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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am planning to buy a new-to-me soprano in a few months, so my antenna are up to see what is out there. I ran into a Brancher web site a few days ago. I had heard of their mouthpieces but not their saxophones. Several of the features appeal to my technical sensibilities. That is, if I were going to manufacture a line of saxes with my name on them, I would address these issues: conical neck tenon, full-sized conical "cymbal-shaped" resonators, top quality pads, and professional set up. And, as a bonus, multiple necks that reportedly deliver very different sounds, feel and response.

However, these are icing on the cake, so to speak, without build quality, good response and a great sound, anything else is a mute point. The features listed above are supposed to affect response and sound, but do they?

I contacted Sax-forte who sells these in the U.S. and is only a 5 hour drive from me to see about trying one, but he does not keep them in stock only providing services as a middleman.

My question is to those who have actually tried a Brancher saxophone. What did you think? Did you choose a Brancher over another saxophone? Why or why not?

While I personally am interested in a soprano. Due to their scarcity, I will be interested in any sax voice as indicative of the line as a whole.

Here is what has been posted in this forum in the past, anyone else since then?

In July 2014, Bobby Stern announced that he had become an endorser. That says something.

This thread was started in 2009. There is some speculation and conjecture, but no one who had actually played one.

This one, also from 2009, sounds like one or two posters had actually played one and thought it equivalent to a Selmer.

In 2009, this question was sent out into the cyber-universe without a direct answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I ended up corresponding with Pascal Brancher. He seems like a really great guy, and I like what he is doing with his sax line. It seems that he is primarily focusing on the European market right now, but there are a few dealers in the U. S. If you do not live near near a dealer, he is willing to ship you a sax secured with your credit card. If you love it, keep it. If not, send it back, and you pay the shipping, about $75 for a soprano each way.

There are some videos on YouTube.
And if you want to hear the Brancher soprano
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Our car’s engine dropped a valve requiring a rebuild. That large sucking sound you heard was my sax fund going down the drain. My soprano sax replacement has once again been delayed. In the meantime, I have had some experience with Brancher accessories worth writing about.

I have used several straps with my alto, but they all felt awkward. I usually played my soprano without a strap, but several of the artist’s whose sound I most admire use straps. I wanted to know why. I observed and asked to confirm how they were using the straps, but the straps I had all put uncomfortable pressure on my cervical neck vertebrae, even on alto. I was a little put off by the whole strap thing.

After looking at the Brancher web site and getting a Brancher brochure, I got a Brancher Crescent strap. It lowers the pressure onto my stable thoracic spine, so I forget about the weight of the sax. I was a little leary of the open hook design. I have an ancient strap with an open hook that unhooked itself a couple of times, and I almost dropped my alto. The Brancher hook is narrow long and rubber coated, so I have to intentionally unhook it. The design is clever, but what really surprised me was the quality and the obvious care and detail put into manufacture. The strap is really well made and much more substantial that I thought it might be from pictures I had seen. This should be the most popular strap on the planet.

I have been experimenting with reeds and mouthpieces to understand how different tones are made, so I got some Brancher reeds. If you have experienced the difference between a custom-faced mouthpiece and a stock mouthpiece. That is how I felt playing both the Brancher Opera-Classic (Red Box) and the Jazz (Blue Box) compared to other reeds. I had started tweaking reeds a bit to make them more playable. These reeds don’t need it. They are easy to play but retain the characteristic sound of that strength of reed. It has been a really different experience than I have had with other reeds.

The Red Box reeds create a super focused sound and, depending on the mouthpiece, lots of harmonics. The Blue Box reeds make a really spread sound. The contrast is pretty stark. I thought the feel and sound might be something that only I as the player might notice, but I played for my wife, who basically used the same descriptions. So, there the two styles of reeds probably create enough difference in sound that the audience might notice, although there are probably a lot of factors involved. My sound preferences have led me to use a #5 Red Box reeds with a mouthpiece that defeats the higher overtones. I really like this sound, flute-like, solid core and focused but not overly bright, a rare combination.

