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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I won an eBay action for this horn back in February of this year. And this thread will sum up my experiences so far.

Shipment
The horn was shipped and packaged very well. Lots of bubble wrap, corks to keep the keys in place and along with a CE Winds certificate of warranty for peace of mind. I was also very impressed with amount of accessories that came with the horn -
  • your basic cleaning kit,
  • pad saver,
  • cheap HR Mouthpiece,
  • CE Winds Silver Shocka Mouthpiece,
  • Neck strap,
  • few reeds.

The player has everything needed to get started right out of the box. This really impressed me.

The first Impression
I'll start off by saying the horn looks great! The Chines factories have really perfected the finish techniques. (I wish they spent more time perfecting the build quality!) However the errors in the details really take away from the fantastic finish job of the horn.

  • One of the necks was slightly bent and had a crooked octave key.
  • The corks are felts are low quality synthetic. Not good for keeping adjustments.
  • There is a crack in one of the MOP key touches that had simply been glued together in the key cup.
  • Gaps in the MOP key touches all along the horn.
  • A lot of the screws have burred edges and sort of look unfished

Very small details and not major concerns especially at the price I paid on eBay. But at retail price I would at least expect the neck/octave key to not have this kind of error.

Yea, It looks nice, but how does it play?
Upon the initial play-test I was pleased. Good response in the lower end. But the higher end was not responsive at all and especially nasty around middle E an D. The tone of these notes were completely different form the rest of the horn. But I figured this was due to the shipment knocking things out of adjustment and figured a $20 trip to the tech would suffice.

Quick Checkup with my Tech
So upon a trip to my tech, I asked him to give me his opinion of the horn. (note emphasis on the word opinion). He said the finish was fantastic however it looked like a beginner assembled the horn and compared the build quality comparable to his training days on saxophone re-hauls. I took it for what it was worth. He spent about 20 min. with the horn and made a few quick adjustments to the lower stack and it played considerable better. Middle E and D were better but were still a pain to get out.

To the wood-shed
I read that soprano sax was the hardest by majority opinion to play. Mainly because of intonation and embouchure support. I agree! The intonation on this horn was pretty tough. I struggled with some notes especially low D (i ended up pressing the low B key to raise the pitch during playing). The higher register of the horn was sharp and the mid range was flat. I spent time with the horn and eventually grew accustomed to these pitch tendencies. Finally, I was able to record a piece with it. (which is why I bought it!) You can hear the horn in action by listening to the track called "Lost and Found You" on my reverbnation page.

Link to Reverb Nation page: http://www.reverbnation.com/raymondjohnson

The careful listener will notice some intonation issues and muffled notes in some places. But overall this is a recording done after some decent practice with the horn.

A slight aging
I played a few practice session with the horn now and then and recorded backup horns on some more of my originals with it. You can also hear the horn on during the middle of the track called "I Just Don't Know" on my reverb nation page. Over time the horn developed some more problems. I noticed some leaks had developed in the F-E-D keys again. (which have a noticeably uneven height). So again the octave E,D became very stuffy. Other parts of the horn became easier with more time and practice. I was able to achieve an acceptable tone all the way up high C but the intonation issues stayed. My solution was to take another $20 and get the horn adjusted again...

Another trip to the tech
To address these problems I took the horn to my tech again. This time I left it with him for a week and he really got a good look at the horn. He ended up replacing a badly seated G pad which was causing my problems up top. Wow this really made huge difference in playability with middle E and D! And it also made the upper register more responsive. However he said that he discovered that the lower F-E-D key mechanism had some major issues. The screws to adjust the keys were cut incorrectly and would not stay in adjustment. (could not be tightened) He ended up placing some tread lock as a temporary fix to keep the screws locked in. He says the mechanism needs to be removed and put together again. :-(

So now what?
So I've contacted CE Winds with my concerns and fully expect they will address this issue with great customer service.

My overall Impression
The horn is a good horn for the price. At this level I am not expecting a tremendously fine playing instrument or top quality manufacturing. I feel it is a student horn in all aspects. (then again If I had a student I would not want to give them a horn that wasn't of good quality. It would be harder to play and harder to learn!). If you are looking for a hobby instrument to play now and then, great! This horn will fill your needs. (minus the build issues I had. I don't think they are a reflection of all the Alpha horns) BUT for professional players I would definitely recommend you purchase a more expensive horn. Personally, I would not feel comfortable performing with the horn even after 5 months. I also don't think it is an instrument that will stand up to frequent playing.

>>>>>This is MY OPINION. This is just a one time review of the many horns CE Winds has sold and I am in no way trying to bash or discredit the company. My experiences with CE Winds thus far have been great. I would deal with them in the future but I definitely wouldn't buy this level of horn again. :)
 

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Very detailed review. Thanks for taking the time. I tried the Alpha horns and agree with a lot of your points. I play on Ce Winds Pro-Series and they are Major League players. I guess the Alpha series can be considered junior varsity. The Alpha Series are for the week end warriors and beginners. For the uncompromising professional, the Pro-series is the way to go.
 

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Hey Raymond,

Thanks for the honest review - these are the things we appreciate to know in order to help in product development, as well as being items to address in the manufacturing process. Although we have never received feedback like this before on any one of our saxes (as far as the build quality in particular), you should be 100% satisfied with your sax, and if you are not we will resolve it. (The recording sounds great BTW)

We appreciate the review and will remedy it according to our warranty> We would like to possibly speak with the tech, so email me his information as well.

