Saxophone Buyers Guide

Makes to look out for: 

  • Budget: Elkhart, Jupiter, Trevor James, Jean Paul USA
  • Intermediate: Trevor James, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Conn-Selmer, Cannonball, P. Mauriat, Keilwerth
  • Professional: Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Borgani, Selmer, P. Mauriat
  • Vintage: Buescher, Conn, King, Selmer

Priority features:  A mouthpiece that does not have teeth marks/indentation on the top of the mouthpiece.

Nice to have features: High F# key, however you don’t strictly need this as players tend to use Biz key fingerings as their competence grows.

Play test: If you are new to playing then ask an experienced player to play it for you or take advice from your local NAMIR repairer or teacher. Play the saxophone with a reed you are familiar with, together with a mouthpiece you are familiar with.

Common problems – things to look out for:

If you are intending to buy second-hand, check for worn or damaged pads and lacquer.  Leather pads are generally tan coloured – if they get wet they can go hard and darken. Check the body of the instrument for dents as these will devalue the instrument. Reasonable wear to the lacquer for a secondhand instrument is generally expected, particularly to the side of the instrument and around the hook. If there is excessive lacquer wear across the whole instrument you would only expect to see this on a vintage instrument. Watch out for rust or black discolouration around the posts and pad cups as this is a sign of poor manufacture.

If you are purchasing a vintage saxophone the costs of repair are higher so take advice from a NAMIR repairer if in doubt.

Check the mouthpiece does not have scratches inside the mouthpiece or teeth indentations on the top.

Check the keywork for signs of wear. Lacquer wear on the left hand palm keys and right hand keys is to be expected for an instrument that has been used.

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