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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I had been thinking of getting a flugel for a while now. Due to budget constraints, it was either going to be be a used Jupiter 746 or 846, or an unbranded chinese cheapie off Ebay. After doing some research, including contacting some previous buyers of the Chinese flugel horn, I went ahead and bought one and just got it in.

The horn was pristine, wrapped up within it's basic but functional case. It's a light horn, but seems well put together. It is finished in a pale gold lacquer, almost exactly the same shade as that found on my 97 Jupiter JTR300 student trumpet, but it is not stenciled with any kind of name, brand or even serial number. The fit and finish seems also equivalent to the Jupiter, but the valves on this Chinese flugel seem better. I opened up the valves to oil them, and they looked very clean and well finished.

To my eyes, this horn looks virtually identical to the lower Jupiter flugels, except for the water keys, which are Amado type on the Jupiter. Furthermore, I would guess that this horn is the basic same thing as some entry level flugels imported into the US under such brands as Dillon, Roy Benson etc. Those might have some tweaks done to them by the importer, but are than double the $150 price tag of this chinese flugel.

The flugel comes with an unmarked silver mouthpiece that looks smaller than my 7C trumpet mouthpiece. Maybe it's something like a 10.5 size. I popped it in and it plays ok. As a beginning trumpeter of 3 months, and for a first touch on a flugel, I find this horn intonates very well, seems to slot accurately up to my current limit of 4th space E. The sound I get at the moment is kind of 'airy', so I think I would need to put in some work on this instrument, but the first impression is - wow, what a fine horn for $150! To my ears, the flugel kind of links the trumpet to the horns and trombones sound wise, as it incorporates elements of these brass instruments' timbres in one unique horn. I think the sound should improve with a proper mouthpiece like a Dennis Wick 4FL, which should deepen and darken the sound I am currently achieving.

Overall, I am pleasantly suprised. I knew there was a small chance that the horn would be crap, which it lucklily isn't. I have an Indian made pocket trumpet, which is crap, but this chinese horn is clearly much much better. Subjectively, I feel that it is about equivalent or slightly better than my Jupiter JTR300 trumpet in playability, tone and build quality. Comparing it to my YTR 2335, it is clearly not up to the build quality of a Yamaha horn, but for what it costs, a very useable horn for the money.
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

I would ask, though how much the shipping was. Must have been around $500?

Plus, you say you want to put some work into it. That'll be some more money, as well as the waiting and possible aggravation if the tech finds something wrong with it.

And, who knows how long the horn will last. Depending on how well it really is built, it might end up falling apart much sooner than a name brand.

Just pointing out that the $150 price tag comes with some other costs.
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

Daughter #3 was given a Maxtone flugle. Pitchy as hell. Biggest waste of 'brass' I've ever seen in my life.
It's impossible to tune, even using the individual valve slides.
It's fun to goober around with but don't even concider using it in an ensemble situation.
When she needs a flugle she uses her mouthpiece on the school owned horn.

If I remember correctly the guy who gave her the horn got it off ebay for about $100 or so.
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

I would ask, though how much the shipping was. Must have been around $500?

Plus, you say you want to put some work into it. That'll be some more money, as well as the waiting and possible aggravation if the tech finds something wrong with it.
To clarify, the shipping was a grand sum of $65 Speedpost, which was speedy indeed. Just one week from China to me, so the grand total for this horn was a princely $215.

Anyway, by "more work" on the horn, I meant "more practice". At the moment, the horn plays fine and doesn't need any kind of physical mods or repairs, so there are no other costs. Of course, no one knows how long the horn will last or for that matter, how long I would last on it. But seeing that the sax mouthpieces lying in my drawers cost a multiple of this amount, I think I'm comfortable with the risk of it falling apart after a year or ten. Come to think of it, I've probably spent a multiple of this amount on reeds alone, and ligatures too, so am I gonna stay awake at night worrying about how long this $200+ horn is going to hold up? Nah!

Besides, some brave soul needed to go check out these horns, since few real brass players would :)

My motivation in putting up this review was simply to share and inform. Because when I tried to get info on it from trumpet forums, I couldn't get any kind of useful information beyond the "eeks it's poisonous" or "it's got to be crap" responses. I was encouraged to proceed because some of the previous buyers of this item from a year back responded to my queries and gave it a thumbs up as an okay product. Two of them were experienced trumpet players with 30 - 40 years under their belt. Of course, no one is going to mistake this horn for a Hub Van Laar or an Inderbinen or a Kanstul..

