Saxophone Forum


by JustMe
(4 posts)
2 years ago

Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

Hi, everyone!

As many of you might know, music in the elementary school level is basically non-existent.  My 11 year old daughter, though, is lucky enough that her school has hired an outside music organization to come in before/after school and give music lessons, for a fee.  The tenor sax is her instrument of choice (I tried talking her into the clarinet, but no go...don't hate me!!  lol).  She currently plays the piano and took violin lessons last school year.

With all that said, I am at a loss... I don't now what brand of sax to buy for her.  I obviously don't want to spend too much money since she is a beginner, but in the same note do not want some rickety instrument that will sound horrible and fall apart on her.  Music is very important to our family and I would like her to thoroughly enjoy the sax.

Any and all feedback will be TRULY appreciated by both my daughter and me.

Thank you very much!

JustMe 

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  1. by tutorjb1
    (10 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

    Hi JustMe Marie, Mark:

    I've been thinking about JustMe's daughter's situation. I'd like to know why she's chosen the tenor sax as opposed to an easier to hold and(for an11-year-old beginner) easier to play, alto sax. I also think that because saxes are relatively expensive instruments and require a lot of TLC and even though the music saxes typically play in school is relatively easy, Marie's daughter seems musically flighty so one of the horns here might be a better choice to begin. Does the girl like the sound of the sax best, it's appearance, ease of play, what? I haven't(and can't) really hear what the horns here sound like, but from what I've been able to see, they don't look like real saxes. I don't know if the girl would like their sound.

    It'd be best if she could get one on approval to show her music teacher and see if she likes its sound, look and feel, esp. in the presence of other kids playing regulation saxes. If there's a chance she'll lose interest in the sax quickly, one from here may be best if there's a buy-back program and if the music teacher thinks a music store would take one as partial payment toward a regulation sax like a Bundy or a Conn. Because Bundy's are student-line Selmers and I've had wonderful personal experience with a Bundy tenor from 7th grade to well beyond college, I have to recommend Bundy, though I think an 11-year-old would do better to start with an alto sax and perhaps one of the horns sold here if saxophone.org will meet the conditions I've set forth. I just don't know anything about their quality, sound, value or cost and don't believe that can be determined merely from looking at a picture online. I am familiar with Bundy and know a cared-for Bundy alto can be traded at music stores to cover half the price of a Bundy tenor.

     Bundys and Conns are expensive and worth it to dedicated musicians and if that's what the girl is, I'd start her on a rent-to-own Bundy alto sax, be sure she cares for it properly and look toward trading it in on a Bundy tenor sax in 3 or 4 years. If she isn't so dedicated, I might buy one of the horns here. They just don't look like real saxes, there's no way to tell what they actually sound like or what they'd be worth(if anything) in trade toward a regulation tenor sax. You need to be able to show it to the band director coming to town before you commit to buying one and also let your daughter try one out to see if she'll be happy enough startingwith it to spend all the time practicing that's required to learn any instrument. I can't tell enough about the saxophone.org horns to even know if the fingering is identcial to a regulation sax - another thing that the band director would need to check out if she plans to upgrade to a regulation tenor like a Bundy.

    A used sax(NOT FROM eBay where I've seen a lot ofexpensive Junk) from a music store or private seller might be your best bet, though often kids put too great a value in their instrument being NEW and used saxes may cost as much or more in repairs as their selling price. I've seen junk on eBay that would require 10 times the selling price to make playable and the parts there like mouthpieces, ligatures(that hold the reed to the mouthpiece) and necks are way over-priced on eBay. It seems that some people buy junk saxes just to try to triple their money selling the parts.BE CAREFUL if buying used. Have everything checked out by the band director and played by the girl. A new cork on the neck will have to be waxed and broken in for weeks for the mouthpiece to fit properly. New and properly reconditioned saxes can't be played immediately. Make her first reed a #1 or #1 1/2. I wish I knew more about the horns sold here. They might be a good start, but I doubt would make a good choice to grow with or be worth much in trade toward a regulation sax. They may be ideal for a child who's not really dedicated and just wants to try a sax-like instrument. I can't say one way or the other, but I'm also not selling them so do not have any profit-motive. As a long-time musician (sax, bass, guitar, keys) and teacher, I'm just trying to give you the best advice I can without really being able to judge what they sell here. The music organization coming in should be able to find a new-instrument seller willing to sell on approval and over time to school students.

    Sincerely,

    tutorjb1 - Jefferson Bales at Allexperts.com  and JB at  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bookdoctorsandeditors.

