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TL;DR: I need some guidelines for choosing a decent instrument for an amateur, at home, that isn't a complete piece of crap.

I'm 44. 30 years ago, I was first chair alto saxophone in a marching bad. These days, I can barely read sheet music.

I'd like to pick it up again, but I don't have a sax. Any recommendations on what I should look for? I don't want to buy the equivalent of carbon fiber golf clubs for something that might wind up spending quite a bit of time getting dusty, but I'd rather avoid an instrument that actively emits toxic gases for years on end, or completely falls apart if I happen to glance in its general direction.

Apologies to the group if this isn't the right place for this question. Any insight is appreciated.

(Bonus points for something digital that'd be easy to hide from small hands & eyes.)

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    "Bonus points for something digital that'd be easy to hide from small hands & eyes"??? I'm not sure digital versions of wind instruments really exist (or if they do, I don't think they're remotely close), and this size/shape (and thus hideability) is largely fixed by the acoustics. (I.e. I don't quite understand this bit of the question)
    – DavidW
    Apr 21 at 6:20
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    I think I misread it - you're looking for any instrument, not necessarily an alto-sax? Right?
    – DavidW
    Apr 21 at 6:22
  • @DavidW I didn't express it clearly. I'm specifically looking for an alto sax. I saw a "digital" one a few years ago. Didn't have a horn and it was pretty compact - it probably costs more than my car. I'd be happy with some pointers on picking a real, analog alto sax that is good enough to work with and won't fall apart in the first month.
    – 3Dave
    Apr 21 at 6:24
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    @davidw that exists and usually called "EWI" for electronic wind instrument, even thought that's usually not very close to a real saxophone... For real electronic saxophone there is also the synthophone (or my user profile page for a similar project ;) ).
    – Tom
    Apr 21 at 6:53
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    @3dave I have to admit that I had to search for the meaning of your acronym, that's a bit of a loop ;). For your question, I think it's likely to get closed as recommendations for specific hardware are not recommended on this site (PI). Nevertheless, there are now fairly good feedback even on cheap sax, maybe a music dealer, at a shop where you try the instruments and get some precise advises wit alongside prices could be of some help?
    – Tom
    Apr 21 at 7:06
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I'd like to pick it up again, but I don't have a sax. Any recommendations on what I should look for?

Twenty four years ago I emigrated to a country which kinda, sorta, not-really recognized my driving license. What that meant in practice was that they would exchange my home country license for theirs provided I sat a 10 minute driving test to ensure that I really could drive. I was advised that the safest option was to book 6 lessons with a driving instructor who would check my driving, help me correct any obvious flaws that had crept in in the decade or two since I passed my original test and, very important, familiarize me with the 10 minute test routes. It worked like a charm.

My advice to you would be to do something similar. Book a few lessons with a sax teacher who will also lend you a sax for the period. As well as helping you get back into it they will also be able to recommend instruments for you to buy which are suitable to what they perceive as your level. That is something that we can't do here.

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    Seems like every country outside of the US has better driver's training & license requirements. This sounds like a perfectly reasonable plan. Thanks!
    – 3Dave
    Apr 21 at 14:24

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