Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
what! are you already out of balsamico again ?!
I was just joking - but can we clarify which sax player contributed to the TJ Custom Raw Sax, was it Brush or Sheppard?I laid on a nice buffet lunch - pasta salad, olives, spot of cheese, salami, nice bread - a splash of Milandro's excellent balsamic vinegar and a few bottles of choice beer.
But, er, why?
Agreed Dave. I sold a MK VI and a Custom Z on my way to a TJ SC, which is the best tenor I’ve ever played. Maestro, you are a wonderful player!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.