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Thread: The Tenor and the Noob...

  1. #1

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    Default The Tenor and the Noob...

    Another newbie looking for advice on first tenor sax.

    But before you start blasting me about using the search function and reading past posts, I have for several hours and most of the time it just makes me more confused. The reason people come to these forums and ask these kinds of questions is...

    1) We’ve never been here before.

    2) We don’t know squat when starting out.

    3) We want the advice of experts or people who have experience (been there done that).

    I work in IT and a lot of the time get frustrated when people ask (what I think) to be simple or stupid questions or want me to take them by the hand and walk them through it. “Duh….can’t you use Google or a search function”. But then I step back and realize it isn’t their area of expertise and maybe, just maybe they don’t feel comfortable even when they do. Maybe they are looking for a little assurance.

    Ok, with that all said here is my situation.

    My musical tastes have changed to where I just listen to Classical and Jazz and more so Jazz lately. I’m really into listening to people play the tenor sax! I’ve always wanted to play an instrument, have halfheartedly tried piano and guitar without a teacher. I’m trying to catch up with a guy only 3 miles away who has the musical degree background, actively performs and who has been giving lessons for the past 10 years. So I’m going to do it right this time. Oh and I’m 47 if that matters.

    So I’m looking to get into tenor sax with a budget of $800 -$1000 for everything. New or vintage doesn’t matter but I don’t want to end up getting used that will require a lot of work.

    Looking for advice on make & model. Where to obtain one and that could be reputable on line dealer, store, marketplace here or a reputable member who sells.

    I greatly appreciate any advice or guidance, and I truly mean that.

    Thank you for your time.

    Scott

  2. #2

    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    Well, I bought a few months ago a like new Jupiter 587-585 for $300 as the only bidder on EBAY, and it is a great sax.

    So, that's one possible option to explore, a used Jupiter on EBAY. A new one is probably less than $1000 if you want to go that route.

  3. #3
    Forum Contributor 2014 Stuckond's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    Perhaps the most importnat place to start is going to be your very good Mouthpiece, Ligature, and reeds (AKA your setup). This will often run you in the $125-175 range. Many used saxophones will come with a nice mouthpiece. Also keep in you budget that when your sax arrives in your hands, most of the time you'll want to have a tech regulate and check it over ($45 or so). Reputable sites? Start with Kessler and Sons. They have some solid horns in your price range, as will WWBW. I still have the soprano I bought from K&S 7 years ago, and they're sponsors of this site. GREAT guys there. Ebay is a good option but ONLY under the supervision of your teacher. ebay can be very dangerous for those who dont know what to look for. What saxophone to buy? The question with 100 correct answeres, and endless banter on this site. Start by googleing "Jim's approved saxophone list". It's a good starting place. Yamaha yts 23 is a popular and solid choice. There are several really great vintage "Stencils" horns out there like Pan American or Indiana that are very sturdy, very nice saxes and less expensive (In fantastic, shiny, ready-to-play condition for $600 or even less) mostly due to not having the Big Name Brand on the bell (Even though the big names made them). Resale on these horns will be basically what you paid for it, which is nice for when you upgrade or if it isn't for you. Brand new horns are worth less as soon as you walk out the door with it, just like a car.
    There are a lot of reputable people listing great saxs right here all of the time on SOTW. Look in the Horns for sale section.
    Please be certain to get your instructor first, so that they may assist in the selection of your wonderful sax. Besides, helping in buying a sax is most likely going to be fun for your instructor, too.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    OK...first off, I commend you on your pre-emptive comments regarding how this question is oftentimes greeted.

    And I agree with you 100%, brooother.
    You have the right to ask it...you have the right to begin yet another conversation on it...

    ...and you have the right to decide that wading through the multitude of similar, older threads will just make your head spin, be quite time-consuming, and end up giving you only a half or 1/3- answer.

    So...with that said....

    That's a good budget for a used Tenor. In such an instance, you do NOT have to chance an eBay purchase...just find a reputable seller with a return policy (should you buy online)...or, buy on Craigslist with the understanding that (since you do not play) you are going to have the horn checked out by someone who does (for example...your teacher at lesson #1)...so if there are problems, you will want to return it for full refund.

