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Discussion Starter #1
We've all read the new horn first impression posts. And truthfully, even with an excellent set up, these instruments may not initially verify much in terms of durability to their new owners.

One horn can be better than another in terms of tone. But from one player to the next, tones can vary. Mouthpieces, necks, reeds and in some opinions, ligatures all can affect tone and to varying degrees response. How one musician addresses and plays a given example will be different from the next musician.

But how does a horn last? Is that horn played daily? Is it played for hours on end, or does it rest in its case until the weekend? These are all relevant questions people should consider when they question how well a brand and model will hold up over time.

It's also important to note what does need adjustment during each tech visit. Are certain matters continually cropping up? Naturally there are links etc which need adjustments on a regular basis with any given horn regardless of brand and model. The more the horn is played, the more upkeep tends to be necessary. And no horn is perfect. Not to mention some better horns may actually be more delicate in some regards than lesser grade horns.

So adjustments can be dealt with by a reputable tech. But wear is the guage which determines a definable level of quality.

Any horn can be made to feel pretty nice right out of the factory. Yet over time, the quality of the spring steel, pads and cork begin to come into play. And how often adjutments need to be made as these normal wearing parts wear over time and use. Screws, linkages and rods also come into play. But all this ought to take time. Before these details show wear through usage, we would like to think that a considerable amount of time and playing of the instrument has passed.

The reason I felt it necessary to bring up this subject is the oft printed immediate reviews of brand new instruments.

I understand the joy of having a new horn. The whole experience. The fine fresh action, the new tonalities being discovered. There aren't many experiences like owning a new thing after owning an older worn version of it.

But that's a personal experience. That 'oh Wow' period which ought to come with every new thing which replaces a similar old thing. What it isn't is the time lapse photography kind of detail showing how the thing is holding up with use.

The truth is, "the review of the brand new" doesn't offer anything in regard to long term wear-in use. Any new horn can be set up to play well enough for most peoples' abilities. But get that player who practices modal scales, or tries new ways of woodshedding just because they want to, and they'll spell things out to you under their breath you'd never hear them say otherwise.

Just as serial numbers became the quest of players and collectors alike, that time honored tradition of capturing the very era of a specific model is more desireable than another.

Let that new horn you have earn its reputation with you through use and time. Then evaluate it as best you can and let us know what you think. Not two weeks down the road, not two months down the road. Let that horn ride out at least one adjustment period. Whether you're a relatively light player and it takes a year or two, or someone who can't seem to put their horn down for too long, give the horn the honest wear-in time it and we deserve in review before you sing its praises or curse its existance.

Harv
 

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I advise you to read Stephen Howard's reviews, most, if not all, are of used saxophones..........a perk of being a technician as opposed to a Journalist who sees the horns when they come out on the market
 

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Nice little thread-start, Harvey. And while I agree w/ Milandro that both Stephen and Pete Thomas have done the Sax community a great service by providing reviews of newer instruments based upon a checklist which any tech would be proud of....those reviews do not preclude what Harvey has brought up.

What's the definition of a "Classic" ? If I recall 9th grade Lit class, it is a work which has withstood the test of time.

There is NO getting around that. One can pull a horn apart and even give it stress tests and such...but only time will tell if the quality of construction is built to last; if the horn is capable of performing 10 years down the road as good as it did in week #1.

So I would concur, reviewing a brand new horn (regardless of the parameters of the review) is only so helpful when it comes to a lotta things. It IS helpful, because it separates the potential contenders from the multitude of pretenders...but there is no substitute for the test of time.....
 

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Harvey makes a very good point. I suspect those of us who prefer vintage horns will be more likely to concur, but there is no substitute for the test of time! I've owned my '65 MKVI tenor for 25 years (and it had been well-used even when I bought it) and have played the living #[email protected] out of it. I've had it overhauled once about 10 years ago, and it's needed very little maintainence since. It still plays great. I also have a couple of Buescher tenors (one circa '39, the other '50). I don't know the playing history on them aside from my own playing on them, but they are built like tanks and play very well. Conns, Kings, Martins, etc are still around after many years and when set up well they play as good or better than any new horn, and, imo, sound better.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Miladro,

I'm not discussing the views of an experienced tech. I'm discussing the avarage buyer whose excited about a new horn (never mind the brand or model) without knowing much more than it seems to sound nicer and plays better than their old horn. Which may have simply benefitted from a good rebuild, who knows.

