As a music teacher, I’ve been approached time and again by people looking to buy and sell instruments, including saxophones.
One of the first questions they ask is what their saxophone is worth.
Saxophones are generally worth between $2,000-3,000 when new, depending on whether the model is for beginners, intermediate players, or professionals. Used saxophones lose value when at the lower levels, but they stay valuable as vintage and professional horns.
There’s a lot to this topic, and we’ve got you covered in the rest of this article.
Average Price Of A Saxophone New
First, let’s look at the average price of the saxophones by level and type when new.
You’ll notice the type of saxophone and level of design affect the price the most.
For example, professional saxophones always cost more than a student horn.
|Type of Saxophone||Beginner Saxophone||Intermediate Saxophone||Professional Saxophone|
|Baritone Saxophone (Bari Sax)||$5,000||$6,000||$7,500+|
*There aren’t many “student” soprano saxophones to pick from as this is usually considered one of the hardest saxophones to learn.
Click the link to learn why in our article guide.
While this number is average, there’s a huge range of pricing, especially as you move into professional and elite saxophones.
Average Price Of A Saxophone Used
The price of a used saxophone is difficult to determine at times. There are so many factors affecting what it is worth.
Assuming it’s in great condition, here are the general averages.
|Type of Used Saxophone||Beginner Saxophone||Intermediate Saxophone||Professional Saxophone|
|Baritone Saxophone (Bari Sax)||$4,000||$5,000||$7,500+|
If you compare the two charts, you’ll notice some interesting takeaways.
Assuming the saxophone is in perfect condition, used beginner saxes lose a lot of their value.
Intermediate saxes lose a decent percentage too, but not as much. Professional horns lose little value at all when they’re well-cared for.
This rule applies to musical instruments pretty much across the board, though rarer and larger instruments are somewhat immune from this.
For example, notice the baritone sax doesn’t lose as much even at the beginner level.
Of course, this is all assuming the instrument is taken care of.
Damage, missing parts, and a lot more affect the overall price.
The next section will cover this in a bit more detail.
Elements That Determine How Much A Saxophone Is Worth
Use these elements to help you determine how much a saxophone may cost when used.
First, consider the original price of the saxophone.
Most of the time, the age of saxophone won’t have as large an impact, but any used sax will lose some value.
In general, we see this percentage lost based on the original value of the instrument:
- Beginner saxes lose 70% of value.
- Intermediate saxes lose 50% of value.
- Professional saxes lose 10-20% of their value.
Vintage horns and specialty saxes are the exceptions to this rule.
These ones may gain value or at least hold steady over time.
But with most used horns, start with the original price and do some math.
So if a beginner sax originally cost $800, it’s reasonable to expect it to cost $240 if it’s in good condition.
Often, you’ll be able to get it for less too.
Most saxophones are made of brass, but their finish and special plating enhance the sound and raise the price.
If there are some extra materials, it’s going to raise the price.
Student saxophones are made for durability and producing a quick sound. They won’t have as nice of a sound as those with nicer materials.
For beginner saxes, gold color is common, but the original finish is a simple lacquer making it look shiny.
At the intermediate level, we’ll see added metal resonators along with more responsive keys.
Gold plating is common here.
A professional model may have some other special parts of materials, including nickel plating, an engraving pattern, and all this creates a sweet sound and dark tone.
Of course, the condition is the second biggest factor of the purchase price on a sax next to the original retail price.
If the sax is in perfect playing condition, the overall worth of the sax stays closer to the original price.
Here we’re saying the sax has the instrument as close to its original condition as possible.
But with damage, wear on the finish, dents, and warped keys, a lower price than even the percentage from above is a fair price.
Brand Or Manufacturer
Some brands and saxophone manufacturers jump the price up no matter the exact model or even if the instrument is in excellent condition or not.
Vintage saxophones require a trip to the music store for exact pricing, but for common, reliable brands, check out our guide to the best saxophone brands (videos and examples included).
If a brand isn’t established or reliable, the value of a used saxophone drops dramatically. In some cases, music stores may not even resell it.
A lot of the standard “Amazon” or superstore brands are among these.
This isn’t to say Amazon doesn’t host good saxes on its site, but a lot of the budget options on there are pretty terrible.
Stick with a reliable brand for longer value and good horn to boot.
As we touched on above, the level of the saxophone has a direct impact on its worth.
Beginner and starter saxophones aren’t worth as much, and professional ones are worth.
This is generally true, but there are exceptions in some individual examples.
Some beginner models might be very nice and cost quite a bit, whereas there are some great budget professional options, and these may end up costing around the same.
Band directors and music teachers tend to recommend the average for most people, so they don’t break the bank but still get a nice horn.
Extras Included: Case, Neck Strap, Etc.
