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Can you feel and hear the differences?

2270 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 think there is truth in both positions . . . the audience MAY hear differences that the player doesn't because the player is being influenced by the feel and response of the instrument as well as the surrounding musicians in the ensemble, if playing in a group. While the ultimate decision is the player's, for sure, I always find objective comments from the audience interesting - and I do consider those from folks who I believe know the issues. True, it may be that some in the audience are influenced by extraneous factors, too.

I also think there is a difference between student and pro-quality instruments, even though good players can play a student-level horn and make you think it is the best instrument available.

3dBDown, for $4K you can come close to a new Ref 54 Selmer alto. Now there is a saxophone with which I can feel a distinct difference compared to other models. Not only does the Ref 54 have what I believe is a unique sound to the player (me, and I've played several of them, all of which had the same tone - an amazing accomplishment alone), it has a "feel" (meaning what my fingers perceive) that is unlike any other modern saxophone I've played. I don't mean to start a which-model-is-best argument here, I only cite that as an example to answer your question about differences among various models. DAVE
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