My friend Luiz wrote to me. Here's his question, and my reply. "I need your input about something. A friend of a friend of mine in Brazil wants to buy a decent soprano (used or new) between $200 and $300 or a little more. Is that possible? He's a bass player, just got interested in sax recently. He found the following ones at Amazon.com: Mendini MSS_N+920 Nickel plated $280,00 LÃ¡zaro 300 LQ Golden Laquer $319,00 Allora AASS_301 serie student $ 349,00" Sue's response: What is happening now is that there are many private instrument makers. The same thing that happened in the music biz where you could make your own CDs instead of going through a record company, or publish your own books without a publisher, is going on in many fields. These instrument makers are sometimes very good and very knowledgeable. Often they themselves are players, so they really have a deep understanding of how to make a good instrument. They develop the prototype in their home country, then they outsource the actual manufacture to another country, like Taiwan. That's how they keep the price low. That said, i would not buy one of these "no-name" horns without doing some research on the internet first. Your friend should try to get some opinions from players who have tried them. I personally am not familiar with any of these brands, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are no good. Hope this helps!