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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hope this is the right Forum for this.

Looking to buy a Pro (Intermediate at the least) (realize that the term Pro is somewhat subjective, but I'm sure you understand what I'm looking for) ALTO in the next couple of weeks. Need some advice/suggestions, however.

1) Want a very 'dark' sounding ALTO horn. Recently played a Keilwerth Straight Alto and absolutely fell in love with it!! It was very dark & smokey sounding and is just what I want! However, completely & totally out of my price range.

2) Need to spend under $1,000. for sure.

3) Other Very important consideration for these elderly arthritic hands, is the keywork. Think I need somewhat modern keywork, with very easy to reach and press, pinky table and Low C placement. So I'm thinking that most vintage horns may be out.

With the above given info. please help me out with good advice/suggestions, regarding which horns (specific models) may be the best to look into. Don't want to drive all over kingdom come to try out horns that sound bright and tin cannish. Definitely want that Dark sound, but in my price range. Thanks everyone!
 

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In a word.... Martin.

I have 'girlie' hands and my Martin Indiana is a joy to play. No trouble with the pinkey keys!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks bandmommy. I hadn't heard before that Martin Indiana had a 'dark' sultry sound or that it was Pro horn. Maybe I've been out of the loop too long and stuck on my own horns, which are currently just too bright sounding for me. Are there different styles of Martin Indiana, or is that one, it? Maybe some other comments also, may help me. Good to know that it's easy for you to play and fits your hands. That would be a definite plus for me.

I was PM'd to buy a YAS-52 for $1,000., but also had never heard before that the YAS 52 is a dark playing horn. Anyone who's played the Keilwerth Straight Alto (not sure if it's a SX90), but if you have played one, you'll know right off what type of sound I'm looking for. And if I can get that sound with the right set-up of a somewhat less dark sounding horn, then if someone could please help me out there too.

Any comments on either of these or other horn suggestions, appreciated. Thanks!
 

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B&S 2001 altos (and stencils) are far from naturally bright and check all the other boxes...
 

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Recent Taiwan horns play pretty dark and are within your budget especially if you buy a used one.
 

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Recent Taiwan horns play pretty dark and are within your budget especially if you buy a used one.
I believe there is a range of tone characteristics within many of the Taiwanese makers' offerings, Haywood.
 

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The Martin Indiana isn't/wasn't a 'Pro' horn but I wouldn't hesitate to put it up against ANY currently produced 'Pro' alto.
I use a Rousseau 4R and Hemke reeds on it and it is plenty 'dark' and 'sultry'.
I know you are looking for that 'Pro' distinction, so maybe a similar sax wouldn't fill the bill.
Shoot, the only 'Pro' horn I own is my Selmer Signature clarinet....
 

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I once owned a straight JK alto. Each horn is different but mine sure didn't exhibit exceptional tonal qualities. The only thing different was that the sound came out by my knee on the lower notes and being further away from my ear; those notes had a different quality, but not exceptional, just different. However, to the audience, they heard an alto, that's all.

Yes, there are altos that sound bright (YAS23 and the Selmer Serie III come to mind - at least the ones I've played) but even that quality (bright vs. dark) is subjective and many folks have differing opinions on what is bright and what is dark. I had one guy try my new Ref 54 and he remarked, "Nice and bright." Huh? That horn is among the darkest I've played. DAVE
 

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I would not characterize the YAS-52 as being "dark"-sounding - quite the opposite.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Appreciate everyone's responses so far! I'm making a List of all your suggesions, and which ones to stay away from. Have played the YAS23 and you are right, not dark in the slightest. Apparently the YAS 52 will not be a contender either.

Once I narrow it down, I figure I may have to wait a while for the one (or 2) that I decide on, to become available. So if I at least have a number of choices, that should really help! Sadly a Ref 54 is out of my price range, as is the Keilwerth SX90 which to my ear, is probably about the darkest horn I 've ever heard. Taking into account that I have not had a one on one listening experience with too many, in order to know them all. That's why I've come here for help with my quest!!

Thanks, and please keep the suggestions coming, as I'd really like to start looking for something within the next few weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
gary, I see you have a JK SX90R alto. Please tell me, do you hear a dark, sultry tone from it? And also, could you please tell me the difference between an SX 90 and an SX90R?

Thanks for your help.
 

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Dude, if you like the JK sound...just buy a vintage JK horn. They are pretty ubiquitous (as long as you are willing to consider the stencil-branded ones) and can be had for less than your budget, in good playing shape. And Keilwerths are one of those vintage horns which has a nice comfy reach on the pinky table, particularly the Altos.

I have a couple....a New King III stencil with the deco 'wing' keyguard, and an Evette Special which is basically a Bundy Special which is basically a New King IV with different keyguards. Also something like a Couf Royalist (not a Royalist II), or even a Dorfler Jorka horn (which is a JK design/spec horn built in the D & J facility, basically) such as a Pierre Maure, Roxy, R. Genet, Voss or such.

That would be a really good choice because they are high-quality horns and ain't nuthin' darker than a horn designed by one of the Keilwerth Brothers....

Another good option is a Beaugnier-made Noblet or Vito....everything I say about the JK is ditto the Beaugniers, except the Beaugniers have more edge in the upper overtones. Also great horns and easily available for under $1g in good shape.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Okay, I have a List going. So far, between these posts and Priv. Msgs, I have the following on my List. Some sound VERY interesting to me. So as the playing field widens considerably, could a few of you out there help me through this maze??

Keeping in mind that I'm looking for a:
1) (subjective) 'Dark' sultry, sound,
2) AND prefer somewhat modern or at least very comfortable, E-Z reach/play keys, especially the Pinky talbe and prefer adjusable thumb rest.
3) need to spend UNDER 1k
4) definitely NOT looking for a 'student' horn!!

This is what's on the List thus far -
B&S 2001 or Stencils
Allora
Medusa (Chicago Jazz)
P. Muriat 67R
Cadeson
Selmer SA-80
Buffet Super Dynaction
Martin Committee
Martin Indiana
J Keilwerth - Stencils
New King III stencil
Evette Special (New King IV)
Couf Royalist
Dorfler Jorka
Pierre Maura
Roxy R Genet
Voss
Beaugnier - Noblet or Vito

Seeing I for sure have never heard of a few of these, I'd like to ask the SOTW community for a vote Yea or Nay (considering my needs/wants), so I can narrow it down. More info. on any of these, would be greatly appreciated!! There is no doubt some of you guys sure know a lot more than me!! THANKS!
 

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Well, a few of those you mention will only be under $1000 if they are in need of a lot of work to get into playing condition (Medusa, Mauriat, Cadeson, SA-80). Some of the others will be right at the top, or just over if they are playing well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks swperry1, that was helpful.
By any chance do you have any knowledge on and comment on keywork and 'dark' sound for any of these?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wow! Thanks JayePDX. That had a lot of good info. for me. I'm concerned a little however, about the "vintage JK horns", mainly in regards to the keywork. Arthritic hands makes it important that the pinky table be easy to reach/play (as the hand seems to shrink smaller and becomes weaker) and I really need an adjustable thumb rest. At this late stage, also don't think I could or want to try to adapt to any weird or uncomfortable key placement.

Now I'm not saying that any you mentioned, even fall into that category. I just simply don't know, that's all. If you can comment further, on the Altos you mentioned, regarding those concerns, would be great! And again, thanks.
 

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gary, I see you have a JK SX90R alto. Please tell me, do you hear a dark, sultry tone from it? And also, could you please tell me the difference between an SX 90 and an SX90R?

Thanks for your help.
Not Gary, but...SX90 has standard, drawn tone holes while SX90R has "rolled" tone holes (not the same as true RTH's found on vintage Conns, but the pads seat in a similar fashion). If I were buying one, I'd go for the regular tone holes, as Keilwerth seems to have had quality issues with their RTHs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey, thanks Metalflake. Was wondering what was the difference between the SX90 & SX90R. Now I know, thanks to you!
 

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. . . as Keilwerth seems to have had quality issues with their RTHs.
Bull ****e. I wish people would quit repeating this unless they've personally had issues first-hand. We've been down this road before. This all has arisen from a review Stephen Howard wrote a few years ago and it's a bit controversial. If you want a JK, buy a JK.

Someone will have to help me with this because I'm really not much of a sax historian - JK made a model just below the SX line and I think it was the EX. The first generation was made in Germany. I believe the next generation was made by Amati in the Czech Republic and maybe a third generation were made in ROC. Anyway, if I were looking for a sax that fit the OP's budget and requirements, and he seems to be leaning towards JKs, this particular sax - the earlier one made in Nauheim - would be one I would definitely seek out. Does anyone have any more information to share about this?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Anyway, if I were looking for a sax that fit the OP's budget and requirements, and he seems to be leaning towards JKs, this particular sax - the earlier one made in Nauheim - would be one I would definitely seek out.
gary, could you please tell me which one you're talking about when you say 'this particular sax - the earlier one made in Nauheim'. My apologies for not knwing which Alto sax exactly that would be, but I do not know. How do I know which is made in Nauheim? Are we talking about the SX-90? Or a Stencil (and if so, which one) or what? I truly find it all so confusing. Keilwerth had so many names and Stencils it sold under, etc. I see that you have a JK, so you must know a bit about them!

It's true that I've been leaning towards the JK's, since playing the Straight Alto. I absolutely fell in love with the tone, deep and dark, and the keys seemed like butter in my hands!! But sadly the SX-90's are over my price ability, and I don't know what other one(s) are my options, or are the ones you meant. - Could you please be more specific for me? In advance, Thank You.
 
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