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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ok here is my review of my new Simba Sax.
There is one Disclaimer. I am new on sax.
However I have played bass many years and I am an accomplished musician.
That being said here goes.

****I AM A BEGINER AND THIS IS A REVIEW FROM A BEGINER. PLEASE READ ALL POST HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION. IT IS STRONGLY RECOMENDED YOU NOT BUY A SAX LIKE THIS WITHOUT TEST PLAY FIRST.******

PROS:
1) Cost a hundred bucks used and came with a brand new metal guy hawkins #8
2) looks nice
3) a very nice hard case was included.
4) Has a pretty decent tone
5) no sticky keys or leaky pads that I can tell
6) plays FAIRLY well in tune. Not perfect
7) did I mention it was a hundred bucks?

Cons:
1) Not a Selmer, Yamaha, Yani, ETC
2) Does not have perfect intonation or tune. However it is close.
3) I have a hard time with low notes specifically g-c. However I seriously doubt that is the sax. It is probably me. I can hit them if I try but if I am just playing they jump up an octave. In a week I have my first sax lesson and I will know if it is me or the horn. But I can say with 99% certainty now it IS ME NOT THE HORN.

Anyways that is my 2 cents. I cant compare it to other saxes becouse it is the first one I can play. However I know music and instruments and I can say it seems well put together.

If I could do it again however, I would but a yamaha YTS23 used on ebay for 300. but hey:D
 

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You did not mention among the "pro" points that it has a very cool name. Simba means lion in kiswahili, but you probably knew that... Now, if it was made in "swahili-land" (East Africa), that would have been even cooler (I mean hotter...), but some googling told me that it is made in US, Tennesee??

Bjorn
 

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New On Sax said:
There is one Disclaimer. I am new on sax.
Which unfortunately disqualifies you as a competent reviewer. I don't mean this in a nasty sense at all (despite my moniker), but people come here daily for product information, and your review will only serve to confuse them. Just a word of advice to get on well with the folks here... Don't be in such a hurry to advise others; especially when you have absolutely no practical experience to share in regard to the saxophone. Take your time and soak it all in. There is much to learn here; and that should be your primary focus.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Point noted.
However I have been a musician since I was in 6th grade.
I have looked at thousands of different instruments.
I have played with dozens of saxophonist.
I have a fair idea what I am talking about.
I promise if my instructor plays it next wednesday and says it is crap that I will properly eat crow on this forum.
But he won't.
I've been around the block a bit.
But I appreciate you saying what you did. As a new kid trying to learn as much as I can there is A FREAKIN TON of information out there. This forum really seems dedicated to good, sound information.
By the Way-
are you a grumpy old grandpa that is looking out for the grandkids?

P.S. The reason I posted this so soon is I wanted a new player to review it.
a new player is who will buy this so a new player is appropriate to review.
but I do respect what you say. Honestly. You seem very well seasoned. I read a ton of your post in the last couple days. I can tell you want to help others.
 

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You are lucky. I had a beginner walk into my classroom with one that was brand new in bad shape. Sounding worse than what a beginner saxophonist usually sounds like I took a look after class. I had to bend all kinds of things into place so that tone holes get covered etc. We went through a year a while back when you could pick these up at our local Sams Club. I had a couple of altos, trumpets, and clarinets in my beginner group. No shop in town would touch them. At that time I only taught beginners at that school and then they went on in the 7th grade to another school. I wonder how many of those "Simba" kids droped out of band because of uneeded frustration with an impossible to play instrument. Now I'm not ragging on you because you seem like you have an idea of how things are susposed to work and sound, but I want parents and true beginners reading this to be aware of the flip side.
 

