip you off -- most good repair shops are fully reputable (this isn't like an auto mechanic)
I know they will more than likely be fine. I have just seen a few seemingly reputable places rip people off for guitar repairs so its hard not to be some bit skeptical
 
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