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A day down in Denmark St.


I spent the day down in Denmark St. at a well known saxophone emporium. I'd planned to stay for a couple of hours, but it turned into a six hour marathon where I tried all of the following tenors (!):

- Yanagisawa 991
- Yanagisawa 992
- Yamaha 82Z unlacquered
- Rampone R1 Jazz (gold plated)
- Keilwerth Shadow
- Selmer Series II (used)
- Selmer Mk6 (brass lacquered)
- Selmer Mk6 (silver plated)
- Cannonball something or other (with semi-precious stones)
- Mauriat 66R Influence unlacquered (x2)
- Mauriat 66R vintage lacquer

Bearing in mind that I really wanted to love the Rampone, had a slight negative opinion of the whole Mk6 thing, had a downer on Mauriat for over-marketing their horns, and felt I would probably prefer the tone of the Shadow, here's what I found:

- The Yanagisawa horns looked, handled and played beautifully from top to bottom, but their tone was just too full for my liking. I wouldn't blame anyone for buying one though. Rejected.

- The Yamaha 82ZUL was interesting and, just like Stephen Howard said in his review, I tried it several times as I couldn't quite work it out! In the end, this particular horn just didn't work well at the bottom end. Rejected.

- I didn't like the feel of the Selmer Series II and thought its tone was unremarkable. Rejected.

- The Cannonball was just unremarkable. Rejected.

- The Shadow really surprised me. It was too full on and was, frankly, awful in the altissimo. No tone hole / pad issues though and I liked the feel. Rejected.

- I didn't like feel of the Mauriat 66R vintage lacquered (compared with the Influence). Tone was similar, but the keywork was the deal-breaker. Rejected.

- The Selmer Mk6 brass lacquered was nothing to shout home about. I liked the feel though and was surprised how modern I felt the keywork was.

I played the following extensively.

- The Rampone. After the shock of the Keilwerth, it was with some trepidation that I hooked this on to my strap. In short, a beautiful lush tone, but the handling (balance of the horn) and the keywork (which felt really cramped) would kill me! Perhaps I simply don't have Italian hands? A real disappointment, but I really don't think I could live with it. Rejected.

- I spent a long time playing one of the unlacquered Mauriat Influence horns. The more I played it and got used to it, the more I thought I might actually buy it. Lovely keywork (the nickle key touches felt great) and everything was in the right place. Very comfortable to play. The other unlacquered Influence was very similar. Wonderfully free-blowing with great subtone and projection and the tone was very very good. It was easily the best horn I played, until it was compared to ...

... the silver Mk6. Time and time again I kept coming back to this horn. In short, it was beautiful to look at, had fantastic handling, feel and keywork; but at the asking price, that simply wasn't good enough; it had to have something special; and it did: the tone was quite simply the best of all the horns I'd played and the more I played it, the better it got. I almost bought it. More of that in another thread.
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Well-Known Member
Very interesting, but a dangerous place to go !

Any thoughts on the intonation of the various makes and models ?

I have found that I am atuned to Selmer and that Yanagisawa and Yamaha also play well in tune for me. But my experience on Keilwerth and Mauriat is that it's a real struggle to play in tune - maybe the big bore thing.

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Love reading this sort of topic, having spent several hours myself recently doing the same thing I went for a Yani T901. I can see why you were in there so long, doesn't seem to matter how long you try them out for it's never enough :)


How did the BW compare to those that you tried....?
As good as it is for the money, the main difference was that the pro horns were more free-blowing and responsive to note changes. In other words, I think the pro horns have better bore design which is certainly enough to make me want one!
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