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Eastern Music Ref 54 Unlacquered Tenor
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lets Start with the pictures first. The dark one is the Antigua ProOne.
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I did kind of a small research project on the ProOne and then a day by day as I was playing it, and wrote it up here: https://www.vesware.com/Saxophone/AntigueProOne6200.html
So, if you're considering this horn, there's at least some good links compiled there. I'll put most of the pertinent stuff below.

But anyway, the Eastern is my current horn, and I'm just seeing how others compare. The most recent challenger was a B&S 2001 Series, the one before that was a Selmer TS600, a 70's Cleveland prior to that. I keep the better one and return or sell the one that I don't like. The ProOne is the latest challanger.

The things that attracted me to trying it were a lot of interesting features, as follows, from Peter Ponzol:
1. Uses a custom brass which contains a higher amount of copper to match what use to be done with the French saxophones in the 50's. Which should give a warmer sound with more projection. (Eastern Music is a Rose Brass, high copper, and I do like the response of that instrument).
2. It's cryogenically treated. Apparently that's a way to destress the metal and improve the tone.
3. Reviewers say that it's substantial, heavy, and that gives it a darker tone. Feeling solid is a good thing.
4. It's a new neck design to give good tuning, and it actually raises the mouthpiece higher. That's good for me because I'm tall, but Peter also says that gets you to tilt your head up and open up your wind pipe. Combined with having two attachment rings, maybe my support harness won't need to be up so high.
5. There is a G# lifter mechanism. Every saxophone I've had the G# can stick because it's spring lift. This is a mechanical lift. Keilworth sax's, which Peter worked on also, have the same feature.
6. The five tone holes on the bell are all ringed, similar to rolling the tone holes. But this is the only instrument that has a mixture of drawn holes on top, and the ringed holes on bottom. Peter says that provides a more uniform sound across the full range and makes the lower notes easier to play. It also provides a consistent resistance from top to bottom.
7. Some of the bell tone keys also use trident arms, patented, with adjusters on them to stabilize the large keys and allow adjusting to close any leaks and stop flutter. This is one step beyond the double arms that you sometimes see on other saxophones.

It did come with a mouthpiece (looks just like a Yamaha 5C), one reed, neck strap, cork grease, cloth wipe and a swab (silk?).
Full rib construction.
Neck to body perfect fit.
Craftsmanship looks good.
Low D pad stuck pretty bad (hmmmm...)
1. The pearls on the keys are more dished compared to my 54. My fingers like it.
2. The springs are stiffer and feel very uniform across all keys. When first playing it I caught myself not pressing enough a few times.
3. The pinkie keys on both hands are well placed. Rollers work nice. On the right hand the keys are actually raised higher off the saxophone, than my 54, about an inch. I like where they fall. I don't need to reach as much. I do have big hands, so this will be nice for people with smaller hands. The left hand table keys are a bit closer, so less reach for those also.
4. Immediately feels comfortable.
5. The key travel distance is pretty short across the board. Everything feels tight and solid; well put together.

Played it for a couple hours initially. No complaints. On middle D with all keys pressed sometimes I get an octave higher. With the slightly shorter key travels and stiffer springs I just needed to work on the timing of getting all the keys pressed. I had this problem before on my 54 when making fast transitions from middle B to middle D. It was a finger timing issue. If the timing is off you end up blipping the octave key open.

After 12 days of playing it:
The sticking low D did not going away. Once I un-stick it at the start of a play session it still sticks a bit, more with time, not enough to be annoying, and not like when it's sitting overnight. That's kind of ironic that it has the no stick linkage for the G# and the D# sticks consistently. That's even after I cleaned it multiple times.
Compared to the 54:
  • One of the fingers for Bb is more of a dud on the ProOne. The all fingers down middle D is also more of a dud on the ProOne.
  • The lighter spring force on the 54 definitely allows me to move faster.
  • The difference in placement of the table keys is noticeable, but I actually like the placement of the left hand table keys being a bit further away on the 54. On the ProOne sometimes it did feel cramped.
  • The sound is very comparable, with the ProOne being maybe a bit darker, but not by much.
  • The low Bb may be a smidge easier to initiate on the ProOne. Overtones are compareable.
  • The ProOne is slightly heavier. But without an accurate scale that's just a feel. Sometimes that's because of balance.
  • Intonation is good on both. I don't feel that I need to make any adjustments playing back and forth between one and the other.
  • The 54 is more free blowing.

