As I listen to quite a bit of jazz, I hear a lot of saxophone playing from the greats like Ben Webster and Johhny Hodges and one day I thought ‘I would love to be able to play this instrument.’
The sax is fairly easy to learn and play, especially if you can already read music. And it’s the best fun I’ve had in a long time! I just can’t stay away from it and look forward to playing it every day, serveral times a day! As a solo instrument it is great, even playing simple melodies is a joy. Available too are lots of books of songs that come with a CD or are interactive so that you can play along to backing tracks. And youtube us crammed with free online lessons and hints. I signed up with Ed Barker (George Michael’s saxophonist) at edsaxschool for an online course and it has been and still is indispensable.
My first purchase was a $449 Chinese alto sax from IandK music in Melbourne. To my surprise this horn is worth triple its price. I have since tried Yamahas and Jupiters and this Chinese horn keeps its own and then some. I now own and play a $600 curved Yanagisawa soprano copy and a $700 straight Yanagisawa soprano copy, both from I and K. Some people on the internet rubbish Chinese made instruments; most of those people have not even had one in their hands! The good ones (I and K only sell good ones) use European parts, but because Chinese labour is so cheap, the prices are ridiculously low. Sure, there are really cheap and nasty ones out there too, but the good ones are great value. I and K Music has been extremely friendly, knowledgable and patient with my many purchases, returns, and questions. Very highly recommended. And Isaac is a real gentleman, a species becoming rarer every day. http://www.iandkmusic.com.au/
(I have no affiliation with I and K, I am merely a satisfied customer).
But I did splurge on two horns: the new Yanagisawa WO10 alto and WO1 tenor, both superb. I want to mention Cal from The Music Place in South Melbourne for his patience, knowlegde and friendly, low pressure salesmanship.
In 2019 I did both of these expensive horns and bought two cupronickel horns made in China. Not the cheapest but still cheap. These have a slightly darker sound, which I live. They still cost less than a quarter of the big band brands and are extremely well built with beautiful cases and excellent packing and shipping.
In any case, I have found that the mouthpiece really determines the sound you make, much more so than the actual sax.
My experience with Philip Cheek of secondhandsaxes.com.au was not so good. I bought a sax from him and because it did not play very well, I returned it within 7 days, as per the conditions on his website. He claimed that the octave mechanism was damaged in transit, bending the little stem that activates it, but this was not true – it was bent when I received the horn. Nevertheless he charged me for ‘fixing’ it, which involved bending it back, a 5 second job! On a subsequent enquiry about another of his horns some months later he said dealing with me was the worst experience of his life(!!). Why? I merely returned a not very good sax to him, a straight forward procedure which he advertises on his website! On the phone this man is rude and crusty. In my opinion, stay away, as I was warned to do before I first dealt with him. I write this without prejudice.