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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone, new guy here. I currently play lead alto in my big band, and also in a 7 piece combo. I've been looking at switching, or at least doubling on tenor for awhile now. Mostly because my favorite players are all mostly on tenor (I feel like theres so much more room to to creative things on the Tenor, maybe just me tho).

(I should preface this by saying my ideal sound and my idol is Michael Brecker. I think I prefer his post-larynx disease sound, mid 80's and up? I really like his Steps Ahead sound and his Michael Brecker Band sound, on his Live at Newport especially)
Anyways, my lesson teacher is selling an Andreas Eastman 52nd Street tenor for quite cheap, a price you couldn't find online. I've played that a little bit and its quite responsive. I've also tried a friend's Virtuoso tenor, but it might've been his new otto link or something, but it was very resistant and hard to play. My lesson teacher highly recommends the Guardala, as he put a friend of mine on it. He says that, contrary to what you would expect, the Guardala is the closest a horn has gotten to the Mk VI, which is totally Brecker. Any thoughts on which horn would suit me the best? I'm of relatively smaller stature, so I pump out a lot less air, although still enough to cut through my big band on alto. Just need to know if one of these horns are super resistant and steal your air. I'm not looking for something super freeblowing like the ref 54's, I still want some resistance.

I know that equipment doesn't make the player, but I would really like to be put in the right direction. I either way walk out with one of these horns, so I would appreciate at least getting in the same area of Brecker. (Like using a Super Dynaction to emulate David Sanborn or something).

If you would like, any mouthpieces that get that kind of raw sound and projection that is attributed to Brecker is appreciated!

Thanks!
Josh
 

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Resistant Horns don’t steal your air… they save it. I agree with your teacher. The Guardala is the best of these three.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the input! I just wish I could try horns and return them on ebay :( ... I'm going to try my buddy's Guardala tomorrow and I'll see how that goes. Any idea whats a good mouthpiece that projects but doesn't need to much air? Like a Dukoff, I'd definitely gas out playing one of those. I tried a custom Eric Falcon metal mouthpiece similar chambers to HR otto links, that was my teacher's. I didn't like the modern Otto Links. Those are way to inconsistent. I thought about maybe just giving Eric a call or someone, I've previously worked with Phil Tone.
 

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… Any idea whats a good mouthpiece that projects but doesn't need too much air? Like a Dukoff, I'd definitely gas out playing one of those.
That might be something like a Berg Larsen but one of the modern copies (because the real ones are very inconsistent and you might have to try 12 to find a good one). Most Dukoffs are too nasal and bright to blend in with a sax section. As far as I know (not an expert on what Brecker played) his pieces took a lot of air.
 

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Look for the Taiwan or China manufacturer that actually makes the horn. Tenon won't sell direct, but Skytone does, Taishan does. A lot of the horns you mentioned are imported rebranded for sale in the US at a ridiculous markup.
 

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Why only these three horns? There's plenty more great brands out there (like the two in my signature).
 

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Bare in mind that the $2500-3000 "MADE IN GERMANY" Guardala horns are by far the most expensive of the otherwise pretty much identical B&S stable of <$2000 2001s, Medussas, and the many stencils (Chicago Jazz, Allora, Courtois ec) that can be picked up for $1500 or so for a tenor.

If you are looking at a Guardala horn make sure its one of the Made in Germany ones, and not the later (Amati?) ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bare in mind that the $2500-3000 "MADE IN GERMANY" Guardala horns are by far the most expensive of the otherwise pretty much identical B&S stable of <$2000 2001s, Medussas, and the many stencils (Chicago Jazz, Allora, Courtois ec) that can be picked up for $1500 or so for a tenor.

If you are looking at a Guardala horn make sure its one of the Made in Germany ones, and not the later (Amati?) ones.
I believe it is made in Germany. I was actually told recently that Medusas are the same exact horns of the Guardalas, just with updated keywork and functions (like a G# rod that keeps it open I believe), are there any drawbacks to the Medusa? I was also offered a Chicago Jazz Tenor, which obviously is easier on the wallet. Any experience with that horn? I couldn't find anything on it anywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Why only these three horns? There's plenty more great brands out there (like the two in my signature).
I've played the Y-62 altos, and lemme tell ya, those guys cut through. And of course I've heard that good Yamahas hold their value, but I find that they may be a bit too generic sounding, also, I just haven't been able to try a Yani tenor in person, otherwise I'd be even MORE torn with options!
 

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All modern B&S tenors are fantastic! Excellent ballsy and complex tone, great intonation with excellent engineering and build quality. I’ve owned a Medusa Goldbrass Tenor, Allora stencil sand finish and gold lacquer Tenor and all were great horn. My current tenor is a B&S model 2001 and my Alto is a Medusa Goldbrass model. No reason to buy a Guardala unless you are hung up on the name or engraving. Disclaimer - I’ve owned most major brands and am a B&S fan.
 