So, I'm returning the ProOne and the Eastern Music survives another challenger. Obviously the sticking pad is a problem that shouldn't be there on a new horn, that's the main reason I'm returning it. At first I thought I liked the firmer springs, but they got old. I prefer the lighter feel of the 54. The 54 cost me $800, the ProOne $2000 including tax (that's a good deal). But all the whizbang features of the ProOne didn't really seem to translate to anything significantly better in playability or sound quality. That's not so much a dig at the ProOne as it is a positive commentary on the 54. Basically both good horns, with minor differences. Will the ProOne have better longevity? That I don't know.

The seller apologized for not catching the pad issue and offered a replacement, but with no advantages, and some clear disadvantage, and higher cost, I passed.

I think this will end my horn investigation. I had high expectations for the ProOne, thought it would be a keeper. I think at this point to get something "better", I'm looking at the big bucks, which I'm not willing to spend. $2000 was my limit. The thought has crossed my mind, well how good a used Yani, Yami or Selmer can you get for $2000. But not going down that road. Had enough headaches with used instruments. There was a previous Selmer T44 which was suppose to be in great shape, for $1700, NOT.

Hope you find this useful. Your mileage may vary.
 

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Thanks for sharing that, Ves.

FWIW, sticking pads and stiff springs are common on new horns, regardless of price, and easily fixed. Things such as tone character, response, ergonomics, and intonation are not so easily fixed. I look for the long term potential of a horn and dial in the adjustments in the first few months of getting to know a horn.

It‘s a good feeling to know that you’ve tried more than a few horns and are happy with what you’ve got. Enjoy your horn.
 

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Eastern Music Ref 54 Unlacquered Tenor
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for sharing that, Ves.

FWIW, sticking pads and stiff springs are common on new horns, regardless of price, and easily fixed. Things such as tone character, response, ergonomics, and intonation are not so easily fixed. I look for the long term potential of a horn and dial in the adjustments in the first few months of getting to know a horn.

It‘s a good feeling to know that you’ve tried more than a few horns and are happy with what you’ve got. Enjoy your horn.
Yeah, I've had some sticky pads before, but not like this. I'd hit the key with enough force that would normally overcome the spring force plus some, which was pretty high, and it wasn't enough. My pinkie would just stop dead, I'd miss the note, and have to push harder. Not sure what the problem was. From what I could see the seat was off center, the pressure wasn't even around the pad, and it was sunk in more on one side. So, I think the pad was acting like a cork on one side, and I'm literally pulling it out; hard to describe. And that was one of the tone holes with a ring on it. Takes a lot of pressure to sink in the pad that deep over a relatively large surface area. It was just wrong, and appears to be that the pad is not parallel to the surface of the tone hole, aggravated by the high spring force. But if the spring force hadn't been that high, it probably would not have sealed all the way around.

So, you'd buy a pro level horn, and then fix it? Not me. I have a problem with having to fix brand new things. Especially expensive new things. Especially for no significant gain. The higher the price the less tolerant I am of defects. If it turned out to be so much better then maybe I would have gone for the exchange offer. But it's not; response, ergonomics, and intonation.

But yes, if you wanted to fix that pad and change out the springs, then it would just be that one of the Bb fingerings and the low D are stuffy. Otherwise, the ProOne is a nice instrument.

If anyone wants to buy one, they still have some on Ebay. That authorized dealer is having a year end closeout. But looks like the price went up. One is $2500 another for $3000. Ouch! Maybe they'll sell my return for less, after they fix it. Why the price difference? The $3000 one says it's Cryogenically treated, the $2500 doesn't say it is, but they are both the CA model, which on Antigua's site says is treated. So, don't know what that's about. But at that price, get you an Eastern Music for $800 and fix whatever is wrong with IT, if anything, and you'll be way ahead of the game.
 

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But yes, if you wanted to fix that pad and change out the springs, then it would just be that one of the Bb fingerings and the low D are stuffy. Otherwise, the ProOne is a nice instrument.
You don’t yet seem to understand how saxophones work. You don’t have to change out the springs to adjust their tension. And yes, you can just change out one pad for very little effort (or money). If the rest of the horn rings your bell, it’s a good way to go.

If the seat and steering wheel of your new car were in the wrong position, would you send it back?
 

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The sticky pads issue is still a mystery to me. For my two tenors (Yany and Antigua), the pads on Yany are sticky so that I have to use the Yamaha Powder paper once for a whole to avoid sticky G#, while my Antigua Tenor pads are not sticky at all. For my two soprano (still Yany and Antigua), it is just on the reverse order, as Yany is not sticky at all and Antigua is sticky. Interesting....
 

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Unless you’re buying from a shop or brand that does a thorough in-house or contracted set-up, which are few, the new horn set-up can really be quite a crapshoot. There’s all kinds of threads in the repair section about the lack of quality set-up work at every price point for both retail and direct-purchase brands. You mention nothing in your critique of the Antigua that isn’t common and taken care of in short order by a tech. Spring tension: The Antigua might be stiffer than necessary, your EM might also be on the lighter side…maybe you unknowingly discovered you prefer a lighter feel (I do!), and that’s something most any tech can customize easily for you.

Has your EM tenor been in for a good set-up? If not and you already really like it, I bet it comes back even better. When it’s time for a servicing I recommend splurging a little extra if you can to have it set up really well instead of just PC’d and leak light compliant.
 

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This is an interesting thread because...per their reputations...the Eastern vs. the ProOne should be like comparing apples and oranges....

Eastern, unless I am very wrong, has yet to produce a really good, pro-calibre sax. They do not seem to be a company which utilizes a factory which has that goal, necessarily. (Again, this just from what I have read...granted I do not pay much attention to budget-priced chinese horns, so maybe they are producing one). Some have been better than others, of the reviews I have read. But no reviews particularly had the expectation of them being pro horns. More "what you get for the money" sorta echelon.

While the One HAS gotten some good feedback over the years, and while it is nowhere near achieveing the rep of a Yama, Yani, Selmer, etc., (and the cryogenic thing, fer godssake) again I have seen a fair amount kind words on that model from seemingly serious players.

But again, reputation online, particularly of models which relatively speaking are not in widespread use...is often quite specious

I agree with most respondents...sticking pads and spring tensions being the reason for a full return and refund ?

Mmmmmmmmm.....mmmmmmm.......(?) Two things so easily correctible by a tech for less than $100 for sure...or even by a DIY'er with some experience. Woodwinds are not guitars, brass, percussion...whenever you got pads and springs and corks and felts which either make or break the instrument's performance....a tech set-up and some tweaking on a brand new horn is nothing outlandish to expect at all.

You see, when I read these reviews...here is what usually jumps out (and it does here as well): there's no real assessment of the quality/precision of the build nor the response of the horn beyond ergos.

Is there key play ? Are the keys 'soft' ? How do the screws act in their post holes ? Is the body metal light or substantial ? Are the toneholes level ?

Then the next thing becomes blowing response. How well does each horn react to subtle changes in blowing ? Is the tonality of the horn consistent up and down the registers ? (Many horns, for example, have a wonderful quality on the lower octave, but some of that beauty vanishes on the upper octaves).

Lastly what about tonality ? Brightness/darkness/harmonic spread/foucus, things like that ?

Things like this. So, basically, the review becomes simply based on playtesting, with no attention paid to how the horn was really fabricated; and in some cases no assessment of how the horn responds intonationally and blowing wise.

Anyways, no particulary trying to 'say' anything other than the comparison as presented, is using a fairly limited scope of testing to come to a result which covers most of the bases.

Not criticizing OP, if you are happy with the Eastern, great, enjoy it.
 

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This is an interesting thread because...per their reputations...the Eastern vs. the ProOne should be like comparing apples and oranges....

Eastern, unless I am very wrong, has yet to produce a really good, pro-calibre sax. They do not seem to be a company which utilizes a factory which has that goal, necessarily. (Again, this just from what I have read...granted I do not pay much attention to budget-priced chinese horns, so maybe they are producing one). Some have been better than others, of the reviews I have read. But no reviews particularly had the expectation of them being pro horns. More "what you get for the money" sorta echelon.

While the One HAS gotten some good feedback over the years, and while it is nowhere near achieveing the rep of a Yama, Yani, Selmer, etc., (and the cryogenic thing, fer godssake) again I have seen a fair amount kind words on that model from seemingly serious players.

