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So, you’ve blitzed through a number of Charlie Parker’s albums recently, or maybe you really listened to the sax solo in Jungleland for the first time and felt Clarence Clemons’* spirit beside you. Now you’ve come to the conclusion that the saxophone is the mode of self-expression you need in your life. Or perhaps you’re already a seasoned veteran and want to take your playing to the next level. Whatever your purpose for searching, you’ve come across the Mendini Alto Saxophone and would like to know more about it and if it’s the right saxophone for you.
(*Note: Clarence Clemons plays a tenor saxophone, a saxophone with a lower range)
The Mendini Alto Saxophone is constructed by Cecilio which is in turn owned by KK Music which, according to parent company Thrasio, “… is the premier beginner to intermediate musical instrument brand on Amazon,” The opening page on their site proudly proclaims: “Finely Crafted Instruments for Beginner Musicians.” Their instrument offerings span an entire orchestra
(strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion) which includes the Mendini Alto Saxophone. With a 4.5 star rating from over 3,100 reviews on this saxophone, the “premier brand” claim has some credence to it.
Cost and Breakdown
The Mendini Alto Sax comes could be founded on Amazon and you buy more than just the instrument. Your order includes its case, a mouthpiece, a pack of 2.5-inch reeds (ten reeds total), a neck strap, a tube of cork grease, a Cecilio 92-D Chromatic Tuner/Metronome (including instructions on how to tune your saxophone), a cleaning cloth, cleaning rod, and a bonus pair of white gloves (for cleaning your saxophone)
With all of this provided in just one order, it is possible to go from delivery to playing in just a few minutes!
Even the set-up of a saxophone is just a few easy steps. For those on the first steps of your musical journey, it’s understandable that the last thing you want to do is spend your time and energy researching the instrument, compiling a checklist, and running errands before you can even begin playing!
Another great addition to your order (for beginners) is the musical pocketbook. The Mendini Alto Sax comes with a small pocketbook containing a few pages of beginner exercises and tips. In mere moments from unpacking, you’ll already have the tools to start building a strong foundation for your future playing.
Another great selling point for the Mendini Alto Sax is the variety of colors you can choose from. No longer will you be envious of guitar players and their choice of different shapes and colors for their instruments. If you’re looking to make a statement with your playing/performance, this saxophone comes in your choice of NINE different colors at no extra cost! Your options are:
- Gold Lacquer
- Black E
- Blue Lacquer
- Nickel Plated
- Purple Lacquer
- Sky Blue
The Mendini Alto Saxophone is built with an F# key to more easily play the highest note (F#6) in the saxophone’s range.
(For beginners: A functional design of the saxophone is multiple fingerings for the same note. These fingerings are incredibly useful to play some musical passages. For example, the traditional fingerings for two successive notes on the saxophone, C#5 and D5, utilize no fingers and seven fingers, respectively. An alternate fingering for C#5 uses many of the same finger/placements as D5. This makes for an easier transition between these two notes. Fewer keys moving = easier transition)
The saxophone plays well (and certainly well enough for a beginner). The construction of the instrument is sturdy and will survive its trip from the distributor to your front door. (This obviously can’t be guaranteed, but there are very few reviews out there that comment on the instrument arriving in an unplayable state). You aren’t in danger of accidentally breaking it by pushing down any of the saxophone’s keys too roughly, etc.
Multiple saxophonists commented on small imperfections they discovered while unboxing the instrument: squeaks on the keys themselves, a “ buzz” when playing certain notes, small complaints about the size and feel of the included mouthpiece, but these imperfections did not prevent them from creating music with it and they nonetheless recommend the instrument for a beginner/somebody on a tight budget.
But what does “quality” mean?
Descriptions of the difference in quality between two models of the same instrument may be difficult to understand. Especially considering that some musicians (myself included) have a bad habit of using more subjective language to describe an instrument’s output: “a richer tone,” “a fuller sound,” “a brighter resonance,” etc.
A saxophone has over 20 different bell keys. The exact number depends on the type of saxophone (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone) and any additional add-ons (e.g. high F# key). All of these keys operate under the same general principle: an open key allows air to escape through while a closed key does not. The combination of the open and closed keys ultimately creates the saxophone’s pitch.
These keys are not all the same size nor are they all controlled the same way (some are pressed directly while others are manipulated indirectly). Some keys are open by default while others are closed. Many critiques of a saxophone’s quality boil down to the mechanics of the keys:
- Do they seal neatly when closed?
- Do the keys’ pads “stick” to the saxophone when they are opened?
- Is the default height when open conducive to playing?
- If the key is not pressed directly, does the appropriate hardware for the keys operate smoothly?
For the Mendini Alto Sax, the keys and their relevant hardware operate very well allowing for smooth and rewarding play. The exact measurements of the saxophone’s body, the main tube, so to speak, also plays a role in shaping the saxophone’s sound. The Mendini Alto Sax’s body does not deviate away enough from the measurements of other saxophones to be worthy of mention.
- Price: is a worthy investment to play such a popular instrument.
- Color: You can personalize your saxophone order to vibe with your personal aesthetic.
- All included: Everything you need to play right away is included in your saxophone case
- Eventually, you will probably want to invest in other practice materials. The pocketbook will only take you so far.
- The Mendini Alto Sax is highly rated (see “Company Overview” above)
- It is built with a high F# key which not all saxophones possess.
- Quality: Compared to the best saxophones available on the market, this instrument is far behind.
- Any severe damage could be fatal to the saxophone as the cost of repair could easily match/exceed the cost of the instrument itself.
- The included mouthpiece and reeds are subpar and noticeably affect the tone.
- The included neck strap works fine enough, but an upgrade is recommended. This will lessen the chance of accidental damage occurring.
Answer: All Mendini instruments have at least a 4-star rating and most of them have a 4.5-star rating. Cecilio instruments have thousands of collective reviews. While the company prides itself on providing for beginner musicians, there are positive reviews from experienced players nonetheless. Considering the price of these instruments, this is a great value purchase.
Answer: Mendini is a brand owned by Cecilio which is, in turn, owned by KK Music. Cecilio’s instruments are constructed in China. Post-construction, they are shipped back to the US for quality testing by Cecilio’s team of musicians. Pending approval, they are then distributed and sold.
Answer: Instrumental offerings include:
• 5-piece Kids Drum Set
• 3-piece Kids’ Drum Set
• Student Snare Drum Set – Woodwinds
• B-flat Clarinet
• C Flute
• Eb Alto Saxophone – Brass
• Bb Tenor Trombone [with and without F Trigger]
• Bb Pocket Trumpet
• Standard Bb Trumpet
• Mahogany Ukulele
• CVNAE Ebony Fitted Acoustic/Electric Violin
• CVN-300 Solid Wood Ebony Fitted Violin
• MV500 Flamed 1-Piece Back Solid Wood Violin
• MV400 Ebony Fitted Solid Wood Violin
• MV300 Solid Wood Violin
• Electric Cello
• CEVN Style 2 Silent Electric Solid Wood Violin
• MV-Black Solid Wood Violin
• CVN-600 Highly Flamed 1-Piece Solid Wood Violin
• CCO-100 Student Cello Outfit
Alternatives to consider purchasing
If you’re not sold that the Mendini Alto Sax is for you, but you’re not sure what other sax you should buy, consider buying this sax and upgrading your sound by buying a new ligature and/or a new mouthpiece . A change in ligature and mouthpiece can do wonders for your sound.
Other comparable saxophones include:
- The LyxJam Eb Alto Saxophone. Contains many of the same items as the Mendini in the order (mouthpiece, neck strap, cleaning rod, gloves, case, pack of ten reeds).
- Eastar AS-II Eb Alto Saxophone (With case, mouthpiece, leather neck strap, cork grease, two shoulder straps, gloves, single resin reed, single bulrush reed, cleaning swab, and cloth, cleaning brush, saxophone stand).
Should I buy it?
If you’ve been playing saxophone for a (long) while, I would not recommend purchasing this as your primary instrument (It might be a worthy purchase as a cheap backup horn if something happens to your primary sax). If you’re looking to take the next step in your playing, a higher-quality saxophone is worth the investment for you. At this point, you already have the skills to make a good instrument sound great, a grasp of your personal musical style, and you better understand what you will personally need in the saxophone and its components to complement your style.
If you used to play frequently and are getting back into the sax after a long absence, this might be a good purchase. You’ll sacrifice some tonal quality, sure, but if the wheels come off and you can no longer invest the time towards practicing/playing again, it’s better to only be down a few hundred rather than a few thousand. Life happens.
But if you’re a beginner saxophonist, I would highly recommend this saxophone! Similarly to the paragraph above, if you find that you can’t prioritize learning this instrument, you’re only down $300 instead of, say, $3,000.
But furthermore, learning to play any instrument is more than just the literal body mechanics: i.e) “my fingers/mouth need(s) to be in this shape to produce this note/chord”. Part of learning an instrument is learning how to play music with more fluidity, learning how to inject attitude and emotion into a piece of music, learning how to make the same notes sound brighter or darker, fuller or weaker, etc.
These elements of playing are not a product of a higher-quality instrument. They are a product of your personal skill. A higher-quality instrument only accentuates these skills. Bad technique on a $6,000 saxophone will sound, well, bad. Good technique on a cheaper saxophone will sound good. Learning proper techniques invariably necessitates mistake-making. Those mistakes will not be erased by a top-brand instrument. So the Mendini Alto Saxophone does everything that a beginner/intermediate saxophonist will need it to do. At an all-inclusive price, it is a rather accessible purchase.
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