As far as the weekend warriors, we just met with our Artist in Tennessee while we were at the Summer NAMM show (Jason Thompson) who plays professionally at least 20 nights a month, and practices every day, and he showed us and played his horns for us. He plays an Alpha Black Nickel Tenor (has had it for 11 months), this same model Alpha saxello that he has had for almost 2 years, and an Alpha Alto that he has had for three months. Never had one issue, other than normal wear and tear. There was some flaking of the clear coat on the Black Nickel Tenor (which we are trying to figure out the cause but thing it may be a combination of his sweat and acidic saliva - you should see the plating on his mouthpiece), but other than that, never had an intonation issue, never came out of adjustment, his tech loves his horns and agrees that are one of the finest sounding saxes he has heard, and also that the quality is outstanding. So they are suitable for professionals, because Jason is very hard on his instruments, and according to him, "if it was cheap, it wouldn't have made it 2 months".

We will most likely need to see this sax in person to determine the issue, but talking to you and your tech will be a good start. I will try to call you today, most likely tomorrow, and we will figure this out.

Also, we have a few B Stock (minor cosmetic issues) Pro Series saxellos in stock that I can give you a slammin' deal on, just FYI if you are interested in upgrading.

Anyway, looking forward to working towards a resolution. And thank you again for the honest review for the public to see.

Peace,

Brian
904.996.9312
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for getting back so quickly and I appreciate the kind words about the recordings. I'm happy to provide feedback on the horns. Its obvious that quality is a major concern to you and if this review helps you identify any issues, then I'm happy to help. I will respond to your email and we can set up a chat that fits all of our schedules. The tech will be able to give you a much better technical assessment than I can!

I'm in Austin which is quite a while from Dallas. Now that I've seen the level that the Alpha series horns are at I'd like to take a look at the Omegas as well so maybe I can find a way to get up there. Good to know that Jason Thompson is succeeding with these horns. I couldn't find any recording of him but checked out the University of Tennessee's music program and it looks pretty rigorous. I'm sure he's a great player.

I'm a big fan of the Stephen Howard saxophone reviews and his Haynes Sax Manual is where I received much of the elementary knowledge I have about the overall construction of the horns. I also used a lot of the information in the manual to assess my opinion of the Saxello.

What I'd really like to do is establish a standard of quality for this level of horn. I can see where the factory cut corners to save on costs (corks, felts, build labor) and give a comparison to the Omega series if I end up purchasing it. That would be a fun experience. And for all readers, I know this review is incomplete without pictures. I'm working with a photographer friend of mine to really get some high-res detailed shots of the inners of the horn.

Sure I'd love to check out your B-stock Omegas. I'm much more interested in performance than looks.
 

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Very nice sound clip of an alpha curvie. Thanks Conn-Hunter. I know that Alpha altos are great horns. I have one. They are good enough to gig with. I am just biased towards the Omega, now Pro-series horns. After buying my first Omega Tenor from Ce Winds, I proceeded to sell my Selmer of Paris, Yanagisawa and Yamaha 82 Z horns. You can say that I have been spoiled by the Pro-Series horns that Ce-Winds have. I have a small collection of them and use them for studio work. I would like to see more threads on the Pro-series. Lately, most of the threads have been on the Alphas. I included some pics of my Omega Tenor. It is the "Florida Model". My puppy is in one of the pics. He is my biggest fan. Enjoy. :sunny:
 

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Very nice sound clip of an alpha curvie. Thanks Conn-Hunter. I know that Alpha altos are great horns. I have one. They are good enough to gig with. I am just biased towards the Omega, now Pro-series horns. After buying my first Omega Tenor from Ce Winds, I proceeded to sell my Selmer of Paris, Yanagisawa and Yamaha 82 Z horns. You can say that I have been spoiled by the Pro-Series horns that Ce-Winds have. I have a small collection of them and use them for studio work. I would like to see more threads on the Pro-series. Lately, most of the threads have been on the Alphas. I included some pics of my Omega Tenor. It is the "Florida Model". My puppy is in one of the pics. He is my biggest fan. Enjoy. :sunny:
Hold onto that Florida Model, we only made a few of those, who knows who much they will be worth one day..but by then you will probably own around 30 CE Winds saxes! LOL!
 

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Sorry to go off topic here. Mark, what's going on with your customer service side of things? I've sent emails and left voice messages regarding a possible new sax purchase with no reply whatsoever.
 

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Sorry to go off topic here. Mark, what's going on with your customer service side of things? I've sent emails and left voice messages regarding a possible new sax purchase with no reply whatsoever.
I forwarded your reply to Brian and I am sure he will contact you soon. I know we had some issues with the phones being down as well as we are about to launch the new CE Winds website, so in the process of moving servers, etc.. we did come into some lost email problems.. but thank you for your patience, Brian will be contacting you very soon. My personal email is mark at wigginton dot name feel free to contact me at that email in the meantime.. I am sure we can help you out somehow. Be blessed.
 

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somebody looking for a CE Winds Saxello professional? goldplated?
Sax is as new, no scratches, no signs of use at all. (for pics look for in Marketplace)
 
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