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Saxophones Suggestions please - an alto sax with creamy sound and modern keywork

nigeld

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I have a Buescher True Tone Alto Sax - looks fantastic and sounds lovely, but the vintage keywork doesn't fit my fingers. This really came home to me the first time I played alto with a quartet - we were playing Eine Kleine Nachtmusic, which is not slow, so I would have been struggling in any case, but I was also missing a lot of the pinkie-key notes because my fingers were not hitting the keys. So I reluctantly decided to abandon the vintage sax and get a modern one. I got a Yamaha YAS280 and it is a joy to play - the keywork is fantastic. But when I hear a recording of myself, I think the sound is so much nicer on the Buescher. Personally, I would describe the Yamaha sound as a bit grainy and unsubtle, rather than too bright - there is an immediate "what you see is what you get" feel about it that is appealing, but it lacks the lovely smooth creaminess of the Buescher.

So of course, I would like the best of both worlds. Paying for a Selmer is not an option, so I will have to compromise. I definitely want keywork with good ergonomics, and I want a sound that is smoother/creamier than the Yamaha. I am not bothered about ability to scream or cut through the band - I will be playing in small groups, mainly classical. If I can play duets with my teacher and match his tone (pruple logo YAS-62), I will be satisfied.

Priorities:
1. Ergonomics
2. Creamy sound

I am currently using a large amount of Sugru to build up the keys of the Buescher, and it is possible that this will help enough. And the great thing about Sugru is that if it doesn't work, I can remove it without marking the horn.

But I'm also wondering what horns there are that might do the trick. So I thought I would ask the Forum for suggestions. Who better than your good selves to provide well-founded advice? I am asking for opinions at the moment - this is not a "Wanted" ad - I am looking for candidates that I have not thought of, or to remove ones from my current list. Prejudiced opinions are fine. I could pay up to £1000, though I would obviously prefer to pay less. It would probably be second-hand. Appearance comes a distant third after ergonomics and tone. And once I decide what I am looking for, I can wait until the right horn comes along - I have two excellent altos to keep me happy for now.

My candidate list so far (all second hand):
Hanson SA8 (I have never heard or played one, so I would be interested to hear from those who have.)
Vito Beaugnier 37 or 38 (though I am concerned about the ergonomics)
Yanagisawa 901 (right at the top of my price range, or above)
Antigua (I have never heard or played one, so I would be interested to hear from those who have.)
Bauhaus - either the Chinese one (I could afford a new one) or the posh one. What is the difference between them?

So: suggestions please for a not-very-expensive alto with modern keywork and a creamy sound.
 

DavidUK

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To my ears the Jericho J6 wasn't far off the sound of my SA80II, but do get other people's opinions on this.
Not sure it that's creamy, but it IS Selmer sounding.

Cross the Beaugniers off your list if you want similar ergonomics to the 280.

I didn't consider my A901 to be "creamy" in any way, but it's subjective.

I didn't like my Bauhaus Walstein build quality.

Has that helped?
 

jonf

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It's a tricky one. I've had a Buescher True Tone for years, and I absolutely agree with you on both tone and ergonomics. I think it will be tricky to get something with the same tone as a True Tone with modern ergonomics. I'd doubt whether any of the ones you list will give you that Buescher tone. I've had 71 altos (!) and the only one which sounds like the Buescher is the Buescher. The other thing is, I don't think you're going to sound like your tutor by changing your sax. Even if you play the same sax as he plays, he'll sound like him, you'll sound like you. Have you had a go on his sax with your own mouthpiece? If you did, what did you think? All I can suggest is a pilgrimage to somewhere like Woodwind Exchange to try as many saxes as you can. My personal favourite alto is an old Yanagisawa, which is more mellow than the A901. Still doesn't make the same sound as the Buescher, though.
 

nigeld

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To my ears the Jericho J6 wasn't far off the sound of my SA80II, but do get other people's opinions on this.
Not sure it that's creamy, but it IS Selmer sounding.

Cross the Beaugniers off your list if you want similar ergonomics to the 280.

I didn't consider my A901 to be "creamy" in any way, but it's subjective.

