Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
How can you tell the difference between a student sax and a more professional one?

Is there anything I should look out for to tell them apart?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
784 Posts
I predict that very soon a thread will appear mentioning the search button.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,549 Posts
pro saxes usually but not always have engraving on the bell. Student horns often have nickel plated keys. Keywork fits your hands better.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010
Joined
·
3,310 Posts
Im sure this must have been discussed many times before if you care to search.

The glib answer used to be student horns had nickel keywork, and pro horn were laquered...but its not that simple anymore.

I guess the sensible answer is a pro instrument is top quality and will not have the owner looking to upgrade for additional features or adjustment or tonal qualities any time soon, while a "student" horn was built to be robust and hit a certain price point whilst still looking and functioning like a sax.

The difference now though is getting murkier and murkier with the cheap asian horns that look on the surface like pro horns, but ultimately may lack some of the quality.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,549 Posts
look where it is made. Germany,japan,italy usually make pro saxes. There labor costs are high so sax makers based in these countries do not bother w/ student saxes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
269 Posts
I posted a similar question some months ago. Although there were a number of earnest and sincere comments, I was disappointed to see that nobody was able to identify any physical or structural characteristics which distinguish a "pro" horn. Guess I'm more of an engineer than a musician, but responses like "it's made better" or "it sounds better" don't really enlighten me. Perhaps the most objective answer would be "it costs more".
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
5,528 Posts
That's a very hard one because many cheap low-end saxes have the same features as top-of-the-line pro horns. The difference is the materials, workmanship, quality of the build, tone, response and intonation. These items are usually hard to recognize visually.

You pretty well have to know what you are buying. You have to become very familiar with brands and models. For vintage horns, it's even harder because one pro model horn from the 1950's may have the same name as a student level horn from the 1960's. And a few student line horns from the past are really pro horns in disguise.

And above all, even when you identify which level of sax you want, you need to try it out before you buy it if at all possible.

Tell us what type and level of sax you are looking for and I'll bet folks will chime in with lots of recommendations.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010
Joined
·
3,310 Posts
sycc said:
look where it is made. Germany,japan,italy usually make pro saxes. There labor costs are high so sax makers based in these countries do not bother w/ student saxes.
YAS23 is the granddaddy of all student saxes, and thats made in Japan...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,849 Posts
To someone that isn't familiar with saxophones and sax manufacturers, it's almost impossible to tell the difference between a student and pro horn. Simple answers regarding engraving and lacquer don't hold true in many cases. For example, one of the more expensive pro level horns out there, the Reference 54 in the antique finish, has no engraving, and some of the cheapest (below student level) horns on eBay have elaborate engraving. The only way to truly know is to research the manufacturers and learn which models are which. Sorry, there is no easy way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,549 Posts
Canadiain said:
YAS23 is the granddaddy of all student saxes, and thats made in Japan...
Yes true,I forgot about the YASs. They are,however,very expensive student saxes. So much so that if I were buying a sax in the YAS price range I'd buy a 475 Yamaha instead.
 

·
SOTW Administrator
Joined
·
26,208 Posts
I think pro saxes last longer.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010
Joined
·
3,310 Posts
hakukani said:
I think pro saxes last longer.
Not necessarily if you put one in the hands of a careless student....

Pro saxes have more adjustment capability, so I guess you can keep them adjusted and playable for longer? Or maybe they just cost more so people are less inclined to abandon one for the want of a moderate repair expense.

I think the difference is an experienced player will be happy enough playing a pro horn in the long run, but would want to upgrade from a student horn for whatever reason, be it tone, ergonomics, High F#, altisimo capability, price compromised build quality, pride of ownership...and thats not something you can quantify be simply looking at a spec sheet or picture.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,944 Posts
fred12 said:
Guess I'm more of an engineer than a musician, but responses like "it's made better" or "it sounds better" don't really enlighten me. Perhaps the most objective answer would be "it costs more".
"Made better" should make sense to most, I would think - especially if you apply sound engineering principles (material selection, precision fitting, etc.).

Many inferior new instruments cost much more than pro-quality vintage instruments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
307 Posts
BobbyC said:
I predict that very soon a thread will appear mentioning the search button.
Sure...why not ...then that way NOBODY will need to visit SOTW except to search for info....and we can stop posting entirely!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
886 Posts
A student horn is cheaper because, hey, you're still in school.

A pro horn is more expensive, but it can go out and earn you the money to pay for it.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,034 Posts
There are hidden differences. On a pro horn, the posts will be aligned better, the drawing of the tone holes will be more exact, the hinge rods will be straighter, the pad cups more uniform and the springs will be better quality and strung to give the best action. Sometimes you can buy by brand but with many companies (like Selmer), the name appears on $500 horns and $5,000 horns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
269 Posts
Thanks, Bruce. Gives me a better understanding of what the "check points" are for a good horn. Although - as Dr. G implies - knowing what to look for and actually being able to perceive it are two different things. So actually deciding whether a horn is "pro" or not probably requires its being played by a really experienced player.

Sidelight - last year I bought a Martin Indiana from a guy in a Miami pawn shop, but couldn't get much of a tone on it (I had never played a tenor before). So I took it to a pro player/tech to see what was wrong. He played the snot out of it and declared it close to his Mark VI - at least on the bottom end. Moral: a poor player trying out a good horn will still sound poor. Ergo, evaluation requires experience and, no doubt, considerable ability.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,034 Posts
Miami Pawn shop??? I must have missed that one. If you are in the Miami area, give me a call at 305-667-4925. I am near UM.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2011
Joined
·
774 Posts
A properly set-up horn should not, IMO, require a high degree of skill to play it, whether it's 'student' or 'pro'.
(Although I was surprised at finding it virtually impossible, as a beginner, to get any sort of musical sound from 3 new Borganis, while I found a Yani S901....and a Ref 54....and, of course, my Hanson 'Intermediate'!...really easy and pleasant :) )

The answer might simply be that professional sax players *usually* play 'pro' horns (as do many reasonably well-heeled non-pros!)...... find out what all your favourite pros play, and you have a clue !

Penniless students often, but not always, play 'student' horns !
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Perhaps a simpler perspective?

A student horn is a students horn,
A pro horn makes money

A $10k Mk6 is a student horn when owned by a beginner,
A cheap plastic fantastic in Charlie Parkers hands?
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top