I’m reviewing the Jean Paul AS 400 alto sax to see if this might be the best beginner saxophone for you.
These days there are so many options when you’re trying to find the best saxophone for you. So I want to make that buying process a little bit easier with this beginner saxophone review.
What I’ll be talking about today
In my beginner saxophone review today, I’m going to be having a look inside the box, showing you what comes with this Jean Paul AS400 alto sax. I’m also going to be giving it a good play test. And as a bit of a bonus, I’m going to be doing a shootout comparison between this saxophone and my two other altos – the classic Yamaha YAS-23, (my zebra saxophone), and my main pro saxophone, which is a Yamaha YAS-62. So, you will be able to compare side by side how this saxophone sounds.
Inside Sax School, we have thousands of students learning saxophone. So as you can imagine, there are lots of conversations about which saxophone to choose.
And this is the reason why I like to test new saxophones. So I asked manufacturers like Jean Paul to send one of their saxophones to me, so I can put them through their paces and let you know what they sound like. I hope this beginner saxophone review will help you to make a good decision about which saxophone to buy.
Now, if you want to get a head-start in the whole buying process, you can get our free Saxophone Buying Guide from our Sax School LOCKER.You just need to give us your email so that we can send you the details of how to log in. Inside there you’ll find the saxophone buyer’s guide, and also all of our free resources too. It’s a fantastic starting point if you’re looking for some help with learning the saxophone, and also if you want to find out a bit about what we do with Sax School.
So let’s start having a look at this Jean Paul AS400.
Now, all saxophones in this beginner price range are made in China. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because there are some fantastic, great quality saxophones are coming out of China these days.
Straight out of the gate, I have to say that the quality of the case for the Jean Paul is fantastic. Some of the cheaper Chinese saxophones come in pretty shoddy cases. This case looks fantastic. I love the pocket in the front here.
The case comes with a shoulder strap, and there are also backpack straps under a zip flap – great if you’re travelling on a bus, for example.
Inside the Case
Let’s have a look inside the case. So this is the first time that I’ve opened this saxophone up and it’s still wrapped in its travelling bag.
This saxophone was shipped from America to me, so I was wondering how it had fared with the transport.
Because there’s a good chance if you’re buying a saxophone, you’re going to get it shipped to you – particularly with the COVID situation. I’m based in the UK, but they shipped this from their base in Miami in the USA. Equally, there are people buying saxophones from the UK and getting them shipped out to the United States. So how do these saxophones fare in the transportation? We’ll find out in this beginner saxophone review.
Inside the case, I can see that the neck of the saxophone has had some setup work done, to make sure it fits. That’s good to see.
Looking at the body, it’s a good-looking saxophone. Every saxophone comes with a cap on the top but this one has got a cap that actually protects your octave mechanism. I haven’t seen that before, and it’s a really good idea because that’s a place that often gets damaged, particularly on beginner saxophones.
Also in the case we’ve got a little “thank you for buying”card which makes me feel very happy.
This saxophone also comes with a mouthpiece, but there’s also a second mouthpiece. I’m not quite sure why there are two.
- a neck strap
- cork grease
- an instruction manual with information on how to assemble the saxophone, and care and maintenance
- a cleaning cloth
- a reed.
This is a Rico reed size two. That’s pretty good because a lot of the Chinese branded saxophones will come with some obscure, Chinese brand of reed. Generally, I find them to be a bit rubbish, but Rico is a standard one that every beginner uses. So that’s a nice touch.
Now it’s time for the play test part of my beginner saxophone review. So for consistency, I’ll be using my standard mouthpiece, which is a Jody Jazz Custom Dark size 7 mouthpiece. I’m using this because it’s the one I’m familiar with and it will be the best way for me to demonstrate the saxophone.
If you are getting yourself a brand new saxophone, though, it’s always a good idea to put some cork grease onto the neck cork. It just helps the mouthpiece to go on and protects the cork and avoids any sort of strain from forcing a mouthpiece on.
I’m using a Légère Signature size 2.5 reed on this as well.
Straight away, this saxophone is playing great. Even though it’s been shipped halfway around the world, everything is sealing and I can get right down to the low B and B flat with no worries at all. The mechanism feels really nice.
So let’s have a listen to what it sounds like. I’m going to play it in a couple of different styles. And then in a minute, we’ll get to our shootout with my other altos, to see how it compares tone-wise. Here we go.
Do you like the sound of this saxophone played in that sort of jazzy style?
Listen as I play it now with a band backing track to see how it performs in a mix of a band.
Do you prefer the sound of it in a band setting? I think it fares quite well. One of my concerns was that the sound is very dark on this saxophone and I wasn’t sure how it would project through the band, but I think it fits in well.
Shootout with my alto saxophones
I promised you that we will do a shootout between the Jean Paul AS400 and two other altos.
I’m going to do is put on a track and play a couple of bars, improvising on each saxophone. I’m going to start with the Jean Paul, and then I’m going to blow on my zebra Yamaha YAS-23. This is a proper workhorse student model alto from the ’70s.
This is the sort of saxophone you’d get if you were learning in school, there are tons of these on eBay. I bought this cheap on eBay and then had it serviced. It’s a great playing saxophone, and perhaps something you’d consider as an alternative if you’re looking for a used horn instead of buying the Jean-Paul.
And the third saxophone in the mix is my pro level Yamaha 62 It’s a standard, classic purple logo model from the ‘80s. I’ve had this since 1987. This is a great horn, but it’s roughly five times the cost of the Jean Paul. It’s just in there for comparison so you can listen to the different sounds.
Have a listen to each of the three instruments as I play them and see if you can detect any differences.
Beginner Saxophone Review: My Verdict
Could you hear a difference between the three saxophones? For me, I thought it was quite interesting because I’m obviously a lot more comfortable on the purple logo 62. I’ve been playing that instrument for decades and it’s my main saxophone. So the key system and everything feel a lot more comfortable to me, and I can move faster on that saxophone.
But I have to tell you for a saxophone that’s less than £600 GBP or $600 US, this is an amazing saxophone. It plays great. The tone is great. The intonation’s fantastic. The way it seals over the whole range is brilliant. It gets right up into the altissimo. The overtones of brilliant.
It’s got a lovely dark sound to it, which I wasn’t sure about a first, but I got used to. I liked using this Jody Jazz Custom Dark mouthpiece with it. That seemed to give it some zing. But I’d be interested to try a few different mouthpieces if I was choosing this as my everyday horn.
The only thing I found that I wasn’t quite happy with, were the table keys here for my left hand. I found it quite difficult going from B to C sharp. I’m not sure whether it’s an adjustment thing or just a design thing. And then down here, for my little finger between the D sharp and C, there are a few sharp corners in there. It doesn’t move very smoothly for me.
But those are minor points. Overall, this is a fantastic saxophone. As an entry-level saxophone that you might choose as your beginner horn, if they all come out of the shop and to your door like this, then you’re making a good choice. I think this is a lovely saxophone.
The Jean Paul AS-400 is available from the Jean Paul website for $599.95 US. They ship all around the world.
I hope this beginner saxophone review has been useful for you. I’d love to get some feedback from you, or if you play one of these saxophones I’d love to know, and it would help all of our other members as well.
Don’t forget to grab the Saxophone Buying Guide from the LOCKER.
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