    ~ I would NOT go 'investing' in a very good mouthpiece now. On the contrary...you are a novice...just go buy a cheap but reputable beginner mouthpiece like a Yamaha 4C or 5C, or Brilhart Ebolin 3, and a stock, conventional ligature...for a grand total of around $35....
    The idea of a beginner mouthpiece is that it should be user-friendly; free-blowing; easy to manipulate. That's all.
    There's no reason in spending more than this on your first mouthpiece/lig combo. There IS a good reason to buy a beginner mouthpiece, particularly if your horn's is just a stock no-name.

    ~ There are two directions you can go on the horn. Dr Will has given you one:

    1)n Go with a used contemporary, well-reviewed student horn like the Jupiter. They are plentiful and cheap on the used market, and if they were made in the past 5 or 6 years, they are solid horns. A Yamaha YTS-23 or a Vito stencil version of that same horn is another typical choice.

    2) Go with an older, vintage model such as a King Cleveland, Martin Indiana, Holton Collegiate, Conn 16M/PanAm, or Buescher Elkhart 30A or a stencil thereof, an R.Malerne stencil, or a Vito Beaugnier or Kenosha model.
    All are very well made, all will be within your budget in playing shape, all are very easy to navigate around and are free-blowing horns, and all have respectable to excellent intonation. These are all sub-$650 horns.

    ~ the advantage of limiting your initial expenditure using either 1) or 2) is...you dunno exactly what you want, yet. Tonally, feel-wise, etc. So, you just wanna buy something reputable, reliable, doesn't sound like crap, and which user reviews for a decade or more have proven to be a solid instrument. 4 years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to spend under $800 for a used Tenor to get that. Now you can pluck one for $500....

    If you wanted to spring for the full $800+ in a vintage horn...you could get a later Conn 10M, or King Zeph, a nice Buescher Aristocrat, or even a J. Keilwerth/Couf or Noblet or a Kohlert horn...talking a pro-calibre older horn.
    The question becomes: are you equipped to make an informed decision on which of those sorta models might be best/most appropriate... given you do not, as of this writing...play, yet ?

    It may not be worth springing the extra $300-500 for the time being....

    I guess the one thing I wouldn't do would be to get a sub-$1000 brand new horn. I mean, quite honestly...not much bang for your buck there. You aren't gonna end up with something which is much better than a later Jup or a Yam 23 (horns half the price) ....and it really is the range of price of a vintage top-shelf Pro horn, these days....

    If an online purchase...make sure the seller guarantees the horn plays up and down and needs no add'l work...make sure there is no significant body damage such as dents and big dings or a bent body tube....and buy from someone with a return policy.

    Gratuitous plug would say I sell vintage stuff, and most customers have a sub $1g budget...again, if vintage is something you wanna investigate. But I didn't answer your Q to make a sale...
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  5. #5

    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    i'm wondering if you might have a nearby shop that both rents and gives lessons. you may want to start out on an alto, even if it turns out that it's a tenor you're finally purchasing, etc. and it would help to have a few basics going for you to try out the piece you will eventually lay down the money.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    Always good advice, investigating locally...finding the shop with rentals.....except the Alto part.

    I have never quite understood, beyond a purely budgetary standpoint...why, if someone has the jones for a Tenor or Soprano or Baritone....do they get lead to Alto instead ? The idea that the Alto is the 'beginner' sax is a bit passe, I would say...

    Used to be that the idea was that ergonomically the scale of the horn was easy, and it took less wind to produce a sound easily. I get it, I get it.

    But, lately the feeling which I see illustrated more often here and elsewhere is that, if a person is around 12 years old or older...they can handle a Tenor just fine. It's no more difficult to play....
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  7. #7
    More horns than I'm worthy of . . . Mick Stuppguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    To the original poster. Jaye's advice is sound (used vintage or recent used Taiwanese such as Jupiter or Antigua Winds.) He's quite modest and didn't add that he is a very reputable dealer here and has access to vintage horns in good shape at very fair prices. Feel free to send him a private message and see what he might have available. Don't be afraid of "old fashioned keywork"on the vintage instruments - - it's really pretty easy to get used to if the rest of the horn is in good shape.

