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Saxophones Alto Advice - Big, Dark Sound & Low Cost ...

malumovis

Member
Messages
41
Locality
Wales
Hi there.

Long-time lurker, first-time poster here.

I've been a freelancing classical clarinettist for a fair few years now, and I guess I would consider myself a 'semi-pro' sax player (I've done local pit-band tripling work for 20 years or so, and the occasional touring showband-type thing supporting vocalists), but am now looking to leap into more freelancing sax work.

My first ever sax, bought from one of those dodgy second-hand shops as a 15-year-old is an old King Marigaux Tenor (c.1980s), and I'm very fond of it. It weighs a ton, doesn't like altissimo very much, but I love the smoky mellow sound it produces. I've played pro-level Yamahas and Yanis belonging to friends, and whilst they're a heck of a lot easier to play (and less strain on the neck), I still prefer the KM. I think perhaps I just like a challenge ...

Anyway, this isn't about tenors, it's about altos! I have an absolutely terrible eBay alto, bought many years ago. It's a 'Fremont Rio' and is literally falling apart. As I've mainly done tenor work up until now, I hadn't bothered spending any money beyond reeds and ligatures on the alto, but as I'm getting more bookings on alto, I really need to get myself something decent. I'm also setting up a wedding/function duet with a guitarist and will be needing it occasionally for that.

I love the dark and smoky sound, and had been hankering after a vintage Buescher Big B, but, due to financial constraints I'm now thinking of perhaps utilising sax.co.uk's financing options. Their choice is incredible though, where do I start? I'm not able to get up to London for some time, so trying them out in person isn't an option at the moment unfortunately. Can I get a decent set-up for under £1500? My current alto mouthpiece is a Selmer C**, and a 'Sharkbite' metal MP (eBay again ... I can't help myself, it was only £20) so I may well need to upgrade there too.

A few past students of mine have bought P.Mauriats and love them. Are these still good horns for the money? (I'm a sucker for the vintage lacquer look too). What about Antigua? Conn-Selmer? I really do not know where to start, so, if any of you could see your way to pointing me in some useful directions, I'd be very grateful!

Many, many thanks.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,049
Locality
Cheshire UK
Welcome to the cafe, if you can make our cafe meet and workshop in London in May at Sax.co.UK you will be able to save yourself 10% on any purchase on the day as well as being able to try a Sequoia :)

Re heavy horns have you tried a Jazzlab sax holder

Jx

PS do say hi in the doorbell section
 

malumovis

Member
Messages
41
Locality
Wales
10% off? Saxes too? I thought that was only on accessories?

I need the sax pretty quickly too unfortunately; as it's the Easter holidays at the end of the week, I was hoping to get acquainted with the new member of the family over the two weeks.

I bought a Sax Holder a couple of months ago (although I've lost it in the house somewhere, rather frustratingly ...). I found it great when standing up playing, but it kept slipping quite a lot, and generally very unstable when seated (which is how I usually play). I probably just need to spend more time adjusting and getting used to it. HUGE difference to the weight of the sax though - it felt practically weightless!
 

Jay

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,333
Locality
Northumberland
10% off? Saxes too? I thought that was only on accessories?

I need the sax pretty quickly too unfortunately; as it's the Easter holidays at the end of the week, I was hoping to get acquainted with the new member of the family over the two weeks.

I bought a Sax Holder a couple of months ago (although I've lost it in the house somewhere, rather frustratingly ...). I found it great when standing up playing, but it kept slipping quite a lot, and generally very unstable when seated (which is how I usually play). I probably just need to spend more time adjusting and getting used to it. HUGE difference to the weight of the sax though - it felt practically weightless!
Yes, I found this to begin with. I've got a bit more used to mine now and have a) tied a cord between the two arms at the back, loosely, which stops it dropping off entirely when I pick something up of the floor b) shortened the middle stem a lot when playing sitting down - and I find the end piece is better horizontally when I'm standing and vertical when I'm sitting.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,049
Locality
Cheshire UK
10% off? Saxes too? I thought that was only on accessories?

So did we originally but Liam confirmed this

As an added bonus for your attendees, we will also offer a 10% discount off ANYTHING instore (excluding pre owned items) for that day. Yes, this includes instruments.

Jx
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,837
Locality
The Athens of The North
You need a pro level sax and £1500 should buy you one. A used Selmer Series 11 would be nice, or a Buffet 400 for less.