I also got their semi-rigid ligature for an odd-sized, old alto mouthpiece that I have. Superb! I was expecting a cheap Asian Rovner knock-off. I have a couple of Rovner ligatures, and the Brancher is equal or superior in quality. The jury is still out on the cap. The ligature I ended up using almost closes all the way, so the cap does not stay on well. I don’t know if this is a problem with properly sized mouthpieces. The ligature and Red Box reeds, however, makes this mouthpiece sing like nothing else has.

I like that the ligature has a bit shorter contact on the reed and mouthpiece than Rovner. This is not really an issue with an alto mouthpiece, but my Rovner ligatures hang off the table over the shank. I think the Brancher ligatures would not. I don’t really need another soprano ligature, but I think I am going to have to try one.

I haven’t wanted to take a Brancher sax on trial, until I have my fund built back up. I want to keep it if I like it. If their saxes are as well constructed, intelligently designed and sound as great as their accessories do, it will be a keeper.

You know some of us look at under-appreciated saxes of the past: Beaugnier (my alto), SML and Couf are couple that I have looked at. I have wondered how people could have missed how wonderful these instruments were. Brancher may be a contemporary sleeper that is still in production. It is certainly worth a look if you have GAS fever.
 

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I have played one tenor and the Frankfurt show. Back then I met Pascal Brancher. I also have met Brancher’s Dutch importer who use to play in my community band with his baritone.

Brancher is a saxophone that is claimed is re-assembled and re-engineered by them from Taiwanese parts. They load it up of accessories too. 2 or 3 necks, one of their mouthpieces, special case, resonators, pads, endplug special key touches, special engraving, you name it, it is there.

Like all these outside of Taiwan assembled and re engineered saxophones they are very expensive. I still would appreciate a video of the assembling process since it adds so much extra cost ( together with the accessories which you might have wanted, or not, in the first places).

I like their mouthpieces and appreciate other things they make. I play a Brancher J27 tenor mouthpieces, I love it.

Having said this, I don’t think it is fair to compare this to Beaugnier, SML and other brands ( Couf were imported saxophones made by Keilwerth) who were makers and not assemblers. Rampone & Cazzani, a family owned brand also imported by Saxforte, produces videos showing all their processes, they don’t seem to think there are any production secrets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
While I have been getting accessories from Brancher, I have also had some correspondence with Pascal Brancher and opportunity to ask some questions about their saxes. Since no one has been forthcoming with experiences with these saxes, I thought I would share this. The text in the bubbles is from one of their recently updated brochures and web site.

With 30 years experience in acoustics and factory technologies, BRANCHER®-France presents a line of professional saxophones.

Each BRANCHER saxophone is made with innovative features, quality craftsmanship and precise adjustments. No concessions are made.
If their accessories are any indication of what "No concessions" means, their saxes will be top quality. I also have been impressed with the acoustical understanding of Pascal Brancher himself. Not that I am an expert, but he set me straight on a couple of misconceptions I had picked up. Msr. Brancher has impressed me as a knowledgeable acoustician with an intimate understanding of all aspects of the saxophone. Understandably, he was quite reluctant at first to discuss acoustics at all with me, encouraging me to just try his products. Acoustics is something of an arcane science that few lay people really understand. Over time, he keeps astounding me with what he knows and how intentional and well thought out all of his designs are.

Of course, his mouthpieces have a great reputation, and a lot of people have copied his designs and CNC production methods. He didn't stop at the mouthpiece though. He seems to have extended that customization throughout the sax.

The instruments are made of the finest brass, which has a greater thickness for better acoustic resonance. The Alto "ACG" is made of "venetian bronze" whose high copper proportion enhances the warmth of the sound.
Msr. Brancher indicated that after their tests of different materials for their saxes. The ones that gave them the sound they were seeking were thickened brass and a specific bronze formula, which he calls "venetian bronze." Saxes from these materials for whatever reason had the most resonance and warmth.

Here is an example of one of my misconceptions. What is resonance? We often think of the synchronous vibration of an object like a bell ringing, however if the standing sound waves could make the walls vibrate, this would be indicate a loss of energy in the standing sound waves within the sax, an undesirable loss of resonance. Actually, the reed vibrating on the mouthpiece causes any vibrations we feel in a sax.

