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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This will be for my 4th grade son, new band member. He wants an Alto Sax, and I have been researching high and low for him for 2 weeks now, and I just need to get some answers!

I have found a bunch of brands on ebay $250-300, and have read it is not a good idea to buy them, because they might not play well, and are difficult to find repair shops that will work on them. It may be worth the gamble though, everything else is so expensive! I'm guessing not, but if anyone has anything GOOD to say about any of these, please tell---Conductor (my first choice--seemed professional and they are a Conn dealer), Cicilio, OPUS USA, Venus, Noteworthy, Hawk, Rossetti, Bridgcraft/Derosa. I've also seen decent reviews but only in one store (wwbw) for the Etude and Kohlert--which are both about $300. Any thoughts on those?

I believe it has come down to a Bundy BAS, Selmer Prelude or for a bit more a Kessler Student model. All are priced similarly, anyone have a preference of those 3, and if so, why? I'm also watching some auctions for Selmer AS500 and Yamaha YAS-23 (used).

The cost of renting is about $225, so if all else fails, I might just do that! I don't really want to buy used, but will if absolutely necessary to stay on budget. Best priced options I liked were the Conductor for $269 with case and accessories, then next runner up would be the Prelude for just under $500, and the Kessler for another $100. Need the lower the better, can't even afford any right now!! Don't want to discourage my son, he really wants to do this.

I briefly played trumpet and flute (briefly!), know nothing about sax. Thanks for the help!
 

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id go with a used yamaha yas-23.
best horn on your list.
 

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Welcome to SoTW sj9597! Hope you can get your questions answered.

You can't go wrong with a Yamaha YAS-23. It's pretty much the consensus favorite around here for beginner+ student horns. Sturdy, hard to bang up, reasonably good tone, stays in adjustment, some members report using them through high school and advanced levels of play.

Having said that though, I'm also a Kessler fan. I have one of their tenors and find it a very well manufactured instrument. Having dealt with the Kesslers and based on reports from others who have, and have their horns, you wouldn't go wrong with them either, imo. Who knows, give them a call and they might have a good deal on a used YAS-23 or one of their own horns!

I don't know that anyone (but you just never know!) on the Forum would highly recommend any of the other makes you mention, except perhaps that Selmer AS-500. I've heard that it's a pretty decent horn. But that's second hand info, take it for what it's worth. Maybe the Venus also. But all those horns are Chinese made and not highly regarded. Not that all Chinese made horns are junk but of those that you mention, I think you'll find the reported quality is very spotty and shabby at worst and won't hold up well to the abuse that beginners are prone to inflict upon their instruments.

Even if you buy a used YAS-23 off eBay, Craig's List, For Sale ad, or garage sale you might save a little scratch but chances are high that some work will need to be done on a used horn. Still, if you're "thinking" about $600 as your top end, chances are good you could pick up a used Yamaha and have quite a bit of work done for that amount.

You can also post a horn wanted thread in the Marketplace forum. Someone might be thinking about getting rid of something that might fit your needs. Just read the rules and follow accordingly.

Good luck!
 

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Renting an instrument for the first few months/year isn't really a bad idea. Usually you get a repair contract included with the rental rates. A must for any beginner. They tend to have 'accidents' and repairs are expensive. It's also good if the kid decides after a few weeks that band just isn't their "thing" or they decide to change instruments.

Many music stores that cater to the school systems will have a rent-to-own plan that is usually pretty close to the monthly rental rate. I've used this plan and it's a lot easier on the budget to make small payments every month over coming up with the entire purchase price all at once.

You may also ask about purchasing a rental return. These are good brand name instruments that have been in the rental system. They are usually still in very good shape and have been gone over by the tech and are in play ready condition. This is a safer option than buying used from a private party, an off brand, or used horn from ebay that may not be playable or repairable.
 

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Prelude's are cheap Chinese instruments. You should be able to get better for the money. Venus have their fans - do a search here!

Yamaha is the obvious choice but a 23 could be in need of new pads, so you need to check it's condition.

Elkhart series II can be got very cheaply these days. (Be careful of the plain Elkharts which are a cheaper build than the Elkharts II.)
 

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I'll second Bandmommy on the rental front. Buying used instruments sight unseen usually have hidden repair costs (I repair instruments for a living and have had to be the bearer of bad news on many occasions). And having had to fix many off brand instruments available in your price range I'd be hesitant to recommend them to anybody. Where do you live? I'm sure someone on this forum could point you towards a music store with a strong rental program in your area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow, I can't believe I have so many replies so fast, thank you all. This has been a long hard process, and renting is sounding better and better. With renting though, I will surely lose the money I invest into it, because I can't afford to pay the difference on their high priced instruments. At least if I buy a cheaper instrument, I can sell it and recoup something later.

