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HEY EVERYBODY AT SAX ON THE WEB!!!
I'm Sam and I have a question/problem: I started playing tenor a year ago (been playing alto sax since 5th grade in 11th grade now and for my bar mitzvah I bought myself a YAS-62II alto) and ive been renting so far, but i think i really want to buy myself a quality tenor. Now i have a couple of things that anyone who is going to be giving me advice needs to consider:

1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE dark, warm and fuzzy, melodic sound.
1a) I am obsessed with the cool jazz era...that means cats like stan getz, paul desmond, LESTER YOUNG (best saxophone player the world has ever seen), warne marsh, gerry mulligan, all those guys.

2. As such, i wish to emulate them so I want a saxophone that does that...this is my primary goal in finding a saxaphone.

3. I play in a combo AND a school big band and while i am assuming most horns will play well in either soloing or big band im just letting you know what im playing in.

4. So far there are a couple of horns that I have researched a little and think are good...SBA (super balanced action), Mark VI (most regard this as a mother of saxes and stan getz played one of them) and i just heard about this RS berkeley virtuoso line...I am very open to other suggestions though, i'm not totally knowledgable about picking a saxophone (I dont even have a specific mouthpiece yet XD)

5. Obviously i wont find a good tenor for less than $2000 but keep in mind i AM a student in high school so i can't afford $10,000 dollar saxes.

Thanks in advance for advice...hopefully you can help me.
Thanks,
Sam
 

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Sam -- of course you CAN find a good tenor for less than $2000. No problem. I play a 1954 The Martin tenor. Well known for dark, smoky, old-school sounds. Very good examples in good condition are easily available for under $2000 regularly.

Or, I just bought a late model (1965) Conn 10M for $550 that simply roars. www.2ndending.com has several tenors around $1000 that would probably be all the horn you ever need -- that '59 10M would give you everything you need.

If you need a prestige horn like a Mark VI to feel like Getz, fine. But you can get all the sound you need for under $2k easily.
 

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Buffet SDA
 

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Hey Sam, did you give up on the clarinet idea? That would be a pity.

Anyhow, about tenors. You're fortunate to live in the land of the free, the home of the brave and the place with more GOOD used, vintage tenors per square kilometre (I should say mile) than any other place on earth. If you can't find a great Conn, Buescher or The Martin for under $2000 then shame on you.

As for the MkVI mystique expect to pay more than double for the doubtful honour of joining that club. There are also heaps of GOOD new Taiwanese and Chinese reproduction style horns in your price range if you want a new instrument. Don't overlook used Yamaha, Yanagisawa and Keilwerth horns - great value and great players.

Just about every one of these horns I've mentioned will sound like you're playing through a sock full of cold custard without a good mouthpiece. But, with a good mouthpiece reed/combination virtually, any horn at all will punch way above its weight.

Get yourself onto the tenor sax as soon as you can. I guarantee you'll never regret it.
 

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a good super 20 can be found in that price range at times i personally like the Kohlert Regent
 

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I am judging from your initial post that what you are after is an old-school, dark tone.

You want a horn which has that natural disposition to play dark and wide....not bright and narrow.....
So...why don't you just nix the modern horns altogether....
They just don't get you there. Some can, with difficulty....
Not dissin' 'em (OK, actually I do dis' some of 'em)...just that, sonically...they won't get you there.

Neither, quite honestly, will the most of the (overrated) selmers ~ but that's beside the point because it's outta your pricerange anyway.

You want dark and wide in the low end...smoky, big-sounding Tenors a'la the classic straight-ahead Jazz ?

Conn 10M
Martin Handcraft or Committee
King Super 20 or Zephyr (or even Voll-True II's)
Buescher Aristocrat or 400 (pre-1963)
Keilwerth New King or one of the stencils
H. Couf Superba or Royalist
Kohlert 55, 57, 58, Regent or Winnenden
Holton 24X series
A nice ol' Noblet or Vito made by Beaugnier, France
Some R. Malernes
Some Dolnets

As MMT says...you CAN spend $2g if you wanna...but you could also spend as little as about $750 and get just as good a horn.

Go find some shops which carry some older horns and play as many as you possibly can. You want that '40's-60's tone....get a '40's-'60's horn. The sound (and superior quality of build/workmanship) is why they have become so popular again....
 

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1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE dark, warm and fuzzy, melodic sound.

2. As such, i wish to emulate them so I want a saxophone that does that...
Hey Sam, I feel compelled to point out the obvious, and I know you know this but I'll say it anyway, no saxophone will do that or anything else. Only you, the player can do it.

Having got that out of the way, let me second what JayeSF said above. Look to a good vintage horn to help you get that dark smoky sound. But keep in mind the mouthpiece is even more important than the horn in this regard. Most (not all!) high baffle mpcs will make it more difficult to get the sound you describe. An Otto Link or other med/large chamber, low rollover baffle mpc will lend itself to a darker tonal pallet. Wow, did I just say that? I sound like a wine snob.
 

