Leasing or Buying a Saxophone
Whether you choose the soprano, alto, tenor, or baritone saxophone, another decision remains: Should you buy a saxophone or lease one? (Don’t worry, you’re not alone on this — your wallet has something to say here.) Each option has its pros and cons. The following sections help you choose the option that’s right for you.
Leasing a saxophone
Are you still dabbling in dreams of being a saxophonist? If you’re unsure about whether the saxophone suits you, and you’re not ready to spend a lot of money, leasing is a good idea. Many music stores and dealers offer this option. You can get a decent instrument and pay for it month to month. If, later, you decide to buy it, some retailers will credit what you’ve already paid toward the purchase price. And if you decide that the saxophone isn’t your musical match, simply return it.
Buying a saxophone: New or used?
If the saxophone is the instrument you were meant to play, and you’re ready to make the commitment, you’re likely prepared to buy.
When buying a saxophone — or any important accessories — consider asking an expert, such as your future saxophone teacher or an experienced saxophonist, to be your personal sales consultant. Getting an expert opinion is worth the peace of mind and it almost guarantees that you’ll find the right saxophone for you.
Many people choose to buy new instruments, but some used saxophones are available in good or very good condition and are ready to play. Perhaps the previous owner didn’t play much, or the instrument was recently reconditioned. Some vintage horns are real classics. For example, most pros would only sell their old Selmer Mark VI over their dead bodies. These old instruments can sound beautiful and their value often doubles in price compared to a new one.
A well-maintained saxophone can last a long time. For example, the pads (the leather on the underside of the keys) can remain intact for six to ten years, depending on the quality of the pads, maintenance, and usage.
With a used saxophone, pay special attention to the condition of the instrument:
What condition are the pads in? Is the leather still smooth, dark, and hard, or is it cracked and moldy?
Do the pads still cover the tone holes perfectly?
Do the mechanics run clean? Can you press down on all of the keys comfortably and simultaneously?
If you answer no to any of these questions, the sax in question might need a general overhaul. And if it’s in really bad shape, repairs could cost more than the instrument is worth! Get advice from an expert if you’re concerned.