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Grumps said:
Which unfortunately disqualifies you as a competent reviewer. I don't mean this in a nasty sense at all (despite my moniker), but people come here daily for product information, and your review will only serve to confuse them. Just a word of advice to get on well with the folks here... Don't be in such a hurry to advise others; especially when you have absolutely no practical experience to share in regard to the saxophone. Take your time and soak it all in. There is much to learn here; and that should be your primary focus.
Very good advise. I have some experience with horns and I only comment on a question when I am sure I have the answer.:)
 

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New on Sax

There is another closer level that the sax should be looked at to determine if it is a "good" instrument or not. That is the quality of its parts and materials and how well it is constructed. In the instrument repair trade most of these musical instruments from China are called I.S.O.'s (instrument shaped objects) because they are so poorly constructed that they do not qualify to be called a musical instrument.

That said, the Simba's that have come across my bench have had keys that are way too soft, very uneven tone holes, questionable quality pads, poorly fit keys, poor quality springs, and of course the intonation problems you mentioned. Many techs will not even work on instruments of this quality. We do in our shop, but we tell the customer up front that they have a very poor quality instrument and for that reason we cannot warranty any repair work that we do.

It is unfortunate that the Chinese have introduced these "throw away" band and orchestra instruments to the world. They are "throw away" because to repad and correctly set them up to play with any longevity costs 3 to 4 times what the customer paid for the instrument when new. Rather than have them repaired, people are either throwing them away (after their child has gotten discouraged and dropped out of music) or pawning them off on someone else looking for a "good deal".

For $100 it sounds like you bought a new Guy Hawkins metal mouthpiece, with an I.S.O. thrown in for free.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Dear JBTSAX,

Thank you for that
More than anything I have wanted a tech to answer this question
They are truly the ones that know.
I would like to ask you one other question regarding this.
How can you tell a ISO from a decent sax at my level of beginer?
Are there tell tale signs to look for?
Any of your little pearls of wisdom would be much appreciated.
I refuse to pay thousands for a sax right now. I played bass for 20 years as a profesional gigger and as a hobby.
I never paid more than 300 for a bass.
And I had some phenomenal basses.
I was shocked how much saxes cost.
Any insight into telling good from throw away would be helpful.
thanks.

P.S. I would like to say one thing regarding the SIMBA
the tone holes appear even, there are no leaks that I can tell, the tone is good, the keys are responsive and I can hit all the notes on the instrument.

DAVE
 

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New On Sax said:
Dear JBTSAX, How can you tell a ISO from a decent sax at my level of beginer? Are there tell tale signs to look for?
Danarsenault gave the best answer because there are so many brands and variables that are changing constantly. I went to E-Bay recently and counted
24 models of saxophone for sale that were under $400 brand new. They were all made in China and many said "Ideal for Music Programs" or "Band Teacher Approved". They also say things like "made with German engineering" or "engineered in France". When a quality brand student saxophone now sells for $1200 and up, and an unknown brand can be shipped from China, pass through a distributor and a retailer and be sold to someone for $300 or less, that sends up red flags to me as to the quality of that instrument. Howard Stephens, a repair tech in the UK claims to have found a well made Chinese sax at Gear for Music in the $400 price range, but I have not seen one first hand to comment one way or the other. Like Dan said, the best thing is to enlist the help of a good sax teacher/player when you are shopping for a sax.
New On Sax said:
P.S. I would like to say one thing regarding the SIMBA
the tone holes appear even, there are no leaks that I can tell, the tone is good, the keys are responsive and I can hit all the notes on the instrument. DAVE
Without taking the keys off and putting a light into the instrument and a perfectly flat tool over the toneholes, it is impossible to tell if the toneholes are level or not. Likewise to check for leaks, a light is required with the keys on the saxophone. Generally speaking if you can play down to the low Bb at piano or softer, the sax is not leaking. By blowing hard you can usually "hit" all the notes on a sax that is leaking like a sieve.
 

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A simple and good way to check for leaks would be to go to Home Depot and buy a $3 rope light (some marketers sell the exact same thing for $20 repackaged as a "Saxophone Leak Light"). Put it down the horn in a dark room, close all the pads by fingering low Bb and look for the light escaping.
 

