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Student Alto Sax

5710 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  NissanVintageSax
Hello! My 14 yr old son started on the clarinet 3 yrs ago and moved to the bass clarinet 2 yrs. ago. He is an awesome bass clarinet player (not just his mom's opinion! :) ) Anyway, he is going to be in his freshman year next school year and wants to join the Jazz Band, but they don't have any clarinets or bass clarinets, so the Jazz Band conductor suggested he try playing the alto sax. We are wanting to buy him a good student model for Christmas. I have found a used Armstrong Alto Sax for $300 and a Stephanhouser ZAS500 Student Alto Sax online new for $399. I am not wanting to pay too much since I'm not sure if he will continue to play the sax. My main questions are: Are either of the saxes I found worth the $? Is there a better student sax you would recommend? Will playing the sax and the bass clarinet hinder his bass clarinet playing? Thank you for listening to a mother's rambling! LOL........and for any advice you can give me! I know nothing about any musical instruments other than the flute! That was my instrument, which my son has taught himself to play that too! :bluewink:
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People always overlook used Armstrongs....and they should not. They are just as good a beginner horn as any of the usual suspects, including Jupiter or Yamaha. They were well-built, sturdy horns with decent intonation, good ergonomics, decent action, and regulation which holds well...exactly what a student horn needs to be. I have broken down and worked up many of them...and they are very consistent.

Doesn't sound fantastic, tone-wise...but sounds no worse or better than any other brand of contemporary student horn in the sub $600 price range, new or used, including Yamaha or Jupiter or Antigua or whatever...and as you said, your intent is just to find a horn to see if he'll stick with it.

As Randy noted....then illustrated...20 replies...will get you 20 different opinions...and can send you off in 20 different directions from the one you are currently on. But whatever other horn such a search might bring you to, for that price the Armstrong will really be just as good.

If your budget is $300 or already have landed on a horn which will suit quite nicely for many years to come. This provided it is in good physical and playing condition and does not need any significant work by a sax tech (i.e. more than $50-75 or so). If that is the case, just get the Armstrong.

If it needs significant work to make it play well, then skip it (or any other horn for that matter).

Here's something of an aside.....if I were a band teacher and there was a good, solid clarinet/bass clarinet player wanting to join Jazz/Stage Band...I would steer him towards the Tenor....not the Alto.

You say he's impressive on the licorice stick (Bass Clarinet) this tells me can ergonomically handle a long horn, and he can also provide/produce the breathing/blowing needed to get the proper BC sound/dynamics.

.....If that's so, he can handle a Tenor (also a Bb instrument and an easier transition, IMHO).
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Gotta agree with Jaye here. Although, having test played and handles both the new Stephenhauser and Armstrong models, between those two choices,I would personally pick the Stephanhauser. It has a larger, less "student-like" inherant tone to it, and is built quite sturdily. Really a lot of sax for the money in the NEW student segment.
Interesting....that's good to know.
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