Budget

The good news is that the entry point for saxophones has come down significantly in the last 10 years. Lower manufacturing costs for saxes assembled in the Far East have resulted in cheaper brands. Some of these are now appearing as used instruments, making them even more affordable.

For a few hundred pounds, it is possible to pick up a saxophone that will be good enough for the first few years of a beginner's playing. Many shops will also offer hire schemes to get you started.

At the other end of the scale, premium brand saxophones can run in to many thousands of pounds, as can the more uncommon sizes (e.g. bass saxophone). 

A good saxophone can appreciate in value over time. Some of the sought after vintage saxes (e.g. Selmer Mark VI altos and tenors from the 50's and 60's) are now worth more that the latest model from the same manufacturer, and continue to increase in value as they become scarcer.

If you look closely at a saxophone, it's a pretty amazing piece of engineering. The key work is intricate, the brass is beautifully shaped, and the tolerances are very small. Assembling such an instrument requires skill and care, and this is where the cost shows through in better quality saxes. 

In theory, the more you spend, the better quality instrument you should get, and the longer it will last you. Many manufacturers offer student, intermediate and professional models to help you differentiate.

See my article on Buying A Saxophone for more help.

Bear in mind the environment that you will be playing in. You may be better off busking in the park with a cheap and cheerful saxophone, and leaving your pride and joy at home. The more you start playing out, the more it's worth considering specialist instrument insurance. 

Don't lose sight of the fact that a great player playing an OK sax is likely to produce a better sound than an OK player playing a great sax. Technique counts for a lot !


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