What then is resonance? Instead, we want more reflection as the sound wave goes from the less dense air to the more dense sax wall. This increases the sound wave energy, the acoustic resonance, within and coming out of a sax. Whether all of this really makes an audible difference is controversial and has been discussed on SOTW many times. Many conclude, that different metals create different internal geometries in the sax, which affect the sound. In any case, these materials, for whatever reason, produced the resonant, warm sound that Pascal Brancher wanted in his saxes.

All BRANCHER saxophones are delivered with two necks (three for Soprano) giving each musician an ideal choice. Neck 1 facilitates legato, fast phrasing and sound depth. Neck 2 gives an open and powerful sound freeing all high harmonics. For soprano, a third, curved neck is included.

Necks tenons (registered design) are manufactured with extreme precision to assure perfect air stream continuity.
We all understand the importance of mouthpieces, so it is not much of an extension to understand that the neck is vital as the amplifier of sound production too. The importance of necks has been highlighted by the number of aftermarket necks that are currently available.

Brancher views the neck including the tenon as so essential that the tenon joints are precision crafted at their facility in France and shipped to Taiwan for incorporation into sax manufacture. To me, Brancher's tuning of the necks seems analogous to a mouthpiece re-facer who knows where to fine tune a mouthpiece to perfect a certain sound and responsiveness. I anticipate that like Brancher reeds, there will be a different feel and responsiveness between necks if not a difference in sound.

Body and bell are formed and soldered in the great handcrafted tradition for a more complex tone. Alto and Tenor bells are larger for louder low tones.
At one time, I had dismissed big bells as a gimmick until I was reading Benade's writings on instrument acoustics where he discusses in detail how specific bell design enhances lower notes. Brancher seems to have follow these principles.

"Hand friendly" keys are ergonomically designed to give the quickest, most precise action.
I am hoping. I have one sax where the left hand key touches are all wrong for my hands.

Premium pads (Chanu-France) enable perfect air-tight regulation.

Pads are individually fitted with MaxCym™ resonators. These one-piece, screw-in, re-usable brass resonators have a cymbal-shaped profile. Their diameter covers a maximum of tone hole surface to increase resonance by 25%, keys closed, and enhance the power of sound projection, keys opened. In movement, these resonators improve the legato phrasing by valve effect in opposition to plate effect.
I have learned the hard way how important good, air-tight pads are.

I thought I got the MaxCym idea right away, but I was wrong. I thought with keys open, the resonators reflect more sound out of the tone holes. Keys closed, there is less pad exposed to absorb sound. Right? Yes and no, Msr. Brancher indicated that is partly correct but an inadequate explanation of the full benefit of the MaxCym resonators. It has more to do with how the standing wave shorten and lengthen as the keys open and close and the internal geometry created by the resonators.

The result is not just more volume, but "effortless fortissimos and more controlled pianissimos." It also affects accessibility of altissimo ranges. That only begins to scratch the surface of the advantage of the shape of the resonators as they open and close, which he call the "valve effect in opposition to the plate effect." Msr. Brancher just described this as "crisper, cleaner, more responsive changes during legato passages."

The saxophones are embellished with an original hand-engraving "French Polynesian©" by Phil Beaudet and are delivered in a hard flight case or optional "Magi" molded case

Play BRANCHER® saxophones and take "A step ahead in sound"!
Edit: There is a photo of the "French Polynesian" design in the German article referenced in post #25 http://saxophonistisches.de/brancher-goldmessing-alto-neuer-franzosischer-luxus/k1024_img_0258/
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I have played one tenor and the Frankfurt show. Back then I met Pascal Brancher. I also have met Brancher's Dutch importer who use to play in my community band with his baritone.

Brancher is a saxophone that is claimed is re-assembled and re-engineered by them from Taiwanese parts. They load it up of accessories too. 2 or 3 necks, one of their mouthpieces, special case, resonators, pads, endplug special key touches, special engraving, you name it, it is there.

