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Saxophones Cheap Sops.

kevgermany

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Rant mode on...

I'm fed up with cheap Sops. 4 so far. The first, a curvy, needed a bit of regulation and a couple of pads adjusting, so not too bad, but I couldn't get on with the sound, so I sold it. A couple of sops later I realised the sound was me, not the sop.

Second was a cheap curvy. Seller told me it was bad. Played ok at FF, but anything quieter was useless. Turned out to have many toneholes that were rough/uneven from manufacture. Lot's of filing and adjusting later it plays ok. Just. The soft pads help. Didn't sell it, couldn't inflict it on anyone. Besides I can chuck it in the car and not worry about it. Doesn't sound too bad with a decent mouthpiece. Trouble is the mouthpiece is twice the value of the sax.

So I learnt from it and bought a premium Chinese, checked over by a pro repairer. Brand that's often recommended here. That'll be ok, I thought. Wrong. Turned out to have toneholes as bad as the real cheapy. I guess the pro's skills were directed at getting it playing without spending too much time on it, not at fixing the faults. Much filing, tone hole leveling and regulation later, as well as cleaning out all the grease and replacing it with oil, I had a sop that played well, sounded good and looked good. Idiot sold it to get a nice tenor.

Eventually sop 4 arrived. Supposedly a good Chinese brand. One that's been recommended here. Toneholes weren't as bad as the last two, but needed quite a bit of work. One neck was leaking, making bottom register difficult to impossible at medium and low volume. Pads stick. Lots of leaks that could be blown through at high volumes, but not at P. Springs keep coming loose in the posts. G# had a tricky leak that took ages to fix, cos you can't really get to it. Final key to this was that the lh cluster was holding it open slightly. Neck octave pip hadn't been finished properly, had some swarf sticking up that cut the pad and caused a leak. I still need to find some springs, fit them properly and then hopefully it's right. Hopefully.

Other faults that seem to be common is keys rubbing on each other and the long Bb arm, heavy action, sloppy keywork. Loose/leaky necks.

I've just about had it with cheap Sops. Maybe I'll sell a couple of tenors to get a decent one. But.... I hardly play sop, so is it worth it. Had a quick look at @AlanU's curved Yani. Lovely. Real quality. Didn't dare play it, I'd have wanted one.

Rant off.


But seriously, if you want a cheap sop, be aware that you get what you pay for.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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But seriously, if you want a cheap sop, be aware that you get what you pay for.
Well, quite.
All the cheap sops I've tried I've not wanted to own.
The cheapest sop I've got is a Bauhaus curved which I use for amplified gigs. It's not at all bad but I still prefer the 2 Yanagisawas.
 

Jeanette

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Often but not always with anything you get what you pay for to a degree if you ignore the high end of any market :)

Jx
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
Them curved Yanis are bit special. Bit dear but a bit good. I don't mind having to fettle stuff that's cheap. Can't afford the good stuff.
 

AlanU

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602
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Enfield, North London
Well yes it is lovely, cute is a probably a better word.
But it sounds great too, it sounds like a Saxophone!
It's not just in my hands that straight sopranos sound more like oboes or snake charmers.

I agree the curved Yanagisawa 992 is not cheap, I bought mine second hand. I don't think sopranos get knocked about as much as bigger instruments.

And Kev, I think you should sell other horns to finance one. How many tenors does one man need?
The change will do you good.
 

Ivan

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How cheap is cheap?

I recently bought a new Conn Selmer for a grand

That money bought a curly sax that's Taiwan made, accurately built with excellent intonation

The sax doesn't carry the faults @kevgermany describes, which were all present in a £200 second hand Elkhart I made the (same) mistake of buying

Soprano is an occasional instrument for me, but when I play it I want it to play well, which justifies the not inconsiderable outlay
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
How cheap is cheap? I paid £170 ish for a new G4M "ex display" curvy sop. Many little niggly faults, but it seems they occur on more expensive low end models. Poorly finished, filed, tone holes with burrs causing sticking pads, palm keys interfering with each other, spring tension and key heights. Poor regulation. But after a little fettling, it plays well enough and with the right mouthpiece intonation is good enough.
 

Ivan

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How cheap is cheap? I paid £170 ish for a new G4M "ex display" curvy sop. Many little niggly faults, but it seems they occur on more expensive low end models. Poorly finished, filed, tone holes with burrs causing sticking pads, palm keys interfering with each other, spring tension and key heights. Poor regulation. But after a little fettling, it plays well enough and with the right mouthpiece intonation is good enough.
Isn't Kev rejecting exactly those niggles you are on about?

