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Saxophones Chateau VA500UL Alto Review

Ordered their new unlacquered VA500UL after hearing nice things from sellers and buyers alike that the company overall made good saxes. Horn is dipped into some kind of stain to make it look super old. I didn't know this, thought it was some kind of chemical dip. After playing it for 5 minutes I had already worn off the paint on the high D palm key and it was just your basic bright looking brass underneath. Action was strong, like a series II. Horn is very heavy. My fingers smelled like metal for a while after I was done which was cool. I play a 1994 Meyer Limited Edition New York alto mouthpiece (#0698) and it all sounded good while warming up, especially D and lower, nice big full complete bellow of alto saxness. After I was warmed up I got my tuner out to see how it was showing up on the intonation scale. This is when everything went bad. Tuning to middle A made me put the mouthpiece almost to the very deepest end of the cork, I was pushing it in as hard as I could. I warmed up for another 30 minutes playing my old LeGammes throughout thinking maybe the horn was cold or something. Tuned it to concert F# (E flat) and decided to try again... this time I could not physically get the mouthpiece down enough to get it in tune... enormously flat. I chomped on that reed so hard but to no avail. SO I went back to concert C and then proceeded to test the following notes below; on average I was 10.5 cents flat From high A to low Bf. All figures are flat in cents and with how many cents they were off:
A = 13 cents; Af/G# = 9 cents; G = 10 cents; F# = 11 cents; F = 8 cents; E = 11 cents; D#/Ef = 10 cents; D = 8 cents; C#/Df = 4 cents; C = 11 cents; B = 8 cents; A#/Bf = 7 cents; A = 0 cents; Af/G# = 13 cents; G = 12 cents; F# = 9 cents; F = 5 cents; E = 11 cents; D#/Ef = 23 cents; D = 8 cents; C#/Df = 25+ cents; C = 25+ cents; B = 20 cents; A#/Bf = 0 cents;

Overall this was one of the most horrendous horns I have ever played (not as bad as Jupiter's 547 soprano - my all-time pic for worst instrument ever), but at least it sounded nice. I was shocked when low Bf came out perfectly, just shocked, how is that even possible when B is 20 cents flat? I could not get any of the notes to 0 cents, as hard as I tried with my mouth. I was so tired after playing it for an hour. It was stuffy in the top range. Altissimo was weak but worked, like an old BA would sound except flat, not sharp. Ergonomics were fine and its always fun to play a fun looking horn. But overall do not ever play this thing with a piano or acoustic guitar or basically any acoustic string instrument except perhaps a $30 ukulele from China. You will have a bad day. Is it worth $1899, no - perhaps $599. I returned the instrument the same night it came.
 
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