Does a new sax play like a new sax? It should.. maybe even without a comprehesive set up. Does a used sax play like a new sax? It can... with comprehensive adjustment and set up.

The point is as it was in my original post. That the average player most likely won't know how long that new horn might play so nicely because they simply haven't played it very long. And I'm not saying don't buy a new horn. And I haven't written anything about price or origin either. What I'm saying is that living with the horn through at least one adjustment period gives better indication of its overall build quality than when it had that "new horn smell". ( we here in the US use that phrase to refer to the period before someone has lived with a person, place or thing long enough to see it in a more balanced light. Once the initial enamor has worn off. I'm sure you already knew that, but just in case you might not have.. pardon me if I crossed any lines)

Harv
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Jay and JL,

Yeah, that's what I'm getting at. Exactly.

Thanks guys

Harv

Wow you guys post fast! I was still replying to Milandro when you guys had already posted.
 

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It is more cost effective and desirable in the long term to invest in quality. Any older mechanical device can simply become too expensive to maintain unless, of course, there are tax advantages as the primary reasoning for it.
 

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I have just bought a new car.

I don't know how long it is going to last or how reliable it will be. The 7 year guarantee is certainly something that helped my choice. There was also some history on the previous model but this is a completely new model.

Similarly when buying a new saxophone (I think you mean a new brand or a new model) , we have no way to know how long it is going to last.We can safely assume that if something is made well it will serve us for a long time.


Analysing the way things are made helps making a projection.


I understood that you Harvey are making a general point but I think that we all have ways to deal with purchasing items from a new brand or a new type of product on the market. We have to deal with these issues, whether we are talking saxophones or not, all the time.


So a good technician can actually observe a saxophone and the way it is built and project its durability based on experience knowing that everything will need being maintained and somethings will need replacing in time.

My referring to Stephen Howard reviews is because Stephen has done those mainly on used saxophones and one could read his comments on how an older saxophone has been holding up in time.

Similarly, when he has reviewed a new saxophone he made, often times remarks on the build quality and the consequences on durability.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Milandro. You keep making a point I'm not sure anyone is disagreeing with. But it isn't the point I'm making.

Harv
 

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must be another language or logic thing then ..........I have studied English and studied and lived in England maybe I still miss the finesses of the American English
 

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You see, that is exactly the problem.............

finesse |fəˈnes|
noun
1 intricate and refined delicacy : orchestral playing of great finesse.
• artful subtlety, typically that needed for tactful handling of a difficulty : clients want advice and action that calls for considerable finesse.
• subtle or delicate manipulation : a certain amount of finesse is required to fine-tune the heat output.
2 (in bridge and whist) an attempt to win a trick with a card that is not a certain winner.
verb [ trans. ]
1 do (something) in a subtle and delicate manner : his third shot, which he attempted to finesse, failed by a fraction.
• slyly attempt to avoid blame or censure when dealing with (a situation or action) : the administration's attempts to finesse its mishaps.
2 (in bridge and whist) play (a card that is not a certain winner) in the hope of winning a trick with it : the declarer finesses ♦J.
ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [purity, delicacy] : from French, related to fine 1 .


I call them finesses
 

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Just because someone is an expert in instrument repair doesn't make them unbiased either. I've had my horns worked on by many techs but never met one that didn't have at least a partial brand-bias.

FWIW, I own or have owned brand new instruments from Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, and Phil Barone as well as vintage horns from Martin and Buescher. All of which at one time or another I was (am) playing 15-20 hours a week for extended periods (over several months or years). My '93 YTS-875 Custom is by far the most trouble free horn I've ever owned based on # of playing hours vs. time and money spent on maintenance and repairs. Likewise, the '95 Selmer SA80 Series II alto was far and away the worst. I had to have the body octave vent drilled out (a "feature" Selmer still builds into their horns), several pads fell out, the left hand thumbrest fell off, and it shook off corks and felts like a dog coming in out of the rain. Soundwise one of the niciest altos I've ever played- build quality-wise a disaster. The Barone has been my main gigging horn for the last 4 years. Since initial setup it has been to the shop once for a basic tune-up & adjustment. My Yani bari is about 6 years old and I just had it worked on for the first time last week but it doesn't get played as much as my tenors.

Given my experience I enjoy my vintage horns from time to time at home because I like the way they sound and feel but for gigging I prefer Japanese or Taiwanese horns which have proven, for me, to be more reliable.
 