     

    BTW -> I was fortunate to live in Park Forest,Illinois,(about 30 miles south of Chicago) as a kid so was able to start sax lessons(on an inherited Elkart alto) at 8 years old and play year round in every school band and every summer music program offered (there were many) so when I moved to Winston-Salem at 14 could immediately upgrade(by trading in my alto) to my Bundy tenor sax and(as well as continuing in every school band offered)play in the horn sections of popular blues and rock performing bands.  I played sax, bass, guitar and keyboards in a variety of bands for years, including the predecessor of Arrogance. See<Arrogance(the band)> in Wikipedia and in the Winston-Salem Hilton hotel's regular Supper Club band (The Ovations). I also opened the 1974 North Carolina Collegiate Jazz Festival on both sax and bass in The U.N.C. Art Ensemble and would be happy to help your daughter learn basic improvisation on the sax through my group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tutorjb.

    The marvelous jazz bassist, composer and improvization teacher at Wake Forest University, Matt Kendrick ( http://www.mattkendrick.net ), has issued several CDs. The one titled _Bass City_ features two good tenor sax players, one of whom is fantastic and now teaches at Oberlin,Ohio; the world's foremost jazz school and therefore the hub around which the best sax players in the world rotate. I'm positive your daughter would love listening to Matt's CD, _Bass City_. To obtain an autographed copy, you may email Matt at matt@mattkendrick.net. Tell him I (Jeff) sent you and ask that he autograph a _Bass City_ CD for you. Of Matt's CDs, I like _Bass City_ best, followed by _Other Aspects_ that features Matt on the big acoustic bass (that he plays on all his CDs) and Fred Hersch (on acoustic piano) - gorgeous music, but no sax -  and then _Unity&Alienation_ that features a wonderful guitar player in place of the piano on his other CDs and an amazing trumpet player who also plays a Rotomagnetic horn (that's a trumpet fitted with rotary, French Horn, keys and has a haunting sound).

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  2. by Saxquest
    (296 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

    Hi Marie-

         Welcome to the saxophone.org community. There's lots of stuff here for you to and your daughter to learn about saxophones. I would start by reading the saxophone buyer's guide located under the resources tab on this web site.

         For the money, I would recommend buying a good condition used American made student model saxophone. For one, many of them are very good saxophones and secondly, a used sax is a good investment because you can generally get most of your money back out of it when its time to upgrade or if you should decide to sell it for any reason. A few brands to keep an eye out for include Yamaha YTS-23, Buescher Aristocrat, Conn shooting star model, King 615 model, and Selmer Bundy. You can generally get into one of these in excellent condition with a full repad from a dealer with a full year warranty for $800-$1000. You can also find them from a private party for $300-$600. Just be careful when buying from an individual because you may end up having to put a repad into it which will run you around $500ish. If buying from a private party, ask for service records just like you would if buying a used car. Repair receipts are always dated and usually detail the work that was done such as # of pads replaced, cork or felts that were replaced or dent work or other damage repairs. If buying from a dealer be sure to ask if it was overhauled recently and be sure it comes with a warranty (six months is standard for a student sax). Also, ask your band director about the reputation of the shop. Not all repair shops are equal! Also, most student saxophones from a dealer will include all needed accessories (mouthpiece, cork grease, reeds, and neck strap).

    Please let us know if you have more questions.

    Cheers,
         Mark Overton
         www.saxquest.com

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    1. by JustMe
      (4 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

      Hi, Mark:

      Thank you very much for your replies.  

      I will definitely shy away from any of the brands I mentioned in an earlier post, and will also not buy used. I have no clue as to what is good or bad.  If my daughter's interest goes into the next school year (for jazz or concert band) in middle school, I will just get her a new tenor sax... a reputable brand such as those you suggested.

      Again, thank you!

      JustMe 

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    2. by JustMe
      (4 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

      Thank you very much for the quick reply.

      I looked at Craigslist for brands that you mentioned.  Found a used Yamaha YTS-23 for $1300.  Buying a used instrument for that price when I have NO clue as to what I should be looking for is really scary for me and is also out of my price range.

      As I mentioned, my daughter takes piano lessons (3.5 years and counting) and took violin lessons for a year (last year).  We spent close to $1,000 on a "beginner" violin.  I am very happy that my daughter is interested in the sax, but I am hesitant to spend anywhere close to $1,000 because the violin now sits in its case... next to the piano.

