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Thread: Student Alto Sax

  1. #1

    Smile Student Alto Sax

    Hello! My 14 yr old son started on the clarinet 3 yrs ago and moved to the bass clarinet 2 yrs. ago. He is an awesome bass clarinet player (not just his mom's opinion! ) Anyway, he is going to be in his freshman year next school year and wants to join the Jazz Band, but they don't have any clarinets or bass clarinets, so the Jazz Band conductor suggested he try playing the alto sax. We are wanting to buy him a good student model for Christmas. I have found a used Armstrong Alto Sax for $300 and a Stephanhouser ZAS500 Student Alto Sax online new for $399. I am not wanting to pay too much since I'm not sure if he will continue to play the sax. My main questions are: Are either of the saxes I found worth the $? Is there a better student sax you would recommend? Will playing the sax and the bass clarinet hinder his bass clarinet playing? Thank you for listening to a mother's rambling! LOL........and for any advice you can give me! I know nothing about any musical instruments other than the flute! That was my instrument, which my son has taught himself to play that too!

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member RandyJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Student Alto Sax

    It won't hinder his playing other instruments, as far as the saxes in question, if you get 20 more replies you'll get 20 opinions.

    Two of the better "main" school instrument companies are Antigua and Jupiter.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Student Alto Sax

    People always overlook used Armstrongs....and they should not. They are just as good a beginner horn as any of the usual suspects, including Jupiter or Yamaha. They were well-built, sturdy horns with decent intonation, good ergonomics, decent action, and regulation which holds well...exactly what a student horn needs to be. I have broken down and worked up many of them...and they are very consistent.

    Doesn't sound fantastic, tone-wise...but sounds no worse or better than any other brand of contemporary student horn in the sub $600 price range, new or used, including Yamaha or Jupiter or Antigua or whatever...and as you said, your intent is just to find a horn to see if he'll stick with it.

    As Randy noted....then illustrated...20 replies...will get you 20 different opinions...and can send you off in 20 different directions from the one you are currently on. But whatever other horn such a search might bring you to, for that price the Armstrong will really be just as good.

    If your budget is $300 or so....you already have landed on a horn which will suit quite nicely for many years to come. This provided it is in good physical and playing condition and does not need any significant work by a sax tech (i.e. more than $50-75 or so). If that is the case, just get the Armstrong.

    If it needs significant work to make it play well, then skip it (or any other horn for that matter).


    Here's something of an aside.....if I were a band teacher and there was a good, solid clarinet/bass clarinet player wanting to join Jazz/Stage Band...I would steer him towards the Tenor....not the Alto.

    You say he's impressive on the licorice stick (Bass Clarinet)...so this tells me can ergonomically handle a long horn, and he can also provide/produce the breathing/blowing needed to get the proper BC sound/dynamics.

    .....If that's so, he can handle a Tenor (also a Bb instrument and an easier transition, IMHO).
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Member NissanVintageSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Student Alto Sax

    Gotta agree with Jaye here. Although, having test played and handles both the new Stephenhauser and Armstrong models, between those two choices,I would personally pick the Stephanhauser. It has a larger, less "student-like" inherant tone to it, and is built quite sturdily. Really a lot of sax for the money in the NEW student segment.
    '60s Vito (France) Mo 38 A.Sax; '22 Harwood Professional C(Buescher Stencil); '26 King Bari; '70s H. Couf Superba II Tenor Sax;'20s Beaufort American Curvy Sop (Conn stencil) w/white Roos blueminorjazzcombo@groups.facebook.com

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    Default Re: Student Alto Sax

    hirwin: Welcome to SOTW. You don't say where you live - I'll assume from the way you wrote your post that it is in the U.S.

    All good posts, so far. My take is that buying used may be tricky unless you involve him or a known good player in the mix to do some test-playing first. I'd hate to give my kids or grandkids an untested saxophone from the used market. True, some of our members may have something available and could vouch for the instrument, but then the shipping may be problematic . . . not always, but I've had it happen.

    When my grandson came of saxophone age, I personally tested several new student-level saxophones and bought one for him. That worked perfectly. Now, several years down the road, I gave him one of my pro-level altos so now he has one for marching band and one for more serious on-stage playing. But if I were you, I'd set my budget a little higher and buy a respected brand while at the same time staying out of the $1K and above area. A new Kessler Custom (a site sponsor in Las Vegas - the model I bought for my grandson) is a possibility as are Antiguas and other known Taiwanese brands.

    I played a Stephanhouser a while back - don't recall the model. Decent but no cigar. Pricey, too. Armstrong? Not familiar with them but I'll take JayePDX's word on their viability.

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    Default Re: Student Alto Sax

    Quote Originally Posted by NissanVintageSax View Post
    Gotta agree with Jaye here. Although, having test played and handles both the new Stephenhauser and Armstrong models, between those two choices,I would personally pick the Stephanhauser. It has a larger, less "student-like" inherant tone to it, and is built quite sturdily. Really a lot of sax for the money in the NEW student segment.

    Interesting....that's good to know.
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Member NissanVintageSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Student Alto Sax

    Quote Originally Posted by JayePDX View Post

    "Quote Originally Posted by NissanVintageSax View Post
    Gotta agree with Jaye here. Although, having test played and handles both the new Stephenhauser and Armstrong models, between those two choices,I would personally pick the Stephanhauser. It has a larger, less "student-like" inherant tone to it, and is built quite sturdily. Really a lot of sax for the money in the NEW student segment."

    Interesting....that's good to know.
    And no "pesky" plastic pearls to fall off either , just concaved metal touches . Seriously though, the one I tried is back-up sax worthy. May have been an outstanding case, but, for the money, I was impressed .
    '60s Vito (France) Mo 38 A.Sax; '22 Harwood Professional C(Buescher Stencil); '26 King Bari; '70s H. Couf Superba II Tenor Sax;'20s Beaufort American Curvy Sop (Conn stencil) w/white Roos blueminorjazzcombo@groups.facebook.com

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