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Saxophones Can't make up my mind Ref 54/36 for my TWO20

Tony K

Member
Messages
41
Hi,

I've recently played some Selmer Ref 54's and 36's Tenors in a couple of London shops recently which have resulted in a really terrible case of GAS. Sadly I haven't got the cash to just go out and buy one so yesterday I've put my Yani TW020 up for sale on eBay (if I had the pennies I'd keep it - I bought it new just over a year ago and its been a faithful friend.) I also tried a couple of III's but they don't quite do it for me. I've not tried a SAII yet.

I've read so many threads and understand that everyone's concept of what they want to hear from their own music is different which is why there are so many different opinions - which is a good thing. I'm looking for a horn that can do the soft jazzy bluesy ballad thing when I'm in the mood at home, but can also do the raucous rock, R&B thing when I'm playing with my buddies (loud over-driven guitars). I'd appreciate your views as to which might be more flexible ii / 36 / 54? Or are the differences too subtle - just pick one?

Tony.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,053
As much as the sound differences, which will be tiny with the same player, I think it’s more a case of response. When you play a phrase with articulation and colour, does the output match your input? Only one tenor that I tried a few years back (out of 8) actually did this for me, and this became my choice.
I also had a mate with me whose ears I trust and we made notes and only discussed each one at the end. I tried not to look at any name on a horn when I picked it up and blew the same stuff on each.
We concurred completely.
 
OP
Tony K

Tony K

Member
Messages
41
As much as the sound differences, which will be tiny with the same player, I think it’s more a case of response. When you play a phrase with articulation and colour, does the output match your input? Only one tenor that I tried a few years back (out of 8) actually did this for me, and this became my choice.
I also had a mate with me whose ears I trust and we made notes and only discussed each one at the end. I tried not to look at any name on a horn when I picked it up and blew the same stuff on each.
We concurred completely.
Thanks for the tip that's a good point. I think that's one of the reasons I didn't like the SIIIs. Not because they weren't any good, but I think they didn't respond as quickly as the others did.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,053
Thanks for the tip that's a good point. I think that's one of the reasons I didn't like the SIIIs. Not because they weren't any good, but I think they didn't respond as quickly as the others did.
The thing is, a horn that you don’t like might actually respond better for you with a different mouthpiece/reed combo. This process can be a terrible one. The “same” result can be achieved with different horn/mouthpiece/reed combos. But going down that road is pretty nasty. Seeing as the player is more or less the be-all and end-all of the sound that comes out, it will come down mostly to how comfortable you feel on a setup over the entire compass. The final few % wont be heard by your listeners but will likely keep you hating yourself for years! This music malarkey is great for self-worth...
 
OP
Tony K

Tony K

Member
Messages
41
The thing is, a horn that you don’t like might actually respond better for you with a different mouthpiece/reed combo. This process can be a terrible one. The “same” result can be achieved with different horn/mouthpiece/reed combos. But going down that road is pretty nasty. Seeing as the player is more or less the be-all and end-all of the sound that comes out, it will come down mostly to how comfortable you feel on a setup over the entire compass. The final few % wont be heard by your listeners but will likely keep you hating yourself for years! This music malarkey is great for self-worth...
How true! I've settled on an 8* 10mfan Showtime (Ebonite) which I'm loving. I recently sold a Theo Wanne 7* GAIA3 which sounded lovely great but I whistled badly on it - I think I might have been better off with a wider tip with that. So, I'm sticking to my 10mfan to keep that a constant variable. Don't get me started on reeds. Nevertheless I take your point about the SIII. A different mpc might have resulted in a different experience. Too many moving parts can drive you mad.

I've been through this with Guitars too. I've settled on a Gibson ES335 and Les Paul with P90 pickups ( no one will probably have a clue what I'm on about there). In fact also thinking about selling my Gibson Les Paul '59 to fund / swap for the Selmer. Depends on whether I sell/px the Yani.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,053
How true! I've settled on an 8* 10mfan Showtime (Ebonite) which I'm loving. I recently sold a Theo Wanne 7* GAIA3 which sounded lovely great but I whistled badly on it - I think I might have been better off with a wider tip with that. So, I'm sticking to my 10mfan to keep that a constant variable. Don't get me started on reeds. Nevertheless I take your point about the SIII. A different mpc might have resulted in a different experience. Too many moving parts can drive you mad.

I've been through this with Guitars too. I've settled on a Gibson ES335 and Les Paul with P90 pickups ( no one will probably have a clue what I'm on about there). In fact also thinking about selling my Gibson Les Paul '59 to fund / swap for the Selmer. Depends on whether I sell/px the Yani.
Re guitars, @randulo will know a little ;) and my old studio partner obsessed about pickups etc. He preferred the 339.
 
OP
Tony K

Tony K

Member
Messages
41
Re guitars, @randulo will know a little ;) and my old studio partner obsessed about pickups etc. He preferred the 339.
Finding the right Guitar(s) & Amp that you feel represents you is a life long hunt. I'm content with that I've got there now. Guitar, wood, pickups, weight, visual identity, effects pedals, amps, valves, speakers... Ultimately when the lights go down, the audience doesn't really notice or care. They get what they get; and either like what your playing or don't. However, for the player.. well it's like you said about the response blowing a sax. I guess you're looking for that 'bond' with the instrument. There's a lot of money to be made from GAS and most of it is bloomin' hot air :headscratch:
 

Alexandra

Member
Subscriber
Messages
83
@Tony K What made you decide the TWO20 wasnt right for you? I'm curious because it's a model I've considered getting myself. Did you feel it was deficient in some way or did the Selmers just give you a sound experience you loved more!
 
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Tony K

Tony K

Member
Messages
41
@Tony K What made you decide the TWO20 wasnt right for you? I'm curious because it's a model I've considered getting myself. Did you feel it was deficient in some way or did the Selmers just give you a sound experience you loved more!
Two cups of coffee and the most enormous coffee & walnut cake from a garden centre later, and I still don't know how to answer your question Alexandra! They're different is all. This is all in my head ok ... I love the sound of the TWO20. I love it's mellow rich sound. it's got bags of character & I mean that in a good way. But I also liked the way the Selmer's sounded. Unlimited money and I'd have both. I decided to buy a Sax in Dec 2018 and did some research and tried a few, set myself a {generous] budget and went for the TWO20. I think I just fancy a change. There's now't wrong with it. I 'think' I want something brighter that cuts through when playing with two noisy guitarists. Won't really know till I've done it.

I don't have any regrets buying it. Just now fancy the sound I heard from the Selmers. But which one?
 

Alexandra

Member
Subscriber
Messages
83
@Tony K Hope you enjoyed your coffee and cake! I know what you mean about wanting both; when I played the AwO20 and AWO10 I loved them both for different reasons. The mellowness of the bronze and the cut-through boldness of the brass would be great for different situations. I went with brass in the end with a dark MP & reed set-up.

A further thought - all saxophones of the same model sound subtley different, especially the handmade varieties. It's just not always possible to test multiple models at the same time. I had to have my Yany alto exchanged on Thursday (warranty - cosmetic issue) and the new model (I had a choice between two) is more resistant and warmer. It sounds like a mixture between the brass and bronze model and I love it! So if you can try multiples, do. You'll be amazed at the variations between them.
 
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Tony K

Tony K

Member
Messages
41
@Tony K Hope you enjoyed your coffee and cake! I know what you mean about wanting both; when I played the AwO20 and AWO10 I loved them both for different reasons. The mellowness of the bronze and the cut-through boldness of the brass would be great for different situations. I went with brass in the end with a dark MP & reed set-up.