It's repairable but for how long? Then it become an ongoing project. Bit like the Forth Bridge; but not so well made; obvs
 
Last edited:

garrobito

Member
Messages
131
Locality
Alameda, CA, USA
How cheap is cheap? I got a Chateau stencyl for around 1K on Benjamins.
After I invested another $300 on a new Phil Barone neck and another $100 on a decent mouthpiece, $60 changing ligature and $60 in a decent neck support, I feel my sax sounds better.. not good but more deep and less metal thing.. total... $1520... I could get a very decent yani or a new Barone for same amount...
 

sdt99

Member
Messages
177
Did anyone try one of the crescent sopranos from Palo Tung at just saxes ?

I ask because I bought one of his (incredibly inexpensive) baris. and it plays incredibly well, and seems quite solid. It's not quite YBS-52 but it cost less than 1/3rd of the Yamaha.
 

Ivan

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Did anyone try one of the crescent sopranos from Palo Tung at just saxes?
If you've had a good experience first time round; maybe it's a good bet

Do you have intermediate sized saxes or are you going for the extremes of size: sop and bari?
 
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sdt99

Member
Messages
177
I mainly play tenor (super 20) and I have an alto (Martin). I have a very old very cheap sop that I hate and no intention of buying another soprano - I was just wondering if Palo's sopranos bucked the trend of cheap = bad.
 

jonf

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4,123
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Betelgeuse
Did anyone try one of the crescent sopranos from Palo Tung at just saxes ?

I ask because I bought one of his (incredibly inexpensive) baris. and it plays incredibly well, and seems quite solid. It's not quite YBS-52 but it cost less than 1/3rd of the Yamaha.
I had a look at the Just Saxes web site, but gave up.One of the worst web sites I've seen for years.
 

Lesley

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1,641
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Shelley Beach South Africa
Rant mode on...

I'm fed up with cheap Sops. 4 so far. The first, a curvy, needed a bit of regulation and a couple of pads adjusting, so not too bad, but I couldn't get on with the sound, so I sold it. A couple of sops later I realised the sound was me, not the sop.

Second was a cheap curvy. Seller told me it was bad. Played ok at FF, but anything quieter was useless. Turned out to have many toneholes that were rough/uneven from manufacture. Lot's of filing and adjusting later it plays ok. Just. The soft pads help. Didn't sell it, couldn't inflict it on anyone. Besides I can chuck it in the car and not worry about it. Doesn't sound too bad with a decent mouthpiece. Trouble is the mouthpiece is twice the value of the sax.

So I learnt from it and bought a premium Chinese, checked over by a pro repairer. Brand that's often recommended here. That'll be ok, I thought. Wrong. Turned out to have toneholes as bad as the real cheapy. I guess the pro's skills were directed at getting it playing without spending too much time on it, not at fixing the faults. Much filing, tone hole leveling and regulation later, as well as cleaning out all the grease and replacing it with oil, I had a sop that played well, sounded good and looked good. Idiot sold it to get a nice tenor.

Eventually sop 4 arrived. Supposedly a good Chinese brand. One that's been recommended here. Toneholes weren't as bad as the last two, but needed quite a bit of work. One neck was leaking, making bottom register difficult to impossible at medium and low volume. Pads stick. Lots of leaks that could be blown through at high volumes, but not at P. Springs keep coming loose in the posts. G# had a tricky leak that took ages to fix, cos you can't really get to it. Final key to this was that the lh cluster was holding it open slightly. Neck octave pip hadn't been finished properly, had some swarf sticking up that cut the pad and caused a leak. I still need to find some springs, fit them properly and then hopefully it's right. Hopefully.

Other faults that seem to be common is keys rubbing on each other and the long Bb arm, heavy action, sloppy keywork. Loose/leaky necks.

I've just about had it with cheap Sops. Maybe I'll sell a couple of tenors to get a decent one. But.... I hardly play sop, so is it worth it. Had a quick look at @AlanU's curved Yani. Lovely. Real quality. Didn't dare play it, I'd have wanted one.

Rant off.


But seriously, if you want a cheap sop, be aware that you get what you pay for.
I hope feel better now :):)
 

Lesley

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1,641
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Shelley Beach South Africa
Moral if the story.....buy the best you can at the time. Just a bit of useless info ;)
 

nigeld

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I've had two cheap sopranos. I didn't have any problems with the quality or playability - they were remarkably good, though they weren't as nice to play as the (more expensive) one I have replaced them with. Of course I may just be justifying the purchase to myself, but I think my current saxophone is more satisfying and sounds better. Intonation is also better, but I could manage well-enough for me on the cheap ones. So my view is that cheap saxophones are ideal for sticking a toe in the water.

