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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Interesting sax v sax tenor comparison over a whole weekend:

Lupifaro Platinum v Selmer Reference 36

Both are meant to embody some of the character of earlier famous Selmer models. The Lupi is said to be a cross between a SBA and Mk VI and has some of the Mk VI direct, strong character minus that fringe of tonal sizzle on a good one. The Selmer is said to pay homage to the Balanced Action and is warmer and deeper than the Lupi. Both are great - in their own way.

Lupifaro has a clear, powerful, fresh tone with a resonant mid-weight bottom end. There's a very even tone across the registers, a sense of energy and drive in the sound. It's not raw, neither is it sweet. It is an excitingly vibrant sound to listen to. The tone is centered and keeps its tonal integrity when pushed.
Selmer ref 26 is warm, round with a nice cut to the sound, a hint of sparkle and a consistently lyrical quality. Big, deep-toned, resonant bottom end. There's a sense of layered harmonics and smoothness to the sound. It responds with a nice bit of grit and growl when demanded of it. The tonal character is slightly spread.

Lupifaro altissimo is easy to play, tunes very, very well and is strong. No F# key.

Selmer altissimo is also easy to play, but tuning is less consistent with traditional front fingering across the lower alt E to G. Front F plays in tune, front F# plays flat. Front E wants to play sharp so the side F key needs to be set low enough to vent down the E closer into tune which muddies the note a bit. So this was adjusted only a little and the height of the bell keys opened up, and that does improve the alt E a lot without flattening F. I thought this may have been neck related and wondered if another neck might play better, but I think it was down to set up.

Tuning across the other registers is excellent on both.

Both subtone beautifully.

Both have a remarkably similar feel to how air blows through the horn; a very similar degree of resistance, which means moderately free-blowing with a perception of a little pressure to shape against.

Lupifaro has simple minimalist keywork, and the stacks are mounted on basicshaped long ribs. It came with a great set up, and only the pinky table needed a little lightening for my taste.
Selmer has sophisticated modern keywork on mini ribs, and a really beefy bell mount for the body to bell brace. The pinky table needed just a little lightening, and the lower stack also needed a little lightening to play with a totally even feel across the instrument.

Both instruments have tight, responsive keywork, and exactly the same system of bullet shaped point screws and metal sprung receiving inserts at the end of the rods. The size of the screws on the Lupifaro are thinner and in shape are more pointed than the Selmers. The height of the Lupi bottom stack is set a little lower than the Selmer. Even with mini ribs, the extra brass in the keywork of the Selmer makes for a heavier instrument than the Lupi. Neither have adjustable stack screws, which I think is an omission.

The finish of the Lupi is a yellow lacquer, that perhaps tries to imitate the dull golden worn look of brass on an old instrument. It's fine but an acquired taste.
The finish of the Selmer is traditional clear golden lacquer, and this one shows a fair degree of lacquer wear on the left hand side of the body.

The common point in intention of the tenors' designers - to create a vintage-inspired sound - is where the similarities end. They are in fact very different horns with their own tonal imprint. Both are accomplished and deeply satisfying in their own right.
 

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Does it matter? Selmer isn't the same company it was 50-60 years ago. And Both the horns mentioned are modern horns.
I just don't like the subterfuge.
Just tell us how it is.
I have a Barone that I totally enjoy and I go back and forth between my Ref 36.
Like the P Mauriats. Why the weird branding with an obscure (to me anyway) French musician?
I feel like they've broken through despite it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not that it matters when it comes to how it plays, but do we know the provenance of Lupifaro?
Body tube bow and bell made in Italy, keywork from Taiwan and assembled in Italy (Marches). Luca Cardinalli developed the sax out of an existing long standing business, ex Borgani factory (who also made their own bodies and bells), and financially backed for the Lupifaro venture by a Swiss business. I've met Luca, and his business partner, and they are personable and engaging. The cosmetic finish and keywork is not of the finish of a Selmer, but the core sound, character and tuning are all impressive. I think they are doing reasonably well. It's a very challenging market to launch an artisanal hand made instrument into, and I wish them success.
 

