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Hi - I'd like to get some opinions on an alto Trevor James Signature Custom Raw that I am thinking of buying as a gift for a family member (she's expressed an interest in them in the past). It's about 1-2 years old at most, apparently in mint condition, owned by a solid player, and was recently worked over at a well-regarded tech shop in the U.S. in the last 6 months for a full adjustment/inspection. The seller is asking $2400, which seems pretty high to me, considering that a TJ distributor in North America has told me that the price of a new one is now $2475 U.S. dollars (that was on a price list). And for a couple of reasons, I'm confident that I can trust the seller.

Given all of this, at what price (lower than $2400 I assume) do you think this sax might start to approach being a good value for me, and fair and realistic price for the seller? Seems these are well-regarded horns, but there are lots of good horns out there. Any opinions are greatly appreciated.

Cheers...
 

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I saw one here in Colorado used but in excellent condition listed for $2200. I was going to contact the seller and see if I could blow it next time I was down visiting my brother since it was located right near his place but I never got around to it. I don't play much alto anyway. In general horns loose around 30-35% of their value pretty quickly with many of the lesser known Taiwanese brands often depreciating even more than that. The TJ horns have a good reputation but they aren't very common in the US so you don't see used ones come up all that often. For me, a fair price would be somewhere around $1800 - maybe a bit higher if I really wanted that particular horn since they aren't that common. In my mind, anything above $2000 I'd consider top dollar for this horn used and I'd want a return guarantee if she doesn't like it. Realistically once you are much over $2k you may as well just buy a new one. There's likely plenty of mark-up in that $2475 list price and you might be able to get a deal from the shop you go through to knock a couple hundred bucks off especially if you pay cash.

That being said, my experience with sellers and the dynamics of buying used stuff suggests to me, you're never going to get this guy anywhere near $1800 if he's starting at $2400. People trying to sell pre-owned/used stuff for 90+% of new list price are either clueless, not really very motivated to sell, are attached to the item in some sentimental way, or are just delusional in some other way that has convinced them the thing is worth significantly more than it actually is.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I saw one here in Colorado used but in excellent condition listed for $2200. I was going to contact the seller and see if I could blow it next time I was down visiting my brother since it was located right near his place but I never got around to it. I don't play much alto anyway. In general horns loose around 30-35% of their value pretty quickly with many of the lesser known Taiwanese brands often depreciating even more than that. The TJ horns have a good reputation but they aren't very common in the US so you don't see used ones come up all that often. For me, a fair price would be somewhere around $1800 - maybe a bit higher if I really wanted that particular horn since they aren't that common. In my mind, anything above $2000 I'd consider top dollar for this horn used and I'd want a return guarantee if she doesn't like it. Realistically once you are much over $2k you may as well just buy a new one. There's likely plenty of mark-up in that $2475 list price and you might be able to get a deal from the shop you go through to knock a couple hundred bucks off especially if you pay cash.

That being said, my experience with sellers and the dynamics of buying used stuff suggests to me, you're never going to get this guy anywhere near $1800 if he's starting at $2400. People trying to sell pre-owned/used stuff for 90+% of new list price are either clueless, not really very motivated to sell, are attached to the item in some sentimental way, or are just delusional in some other way that has convinced them the thing is worth significantly more than it actually is.
Thanks! Your opinions fall pretty much exactly in line with my thoughts on this.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I saw one here in Colorado used but in excellent condition listed for $2200. I was going to contact the seller and see if I could blow it next time I was down visiting my brother since it was located right near his place but I never got around to it. I don't play much alto anyway. In general horns loose around 30-35% of their value pretty quickly with many of the lesser known Taiwanese brands often depreciating even more than that. The TJ horns have a good reputation but they aren't very common in the US so you don't see used ones come up all that often. For me, a fair price would be somewhere around $1800 - maybe a bit higher if I really wanted that particular horn since they aren't that common. In my mind, anything above $2000 I'd consider top dollar for this horn used and I'd want a return guarantee if she doesn't like it. Realistically once you are much over $2k you may as well just buy a new one. There's likely plenty of mark-up in that $2475 list price and you might be able to get a deal from the shop you go through to knock a couple hundred bucks off especially if you pay cash.

That being said, my experience with sellers and the dynamics of buying used stuff suggests to me, you're never going to get this guy anywhere near $1800 if he's starting at $2400. People trying to sell pre-owned/used stuff for 90+% of new list price are either clueless, not really very motivated to sell, are attached to the item in some sentimental way, or are just delusional in some other way that has convinced them the thing is worth significantly more than it actually is.
Yep - thanks! What you said pretty much mirrors what I was thinking. I think they may have paid more for it new than the new ones are priced at today, and then they sent it to TM for a full workover too, reasons of which I'm not clear on.
 

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Yep - thanks! What you said pretty much mirrors what I was thinking. I think they may have paid more for it new than the new ones are priced at today, and then they sent it to TM for a full workover too, reasons for which I'm not clear on.
 

