Another one passes through my hands!
A Venus Alto in shiny nickel plate this time. Believed to be 2 1/2 years old and sold on as the previous owner had bought a more professional instrument. Steve Howard reviewed a 2009 model in October 2010 and ended up liking it.
Following Steve's format, I found this model to be in almost perfect condition apart from a little brass showing inside the curve of the r/h thumb rest, and a few cork buffers missing.
A wipe over showed no visible evidence of scratching to the nickel, but then one advantage of its slippery surface is that is does shun such damage better than lacquered brass. Overall it looks very attractive, with some subtle engraving to the bell.
It appears very solidly built with a quality finish and with no evident shortcuts in production techniques.
The tone holes on this one are all smooth but there were a few sticky pads which cleaned up with isopropyl alcohol and lost their stickiness just fine. I also replaced a few corks here and there which must have had difficulty sticking to such a smooth surface.
The octave key mechanism has no play in it as with Steve's review model and the action is sprung with blued steel springs not stainless as with his earlier model. Perhaps Venus made some alterations to production after reading his review?
Playing it I find it to be a very easy blow with nicely weighted keywork although this is slightly noisier than with my Buffet 400. This could be improved as Steve says by replacing some of the rubber bumpers with felt ones.
I had no problems with any notes and the tone is fairly Yamaha like in that it's quite bright, with a Yam 4C MP, and notes aren't so bendable as with the Buffet. However, for a sax costing under £200 it's incredible value for money and if that's all you have to spend you should definitely get one of these. It's also available in some funky colours if that's what floats your boat!