I cannot take credit for this article, but I thought it would be of some use for those of you who have yet to purchase your first saxophone. These points, also apply to other instruments as well.

Can a sax be too cheap?

YES!!! If you're about to buy your first sax then please read on.

I haven't written this article in a cynical attempt to scare you into buying from us. Honestly, I don't care where you buy as long as you get a decent sax that isn't going to shatter your ambition. There are increasingly more very poor quality cheap saxes arriving in the UK, mostly from China & India. The majority of these are not just cheap they are BAD and could put you off for life. Some are so bad I'm amazed that Trading Standards haven't yet dealt with them as they're more ornamental than playable. OK, they're brass, shiny and look the part but there's more to it than that. Some samples are being sent to us with amazing claims such as "this sax is as good as the leading brands," and "this sax was tested by a leading music professor who declared it as good as the best student models."We're not saxophone snobs and appreciate that for many people even a student sax is a major investment. So, when these samples arrive we always test them with an open mind but here's some of the more worrying problems we regularly encounter:

·Poor tuning (intonation). Most of these saxes are so out of tune that even experienced players cannot make them play in tune. As a beginner you don't stand a chance.

·Soft low grade metal. This means they bend easily not just if you have an accident but the keywork bends out of shape through normal playing. Sure, a repairer can bend it back into shape but its only going to bend out again and again....

·Bad design. This means that instead of keys sitting nicely under your fingers they're misplaced making the sax awkward and uncomfortable to play.

·Poor build quality. This can be anything from bad lacquer, to solder joints coming apart, pads not sealing, corks and felts falling off, poorly fitting neck. Any one of these things can make the sax unplayable.

Want a more independentopinion?Then contact any of the sax teachers listed on our website (www.sax.co.uk). These guys are on the front line having to give a reality check to the unfortunate purchasers of these horrible saxes, many on Ebay or from non-specialist shops. To the untrained eye they're not easy to spot as they often have European or American sounding brand names.

What can you do to avoid getting caught? Ask where the sax is made not where it comes from, as these saxes usually arrive through European or American importers. Taiwan is generally fine as they've been making good student saxes for decades such as the Earlham, Trevor James, Elkhart, Jupiter 700, Sakkusu etc. The Jupiter 500 Series is made in China and along with the Prelude, Arbiter & the Evette are the only Chinese made saxes that (so far) we've found acceptable. Buy a sax with an established reputation, no-one was ever disappointed with a Yamaha! Buy from someone you trust or if in doubt get an opinion from a sax player or teacher.

I'll leave you with a final comment from Tristan, made after he had play tested one of these saxes:

"It made my skin crawl. It was the saxophone equivalent of scraping your fingers down a blackboard."

Phill Straker May 2004

I found this written on another website:

Please note - Due to the influx of unworkable, low quality, poorly made Chinese import models pouring into the country. We are now forced to be very selective about the make / model of instruments that we work on. It is next to impossible to source spare parts for these cheap and nasty Chinese instruments, never mind that due to their inferior construstion they cannot be accurately regulated.