Purchasing your own saxophone is an important step in your musical journey, but it can be a bit stressful knowing where to start. There are some good guides online to buying a saxophone and most instrument stores are full of people happy to share their knowledge, but at the end of the day your teacher is the expert and they will have the best idea of what is most suitable for you.
My favourite beginner model alto saxophone is the Yamaha YAS-275. It’s from a reputable company and I’ve seen people use one from year 7 to VCE. They are very reliable, easy to repair and in my opinion the best bang-for-your-buck. You might be tempted to try and save a couple hundred dollars with a different model or brand of saxophone but buyer beware – there are plenty of instruments that you will find yourself paying a lot more money on replacement parts and repairs. As a ball-park figure, you should be looking around $1500 for a new 275.
The next thing you should consider is whether to purchase a new instrument or one second-hand. It’s quite common for musicians to buy a second-hand instrument and a 275 in good condition could save you $400. You should never buy a second-hand instrument without testing it first (would you ever do that with a second-hand car?) and in particular, have an experienced saxophone player (like your teacher) look it over and play it. The advantage buying from a store is that they tend to have repayment options, will service the instrument and tend to give a good warranty.
Billy Hyde and Allans Music recently merged to create the biggest music store in Melbourne. Their biggest range of saxophones are in Blackburn, but they also have a selection in the CBD
Brass and Woodwind in Ormond are the best saxophone specialist store in Melbourne. They have a great range, lots of second hand options and a rent-to-own plan.
There are always bargains to be had on Ebay or a private seller, but it depends on your preference for payment options, refunds and returns, and warranty.
As the model numbers get higher, the saxophone is more advanced. You can get some bargains at the intermediate level, but as a beginner you would not really notice a difference until a few more years of practice.
Finally, some other respected words of wisdom: