I've mentioned in other threads that you should buy a decent horn. However, some companies have an extremely large spread of instruments. Let's take Yamaha's alto saxophones, for instance: 2x = Student model (23 or 25, depending on the market). AD01 (Advantage): Slightly reworked model 23s for the education market. 275 = Student model. Improved version of the 2x models. 475 = Intermediate model (called "32" in some markets). 34 = Advanced intermediate model (w/improved neck). 575 Allegro = Advanced intermediate model (w/improved neck and bell). 62II = Machine-made professional model. 82Z = Custom-made professional. 875 = Custom-made professional. Just typing all that made me weary. It makes me want to go to MY instructor and say, "Can you pick one out for me, please?" In the Yamaha camp, the difference between the student model (23) and base professional model (62II) is extremely large. However, the difference between their intermediate horn (475) and base professional model isn't: yes, the 62II is demonstrably better than the 475, but is it worth the additional 30%? Let's put it this way: I bought Yamaha's intermediate baritone saxophone over their professional model because I didn't think that it was worth the difference in price. (The price differential between the Yamaha 52 and Yamaha 62 baritone saxophone is now over 50%, by the way.) So, let's talk student vs. intermediate. The difference in price between Yamaha's 23 alto and the 475 alto is a little less than 10%. Pay 10% more for a horn that gives the (base) pro model a run for it's money? Sign me up! In other words, there is no compelling reason to buy ANY new Yamaha student model instrument over a Yamaha intermediate model instrument. Seriously; I checked prices for a variety of instruments. The most ridiculous is that a Yamaha 23 student tenor sax is MORE than a Yamaha 475 intermediate tenor sax. YMMV for other makes. All I'm trying to say is that you really should check into the price differentials -- which is why I've mentioned percentages instead of $ amounts, above. It's very possible that company X's intermediate model isn't that much more than their student model. Finally, remember another part of what I mentioned in other threads: if you can get a discontinued model horn or a used horn that's overhauled and warrantied for a lower cost than new, there's no reason not to. Yes, it might not be as shiny, but you can't play the shine. You might even be able to get a professional model for less than the cost of a student horn. Do your research! ============= Pricing info from wwbw.com, accessed Dec. 25, 2010. Merry holidays. Happy Christmas.