Blue saxophones, purple clarinets, black trumpets, and Off-Brand Instruments

Not everything that comes out of China is bad. Not everything that comes out of the U.S. is good. A well known brand name doesn’t guarantee a good instrument. A name that used to mean quality isn’t necessarily the same company anymore. Just because an instrument costs more, doesn’t mean it’s better than a horn that costs less. How do we make sense of all this crazy stuff?

Which horns you should absolutely never ever buy

There are a bunch of horribly built instruments coming from Asia right now. I’m talking major manufacturing problems. Some people call them ‘instrument shaped objects’ meaning they might look like a saxophone but they really can’t be played and by that I mean, you’ll never get anything approaching a decent sound or intonation out of them. On top of that, they won’t last long either and you can’t get replacement parts for them so when they die, that’s it.

So which companies am I talking about? Cecilla, Cecillo, Simba, Jean Baptiste, Barrington, Etude, Selman, Selmar, The Woodwind, etc. There are a ton of really poorly made instruments out there, more than I can name, so research before you buy! Unless the instrument is a Cannonball saxophone, stay away from anything that has a green, blue, purple, anything other than brass or silver finish(for metal instruments) or black(for clarinets). But remember, just because it’s brass or silver colored doesn’t guarantee anything.

Horns you can buy and probably be satisfied

Yamaha, Conn-Selmer, and Jupiter are all pretty much safe to buy, but they each do certain instruments better than they do others. In general, Yamaha is probably the safest bet for quality across the board if you had to make a quick buy. One exception is Yamaha trumpets, I’m not a fan.

Another thing you have to watch out for is that some old names that used to mean quality, have been bought buy other companies and simply slapped on some junky new instrument. The Bundy, Artley, and Gemeindhart names are not the same companies they used to be. Now they’re basically junk.

This is too confusing, how do I know what to do?

Contact me! Find a reputable repair person and ask their advice. I’d advise you not to listen to someone if they are really pushing one particular brand. Usually that means they are A) trying to sell you that brand because that’s what they sell or B) so closed minded that they can’t give an objective opinion. Beware of those people. I will tell you this, though; Yamaha instruments will have the highest re-sale value of the big three, that’s simply the fact of the matter at this time.

The scope of this post is limited, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions!