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Saxophones Tenor sax: Buffet 400 vs. Keilwerth ST110 vs. Sequoia

MaGushoff

New Member
Messages
6
Hi everyone!
I'm on a hunt for a solid tenor. I'm finished my classical saxophone masters last year, my main instrument is alto (Selmer III). I played a lot of tenor at my university (Selmer II) and now I want to buy something on my own. I also play some jazz/funk/rock, so what I'm looking for is a solid all-rounder, I'm on a budget, so professional horns are out of my reach for the moment, and I am fully aware that i will have to get down with a few compromises for that matter. My preference of a sound is darker and rounder.
I've tried some of the tenors in last few weeks and would be glad to hear some opinions, if anyone has come across these horns or owe them.

Buffet 400 matte/antique: Has almost exatcly the sound that I personally search for in tenor, but you have to work for it(still managable though). Intonation is great, keywork is not the best but i think i could get used to it, the sound is nice through all the register and(I like that very much) it doesnt get edgy or "squeezy" if you push it in the upper register. On the opposite, it gets really beasty when you blow fully in it. It has a very definite sound(which I like), but like I said i takes some work/energy it and it's not very versatile-it stays dark whatever you do. Price: cca 1500€

Keilwerth ST110: Compared to Buffet it's much more generic(especially in terms of sound). Easier to play, intonation is also great, but in terms of sound it's nothing special. When i played classic it sounded almost too bright, when I pushed a little bit it started to get too edgy. I liked the keywork and intonation. but the sound is somehow generic(kind of like Yamahas). Price: cca 1500€

Sequoia (tried Lemon and Booster): Very nice in terms of sound(Lemon is brighter and more versatile, Booster is darker and more definite), but it has issues with intonation and also keywork. Very nice feature is that it comes with 2 necks...IMO it is not worth additional 1000€ compared to the previous two.

Yes, I am considering a secondhand Yamaha or Selmer, but it's difficult to find them, I tried yamaha62 from the 90'2 but i just didn't like it.

I'd appreciate your opinions and thank you in advance for them!
 

DavidUK

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,041
Can you find a Grassi 2000 Professional to play? Pick up a good one for around €1000.

Here's a couple I spotted...

This one in driving distance...


This one too far to drive...


Be careful if driving over the border to try one.
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,093
Have you considered some of the older pro quality European horns like Dolnet, SML, Keilwerth Tone King, Borgani, Hohner (made by Keilwerth) etc... must be truckload available throughout Europe...it may be worth looking into if you are on a limited budget...happy saxophone hunting...

Greg S.
 

Ivan

Undecided
Subscriber
Messages
7,493
Do Selmer Sa80IIs appear on the market second hand? Would seem it is the sax you know suits you

I have one that plays as I want it to. By coincidence I also have a Sequoia Lemon that I prefer for its feel and sound
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,971
FWIW....sometimes threads like this, where the OP has a few horns on their list and then responders come in and start suggesting other horns ...can sorta go off the rails a bit. It seems to me the OP wants response on what he has managed to get a hold of and playtest, which is a pretty reasonable way to go about it. In this instance, also note their location: Slovenia,

I can come up with a list of a dozen models, contemporary and vintage, which I can 'throw in' to this thread...but I dunno how helpful this is going to be to OP. At least two of the horns on his list are pretty good instruments, so it isn't like OP is considering several very poor quality horns and it's important to steer him away from that.

OK, so....


1) Buffet 400: GOOD horns. I am going to suggest that the one you tried was actually LEAKING, because:
Has almost exatcly the sound that I personally search for in tenor, but you have to work for it(still managable though). Intonation is great, keywork is not the best but i think i could get used to it, the sound is nice through all the register and(I like that very much) it doesnt get edgy or "squeezy" if you push it in the upper register. On the opposite, it gets really beasty when you blow fully in it. It has a very definite sound(which I like), but like I said i takes some work/energy it and it's not very versatile-it stays dark whatever you do. Price: cca 1500€
...not sure what this means, because Buffet horns are pretty free-blowing, in good tack there should be no particular 'effort' to get the horn to speak. Was there ? Again, if so...it was leaking.
If what you mean was it was easy to get the horn to speak but there was a bit of resistance in the blowing (this means you weren't 'splatting' notes and didn't need to adjust your embouchure to get the horn to speak....but rather it was not as free-blowing as the others) then that is something else. Personally, I do not necessarily consider a horn with a tad of blowing resistance to be a horn which "you have to work" to blow....if you see the distinction (?)
So anyway, a GOOD sax. IMHO it doesn't blow particularly dark the way a vintage horn does, but for a modern horn it does lean in that direction. You most certainly can get it to blow briighter with a different mouthpiece choice...but if you are expecting to get it Yamaha-bright, it probably won't.


