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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would first like to say that after a few months of using this website I finally decided to make an account :) I personally think there are a great amount of knowledgable people on here, and would like to thank you for the time.

I feel it is important to mention that I am currently in high-school and have been playing the alto sax for almost 6 years, on a YAS-23 student horn. My current classical mouthpiece set up is a C* mp, with a Rovner versa ligature and 2.5 vandoren blue box reeds. I do play more classical than I do jazz, but my jazz set up is an E.Rousseau mp, with a Rovner versa ligature and 2.5 green java reeds. I have began to play jazz, and started to enjoy it very much, and actually now prefer it over classical. The tone I have developed is rather dark, and I love a dark tone.

After almost a year of marvelling at beautiful horns I have found online, I feel as if it is time to purchase a professional horn.

I have read other posts but considering everyone has a different playing style, they may not be as successful to help narrow my choices down to either 1-2 ideal options. Once i find this, I do plan on trying out any options I am considering.

Unfortunately I am on a budget of around $2000-$3200. I am looking for a saxophone that will cope well with my darker tone I get, so if that means a saxophone that give a dark tone aswell, so be it:) although I do find intonation and key mechanism to be the highest priority.

I have read a bit about yanagisawa horns like the a901 and some say it is a darker sounding horn. For a little while I have also been impressed by the p.mauriat 67 with its price, fat sound, and they do look pretty nice. Anyone have prior experience with these horns?
All other suggestions are also gladly appreciated.

Also lacquer comes to mind, asthere are many options, some say it doesnt matter, others say it strongly affects brightness, or the darkness of the tone itself. Also considering the fact that I want to play in college, perhaps gold being the most uniform lacquer would be the right option?

Thank you very much, Nick
 

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Many sax players in your position, who have only played a student horn, find that all the professional horns feel quite different. And you never know what is going to work for you, regardless of any advice you get here about horn A, B, or C being great. So my suggestion is that you invest some time to go to musical instrument store where they have a good selection in stock, so you can try them yourselves, using your own mouthpiece with some reeds you already know to play well. This might mean having to go to Boston or New York City, depending on where you live. If you can bring a friend or parent who has a decent listening ear, that would be even better - a second opinion can help you separate what actually sounds good from what merely looks shiny or looks pretty. Resist the urge to fall in love with whatever shiny object is placed in your hands first.
 

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I would first like to say that after a few months of using this website I finally decided to make an account :) I personally think there are a great amount of knowledgable people on here, and would like to thank you for the time.

I feel it is important to mention that I am currently in high-school and have been playing the alto sax for almost 6 years, on a YAS-23 student horn. My current classical mouthpiece set up is a C* mp, with a Rovner versa ligature and 2.5 vandoren blue box reeds. I do play more classical than I do jazz, but my jazz set up is an E.Rousseau mp, with a Rovner versa ligature and 2.5 green java reeds. I have began to play jazz, and started to enjoy it very much, and actually now prefer it over classical. The tone I have developed is rather dark, and I love a dark tone.

After almost a year of marvelling at beautiful horns I have found online, I feel as if it is time to purchase a professional horn.

I have read other posts but considering everyone has a different playing style, they may not be as successful to help narrow my choices down to either 1-2 ideal options. Once i find this, I do plan on trying out any options I am considering.

Unfortunately I am on a budget of around $2000-$3200. I am looking for a saxophone that will cope well with my darker tone I get, so if that means a saxophone that give a dark tone aswell, so be it:) although I do find intonation and key mechanism to be the highest priority.

I have read a bit about yanagisawa horns like the a901 and some say it is a darker sounding horn. For a little while I have also been impressed by the p.mauriat 67 with its price, fat sound, and they do look pretty nice. Anyone have prior experience with these horns?
All other suggestions are also gladly appreciated.

Also lacquer comes to mind, asthere are many options, some say it doesnt matter, others say it strongly affects brightness, or the darkness of the tone itself. Also considering the fact that I want to play in college, perhaps gold being the most uniform lacquer would be the right option?

Thank you very much, Nick
Given that you have already developed the dark tone that you like on a Yamaha instrument, and that you place highest value on intonation and keywork, a logical consideration would be any of Yamaha's pro-level horns. The YAS-62II is tremendous value for money, and if you're looking for an instrument with a darker tone the 875EX is the darkest-sounding horn in their lineup IMO (though not as dark as, say, a Selmer SA-80II). Yamaha horns are known for their excellent intonation, and their ergonomics are second to none.
 