I'll count out the used Yamaha--don't really want used, and can't take a chance. I thought preludes were good because they are Selmer, but I'll put that on the back burner for now. I haven't heard one bad thing about Kessler and only a few good, they seem reasonably priced for what they offer, but I worry about resale value since they are not well known. I spoke to one of them (Dave?) the other day, and he sounded very knowledgeable. The product sounds just as good, if not better than some of the name brands, but if I am going to pay that much, I need to be able to recoup a good portion of it, later. He also said they are made in Vietnam. I don't know anything about their quality. I hear China is bad and Japan is good, what about Vietnam?

I can't seem to find Elkharts II, any idea where I might find one of those?

Anyone every use Conductor--they are made by a company that is also a Conn-Selmer dealer, and they really sounded ok--$299 shipped with choice of Yamaha or Selmer MPC, cleaning kit, case, etc by The Instrument Store (on ebay not on their site), features:
  • Lacquered brass body and keys.
  • High quality resonator leather pads for maximum sound projection
  • Tilting G# - Bb spatula keys
  • Height adjustable bell keys
  • Power Forged Keys
  • High F# key
  • Front F key
  • Deluxe zippered canvas case with plush padded interior.
  • Yamaha 4C Mouthpiece, ligature, cap, neckstrap and polishing cloth
  • Adjustable thumb rest
  • Three point body to bell brace for superior rigidity
Any thoughts???

Venus are only $259 on ebay brand new, are you sure we are talking about the same Venus? If they are good, that's an easy and cheap way to go. Do you know where they are made? I do see mixed reviews, but overall people seem to think they are a good value for the price. Maybe we'll get that or the Conductor and save up for the Kessler/Selmer/Yamaha later!

I think that covers everyone so far, thanks so much for the tips!! I need to get an instrument within a week, so will be deciding very soon. :)
 

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+1 on rent for a few months , see if he still wants to stick with it then get a decent second hand sax.
If he's going to use it in marching band , you might want to buy a cheap second /tenth hand beater , that doesn't matter if it gets dented.

+1 on yas21/23/275
plenty around , parts are available, all good repair techs are familiar with them


avoid the cheap ebay brands.

selmer USA instruments aren't the same as Selmer France

What did you sons band director recommend ?
Does his school have instruments ?
Then just need to get him his own mouthpiece, reeds and decent neckstrap (maybe one of the neotechs).

Just or if not more important for a beginner is a good teacher so he learns the basics properly.
 

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Forgot to say , you could post in the wanted to buy section here
and ask if any one had a yas21/23 for sale
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thank you! will keep your thoughts in mind too!! didn't realize that about selmer, school doesn't have instruments, just through the rental companies, and they charge $225 for the school year, then another $1500+ to buy the instrument at the end, I would lose the $225 because I can't pay the $1500, I'm thinking about the venus--only because I have seen some good reviews on these boards vs. any other ebay brands--which flood ebay--this brand is only offered by one seller at a fair price, it is about the cost of renting, I might be able to recoup some of it or can keep for younger brother/sister if they want it later, and if all else fails, it turns out to be garbage, I lost about the same I would with renting, I really like the other brands (Yamaha/Kessler) but can't afford the big expense yet. I'm glad I asked some questions, I almost bought the selmer prelude thinking it was worth the extra money for the brand--which turns out isn't a good brand after all I guess! I'm still thinking, learning a lot from the boards! Anyway, THANKS!! :)
 

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I've been thinking...
I have a Bundy alto that my middle daughter used in marching band.
It's in excellent shape for it's age. No dents or dings, and plays very well.
If you would be interested I will let you have it for $125.00, shipping included if you live in the US, and I'll throw in a box of reeds suitable for a beginner.
It will need a mouthpiece, ligature, and neck strap. I have another alto and I use the mouthpiece/lig and strap on that one.
 

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Wow! I think Bandmommy has your answer! That is a very generous offer and the sax is bound to be in the condition she describes. It is also a known brand that is likely much more reliable than many of the ebay brands you mentioned.

Go For It!
 

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Wow indeed!

I've picked up a few YAS 23's on ebay for about $400, as favors for parents in your situation, and they were in very decent shape, but you're not going to do better than bandmommy's offer. She's made a very gracious offer.
 

