Saxophone Forum


by afo1120
(2 posts)
2 years ago

New Band Student

My son is going to play Alto Sax in the 5th grade band this fall.  He is very excited!
This summer we are acquiring all the needed equipment and supplies recommended/suggested by the school. 

They recommend Vandoren Reeds.

Is there any particular (brand) Neck Strap that is better than another (more padded)?  When we tried out, the band director stressed how heavy the instrument would be (maybe trying to sway some kids to not want the sax).

Are all brands of cork grease the same? 

Silk Swabs - all the same?


Thanks for taking the time to read!


~ Anne

(first time band mom)         

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  1. by Saxquest
    (329 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: New Band Student

    Hi Anne-
         I'm glad to hear that you have a son interested in learning to play a musical instrument. There are so many things about learning to play a musical instrument that transfer into developing good life skills. 

         As for your specific questions. At this stage in the game with neck straps I would get something affordable. Rico makes a nice padded neck strap and they make a non-padded strap. I would not worry too much about the weight of the horn. An alto sax doesn't weight that much and any normal healthy kid will be just fine with either a padded or non-padded neck strap. There are differences in cork grease, but your son is not at a level where he'll notice so it doesn't matter at this stage. I'd say whatever the local music store has will be good. For silk swabs, I recommend Hodges silk swabs. They are very good and durable and affordable. For a price comparison, I've shown what Saxquest sells these items for. You can see that you don't have to pay out a lot for these smaller accessories.

    Saxquest prices: Vandoren cork grease - $2.50, Rico non-padded neck strap - $9.50, Rico padded neck strap - $13.95, Hodges silk swab - $13.50.

    The thing to be willing to spend a bit of money on would be a good mouthpiece. It can make all the difference as a player will be less likely to develop bad habbits and will advance more quickly. A good mouthpiece can be had in the $100 range. Good brands to consider are Vandoren Optimum, Vandoren V16, and Meyer. Also, make sure the horn you get is looked over by a good shop before your son tries to play it. Its essential that the mechanics of the instrument are in good working order or your son may get frustrated at no fault of his own. Poorly adjusted or just plain bad equipment is one of the major reasons kids get frustrated and quit within the first year.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

    Cheers,

         Mark Overton
         WWW.SAXQUEST.COM

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    1. by afo1120
      (2 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: New Band Student

      Thanks for your reply Mark.  We have purchased a refurbished Selmer AS-500.  Plan on getting it looked at before my son touches it. : )

      Will most local music stores look over instruments if you haven't purschased from them?  Most of our local stores wanted rental deals of over 2 years costing $1200 on used instruments.  We just had to go another route.   Or maybe a private music teacher?

      The school recommends a Vandoren Optimum AL3  or Selmer C Star mouthpiece. Not sure what the sax is coming with.


      Anne

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      1. by Saxquest
        (329 posts)

        2 years ago

        Re: New Band Student

        Hi Anne-

             You were wise to avoid the rental scam. Actually, I shouldn't say scam because it works for some people. But in the end most rent-to-own programs will cost you about 3-4 times what you should have actually paid for the instrument. The AS-500 is a decent sax to learn on. I prefer the older American made saxes myself like 70's vintage King 613 or Selmer Bundy or Buescher Aristocrat. But those are getting hard to find in decent condition as most of them have passed through multiple hands by this point. But, you're son will do quite well on the AS-500. It's most likely better than the new horn that you would have rented and ended up paying $1200 for anyway.

             Yes, most reputable repair shops will evaluate and service an instrument that was not purchased from them. Typically, you can get an estimate on the repair while you wait. But depending on what's required you may have to leave the horn there for a few days to a few weeks depending on the extent of repairs and how backed up the shop is. At saxquest, we can generally turn around minor work (meaning $50-$200 repair bill) in a week or less. More extensive repairs or complete overhauls usually have about a 3-4 week turn around. With our professional clients or others who can't be without their instrument for long periods of time, we often times will schedule in the repair so they can drop off the horn just before their opening for us to work on it approaches. But in your case this would not be necessary.

        Both the Vandoren Optimum (AL3 or AL4) and Selmer C* are great choices for a new student mouthpiece. These are both mouthpieces that your son can continue to play as he becomes more advanced. Your thought about getting a private teacher is great.

        Cheers,

             Mark Overton
             www.saxquest.com

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