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Is Used Sax Better For Beginners?

Is Used Sax Better For Beginners?

2021-07-28

When you’re starting out on sax, should you get a new, cheap Chinese saxophone, or should you buy a used sax?


I want to know, is this used saxophone good enough to get started on as a beginner player?


The most important thing is to find a saxophone that doesn’t hold you back and is going to make learning easy.


Why Buy A Used Sax?

When you go online, you’ll see loads of shiny new Chinese saxophones and they are relatively cheap.  It can be confusing because there are so many brands, it’s difficult to know which ones are good.


The great thing about buying a used sax is that you can get an instrument that would have cost a lot more when it was new, and it could be a much better quality than a new sax for the same price.


It might not be as shiny, but you’re getting more saxophone for your money!

That means:


Better quality materials

Better design

Better durability

Better resale value when you’re ready to upgrade

What if my used saxophone goes wrong?


Actually, there’s not much that can go wrong with a saxophone that can’t be fixed by a good repairer, reasonably cheaply. You can find a repairer online or though your local music store.


Your Saxophone Mouthpiece

First I’m going to show you how to put your reed and ligature on your mouthpiece the right way. The reed goes underneath the ligature. Remember :


✅ The flat side of the reed goes against the flat side of the mouthpiece


✅ Your reed sits just below the end of the mouthpiece.


It might take a bit of practice to get this right, so don’t worry.


Fitting the Mouthpiece

Slide the mouthpiece onto the neck of your saxophone, till about 1-1.5 centimetres of cork is showing.


Don’t force the mouthpiece. If you find it’s very tight, or very loose, you need to see a saxophone repairer to get your cork adjusted.


A little bit of cork grease will keep the cork nice and soft.


Holding Your Saxophone

All saxophone players use a neck strap when they are playing saxophone. This is so the weight of the saxophone isn’t on your thumbs.


Whether you’re sitting or standing, make sure your back is straight and you’re relaxed.


Your Embouchure

Watch to find out how to position the mouthpiece of your sax in your mouth – this is called your “embouchure”. Think about:


✅ Your bottom lip over your teeth


✅ Making a seal around the mouthpiece


✅ How much mouthpiece is in your mouth


✅ Your tongue.


As a beginner player, why should you upgrade your saxophone mouthpiece?


Your saxophone mouthpiece is the most important and cheapest upgrade you can do as a beginner sax player.


The Right Saxophone Mouthpiece

This is something we talk about a lot in Sax School, where we have thousands of students learning saxophone online. Whether you’re starting out with a brand new Chinese saxophone or a second-hand, used sax, you should think about upgrading your alto sax mouthpiece or jazz mouthpiece to give yourself the best start.


If you’re using a second-hand saxophone, it might not have come with a mouthpiece or a mouthpiece cap. Or, the mouthpiece might not be suitable for you as a beginner. If you’ve bought a new saxophone, the mouthpiece provided may be unbranded, and it could be for other types of saxophones, like  alto sax mouthpieces.


Playing on the wrong mouthpiece can make it so much more difficult to get started. Your mouthpiece is the first part of your sax that you blow into, so it has the biggest impact on how easy it is to play jazz, and on the sound quality that comes out.


This is really cheap for a saxophone mouthpiece. My pro mouthpiece from Theo Wanne would cost around ten times more – but it would also be much more difficult for a beginner to play. 


This is all to do with the shape and opening of the mouthpiece. The saxophone is designed to make it really easy to play, even if your embouchure (the muscles around your mouth) are not very developed yet. You can still get a nice controlled smooth and warm sound with this quality mouthpiece. With a soft reed, it will be much easier to play the full range of notes on your sax.


This mouthpiece doesn’t come with a ligature so you’ll need to buy one separately. As a beginner player, the type of ligature doesn’t make much difference, so there’s no need to spend a lot of money on your first ligature. The most important thing is that it holds the reed in place.


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