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Saxophones Antigua Pro One Selmer La Vie & Premiere 380 input needed

M

maticulus

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Greetings all, I could use some input from those with relevant experience with a few alto horns I'm considering for a backup;

Antigua Pro One

Conn Selmer La Vie 240-250

Conn Selmer Premiere 380

I'd like to use practical terms and attributes with as little subjectivity as possible;

Is it free, or resistant blowing? With what mpc?

Ergonomics and spring tension, tight, springy, spread out? My JK EX90 III had platform key touches that made for a different feel that was fine for average large hands.


Build quality, if acquired new were there any problems with the finish and or mechanisms? I purchased a new bad Buffet 400 not long ago that had a poorly fitted neck tenon, loose rt palm key rod that couldn't be tightened needing heavy oil to keep quiet and a couple of bare areas on the neck. The horn looked wonderful and played well but couldn't be trusted.

Intonation and personal thoughts on sound quality limited to dark and bright.

My regular is a Cannonball Stone series Alto with its stock 5J mpc which so far has played the best for me in my several years of tinkering to now seriously playing the sax. I chose it over the Mauriat 67 and Yamaha 875 EX by play test comparison about a year ago. I also use Fibracell reeds exclusively. I prefer their level of consistency and ease of play to all the adjectives that are said to come from ~3 out of a box of 10 cane reeds.

You can stop here unless you like rhetoric.

I started learning when the internet was in its infancy. Although I was well aware of Kenney G at the time, it was Gerald Albright and David Sanborn (whom I've had the privilege of meeting) that inspired me to play. I joined a woodwind website about 2 years ago and have been messed up ever since. Prior to that I purchased horns and mpcs solely on appearance, reputation/affiliation and price, very easy. Now we have all these different levels of horns despite their having to subscribe to the same laws and required dimensions of physics in order to play properly.

With that said, I firmly believe the difference between a said good horn vs. a bad via a testimonial, often is the result of the mouthpiece for the most part. When I first played my Cannonball, I thought to myself, "At last, the impossible has been achieved". Free blowing as noted during the play test, but even more so with its own mpc. Firm in the hands, very comfortable and just the right vibration for me.

Then I put my existing favorite of all times Jazz ESM #6 mpc (high baffle) on it. That mpc came stock with my JK EX90 III and wowed me when I first played it 8 yrs ago. On the Cannonball it sounded like "quack". My ears immediately said "Don't ever do that again". It was at that moment that I realized an other wise well made well sounding mpc, did not automatically mean it would be the same on any other horn of good quality. That was an eye opening moment for me into just how dynamic the right horn and mpc combo can be and probably why so many of us have gone through so many mouthpieces and horns although I doubt I can get more joy than I already have with my CB.

I believe it is appropriate for manufacturers to disclose the exact mpc setup used to vet their horns because of this. If I had used my ESM mpc on the CB during the play test in the store, I'm not sure what my thoughts would have been. I may have missed obtaining what I now play and have been most fond of out of all the horns and mouthpieces that have passed through my hands.

I'd advise one take at least two different mpcs for a play test as your favorite might not be the best for the horn you're considering which may be a perfect fit for you. In all fairness, of the 3 horns I play tested before purchasing the CB, the Yamaha 875 was the only one I used the ESM Jazz piece on, perhaps that's why I was not impressed with it. All 3 tests were on different days.

Thanks
 
trimmy

trimmy

One day i will...
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If it was me, my choice would be the Antigua simply because I’ve seen and heard both Antigua and Conn Prem being played and the Antigua was my personal favourite.
Not heard anyone playing the Conn Le Vie, to be honest i hadn’t heard of the model.
If i can find it il post a vid review of both Conn Prem & Antigua from CurlyWoodwind
 
M

maticulus

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Thanks, I actually listed them in the order that I am leaning. I started out for the Antigua to begin with but noted the other two along the way, all of which are fairly close in price. I don't have the ability to play test either due to their scarceness relative to me. The problem with sound alone is that there are too many variables that determine it, the most important of which is the player.
 
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maticulus

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I watched that a few days ago before seriously considering the other horns. Unfortunately they come a dime a dozen, especially with the potential influence of being a seller. I'm hoping for input from those who have spent a lot of time with the horn. For example, the flaws I discovered in the Buffet 400 would have been missed in one or two plays unless you were specifically looking for them.

I like the sound of the Antigua but unless I know for sure the play environment and mpc are the same as used with the 380, I can't say it is better because it is. Sounds like the 380 was played in a small room.
 
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M

maticulus

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I was hoping for input from owners of the Pro One but it appears there are not many in view of my inquiry. I decided to stick with my first choice and placed my order for the Pro One. I'm looking forward to its arrival.

I purchased a Nady wireless system that I have yet to try out because until the idea of placing a small contact patch on the bell for the screw mount, to be carved out of a clear Vandoren mpc patch, I was opposed to the idea of risking a preventible scratch on the black nickle surface of my horn's bell. Taking care of my instruments and keeping them looking like new comes second nature to me. Prior to that idea I was considering modifying the transmitter to allow an alternate attachment method to avoid the risk of scratching or denting the bell.

