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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is a review that Dave O'Higgins wrote for the Signature Custom Sax

Signature Custom – new model first impression 23/1/08

I went to the Trevor James HQ which is a modern building on an industrial estate in Kent. I met half a dozen administrative staff & about the same number in the workshop, along with the rep, JP, the boss, & Dave Farley, the man who creates the horns painstakingly agonising over the tiniest details. I'd had a horn from TJ for about 6 months. It sounded good & compared well to the modern competition. I was impressed by how well put together it was. I took it on some gigs & got some nice comments, though it could not really compete with my trusted Mark VI (& neither can any other modern horn).

TJs were keen for my input & so I made a couple of suggestions: 1) remodel the action on a Mark VI 2) make one with no lacquer in the hope of bringing out a greater resonance, & if that makes it tarnish quickly & look old, then so much the better!

Dave Farley in the meantime created a silver tenor which I played at a masterclass in Bingley. That horn sounded great & made me very excited to try the new one. I was also anxious that my suggestions would not have helped & the new horn be a retrograde step. Dave brought me the horn & left the room in trepidation.

What did I think? To look at it's surprisingly shiny in itis raw state, though a little discolouration is already evident. It has the appearance of maybe a well kept 10 year old top marque horn. Feeling the keys without blowing the right hand felt slightly twisted towards the left with the Eb a little high. The left hand action was just right & the little finger keys really smooth & easy to operate.

How did it blow? I put on my Link 7* metal mouthpiece & a Rico Jazz Select 3M filed reed that was nicely played in & it went like hell. I could play all over the instrument, bottom, middle, top, altissimo, fast, slow, subtone & have yet to split or miss a note. The mechanism that initially seemed twisted was perfect when moving the fingers. Maybe the left hand D and F palm keys could be a fraction higher, but this still works beautifully. It was excellently set up, bar a tweak on the the G# grub screw & the grub screw above that (whatever that’s called) to seal my F# fingering (an adjustment I always have to make). The sound has definitely opened up compared to the previous models & this horn has a fat centre to it and also a wealth of overtones that give the sound a character & brightness that you can use as expression to change the sound: not just one sound as so many modern horns have. The subtone is beautiful & furry.

I was in a conference room & unfamiliar acoustic environment, so I had to do the cruellest thing & compare it with my Mark VI (the best horn I've ever played). Much to my surprise it sounded good next to it. Not better, but it held it's own.

A good way to check the intonation on a sax is to play in unison with another player you know & trust. My girlfriend, Judith, was there to help with this test & the Signature Custom horn was easy to centre in unison with the trusted Mark VI, so I don't anticipate any gremlins here.

The next step was to get the Signature Custom sax home & give it a damn good thrashing in a familiar acoustic. After one evening swapping between it & my Mark VI, including recording both, I can honestly say at this stage there’s nothing in it. Sure they both sound different, but both great. That's a staggering achievement. And what everyone’s been trying to do since Selmer lost the plans for the VI. And this is just the sound I'm talking about now. To play it is definitely easier to get round – thoroughly consistent over the registers with no apparent grey spots. The mechanism is excellent & set up like a dream. It's hand built so it will be very interesting to see how much the next ones vary (& I kind of hope they will!)

Dave Farley has achieved something remarkable here. He has done 1000 more things than just my 2 suggestions including using a new alloy, changing the design of the crook to bring out the overtones, meticulous attention to postioning of tone holes, venting of keys, etc.

I'm taking it to a gig tonight & will make further a report when it’s got a few hundred choruses under it's belt.

So far, very good.

Dave O'Higgins
 

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Now that I read that you have been co-operating with the company and are currently endorsing this horns in your workshops I understand better the nature of your previous comments about this particular brandname. The question to me is always the actual place of manufacturing of these horns (not assembling , manufacturing ) and how does this relate to their claim that this are saxophones MADE in Englad.

Can you explain this phrase?

".....A new fully professional sax to rival the very best and its British. This has been a dream of Trevor's for over 30 years as he's developed the highly respected Classic, Horn & Signature instruments. These were all designed by Trevor with manufacturing undertaken in his own Taiwanese factory followed by a final set up back in the UK. This unique combination kept pricing to a minimum whilst allowing for thorough quality control......"

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=77586&goto=newpost

If this thing is true (on the contrary of what you previously stated here http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=77586&goto=newpost) how does this relate to the stamp MADE in England?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Now that I read that you have been co-operating with the company and are currently endorsing this horns in your workshops I understand better the nature of your previous comments about this particular brandname. The question to me is always the actual place of manufacturing of these horns (not assembling , manufacturing ) and how does this relate to their claim that this are saxophones MADE in Englad.

Can you explain this phrase?

".....A new fully professional sax to rival the very best and its British. This has been a dream of Trevor's for over 30 years as he's developed the highly respected Classic, Horn & Signature instruments. These were all designed by Trevor with manufacturing undertaken in his own Taiwanese factory followed by a final set up back in the UK. This unique combination kept pricing to a minimum whilst allowing for thorough quality control......"

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=77586&goto=newpost

If this thing is true (on the contrary of what you previously stated here http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=77586&goto=newpost) how does this relate to the stamp MADE in England?
Im not an endorsee i just happen to think they are a good horn..the review i posted was writen by someone else not me
 

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OK, now things are clearer, I understood that you were the author of the review.
That is not the case.
Still, the question stands, why do they stamp their product with Made in England if they only assemble it there? (which is what they say elsewhere). Other than that they can be vewry good horns. I happen to belive that there's nothing wrong with making horns in China or Taiwan but I also believe that if you do, you should say so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As far as i know they were designed by a britsh guy developed by a british company some of the parts are made in there factory in Tawain the rest in the UK and they are assembled in the UK.. so i guess that if a ceretain amount of the horn is built in the UK they can say it is British...or maybe they are refering to the company its self being a British comany either way as i have said before having owned one and played several they are a excellent horn. i mean Mauriet has Paris stamped on there horns but they are made in Tawain are they not ?

Is the issure here that it has made in England on it or thats its made by Trevor James and people tend to associate them with student instruments not really knowing the range of what they do.!!! :)

Im no legal expert but its just my opinion.
 

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My place of work is just a couple of minutes along the road from Trevor James. I contacted them years ago, to try to arrange a visit for my students and I. It took a couple of email attempts but eventually got a reply, which was semi-positive, then nothing since.

They obviously only want so-called professionals in there. But I saw O'Higgins once at a gig and I thought he was CRAP!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My place of work is just a couple of minutes along the road from Trevor James. I contacted them years ago, to try to arrange a visit for my students and I. It took a couple of email attempts but eventually got a reply, which was semi-positive, then nothing since.

They obviously only want so-called professionals in there. But I saw O'Higgins once at a gig and I thought he was CRAP!
Dave O'Higgins

Played, toured &/or recorded with
Martin Taylor, Jim Mullen, Jason Rebello, Itchy Fingers, Matthew Herbert, Jamie Cullum, Joe Locke, Joey Calderazzo, Jimmy Smith, Kyle Eastwood, Meier Group, Incognito, Salif Keita, Ray Charles, Cleo Laine and John Dankworth

Winner, British Jazz Awards “BEST TENOR SAX” 1995 and 1997
Best Band nominee, BBC Jazz Awards 2001 and 2002


Countries toured
Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, UK, USA, Venezuela


Currently performing all over the world with Dave O’Higgins Quartet

Regular appearances with Ronnie Scotts Allstars

Collaborations with the Jazzcotech Dancers

BBC Big Band


“A stunning player in the neo-bop vein, with an apparently effortless flow of coherent ideas, beautiful time and a highly developed harmonic sense.”
JAZZ GUIDE

“His professional presentation was an object lesson to the amateurishness of local players. His musicianship seemed boundless. Like his friend Martin Taylor did last year to our guitarists, Dave O’Higgins did to our sax players – gave them new and exciting challenges. And gave us mere listeners an exceptional night.”
ADELAIDE ADVERTISER, AUSTRALIA

“…young, presentable, can play his socks off,”
THE SCOTSMAN

“O’Higgins plays with quite exceptional fluency and his fund of ideas never runs out.”
The OBSERVER

“Dazzling post-bop tenorist with a magnificent range and a dramatic turn of phrase.”
THE GUARDIAN

LOL crap he is NOT :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Doesn't sound like crap to me. Plays alot of notes, but still sounds like a pretty damn good player.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMBWsYSKVy4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Nc9f0najwM



later

Joel
Well said Joel...i can see that not everyone is into that kind of music and everyone has there own tastes but to say someone like that is CRAP when they are clearly not just because they dont like there style of music is just stupid and quiete honestly ignorant.

