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Can you feel and hear the differences?

2265 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Jeff Foster
I played alto & baritone in the grades (4-8), but not in HighShool (rock guitar was the order of the late 60's) Now, in my seniority, I've picked up the sax again and have two yamahas (yts23 & yas23) - strong horns for being student grade, both were used - a total investment less than $1500 for both.

But you always wonder what playing a pro horn would be like. (Obviously all I've ever played were student grade instruments; a Bundy alto and the Jr. High's baritone, & now my yams)

Could one really appreciate what the added dollars had begot, say $4k for a decently maintained, used Selmer Paris ?

There's a pretty good sax wrench shop here in san jose, and I figured: "since he'd have no skin in the game (not a salesman), I might get a clean answer to my question". Here's what he said, as closely reproduced as I can recall (lightly paraphrased, that is):

"As the player, you probably cannot appreciate the difference in sound between horns, it takes someone else, who knows your sound, to listen, hear & feel the differences."

To me the term "feel" deals mostly with the key-action and the feel you get from the horn resonating, beyond thatIi'm likely clueless. The listener's sense of feel would obviously me more asthetic, less mechanical. The fellow was pretty adamant that the listener had to "know your sound".

Your thoughts?
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I don't agree that the player can't appreciate the difference in sound between horns - if that was the case we'd always have to take a listener with us when we went shopping for a new one.
Sure, having a listener's opinion can be useful when you've found two horns you really like - but most of the time you'd be looking to them to confirm what you already know.

The bottom line is, you're the player, you're the one that has to use the horn, so buy the one that does it for you...and stuff what anyone else thinks.

As for whether you can appreciate the difference between a student horn and a pro one - yes, you can...though that doesn't always mean the pro horn will give you what you want.
I've played on student horns that have been set up better than pro horns, but in general a pro horn should feel mechanically better under the fingers. Slicker, a bit more responsive, better ergonomics. With modern production techniques this distinction isn't so noticeable. As for the other kind of feel - the tonal response - you should get more of that from a better horn...but after a certain price point the horns stop getting better and just become different.

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