The Armstrong saxophone carries a brand name that is more often associated with flutes, clarinets, and piccolos. Many beginning band players have gotten their woodwind start playing one of these instruments. Currently, Armstrong is part of the Conn family of musical instrument brands and only makes flutes, clarinets, and piccolos, but you can find saxophones from time to time.
Armstrong made saxophones in the 1980’s. The saxophones were made in Elkhart, IN, like so many other band instruments have been down through the years. A used saxophone like one of these will probably need to be serviced by a professional musical instrument repairman before it will be suitable for playing. Since it may have been sitting in someone’s attic for years, it may need pads replaced and other adjustments, and a new mouthpiece may be needed.
Still, an older Armstrong could turn out to be a fairly adequate instrument for a beginner in the school band. Workmanship twenty-five or thirty years ago seemed to be better than what you find with cheap modern musical instruments.
If you find a vintage sax from around 1980 that goes by the brand name “H Couf” it is named after the then president of the Armstrong company. Couf had this Armstrong saxophone made by Keilwerth, which is, of course, one of the big four in saxophone manufacturers, and has a history of excellent craftsmanship. This means that an H Couf is essentially an Armstrong, although it may not be labeled as such.
If a new saxophone is labeled “Armstrong,” there is a chance that it is one of the inexpensive, poorly made saxophones imported from India or China. These saxes show up on places like eBay for prices under $300, and go by a variety of brand names. If you find a vintage Armstrong sax, and can get it serviced so that it is in good shape, you may have a good beginner saxophone on your hands.