But again, reputation online, particularly of models which relatively speaking are not in widespread use...is often quite specious

I agree with most respondents...sticking pads and spring tensions being the reason for a full return and refund ?

Mmmmmmmmm.....mmmmmmm.......(?) Two things so easily correctible by a tech for less than $100 for sure...or even by a DIY'er with some experience. Woodwinds are not guitars, brass, percussion...whenever you got pads and springs and corks and felts which either make or break the instrument's performance....a tech set-up and some tweaking on a brand new horn is nothing outlandish to expect at all.

You see, when I read these reviews...here is what usually jumps out (and it does here as well): there's no real assessment of the quality/precision of the build nor the response of the horn beyond ergos.

Is there key play ? Are the keys 'soft' ? How do the screws act in their post holes ? Is the body metal light or substantial ? Are the toneholes level ?

Then the next thing becomes blowing response. How well does each horn react to subtle changes in blowing ? Is the tonality of the horn consistent up and down the registers ? (Many horns, for example, have a wonderful quality on the lower octave, but some of that beauty vanishes on the upper octaves).

Lastly what about tonality ? Brightness/darkness/harmonic spread/foucus, things like that ?

Things like this. So, basically, the review becomes simply based on playtesting, with no attention paid to how the horn was really fabricated; and in some cases no assessment of how the horn responds intonationally and blowing wise.

Anyways, no particulary trying to 'say' anything other than the comparison as presented, is using a fairly limited scope of testing to come to a result which covers most of the bases.

Not criticizing OP, if you are happy with the Eastern, great, enjoy it.
Initially I thought OP refers to "Eastman" vs "Antigua Pro-One", until I read your reply and notice that it is actually the "Eastern Music". I took a look on their website and found this:
Alto Saxophone ala Yanagisawa A-991 – Eastern Music (emmusicstore.com)

So they basically sell a fake Yany A-991, but meanwhile try to waive any legal responsibility by adding "ala" in front of the Yany. I guess OP's "Ref 45" is also a wording game to make it sound like "Ref 54"......

The horn may play well itself, but based on this behavior I really doubt the credit of this company.
 

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Antigua Powerbell tenor-Otto Link NY ,Vito Alto -Gigliotti Spectrum, Antigua sop- Morgan 4
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They do a mk 6 copy too with the made in France on it but it also has a big "Eastern Music" engraved on the bell so they aren't really trying to fool anyone.
 

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I’m sorry not sorry but the OP lost me when he states that the B&S didn’t “make it” compared to a completely generic horn made with slave labor wages. I know for a fact, his comparison will not hold up because I’ve own several EM horns and at least 8 B&S and to say the EM is a better horn is absolutely ridiculous puffery. Maybe he finds the horn is a good fit but those EM horns have no core and are not well built at all when compared to a well thought out design that produces better intonation, better build and frankly better resale value. I say “better”resell but that’s an understatement.
 

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So we should take the mark 'made in France' as true?
You would have to be pretty ignorant to believe it. I do think they shouldn't put it on there though.
 

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Eastern Music Ref 54 Unlacquered Tenor
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You don’t yet seem to understand how saxophones work. You don’t have to change out the springs to adjust their tension. And yes, you can just change out one pad for very little effort (or money). If the rest of the horn rings your bell, it’s a good way to go.

If the seat and steering wheel of your new car were in the wrong position, would you send it back?
No, I don't think you understand. It's not the pad, it's the alignment of the pad holder to the tone hole, and a new pad won't make any difference. But, I'm not going to go and start messing with holders, springs, or pads, or take it in to a shop to mess with them, whether that means replacing them, or bending them, or whatever.
You want to fix and adjust new horns, be my guest. I expect it to play out of the box and I don't care what brand it is. If it doesn't, it's gone. If a company doesn't have the Quality Control to insure that every instrument is flawless, at that price, I'm not interested.

