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Hello all,

My son started playing alto sax in 5th grade. He played alto through 6th grade and last year started playing tenor for concert band and jazz band and remained with the alto for symphony and marching. He decided this year (8th grade) to stick solely with tenor. He has been borrowing a school tenor and we're ready to buy him one and want to have him step up to a non student model. While I'd love to get him the best money can buy since he's been so committed to his participation in every possible band at school, unfortunately our budget isn't that big. I have found a few used options that are listed as in very good to excellent shape so I'm looking for advice. Any input on any of these would be greatly appreciated.

Jupiter JTS 1187-Int ($995)

Jupiter JTS-687 GN ($500)

Selmer STS280 (he likes that this one is black :glasses7: ) ($900) (I think technically this is a student model but I seem to remember reading somewhere that it is still a good intermediate option? not quite sure what that means)

another Selmer claiming to be brand new but is only $550 so that doesn't sound right to me. :| I'm waiting to hear back from the seller on the model number.

Thanks so much!
 

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I don't know a lot of details or where you are shopping or your options, but please consider the following.

1) I would recommend against buying any of the saxophones unless your son is able to try them out first.

1a) There are a couple of items that you need to be sensitive to when purchasing - The quality of the horn when it was new, and the condition of the horn today. If you are on a budget, the latter issue is critical - and you don't know unless your son plays it.

1b) My first Tenor was an Elkhart Conn Shooting Star that I bought from a local shop. I had never played the saxophone before I purchased it. It cost me $550. A few months into playing, I decided that the horn must need some tuning up. I brought it back to the music store. The technician played it a bit and said it was in great condition. I was constantly frustrated with it. 6 months after that, I brought the Conn to a technician on the other side of the State who had some expertise in saxophones. He overhauled it for $800. $1,350 into it, I have an absolutely incredible Saxophone. What I am trying to emphasize is that just because a seller says the horn is in good shape, doesn't mean it is......and if you are not a sax player, you will not know if the problem is your son or the horn. If the horn does not play well, it can be very frustrating.

4) You are correct: A brand new Selmer for $550 is either stolen or counterfeit product (like a fake Rolex)

5) If you don't know much about horns and there is an issue trying one out, I think there is a strong consensus that a used Yamaha is a good idea. I don't play one, but my understanding is that they are made remarkably consistently and have good keywork. A YTS-23 for less than $1,000 is likely better than the Jupiter based on build quality. I don't think Jupiter would be on the top of anyone's list for used horns.

6) Don't buy from any place that doesn't have a good return policy.

7) I own a "Pro" Tenor and a "Student" Tenor. aka Selmer Mark VII and Conn 16M (Shooting Star). Each has its strengths and weaknesses. The fact that the Conn is a "Student" horn does not make it inferior. The horn your son should buy is the one that sounds best on him, and that has the keywork that matches his hands the best.

8) I think the STS 280 is a good price if the horn is in good condition....otherwise, expect to put $350 - $800 into it to get it into good shape.

If you let us know what city you are in, we might be able to refer you to some reputable shops....and places to consider. Buying online can be a real mess. I am a collector and purchase stuff online a lot. I find that I need to return about half of the stuff I buy on eBay because what I receive doesn't match the item description and quality claims. Shipping instruments around the country for a return can get expensive quickly.

I haven't been sax shopping for my son, but I did go trombone shopping for my son when he was in middle school. Out of all of the horns he tried, he ended up with nearly the least expensive one. It was an old Conn 88H.......ugly as anything, but the sound was amazing. This is not the horn anyone would recommended for a child....but as soon as he played it, he face glowed.
 

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Yanagisawa (i like them a lot), or Yamaha.

Better than all the horns on your list in terms of resale value and long standing reputation for quality. I have bought a bunch of used horns, and sold a few also.
Return policy is a good idea. Playing before you buy is better. Expecting that all used saxes are going to immediately require hundreds in repairs? That has not been my experience. At all. There are lots of good used tenors out there.
 

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If that Selmer STS280 for 900 bucks is in good shape, you're done shopping. It's an under-priced tenor made in Taiwan. I've had three pass my way in the past two years. They were all excellent players. Good quality control is key, and Selmer insists upon it.
 

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Yanagisawa (i like them a lot), or Yamaha.

I have bought a bunch of used horns, and sold a few also.
Return policy is a good idea. Playing before you buy is better. Expecting that all used saxes are going to immediately require hundreds in repairs? That has not been my experience. At all. There are lots of good used tenors out there.
Yes, in an ideal world all sellers would have a high level of expertise and fairly assess the quality of the horns they sell..but as a shopper I don’t think it would be prudent to assume that every used ‘for sale’ Horn is in good shape.

I am simply encouraging caution in making a purchase decision without first doing some assessment of the condition of the Sax. The OP admittedly is not an expert and $1,000 is enough money to desire caution.

We completely agree that playing the horn before buying is important.
 

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Bjroosevelt's advice is really good! Although I'd like to mention that in addition to the Taiwanese-made Selmer likely being a decent option, the Jupiters could actually be good too. Jupiters are also made in Taiwan but with a good reputation for quality control. So if they're in good adjustment, they could be good instruments.

That being said, a Yamaha 23 is the gold standards of student horns, and many pros keep them as backups. You'll likely find a few for sale and in good adjustment at 2ndending.com. If you're buying a used saxophone for a student it's pretty crucial that you buy it from someone who knows how to set them up and repair them, otherwise you might get something unplayable and have to spend hundreds of dollars to get it in shape! It saves money in the long run to go through someone experienced.
 

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Well, yeah, any name brand intermediate level tenor from Taiwan would do it. (This member has already gotten some advice on brands in another post.)
 

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Well, you haven't identified which "student model" he's currently playing, but I would not expect any of those you listed to be any better than a "student model" in good condition.

The whole "step up model" thing is largely marketeering, not justified by improvements in the actual quality of the merchandise.

If he needs/wants a different instrument because you've been renting a school instrument in poor condition, then I would get a high quality student instrument in good condition. Or a real professional level instrument.
 

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The condition of a used horn is crucial, both for how it plays and your budget. Many listings are "optimistic" in their description of the horn's condition (or they think because it is shiny it is in good playing shape - cosmetics and playability do not always correlate), so play-testing is best. Next best is buying from someone who is known for putting the horns into good condition (or that has a good return policy). 2ndending.com is run by a forum member, and is known for selling good value horns in good playing condition (I bought two from him). Sorry, I'm not familiar enough with those horns to give you a recommendation.
 
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