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I believe it is made in Germany. I was actually told recently that Medusas are the same exact horns of the Guardalas, just with updated keywork and functions (like a G# rod that keeps it open I believe), are there any drawbacks to the Medusa? I was also offered a Chicago Jazz Tenor, which obviously is easier on the wallet. Any experience with that horn? I couldn't find anything on it anywhere.
All are pretty much the same. Lots of information in the B&S sub forum here https://forum.saxontheweb.net/forumdisplay.php?100-B-amp-S-Guardala-and-Huller, and also Helens website has an awsome amount of research http://bassic-sax.info/version5/mod...ikinstrumentenfabrik-gmbh-markneukirchen-vmi/. Chicago Jazz and Alloras were WWBW stencils made around the time the later B&S Series 2001 were modified and became the Medussa. For Altos the Medussa introduced a slightly different main tube profile, but Tenors never changed beyond some slight changes to keywork.

The main changes were the nostick G# (which is not present on early Guardalas and 2001s), the pinky spatula table changed to a more articulated version on the very late (Medussa period) horns. At some point the right hand D#/C went from two rods to one, which I dont think changed playability at all. Early versions also appear to lack the flat spring added to reduce the chances of the low C# sticking. All are great horns. Ive not seen a stencil with the keilwerth style adjustable palm keys, that seems to have been a factory option only on the upscale B&S branded horns only. But rubber key risers work just fine if you find the palm keys a little low.

Be aware that not all Guardalas, Chicago Jazz or Allora horns are the B&S "Made in Germany" horns as the names are owned by WWBW who sourced horns elsewhere once B&S stopped production in around 2005. Its not hard to tell them apart though.

My pair are "cheap" Allora stencils, Ive owned/played other B&S horns and couldnt tell the difference in tone or quality, so I kept them for the interesting look. The only one that came close to replacing them was a "Courtois" branded 15xxx (late) B&S alto that had the updated table keys. That horn was a dream to play, but I had bought it on behalf of a friend as a gift for her wonderfully talented teenager, so it would have been pretty low of me to have kept it:) Hes a way better player than I will ever be anyway, so its in great hands.

Only problem is 5 or 10 years ago these horns would come up on ebay pretty frequently, and now I cant remember the last time I saw a German Allora, Courtois, or Chicago Jazz stencil come up:( I guess these fall into the hands of cheapskates like me, and we never want to give them up!
 

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Bare in mind that the $2500-3000 "MADE IN GERMANY" Guardala horns are by far the most expensive of the otherwise pretty much identical B&S stable of <$2000 2001s, Medussas, and the many stencils (Chicago Jazz, Allora, Courtois ec) that can be picked up for $1500 or so for a tenor.

If you are looking at a Guardala horn make sure its one of the Made in Germany ones, and not the later (Amati?) ones.
I happen to have a later Amati Guardala which I picked up new about 9 years ago. Not sure why it gets all the negative comments. It is a great playing, great sounding horn that has been very reliable the 8 or 9 years I have played it. I get positive comments on the tone. Tuning is great up and down the stack. I have owned a B&S 2000 in the past and again it did not seem to be a better horn than the AMATI. it was a little heavier maybe.

What exactly is the perceived problem with the Czech made Amati Guardalas?
 

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I too owned a Czech made Guardala. As you say it was a good sax. But, the German B&S is much better.
 

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What exactly is the perceived problem with the Czech made Amati Guardalas?
I started playing on an Amati made horn, and Ive no doubt that the Amati made Guardalas are fine enough horns. It is simply that they are not the original version. If a buyer is looking for a "Guardala" horn based on reputation its important to know that reputation was garnered by the "Made in Germany" horns.

The made in germany Guardalas were equivalent to B&Ss' top of the line pro horns. TBH Im not sure where the Czech made Guardalas fall into the Amati range, I dont know enough about them.

I guess overall its kind of like if you are looking for a "Selmer", you need to know that there is a difference in the cost/value of a Paris made Selmer and an Elkhart made Selmer. A US Selmer 162 "omega" can be a terrific horn, but its not going to please someone who thought they were getting a mkVI
 

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I've played the Y-62 altos, and lemme tell ya, those guys cut through. And of course I've heard that good Yamahas hold their value, but I find that they may be a bit too generic sounding, also, I just haven't been able to try a Yani tenor in person, otherwise I'd be even MORE torn with options!
If you can try a Yani tenor, I highly suggest you do. The more options available, the more likely you are to end up with a "forever horn!"
 
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