A further thought - all saxophones of the same model sound subtley different, especially the handmade varieties. It's just not always possible to test multiple models at the same time. I had to have my Yany alto exchanged on Thursday (warranty - cosmetic issue) and the new model (I had a choice between two) is more resistant and warmer. It sounds like a mixture between the brass and bronze model and I love it! So if you can try multiples, do. You'll be amazed at the variations between them.
Thanks for the input Alexandra. The Yani sold via Facebook Marketplace earlier, so I'm in hunter mode now. I guess I just need to find a dealer with a lot of choices so I can test a few. Been watching youtube. I know's it's not the same, just part of the swatting up process.
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
1,848
If looking for a very expressive horn I'd recommend giving the R&C bronze or "two voices" a go. Very versatile with potentially the best tone. Only drawback is that they take a lot of air (big bore geometry is probably why). Should cost less than a new Selmer but IMHO a big leap above the Selmer in terms of quality of sound/tone. A potential drawback of the R&C is poor quality control. Well built, but not always checked or set up before sale. All of mine required "tweaks" before being in good playing shape, but have not had a single problem since. The R&C Bronze and Two Voices (I own both) outplay every other tenor sax I've picked up. I still have a The Martin, King Super 20, and Borg (Joe Lovano) Jubilee, that have been relegated to back ups (some soon to be sold?) . I've also owned Yani, Conn, Selmers, Buechers, Keilwerth, Yamaha, Grassi, etc.

It still comes down to what resonates with you, but if you haven't tried a few other horns, then you could wind up paying a lot of money for something that's sold more on the basis of its reputation than the reality of value for money.
 

Phil

Member
Commercial Café Supporter
Messages
669
I think the modern Selmers are overpriced and not that inspiring. If you have to have a selmer given the price look at a VI, a VI or series III. A super action 80 is a bargain but I dont get excited over them. I owned a 54 and grew to dislike it. To me it sounds like a recording of a VI, not a VI (which I now have and dont regret).

...or just get over the GAS and play your horn.
 
OP
Tony K

Tony K

Member
Messages
41
If looking for a very expressive horn I'd recommend giving the R&C bronze or "two voices" a go. Very versatile with potentially the best tone. Only drawback is that they take a lot of air (big bore geometry is probably why). Should cost less than a new Selmer but IMHO a big leap above the Selmer in terms of quality of sound/tone. A potential drawback of the R&C is poor quality control. Well built, but not always checked or set up before sale. All of mine required "tweaks" before being in good playing shape, but have not had a single problem since. The R&C Bronze and Two Voices (I own both) outplay every other tenor sax I've picked up. I still have a The Martin, King Super 20, and Borg (Joe Lovano) Jubilee, that have been relegated to back ups (some soon to be sold?) . I've also owned Yani, Conn, Selmers, Buechers, Keilwerth, Yamaha, Grassi, etc.

It still comes down to what resonates with you, but if you haven't tried a few other horns, then you could wind up paying a lot of money for something that's sold more on the basis of its reputation than the reality of value for money.
Thanks for the recommendation Wade, I'll check them out.
 
OP
Tony K

Tony K

Member
Messages
41
I think the modern Selmers are overpriced and not that inspiring. If you have to have a selmer given the price look at a VI, a VI or series III. A super action 80 is a bargain but I dont get excited over them. I owned a 54 and grew to dislike it. To me it sounds like a recording of a VI, not a VI (which I now have and dont regret).

...or just get over the GAS and play your horn.
Hi Phil, Thanks for the input. Bit late with the GAS comment as I've already sold the TWO20! It went within 24hrs of me advertising it on Facebook Marketplace (Does that tell me something about Yani's?) - I wasn't able to post it for sale on here for some reason. I'm in two minds about the VI's. I read that everyone loves theirs - well raves about them frankly. It's a horn that clearly is desirable and to be honest I've not tried one on the basis that its going to be already 40-65 years old. I'm thinking moving parts that start to get expensive to repair... is that a valid concern? Older horn made when Quality control may have been better than newer ones?

Interested about your comment on the Ref54 .. growing to dislike your one. I value your opinion, as a mpc maker I'm thinking you've clearly got a great sound model in your head or you wouldn't be producing mouthpieces that people also rave about.
 
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