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The beaters and ElCheapos from 80 years ago are still out there, readily available and in playing condition according to the usual maintenance regime applied.

They might need a maintenance a bit more often than the high quality ones, but hell, who cares if he's paying for it every 25 or 26 months?
 

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I see what your saying about give it some time but people drop a lot of cash on a VI that needs a rebuild just for the sound. A tech can rebuild any horn and make it good mechanically. I hope my Barone lasts as long as my Cannonball before needing any major work. My Cannonball is about ten years old and has 7 years of full time touring on it. I made my review on my Barone because I love the sound, the build seems pretty good and the price was great. If my Barone is having issues in the future I will not hesitate to spend the cash to have my tech do what ever needs to be done. In the end it will still be a lot cheaper than a new Selmer or VI and it has that sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for your replies, guys. I certainly relate to the quest for sound/tone and feel. And accepting, if such a thing were necessary, a more regular maintenance schedule. But, as you say, if the sound is there you'd be willing to take the horn in more often. Because they sound that good to you. And I can certainly respect that. Conversely no one seems to be saying the maintenance schedule is any greater than any other horn and in some cases less.

Thanks for your replies
Harv
 

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That I agree with. It is yet another misconception about owning a vintage horn...that it is more expensive to upkeep, requires more trips to the tech.

I actually am gonna predict that it's the newer, asian-made stuff in the long run...will be wearing that crown. Most older horns, the vast majority, hold their regulation extremely well.

Old saxes aren't Edsels.

I believe this fallacy came about from folks confusing the fact that one has to pay more to bring a neglected (often neglected horns happen to be older ones) sax back into shape. It's a misinterpretation/misunderstanding: "I knew a couple of players who had vintage horns and oh, boy...they had to spend a lotta money to fix 'em up !".

I don't doubt it...but the problem is, one is failing to consider that if a contemporary horn was in similar condition...it would have cost the same to fix IT up....

Again, to some.... vintage = not in good shape.....and that's a pretty specious assumption to be making.

Sorry for slight digression....
 

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It is yet another misconception about owning a vintage horn...that it is more expensive to upkeep, requires more trips to the tech.

I actually am gonna predict that it's the newer, asian-made stuff in the long run...will be wearing that crown. Most older horns, the vast majority, hold their regulation extremely well.

Old saxes aren't Edsels.
....
+1. Man, have you got this right! And it's well worth pointing this out again for the sake of those who are looking into buying a horn and who might have discounted the option of a vintage horn due to such a misconception. Once put into good working order, a vintage horn will not need any more attention or trips to the tech than a new horn (possibly less since many vintage horns were extremely well built). I know this for a fact having owned and played several vintage horns.
 

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+1. Man, have you got this right! And it's well worth pointing this out again for the sake of those who are looking into buying a horn and who might have discounted the option of a vintage horn due to such a misconception. Once put into good working order, a vintage horn will not need any more attention or trips to the tech than a new horn (possibly less since many vintage horns were extremely well built). I know this for a fact having owned and played several vintage horns.
I think this might be partly due to the fact the most older horns have harder brass. I know several guys with VIs and they seem to about half as much as I do. At least my average tech trip cost about 20 bucks and I needed reeds anyways.
 

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I think a lot of the "needing adjustments" has to do with the initial design of the horn and the upkeep. I used my Mark VI for 35 years, HS, college, marching band (yes), pro work, etc. Although it has sat in the case for the past 10 years, it never needed any work except repadding at times. My 40+ vintage horns are a mix. The biggest problem I see is older horns where they have all the extra keys like the G# trill and rear Eb. Crowding all these keys in the left hand stack makes the hinge tubing short on a lot of the areas where the arms fit. When this is present, there are a lot of places where key wobble can happen. Just a fact of life so the action will not always be perfect. Not so on newer horns like a Yanagisawa. Also the older horns have the 1+1 Bb as a small arm and no adjustment screws. The adjustment where the tang of the F# key hits the Bb arm and the G# key needs to be adjusted with the LH stack keys closed. If you have done this, you will see that when the RH F is closed for 1+1 Bb the F may not close fully but having the left stack closed, the F will work OK. Just something that you deal with. Also, some horns can have the rear Eb working well most of the time whereas some horns (Martins) will be best adjusted having the rear Eb sprung closed. This is the price we pay for using vintage.
I find that after many years of working on saxes that I can make my horns very reliable but "compromised adjustment".
 
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