Saxophone/Damaged Saxophone


QUESTION: I went and purchased the Tone King, but it was after the purchase that I noticed a rather substantial dent in the bow, as if the sax had been dropped. It measures about 1 and 1/4 inches wide and about 3 inches long, and it's covered with dried glue. I paid $1250 for this sax and I don't know if I made a big mistake here. Also the horn doesn't play well below low C and the low B and Bb keys stick together (ie: I would press the low B and the Bb key would activate at the same time, so the Bb would sound, but not the B). Could that have something to do with the damage, or the fact that the horn hasn't been played for a while? Have I been ripped off? What can you tell me about all this?


No I don't think you have been ripped off. I think you just bought a used saxophone. A few small dents is really nothing to be overly concerned with. Buying a used instrument is kinda like buying a used car, you can expect there to be a few flaws. The dent can be easily removed by a tech but even then it may not be necessary. However the fact that it's covered in glue makes me think it may be hiding something. But if the horn plays at all than I doubt it's anything major.

As far as the low B and Bb is concerned, check that both keys will move independently and are not stuck together or binding some how. If the low Bb moves by itself, but both keys close when you hit the B likely there is a spring that has come off the low Bb. This is a simple matter of locating the spring and putting it back in place. However as you said the low notes below C are a bit hard to play likely means there are a few leaking pads. This is something a tech should be able to take care of fairly easily and quickly.

Considering the seller dropped the price from $1500 down to $1250 should allow you the funds to take this to a technician and have it worked on. When I sell a horn in my shop, it's already been serviced and is guaranteed to play. That is why I'm able to charge a premium for the instruments and my customers will happily pay for that service. When someone buys from an independent seller, eBay, craigslist, etc. There is no guarantee the horn will play properly and a visit to a tech should be expected.

Let me know how things work out. If you need to find a tech, go to (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians) and do a tech search for someone in your area.


Charles Harris

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I just got back from the shop, and my tech told me that the whole stack leaks, and that there is a missing screw. He mentioned that it's a $200 job to get it in playing condition, and that the large dent in the bow lowers the value. He says that these horns sell for $1200 in excellent condition, and I paid $1250 for a horn that is definitely not in excellent condition. I asked him what the value of my sax would be once I get it into playing condition, and he told me $1200-$1500.

This was a person to person transaction (Craigslist), so how would I go about getting my money back? The seller is also selling this horn in this listing:

Now I was intent on upgrading to a professional horn, and if this alto is a good pro model, what can you tell me about it? What I was thinking was returning the Toneking and instead of asking for my money back, because it is Craigslist, I could have him give me this alto instead, or one of the other instruments that he told me that he was selling. My tech encouraged me to demand a refund, and that he would back me up. The problem is I told him that I bought the horn off ebay because I was too embarrassed to say that it was a face to face deal with me not noticing the dent. What would you advise?

Thanks for your time.


I advised you to take the horn to a technician. I assumed you would do this before you bought it.  The Tone King is a pro horn and $1250 plus $200 in repairs puts you $1450 into it. This is within the range of what the tech quoted as the value of the horn. If you are going to play this horn and use it for several years than fix it up and play it. However if you are planning on flipping it right away thats a different matter all together. In a few years the value may appreciate and you will get your money out of it. As you bought this from an individual what he agrees to is between you and him. I don't believe Craigslist has any responsibility here.

As far as that other horn is concerned is not an alto it's a soprano and it's an an East German made instrument. It's not anywhere near the value he is asking. If he was to consider $150 or lower it would be a good horn for a student.

Charles Harris  


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Charles Harris


questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.


I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

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