Next I'll have to address the unbalanced/mono output so that I can record directly into my laptop into Band In A Box on both channels instead of one.

When I placed the order for the mic the pictures listed a small pedal box with two antennas for the receiver along with the transmitter. What I received is in the picture below. They appear to be the same function wise and I favor the more compact version.

Here is a link to a video a horn player posted on it which helped make my decision to give it a try easier;
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6mGTpHXHec
 

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M

maticulus

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Orange fatigues?

Sax in prison??

Oh yeah, well I'm in the U.S. so that's perfectly acceptable attire, "Make America Great again!" (cringingly) didn't you hear. I actually had a brief conversation with the guy in the video, seems like a cool person.
 
M

maticulus

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I GOT IT!

This horn is not gold in color as it often appears in pictures. It is an attractive orange color, wonderfully engraved from end to end. The horn itself is solidly built with weight comparable to the Cannonball (CB) and like the CB, also manufactured in Taiwan, it is precisely assembled. I tugged at the rods and not one moved in a direction it was not supposed to, or made a sound. There were just pads slapping tone holes. The neck fit properly in the receiver.

The key layout was comfortable and on par with the Cannonball except for one, the rt side low/middle F#. It required a little adjusting to get use to because it is a smaller target to hit coming from the CB which has spatula like rt side F buttons for both low and high F# like the Yamaha 875 and some Jupiter models.

Aside from that the P1 fits well in my hands, the spring tension feels a little tighter than that of the CB which is a plus because I've been "tripping" over the CB at times which has made me suspect the key action needs to be stiffened some.

The intonation is just fine and the notes up and down the horn did not send my tuner lights all over the place. I found high F, particularly the two finger arrangement to be a little easier and more consistent on the P1 compared to the CB where it is not troublesome and that was across three different mouth pieces: Stock P1, CB 5J and Meyer M6 large chamber. I attribute that to the P1 neck. It is also free blowing, an important attribute for me.

The P1 spoke the loudest with the Meyer M6 which I believe has the largest tip opening at .076 although I do not have the size for the P1 piece.

So far after an hour of playing it I am very happy with my decision. I didn't detect at least not so far, the sensation of added weight on the trident fitted keys which I thought might cause a little bump stop. This horn is a smooth mechanical player, I don't have any issues with it and am glad I chose it. I can switch between both horns easily and one is not better than the other. The comparison is for a reference point. I like what I hear from both of them.

The tone character is dependent upon the player and the setup so I don't get into dark, bright, rich and other highly subjective descriptions about sounds. It is a solid, well built, precision piece of equipment with little room left for improvement.

Get one!
 
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M

maticulus

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Okay after more than a month of enjoying the heck out of it, the right side F# is an easy target now but, I have two complaints, the thumb hook is only adjustable left and right and the low B to Bb mechanism does not work efficiently for me because of how far up the end of the Bb roller is relative to the B key. My pinky finger is snagging at the joint between the roller and the key because the area that I tend to transition at offers little roller contact, It's not an emergency, but for the moment I still have not consistently worked it out to where I can smoothly hit the note by sliding my finger as opposed to staying at B and leaning on Bb. Regardless, I can't believe I have two different horns bringing me the same joy of playing.

Look at the difference in the arrangement between the two horns, it's a bit congested on the Antigua for me at that location. My pinky finger rides a little further inboard and even if it were further back, that's still a fairly narrow area to slide through, onto and over the roller by comparison. Obviously I don't have the same problem on the CB. The real hangup may be that the leading edge of the key in that area is not chamfered like that of the CB and I'm snagging that pointed edge. I recall reading somewhere that this spatula setup was commendable in some way partly associated with the design involving that bridge between C# and B.

DSC05826b

DSC05827b
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Good to hear you're happy with it.

Looks a bit like a setup problem. Try asking a tech to sort it out. Looks to me as if raising B/realigning Bb would sort it. Failing that a longer roller on low Bb might be feasible.
 
M

maticulus

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I've spent a little time looking at it considering what I can do to make it a little better. It's not a pressing matter as I can lean on the key to make the note. As for dropping it off with a tech, I have trust issues when it comes to things like this in that it's hard to find people that will treat things important to me as well as I do and with the desired precision of care.

Years ago I took a horn in after it fell forward off the hook as I was bending down and landed on the octave key, denting the neck right beneath the key pivot posts, and misaligning the octave key which was not bent. I paid for the repair, took the horn home and discovered the guy didn't remove the dent. He simply bent the octave key so that it covered the pip. His excuse through the counter clerk when I returned with it was that he didn't see the dent. Hope you understand my slant toward viewing instrument techs as being a bit like auto mechanics. Unless you're standing over them watching, there's no telling what might happen. I know they're not all like that but I don't want to see them unless I absolutely need to.
 
kevgermany

kevgermany

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Yes, you need to find a decent one.
 

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