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Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was a sax major in university, 1970 - 1974. I played a big bunch of saxes during those years, mostly out of curiosity. My junior year, I was assigned bari sax in the wind ensemble so that freshmen sax majors could get some playing time on alto in the select ensemble.

Anyway, I had my pick of baris. The university had a Selmer Mark VI from the early 60's, low Bb only, that was a kicking horn. I really liked it, not only because it played well, but also because I thought I ought to like it (my personal alto was, and still is, a 1967 Mark VI). Then, the winter quarter. someone needed it for one of the three jazz big bands at the university, so I gave it up and tried a mid-1950's Conn. WOW, it really had a sound! The 12M was a much superior sound in all registers to the Selmer, and I greatly preferred it.

Flash forward three years, to my second year of teaching middle and high schools. I worked a pair of middle schools, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. We needed a bari to fill out the sound of the 9th grade bands, and we didn't have much money. My regional music dealer brought me an ARMSTRONG bari (low Bb only) to try out, and it was freaking INCREDIBLE! Warm; fat; responded to a whisper in all registers (including the lowest 5 tones), roared like a lion when I put the air to it. I put it in my student's hands, and he had a similar experience (diluted to his 3rd year playing ability, of course). We bought it, and loved it.

The problem was that the brass was soft as butter. Any little old knock put a dent in the bow or the neck. The keys fared better, holding their adjustments and alignments really well, but the horn just couldn't take the abuse that younger, smaller students inadvertently hand out because of their small size in relationship to the size of the horn.

Anyway, that Armstong bari was the only Armstrong sax I ever played, but it was wonderous. Anybody else here at SOTW had such an experience with an Armstrong bari?

Sax Magic
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