If we're going to be using car analogies. Yeah, if I take a car for a test drive and find out there were some things broken on it, and some things I didn't like about it, I'm not buying that car, because I'm not buying a new car so it can sit in the shop. Is it just that car, was it assembled on a Monday.. I don't care. I'm not going to trade mine in when it doesn't have problems and performs just as well, and I have 0 payments remaining.
...
The Eastern Music (Yes Eastern, not Eastar); full rail construction, metal resonators, Italian leather, rose brass (higher copper content), blue springs, unlacquered, intended as a Selmer 54 copy, with a Eastern Music power neck. $800 new didn't have any issues, 8 months later still doesn't. And yes it actually has good intonation, and sound (but that's a personal preference). The point here is that the sound is similar enough to the ProOne... with my MP and reed and me playing it. And I don't know anything about Eastern Music, what factory they use, their reputation in the industry, etc.. I didn't originally buy it because of the name. I bought it based on listed features for the price. Value. You may make a different value judgement.

Brian, you want to believe it or not, that's up to you. But to say that the comparison is invalid... Why don't you go do a Youtube search for Eastern Music and have a listen to the videos that are up there about it. Regarding the B&S, I actually bought a B&S 2001 because you were one of the people who recommended it. It definitely had worse intonation than the Eastern. If one end was in, the other was out, and some of the middle notes were way off from one to the next. Had to do so much jumping around with voicing, it was ridiculous. And it was completely gone over before I bought it. Did I just get unlucky? Maybe, but it's gone, because it didn't live up to expectations and it didn't perform better than the Eastern.

And like I said. After six saxophones, I'm done searching, because if a $2000 ($2500/$3000/$5000 or whatever the non sale price is) instrument isn't leaps and bounds above an $800 dollar one, I'm not interested. And it's definitely not leaps and bounds, it's barely a match, with issues to boot. All the whizbang stuff doesn't matter much when basic stuff isn't right.

I would have been willing to bet the ProOne would have done circles around the Eastern, and it was going to be the new keeper. Ah well, it's not. And honestly, should it really be such a surprise? China and Taiwan make everything now, and everyone is swapping parts with everyone, and one Taiwan horn is just as likely to have the same parts on it as a different one, and the same factory makes them for multiple vendors. Technology is improving. Inexpensive doesn't necessarily mean cheap any more, necessarily.
 

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No, I don't think you understand. It's not the pad, it's the alignment of the pad holder to the tone hole, and a new pad won't make any difference. But, I'm not going to go and start messing with holders, springs, or pads, or take it in to a shop to mess with them, whether that means replacing them, or bending them, or whatever.
You want to fix and adjust new horns, be my guest. I expect it to play out of the box and I don't care what brand it is. If it doesn't, it's gone. If a company doesn't have the Quality Control to insure that every instrument is flawless, at that price, I'm not interested.

If we're going to be using car analogies. Yeah, if I take a car for a test drive and find out there were some things broken on it, and some things I didn't like about it, I'm not buying that car, because I'm not buying a new car so it can sit in the shop. Is it just that car, was it assembled on a Monday.. I don't care. I'm not going to trade mine in when it doesn't have problems and performs just as well, and I have 0 payments remaining.
...
The Eastern Music (Yes Eastern, not Eastar); full rail construction, metal resonators, Italian leather, rose brass (higher copper content), blue springs, unlacquered, intended as a Selmer 54 copy, with a Eastern Music power neck. $800 new didn't have any issues, 8 months later still doesn't. And yes it actually has good intonation, and sound (but that's a personal preference). The point here is that the sound is similar enough to the ProOne... with my MP and reed and me playing it. And I don't know anything about Eastern Music, what factory they use, their reputation in the industry, etc.. I didn't originally buy it because of the name. I bought it based on listed features for the price. Value. You may make a different value judgement.

Brian, you want to believe it or not, that's up to you. But to say that the comparison is invalid... Why don't you go do a Youtube search for Eastern Music and have a listen to the videos that are up there about it. Regarding the B&S, I actually bought a B&S 2001 because you were one of the people who recommended it. It definitely had worse intonation than the Eastern. If one end was in, the other was out, and some of the middle notes were way off from one to the next. Had to do so much jumping around with voicing, it was ridiculous. And it was completely gone over before I bought it. Did I just get unlucky? Maybe, but it's gone, because it didn't live up to expectations and it didn't perform better than the Eastern.

And like I said. After six saxophones, I'm done searching, because if a $2000 ($2500/$3000/$5000 or whatever the non sale price is) instrument isn't leaps and bounds above an $800 dollar one, I'm not interested. And it's definitely not leaps and bounds, it's barely a match, with issues to boot. All the whizbang stuff doesn't matter much when basic stuff isn't right.

