Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,519 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I finally jumped aboard the bari sax train last week when Kessler had a little sale on the Solist model. The price has now risen by $220 back to its customary level (still a great deal), so I'm pleased I acted when I did. I've now received the sax, but haven't played it yet, so this post will be in the nature of an "unboxing" report. I will add more musically oriented comments down the road.

The Solist arrived by UPS in a large cardboard box that had sustained some minor transit damage, but nothing that threatened the instrument within. The case was in a large, tight plastic bag, and was covered top and bottom by an ungodly amount of pink packing peanuts. (Good luck with the cleanup.) There were styrofoam insert panels at each end of box to provide greater rigidity and cushioning.

The first thing I thought about the Solist's case is that I'm glad I didn't order the case upgrade. The stock case looks perfectly fine and functional, at least for the light-to-moderate duty it likely will experience with me. I'm not going to put it on a plane or toss it into a truck or bus regularly. It looks much like an entry-level, black fabric Protec case, and in fact probably was made by Protec. There's a very large music pocket on the side that also could hold a strap, harness, or anything else that can be flattened. My one concern about the stock case is that, in basic Protec fashion, it closes with a zipper instead of latches. The zipper on my Selmer Light case has held up well, but this case is much larger, and has some pretty square corners for the big zipper to navigate. I hope it lasts. Meanwhile, the upgraded case looks (in photos) rather generic and plasticky to me, and buying it with the sax provides only a $75 discount, from the regular price of $375 to $300. That means the customer gets only a $75 credit for giving up the stock case. Maybe that's fair, based on the wholesale price, but it's not much of an inducement.

Inside, the sax was in another plastic bag, with some bubble wrap here and there, and packing corks on the bell keys. The lacquer is a nice, medium shade of gold, and the simple but attractive engraving on the bell does remind me of the work on Yanagisawa's 901 and WO1 series. The neck was separately wrapped in its compartment. I checked to make sure the neck tenon fit; it did, perfectly. All the keys functioned properly, and nothing looked bent or otherwise out of order.

The Solist came with my mouthpiece upgrade, a Kessler Custom Modern Classical. The mp included a Rovner Dark ligature and cap, which should be fine for now. The free accessories were a Neotech neck strap in the right length for a bari, a tube of cork grease, and single Rico (D'Addario now?) Royal reed, 2.5. There was also a little "Inspected and play tested by Chuck Kessler" card. Although I had already separately ordered a Legere Signature reed for use with this horn, I was happy to get the Royal too, since it shows that Kessler is thinking about its customers' needs. Also, I'm unlikely to buy a box of bari reeds, so this one will at least give me the opportunity to try out cane on this horn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
124 Posts
Sounds like they did a good job protecting it for shipping... so far. Have you dropped a leak light down it to check out the pads yet?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
I'll look forward to reading your update after you play it some. I'd love to have a bari but wouldn't play it enough to justify spending on a top-level horn; this looks like an intriguing option and it would be great to hear how it works for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,519 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sounds like they did a good job protecting it for shipping... so far. Have you dropped a leak light down it to check out the pads yet?
No -- don't have a leak light. Whenever I feel or strongly suspect a leak in one of my other horns, I just take it to the tech and let him test it, since he'll be doing the pad reseating/replacement anyway if required. But I'm hoping the Solist won't require even the typically minor shop work that's needed when I acquire a sax, since they're supposed to have performed a complete setup, and they did have the bells keys corked shut.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,519 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'll look forward to reading your update after you play it some. I'd love to have a bari but wouldn't play it enough to justify spending on a top-level horn; this looks like an intriguing option and it would be great to hear how it works for you.
The Solist baritone cost a lot less than my Selmer alto, and that was bought used. :) I think it would be a great value even if it were just a student horn. If it's anything close to the Yany on which it's based, then it's an incredible steal. Of course, I won't really be able to tell, since I haven't played a Yany bari.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,519 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Some playing notes at last ...

First, I want to say that I'm quite pleased with the Kessler Custom Modern Classical mouthpiece. It's exactly what I was looking for: an easy-playing, well-finished, affordable, lively classical mouthpiece. It sounds fine playing the kind of music I mostly play, but has enough versatility to play with a bit of punch on other stuff. I didn't want a super-dark, sedate, cello-like mouthpiece. This one has a touch of S80 brightness. You wouldn't use it for big band bari or gutbucket barking, but it's a great first mouthpiece for me. It would make an ideal concert band bari mouthpiece.

The Legere Signature 2.5 is also excellent up and down the horn. I might eventually try a 2.75 as well to see how that affects tone and response. The Rico Royal 2.5 that came with the horn is playable, but the Legere is better.

As for the Solist itself, keep in mind that I'm not qualified to ask, "Is this a great baritone saxophone? Is this better than other bari saxes?" My only question, based on other playing experience, was, "Is this a good saxophone?" I would say yes, it's a fine saxophone. It plays well in all registers, with solid intonation and a rich sound (subject to my personal limitations). Excellent for Bach; fun on a tarantella. I find the ergonomics very satisfactory; most of my adjustment issues arise from coping with a baritone in the first place, rather than from any eccentricities of this particular horn. E.g., I have to be more conscious of my left thumb position, because the low A key complicates the use of the thumb rest. I have to learn how to balance the weight of the horn when playing the palm keys or an open C#2. The included neck strap is OK, but I may experiment with a harness down the road. For now, I take more breaks than while playing my other saxes, to save neck and back wear and tear.

My list of gripes is short: The action on the RH Eb key is too heavy; I have to press hard with my little finger to get a D#/Eb instead of a D. But I assume a tech could easily lighten this. The bis key is a little farther from the B key than I'd like. I wish the thumb hook could be moved a little more; it's adjustable, but not quite enough to feel optimal. That's about it. Everything else is mainly a matter of my getting used to the horn and learning how to handle a bari.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top