Previously, I had noted that this unbranded chinese flugelhorn looked in every respect like Dillon Music's house brand flugel. Today I took a look at two other china made flugels namely the Eastman and the JinYin. You can take a look at them at these links :

Eastman EFG412
BAC Music Online Store - Eastman EFG412s Silver-plated Flugelhorn

Jinyin E110G
The JinYin Model E110G Flugelhorn with Case, Mouthpiece

Dillon DMB-FL
Dillon Flugelhorn in Lacquer and Rose Brass

First, look closely at these three flugels and see if you can spot any differences. I couldn't. Next, I looked at my chinese flugel and it is also identical to these horns in every detail I can see. Exact same constuction style, same type of trigger on the 3rd valve, same water keys and positions, same braces and brace positions, same tunable mouthpiece section slide, including the two metal grip knobs there, same black rubber stoppers/rubber bands on the 3rd valve trigger, same pinky hook etc. Anyway, these three horns look identical to the chinese flugel I bought off Ebay in every way, so you can use them as a reference for how my horn looks.

What I find interesting is the big disparity is prices. The brandless flugel I bought was $215 shipped, the Jinyin goes for around $250, Dillon's is $475 in rose brass, while the Eastman is a hefty $1340 for the silver plate version. You can get the same type of flugel that I bought, in either silver and rose brass finishes for around $50 more, from the chinese Ebay vendors.

Given that the Eastman is acknowledged to be a chinese made flugel, perhaps the Dillon, Jinyin and unbranded flugel are copies of the Eastman, which is itself a copy of what? What is the probability that all four identical flugels are made in different factories in China vs being all made from one factory in China? Given that the Eastman has generall good reviews in various forums, would the same positive experiences apply to the JinYin and unbranded flugels, which seem to be basically similar items all emanating from possibly one factory in China? If so, then why is there a huge price disparity between the Eastman, Dillon and the other two horns, which all seem to be identically constucted, except for the differences in finish? I find these questions to be rather interesting.

Anyway, I am not banging the drum of china made trumpets here, nor am I recommending one to all and sundry. But for the few who might want some hands on experiences with such instruments, then I am just filling the gap with my experience with this flugelhorn, which is just my own opinion, in any case. It is kind of interesting that the first two responses to my posts were both having a negative outlook. Unfortunately, so far, much as I'd love to join the crowd, I can't honestly say that this horn is junk,just to blend in. It's a ridiculously cheap horn which plays well enough for my purposes, and no, I haven't had to check into the hospital yet either. I hope that doesn't spoil your day :)
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

What??? You got ripped off!! Where are the white gloves???? :bluewink:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

What??? You got ripped off!! Where are the white gloves???? :bluewink:
Yeah I was kind of disappointed with that but I heard they decided to discontinue the white gloves in an effort to placate certain members of the SOTW community :bluewink:
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

Some of us may remember the Imperial flugels that were sold in downbeat magazine in the 1980s. I think they were $149 each. And the soprano saxes were $199, I think.

The trumpet player in my wedding band had an Imperial flugel, and he said it was a fine horn. When he played, he sounded fine. Nothing spectacular, but then he didn't need anything spectacular.

So it seems that if you don't need to be choosy, excellent bargains are out there.
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

To clarify, the shipping was a grand sum of $65 Speedpost, which was speedy indeed. Just one week from China to me, so the grand total for this horn was a princely $215.
Where do you live? I had a horn from China sent to me (in northeastern US) and the shipping was almost $600. I checked into it, and it was on the up-and-up. Shipping is based on box size, not on weight, and after a certain dimension, prices get pretty steep pretty quickly.
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

Surely this should be on "www.forum.cheapchineseflugelhorns.net" and not on a sax forum.
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

Isn't a cheap fugelhorn called a "frugalhorn"?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

Where do you live? I had a horn from China sent to me (in northeastern US) and the shipping was almost $600. I checked into it, and it was on the up-and-up. Shipping is based on box size, not on weight, and after a certain dimension, prices get pretty steep pretty quickly.
I live in Asia but it doesn't matter. This merchant charges $65 flat rate for EMS or airmail worldwide. So you would pay $65 too if you wanted to buy a flugel from him. Check it out for yourself, so you'll see I'm not making it up :

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250578939701&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

With shipping, it is an uneven situation. Some items just are not economic to ship out, due to the size or weight. Then again, one finds a merchant like this guy who quotes $150 for a horn and $65 for shipping, and most of us dare not venture forward. Even though he has 2334 feeback with 99.5% positive stats, with 40 of these flugelhorns sold so far.

As you said, sometimes, one does get a decent or even good buy if one were realistic in our expectations. For me, being all of 3 months into the brass family and not too sure whether I could get the hang of the instrument, I am pretty satisfied with this horn, so I may buy a pocket trumpet from china in a month or two.

