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In many instances, musicians can save a substantial amount of money when buying a used saxophone rather than a brand new one. If the individual knows what to look for, then he won't have to compromise on quality in the process. A used saxophone in good condition should have no dents in its horn, no discoloration, no signs of refurbishing, a good sound and a reasonable price. If the instrument meets these criteria, then odds are it's a quality piece.
One important thing to look for in a used saxophone is a horn without significant dents. Tiny dings and scratches aren't usually a problem, but large dents on the horn usually do indicate a problem and should be avoided. A simple way to check for dents is to tilt the saxophone on its side and look at the horn under adequate lighting. If dents are easily visible, then it's best to look for a different instrument.
Another way to tell if a used saxophone is worth buying is by checking for discoloration. Be on the lookout for any green coloring, because that means that the instrument is probably damaged and in bad shape. A quality saxophone should have a smooth brass finish without any contrasting colors.
A used saxophone that has been refurbished is something else to avoid. Significant alterations often mean that the instrument has been previously damaged, and is likely to compromise the quality. Signs of refurbishing can include an overly shiny look and contrasting appearances on different sections. The potential buyer should also make sure there is a serial number to avoid purchasing a stolen product. If it looks like the serial number has been intentionally scratched off, then that's a red flag that the product is stolen.
Obviously a good sound is extremely important when making a choice. Musicians should always give a potential purchase a test run to make sure that it has a smooth sound. The pads over the holes should not be cracked in any way. The keys should still have plenty of resistance when pressed, and not have a loose feel. It's also important to make sure that the saxophone is comfortable to hold and not too heavy.
In addition, the price should be reasonable. Since prices can differ dramatically, it's often a good idea take one's time and look at a few saxophones before committing to a purchase. The brand, age and condition of the instrument all contribute to the overall cost. Looking online at product listings and comparisons is usually a good indicator of what a fair price is.
How do you then get away from overhauled MKVI's and 1929 Conns? You can but they need a full restore to bring the pads, tone holes and action back to life. Dents are OK as long as they are very small and don't sit close to the crook, neck or any key work and posts.
Get someone good to play it and if it is good it is good.
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