New or Vintage

Different design, materials and manufacturing, plus the rarity of certain models make some of the older saxophones very highly sought after. The fact that such a complex instrument can provide 100+ years of enjoyment (if well looked after) is quite something.

Pick up an older sax and it can feel very different in terms of the key action, the key layout and even the weight and balance of the instrument. For many players it is the tone and playability across the range of an instrument that draws them to a particular model and vintage. 

Newer instruments can provide a number of advantages. A good quality new sax is likely to be manufactured with modern techniques and materials. Tuning should be consistent across the range, and there may be more in the way of adjustments to the key mechanism, allowing for finer tuning. 

In the end, it's a personal choice. You can find saxophones from the 1930's that have been lovingly maintained and produce a gorgeous sound, you can also find shoddy saxophones (new and old) that will require constant attention and are hard work to play.

If you are in the market for an older sax, do your research, talk to players who know about them, and ideally talk to a good repairer who has worked with them. 

Interestingly, more and more new saxes are coming with "vintage" finishes (unlacquered or vintage lacquered), supposedly to provide the tone of an old sax, with the advantages of modern key work. Once again, try for yourself before deciding.

You can also get all kinds of different finishes on newer saxes - black, white, rose, etc. If this is important to you, you are less likely to get this on older saxes.   

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