I would have been willing to bet the ProOne would have done circles around the Eastern, and it was going to be the new keeper. Ah well, it's not. And honestly, should it really be such a surprise? China and Taiwan make everything now, and everyone is swapping parts with everyone, and one Taiwan horn is just as likely to have the same parts on it as a different one, and the same factory makes them for multiple vendors. Technology is improving. Inexpensive doesn't necessarily mean cheap any more, necessarily.
;)
Sorry didn't mean to poop on your parade. You are most certainly entitled to your opinion as am I. Maybe just maybe I should sell my B&S and buy a Chinese horn in its stead. I can buy them wholesale since I have an importers license and buy this same horn for a fraction
of what I paid for my Medusa. I can then invest the difference in the therapy it would take to get over that trade.
 

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A friend of mine bought an Eastern Music tenor and I tried it. A little clunky but played well enough for a $700 sax. It actually played right out of the box.
‘I guess the true test is see if it stays in adjustment if you play it and gig with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I’m sorry not sorry but the OP lost me when he states that the B&S didn’t “make it” compared to a completely generic horn made with slave labor wages. I know for a fact, his comparison will not hold up because I’ve own several EM horns and at least 8 B&S and to say the EM is a better horn is absolutely ridiculous puffery. Maybe he finds the horn is a good fit but those EM horns have no core and are not well built at all when compared to a well thought out design that produces better intonation, better build and frankly better resale value. I say “better”resell but that’s an understatement.
Mental note... Brian can get sax's at discount prices...

Well, now it's pooped on so I'll have to go cry in my soup.

Seriously, I'm not oblivious to the fact that the B&S and the ProOne general construction is more refined. The ProOne in particular has some serious credentials, which is why I tried it in the first place. And I get that you guys are like the braintrust of the saxophone world and I'm just a home hobby guy, play 10-20 hours per week. So, my opinion is nowhere near as refined, and I'm not suggesting you run out and sell your Selmers and Yanis and $20,000 saxophones. That's the two horns I had, I did the research, I told you how it came out.

Funny thing, last night, the seller suggested that I accept a replacement and they will even set up the springs for me on the new one, at no charge. Apparently they do have a full service shop there. Hmmm... Well, them doing it, and taking responsibility for the work, is a lot better than me taking it to some shop, paying for the repairs, and screwing up the warranty. But I asked him, how would we come to an understanding of where to put the spring forces? My guess is lower by about 40%. But if the ProOne is as well thought out as we would like to believe, then maybe, the higher spring forces are there because they are necessary. Those keys with the trident arms especially may have some mass. If the spring force is too low, maybe the action will be too slow. On the other hand, for the always closed holes, will they still seal properly? Just because they can do it, is it a good idea to do it? He couldn't answer that question and said he check with his senior tech.
 

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I know that many online stores will include a complete new horn setup when the buyer purchases new horn from them. But based on my shallow experiences (of four times ordering online), their so-called new horn setup are at best simple visual inspection and minimal adjustment. Some of the issues are apparently not due to transportation, but they can be easily fixed by local tech though. I don't think they may even bother to run a leak light or put mouthpiece on the horn to test play it.

Still, you should give a Pro one another chance, especially considering that you are comparing it with Eastern tenor....
 

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Well, now it's pooped on so I'll have to go cry in my soup.
That sounds so sad.

That's the two horns I had, I did the research, I told you how it came out.
Trying two horns with little-to-no playing experience does not make it "research" any more than boiling water makes you either a chef, engineer or scientist.

But I asked him, how would we come to an understanding of where to put the spring forces? My guess is lower by about 40%. But if the ProOne is as well thought out as we would like to believe, then maybe, the higher spring forces are there because they are necessary. Those keys with the trident arms especially may have some mass. If the spring force is too low, maybe the action will be too slow. On the other hand, for the always closed holes, will they still seal properly? Just because they can do it, is it a good idea to do it? He couldn't answer that question and said he check with his senior tech.
These are good questions. I doubt that the tech is going to measure the spring force of each key, and even if they could, it would still not be meaningful.

You're right about having to overcome the inertia of keys with higher mass. Another issue is overcoming the friction of the rods inside the tubes, as well as at the bearing surfaces at the end of the tubes. Lighter spring tension is not always better. At some point, the keys will just start to feel slow to return to their rest position.

G'luck in your quest.
 
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