I didn't like my Bauhaus Walstein build quality.

Has that helped?

Many thanks - that is exactly the sort of reply I was hoping for.
Other people's opinions will be equally welcome.
 

nigeld

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I know I won't get the sound of the Buescher. But I want something smoother than the Yamaha.
 

nigeld

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The other thing is, I don't think you're going to sound like your tutor by changing your sax. Even if you play the same sax as he plays, he'll sound like him, you'll sound like you. Have you had a go on his sax with your own mouthpiece? If you did, what did you think?

Yes, I know I am never going to sound like my tutor, but he can produce a sweetness of tone that I (possibly mistakenly) felt I could match on the Buescher. I have briefly tried playing my tutor's YAS-62, and I was rather disappointed - it felt to me like a muffled version of my YAS-280. I think he was impressed by the 280 as well.
 

jbtsax

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I am of the opinion that the instrument itself has the least effect upon the tone and sound. The factors that have the most effect in order of importance are: 1) the player's concept, 2) the mouthpiece, and 3) the reed. That said, I would suggest finding a more modern saxophone with ergonomics you like, and searching for a mouthpiece/reed combination that helps to facilitate the tone you are looking for. For a warm-round sound on my Super Balanced alto, I use a Rousseau 4R, Rico Reserve 3.0 reeds and a "donut mute" shown below.

images
 

ellinas

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There's absolutely nothing you can't do with a 280. If you feel the sound is "thin" a good cure is to switch to a more spread mouthpiece. An even better solution is to perform long tones until you produce this sound.

What is your current mouthpiece?

About Beaugnier ergonomics, I can say that model 38 has a very very nice and neutral keys arrangement. My 38s all have the "selmer" style spatula which is a little bit different than a Selmer but some crazy classical passages are much easier if you get used to it.
The older Beaugnier spatula is for me really difficult to play.

Don't try to buy your sound. Try to build it with what you have. And a 280 is a great saxophone. A little bit on the bright side though... as most Yamaha instruments :)
 

nigeld

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There's absolutely nothing you can't do with a 280. If you feel the sound is "thin" a good cure is to switch to a more spread mouthpiece. An even better solution is to perform long tones until you produce this sound.

What is your current mouthpiece?

The 280 sound is not thin, rather the opposite - it is rather too robust.

I currently use a Selmer S80 C* mouthpiece on the Buescher and a Selmer Soloist on the Yamaha. These seem to work best for me.
 

Pete Thomas

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I have a Bauhaus AS-PD,

These are great. If you want to go vintage though, my recommendation would be Buescher 400 TH & C (I am actually using a Bauhaus neck on mine at the moment)

My absolute favourite modern horn though would be a Adolphe Sax & cie - I tried a few of these when i was in Brugge last year, I may just go back there and get one. I think just slightly more than your budget what with the old pound/euro now.
 

nigeld

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For a warm-round sound on my Super Balanced alto, I use a Rousseau 4R, Rico Reserve 3.0 reeds and a "donut mute" shown below.

I never thought of a mute. I shall try to make one.
 

nigeld

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These are great. If you want to go vintage though, my recommendation would be Buescher 400 TH & C (I am actually using a Bauhaus neck on mine at the moment)

My absolute favourite modern horn though would be a Adolphe Sax & cie - I tried a few of these when i was in Brugge last year, I may just go back there and get one. I think just slightly more than your budget what with the old pound/euro now.

Sadly, Buescher 400 Top Hat and Cane saxes are now expensive. I blame Stephen Howard. >:)

The Adolph Sax and Cie models look interesting. I hadn't heard of them. But the altos all cost over €2500, so quite a way beyond my budget.
 

kevgermany

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That's a new one on me. Can you say more about them?
I can, but won't, they were made by Höhner, their sax department was run by one of the Keilwerth brothers. I heard one lad in his early teens playing one.. Fantastic big rich creamy sound. I'd seriously consider one as a replacement for my yani tenor, but haven't been looking.

There's a lot of info about them on Bassic sax:

Hohner President - Bassic Sax | Bassic Sax

Let's just say, top line pro saxes, superb sound, very little known and very under rated. Not common, either.
 
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