When you’re starting out on sax, should you get a new, cheap Chinese saxophone from Amazon, or should you buy a used sax from eBay?
To test this out, I’ve bought the cheapest used Yamaha alto sax I could find off eBay. I’m going to compare this used saxophone with my pro alto, which is worth 10 times as much.
I want to know, is this used saxophone good enough to get started on as a beginner player?
Buying your first saxophone
Lots of my Sax School students start out as I did on a student model, cheap saxophone.
The most important thing is to find a saxophone that doesn’t hold you back and is going to make learning easy.
In this blog I’m going to look at:
- Why buy a used saxophone
- Why I chose this used sax
- Put this sax to the test by playing a couple of different pieces and comparing it to my pro alto
- Share a couple of pitfalls to avoid when you buy a used sax.
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Why buy a used Saxophone?
When you go online, you’ll see loads of shiny new Chinese saxophones, which are relatively cheap. It can be confusing because there are so many brands, and it’s difficult to know which ones are good.
The great thing about buying a used sax is that you can get an instrument that would have cost a lot more when it was new, and it could be much better quality than a new sax for the same price.
It might not be as shiny, but you’re getting more saxophone for your money!
- Better quality materials
- Better design
- Better durability
- Better resale value when you’re ready to upgrade
What if my used alto saxophone goes wrong?
Actually, there’s not much that can go wrong with a saxophone that can’t be fixed by a good repairer, reasonably cheaply. You can find a repairer online or through your local music store.
Which used sax to buy?
I bought a used Yamaha YAS-23 alto saxophone. This is the kind of saxophone you might have borrowed from school as a student learner. They were made in the late 1970s and have now been replaced by the YAS-280.
These saxophones are really robust and durable – perfect for students.
This used sax has got some signs of wear and a few scratches but no obvious dents, which is what I was looking for in the eBay listing.
I found this saxophone played really well straight out of the case.
All the notes seal throughout the range, and the altissimo and overtones play great too.
The case itself is pretty worn, but inside the case was a box of unused reeds, a neck strap, and even a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece which is perfect for beginners. I’d want to give the mouthpiece a thorough clean and disinfection before using it.
I paid £370 ($480 USD) for this sax. You can get cheaper new Chinese saxophones, but most student models start at around this price. This was the cheapest YAS -23 I could find on eBay.
Comparing my used saxophone with my Pro Alto
Listen to me play both of my alto saxophones and see what you think.
I’m playing these tunes, which you can learn inside Sax School.
- One More Night
- We Are the Champions
What did you think?
The YAS-23 plays great. It’s in tune, and the mechanism feels really good under my fingers. There’s a little more resistance to my pro sax, but that doesn’t really matter.
Soundwise, I can hear that the 62 has a slightly rounder sound compared to the 23. Right now, I’d prefer to play my 62. But as a beginner, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
This YAS-23 would be great and wouldn’t hold me back in any way. It’s great value for money.
Pitfalls to avoid when buying a used saxophone
The main things you need to look for are obvious signs of damage. Of course, a used sax will have a bit of wear and tear. But you should avoid dents or signs of major repairs.
Look for a model that’s a proven, great saxophone.
On eBay, make sure you look for a seller with good feedback and some selling history who’s happy to take payment using Paypal.
You can also see if your local music store has used saxophones in stock – then you’ve got back-up if you have any problems.
I hope that helps you consider buying a used saxophone.
Don’t forget to grab my PDF download with my tips on buying a used saxophone.