Re: Woe is me!
Well, to those people who are tempted by these cheap horns, here is something to consider,
You don't want to spend a lot of money on a horn. Maybe you have doubts as to rather your child will stick with it. You work hard for your money and times are tough. I can appreciate that. But lets be optimistic for a second. Let's say that your child starts out on alto sax. You squeeze together enough money to rent a decent student model horn through the school or a local music store. Your son or daughter really enjoys playing and decides that they want to take private lessons, and become more envolved with band and wind ensemble. Two years into high school, your child is selected to attend a saxophone workshop at Interlocken, studying under Sinta, or perhaps one of the great jazz festivals. By the end of high school, your child has earned a music scholarship to study at a prestigious college or universary.
Now, lets say you rent the same horn. Your child plays it for a few months, gets bored with it, and decides that the saxophone just isn't for him. Return the instrument to the school or music store and be done with it! Perhaps you have accumilated a total of $480 in rental fees. That's about equal to 8 Playstation or X Box games! How many videa games has your child wanted, played a few times, and now they're sitting in the bottom of a drawer somewhere covered in dust! At least for the months that you rented the saxophone, your child was learning a musical instrument and hopefully getting some entertainment out of it.
Similar to the situation above, only lets say you purchased a nice used instrument that was in good playing condition. Your child decides to play sports rather than play in band, You can either put an ad in the newspaper or on ebay, or sell the saxophone to a music store who purchases and re-sells used instruments. As long as the horn still plays and is in the same condition, you can get back every dime you paid for it and sometimes even more!
But, now lets say that you disregard everything that has been said in this post and several others on this site. You think only of your pocket-book and you spend less than $300 on a new Schill horn from ebay (or a Band Now, Maxtone, Monique, or one of the other cheap brands) Your child attempts to play the horn but it sounds out of tune and it squeaks. The intonation is off, and the squeaking is because the horn needs adjusting. After calling a couple music stores, you are lucky enough to find a store that tells you to bring the horn in and they will take a look at it. The other stores told you flat out that they do not repair that brand! The repair tech tries to adjust the horn so that it is playable. The band director also notes the poor quality of the mouthpiece and suggests buying a better mouthpiece. You spend $150 for a new mouthpiece! That's outrageous, you think! Half the price of the horn! The teacher tries to work with your child/, but the intonation is poor on this cheap horn and it sounds out of tune. After a few months, your child loses interest and decides to play another instrument or sports. But, perhaps your child REALLY wanted to play sax? Suppose they had dreamed of earning a music degree, or playing in a famous jazz band? What may have been a wonderful opportunity for your child is lost due to frustration. Your child decides to quite playing saxophone altogether. You've spent $300 on a cheap sax, $150 on a better mouthpiece. $100 on adjustments and repairs, $50 on reeds; hoping that maybe part of the problem with squeaking and poor intonation was due to the type of reeds. All-together, this horn costs you over $600. You decide to sell it, but nobody seems interested. You list the horn on ebay and it sells for a little more than $100, if that.
Now, which is the better deal?
The first option of renting can get expensive in the long run. It's a good idea for a student who can't decide what instrument they want to play, or if the parents have any doubts about they staying with it. My recommendation though is that after a successful year of band, you will probably want to make arrangements to buy an instrument rather than rent.
If you buy a vintage or used instrument at the right price, you can often sell it at a profit.
As I hope you can see, in the long run the cheap horn ends up costing you money, Most are not approved for band use. In other words, they are so bad that band directors may not allow them! When you consider the cost of repairs and upgrades, and the missed opportunities, how can you afford NOT to invest a little money into a horn that will provide your child with years of enjoyment, the opportunity to earn a scholarship, or fulfil their dreams of someday playing professionally.
Make the investment!