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Grumps said:
A simple and good way to check for leaks would be to go to Home Depot and buy a $3 rope light
Excellent suggestion! I was wondering if those things would work okay!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I just want to say something to GRUMPS, JBTSAX, DANARSENAULT and every other experienced sax player on this site.

THANKS!!!

You guys make it one million times easier for a new sax player.

I want to give short example.

If it was not for what I read on this site and saxquest I would know nothing about EBAY, CECILIO, etc etc and I would probably have a collection of crap at my house. The stuff looks nice and a begginer is very easily fooled.

I am sure everyone here gets sick on answering the same question about china saxes but you do. So thanks.

My next sax will be a yamaha 23. That is enough horn to last me my whole career as a sax player. I have a great career as a cancer nurse and I will not be budding off into new realms of music making. Just jamming with buddies and an occasional bar gig. So instead on wasting money on something that is not realiable, I will get a nice yamaha, nice set up and be very happpy.

Anyways thanks to you all.

DAVE
 

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But please don't think that just because an instrument is from China it is bad. If anyone says or implies that then I hope it's just that they may be ignorant of the quality of some of the saxophones coming from there. I would hope that those opinions aren't based on any kind of racial bias. I have seen some very good instruments made in China. Yes, there have been some bad ones too, but the good ones I've seen and played are very good.
 

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I like Chinese food. But if I don't like Chinese saxophones am I racist? Race has nothing to do with it Pete. Horns with a history of malfunctioning is what created the bias. It's nice that you found a brand or two of ultra-cheap horns that floats your boat. That boat hasn't come ashore yet in the States. It may be on the way... but thankfully, we've still got a glut of vintage horns here that keeps us relatively disinterested, and ultimately unimpressed with shiny new imports.
 

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Grumps said:
I like Chinese food. But if I don't like Chinese saxophones am I racist?
Not unless that bias is based on ignorance. If you say all Chinese saxophones are rubbish without having tried any or read any qualified reviews then it might very well be due to a racial bias. I'm not saying you are racist Grumps and I didn't mean to directly accuse anyone, however I remember a thread on here a year or two ago which did involve not only opinions from people who were dismissing all Chinese instruments whether or not they had actually seen or played all Chinese instruments. That thread actually degenerated into very poor racist jokes (which were deleted by the moderators).
 

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I recently tried a Chinese Selmer La Vie alto, and actually liked the sound of it better than the Hummingbird alto right next to it. The keywork felt soft to me however, and with my big mitts would bend in no time. Perhaps it would hold up for a kid, but it was priced way too high; probably due solely to the Selmer name on the bell. Now the Simbas, I have come across. Complete garbage.

I think I remember that other thread you mention Pete. Problem is, playing the race card in regard to saxophone preferences is rather stiffling; and absent a clear indication of racial motives is best avoided. Just my opinion there.
 

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To be fair the soprano I bought (branded "Grand" ~ Simba product) was only $300 bucks. The horn felt natural in my hands, nicely finished edges and positive closure with tone holes. Yeah the lacquer is probably on the cheap side. But the honest assessment of the horn next to my Mk VII Tenor and Yamaha 62 Alto is that it is lacking a little in the intonation of ranges. For example while a "C" above staff might lock in nicely, the "c" below staff was 'bouts a half step shy. That about sums it up. However, sopranos in general are not easy instruments to pick up, ie.. Altos and Tenors have far easier ambetours (sp?). In my honest opinion, I would reccomend beginers start there and with a possibly scuffed up 80's Bundy that might need repadding. But if you really want to stick with the Simba soprano I would, bite the bullet and get an otto link hard rubber mouthpiece because the true "crap" Simba gives you is really the mouthpiece. Oh yeah I could get the horn in tune by having the cork shaved so the mouthpiece practically is all the way in. Oh yeah I like nice horns too.
 
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