I scheduled a first lesson with a teacher (I've never played the sax before) and I plan to buy a tenor sax online.

Is there anything I need to know before I make the purchase? I was thinking of a budget one either from China or from a reputable dealer more locally.

To give you some idea of my musical background I am 21, I play the piano (13 years) and the guitar (equivalent to about 5-6 years).

Also, I might make significant investment in a good mouthpiece, does that make sense?

  • 1
    Your question would be a better fit for this forum if you asked how to pick a good starter instrument. BTW, don't bother picking out a mouthpiece until you've played for at least a couple years and can tell different models apart. Oct 1, 2018 at 13:22
  • I heard the mouthpiece is the most important part of the saxophone, it has the most to do with what kind of sound comes out of it. So I thought buying a good one right at the start is an idea... a friend recommended Vandoren to me Oct 1, 2018 at 13:30
  • 1
    The mouthpiece is a very important part, but you won't notice that until, as I said, you've learned how to play. Brand name is irrelevant: VanDoren and Otto Link, to name two well-loved brands, sell many different models with different gaps and curvatures to the reed plate. Oct 1, 2018 at 14:45
  • Edited to remove the brand/shopping opinion info.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Oct 2, 2018 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


Buy the instrument AFTER the first lesson. The teacher will doubtless have advice to offer. Maybe he'll have good second-hand instruments available.

At the very least, don't ask OUR advice, ask HIS.

  • 1
    As a sax player, I will second this. At the very least talk to the teacher first. It doesn't really matter that I am a sax player since I expect that this applies to any instrument. How can you judge a good one if you have not even had your first lesson? Would you buy a second hand car without advice before your first driving lesson?
    – badjohn
    Sep 30, 2018 at 12:33
  • Do I need to be the judge? Steinway’s excellence is independent of what I think of it Oct 1, 2018 at 13:27
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    A specific model of Steinway may or may not be a good fit for your needs. And second-hand ones certainly need checking out.
    – Laurence
    Nov 5, 2018 at 10:20

I generally do not suggest buying instruments online, sight unseen, untested, and without the backing of a store who will see to repairs, warranties, and such. I teach beginner wind players, and all my students who have bought online have had serious problems with their instruments that eventually resulted in their needing to buy or rent the better quality instrument at the local music store that can vouch for it. The best thing is to ask your teacher not just what the best brand is for you, but which store is the best to go to for your needs.

There are several music stores near me. There are a couple I tell people to stay away from all together, one that is better for winds/percussion needs, one better for strings, and yet another better for guitar-related needs. I also know which stores to recommend for repairs because I know they are fair, honest, do a decent job, and provide great customer service.

When you are starting out on an instrument, your local store is going to be much more helpful than any company online. The same is true when you are looking for mouthpieces. You should try out several. A local store can get a bunch in and you can go to the store and try them all there on the same day, and the only one you have to pay for is the one you buy. Or, alternatively, buy a bunch online to try at home and then spend all that money returning the ones you don't want.

  • To add to this: after a (6-month, maybe) trial period of renting an axe, you'll be iin position to buy a used one locally or from one of many eBay sellers who guarantee free returns. This will both save you money and let you pick one you like, since now you have a little skill in playing it. Oct 1, 2018 at 13:21

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