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Thats a great offer.

then all you need to spend is approx another $50 - 60
a yamha 4c mouthpiece for around $22 - 30
ligature for $5 - 15
neckstrap (neotech) $15 (from ebay new)

swab $10 - 20 or make one by weighting the corner of a silk handkerchief
corkgrease $2 - 5
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've been thinking...
I have a Bundy alto that my middle daughter used in marching band.
It's in excellent shape for it's age. No dents or dings, and plays very well.
If you would be interested I will let you have it for $125.00, shipping included if you live in the US, and I'll throw in a box of reeds suitable for a beginner.
It will need a mouthpiece, ligature, and neck strap. I have another alto and I use the mouthpiece/lig and strap on that one.
Thanks for the great offer. It surely is a great price, is any lacquer coming off or scratches--oh, what color? (think the school prefers gold lacquer) Does it need to be tuned? new pads, etc? I know nothing about them, but I do know that the used often need tune up/updates, and not sure the cost involved with that. Can you maybe email a couple of pics? I'll give you my work email [email protected] (not sure if that is allowed on these boards!) :) Yes, I am in U.S. Thanks!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thats a great offer.

then all you need to spend is approx another $50 - 60
a yamha 4c mouthpiece for around $22 - 30
ligature for $5 - 15
neckstrap (neotech) $15 (from ebay new)

swab $10 - 20 or make one by weighting the corner of a silk handkerchief
corkgrease $2 - 5
Thanks for the list and recommended MPC, I'll get working on finding these items, regardless of the one I buy, I'll need all this.
 

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I have a marching competition today, but I will get some pics to you by later tonight.
I'll post here as well as to your email. That way you and your kid can look at it.

The sax is a 1973-75 vintage Bundy.
It's the 'regular' gold/brass lacquer, and there are a multitude of scratches. This is pretty normal for a 30 year old horn that has been used by students.
The good thing is that it isn't dented, and has never had any repairs other than a few pads being replaced as needed.
It plays in tune, but may need to have a pad or 2 replaced.
I would suggest that it pay a visit to a tech for a quick check up if you decide you want it.
Even though it is in good playing condition now, shipping can sometimes knock things out of adjustment. Even with VERY careful packing.

It's not shiny and new, so I'll understand if your budding musician declines the offer.
I've put 3 daughters through the school band program, and I know how they feel about having something 'different' than the other kids.
I'll give it a good test play before I post the pics. If there are any issues that I may have missed, I'll be sure to include those as well.
 

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Wow, Bandmommy has the deal for you. Pick that one up plus the other estimates for accessories and tune up and you've got a setup that you'll be out minimum $$ for.

As much as I'd like to recommend the Kessler, you'd probably lose anywhere between 40-60% on resale if you'd sell it within a year or so if your son doesn't stick with it. (Then again, that's discounting the idea that you might pick up the sax if he quits!:twisted:) Of course, you'll get that kind of return on any brand new horn's resale unless you were talking about a high-end new horn from one of the big names. Might get a better ROI but not a whole lot % wise. But, you're talking $$ out of the ball park for this game at hand.

Way to go BM! Great offer!
 

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I hear China is bad and Japan is good,
Where you hear that? Most of the reports on recent Chinese instruments praise then highly. 10/15 years ago you'd be right, but not now.

Venus are only $259 on ebay brand new, are you sure we are talking about the same Venus? <snip> where are they made
China

Dunno about the ebay reference, but they're available from a few sources. www.Discount-musical.co.uk offer a money back offer if you don't like it. I've never tried one, but they seem to get good enough reviews. I'm gonna try one of their soprano ones when I get round to ordering it.
 

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Thanks for the great offer. It surely is a great price, is any lacquer coming off or scratches--oh, what color? (think the school prefers gold lacquer) Does it need to be tuned? new pads, etc? I know nothing about them, but I do know that the used often need tune up/updates, and not sure the cost involved with that. Can you maybe email a couple of pics? I'll give you my work email [email protected] (not sure if that is allowed on these boards!) :) Yes, I am in U.S. Thanks!!
For a price like that, you'll never find a scratch-less saxophone. The fact that it doesn't have dents or any major repaired damage is really great for a sax of that price. Quite honestly, I would doubt you could find a better saxophone for twice that price...or more (I sold a cosmetically horrible but mechanically great yamaha 23 for more than twice that amount a few years ago).

Bundy along with the Yamaha 23's have been equally good choices for students through the years. Yes you could spend a little more and get a sax that is new and shiny...but I think you would prefer getting your son something that is solid and will be a great foundation for him to learn on rather than getting something that 'looks good' but could ultimately let him down due to poor construction (my tech always calls the cheap cheap [shiny] saxes "throw aways" due to how poorly they are made, and that they never stay properly adjusted).

The cheaper new saxes have cosmetic advantages yes...but I don't think they could ever be nearly as good for a beginner as something like BM offered you, plus a cheap sax could end up needing a steady flow of repairs versus an initial tweaking by a qualified tech for a used and maybe not pretty, but solid student sax that has stood up to a decade + of use. If your son sticks with it through school, there's always the option to upgrade down the road...but for now I would say go with a solid used sax.

And if the director tells you it has to be a certain color (silver, gold lacquer etc.) then they obviously don't understand the value of a good student instrument, or have their priorities in line!
 
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