After playing guitar and drums for years, and more recently getting more interested in jazz, I decided to take up saxophone. About six months ago, I picked up an old Buescher c-melody for cheap on craigslist, and I've had an absolute blast so far. I truly feel like sax is the instrument for me. I've always been more of a melody guy on guitar, and even though my voice is pretty rough, I love singing, and I get a very similar rush from playing sax. I've been playing several hours a day, and loving every minute, even the 'boring' stuff like long tones.
However, I'm starting to think its time to move on to a proper tenor. I've met a few other players, and playing a c-melody can make it tough to jam and trade licks/tips. Plus, although my sax play top to bottom well enough, it could definitely use some work and will probably need a full overhaul soon. I spoke to a local tech and he said that it probably isn't worth putting money into the Buescher. I've also had some trouble getting a regular tenor mouthpiece to play in tune correctly (though it's been a great opportunity to work on my ear and bending skills!), and would like a low (concert) A for playing along with guitars (especially blues jams).
I'm having a pretty tough time navigating the market place. On the one hand, music is my main hobby, and I can afford to spend a bit on a new instrument. On the other, since I am strictly and amateur (and have no plans on trying to change that!), it seems a little crazy to spend a ton on money on a sax. If possible, I'd like to spend less that $1000 on a horn, unless the quality of a more expensive instrument is more than I realize.
From what I can tell, that leaves me choosing between a used Big 4 student model, or a new Chinese sax. Looking around on reverb, I see stuff like these:
and looking around the forum I have read good things about the Crescent line from Just Saxes and the Kesller house brand.
The used horns are cheaper and from well known brands. The new horns are less time tested. However, the old horns could need repair work done, and especially with the Vito's, it's hard to know whether is a good (Japanese made?) model or not. I'm not really the kind of person who likes to learn all about different makes and hunt around for the perfect bargain. I'd rather just get a good quality sax that will grow with me as a player.
So, what do you guys think is a better player/value when it comes to durability/build quality, tone, intonation and ergonomics?
FWIW, I'll be playing everything from blues and standards to old rock and funk. My sound concept is not really well formed yet I guess. I love so many players, but especially admire the tone of Pharaoh Sanders, Trane, and Roland Kirk.