Like all these outside of Taiwan assembled and re engineered saxophones they are very expensive. I still would appreciate a video of the assembling process since it adds so much extra cost ( together with the accessories which you might have wanted, or not, in the first places).

I like their mouthpieces and appreciate other things they make. I play a Brancher J27 tenor mouthpieces, I love it.

Having said this, I don't think it is fair to compare this to Beaugnier, SML and other brands ( Couf were imported saxophones made by Keilwerth) who were makers and not assemblers. Rampone & Cazzani, a family owned brand also imported by Saxforte, produces videos showing all their processes, they don't seem to think there are any production secrets.
Sorry Milandro, I did not see your post before I posted #5. Yes, you have me at a disadvantage being in Europe. I have not been able to play these saxes yet. I have only been able to correspond with Pascal Brancher about his saxes. Hence, the call for people who have had experience with them.

As no one had been forthcoming with their experiences, I thought I would add the experience I have had with their accessories, of which I am quite enthusiastic and the brochure commentary.

As to rebuilding and re-engineering, when I first talked to Matthew Aaron or read something on the Sax-Forte web site, I got the impression that Brancher entirely rebuilds the saxes in France. There are no photos of this process. However, while corresponding with Msr. Brancher, I have never had him say anything more than they check every sax and make any corrections that are needed. I got the distinct impression that this is the equivalent of a new sax set up that most good music stores and techs perform, but I do not know from first hand experience.

Thinking back over old emails with Msr. Brancher, I mentioned that I had planned to send whatever sax I buy to a sax tech for a complete rebuild or, at least, a new sax set up. He strongly suggested that this would be unnecessary and a waste of time and money with their saxes, and claimed that their saxes would be airtight for years to come.

Another time, I was talking about the difference set up makes in the sound and that I was looking for a particular sound. He said that they were confident in the way that their sax would be set up; that it was not a factory set up; and that they would make sure they understood my needs before shipping the sax.

As far as pricing goes, Brancher's list price seems to be more or less inline with the list prices of P. Mauriat, Cannonball or other manufacturers using Taiwanese labor and selling under their own names. Plus, they do have unique features.

I have considered Rampone and Cazzani as well as Borgani and others, especially used horns. As for the Italian saxes, these seem to be half again the price, but more importantly, I cannot find anyone who plays these horns with anything close to the pure clear tone I am seeking. I will try to locate and play these myself before I buy, so I appreciate your recommendation.
 

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Another time, I was talking about the difference set up makes in the sound and that I was looking for a particular sound.
I've never known a "setup" to affect the sound significantly provided all the pads are sealing. I suppose if you made the keycups too close to the body then there could be sound issues. I can't see how anything else in a setup could affect te sound, e.g. springing or corks etc.

I have considered Rampone and Cazzani ...... but more importantly, I cannot find anyone who plays these horns with anything close to the pure clear tone I am seeking.
:) Maybe you mean me, I have yet to develop a pure clear tone on any horn :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, you are an enthusiast.
Yes, and that is probably all I am. That is I am no professional. I have looked into importing saxes from China or Taiwan, while conducting other business there. I have finally concluded that the market in saturated enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I've never known a "setup" to affect the sound significantly provided all the pads are sealing. I suppose if you made the keycups too close to the body then there could be sound issues. I can't see how anything else in a setup could affect te sound, e.g. springing or corks etc.
This discussion was on the heels of a discussion with a rep from Music Medic, who claimed that I would need my sax set up in a certain way to facilitate the sound I wanted. Msr. Brancher, I think thought I was a little crazy.

That was when my sax fund was nearly full, and I was starting to get serious.

:) Maybe you mean me, I have yet to develop a pure clear tone on any horn :)
LOL! I am getting there, reeds and mouthpieces helped, but airflow speed has been key. And if I can do it on the horn I have now, I am starting to think I might be able to get the sound on any horn. Although, I think some horns will fight me more than others.
 

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This discussion was on the heels of a discussion with a rep from Music Medic, who claimed that I would need my sax set up in a certain way to facilitate the sound I wanted. Msr. Brancher, I think thought I was a little crazy.
I think maybe there was some misunderstandig then with musicmedic. I presume thatb rather than keyheights (setup) they may have been talking about the pad resos which can affect the overtones/brightness of the sound.

