So you want to start learning the saxophone but you haven't got one. Want to know where to start looking?
Hire or buy?
Beginner saxophones are much more expensive than some other instruments, such as a guitar. If you are not yet sure that you are going to be playing the instrument long term, I would definitely recommend that you hire a saxophone out in the beginning.
Where can I hire a saxophone?
There are many affordable places in and around Cape Town that you can hire a saxophone from. Be aware that many of these places hire out their instruments to schools. So try to get in there in the beginning of the year before all of the stock is gone (no hiring company wants to sit with stock throughout the year).
If you can, request that you get a Jupiter or Yamaha saxophone. While it's not essential to have the best when you are just starting out, it can certainly make things easier and more enjoyable if the instrument is of decent quality. It is usually a policy of the hiring company that the saxophone is serviced between each client, so make sure to check that this has been done.
Here is a list of places that you can hire saxophones from in Cape Town:
The hiring company wants to know which size of saxophone I want.
Most hiring places only offer two of the sizes of saxophones, the alto and the tenor. You might get the odd place that has a soprano, but it is very rare, in Cape Town. It is even rarer to find a baritone saxophone to hire.
Regardless of what is on offer, I usually recommend the alto saxophone, especially to younger beginners. The alto is the smaller of the two, and therefore more manageable for a beginner. It is easier to tune than a soprano, which is smaller. Because sopranos and baritones are not as common, they are also more expensive to buy, and since they are all imported to South Africa, unless you are hiring privately, it's less likely you will be able to find one available.
Once you have found a suitable instrument, now what? I recommend that you find a tutor, but while you are looking for one, there are a few things that you can start doing to prepare yourself for lessons. Watch out for my next post, Saxophone Basics - Which reed should I use?