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I'm still trying to figure out how you are going to sound like Desmond, Prez, and Mulligan all at the same time. :scratch:

Oh well, that's your challenge, I guess.

Like others here, I'd recommend getting a Martin Committee or Conn 10m, both of which can be had for about (or less than) a grand. Plan to spend a few bucks getting your horn set up just right, then go on your mouthpiece search.

Interestingly, Desmond and Mulligan are about the only two pro's I know of the played M.C. Gregory hard rubber mouthpieces, so you can go hunting for one of those (in either the Gregory or the Gale lines). They can be hard to come by.

Then think about adding a good Link STM. I'd look into the ones that Warburton does their customizing on or plan to spend a few hundred on a classic old piece or a hand-refaced piece by one of the name-brand mouthpiece gurus here.

Then you'll be good to wail, I'd think
 

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....well after getting the gregory and stm youve still got a couple hundred left for the horn!!!
 

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JayeSF listed a whole bunch of possibilities. I would say you can't go wrong with any of the big 4 American vintage: Conn, Buescher, Martin, King (Zephyr or Super20).
 

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I'm selling a pre '63 Buescher Aristocrat, much less than 2000. PM me if you're interested. I dig Getz's tone, too. Good stuff, man, good stuff. The horn's in great shape but, like many have said before, it's you, not the horn, that determines the tone. I think the horn, especially the brass, is a part of the tone, but not the whole thing, not by a long shot. I'd go vintage, personally, as I like the sound and quality of construction ( the Buescher is built like a tank). Good luck in your quest for the tone you want. Knowing what you want to sound like is a big part of the battle, you just have to do it now. Happy playing, my fellow musicians!
 

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P. Mauriat...there is no substitute.

see my current thread one the subject w/ the awesome vids of Aldo Salvent playing his 66R with a Klum hard rubber Acoustimer. Sounds like a sexy, winning combo to me!!
 

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Well, I am not sure if it would give you the sound you are looking for, but I'd recommend a CE Winds tenor. I am a bit older than you and I play on a CE Winds Pro Satin Series tenor.

I would agree with most in saying that no matter what you play on, if you don't have the right mpc and reed combination, you will sound like dying animal, but if you have the patience, I would just purchase a newer taiwanese horn (but, a GOOD one, some of them aren't that great) and try out as many mpcs as you can until (or if) you can find one that suits you. Although some people say you cannot figure out if a horn is right for you for months and others say it screams out at you right away (same with mpcs), I would probably have choose the middle because I didn't really like me CE Winds tenor for about 2 weeks, but slowly warmed up and into it to develop at tone that was completely original, but exactly what I was looking for. I own their saxello soprano (satin) and their alto (classic) as well and I would say that is about the same for all of their horns.

But, my tenor setup is a CE Winds Satin Series Tenor with a Vandoren V16 Metal T45 and Rico Jazz Select 2H reeds. As of now, I really haven't run into anything that feels substantially better and I've play Mark VIs, Reference 54s, a really nice SBA, Conn 10ms, etc. when I was looking for a decent tenor. Sure, they all have better reputations and are made in France/Germany/etc., but reputation doesn't make the horn. I have a secondary alto that I payed $250 for that plays better than a Selmer SA80II I played 6 months ago. It is an exact copy of it, it has the same lacquer, the only thing it doesn't have is the engraving. Basically, if you've spent just a little time on here you'll know which taiwanese hons are reliable and which ones to avoid. A brand new Satin Series tenor would run you at $1,965, and none of their pro series horns (artist series excluded) are over $2200, which is still a good deal considering they are handmade, come with a warranty, include quality accessories, andlet you choose between two professional Metal mpcs (even tip size) which are both excellent, but completely different.

But, most Taiwanese horns are good value, it just depends on what you take from their reviews and your preference on speculated tone quality (e.g. CE Winds "Dark Vintage" saxes are much darker than their "Gold" or "Silver" models, with the Satin horns being somewhere in between), price (P. Mariats are more expensive than Cannonballs that are more expensive than CE Winds horns, etc.), and your personal regard for the companies and their representatives (many of which are members of SOTW).

I would also recommend vintage horns, but you really have to know who you are dealing with and that the horn is playable. Plus, if something goes wrong on a vintage horn, the design or parts may be hot commodities to find and severely expensive to purchase. But, if they give you the sound you like, it may be worth it. I am more of a modern horn guy, because I like having a high F# key and more modern style keywork and quicker action as well as the reliability of buying a horn that has never been used or has been lightly used and the assurance that it requires little to no maintenance (I had a buescher Aristocrat tenor once that I loved with a passion, but I hated always sending it in for repair and being delicate when playing it for fear of breaking keys).

But, I still have to say the horn you play on is MUCH less important than the mpc you play on. A $400 mpc (that is your perfect fit) on a $200 sax is better than a $200 mpc (again price does not dictate, but this is "perfect fit" value) on a $400 sax, with the exception of the saxes all being in full working condition (because some horns are not).

So, good luck with your search and I hope this helps,
 
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