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Yep - thanks! What you said pretty much mirrors what I was thinking. I think they may have paid more for it new than the new ones are priced at today, and then they sent it to TM for a full workover too, reasons for which I'm not clear on.
Don't let any seller con you into absorbing some/all of the cost of an extravagant overhaul. Market prices for used instruments typically assume that they are in, or very near to, good playing condition. If substantial shop work would be required to bring a horn up to snuff, then you should plan to reduce the purchase price accordingly. The purchase price should not go up from the baseline merely because the necessary work already has been performed in an ultra-fancy way.
 

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The TJ Raw Custom has been my main alto for 1.5 month now (replacing without breaking a sweat my Selmer SA80 1), and that is definitely a great horn !

Before buying it I compared it to a Selmer Reference 54, a Yanagisawa AW02 and a Yanagisawa AW3595. You already know which one I preferred, but I may add that there was actually almost no contest. I found it's best quality was how versatile it is: you really can play any kind of music with it. And you really want to always blow more... the Raw was the one which inspired me most.

As far as 2nd hand prices go, I can't really help since I bought it new (around $2600) in Europe. What I can tell you is that they are not common to find 2nd hand : I checked the market for more than one year and didn't find many. Maybe they really are _that_ good... Or maybe they just are rare. ;)

PS: the Raw being unlacquered, you may want to check closely the finish on a used one, it ages in a very particular way (e.g. I managed to 'customize' mine by accidentally 'stamping' my finger print on it: oxydation followed the lines of my thumb on a spot I didn't wipe after use). Don't neglect to look inside the horn too. And check the tenon, mine went out of 'regulation' quite fast : no leak (or I should say that I didn't detect any), but the screw allows only a weak hold of the neck, which can then rotate when you change position.

Enjoy !
 

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People usually don't buy at MSRP also. Search around internet and see what's the "street price".


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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FWIW, I have had the Tenormadness setup done to one of my horns - highly recommended. Check their site for the current price.

https://www.tenormadness.com/repair

Whether you want to pay for part of it is up to you, but it does make the horn play much better than when it came out of the factory.
 

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I have found an offer for a used RAW alto and have become curious about a detail: the engraving on the neck and on the upper thumb rests reads "tjj", while on photos from dealers and in Stephen Howard's review there is an "SC" instead. The octave mechanism on the neck looks odd, too. Is that just a cosmetic difference or is that an indication there are different versions of the saxophone out there?

Here are the pictures:
https://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/s...alt-saxophon-profi-alto-sax/996156791-74-4896
 

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The neck doesn't look right nor do the right hand pinky keys to me either. I'd be very suspect and would a lot more convincing before I paid more than a few hundred dollars for it assuming it plays well enough to even justify that.
 

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FWIW, I have had the Tenormadness setup done to one of my horns - highly recommended. Check their site for the current price.

https://www.tenormadness.com/repair

Whether you want to pay for part of it is up to you, but it does make the horn play much better than when it came out of the factory.
While I respect Randy's work, $600 for a setup is pretty extreme. In essence it is a cleaning and regulation. In most competent shops you can get this work done for $200, sometimes less depending on pad work, and the result will be the same.

I DO believe in Randys skill being higher than the average tech, but there are many unsung techs out there in the world that can perform equivalent work for much, much less money.

- Saxaholic
 

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I think Roger is right, its an earlier Signature Custom pre RAW, although the first versions of the RAW did have "tjj" on the neck and on the upper thumb rest, the neck design is from a previous earlier Signature Custom.
 

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I think Roger is right, its an earlier Signature Custom pre RAW, although the first versions of the RAW did have "tjj" on the neck and on the upper thumb rest, the neck design is from a previous earlier Signature Custom.
So must be this engraving, which I do not find aesthetically pleasing.
View attachment 221466 View attachment 221468
None of the current models seems to have an unlacquered body combined with lacquered keys, either.
 

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Yes, it's an earlier model. The Raw model has double arms on the low keys.
Raw also has a distinct oak leaf engraving.

TJ came out with a Signature series. Then a Signature Custom which could be custom built with whatever body material you preferred - rose brass, silver plate, lacquered brass etc etc. Though they did do some standard models.
Then the Raw model came out under the Signature Custom brand. The model referred it is a Signature Custom in raw brass, not a Raw model Signature Custom.

This one also looks to have modified palm key risers so I wouldn't buy it for someone else. You'd need to have it in your hands to see if it felt OK.
 

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Yes, it's an earlier model. The Raw model has double arms on the low keys.
Raw also has a distinct oak leaf engraving.
Oric - just a note - if you look at this sax in the ad mentioned above, there are double arms on Low C and C#, not on B or Bb. The new Signature Custom Raw has this same keywork. Unusual, but I can't think of any other brand that has this.

SS
 

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Oric - just a note - if you look at this sax in the ad mentioned above, there are double arms on Low C and C#, not on B or Bb. The new Signature Custom Raw has this same keywork. Unusual, but I can't think of any other brand that has this.
The Raw model has them on the D-F right hand keys as well. I think there are other horns like Yanagisawa that have them on the C key - it goes back to the King Super 20.
 
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