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cheap v pro sax gear - a controversial view...

A

Andante cantabile

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A disclaimer: I know nothing about Crane saxophones, and they are not on my buying horizon. So are about 98 other brands. So, no reflection on Crane or anything else.

A good saxophone has to saisfy several criteria. Among these are: no leaks, in tune and reasonable ergonomics. You don't need to spend a lot of money to get something that satisfies the basic criteria.

It so happens that yesterday I read the entry on saxophones in the Grove dictionary of musical instruments. This seems to have been written some years ago when the American saxophone industry was thriving, but it is still worth reading. The author observes that although producers are in the habit of bringing out new models every year or so, the improvements generally are of marginal value. This suggest that if the basic model is sound in the first place, the average player should consider carefully how to spend the money.

As for the skills of Brazilian footballers, it has nothing to do with playing on sand, and it has everything to with the popularity in Brazil of football which induces lots of boys (and maybe some girls) to try to emulate the stars. It is quite similar to the argument in Michael Porter's Competitive Advantage of Nations where he makes a convincing argument that industries that concentrated in certain geographical locations (e.g. textile machinery in Milan, printing machinery near Frankfurt, etc.) are likely to more innovative and competitive. This is because the pool of skilled participants in the industry becomes much greater. An earlier example may well have been the saxophone industry in Elkhart until tastes in consumer changes wiped it out, and now of course the Taiwanese industry in Houli.
 
old git

old git

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Zannad,
Your post on page 1 of this thread on hair splitting, is extremely offensive to the follicle-disadvantaged, amongst which I am numbered.
 
jonf

jonf

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Well, I've had about 40 saxes over the years, including some super cheapy ones and some very high quality ones. I could play tunes on them all. However, my Yanagisawa T992 is, by far, the best of all of them, and it makes it easier to sound good on any of the others. It's also a joy to play, comfy in my hands and has been totally reliable. It was very expensive but is simply much better than any of the cheapo brands (and the various vintage horns I've owned too). The T992 is also much better than the good budget saxes I've owned, including the three Bauhaus Walstein saxes I've had and also (sorry Davey) a YAS 21.

My conclusion? If you've got the dosh buy a top flight sax. If not, choose carefully, buy a cheaper one and you'll have something workable. But don't ever buy one with known faults inherant in it thinking that overcoming them will make you a better player. It won't, it'll just make you better at overcoming the faults on that particular horn.
 
saxnik

saxnik

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I agree totally with Saxyman - I've made similar comments on the forum before, that you should learn to play on a sax that works, but there's no point in spending a lot of money on a 'pro' sax. In the same way that I learnt to drive in a fiesta, and learnt all about the limitations of the feeble 1.1 engine (this was a few years back now) compared to the performance of other cars on the road. Once you've mastered that, your mercedes auto is very easy to drive (and my mondeo's not that bad either).

I still have an Olds Super tenor sax that I love the sound of. The trouble is that it is very flat on middle-line B and C above it. Plus the action is a bit awkward (1930's design?) and the soldering is a bit iffy...
All of a sudden when I got my Mauriat I could play faster and better because I wasn't having to make up for the shortcomings of my sax in the playing. Altissimo was now a possibility, and by buying a 'pro' level sax I hadn't sacrificed the sound. No-brainer.

As Nick said, for a player trying to make a living out of their horn, reliability (both build-quality and predictable response when playing) is key in horn choice. Which is why your Yamaha student models are fine, though the pro ones are better!

As for your pro-pills, Zannad, good plan, except that everyone would take one, and we'd be back to square one. Ability on the sax would be nothing special, and everyone would still idolise guitarists...

Nick
 
saxyman

saxyman

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Hey Saxnik
How do you know I drive a Merc 230 Sport Auto?
Have we met? If we have, Hi again.
Dave
 
ManEast

ManEast

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Love that 32 !

The only thing Intermediate about a 32 is the fact it was given that label by its makers.
I had one for years...and blindley traded it in for a Yamaha 875 ex Custom that in comparison felt dead. It resulted in me putting a small BlueTak Baffle in my Otto Link to get some colour out of it. The 875 was so heavy that 2hours a day practice along with 6 nights a week on the bandstand resulted in chronic neck probs.

Along with its reliablity, I would class the 32 to be very much a Pro horn. In fact, for me there aren't that many modern Tenor's that can hold a candle to your 32... yet alone Junk horns !
 
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S

singlereed

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Whatever sax you play, the most important thing is that it is properly adjusted so the pads are all sealing and the mechanisms are working properly. I have tried quite a few brand new Selmers and Keilwerths in dealers that actually were practically unplayable. Get a new Yamaha or Yanagisawa out of the box and it typically works perfectly. The cheaper makes seem to be doing a good job of delivering horns that work properly (hooray!) and this will also make them easier to play. That said, I think the real difference in playability with a high end pro horn is that you can get more dynamic range out of it and that needs a bit more resistance; it's a bit harder work to play it but as a better player, you'll have the chops to use it properly.
 
