After committing to an instrument and playing for several years, most likely on a student or beginner model, a student musician should be ready to step up to a better instrument. No matter what they’re playing, musicians will notice several things about intermediate instruments that are different from their starter instruments. The instruments will be made of better materials like higher quality metals and real wood instead of plastics or resins. The instruments may be slightly larger in size since they no longer need to be made for very young hands or body frames. Students may also notice better craftsmanship, more hand-worked elements, additional keys or triggers and aesthetic differences like engraving or abalone key touches. While some of these elements simply improve the look of the instrument, most students will also notice that they get better tone and response and are able to better play complicated passages and pieces.

However, one issue that educators and parents alike worry about is that most step-up instruments cost more than beginner models. The good news is that there are plenty of options for great woodwind, brass and orchestral string instruments that won’t break the budget. Whether you are looking for new instruments for your music program or you want to provide recommendations to your students and their parents, here are some excellent options.



For saxophone students looking to step-up to a better instrument, you can’t go wrong with Allora. The brand does an excellent job of offering features that enhance the sound but also making the instruments durable, so they can withstand the rigors of practice, performance and travel.

For your other woodwind students, including those playing clarinet and flute, a great option to choose is Giardinelli. This brand often partners with other well-known brands, such as Buffet and Haynes, to craft high-quality instruments at more affordable prices. The result is incredible value and an instrument that will help students advance in their playing skills.


Alto - Allora Vienna Series Intermediate Alto Saxophone AAAS-501  

Tenor - Allora Vienna Series Intermediate Tenor Saxophone


Giardinelli Intermediate Clarinet


Giardinelli GFL-10 Series Flute by Haynes



For brass players, Allora once again shines with step-up trumpets and trombones that offer great value and that will allow musicians to advance to the next level. All Allora brass instruments meet exacting standards for intonation, comfort, and mechanical reliability.


Allora AATR-125 Series Classic Bb Trumpet


Tenor - Allora AATB-202F Series Intermediate Trombone

Bass - Allora ATBB-450 Vienna Series Bass Trombone 


Orchestral Strings

For students who have selected to continue with orchestral strings, parents and educators can be confident when selecting Bellafina stringed instruments. Bellafina uses fine woods like spruce and maple to craft violins, violas and cellos that offer full, rich tones. Top quality strings and upgraded bows complete the step-up packages offered by Bellafina.


Bellafina Bavarian Series Violin Outfit


Bellafina Roma Select Series Viola Outfit  


Bellafina Overture Series Cello Outfit

Watching students advance in their playing is an exciting process. When it’s time for them to step-up to intermediate instruments that will help them continue on their musical journey, the last thing you want to worry about is budget. Exploring brands like Allora, Giardinelli and Bellafina allows you to confidently purchase or recommend high-quality and high-value instruments that students will enjoy playing for years to come.

We encourage you to talk to our musical experts to help you select the best step-up instruments and learn more about our educator discounts. Call us at 800.346.4448. Or, if you’re ready to shop now, check out the Educator Website where you can easily select and purchase your items with a few clicks of your mouse (educator discounts included!).