      My thought is this... should my daughter completely love playing the sax, continues taking lessons and gets into the middle school concert band, I will at that time invest in a truly dependable brand.  In the meantime, I would like to find a brand that will satisfiy her fancy of taking up the sax.  Looking at the violin in its case daily is not fun.  She does not want to sell it because she says that she enjoys playing it (albeit once in a blue moon).

      The 2 local music stores only rent saxophones.  I'd rather buy than rent.  I looked on the web and found the following:

      Amazon (Woodwind and Brasswind)
      Allora Student Series Tenor Sax Model AATS-301 - $600

      Amazon (The Instrument Store)
      Legacy TS750 Student/Intermediate Tenor Sax - $470 
      Maybach M1106B Student Tenor Sax - $550

      Amazon
      Cecilio 2Series TS-280N Nickel-Plated Bb Tenor Sax - $453

      I have to purchase a sax by the end of this week.  Lessons start next week.

      Are the above brands "decent" for what my daughter currently needs?  Is one better than the other?  I've read the reviews on Amazon, but would like opinions from those who are in the know... those on this site.

      Again, thank you!

      JustMe

       

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      1. by Saxquest
        (296 posts)

        2 years ago

        Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

        Greetings-

        I would call Saxquest. (314) 664-1234 or check out their web site at www.saxquest.com. You will find an honest professional who can help you get into a good American made student model tenor saxophone for somewhere in the $750 price range. The instrument will have a full overhaul and be in perfect playing condition and regulation.

        I would avoid all of the above brands that you mentioned from Amazon. These are mosly very cheaply made instruments that have very little resale. To guage resale, check eBay completed items auctions for actuall used selling prices of these saxophones. You will see they are not good.

             Best of Luck!!

        Cheers,
             Mark Overton

             www.saxquest.com

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    3. by tutorjb1
      (10 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

      Dear JustMe,

      I began sax lessons at 9 in the 4th grade, 50 years ago. Your daughter sounds talented and dedicated to learning to play. The piano, and especially the violin, are each much more difficult to learn and play than the sax. It's good you didn't talk her into the clarinet. it's more difficult to play and a lot less fun than the sax. If cared for, a sax will always appreciate so the best advice is to get her the most expensive one you can afford(that'd be a Selmer). Bundy is the student-line Selmer and much less expensive. She'll probably prefer the sound of a tenor sax, but if she's small an alto might be a better way to start. Be sure you buy a metal mouthpiece to go with the stock mouthpiece that comes with the horn. It requires a metal mouthpiece to get the "cool," professional sound she'll no doubt want to achieve and never be able to without a metal mouthpiece.

      You can wait a short time for her to see what number mouthpiece suits her best, but not very long or you may never get her one and she sounds talented enough to warrant a metal mouthpiece. Without one she'll always sound like a beginner no matter what she does and become frustrated. It'd be similar to making her use worn-out, crummy strings on her violin or play a broken-down piano.

       

      A Bundy alto sax and a metal mouthpiece for Christmas or her 12th birthday if it's not too far off and she should be in good shape for 4 or 5 years when she may want a tenor sax - and they're easier to play so won't distract as much from her other studies when she's older.

      Yours,

      tutorjb1 - Ask me more at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tutorjb and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bookdoctorsandeditors. You need to join Yahoo! to get an ID to join groups And have a free, Web-based email account. Look at the upper right of any Yahoo! page. You may use your Yahoo! email anywhere.

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    4. by tutorjb1
      (10 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

      Hello JustMe(Marie),

      I'm tutorjb1 and I suggested the Bundy alto with a metal mouthpiece for Christmas. I've read some of the other replies and you're responses to them and am afraid you're going to "cheap-out" on a sax for your daughter. A cheap, crummy sax will be hard to play and harder to make sound good and worthless as a trade-in.

       

      I think you should sell that very difficult-to-play violin she seems not to like and put the money roward a better sax, like the Bundy alto sax I suggested. Don't forget the metal mouthpiece for Christmas. The sax looks difficult to play, but it isn't unless you have to try to play a cruddy one like you're thinking about. The sax is one of the easiest and most fun instruments to play, in part because it's used frequently in pipular music and the music the sax plays in school band is very easy. Alto saxes(that would probably be easiest for your daughter to hold) are much less expensive than larger tenor saxes some have mentioned to you, but tenor saxes are used more often in rock and jazz bands where there is only one sax, but school jazz and concert bands generally have several of each as do the horn sections of blues, soul and rock bands. Be sure to have whatever sax you decide on checked out by the school band director and a good jazz saxophonist if you know of a club where they play and could catch one on a break. Stopping her other music lessons will also save money you can put toward a better sax. Nobody can play a piece of junk.