Z

zannad

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Hat off for Saxnik :welldone who dared come up with a brave answer about those magic pills...basically most people don't want to sweat and rather find shortcuts (cheating?) even for something they supposedly "love" doing like playing their sax - so come the next query: Why are these people (who would rather swallow these magic pills) playing/learning their saxes?
Let's face it, a lifetime made of shortcuts like the one above makes for a pretty boring existence...(at this point I'd be better off joining a philosophy forum)....no challenges ahead, no fights/no sweat no real sense of achievement?

Another quick word about that Crane....(still some think it's cxxp).
The horn is just fine - it plays all along its range (and above) and is well tuned....as I've just discovered the real problem was the mouthpiece I was using on that day, a Yamaha 7C, which isn't open enough for my taste...the Crane doesn't offer the excellent ergonomics as the Yamaha YTS32 - but it is nevertheless an honest sax.
Still, there was a sax-gear issue (whether it was the sax or the mouthpiece) which I've resolved.
 
kevgermany

kevgermany

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Of yourse the real way to prove your critics wrong is to play the Crane like Parker, Adderley etc.....

But I think you've identified a shortcoming in the pills. Good ones would amek you feel as if you'd really achieved something - and take away the sense of guilt about it being pill popping, not hard work that gave the results.
 
Z

zannad

Member
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Of yourse the real way to prove your critics wrong is to play the Crane like Parker, Adderley etc.....

But I think you've identified a shortcoming in the pills. Good ones would amek you feel as if you'd really achieved something - and take away the sense of guilt about it being pill popping, not hard work that gave the results.

Good point there...
A perfect pill would in fact make us believe in anything - yet it can't convince others on how we managed to become better than Charlie Parker in an instant...
More interestingly, there would be so many Charlie Parkers and Coltranes around (as we'll be all swallowing magic pills) that we'll have to find other ways to get noticed and to raise our standards even further....an inflation of geniuses = mediocrity.
 
Z

zannad

Member
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409
another point about sax gear....
It appears as there are better saxes than others out there (the price is a good indicator) - yet, I like to think as there are just saxes with different qualities.
It pays to be able to express one's talent in any environment or conditions no matter of what sax is being used (a good point also made by Thomsax on post 3)...personally, I'll keep playing my cheap saxes here and there just to keep a sense of perspective and also in order to better appreciate other "better" saxes (and to avoid becoming too spoiled).
The Martin Handcraft Alto I have might be a pig in ergonomic sense (and it doesn't have a top F#) but for sheer expressiveness is unbeatable.
Playing the Cranes (or the Martin) might feel like having to juggle with 4 balls instead of 3? Well, that can only bring more benefits in the end.
 
old git

old git

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Would you employ a member of any car or motorcycle competition team who could ask? "Now we've recorded the fastest qualifying times, let's alter the ride heights, toe ins, spring rates, brake balance, roll bar settings, tyre pressures and reverse the gear change pattern."

When you enquired "Why?" answered, "Because any competent driver could win with the present set up but it will be practically impossible to get even a finish with the new one. Will really make the driver's task difficult, besides, why should we make it easy for them?"

I am given to understand that a certain Forum member, not sure who, has entered the London Marathon but will play a baritone saxophone continuously and wear standard diving suit boots, just to give the Elite runners a sporting chance. >:)
 
Sunray

Sunray

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Would you employ a member of any car or motorcycle competition team who could ask? "Now we've recorded the fastest qualifying times, let's alter the ride heights, toe ins, spring rates, brake balance, roll bar settings, tyre pressures and reverse the gear change pattern."

When you enquired "Why?" answered, "Because any competent driver could win with the present set up but it will be practically impossible to get even a finish with the new one. Will really make the driver's task difficult, besides, why should we make it easy for them?"

I am given to understand that a certain Forum member, not sure who, has entered the London Marathon but will play a baritone saxophone continuously and wear standard diving suit boots, just to give the Elite runners a sporting chance. >:)

Good points you make OG ...

Ref: Bold text

Male or Female?

If by chance it is YC - I will be happy sponsor ...
 
old git

old git

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If by chance it is YC - I will be happy sponsor ...

Are you trying to kill him?

Official Zimmer Retainer is a similar status to Dalai Lama. Where are I'm going to get another?
 
Young Col

Young Col

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I'm touched by the high regard in which I am held. Anyway, I don't look good in diving boots.
YC
 
A

Andante cantabile

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I am given to understand that a certain Forum member, not sure who, has entered the London Marathon but will play a baritone saxophone continuously and wear standard diving suit boots, just to give the Elite runners a sporting chance. >:)

Do you know of any other way to run a marathon?
 
BigMartin

BigMartin

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I don't think a baritone sax and diving boots would affect my chances of completing a marathon in the slightest.
 
Sunray

Sunray

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I double dog dare you ....

I don't think a baritone sax and diving boots would affect my chances of completing a marathon in the slightest.

Register to run then Martin ... ;}

I will sponsor you £1 per mile ... [But Photos of you with your "Bari n Boots" will be essential to provide actual proof of your participation] :w00t:

Anyone else like to join in and see this happen?
 

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