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Saxophones Mini Review - Buffet 400 and 100 Altos side by side

:)

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MORE photos here: http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/slideshow/24366107


I've had my Buffet 400 Series Alto for three months now and I see no reason to change it. Having also had Jupiter 565-567, Yamaha YAS-275, Beaugnier Vito, the Buffet is a great horn with no bad habits and I'm really enjoying it.

So, along came an absolutely mint Buffet 100 Alto the other day, little used during its three year life-span.
I couldn't resist it as I'd been unable to find out much about the 400's sibling online and was curious.

Side by side there are few differences: The 100 has less engraving; no double arms on the bell keys; slightly differently angled Eb/low C keys; that's it! Case and MP are identical to the 400. Same semi ribbed construction.
Quality-wise, the 100 is as well made as it's big brother and looks great too.

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Playing it I couldn't feel a difference in the keywork but the 100 has a slightly brighter tone to my ear. This was with my Yamaha 4C MP and no doubt could be made darker with a different MP. Unlike the Yamaha both the Buffet's allow me to bend notes using different mouth shapes, as does the old Vito. With both the Yamaha and Jupiter I found it impossible to stray from their focused type of sound but that's probably just my inexperience. However, as the 100 is aimed at the beginner's market it's good that it helps to encourage flexibility in how notes sound.

The 100 retails at about £550 which is 2/3 of the 400 price but isn't available in the matte finish. Compared to a Yamaha student model I'd have no hesitation in recommending the Buffet 100 even if the price were the same.

At half the Yamaha's price, it's a steal!

:thumb:

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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Good review! As a fellow A400 owner I am amazed at its quality. Sounds like the A100 is not far behind and well worth a blow. Buffet were about the first saxophone manufacturers and their Taiwanese saxophones seem well worth looking at.

Kind regards
Tom
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Last week I was able to play the Buffet 100 alto and compare it with the 400, which is a real favourite of mine. I agree wholeheartedly about the keywork - plays very smoothly and easily. I was surprised at how good the tone was - quite complex and with a tone which straddled the gap between mellow and bright. It did not quite have the richness of the 400 and was a little brighter, but was superior sounding to the Yamaha 275 which I have tried on three separate occasions and always feel a little disappointed by.

I used a Drake Vintage Resin NY Jazz mpc, Marc Jean lig and used a Francois Louis Excellence 2 1/2 reed, which I would describe as leaning towards darker sound, and loved the sound. My 400 was a back up horn to my Selmer Ref54. If ever I need a back-up horn for my back-up horn I'd give the 100 serious consideration!
 

Jane M L

Member
Messages
265
Location
Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion
Last week I was able to play the Buffet 100 alto and compare it with the 400, which is a real favourite of mine. I agree wholeheartedly about the keywork - plays very smoothly and easily. I was surprised at how good the tone was - quite complex and with a tone which straddled the gap between mellow and bright. It did not quite have the richness of the 400 and was a little brighter, but was superior sounding to the Yamaha 275 which I have tried on three separate occasions and always feel a little disappointed by.

I used a Drake Vintage Resin NY Jazz mpc, Marc Jean lig and used a Francois Louis Excellence 2 1/2 reed, which I would describe as leaning towards darker sound, and loved the sound. My 400 was a back up horn to my Selmer Ref54. If ever I need a back-up horn for my back-up horn I'd give the 100 serious consideration!

These reviews are always interesting. How long does it take to make an assessment of a new [ to you ] instrument?
for instance - How long did you spend examining and playing this Buffet 100?
Did you try reaching the highest altissimo. How high did it play easily. Did you try subtones, overtones microharminics, rock, smooth, growl and how responive was this sax?
 
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DavidUK

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
5,517
Location
Near Lutterworth, Leics.
These reviews are always interesting. How long does it take to make an assessment of a new [ to you ] instrument?
for instance - How long did you spend examining and playing this Buffet 100?
Did you try reaching the highest altissimo. How high did it play easily. Did you try subtones, overtones microharminics, rock, smooth, growl and how responive was this sax?

Jane, surely you know the answers to your own questions, as it was your Buffet 100 he was playing?
Or did you leave the sax with Tom?

I've been playing Alto for 8 months now and have never heard my tutor speak of subtones, overtones, microharminics (?) or growl, although the latter seems obvious. You must be incredibly ahead of me with your playing?