A friend recently bought a Buffet 400 Tenor for £800 nearly new. It has the vintage look and plays like a dream. Check them out and don't forget the Yard Sale here.

Jim.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
16,306
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
The saxophone itself adds very little to the sound. Some are a little brighter and some are a little darker and some have a certain something.

The most important thing for a gigging instrument, assuming intonation, tuning etc are acceptable, is playability. It needs to fit your hands and playing style. It also needs to be reliable, durable and if you're not doing your own repairs, easily and cheaply sevicable.

Your current mouthpiece may not get the best out of your next acquisition, so you'll need to have time to see how it matches up and if it doesn't, search out a more suitable replacement and reeds to suit.

Don't buy anything without playing as many of the options available as you can. One will want you. It will be a no brainer. If in doubt, it's not the one. And two the same, invariably...aren't.
 

Ads

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,306
Locality
North West UK
Agreed Colin - this is why I like Pro Yamahas - fast light handling keywork that`s as tough as boots and lasts forever and sonically plenty of life to not get lost on stage .. even the Budget models (21/23/25/275/280) are as tough and endlessly giggable as the pro models (especially the older 21 and 23) , they just lack the refinement..
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,172
Locality
Berkshire, UK
The Fremont Rio may have been an alto that a guy in Norwich bought in as his "own" from China. He also did a Fremont Excalibur tenor. They were rubbish. John something he was called. Abysmal horns.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,024
Locality
London
Sounds a bit like self promotion, but at the moment, a Sequoia like the one I currently use (unlacquered) goes for £1300 delivered.
I will be in their workshop in one week and select a horn, if needed

The alto I played before is an SML Gold Medal (the posh horn from Marigaux, before they started making Kings) and I know what you mean.

On the mouthpiece side, a good rubber link might be fatter than the average Meyer.
My fattest sounding mouthpiece is a Pillinger NYA 8L, but the jump from a C** could be too extreme.

Sequoia/NYA. Please ignore that out of tune note at the beginning (I don't often play alto).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ComiHII3rFQ
 

Ads

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,306
Locality
North West UK
Sax-UK have had that Demo RAW for quite a while now - just shows how little money there is around at the moment (and why David-UK had to almost give a new SR tenor away) ..... I`d guess they`d sell the Raw for a bit less if you walked in with the folding stuff, ask Jules if you can have a bit of Café-Sax Discount or get 10% off at Jeanettes Soiree ........

best bet for what`s basically a brand new Pro alto with a top notch rep at the right price IMO with the added advantage of that later down the line it`ll be far easier to sell than most hi-end horns outside the big Four (Selmer, Yamaha, Yani and Keilwerth) if you want a change or don`t take to the alto ..
 

majordennis

Senior Member
Messages
512
Locality
Gone West
Don't buy anything without playing as many of the options available as you can. One will want you. It will be a no brainer. If in doubt, it's not the one. And two the same, invariably...aren't.

+1 on this quote, I am not one to recommend specific makes because of this (mouthpiece, sax, lig or reeds) but, I also have a Pillinger NY (tenor) loaned to a friend to try and I can't wait to get it back.
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,779
Locality
West Midlands
Some great suggestions above,its difficult to recommend horns because what i might like you might hate but i own a SC RAW and its a great horn,i have also owned a Buescher Big B alto which had a lovely sound but i couldn't get used to the keywork so i sold it on.
I think all the suggestions above will fit your budget and you wouldn't be unhappy with any of them.
I've not tried the Sequoia but its on my radar for the future and Aldevis sounds great on them.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,321
Locality
leicester
I'm not sure there are many new alto saxes that would get you a big dark smokey sound, certainly not cheaply. Keilwerth, Rampone and Cazzani or Borgani are out of your price range unless you find a secondhand bargain.

You could find a vintage Martin, Buescher or Conn for less than a grand -
there's a 1936 Conn 6M here for £750 -
Marshall McGurk Instruments: SAXOPHONES
a 60's King Zephyr for £670
- http://hansonmusic.co.uk/shop/shop/clearance/king-zephyr-alto-sax/
a Buescher Big B for £1000
Photo Advert

and of course there's Melissa's Martin alto in the yardsale - Wurlitzer-Martin Alto, would anyone be interested?!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,172
Locality
Berkshire, UK
Great recommendation for Mel's martin (Wurlitzer). Very keen price
 
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