Like i said if you dont like that style of jazz then thats cool but give someone the respect they deserve as a player. ;)
 

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No discussion possible, the man plays and HOW!

But what's got to do with the questions on how good are these horns and , more importantly, on the origins of the horns!:?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No discussion possible, the man plays and HOW!

But what's got to do with the questions on how good are these horns and , more importantly, on the origins of the horns!:?
Read Daves review (i.e the guy in the youtube vids is the same guy that wrote the review).

I think he makes it pretty clear what he thinks of them.
 

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Read Daves review (i.e the guy in the youtube vids is the same guy that wrote the review).

I think he makes it pretty clear what he thinks of them.
You are still missing my point. Let me rephrase it.The point is not if these horns are good or not. They might be good or not good, it is irrelevant to the purpose of my questions.

Moreover , if you don't mind me saying so, I'd rather have an indipendent assessment than even the qualified opinion of a very good player who endorses a certain brand perhaps out of personal and therefore biased interest.

The point is that this brand claims to be " Made in Egland" while at the same time they admit that the componets of the saxophones are just assembled in England. Perhaps the law allows them to do that, but that frankly offends our intelligence and common sense.

This is the trevor James site
http://www.saxophones.co.uk/trevor james Signature Custom.htm
there they say that it is a British saxophone using parts (the bore and keys ?) made in THEIR factory in Taiwan
 

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I don't think we are going to get very far arguing about what different people think about a player. Saxplayer67 is quite entitled to his opinion (as is rogcwilliams), and no amount of playing credentials will change anyone's right to their own opinion.

What is odd to me here is the thread title with the word "review". This is somewhat misleading. If Dave O'Higgins is an official endorser and involved with the Trevor James company, then what we have here is not a review but merely a piece of marketing. I have to agree with Milandro about this.

I recently tried some Signature Custom tenors and I find it impossible to believe that they are the same model that any independent reviewer who is also a good player could say anything quite so favourable about. They were badly set up and were out of tune.

As for "Made In England", I'm believe the law does allow for just the final assembly of a product. They can do the bare minimum to justify that badge unfortunately.

I find this sad as previously I had a high regard for TJ saxophones and would seriously love to see a quality saxophone made in England.
 

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Dave's a good saxophone player, and generous in his opinions of other players too...

There's kind of an island mentality here in the UK where people get jaded to the local players. A while ago, even Peter King was derided as 'Boring' by a member here..A fifty year career of a huge musician who has struggled more than almost anyone with this music reduced to that one word.
Those sort of comments are thoughtless and ridiculous.

Jamie O'D
 

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Dave's a good saxophone player, and generous in his opinions of other players too...

There's kind of an island mentality here in the UK where people get jaded to the local players. A while ago, Peter King was derided as 'Boring' by a member here..A fifty year career of a huge musician who has struggled more than almost anyone with this music reduced to that one word.

Jamie O'D
Really! Just how good do you have to be before people stop calling your playing "crap"?
 

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Really! Just how good do you have to be before people stop calling your playing "crap"?
I'll let you know when I get there..

Dave O'Higgins deserves way more respect than to be spoken about like that. Musicians shouldn't be slagging each other off.
 

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Crap he IS, IMO. And I'd tell him so to his face.
I usually keep myself on-the-down-low about everything I read here on the SOTW.......BUT this kind of ****E!!!!!! just pisses me off. I cannot believe this kind of attitude. We're all just working at trying to better our saxophone selves no matter what level we're at.
  • Do you actually know Mr. Higgins personally?
  • Have you just sat down and talked with him?
  • Is this the kind of attitude that you are passing off on your students?

I implore you to really THINK about what you are writing before you do it. There's a fairly good chance that your students might be reading what you are typing.

(breathe deeply, Joel)

OK......off my soap box. Sorry ahead of time, for offending any one.

later

Joel
 

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Do you actually know Mr. Higgins personally?
  • Have you just sat down and talked with him?
  • Is this the kind of attitude that you are passing off on your students?
I implore you to really THINK about what you are writing before you do it. There's a fairly good chance that your students might be reading what you are typing.

(Joel
In answer to your questions, no, no and no. I apologise for being so brutal, what I've heard and seen live was dreadful (about ten years ago) plus he came off as a smart alec.

However, Sorry for letting my fingers work without engaging my brain first. I should either have critiqued, not criticised (two different things) or not posted at all.
 
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