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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks, long time no speak.

I want to come back to learning tenor saxophone and need to buy a horn. I should say right off that I'm a self-confessed gear-obsessor and I believe that if I buy a beginner/intermediate instrument I'll spend way too much time just looking to upgrade it, so I'd rather get a horn I really want straight off the bat. I still have my 7* Link and FL ligature, which were a great combo for me before, so that's good.

Assuming my best options are for brand new saxophones (because I can comfortably pay via a fair finance deal, and because I really have no intention of selling or upgrading/worrying about depreciation), I wanted to ask for any recent opinions of the Conn Selmer PTS-380V un-lacquered tenor.

I think I've fallen in love with this particular instrument via sound-clips and images online, but have yet to try one in person. The price (£2,199, UK) seems quite reasonable for a horn aimed at experienced players/professionals and, while that's not the be all/end all, it's definitely a point in its favour. If anyone has tried one recently or has owned one I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially what you thought after the honeymoon period had passed. I'd really love to hear a tech's opinion if any on here would care to venture one.

Like a lot of people on here (I ran a search or 10), I'm a little hesitant over the finish, or lack of one. I love the look, so that isn't a problem, my main concern is with structural integrity of the instrument over the long-term without a hard lacquer finish. I have played lacquered brass instruments before and have never had any reason to believe that I have corrosive sweat or saliva, so am I just getting a bit concerned over something that won't really be a problem so long as I practice some pretty standard TLC (pull-throughs and a quick wipe down before putting in a case or leaving on a stand)?

I'm going to speak to my teacher about instrument choice (and specifically the Conn Selmer) this week, so I'll get his opinion too, but I know he's not really up-to date with newer horns and I'd really appreciate any extra input I can get here :)
 

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I could be wrong, but if you're looking for a solid tenor that you'll never want to upgrade, you probably won't be wanting a Conn-Selmer. "Professional" is just a label… I've never heard of anyone playing one of these, let alone a professional. If you have the means to try one out then by all means do so, but there's other brands that may be better suited for what you're looking for, like Selmer Paris, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, Rampone, Borgani, or a bunch of others. Good luck on your search.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Christian1, thanks for your input. I'm aware of the brand's standing at the moment, but I think there's still a possibility that they could have produced something great with this horn, and I'm very interested to hear from anyone who's had a go on one.

Here's the horn in question Conn-Selmer at Sax.co.uk.

I hear what you're saying, but it's gotten some pretty amazing reviews, and the sound on the play-test they posted was very impressive to my ears.

Here's the quick Jazzwise bit on it (although that's the alto): Link

Cafe Sax thread: Link

And here's Courtney Pine: Link



I'm aware that Conn-Selmer don't have a top-shelf vibe about them for most players (myself included, it took me a while to even check this out online), but this seems like it might be a bit special. That's why I'd really like to see if any of the experienced guys here have ever had one in their hands to comment on. Thanks again for the reply :)
 

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Hi Christian1, thanks for your input. I'm aware of the brand's standing at the moment, but I think there's still a possibility that they could have produced something great with this horn, and I'm very interested to hear from anyone who's had a go on one.

Here's the horn in question Conn-Selmer at Sax.co.uk.

I hear what you're saying, but it's gotten some pretty amazing reviews, and the sound on the play-test they posted was very impressive to my ears.

Here's the quick Jazzwise bit on it (although that's the alto): Link

Cafe Sax thread: Link

And here's Courtney Pine: Link



I'm aware that Conn-Selmer don't have a top-shelf vibe about them for most players (myself included, it took me a while to even check this out online), but this seems like it might be a bit special. That's why I'd really like to see if any of the experienced guys here have ever had one in their hands to comment on. Thanks again for the reply :)
I get what you're saying. Actually, I did get to try the Selmer USA 42 alto with Warburton neck at the Symposium and was pleasantly surprised with it. Just don't limit your play-testing to one horn. Even if you try that Selmer and like it, try other ones to make sure it's your absolute favorite (which a lifetime horn should be).
 

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If you want to buy a high end sax that you will never want to upgrade, go with one of the following:

Selmer
Yamaha
Yanagisawa
Keilwerth

Rampone and Borgani are rare in the US, though your currency reference implies you may be in the UK, but at any rate few Americans are familiar with them, so I can't comment.

The current "Conn-Selmer" offerings (they change every couple of years as the non-Paris-Selmer part of the pairing continues to thrash about trying to find a market for their products) could be designed and produced god knows where.

Your assumption that you can "do better" whatever that is, buying a brand new instrument, is pretty much wrong; there's a much wider variety available of top quality saxophones if you will consider used current types and vintage saxophones.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I get what you're saying. Actually, I did get to try the Selmer USA 42 alto with Warburton neck at the Symposium and was pleasantly surprised with it. Just don't limit your play-testing to one horn. Even if you try that Selmer and like it, try other ones to make sure it's your absolute favorite (which a lifetime horn should be).
Thanks Christian. Yeah, I think they're surprising a few people. It's a brand I certainly would have looked over (and did). Don't worry, I plan to go and try a good selection before making any decision :)

If you want to buy a high end sax that you will never want to upgrade, go with one of the following:

Selmer
Yamaha
Yanagisawa
Keilwerth

Rampone and Borgani are rare in the US, though your currency reference implies you may be in the UK, but at any rate few Americans are familiar with them, so I can't comment.

