Cheapest Sax on Amazon vs My Professional Yanagisawa Saxophone – Better Sax

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I’ve talked a lot about how the saxophone you play is not that important compared to the work you put into your saxophone sound.

In my video listening test comparing my four professional tenor saxophones it is clear that I sound like me on each one even though they were made in different decades spanning 80 years, on different continents and using different materials.

There is so much talk about how one particular saxophone sounds bright or dark, and another is spread or focused, while another is more or less free blowing and on and on.

As time goes by, I am more and more of the opinion, that very little of that talk actually matters.

I Put My Money Where My Mouth Is

I bought the cheapest sax on Amazon I could find that was available in both North America and Europe. It cost $270 at the time I purchased it, but the seller on Amazon has bumped the price up by $20 two days after the release of the video review and unboxing.

It’s called Ammoon in the Amazon listing, but on the horn itself and the case it is called Lade.

Watch the video below to see my unboxing, assessment from a repair technician’s perspective and then the play test where I put this $270 Chinese saxophone bought on Amazon up against my $4500 Yanagisawa A991 Professional Alto Saxophone.

All in all, this saxophone really surprised me. I was a little shocked at how well it played right out of the box. With a good mouthpiece and reed, it’s tough to hear that much of a difference when compared to my professional saxophone. What did you think after listening? Leave your comment below.

Minor Adjustments Necessary

I did have to do some small adjustments on this sax but nothing anyone couldn’t do on their own. I made a video detailing these DIY saxophone repairs. First I sanded down the neck cork to allow my mouthpieces to fit more easily. It’s really too bad they don’t include cork grease with this saxophone though. There are several unnecessary accessories included, but one of the most important is left out.

Intonation

I found the cheap Lade alto sax from Amazon to play quite well in tune. I checked the horn out with a tuner, and didn’t find any notes that played particularly out of tune. Certainly no more than any other typical saxophone. One criticism of Chinese saxophones in the past was that they played notoriously out of tune. That’s not the case with this instrument.

Ergonomics

Here is one of the most noticeable aspects of this cheap alto sax. It does feel like a modern instrument and the key work is based on the classic Mark VI design that has become the standard for all saxophones over the last 50-60 years. But next to my professional Yanagisawa A991, there is no comparison.

Conclusion

After playing this horn for a little while and giving it a pretty thorough mechanical checking over, I have to say that this saxophone is well worth the money I paid for it. I will always recommend that if you can afford more, then this is not the right saxophone for you to choose. A more expensive horn should include a much better case, better quality control, and some sort of manufacturer’s guarantee. Theses things would make the price go up though.

For the price of $270 you can’t really go wrong though. I think that’s a great price for someone who may not have tons of extra cash to throw down for a new instrument. It makes the saxophone more accessible to so many more people all over the world.

9 thoughts on “Cheapest Sax on Amazon vs My Professional Yanagisawa Saxophone”

  1. I have a 2 year old Jupiter Alto and soprano in Australia but a good friend of mine bought me a Lady alto to use while here in the USA. I agree with what you say Jay. My lade plays well and in tune. Often the G# key tends to stick in the beginning but once I warm up it’s ok. Yes, the essential cork grease is not added however I have my own from my Jupiter case. This comparison helps a great deal. I miss my Couf-Armstrong and also my old Selmer from back in the 80s. I’d love to get a Yanagisawa but I’m a retiree and can’t afford it now! Need to save up or win prize money!!!

  2. I think the Yani sounds better and will not only stay in regulation better and last longer . With that being said there is definitely. not over $4000 difference in tone.

  3. Jefferson Jones

    Hello Jay, I’m in the process of looking for a new soprano sax and trying to stay under $1200. I just wanted to know what your thoughts are. Vintage versus newer model? USA made versus Asian/International?

    1. There aren’t any American made saxophones these days those would all be vintage. The horns made in Asia these days are quite good and for that price you can get something decent. You could also try to find a used Yamaha or Yanagisawa in that price range. Vintage instruments often need to be put back into playing shape at an additional cost.

  4. I’m so glad I came upon this blog. I have some (very little) music experience. I played keyboard MANY years ago. It wasn’t really for me. I have always enjoyed listening to the saxophone. I recently decided to take the plunge and buy one for nothing other than the pleasure of playing for myself (and, maybe family and friends). I did lots of research; and, my thinking was that I certainly didn’t need to spend thousands just to play in my basement. So, I spent a whopping $290 on Amazon and when I played it I thought it sounded pretty good. Then, I started seeing lots of posts about how cheaply made the low cost ones are; and, that they are a waste of money. So, thank you for the demonstration and being honest. I look forward to learning all I can from your videos.

    1. I’m glad this helped. The saxophone world is still dealing with the shock of the existence of decent playable instruments for so little money. The community is still very old school, and it will take a while before this is accepted.

  5. I purchased a Lade alto Sax after viewing your video and I’m just going through your beginner videos. Much is said about needing a good mouthpiece. How do you rate the one supplied with the Lade and would there be any advantage to purchase a Yamaha one for a beginner? It seems ok to me and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a copy of the latter, but I hope you can advise.

    1. It is a copy of a Selmer C* design usually. The one that came with my Lade sax played well enough surprisingly. It is still at the very bottom end of mouthpiece quality though. If you want, you could skip the Yamaha 4C and upgrade to something else when you feel ready.

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