    A third option is to click on the Kessler ad at the top of the page and check out their base-line tenor. It is new, goes for about $800, and several here have been satisfied with that particular horn. But pretty much all of us who have dealt with the Kessler store at one time or another have been impressed with their committment to good service and maintaining their reputation.

    Ebay is just a roll of the dice. I've done well on a couple, not so well on a couple of others. The new Chinese horns there on ebay seem to have more disappointed buyers than happy ones (intonation and durability being the chief two complaints), though you will find some here who are quite pleased with the value of the Chinese horns they've bought. So that might be a bit iffy too.

    If you buy used locally it's really a good idea to bring a player with you to make sure that the horn handles like it should. Enjoy the ride. And check out the "Late Bloomers" section of the forum here. Quite a few of us came into this later in life. Welcome.
    - Mick -
    Mind frequently on vacation, mouth usually working overtime.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    The confusion results from input overload, since every one has their own opinion about horns and base their advice on it, which is what I'm about to do.. Lets look at it from a practical standpoint. I would vote for a used YTS 23 or Vito (Japan) : they are available and relatively inexpensive in most markets. They are relatively easy to resell if and when you you decide to move up or quit. They are good, sturdy, reliable, and in tune horns that are acceptable to most teachers and band directors. Check Ebay completed auctions for a ball park price and go hunting. As far as a mputhpiece, Yamaha 4C or 5C will work just great for now. Have someone who knows saxes and can determine condition help you, if possible. Repairs can get costly.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    i was thinking more in terms of a (comparatively) older person building their chops. (i started on bari in jr high. these days i'm switching back and forth between tenor and soprano, but i got a couple of friends my age who are just starting out, both on alto as advised by their teachers, and i gotta say when i get on one of them, they sure do seem pretty effortless.)

  10. #10

    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    Well done guys this should really help sasharp ! my own small contribution is go for the horn after having tried a few and sounds daft but pick the one that you really feel something for , like it`s got to be the tone but also the looks how comfy it is etc , do you dream about it ! oops I`ve maybe gone too far - but somehow these things help you match up to your axe and get the bug for blowing long and strong - enjoy yourself !

  11. #11

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    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    Thank you all for your advice and recommendations tailored to my specific needs!

    I am going to disseminate all of this information and go from there. I think I need to get the instructor involved as well, especially with any used purchases. I'm sure he will know of any local shops for within 100 mile radius. I live outside of Bellefonte which is smack dab in the middle of PA.

    I plan to skip the alto and go right for the tenor, I stopped smoking 5 years ago and started jogging recently.

    I have 20 years until I retire (hopefully!) and want to be able to play by then, even if it is just to impress myself!

    Since I don't know that much yet I’ll avoid eBay unless it is just to look at closed listings.

    I will check out the Late Bloomers section andthe rest of this site.

    Thanks again and feel free to keep commenting.

    I will keep everyone informed of my progress and decisions.

    Scott

  12. #12
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    Default Re: The Tenor and the Noob...

    Scott, I'm glad to see you are sticking with the tenor. I'll help reinforce that by saying don't let anyone talk you into starting on alto when you want to play a tenor. Don't waste your time on the alto. Tenor is king! (Is my bias showing?).

    Definitely forget about ebay. You will only waste money buying on ebay unless you are an experienced player and very knowledgeable about horns AND, most importantly, understand you'll have to budget for repair work after you buy that horn in unplayable condition.

    I would strongly suggest you contact JayePDX here and talk to him about purchasing a horn. He is a highly reputable dealer and will steer you in the right direction. The one thing you don't want as a beginner (or any level really) is a horn that won't play well because the pads are leaking or the keys need adjustment, etc. What you need at first is a decent horn in good playing condition.

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