2) Keilwerth - I do NOT know this model, although they appear to be the latter iterations of the ST90 series. So, for this one - check if it is made in Taiwan (ROC). It should be stamped on it, but if not perhaps contact JK/Buffet and ask where it was made. If so, it's probably from the same factory which made the ST90's...and those are GOOD student horns, Far, far better in all aspects than a Yamaha 23 and their cousins. So, a decent choice as well.

3) I don't know this model, never had even seen one, so will refrain from offering any advice.
 
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MaGushoff

New Member
Messages
6
JayeNM, thank you for this!
I of course realize there is a lot of horns to try out there(and would love to try them as well), but those I wrote about are the ones i was able to get my hands on. Being on a budget(you have to draw the line somewhere) also means I don't want to spend too much money and time on traveling.

What I meant with "work for it" may be combination of both. I wouldn't describe Buffet as "hard-blowing", but it certainly had little bit more resistance then Keilwerth(which i personally dont mind). Other thing is, you do have to help with embouchure if you want to get the most out of it, in terms of tone and colour. Keilwerth was there as soon as you blew in it, adjusting the embouchure didn't affect the sound and playing as much as on Buffet. When I pushed it, Keilwerth sounded pretty much on the edge of breaking, and Buffet just roared like a beast.
So, it was not hard to get the sound out of it at all in any register(It wasn't leaking), but getting a color I like took a little work or adjustment. Which is, when a think about it, probably a good thing, if a "little work" takes you to the place where you want to be in terms of sound colour. (considering we're still talking about compromises).
Minding that, I think after years of studying i have good control and flexibility with the embouchure, so it shouldn't be a problem(since i like the sound of Buffet, which is, you described it perfeclty, "modern dark" :D.

Keilwerth came to me as a good student horn(kind of like Yamaha): easy to play, good in tune, ok sound, but not very versatile or interesting.
Buffet's sound is more specific and beacuse of al described above a would probably say it's a decent intermediate/student advanced horn.

I heard from the salesman that Buffet actually bought the Keilwerth company(about 10 years ago) and those horns are made in the same factory in China-I don't know if this is true or not. I also can't find ST110 model on their website(which looks almost exactly like Buffet,s so I guess they did merged somehow)

So, fellow saxophonist, I thank you again for the answer and a discussion ;)
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,971
Yes, very good, sir...you clearly have some experience under your belt if you can assess a sax to that degree of performance. You've got a pair of French Selmers, so indeed you are familiar with how a horn can respond/react to subtle changes in blowing. I am NOT sure that you can find that sort of dynamic response in a new €1500 Tenor; that will be a bit of a challenge, if there's even one out there at all.

Indeed, it looks like the ST110 was superceded by a newer model in Alto and Tenor (2103 and 3103), although interestingly ....the 110 is still the current student soprano.
I learned something new here, though....as the online 'rumour' had been that when Buffet bought Keilwerth, they discontinued the asian-made JK student lines entirely (along with the intermediate EX90, sadly)...which clearly they did not....which is good news, really.
Now the ST90's were made in Taiwan, at KHS (the plant which makes Jupiters). I do wonder if the 1100's and 1330's are still made there.... or if, indeed, Buffet moved production of them to mainland China (?)

Were the horns you tried all at music stores ?
 
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MaGushoff

New Member
Messages
6
Yes, I'm well aware that with a lower price some things are to be compromised. I'm not running away from that. But since tenor is my "second" instrument( at least for now), I've decided to settle with it. There's still time for upgrade in the future(if needed). But I guess it's still ok to be in search for "the best of the rest". Or at least of whats awailible. :D
Yes, i tried them all in music stores.
In addition, I also got the hands on the wonderful Selmer Serie III(for 3000€, but it was worth it), but unfortunately i was second in the line for buying, and the buyer in front of me bought it at the end. I also tried a second hand Yamaha 62Mk1, which was to my surprise no good.

I've only realized now that ST110 is actually an "old" model(well, not old, but definitely not current), probably they're not even making them anymore. This could mean either the model was not succesful for some reason, but might also mean I'm looking at a good bargain, since they're probably trying to sell the leftovers asap.

It's interesting...I'm in the sax world for nearly 20 years and its like only Yamaha and Selmer existed until now. Sure I've heard of other brands, but honestly never considered them seriously.
 

Alphorn

Member
Messages
349
There can be significant differences based on the mouthpiece you use. Ergonomics would be very important to me. Slight differences in sound can be adjusted by mpc and reed.. Breaking up or reaching a kind of a ceiling could be the mpc that doesn‘t match the horn.

Alphorn
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,971
It's interesting...I'm in the sax world for nearly 20 years and its like only Yamaha and Selmer existed until now. Sure I've heard of other brands, but honestly never considered them seriously.
"Interesting" is one word for it, yes (as a seller of vintage horns I actually use another word for it, but I don't want a moderator to delete my post ....so I will refrain from using it).