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Nick: Welcome to SOTW. I've always found the YAS23 to be good horn but extremely bright.

I am a lover of Yanagisawas over Yamaha and if you are looking for a warm sound, you may want to look at Yanagisawa's bronze alto, the A902. I'm one to think the presence or absence of lacquer makes no difference (and I can back that up with personal, albeit anecdotal, experiences). But comparing materials is another issue.

I've owned both bronze and brass Yanagisawas and always found subtle tonal differences when playing the same model side-by-side (examples, A992 vs A880; SC902 vs. SC901; S992 vs S901) . . . the bronze models being slightly warmer than their brass brothers and cousins.

I have altos with colored lacquer (my Selmer Reference 54 comes to mind) and altos in clear lacquer, gold-plate, and silver-plate. My opinion is that finishes don't matter just as lacquer doesn't matter. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the advice everyone, its appreciated:) and yes Dave I'v listened to a few yanagisawa saxes and they did produce a nice warm sound, does the bronze have any other affect on taking care of the horn itself? And also would my mouthpiece setup need to change? And I have played on my friend's series II, I liked it a lot but its a lot of money :/

metalflake, I have played on my friends 62 and it was relatively old, and the lower register required some serious attacking to get the notes out, do you know if this is a common occurrence or just the fact it was an older horn?

Harmonizer I do agree that testing it is the only way to really know how it feels, I will be going to Rayburn music in Boston sometime this month with my saxophone lessons teacher, so hopefully I will find the one for me.
 

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metalflake, I have played on my friends 62 and it was relatively old, and the lower register required some serious attacking to get the notes out, do you know if this is a common occurrence or just the fact it was an older horn?
Hi again,

I suspect that may be an issue with your friend's particular horn, not because it was old but likely because it may have had a leak somewhere. I also play an older 62 alto, and all registers on my horn speak with equal ease - low notes pop out as freely as the palm key notes.
 

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Unfortunately I am on a budget of around $2000-$3200.
OK, so...you can buy TWO professional-calibre saxes with all of the qualities you want, for that sorta money.

First off....I wanna say Kudos to you...because you are a new member and you did a great job of explaining your exact situation and precisely what qualities in a horn are important to you. So few people do that, and their thread goes spinning off into replies which are really pretty non-sequitir.

Based on what you have said, I think a high-end used Yani or JK is what I would suggest.

The 8XX or 9XX series Yanis or the EX or SX series JK's are, IMHO, the fullest and richest sounding contemporary horns out there. You have the $ to leapfrog "great value for the money" horns such as Barone, BH, and mid-level Yamahas, etc. You have the money to just go for top-notch.

So do it.

I have to say, I am surprised that I am the first to mention Keilwerths, given darkness is an important attribute for you.

There is no maker who has ever produced a richer, dark-toned horn than JK. Consistently great horns from their inception onward. They are just insane Jazzers. You should check out some of those.

Again, all these models go used in great shape for well within your budget.

Best of luck, and welcome to the forum.
 

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Both Yanagisawas (brass and bronze) are clear-lacquered so the bronze means little in terms of durability compared to brass. Like I said, the bronze horns seem TO ME to have a slightly warmer sound.

JayePDX makes a good point about buying used, if you can. I've done it both ways over the years and have found great horns doing it both ways (new vs. used). Cost is obviously THE factor once playability is established.

Keilwerth is worthy of consideration. I once owned a straight alto by Keilwerth and it was a decent saxophone. The problem is that I see so few JK's on display OR being offered when compared to Yanagisawas and Yamahas. So in your travels or pursuit of a saxophone, you're more than likely to run across the two Japanese brands rather than the JK or another worthy marque, Rampone and Cazzani. And there are probably a myriad of yet other brands that will meet the test. For instance, I have old Bueschers (1925 to late '40's), a Selmer Cigar Cutter (1932), and a 1920's King that will blow most new altos into the weeds.

