Saxophones Elkhart Deluxe Review

As there`s a Drought of Soprano reviews I thoght I`d review the Elkhart Deluxe straight One PIece model which has wandered across my path today . OK you maybe thinking "What good's a review by a Tenor player who`s naff at Soprano" but horns of this level (Sub £700) are bought by those wanting to branch out like myself and Raw beginners . I found this horn especially interesting to test as its the current model and not an old less common model like the Superb 300 series Curved .

The Deluxe is still made in Taiwan like the Series II and 300 series were and cost about the same as other mid-range far-eastern horns.. This one has a light Bronze bell , gold brass Pillars and keywork and a fetching mix of nickel and brass stack tubes . I`d guess that the body is a Bronze mix (Rose Brass?) metal as there`s no practical way I know of which they could use clear laq on the pillars and rose laq on the body .

the feel & build of the keywork is very "TJ revolution" - :- better than expected and better than the usual chinese stuff but not quite as nice as the Pro horns or in fact the old 300 series Curved I have but its not night and day, the LH stack tubes with the bell keys are very long so aren`t as tough as the both sided setup of the Curved models with the bell keys on the left, I`m not doing a bend the keywork test BTW . the pads seem good without any sticky ones on this well played horn .. The overall quality feels good like the TJ Rev series does but the old 300 curved feels that bit nicer ..

Playability and sound - well this is where my incompetance comes into play, someone like Jim Cheek could drag a perfect performance out of a Flying Dogfish brand £99 junk-o-rama Sop with any of the odd shaped necks and the supplied mouthpiece but it takes a good horn to play well straight away by a clueless tenor player who`s neverr played Sop before and that was where the old Curved 300 shocked me, it was instantly playable, so much so that I couldn`t put the thing down . Schools should give these things to kids instead of Clarinets ! ...

I stuck my Esprit Piece on The Elkhart Deluxe and was greeted with the same playabilty and I don`t think that the month of Sop I`ve had was the culprit, I really think it`s as playable by a beginner sopranist as the 300 series Curved and to a Raw beginner, Likely a damn site more playable than a clarinet. the balance isn`t as good as a Curved Sop and I fear for those long tubes and exposed bell keys if it took a knock but I can`t see any Straight being any different .. Sound seems a bit more mellow and a bit more woodwindy than the Curved but it still can bite (and the diff maybe perception due to bell angle)

Recommended ? - I think this would be a good buy new though there are Rev-IIs BWs and JPs in the same area also needing consideration but it`s well in the running, I`ve not played a BW Sop but I can`t see it being much if any better value (going by the larger horns)

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Followup ........

Having played the Elkhart Deluxe now across over a day I thought I`d post my continual findings..

It`s been said that there is little or no difference between the sound of the Curved to the Straight so I did the test facing different surfaces with the staright and fair enough, a lot of the brightness returns but never quite as much as the 300 series puts out, also that woodindy edge (which to me is the Sop Signature) remains , the 300 Curved also has slightly raspier and deeper bell notes .. these differences could be more down to the actual two horns being ages apart and one being a bronze one piece (sees can of worms opening) though I doubt the Bronze is making a diff, it`s a total true cone unlike any other form of sax ..

I`ve not tried a sling as I don `t use one on the Curved but the Straight doesn`t half become a pain in the Thumb after a short while, it`s as if the Slung-up bell on the Curved shifts the centre of gravity or something . the horns weigh about the same . Handing is still just fine and all keys are smooth acting, it even has the High G key which is missing from the Curved 300 and all "regular" saxes I know of (altos, tenors etc) , it seems to be a straight sop thing . the pads are well centred too the action low enough and no unsightly clunks, I can`t see anyone being unhappy with this horn, even Raw beginners .

One thing which puzzles me is how to pull a 1-piece Sop through ? . apart from using a sax-saver like a bog-brush (not tried as I haven`t got one ) or the method I tried of poking a rag in with a sopranino recorder then getting it back with a pokey stick down the neck I can`t think . even a clarinet pull wouldn`t get through that little hole and would be ineffective much more than a 1/4 down the bore anyway . no wonder it came with a pack of Pad drying tissues ..
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