You are not alone. Probably 70% of the sax playing populace knows only Yama, Selmer, maybe throw in perhaps Yani and Cannonball......

Yes the 110 seems to have been replaced by something else but it could not have been very long ago as again, the 110 still is their current Soprano offering. But I guess this is relatively moot...since your impression of it was only so-so. The ST90's were very good horns, actually....I do wonder whether they threw away the mold when Buffet took over or whether these 110's are still based on the 90's (and I believe actually, Buffet was subsequently bought-out by an asian corporation (?) ).

I understand why the 62 didn't 'float your boat'. They don't for me, either. Wonderful pieces of hardware, but a bit 'soul-less' for my tastes.

I was asking about whether you went to music stores because I was wondering if the place where you tried the 400.... also carries the 100 series. I have serviced one 400 and around a half-dozen 100's, and they are really similar albeit the 100 is cheaper.
 

MaGushoff

New Member
Messages
6
Haha, I can understand your opinion, but as you've said, in general opinion; once you "outgrow" yamaha student models, the only way forward is Selmer(or Yanagisawa/Yamaha, that is if you're strong enough to tolerate bullying from the colleagues :p:p ). Right now when I'm researching market a little bit, I actually feel kind of dumb in that way :D

Well, my impression about JK was actually good, but (I will once again use your word) the horn is a little soul-less. I'm really considering buying one for the school where I teach (over Yamaha 280 or 480 - still talking about tenors, what's your opinion?), since my impression was that it is a really decent student horn. So-so for me personally(for lacking a little bit of soul), but good for the kids. I have no idea what they are based on and also haven't tried the ST90 before, so my opinion was not "compromised" in any way

62 - I didn't like it from the moment I blew in it. Big intonation issues and uneven sound throughout the registers just to start with. I do belive this was probably the case for this specific instrument, but i really doubt a good rehaul would solve it. And since my first impression was so negative, I didn't even bother thinking about it too much. (I was a little bit dissapointed, since i thought a good second-hand Yamaha62 is exactly what I should go for)

Yes, they do also have one ST100. I know it shouldn't, but it does: the antique finnish on the 400 looks so fabolous that it has become a factor for me.

I'll meet with the dealer again soon and tried them both(JK and Buffet) once more. But if I was to decide now, I'd go for Buffet 400 for myself and JK 110 for the school.


(only read if youre interested): The Sequoias I mentioned in the first post are developed by Roberto Buttus(an outstanding repairman from Italy) and made in Taiwan. IMO they gor for the Selmer sound and technik, as they have similar intonation issues and keywork. They offer different finishing on horns, and every horn comes with two necks, which you can choose. I've heard that tenors are "the weakest" in the family, but the new alto model(I tried it a month ago, stil in developing mode i think) was outstanding!
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,916
(only read if youre interested): The Sequoias I mentioned in the first post are developed by Roberto Buttus(an outstanding repairman from Italy) and made in Taiwan. IMO they gor for the Selmer sound and technik, as they have similar intonation issues and keywork. They offer different finishing on horns, and every horn comes with two necks, which you can choose. I've heard that tenors are "the weakest" in the family, but the new alto model(I tried it a month ago, stil in developing mode i think) was outstanding!
As a recent purchaser of an older model of Sequoia alto, which I'm very happy with, I'd say try the tenor if you get the chance.
 

MaGushoff

New Member
Messages
6
As a recent purchaser of an older model of Sequoia alto, which I'm very happy with, I'd say try the tenor if you get the chance.

I have tried them twice this year. The things i wrote are my personal observations(backed by the opinions of others though). IMO they are just nor worth an extra grand compared to Buffet.
Which finish did you purchase?
 

MaGushoff

New Member
Messages
6
Update:
So I've decided to give them another chance today. I got 3 Buffets(two antiques and one Gold lacquer) and one Keilwerth. This time I've tested them a little more systematically and mostly with classical MPC and setup-after all classical playing is my "primal job" and I think I can evaluate an instrument much better that way. I tried some delicate passages in extreme dynamics, as well as some trillers.
Sadly, some new problems appeared with Buffet, especially in the down register(from A down). It was very chalenging to play in piano and pianissimo, I had to use all the tricks to keep the tone from breaking. The problem might be in the neck...i had to put mpc almost all the way out to get the horn in tune-that of course just escalated the problems. That made the saxophone very uncomfortable to play, as most of the time I was just focusing on keeping the tone straight. As soon as i "relaxed" a little too much, it all went south. The same problems appeared on all of the three saxophones(also tried changing necks), so I doubt is was individual leak problem....
For playing jazz stated problems are not so extremely problematic.
Although I still like the sound very much, i feel it is too much of a compromise....

On the other hand, Keilwerth was(as I stated before) easy to play, nicely in tune etc.
The sound can be to some degree adapted by player and mouthpiece, the keywork problems rather not.
So acutally, second leg was won by Keilwerth :D
 
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