My grandson plays alto (a Kessler for marching and a B&S Medusa for stage) in his high school bands and another band member uses his deceased grandfather's old Selmer-Paris tenor from the 1930's (don't know the exact model). That horn is the delight of everyone at the school, so vintage can work. You have many choices. DAVE
 

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There is no maker who has ever produced a richer, dark-toned horn than JK. Consistently great horns from their inception onward. They are just insane Jazzers. You should check out some of those.


I second this advice. In 82' I went on a quest for the "dark" horn and bought an Armstrong made by Keilwerth from the Saxman in Van Nuys. Still my main horn even though I have a Buescher 156 and a King 615. The Buescher is sweeter and has a more even scale/intonation. The King, since it is a student horn has clunky keywork but has a bigger sound than the others in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am currently thinking about buying used, reading all the posts, it seems to be a great idea to get a great saxophone, for a lower price, although considering I am going to Rayburn music (boston) I'm not positive if they sell used horns, or even if they sell used horns for what they should be worth. My parents are not very supportive of music, so I need to pay for it myself, hence my budget initially.
 

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That's okay, too. Just keep in mind that most retailers SHOULD discount new horns considerably from the MSRP. And, many retailers do just that. So a $7K new Selmer-Paris may be discounted to $5K +/-. I would never pay MSRP for a new horn. Know that as you do your search. DAVE
 

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Right.

As already suggested, I would ABSOLUTELY go to as many horn shops as you possibly can...and try a lot of those models, even the YAS 62. Dave is correct, you cannot help but trip over a Yamaha every time you turn around, and Yanis are relatively plentiful as well...while JK's are less so. Which means in order to get a feel for one, you may need to try a few brand-new models even though their pricetags are out of your range.

But my advice is always to ignore walk-in shop pricetags. They are always more expensive than what you can buy online. But if you DO find a horn in a shop which you love and it's in your pricerange, then I wouldn't bother shopping online...just buy it at the store because you are giving a local-er merchant some biz and you now have a relationship with the shop.

If you ultimately buy used online, make sure you buy from a seller w/ a return policy, and the horn is guaranteed to be playing up and down with no issues or need for add'l work.

Also....let's say for argument sake you try Yamas, Yanis, and JK's. Just for kicks, try some of the models which are labeled 'intermediate' as well...the Yama 52/62, the Yani 8XX or 901, the JK EX's.

This is alluding to what Metalflake suggested....

I have known a number of players...really good players....who went into a roomful of horns and tried 'em all....only to have the non-top-shelf model speak to them and feel to them the best. Don't underestimate that possibility.

You can buy a brand-new, under-warranty JK EX90 or Yani 901 or Yama YAS-62 for your budget (although IMHO the last one isn't a dark-sounding horn)...and the only thing which would be 'intermediate' about your new horn would be the fact that the maker labels it that....y'know ?
 

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Another horn which struck me as a possibility is a B&S...but unfortunately, incredibly sadly...they are no longer made; and even when they were they weren't the easiest to find in shops. But if you happen to stumble upon one, definitely try it.

Another German make which has just a huge, dark tone.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you everyone very much, everything is greatly appreciated, I suppose right now, I have a good idea as to what I am going to try out, and take into consideration, but until then, feel free to add any insight, on horns, buying online, buying used, or any of that good stuff, thanks again.
 

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Is that a real German Keilwerth or merely a stencil made FOR Keilwerth? Sorry, I'm not up on all the JK models, but the bell clearly shows Elkhart, IN. And I know there are levels of quality with Keilwerth-branded instruments.

Not that there is anything wrong with Armstrong-branded saxophones or this particular horn, but if I was after a Keilwerth I'd be real interested in making sure what this horn was rather than buy it just because Keilwerth was recommended and this auction had the word KEILWERTH in the heading. I could be wrong . . . DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

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Another horn which struck me as a possibility is a B&S...but unfortunately, incredibly sadly...they are no longer made; and even when they were they weren't the easiest to find in shops. But if you happen to stumble upon one, definitely try it.

Another German make which has just a huge, dark tone.....
Glad you said that, I would just be accused of recommending what I play.

Worth being aware of the many stencil names these can be found under, on the off chance you stumble upon one. Finding them on the cheap is getting harder and harder it seems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
That sounds great, also when buying online due to a better used price, scratches are not a factor to worry about on the horn correct? considering most horns have them unless new, should it at all influence my decision?
 
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