The current "Conn-Selmer" offerings (they change every couple of years as the non-Paris-Selmer part of the pairing continues to thrash about trying to find a market for their products) could be designed and produced god knows where.
Hi turf3, I actually tried a wide selection of saxes last time around. I know I didn't like the Yamahas, I found them to sound way too thin. I actually went in to try a YTS-62 before making a purchase on eBay and was glad I tried one first as it was absolutely not naturally suited to the tone I like (dark, warm, big). The 82 series were very nice, but they are out of the price range I'd be looking at spending, so better to not look there.

The Selmers I found to be very disappointing. They were nice, but not as nice as I expected them to be. I've been spoiled by playing a really good MKVI a few times though and picking up an instrument that is supposed to be based on one is always going to be a might disappointing after that.

I wasn't blown away with the Yanis either, but I never did try a Keilwerth. The MKX does look very interesting and would certainly be on my to try list, but is much, much more expensive than the Conn Selmer (£2,199 vs £3,349). The Conn Selmer is allegedly a Taiwanese horn BTW.

I also tried one of the TJ RAW horns, due to the rave reviews it was getting for a while, and put it back down after a few seconds. I kept picking it up from time to time to see if I'd missed something but I just couldn't get a vibe from it at all. Again, I guess it's no use having regular time on a nice VI if it makes everything else feel a bit dead :|

I've also been looking at the Eastman 52nd Street tenors as I liked what I had heard from other player's clips, but the reviews are very mixed on them. Some people think they're the best thing since sliced bread and some people think they're over-priced. The only reviews I've seen from people who've played the Conn Selmer so far have been very positive, which is pretty unusual in itself, haha.

Your assumption that you can "do better" whatever that is, buying a brand new instrument, is pretty much wrong; there's a much wider variety available of top quality saxophones if you will consider used current types and vintage saxophones.
Oh, I know this very well. I'm a fan of used and vintage instruments and have had the pleasure of playing a few nice examples but I'm not very cash rich at the moment and won't be for a while and I really don't have a problem with a new instrument.

I think buying new does have some advantages; in my experience, if you go and try a second-hand instrument at someone's house it usually seems great (not always, but usually). When you can try it against a dozen other different ones you can really tell if you like it. And we all know that liking the store model and liking the one you bought off eBay are two different things, so it's good to be able to play-test a horn you can actually buy against a lot of others.

Also, I think that so long as you don't think you'll be selling any time soon then depreciation needn't be a bother. It could be another 12-months before I'm in a position to buy something vintage that I'd really want to buy, and I'd like to get going much sooner than that.
 

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dazz . . .: It looks to me like you are making a basic mistake in concluding it is the horn that matters. I feel the same way as you do (generally) about Yamaha instruments. But a few weeks ago I was in a jam band with an old gentleman (look who’s calling the kettle black here!) playing a new Yamaha alto 82z who sounded like Rudy Weidoeft. Talk about a sound!! It sure WASN’T the horn in his case.

I’m sure the brand you questioned will most likely work for you - if you play it correctly (meaning the way you want it to sound). If the construction is correct, it is up to you to make it sound good.

I guess the question is about your budget and long-term satisfaction. If it were me, I’d look beyond the Conn-Selmer. It, after all, is most likely Asian-made and while the Taiwanese (and others) make decent saxophones these days - and are improving - there is a certain pride-of-ownership thing at work in long-term satisfaction. Keep looking until you find the one saxophone you love, and don’t settle on just one brand. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Dave. Actually, I think I might change my approach just a little and get a beginner horn for the first 6 months or so, just so I can get my playing back to a modest level enough to be able to have a better idea of what I'm buying when trying out a better one. I think that makes more sense :)
 

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dazz . . .: THEN, I would highly recommend a Kessler house-brand alto - fairly inexpensive but they are players and they will arrive ready to play. Besides, he is a site-sponsor and an all around good-guy.

Several years ago, I went to Kessler's in Las Vegas and tested a bunch of inexpensive altos with my #2 grandson in mind. I played several and settled on Kessler's house-rand alto. It served my grandson well and is still running strong after a high school marching rigor. DAVE
 

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Try renting one for a bit.

As for the pro / student debate - I come in contact with a wide variety of pro musicians (including famous ones). Substantially more than half of them play old and beat up instruments and quite frequently "student" or beginner models. Often times it's the sentimental value, but usually it's because most pros cant afford to shell out the price of a new "Pro" instrument....
 

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Well, in your original post you mentioned a budget of L2100 which is about US$ 2800.

I see just quickly scanning some websites, tenor saxophones under $2800:

A nice relaq Buescher 400
A nice relaq Buescher Aristocrat
Buffet Super Dynaction
A couple Conn New Wonders relacquered but looking good
A Couf Superba I (Keilwerth)
Several Martin Committee 3s with ugly original lacquer
A Martin Committee 2 with good original laq
Yamaha 62 in good condition
Yamaha 61 in good condition

Any of which is probably a considerably better instrument than whatever this Taiwanese or Chinese "Conn-Selmer". (These are instruments the sellers are offering as ready to play, not "needs overhaul".)
 
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