Oct 15

Phil Barone

Buying a Saxophone

by Phil Barone


This article compiles over 30 years of experience spent buying and selling saxophones on a national and international basis. Over this time I’ve learned what to look for and what to watch out for. There are chances to be taken when buying used saxophones because there’s been wear and tear that’s taken place that only a professional can detect. However, by reading this and familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of saxophones you’ll be able to determine what may be the proper saxophone to get for yourself.  One of the decisions you will decide is whether to buy new or used and the level of saxophone you want. Saxophones are made in student and professional models. There are many brands on the market today and there are a lot of horns imported from China that are of debatable quality so buyer beware.  If it’s dirt cheap it’s probably trouble waiting to happen.


For first time buyers of saxophones we suggest that you spend a time doing your homework and there’s a lot of information on the internet that can help you. When a student has just decided that they want to play the saxophone, their teacher will frequently make suggestions but they should be taken lightly.  Band directors have relationships with dealers and don’t take all the options into consideration.  It’s not necessarily a good idea to buy a saxophone based on your teachers suggestion.  We also suggest a website called Saxontheweb.net.  There’s lots of pros on there that will be happy to answer your questions. 


This is a big decision when it comes to buying a saxophone but one that has become obvious to me. A lot of newcomers to the saxophone don't even think about used saxophones as an option but if you’re going to buy used it’s always highly recommended to have a professional repair tech look the sax over when possible. If your budget is limited, buying a used saxophone may be the way to go. However, I usually recommend buying a new saxophone wherever possible.  Saxophones are complicated instruments and there’s a lot that can go wrong.  The more used the horn the more trouble there will be and fixing a sax can get expensive so buying a new one can sometimes be justified.


There are a lot of reasons to buy a new saxophone.  First, you know that there are no worn parts and that any trouble that it’s going to give you will be far down the road and a warranty can come in handy with a saxophone with their complicated parts and mechanisms.  A new saxophone is ready to play provided it’s been properly setup.  All saxophones don’t come ready to play from the factory.  They must be setup by whoever sells them and we here at Phil Barone Saxophones sets them up so they arrive ready to play perfectly when they come to your doorstep. 


There are pros of buying used saxophones, mainly the price as long as you stay away from exotic, vintage saxophones.  There are a lot of choices out there especially if you’re looking for a student model.  Yamaha offers a good student model sax, the YAS23.  I just recommend staying away from the internet and places where you can’t see it and have a repair tech inspect the sax when you buy it or get a money-back guarantee. 

The hardest part of buying a used saxophone is knowing what it’s worth. People will try and take advantage of this so buyer beware.  Photographs if buying over the net are essential and they can be doctored.  Buying a used saxophone can be a complicated situation even when buying from a music store.  It’s never going to be in perfect condition nor will it ever be the same as a brand new sax.  They can have leaks and even cracks in the solder and body that can’t be seen.  It can also have bent keys and rod wear that can only be detected by a repair tech.