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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
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Discussion Starter #1
Friends are looking to buy their son (11 years old) his first alto. I'd like to recommend something that is built well, and will be a good starting horn for him.

Price? anything around $500 - $1000.

Ideas?
 

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I have an Orpheo Signature alto thats a very good player. I play on the Copper Brass model. They go for around $879(for the copper brass model) on MusicFactoryDirect.com with free shipping.

Otherwise, Saxophone.com are also very good and I would say more "free-blowing" horns that might also be a good one to start on. Garrett Hypes, who is an SOTW member, owns that site and those saxes are built very well. He has all kinds of models ranging from student, intermediate, and even pro horns.

Also check out 2ndending.com. Another SOTW member here, JayeSF, i guess owns that site and he has quite a few really good vintage horns that I would imagine would be good for a starter. The good one about 2ndending is that there are video files of how the horns play. Im in the process of actually purchasing a tenor from him and he is more than a pleasure to deal with. Very knowledgeable and has great advice.
 

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Used Yamaha YAS23. Good horn for the price. You cab get one used for 400-500. If he quits or gets a pro horn later you can sell it for what you paid for it.


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yepp, agreed you cant go wrong with one of these!..good build,intonation,excellent horns!..that have lasted over time!!
 

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I second the YAS-23, also avail. in a "Vito made in Japan" version (same horn, different lacquer).

A member sells through ebay a King Tempo which is a Keilwerth stencil, identical it seems to the Bundy Special I have played, also a very good choice and it's not a "student horn" (European manufacturers rarely had horns made "for students" except Dolnet if I am not mistaken, but these were B&S made and pro horns for the Eastern Germans!).
No affiliation to the seller from me, though, just that the King Tempo seems a good option for you, fairly priced as well IMO.

Vito Kenoshas and Vitos made in France (both Beaugnier made) distributed by Leblanc in the 70s are also good alternatives.
Else.... if you really need to save at this point, you can go for a Venus (my daughters play them, one a sop, one an alto) and get one from ebay, but it's not the same workmanship as any of the above.
Hope that helps...
 

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As someone who sells horns 40 hours a week I'd agree with anything Yamaha. The 23's are probably the best sounding student horn I've ever heard. The 100's are also very sturdy. the 275's (which is current production) are still a very horn - even if they are made in Indonesia - I believe it doesn't matter where the horn is made, what matters is the quality control. If you get a used horn, make sure it's in fairly good condition though - otherwise you may end up paying a lot in repairs. If you have a teacher lined up try to get them to look at the horn before buying it, if it's second hand.
 

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Instruments for students are so hard. You don't know if they are going to stick with it. Down where I am at you cannot find a YAS model anything for less than $1,000 for a used one. I agree with the post above if you can find a YAS that isn't in bad shape and needs a pad job or overhaul. Guess it depends on supply and demand. YAS have great reputations and are sought after. I always follow a rule when buying a used Sax, "use as much caution as going over barb wire naked". If a Sax is used, I want to see it and play it before I buy it.

I recommend a Selmer Prelude or Bundy. I learned on a Bundy and I had it for several years before getting a Selmer III Paris. I was perfectly happy with it as a kid. You are getting a new horn for just over $500. If you take care of it you can get $400 back for it when you upgrade.
 

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Funny because I think the Yas 23 can be described as anything BUT a good sounding instrument. It's reliable, it's consistent, it is the industry standard beginners Alto...but it's tone is absolutely horrific, IMHO. Also feels kinda janky to me.

But, indeed, you should be able to land a used one in good playing shape for around $500 (new ones cost $1300, which is absurd). And they will do everything you would want them to do. So, always a default choice. But I really start rolling my eyes when folks start praising them as excelent horns. They are what they are, and they fill the need they were created to fill very well.

Older Bundys and Bundy II's are also decent, as are older Conn 24M, 25M, 50M, or 14M usa models.

King Cleveland 613's...and older Vito horns (either Kenosha or France) are also incredibly solid players in the under $600 price range. Advantage of most of the latter models being they are better than what is considered 'beginner' or 'student' stuff which one would need to replace after a while.

If you are looking at other newer brands, Phil Barone's horns have gotten some good reviews, as have contemporary Jupiters...both of which you should be able to bring in under $1000 used pretty easily.
 

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I started on a bundy II, and the sound on them is fine. Every repairer who I've taken it to (My little sister plays it now) has told me how much they hate the mechanics of it, and repairing them is horrible. I also found the ergonomics of a bundy II a little less comfy than a yamaha but you can get used to anything and if you never knew there was better, than you won't mind.
 

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+1 for a YAS-23.
 

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used YAS 23 with OK pads or Bauhaus Bronze Deluxe

I have an 80's YAS 23 has been through two kids and still same pads. A few bent keys over the eyars that needed to be straightened but still plays really well. Was kept lubed.

Just tried it with the Warburton neck system with it and holy **** as a backup once in awhile horn it works for me. Blows about the same as my Keilwerth sop which is an air hog for sops. I wouldn't sell it for any money though. Pretty much bullet proof
 

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Cant go wrong with a used Yamaha, but if thats too spendy something like a used second tier Taiwan built horn (Im thinking something like an ex "top of the line" Antigua Winds 520) for about $300 used plus a once over by a tech, gets you a solid horn with modern ergonomics and a nice tone.

Its not going to cause any problems and will recoup what you have into when it comes time to change.
 

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If you can't find a YAS-23 or one of it's derivatives, check out the selection at Kessler & Sons Music

They have three models in the $500-$1000 range that would be great for a beginner.

Ya can't go wrong by at least giving them a call and talking to either Chuck or Dave. They may even have a used Yamaha in stock.
 

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I would say look closely at the condition of the used horn - repads/overhauls can be expensive. They should go with a used horn, as that way if the kid either quits or wants to move up to another horn, they can (probably) get (most of) their money back out of it. There are a lot of horns that will work - I have a Vito Kenosha alto, and it sounds nice and is built like a tank. I haven't played a King Cleveland alto, but the tenors are an excellent value - well made and a good sound for the price.
 

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Not a YAS-23. The ergo's are terrible for small hands. I'd rather have a Jupiter.
 

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About 7 years ago the shop that handles our school band rentals started using Buescher 800s' along with the YAS-23s' in their fleet.
They held up to 'beginner abuse' and in my opinion the kids that were using them sounded every bit as good, if not a bit better.
Maybe it was just the different mouthpiece supplied with the horn. Either way they served the purpose well.

I've had the opportunity to play one that belonged to a former student and it felt/sounded good. Similar to the Yamaha as far as ergonomics go, and the sound had a bit more 'meat' to it.
It might be worth checking into.
 

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+1 on YAS-23, but I used Vito which is I think a replica, correct me if I'm wrong. But they're are very useful until you use it in marching, then I got a better horn.
 

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+1 on YAS-23, but I used Vito which is I think a replica, correct me if I'm wrong. But they're are very useful until you use it in marching, then I got a better horn.
My understanding is that some Vitos (for a limited time period) were actually made by Yamaha, so they are essentially the same horn. Earlier Vitos were made by Beaugnier, some were made in Kenosha, etc. so with Vitos one needs to be clear which one it actually is.

You got a better horn for marching!?!?
 

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Get a good teacher to recommend a medium level to professional horn. DO NOT, IMO, start with a beginner's horn. You are not playing a trumpet, saxes are complex machines that constantly get out of wack. The better horn you have, the fewer problems you will have.
 
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