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Saxophones Why aren't saxes lighter?

MMM

Senior Member
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914
It is becoming more and more of an issue for me the fact that saxes are heavy around my neck (specially when I'm playing three at a time :)))). It is seriously affecting my playing enjoyment.

I don't want to start another thread on slings vs harnesses as the subject has been exhausted.

What I'm wondering is, as keywork is the heaviest part of a sax and with so many lighter/stronger/modern alloys available today (rather than the traditional brass/nickel silver or whatever else is used for keys), why doesn't any manufacturer experiment with a light alloys for making keys?

I could put it down to cost, but if we look at the cost of a new pro horn, they aren't exactly cheap and a light saxophone would certainly break away from the rest of the pack...
(so a 'light' sax would cost even more!!!)

Ergos have been fixed (well for most people and for more custom keywork there's plenty out there to chose from), the feel of keywork can be adjusted largely by adjusting spring tension, sound has been fixed (just look at the affordable alternatives from Taiwan) plus the addition of infinite mouthpiece+neck combinations... surely a lightweight sax would be the ultimate in comfort and allow so many more people who currently shy away from bigger/heavier horns to spend more!

Does anyone with some insight into manufacture like to shed some light as to why this couldn't be achieved?

Puzzled from Epsom!
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,959
The keywork isn't the heaviest part of a sax.
Stripped YAS62 on the bench right now - keys (padded) weigh in at around 2Kg, body (without crook) 3Kg.

Regards,
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
I think that the simple answer is that brass is actually a very good material for manufacturing a sax. It's cheap, easy to work and resiliant in use, it has a bit of spring and is bendy enough to give and absorb impact without snapping. It's even forgiving enough to be bent back into shape when damaged. I'm not sure what wonder material there is which combines these properties.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,959
I think you might be surprised to find that there's probably quite a lot of market resistance to lighter horns.

One way of doing it is to fit fewer keys - such as on the TJ Alphasax. It works, but tends to limit the horn to beginners...and as such creates an association with light horns and beginners.

One of the lightest horns currently on the market is Yamaha's 275 series - and despite being very good horns they're very much thought of as student models.

When the Chinese began producing Ultra Cheap horns one of the very first criticisms that was levelled at them was that they were made of thin metal...and thus very light (again, that association with student-quality horns) - though as it turned out a great many of these horns were rather heavier than people expected.

So there's a tendency for people to connect the weight of the horn to its perceived quality.
I think it would take quite a brave manufacturer to come up with a specifically designed lightweight horn aimed at the intermediate/pro market - they'd have to bear the brunt of the inevitable associations.

In the meantime - how about a handful of helium filled balloons...

Regards,
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
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3,409
The keywork isn't the heaviest part of a sax.
Stripped YAS62 on the bench right now - keys (padded) weigh in at around 2Kg, body (without crook) 3Kg.

Regards,
That may be the case but it's amazing how light a sax feels when it's stripped down to the bare body, go on admit it, you know it's true..john
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
It is becoming more and more of an issue for me the fact that saxes are heavy around my neck
If the weight of a modern sax, built using rib construction, (that is all the key work and other gubbins, pillars etc are mounted on a seperate plate or rib, then atached to the sax) is becoming to heavy for you why not look at a vintage sax, something like a Conn 10m? were everything is attached to the sax without the rib.

I play a Barone tenor and a 10m and can tell you the 10m is at least a third of the weight of the Barone.

Other Taiwanese sax's i've tried, cannonball in perticular are built like tanks, and are even heavier!