      I play sax, bass, guitar and some piano and have had more fun playing sax than any other instrument and most other activities of any kind and began when I was 9. a year after I started learning guitar seriously.

      Yours,

      JB - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tutorjb

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      1. by saxgourmet
        (98 posts)

        2 years ago

        Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

        See our Bon Fils model at www.nationofmusic.com....it is SPECIFICALLY designed for beginners and young player and has many features they need that are NOT found on other horns. Let me know your questions!

        STEVE GOODSON
        New Orleans
        www.nationofmusic.com

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    5. by tutorjb1
      (10 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

      Hello Marie. I've been trying to find you again. I hope you'll give a Bundy alto sax serious consideration for your daughter. A Bundy is a beginner's sax, but one that a student can grow with. If you add a metal mouthpiece later, she'll be able to achieve a professional tone and enjoy it for the rest of her life. A Bundy will also appreciate over time so if she loses interest and  cares for it and keeps it, she or you will be able to sell it for what it cost or near that. I bought my Bundy in 1966 and played it every year in school bands and private blues and jazz bands until I was a college senior in 1974 and opened the North Carolina Collegiate Jazz Festival on it. Due to a stroke I couldn't play for 30 years after that, but am now getting ready to sell it and expect to make more than twice what I paid for it new since I took very good care of it and added a few custom mouthpieces to it over the years. That's on top of having a wonderful time playing it for 9 years.

      That's something you can only do with a good regulation sax. You can't expect to enjoy a sax designed solely for beginners long or get much for them if you decide to trade up or sell them if one loses interest. In my nearly 50 years of playing the sax in every imaginable setting and teaching others to play, the only way I could've been happier than with my Bundy would've been with a Selmer costing thousands more. I started with a cheaper(but still regulation) alto sax when I was 9, but because it was a true, regulation sax, I was able to trade it in to cover 1/2 the cost of my Bundy tenor sax 5 years later and played that Bundy with great success and joy the following 10 years and now, 40 years later, am about to sell it at a very nice profit. You need to be sure that your daughter cleans her sax after every use and cares for it like the valuable instrument it is so she'll enjoy it and she and her sax will grow and improve together and if she outgrows it or her interests change,it will retain its value and she'll be able to sell it for enough for a fine start in any new interest she may have when older, but saxophone playing when built on a solid instrument like a Bundy is something that can easily be enjoyed for a lifetime. I very much want to help. Visit me anytime at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tutorjb or my friend, the great jazz bassist and educator, Matt Kendrick at http://www.mattkendrick.net

      Yours

      tutorjb1,

       

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      1. by JustMe
        (4 posts)

        2 years ago

        Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

        Thank you very much for your responses, tutorjb1: 

        My daughter wants to play tenor sax, and she's tall enough to handle it at her age. Her lessons started this morning and she was fortunate enough that the band director was able to find her a really nice tenor Yamaha last week, for rent for the rest of the school year through my daughter's school.  He literally looked at every piece of equipment until he found a good one for her.  This will allow us time to shop for a good brand, versus buying one of poor quality just for her to have "now".  It does, however, come with a plastic mouthpiece. The band director suggested a #2 reed for her to use.

        My daughter played a few notes for me this afternoon.  I'm glad that she didn't listen to me about taking up the clarinet.  The tenor sax sounded lovely to me and her!

        She still likes playing her violin, so I cannot sell it.  She actually played it over the weekend.

        I will definitely look into buying her a new Bundy or Yamaha tenor sax, with a metal mouthpiece.  She wants to be in either jazz or concert band when she enters middle school (next school year), so she will need a reputable one at that time.

        I truly appreciate your time in responding to my plea of help in finding a reputable brand and giving me very sound advice.

        Sincerely,
        JustMe




         

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        1. by Saxquest
          (296 posts)

          2 years ago

          Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

          I would encourage you not to consider a metal mouthpiece for your child at this stage in the game. I do, however, agree that you should loose the plastic mouthpiece and replace it with a good hard rubber mouthpiece. Brands to consider include: Otto Link, Berg Larsen, Vandoren, Jody Jazz, MACSAX (Bob Sheppard), Selmer S80 or S90.