One thing I noticed when I was looking for a replacement for my tick-logo Sakkusu soprano (cost £200 used) was that I had to go right up into Yamaha/Yanagisawa/Sequioa territory in order to find something that I thought was better. The intermediate (Taiwanese) horns that I tried didn't seem much nicer than the one I had. (Or at least, not enough better to justify the extra cost. It's possible that they are better built, but the ones I tried didn't sound or feel better.) So it seemed to me that there are three groups I would consider for used sopranos:

High-end Chinese (e.g. Bauhaus) or low-end Taiwanese (e.g. Elkhart Deluxe) for under £400 (used)
Yamaha YSS-475 for about £1100 (used)
So-called "Pro" horns for over £1700 (used)

I'm not including vintage horns here because I haven't tried any.
 

Tiberius

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,062
Locality
England
I had an ultra-cheap Venus brand soprano, I found it perfectly playable in all but the palm key area. Certainly the rest of the notes were playable in tune, even as a beginner who doesn't play soprano much. New it was £195. Certainly doesn't rival a pro-level horn, but as I say, even I could play notes in tune according to my tuner. Sadly they don't make them nemore.

I only got rid of it as I came across another cheap one, that is equal to may pro-level ones. Same make as my tenor they tend to go for around £300ish on ebay.
 

MMM

Senior Member
Messages
1,099
Locality
SW of London Town
Rant mode on...

I'm fed up with cheap Sops. 4 so far. The first, a curvy, needed a bit of regulation and a couple of pads adjusting, so not too bad, but I couldn't get on with the sound, so I sold it. A couple of sops later I realised the sound was me, not the sop.

Second was a cheap curvy. Seller told me it was bad. Played ok at FF, but anything quieter was useless. Turned out to have many toneholes that were rough/uneven from manufacture. Lot's of filing and adjusting later it plays ok. Just. The soft pads help. Didn't sell it, couldn't inflict it on anyone. Besides I can chuck it in the car and not worry about it. Doesn't sound too bad with a decent mouthpiece. Trouble is the mouthpiece is twice the value of the sax.

So I learnt from it and bought a premium Chinese, checked over by a pro repairer. Brand that's often recommended here. That'll be ok, I thought. Wrong. Turned out to have toneholes as bad as the real cheapy. I guess the pro's skills were directed at getting it playing without spending too much time on it, not at fixing the faults. Much filing, tone hole leveling and regulation later, as well as cleaning out all the grease and replacing it with oil, I had a sop that played well, sounded good and looked good. Idiot sold it to get a nice tenor.

Eventually sop 4 arrived. Supposedly a good Chinese brand. One that's been recommended here. Toneholes weren't as bad as the last two, but needed quite a bit of work. One neck was leaking, making bottom register difficult to impossible at medium and low volume. Pads stick. Lots of leaks that could be blown through at high volumes, but not at P. Springs keep coming loose in the posts. G# had a tricky leak that took ages to fix, cos you can't really get to it. Final key to this was that the lh cluster was holding it open slightly. Neck octave pip hadn't been finished properly, had some swarf sticking up that cut the pad and caused a leak. I still need to find some springs, fit them properly and then hopefully it's right. Hopefully.

Other faults that seem to be common is keys rubbing on each other and the long Bb arm, heavy action, sloppy keywork. Loose/leaky necks.

I've just about had it with cheap Sops. Maybe I'll sell a couple of tenors to get a decent one. But.... I hardly play sop, so is it worth it. Had a quick look at @AlanU's curved Yani. Lovely. Real quality. Didn't dare play it, I'd have wanted one.

Rant off.


But seriously, if you want a cheap sop, be aware that you get what you pay for.

... should have bought from me !!! I still think the only tick logo Sakkusu and Elkhart Deluxe are very good (for the price) considering they go for roughly the price of a good mouthpiece!
But yes, can't beat a Yani sop!
 

SopJob

Member
Messages
86
Locality
Stuttgart region, Germany
Still cheap might turn out expensive. I remember my first sop. It was a stencil from a local dealer (Grandprix), built in Taiwan, they told me. It had a silver coating and a very nice, warm sound. Price was 800 Euros. I bought it because I was not sure whether I'd stick with the soprano. Thought it couldn't be really bad. But the octave mechanism broke 4 times in the first year. They always repaired it at no cost for me, but I had enough. I returned it, and got 500 Euros back and a discount on a Yani.
 

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