Fraser...
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
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3,409
On a more serious note perhaps aluminium might be a useful metal to use,with the keywork being rigid die cast alloy which might remove the need for adjustment as the instrument could be designed to fit together perfectly and not require further adjustment and if one of the keys got broken or bent you could order up another and replace that key.I know there are setting up procedures involved with saxophones and the use of cork for this purpose I would think you could still do this with an alloy sax,and there are a limitless number of hard wearing finishes available for aluminium
 

teebones

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203
On a more serious note perhaps aluminium might be a useful metal to use,with the keywork being rigid die cast alloy which might remove the need for adjustment as the instrument could be designed to fit together perfectly and not require further adjustment and if one of the keys got broken or bent you could order up another and replace that key.I know there are setting up procedures involved with saxophones and the use of cork for this purpose I would think you could still do this with an alloy sax,and there are a limitless number of hard wearing finishes available for aluminium

Why not go the whole hog. Titanium:))):))):)))

The cost :w00t:
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
They experimented with aluminium flutes at one stage. Gave up because of corrosion, wearing too fast. Having said that, Altus, amongst others still make alumiium flutes, so what do I know? :confused:

Having said that, an aluminium sax doesn't appeal to me. It doesn't look good to me, it's a metal I associate with ladders, window frames and wheels for boy racers. It'd be difficult to repair without damaging the finish, so decent repairs will mean expensive refinishing. But I gues you could say that about a lot of brass finishes.

My favourite substitute for brass at the moment is carbon fibre.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
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3,409
[

So there's a tendency for people to connect the weight of the horn to its perceived quality.
I think it would take quite a brave manufacturer to come up with a specifically designed lightweight horn aimed at the intermediate/pro market - they'd have to bear the brunt of the inevitable associations.

In the meantime - how about a handful of helium filled balloons...

Regards,[/QUOTE]

I would think that on the perception front a manufacturer with pride and belief in there product could quite easily get well known saxophonists to play and endorse their horns and the quality thing would just evaporate

regards

john
 

teebones

Member
Subscriber
Messages
203
Titanium is really difficult to work, has a very dull grey colour, and would be almost impossible to repair, quite apart from cost...
Titanium is not that hard to machine,with the modern tooling.:)
Surface finish no problem.
Repair depends what's needed.
Cost to the layman. :shocked:

Now where did I lay that blank of titanium for my mouthpiece.>:)
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,959
I would think that on the perception front a manufacturer with pride and belief in there product could quite easily get well known saxophonists to play and endorse their horns and the quality thing would just evaporate
That's true to some extent - the Inderbinen is quite a light horn - but bloody heavy on the wallet.
At that sort of level though the players are more interested in how the horn plays and feels - when it comes to the mass market it's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
Let's face it, you've seen how certain rumours persist (lacquered/unlacquered...vintage brass/modern brass etc.), so it's no wonder than manufacturers are a tad cautious.

Regards,
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,959
On a more serious note perhaps aluminium might be a useful metal to use,with the keywork being rigid die cast alloy which might remove the need for adjustment as the instrument could be designed to fit together perfectly and not require further adjustment and if one of the keys got broken or bent you could order up another and replace that key.I know there are setting up procedures involved with saxophones and the use of cork for this purpose I would think you could still do this with an alloy sax,and there are a limitless number of hard wearing finishes available for aluminium
I think it would end up being extremely costly.
Part of the problem is that the sax, and other woodwind instruments, are nowhere near what you might call 'precision instruments'.
Cost is one reason, and practicality the other. They get knocked about, they get wet and dusty - and then you have to take into account the characteristics of the pads...which are, basically, organic.
If a sax was a car, it probably wouldn't even start - let alone whizz off down the road.

I think the future will be in plastics - though not for the keywork. The Grafton got it right (at least in theory).
A synthetic body with brass ribs embedded into it would shave a lot off the total weight and still provide a viable action.

Regards,
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I have a YAS-275 which I love and just part-ex’d my YTS-275. Both horns were light but my T901 I reckon is lighter than the YTS-275 or at least it feels so, despite the more solid feel. As for the YAS-275 vs the A901, I can’t tell any different and have no means to weigh them. I believe the T901 is possible the lightest horn on the market and is a Pro model.

Maybe the best thing if you’re looking for weight reduction is to go to somewhere like sax.co.uk and try out many horns. I’m sure ergonomics also play a signification part in whether a sax feels lighter or not.
 
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