My gut feeling is that it's best to use standard resos and go for other (less fixed) ways to change the sound.

Mouthpiece is one of those.

Practice is another.
 

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This discussion was on the heels of a discussion with a rep from Music Medic, who claimed that I would need my sax set up in a certain way to facilitate the sound I wanted. Msr. Brancher, I think thought I was a little crazy.
Key height is a trade off of volume with action feel and speed, and maybe some other things like balance and intonation. Resonator selection can be controversial. WDE btw!
 

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Key height is a trade off of volume with action feel and speed, and maybe some other things like balance and intonation. Resonator selection can be controversial. WDE btw!
Exactly why I recomend mouthpiece and/or practise to shape your sound and not rely on a tech's seetup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Pete

What has your experience been with oversized resonators like the ones on Brancher saxes? I know that everything is a trade off, but I was considering putting oversized resonators on whatever soprano sax I choose. What will I be trading for what?

It is possible that the tech at Music Medic and I miscommunicated. Perhaps, I said something like, "I am looking for a particular sound,” and he said, “We’ll get you setup right for your sound.” Meaning we’ll get your sax working properly, but I thought he meant the they would set the sax up in some unique way to facilitate the sound I want.
 

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Pete

What has your experience been with oversized resonators like the ones on Brancher saxes? I know that everything is a trade off, but I was considering putting oversized resonators on whatever soprano sax I choose. What will I be trading for what?
I don't know, I just played the saxophones I didn't look at the resonators.
 

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Let me give you my experience, believe it, or not.

Several years ago I had almost flat ( they are in fact very slightly domes) oversized brass resonators, made by tenor madness http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tenor-Madne...R-SAXOPHONE-/331290360836?hash=item4d2271bc04 , installed, when my Super 20 was overhauled.

I did this, mostly, on account of aesthetic reasons coupled with white roo pads. I wondered whether there would have bee an volume increase as a result.

I thought there might be the need to lower the action to compensate for the slight loss of volume of the flat as opposed to domed resonator and that wasn't the case, the horn lost a lot of volume and when the height was brought back to the original one it went back to the sound it had before of the overhaul.

That's right. I didn't hear any perceptible difference in volume with the plastic domed resonators which equipped my horn prior to the overhaul.

I am still happy with the looks ( and the fact that to this day the brass resonators haven't oxidized ) of the resonators but it made no difference in sound.

In my experience the single and most important factor which definitely affect my sound is the way the reed responds, anything else is either in the mind of the beholder or can only be measured with measuring audio instruments but people cannot tell the difference apart.

Of course, if you are buying a very expensive product you want it to look the part and there is nothing wrong with it. WE also like to be told things that we want to hear, after all we are spending a lot of money.

You know, a bit like in expensive restaurant when several waiters bring you expensive food to the table and the head waiter announces the name of the dish and the ingredients and preparation which went into it instead of just politely serving what you ordered.

Expensive things are always described in an expensive way and using expensive words.

When I was a child my father told me that if you were to oder salted cod, (which back them was still a cheap product and now is an expensive one) when sold in an expensive restaurant the humble and ordinary salted cod changed name and instead of being called ( in Italian) Baccalà was then called " Swift Baltic fish".

Not unlike " Venetian Bronze", it certainly adds an expensive ring to it ( 25% or more ring).

The, often conflicting, marketing claims of each brand sometimes humor me, so we have, at the same time, people claiming " improvement" for thicker brass or thinner brass or heavier brass or lighter brass. Same claim but based on opposite criteria from another brand.

Which is it?

I leave you to this game, I am not going into any squabble on this, there are terabytes of this stuff on SOTW already.
 

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3 db increase constitutes a 100% more volume increase . 25% increase in volume would be less than 1db and that, by definition, is an almost impossible to hear difference. TRY.

http://www.audiocheck.net/blindtests_level.php?lvl=1

Anyone who makes a claim of reaching 25% more volume knows that it cannot be verified by most human ears.

At best you can measure it with a phono-meter, at best.
 
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