:thumb:
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
These reviews are always interesting. How long does it take to make an assessment of a new [ to you ] instrument?
for instance - How long did you spend examining and playing this Buffet 100?
Did you try reaching the highest altissimo. How high did it play easily. Did you try subtones, overtones microharminics, rock, smooth, growl and how responsive was this sax?


I played the Buffet 100 for as long as I had to play your Weltklang Tenor the other day and in that time I could make a judgement that seemed very much in line with Steve Howards view - he thought that a cheap Chinese Tenor would sound way better than the Weltklang. When I have been playing sax for 7+ years you can tell pretty swiftly about the things that really matter - tone, ergonomics, playability up in both higher and lower registers. I know "my" sound on various instruments and can tell very easily as to whether an instrument facilitates, impedes or enhances that sound.

Given the endless negative comments you make about the Buffet 100 I wanted to redress the balance and be fair to others who may be choosing a new sax. In agreement with DavidUK I think that the 100 easily holds its own against the Yamaha 275 and is phenomenally easy to blow and play. It does, of course require a tighter embouchure to play the Alto compared to the Tenor which may have been important as you have only been playing for a matter of weeks. A weaker embouchure will make an alto harder to blow than a tenor which usually requires a looser embouchure and hence less wasted breath for a beginner. A tenor sax does require more air, as much as a trumpet, but less than a trombone

So I would say that it is very easy for an experienced player to assess a sax very quickly in terms of playability, tone and potentially any problems. Especially as all the other factors have been dealt with beforehand - mouthpiece, breath control, ligature tightness reed playability, embouchure and similar. I only want to assess what matters to me - I do not growl, except on trumpet, I don't care about altissimo. I do assess responsiveness and like to have a resonant sound rather than something simplistic, tinny, neutral, stuffy or dull. Same with reeds, same with mouthpieces. I have had both a Selmer prelude trumpet and a Yamaha 2 series Long Cornet that had very little life in them.
 

Jane M L

Member
Messages
265
Location
Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion
Jane, surely you know the answers to your own questions, as it was your Buffet 100 he was playing?
Or did you leave the sax with Tom?

I've been playing Alto for 8 months now and have never heard my tutor speak of subtones, overtones, microharminics (?) or growl, although the latter seems obvious. You must be incredibly ahead of me with your playing?

:thumb:
No, no. I'm no way ahead. i just use this totally different way of learning. I look for sax lessons on youtube and just try things out to try and get an idea of the range of possibilities. For instance Harvey Pittel was/is a n acclaimed player and academic teacher and he has a dozen 10 minute lessons on everything from a foolproof and easy to understand way of learning circular breathing to a brilliant lesson on imagining the sounds in a way that really helps muscle memory. [ and the value of overtone and subtone work for general sax musicality - whether one can do it properly yet doesn't matter, it's the envelope expansion that counts.] It's like learning from the horses mouth itself. And there are loads of good lessons out there that would be good for broadening one's approach . Hourly lessons are the foundation. Stuff you find on the internet is the icing on the cake.

You try to pick up an overview of the field that you want to discover as quickly as possible. I spent 10 years learning guitar which was just too difficult physically for me, whereas the sax just wortks. The guitar fun that I did with jazz improvisers for those years really tuned my ear and musicality in general. But no way ahead of you, I am sure. :shocked:
But since i go at it so intensely [ scorpio ] I can make big leaps from plateau to plateau. The Weltklang tenor that I picked up 2 weeks ago for someone else just speaks to me. I'll be able to play it at the Gathering tonight without feeling a complete noise...
Finding a sax that works for me has made the Buffet 100 that we're talking about suddenly come alive. Now that I would never have thought possible....
But I do find it less fluid than Klunk the 'Klang. So now I'm getting experience of that thing that I asked you about , namely 'playability', and I'm really surprised that the big tenor that strains my right hand should be easier on breathing and phrasing than the Buffet. maybe the spring tension needs to be adjusted for me.
Who knows.
Also the players I am drawn to are people like Hakon Kronstad - ' Sweden' which I first came across on a post by Altissimo - mostly baritone I think. And Sam Newsome , soprano - A Love Supreme. They use all those techniques. Subtone is Ben Webster and a lot of fun. I think it's doing that on the tenor that has helped to get those tones, at last, that TomMapfumo finds
in the Buffet
Hope that all makes sense. It's such a fascinating subject - learning the sax. When you want to learn at my age , you have to go like the clappers otherwise time wizzes past you.
"May the good lord save us all"
:D
 

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