          There are several reasons why metal at this point may not be such a good choice. 1. They are generally 2-3 times as expensive as a good professional hard rubber mouthpiece. 2. Top professionals seem to be playing hard rubber over metal these days (Josh Redman, Chris Potter, just to name a few). 3. At this age your child will need a smaller tip opening (5, 5* or 6 max). Once she develops more a larger tip opening (6*, 7, 7* or 8) may be desired. So, you're likely to be buying another mouthpiece in 2-3 years anyway and you don't want to spend a fortune right now. 4. A good hard rubber piece is simply easier to learn on and you are less likely to develop bad habits like biting or having too tight of an embrasure. 5. Hard rubber mouthpieces are better all-around mouthpieces that can be used in both jazz and concert band. If your child is just starting, she'll most likely be playing in concert band for a few years before jazz band starts. She'll need to be able to blend and control intonation as well as get a good sound. Hard rubber is generally better in this regard.

          In any event, I agree that a good mouthpiece will make a huge difference in a child's ability to advance and have fun on the instrument. If you do decide to get a metal mouthpiece, get a low baffle mouthpiece like an Otto Link Super Tone Master or maybe even the BARI brand Hybrid (half metal/half hard rubber). Learning on a high baffle mouthpiece will restrict flexibility and your child will learn to rely on that crutch to get volume as opposed to learning how to properly support and put air through the saxophone to generate a big sound.

          OK, enough about mouthpieces. Last point, if you have a good Yamaha student saxophone that you're renting, then you've got a good saxophone. Just make sure that its well set up and have your band director or trusted local repair tech check it over for leaks or mis-regulation. That horn will get her through for many years if equipped with a good mouthpiece. When you do look to buy, consider used. The NEW student market is kind of a sham. You end up spending $1500-$1800ish for a good new student Yamaha or equivalent brand saxophone. A few hundred more and you could get into a used professional model saxophone (Selmer Paris S80 series I or II or Mark VII, Yamaha 62 or 875 Custom, Yanagisawa 991) for $1600-$2800. When it comes to resell, you'll get nearly all of your money (minus wear and tear on pads) back out of a used professional model whereas you take a serious bath on resell of a new student saxophone. That $1500-$1800 new student model sax will sell used for $300-$750.

          I hope this advise sees you well and best of Luck! Music is a gift that will stay with your child for a lifetime and she will always have you to thank for it into her adult life and even after you're gone...........

          Cheers,

          Mark Overton
          www.saxquest.com

           

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          1. by jetblast7
            (2 posts)

            2 years ago

            Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

            Have to say I really agree here. While I wouldn't sway you one way or the other on the mouth piece as that is very much a personal preference for the player, the plastic will have to go soon to be replaced with either Hard Rubber or Metal. Though I tend to lean toward waiting a little longer on metal (which I generally prefer myself).

            As far as the sax goes I never recommend buying new unless a person just feels they absolutely have to buy new. It usually is a serious loss. For instance when I bought my Yamah 62 Alto the choice was between new and used. I bought used and the reason - I got a sax that looks brand new all pads are in perfect condition and no one would ever know that it wasn't new for $1800 instead of $2800 for a new one. I also bought my Tenor Very used it is an SML from somewhere around 1952 and it plays like a dream. I wouldn't give either of those horns up for any brand new sax anywhere.

            As long as you purchase from a reputable dealer, IE Saxquest, or some others on the web, or even a dealer in your town, you can get a sax that plays like new, looks new, and may even have more character than a new model, and get it for $1000-1500 less than you would get a new model. And while this is very subjective, it seems to be the general rule that most players feel older saxes have a better character of sound than the latest models. Again that statement is very subjective.

            And little to no depreciation!

            My son will be starting out on my old Bundy II and when he upgrades it will be to a used horn.

            Just my two cents from my experience in playing and buying. 

            Bryce 

            (recomendation - go to saxquest.com and browse through someo of their used saxes just to get an Idea of what we are saying rather than just taking our word for it. You may be quite surprised.) 

            Yamaha YAS-62 Meyer Metal 6 Rico Plasticover #3
            SML RevD(~1952) Tenor OttoLink Metal 6 Vandoren BB #3

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        2. by GFC
          (332 posts)

          2 years ago

          Re: Best Brand for 11 year Old Beginner ??

          New Bundys and Yamaha 23s are seriously overpriced.  Look for a deal on a used Yamaha.

          There are decent student-level Asian horns for about $1000 new, but you need to be heads up if you go that route.  Antigua, Kessler, Saxgourmet, Rheuben Allen, and Cannonball are reputable dealers of good Asian horns that sell student lines.  Jupiter also makes some decent student horns.  Be careful if looking at a used Jupiter.  The early ones have a reputation for poor quality.  

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