So, this model came into my shop as part of a buy-trade. I am usually interested in Jupiters above their old 5XX series horns because I have found most of them to actually be very respectable, and they continue to go completely ignored on the used market.
Also, because (admittedly) I am always interested in expanding my experiences of models which exist at the same price point as the ubiquitous and ad-infinitum-suggested Yama 23's. Not because I have anything against the latter...it has achieved its rep for a reason...but more because as the years go on, it's become quite clear that other companies produced good models which possess their own attributes and are worthy of as much consideration.
the JK ST90's (up to and including the Series III's) are another model I put in that category - a very good alternative to the usual suggestion.
This was a Carnegie XL (now sold), which according to my buddy over at KHS-USA, was in its time (discontinued in the middle of the first decade of this millennium) 'sorta between our student and intermediate lines'. Pressing him a bit more, he said 'it was our student horn 'template', but with added features which pushed it a shelf above'.
This is a good sax. The build quality is excellent; the keywork was in great shape, no play had developed so no swedging was required. around 60% of the pads were factory original and they were quite good pads; firmer than Yamaha's stock pads, which will align to a under-fingers 'feel' which is now en vogue.
No tonehole leveling was required, really; a couple of holes had the tiniest of unlevelness which was alleviated with a couple of swipes of the hole file; honestly in a typical servicing visit, most techs would just have left them be, with valid reason.
No key play, level holes....next, precision of pivots: very good. No binding of keys could be had due to overtightening of pivot screws, and the post threads felt nice and smooth. The king post of the pinky table (this is the clustered post which holds 4 pinky table keys, in this instance, at the pinky table) was robust and designed in such a way that the screws actually counter-sink into the post head...a nice little detail, looks pretty sexy.
Body gauge is substantial, she feels like a substantial Tenor in the hands.
Ergos were very good, definitely slicker and more responsive under the fingers than a Yama 21/23...I suspect this is where the "added features" which the rep described came in...comparing it both to the Yamas, the later Jupe 5XX's, and the earlier Jupe STS series horns, the precision and feel was just in a different class. Comparing it to a more contemporary intermediate-level Jupe, I'd say the keywork action on the Carnegie matches those, which is to say quite good.
Pinky table is quick, palmkeys are nicely placed, sidekeys as well, and she has a teardrop front F which is right there where you want it.
Under the fingers its response is more reminiscent of a horn like a Yama 61 or even an Eastman.
Intonation: nice and even up and down the registers.
if its fair to say feel and build were a step above, the sonic character followed the same path. Playtested against a Vito-Yama 23 I was concurrently working up, the Carnegie has a slightly wider spread to her. More harmonics, a lusher overall tonality. This, produced, to mine ears, a sound with more 'cojones' than the typical 23, which is narrower and brighter, and dare I say (yes I do), thinner (for lack of a better word).
Would I go so far as to say it leans towards a dark, vintage tone ?
No, that would be pushing it. Jupiter has produced a horn like that (the 8XX Artist)..but that came later and I doubt the Carnegie was ever intended to push that envelope too much.
But the tonality does have more 'weight' to it, if that makes sense. It sounds 'bigger' than the usual modern, used student horn suspects.
Sort of the way an upper-shelf Yama or even a Yani starts sounding big and lush, but not necessarily 'dark' or 'vintage-y'.
Any negatives ? The only one which struck me was this: the neck tube is a bit light, and it arrived with some pulldown easily corrected...but the sheet brace on the underside is, IMHO, a tad short...IOW, it should have extended further towards the mouthpiece end, which would have given the neck a bit more resistance, structurally.
Not something which an adult player should really worry about, but I can see how in a grade-school or secondary-school context this could be a negative.
So, there you go. At least here, in US, these - which do not appear often but do appear now and again, regularly - are completely off everyone's radar; and they shouldn't be. The general consensus on Jupiter is they were ina learning curve from the late 80's to late 90's, but by 2000 they had gotten the kinks out and were producing good stuff.
Based upon the models of theirs I have tried and serviced - that'd be probably around 20-25 different Jupes over time... which ranged from early 90's - 2016 or so, I concur with that.
One frustrating thing about Jupiter, IMHO...is...they produced some GOOD models over time, but for some reason discontinued them. I am sure there may have been marketing reasons for this but it would have behooved their reputation to allow their good models to dig in for the longer haul.
Too many model name/model number changes, too often...hard for a particular model to gain familiarity and name recognition when you do that.
Again, this coming from me...I am sure at the corporate decision level they had their reasons. It's just that, hey, the 21 and 23...those were made for a really long stretch, relatively speaking; Yama didn't keep changing the model names ever 4 or 5 years. I think Jupe should have done the same.
This... is a nice horn, and seem to be at a price point of around $400-500 to acquire one which is visually at least, in good, respectable shape (not abused, neglected, project). But may not be guaranteed by the seller to be in top playing shape.
So acquiring one for that, and having maybe $150-200 of tech work done to get her dialed in if necessary...you'd have a pretty darn nice Tenor there, possessing a bit more in the feel and sound category than the 21's/23's....without sacrificing build quality.
I sold this one for $700, no problem....one with a bit more lacq wear I would probably have dropped by $50; either is a price point which occupies the "I cannot extend much, but I can afford a budget used Tenor and I have a little extra to throw in to boost it above the usual minimum price zone".
And that is what you'd end up with, based upon my experience with this one.
If you stumble across one and your curiousity is piqued, I'd say give 'er a go.