Upgrading Your Instrument
Owning the best possible instrument within your budget will give you the most enjoyable playing experience. Not only will the right instrument feel comfortable in your hands and respond accurately to your touch, but it will also help you produce the best possible sound for your skill level. So, if you have been playing for 3 or 4 years, it may be time to step up. While student models are designed for ease of playing and can produce a decent sound, the extremes of dynamics and nuances of tone can be difficult to achieve. Once you start playing a more advanced repertoire and mastering your instrument, you’ll need an instrument that is more capable of expression and tone colour.
One major difference between student & intermediate/professional (step-up) instruments is the higher quality materials they’re manufactured from which improves the basic sound. They may also include extra keys or mechanisms that can increase the range & improve intonation. Whereas student models are typically mass-produced, intermediate and professional instruments receive more personalized attention from master instrument makers. The difference may not be seen but can be felt and heard when the instrument is played.
Upgrading your mouthpiece and associated items, such as ligature and reeds, can also be a great way to improve the sound of your student instrument. This is a great way to step-up even if you are not in a position to purchase a new instrument.