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How Do I Choose the Best Used Saxophone?

Choosing the best used saxophone involves assessing its condition, brand reputation, and playability. Ensure the keys move smoothly, pads seal properly, and the body is free of significant dents. Research trusted brands and consider professional inspection. Remember, a well-maintained instrument can be a gem. Curious about the nuances of each step? Let's dive deeper into finding your perfect pre-loved saxophone.
Nick Mann
Nick Mann

In many instances, musicians can save a substantial amount of money when buying a used saxophone rather than a brand new one. If the individual knows what to look for, then he won't have to compromise on quality in the process. A used saxophone in good condition should have no dents in its horn, no discoloration, no signs of refurbishing, a good sound and a reasonable price. If the instrument meets these criteria, then odds are it's a quality piece.

One important thing to look for in a used saxophone is a horn without significant dents. Tiny dings and scratches aren't usually a problem, but large dents on the horn usually do indicate a problem and should be avoided. A simple way to check for dents is to tilt the saxophone on its side and look at the horn under adequate lighting. If dents are easily visible, then it's best to look for a different instrument.

Refurbished saxophones should be avoided.
Refurbished saxophones should be avoided.

Another way to tell if a used saxophone is worth buying is by checking for discoloration. Be on the lookout for any green coloring, because that means that the instrument is probably damaged and in bad shape. A quality saxophone should have a smooth brass finish without any contrasting colors.

A used saxophone that has been refurbished is something else to avoid. Significant alterations often mean that the instrument has been previously damaged, and is likely to compromise the quality. Signs of refurbishing can include an overly shiny look and contrasting appearances on different sections. The potential buyer should also make sure there is a serial number to avoid purchasing a stolen product. If it looks like the serial number has been intentionally scratched off, then that's a red flag that the product is stolen.

Obviously a good sound is extremely important when making a choice. Musicians should always give a potential purchase a test run to make sure that it has a smooth sound. The pads over the holes should not be cracked in any way. The keys should still have plenty of resistance when pressed, and not have a loose feel. It's also important to make sure that the saxophone is comfortable to hold and not too heavy.

In addition, the price should be reasonable. Since prices can differ dramatically, it's often a good idea take one's time and look at a few saxophones before committing to a purchase. The brand, age and condition of the instrument all contribute to the overall cost. Looking online at product listings and comparisons is usually a good indicator of what a fair price is.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key factors to consider when choosing a used saxophone?

When selecting a used saxophone, consider its condition, including any signs of damage or wear, and ensure that the pads and corks are in good shape. Check the brand and model reputation for quality and longevity. Playability is crucial, so test the instrument to see if it feels comfortable and produces a good sound. Lastly, research the market value to ensure you're getting a fair price for the instrument's age and condition.

How can I verify the authenticity and quality of a used saxophone?

To verify the authenticity and quality of a used saxophone, look for a serial number and research it to confirm the instrument's make and model. Consult with experienced players or technicians who can help you assess the saxophone's condition. Additionally, play the instrument or have it played to listen for consistent sound quality across all registers. A professional inspection can also reveal any hidden issues or necessary repairs.

What are the best brands of saxophones to consider when buying used?

When buying a used saxophone, reputable brands such as Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, and Keilwerth are often recommended for their consistent quality and durability. According to a survey by The Saxophonist Magazine, Selmer and Yamaha are among the most preferred brands by professional saxophonists. These brands maintain their value well and are known for producing instruments that can withstand the test of time if properly maintained.

Is it important to have a used saxophone professionally appraised before purchasing?

Having a used saxophone professionally appraised before purchasing is highly advisable. An expert can provide a detailed assessment of the instrument's condition, authenticity, and fair market value. This appraisal can prevent overpaying and ensure that any necessary repairs are identified, which can affect the overall cost of ownership. A professional appraisal can also give you peace of mind about the investment you're making.

What should I do if I find damage on a used saxophone?

If you find damage on a used saxophone, assess the extent and impact of the damage on the instrument's playability and sound. Minor cosmetic issues may not affect performance, but structural damage can be costly to repair. Consult with a professional technician to get an estimate for repairs. Use this information to negotiate the price or decide if the instrument is worth purchasing based on the total cost of ownership.

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Discussion Comments


How do you then get away from overhauled MKVI's and 1929 Conns? You can but they need a full restore to bring the pads, tone holes and action back to life. Dents are OK as long as they are very small and don't sit close to the crook, neck or any key work and posts.

Get someone good to play it and if it is good it is good.

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    • Refurbished saxophones should be avoided.
      By: Daniele Pietrobelli
      Refurbished saxophones should be avoided.