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Tips for Online Saxophone Shopping

Updated: Aug 3, 2018

Buying an instrument online can be daunting. Much like when ordering a pair of pants, do you really ever know what you’re getting? As we are located smack dab in the Midwest, it isn’t always easy for customers to make it to our store (“Take a left at the corn field. No, the other one... yup, that's it, we're across from John Deere.”) Because of this, we’ve spent a lot of time developing tips and methods to help our customers- and ourselves- order instruments (not just saxophones) online, stress-free. We’d like to share these with you so, whether you buy from us or elsewhere, you’ll feel confident in your choice!

The first and most important step, is making sure to narrow down the right saxophone that will comfortably fit what you are trying to accomplish. If you love that classic big band sound, a modern horn may not always give that to you. On the other hand, a modern horn may have better key work, intonation and feel more comfortable ergonomically.

Do you prefer horns with a high F# or without a high F#? Many believe that this can impact the tone and feel of the saxophone. Rolled tone holes vs straight tone holes can also greatly impact the sound and feel of a horn. What type of music are you going to be performing? Do you need a versatile instrument or one that is locked into one specific thing? All of these things will go into what model or type of saxophone is best for you. If you have questions about all of these things it’s best to reach out to a knowledgeable professional to help you narrow it down.

Now that you’re in the ballpark with what you’d like to purchase and what it can do, it’s time to find the right seller!

It’s important to search for the right shop and the right price. Some shops will sell a modern horn as-is right from the factory while other shops offer various incentives for buying new. Tenor Madness offers setups, a 1-year mechanical warranty and free shipping on all new horns and certain used horns.

If you choose to go vintage, important factors to know before you buy include: current pad age, mechanical status, has it been recently overhauled and or setup. When purchasing a vintage saxophone it is important to know the market and what the horn is worth. Likewise, if you’re looking at a modern horn, know what the price is to buy it new and, again, what incentives different stores will offer.

As we said before, many shops include extra goodies for buying new, and who doesn’t love the word “free”? But brick and mortar stores are no longer the only way to purchase an instrument. Consumers now have a world of opportunities at their fingertips, and it’s vital to protect yourself because, as a wise uncle once said, with great power comes great responsibility. Google, Craigslist, eBay, and online music stores can just as often lead to a great deal as a terrible scam or a big headache. Always do your research and take the time to talk to the seller. What is their return policy?  This policy will be your biggest source of protection. Nothing is as painful as realizing you can’t return the $8000 tenor sax you just can’t make work for yourself. If you spend a lot of time searching, sometimes you’ll start to think you’re seeing the same horn over and over again. A cool thing that we do to protect ourselves is ask the seller for very specific pictures. A request as simple as “Hold the horn with this hand” can easily reveal a scam. Our favorite reveal was when a scammer very badly Photoshopped a hand sticking out at an inhuman angle...

It’s always best to research the seller. What kind of reviews or feedback do they have? Google and Facebook are great places to find reviews and interactions between customers and businesses. Seeing how they respond to customers’ comments and reviews can reveal the kind of treatment you can expect. On eBay, the more feedback they have, the more confident we feel working with them. It’s also important to read what the customers are saying and come to your own conclusions. People are more likely to post negatively than positively. This is where seeing how the company responds can be more telling than the review itself.

And finally, a selling point.

Tenor Madness has gone through countless changes in the last two years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is our dedication to our customers and to the quality we provide. We will only sell a new horn with a TM custom setup and that setup comes with a 1-year warranty. Some used/vintage horns are too special to not setup and those are warrantied as well. We are extremely proud of the work we do and feel confident in its lasting quality. Another thing that we love to do is provide sound clips and even have a custom voicing process. If a vintage horn is a fantastic player, chances are that it was played and played hard. The pictures may reveal worn finish and not catch your eye, but that sound clip is going to prove that you need that horn. Voicing is a process we’ve spent years working on and continue to strive to perfect. Check out our YouTube video for more on that process.

We are a small business that depends on our fantastic customers and, as such, we’ve tried to build a return policy that is fair to both the customer and our company.  Our employees actively want to find you the best horn possible and want to work with you through this process, from beginning to end. We encourage each customer to look through the policy and contact us with any questions or concerns.

This leads to the final point: customer service.  Because we are fortunate enough to be a small business, we are a family. This bond extends to our amazing customers. We want to treat you as well and as fairly as possible because you are a part of the Tenor Madness family. We love that we get to talk to customers directly and be involved. This kind of attention is not something you will find on Craigslist or a big corporation and we pride ourselves on that.

Buying something as expensive and as personal as an instrument online can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. With all these things in mind, we hope that you can confidently approach your next purchase with ease.

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