$600 shipping might be okay if one were buying a premium horn like an Inderbinen or closet Mk 6 sax, but that amount could buy one a nice used trumpet like a Besson or Selmer K-mod... One thing I found useful, as I mentioned, was to search out the previous buyers of this flugelhorn (from the feedback history) and email them on their experience and opinion of this horn. I had about 4-5 replies out of maybe 10+ emails sent out, and 2 were very positive, 2 were moderately positive, and one was mildly positive. No one said it was junk, and most of them said the horn played quite nicely, so that was good enough for my needs. Some of them commented that the lacquer quality was not as good as a Yamaha but I had kind of expected that already. As I said, the lacquer quality was comparable to my Jupiter JTR300 trumpet which I bought in 1997, so it was better than expected to me. One of the buyers, who had 30+ years experience playing trumpets, even recommended me to get a Dennis Wick 4FL mouthpiece to improve the tone of the horn which I intend to do soon.
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

Surely this should be on "www.forum.cheapchineseflugelhorns.net" and not on a sax forum.
I think you need to take this up with the SOTW admin if you feel that a sax forum shouldn't have a "Brasswinds" section, buddy...


Isn't a cheap fugelhorn called a "frugalhorn"?
Haha that's funny. I guess I am the Frugalhorn player (aspiring)

I've incorporated this into my signature on the trumpet forums, many thanks! :bluewink:
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

Besides, some brave soul needed to go check out these horns, since few real brass players would :)
the thing about a cheaply made horn,be it from china,india,czech,or russia...or anywhere else for that matter.... is that it may sound and blow okay, but the valves are never up to snuff...as well, as band mommy pointed out, intonation problems.....

so, as with every instrument... if you want to progress,....a budget vintage horn is always superior to a cheap costing cheap instrument...and yes you can find plenty of vintage budget line flugels for 150 or less on ebay

if its just for kicks...then do whatever you want to do...... anyone ive ever known who bought a cheapo pocket trumpet ...thought it was a great idea for 150 for 2 weeks,and then never played it again
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

I still have that $50 trumpet from the wall. Just needs oil.
I've got a $60 silver Martin Handcraft that needs the lead pipe replaced. So maybe I've got a $120 silver Martin Handcraft.....
Even in it's damaged condition it plays 100 times better than the elcheapo Maxtone.
IT CAN BE PLAYED IN TUNE!!! :)
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

id give you 250 for that!!
 

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Re: A Review - Cheap Chinese Flugelhorn

...actually you've brought up another point..... most of the time the cheap chinese stuff are silver to make them look GREAT!!! ...but of course its really a cheap silver job as well....
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Following the frugalhorn purchase, I also decided to pick up a cheap 5C megatone style gold plated mpc from another chinese Ebay vendor. It took about 2 weeks to get here and just got in today. As usual, it has no branding or marking on it, except the letters '5C' stenciled on it.

All I can say is WOW! Beautifully finished and excellent playing mpc. The gold plate looks very well done, amost the same color as my YTR2335, and the gold does feel nice and luxurious against my lips. It plays as well or better than any of the few mpcs I have on hand. Price? All of $18 shipped airmail international!

This is the first gold trumpet mpc I have every had, and I bought this cheapie mainly as a 'try out' mpc, firstly to try a 5C size, heavy style gold plated piece. But it seems like I ended up getting a mpc which for now, will likely be my main piece. Also, I can now go ahead to spring more $$ for that gold Denis Wick flugel mpc that I have been eyeing, and I might even remove the branded trumpet mpc from my shopping list at the same time. As to how long the finish on this mpc will last, only time will tell.

I've just put in an hour practice on my trumpet on this mpc and it's good. Now I will move on to my frugalhorn. This mpc intonates and speaks as well or better than my B&S or Holton pieces. Coming from a world of $25 plastic reeds, and $300 sax mpcs, I am quite amazed at what is coming out from China these days and I'm very glad to have ventured forth. Playing brass is fun - haven't touched any of my big 4 tenors for weeks now.

I find it somewhat interesting, if a little sad, that over here in SOTW land, quite a few people seem very disturbed to hear anything good about cheapie pieces from China - it just seems to disturb their equilibrium and sense of well being. One has only to look at the posts above and see that virtually all were negative reactions. Oddly, the trumpet forums like TrumpetMaster have been much more receptive, and the folks there really got a huge kick out of my "Frugalhorn Player" monicker so cleverly coined by a DM above. You all have a good day now and peace :)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
the thing about a cheaply made horn,be it from china,india,czech,or russia...or anywhere else for that matter....
I think if you are here to contribute seriously to the knowledge base and not just to join the lynch mob, then you should be more precise in what you mean. So since you exclude "china, india, czech, russia and anywhere else" as a possible source of decent musical instruments, are you saying really, that only the USA produces stuff that's good? Be helpful if you could clarify on this point, thanks..


I've got a $60 silver Martin Handcraft that needs the lead pipe replaced. So maybe I've got a $120 silver Martin Handcraft.....
Even in it's damaged condition it plays 100 times better than the elcheapo Maxtone.
Mommy, I think you must have missed out a cople of zeroes in your post. Probably the damaged Martin is 100000000 times better than the Maxtone? :)

OKay I'll get back to my Arbans studies now fellas..
 
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