When you buy a new saxophone, you’ll usually get a case, a mouthpiece, and a neck strap.
But used horns don’t always come with this or at least good ones.
Cases are often the first to get damaged, which makes sense. It’s their job to protect the saxes, after all!
Soft cases are lighter and easier to carry, though they may offer slightly less protection. These are usually just for altos, tenors, and some sopranos.
In many cases, these are actually more expensive than the standard hard case.
Hard cases are heavier and protect the sax more, but they seem to be prone to more damage.
If there isn’t a good case with the sax, subtract the cost of a new one with the estimated value of the horn.
Neck-straps may not come with it either, but these are fairly cheap and not a big deal to get.
Saxophone cleaning brushes and extras are nice, but they don’t add or subtract much value when it comes to buying a horn.
Features And Design
Any bit of extra features and design elements only add more to the value of the saxophone. These are usually wrapped in as part of the level of the sax and original price, so don’t be fooled by someone claiming these things raise the price.
Always go based on the original price first, then take the percentage based on the level of the sax, consider the condition, and then look at the extras.
Extras to look for include:
- Metal resonators
- Double-braced key arms
- Ribbed keys
- Quality pads
- Blue steel springs
- Adjustable thumb rests
Saxophone mouthpieces are a whole other issue. The design of this little part makes a big difference in how it sounds and plays.
For more details, check out our article on how much difference a saxophone mouthpiece makes.
If your sax has a good mouthpiece, increase the value over generic mouthpieces.
If the sax in question is a poor one, decrease the price.
Tips For Selling Saxophones
Check out these tips to help you figure out how to sell a saxophone.
If you’re looking to buy a used one (or even a valuable vintage horn), reverse these tips to make sure you don’t get ripped off.
Look Up The Original Price (Or Comparables)
Always start with searching for the model and how much it originally costs, then work your price from there.
If the sax is vintage, you may need to do some more research on what it’s selling for in other places.
Even if you don’t get what you want for it, you’ll be a lot closer if you’re armed with knowledge.
Check The Brand; Some Retain Value
Look for the brand. Some retain value better than others because the quality is so much better.
Here are a list which don’t lose as much value as others:
- Conn/Selmer Paris/Conn-Selmer
- P. Mauriat
- H. Couf
Don’t Restore Vintage Saxes
If you have a vintage sax, don’t take it to a store to get it fixed yourself.
It takes a special sax dealer and expert to restore it if it has issues.
You may end up doing more damage if you get it “fixed” the wrong way.
Leave it the way it is, or at the most, go to a saxophone specialist.
Often, interested parties will want to take care of it themselves.
Peruse Some Saxophone Forums Or Facebook Groups
Another great place to look is on saxophone forums or other Facebook groups.
If you’re selling, some may request specific types of saxes out there.
If you’re buying, some will post what they have.
Always be cautious buying and selling online, though.
Involve a dealer’s opinion where possible to confirm the amount, authenticity, and condition of the sax.
Still, the information is useful to have, and you may even make some new connections!
Do Some Research
If you already have a sax or are interested in one, do some research on the specific model.
Pay attention to pricing, yes, but don’t just stop there.
Look at the features you should expect from the model. Check out other markers or engravings to help determine authenticity.
Collect names of famous musicians who’ve played the model or brand.
All this will help you both get a better deal and establish the authenticity of the instrument.
Consider A Consignment Dealer
Selling and buying is a tricky business on your own. I’ve known many a person who was wronged by the process.
A consignment instrument dealer is something to consider if you’ve got the time to wait for selling.
Sure, they’ll take a small commission, but you’ll usually end up with a better deal. So it sort of washes out in the end.
Plus, you won’t have to deal with buyers in person and the chance of getting tricked.
Contact A University With A Good Music Program
I haven’t seen this tip around a lot of other places, but check out your local universities, especially those with great programs.
There are a lot of students and professors there with a vested interest in good saxophones and giving them a good home.
With higher-end instruments, I’ve seen faster turnarounds by approaching university programs than almost any other method of selling (other than Facebook marketplace, which is only good for student models).
Commonly Asked Questions
How Do I Know What Model My Saxophone Is?
The brand and model are usually engraved on the bell. It corresponds with the serial number.
Serial numbers are engraved on the back of the sax, near the thumb rest. Older saxes may have them on the neck instead.
Warning! Never buy a saxophone with the serial number scratched or scarred off. This is an indication the instrument is stolen.
How Do I Sell My Saxophone?
A lot of people first try to sell their saxes through online dealers like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.
Better would be to contact a university, take your sax to a music store, or go through a consignment instrument dealer.
Where Can I Sell My Saxophone On Reddit?
It’s dangerous to sell on Reddit if you don’t know what you’re doing, but the best place is through r/saxophone.