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Discussion Starter #1
I've been reading this forum for a couple of days, getting ready to rent or buy an alto sax for my 10 year old daughter. This is a very valuable resource, and I appreciate it, and I've used the search function a lot.

Anyway, sometimes when people talk about buying a new saxophone they say that the instrument was all set up, or they complain by saying that the store promised that it would be all set up and when it arrived it wasn't. And it is said sometimes that you should buy from a local music store rather than the internet because among other things the local store will make sure the instrument is all set up. Also with used saxophones, sometimes the seller will say something like it is all set up and ready to play.

I called a music store and asked them what kind of saxophones they were renting, and the guy said Oh, we just got a shipment of new Yamahas in. I asked what models, and he didn't know. I asked do you set the instruments up for the student, and he said what's that mean? I didn't really know how to answer that, although I have a hazy idea I think.

So, what does setting up a saxophone mean? In the ideal world, what sort of service would you expect from a music store in "setting up" a saxophone?
 

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'Set up' means different things to different people.

For a student -- are all the notes playable from top to bottom?
For a discriminating pro -- in addition to the above, are the key heights optimal, is the timbre even across the entire range, has all deadening and superfluous cork and felt and metal gizmos been removed from the horn, have all the tone holes been deburred, all pads cleaned with 'anti-stick', has the neck been properly fitted to the horn, is the mouthpiece fitted properly to the cork, etc...

Does this help? Some folks just want a playable horn. Yamahas reportedly come out very good from the factory, so chances are you won't have to pay someone $200 for a set up.
 

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Just make it clear to the store that you would like their tech to give it a thorough check-over before you fork over your money. They should do that anyway.

What happens with some of the big internet retailers is that you get the horn exactly as it arrived to them, and sometimes things do shift a bit in storage/shipping, creating small problems that can totally thwart a beginner. Yamahas are indeed reputed as one of the most consistenly finished instruments as they leave the factory.

As somewhat indicated above, a "pro" setup will usually involve more detailed work like replacing a lot of the adjusting materials with higher-quailty ones, compensating for minor production flaws that create loose or noisy keys, correcting tuning/response issues, repositioning keys slightly to be optimal for the individual player, etc.
 

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I agree with Hgiles response. A few further thoughts on the subject from my experience.

Most reputable music stores with repair departments will have the shop check the new instruments after they are unpacked to check for things that are out of adjustment. Sometimes the problem was overlooked (or created :shock:) at the factory. Sometimes the rough handling of the instrument during shipping caused some misalignment. Often times materials like corks and pads that were compressed during assembly have had time to relax and expand causing the regulation to go out of adjustment. My pet peeve is instruments that are shipped with the keys tightly closed with cork wedges under the feet of the keys. That really makes quick adjustments and regulation impossible.

Some brands like Yamaha are usually pretty good right from the factory, but it is not uncommon to make small adjustments nevertheless. I think communication would be better if everyone used the term "set-up" to refer to the customization of a professional saxophone for an advanced player, and the term "go through" or "check over" to mean having the pads checked for leaks, and the regulation checked for proper adjustment. These two procedures are entirely different (although a "set-up" would include checking for leaks and adjusting the regulation as part of the process).

John
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the explanations

I took my 10 year old daughter to a local music store and we left with a rented Selmer AS500. As a courtesy I had emailed the band director beforehand, who gave his blessing to the store and their offerings. What I didn't anticipate is how crazy a music store is on a Saturday morning at the beginning of the school term. Their parking lot was full and they were totally swamped. So I didn't get the level of service I was hoping for -- in fact I dealt with a salesman who played keyboards and didn't know much if anything about woodwinds. But he said that their tech people do unpack the saxes and test play them. Based on what I had read here, that was good enough for me.
 

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hgiles said:
. ///Yamahas reportedly come out very good from the factory, so chances are you won't have to pay someone $200 for a set up.
I'd second that, my two have played "straight out of the box" (sealed) with no necessity for any "set up." On my new tenor, now a year and a half old, I've had to replace a tiny piece of cork on one of the stops for one of the palm keys, which wasn't a problem.
 

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Internet Buyers Beware

awholley said:
Just make it clear to the store that you would like their tech to give it a thorough check-over before you fork over your money. . . .
David4705 said:
. . .I dealt with a salesman who . . . said that their tech people do unpack the saxes and test play them. Based on what I had read here, that was good enough for me.
David,

It's good to hear that you did well. There are many stores where the sales people don't know about saxophones, but there's a definite advantage to buying from a local store - especially one that cares about their reputation with a local band director.

Some time ago, I received an upscale horn from an internet vendor whom I spoke to over the phone, and who asked for a day to have his tech do a set up. The horn was barely playable when it arrived, and a leak light revealed four very visible leaks. Fortunately, I know a repairman who worked his magic on it, and it now plays fine.

To me the moral of the story is buyer beware, but internet buyer beware big-time.


Good luck to your daughter!
 
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