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Body tube bow and bell made in Italy, keywork from Taiwan and assembled in Italy (Marches). Luca Cardinalli developed the sax out of an existing long standing business, ex Borgani factory (who also made their own bodies and bells), and financially backed for the Lupifaro venture by a Swiss business. I've met Luca, and his business partner, and they are personable and engaging. The cosmetic finish and keywork is not of the quality of a Selmer, but the core sound, character and tuning are all impressive. I think they are doing reasonably well. It's a very challenging market to launch an artisanal hand made instrument into, and I wish them success.
It's an extremely crowded market with declining number of players.
I wish them the best!
there have been previous threads also wondering or questioning where the horns are made. So, I was just curious.
Not a fan of the finish of the horn, but I've seen/heard some beautiful clips.
 

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Good review, thanks for share your impressions.
 

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Thanks for the review. I had tried both myself (the lupifaro just recently though). I have a ref 36 and I love it, but if had to go through the same long search for consistency I had with my selmer 5 years ago, I would definitely go for the lupifaro. I spent 3 F...... weeks trying different horns (not only selmers). Unfortunatelly they didn't have the Lupifaros at Sax.co then when I was living in Europe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the review. I had tried both myself (the lupifaro just recently though). I have a ref 36 and I love it, but if had to go through the same long search for consistency I had with my selmer 5 years ago, I would definitely go for the lupifaro. I spent 3 F...... weeks trying different horns (not only selmers). Unfortunatelly they didn't have the Lupifaros at Sax.co then when I was living in Europe.
A pleasure! How did you find the Lupifaro you tried in comparison with the familiarity of your Ref 36? Interested in your take.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
A little update for you all re the Selmer.

I found that some of the nicest necks I've played have a really small, barely noticeable convexity about 1-2 cms above the tenon where the neck starts to bend. You can feel it by running a forefinger back and forth to feel the internal curvature. The Lupifaro neck has that feel for example. The 36 neck didn't. So very carefully I burnished the inside of the neck in this part with a long-neck, light, fine-headed hammer, gently but with a modest pressure, running the head back and forth within that 1 cm patch taking care not to touch the tenon itself.

Having done so for about 30 seconds, there are no external signs of any change, the shape of the external cylinder isn't obviously different to the eye at all. But there is a subtle difference achieved by feel to the internal curvature in that spot, and the resonance and sparkle is noticeably increased.

I'm not suggesting you should do the same, but I wanted to share the quite obvious change that very fine adjustments made to the crook can have. I guess why crooks are so variable one to another. Fractional differences have a perceptible effect.
 

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A pleasure! How did you find the Lupifaro you tried in comparison with the familiarity of your Ref 36? Interested in your take.
A bit more focused than my 36, with a bit less "grain" in the lower and middle register but I felt lupifaros are flexible enough, so once you get used to it, you can achieve any tonal character you want. The Lupi was Lighter than the reference if I remember correctly but it was really well made and the only one I tried played straight away from top to bottom. Ergonomically they are both comfortable just different.
 

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It's an extremely crowded market with declining number of players.
I wish them the best!
there have been previous threads also wondering or questioning where the horns are made. So, I was just curious.
Not a fan of the finish of the horn, but I've seen/heard some beautiful clips.
I guess they are asian parts/bodies and then assembled somewhere in Italy: https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?289778
(The oem tenor is pretty popular on ebay/aliexpress).

I tried a tenor Platinum for about an hour in a local shop.
I really dig the tone and quite a lot the response but the keywork (on that specific horn) would have required a $1k overhaul: none of the posts were allingned properly... none of the solderings were cleaned.
They applied the lacquer without cleaning the tin around the posts. The instrument, aesthetically, was a mess.
I told the shop assistant to send it back, even because the student Jupiter tenor exposed he had there (... selling for 700 bucks) was much better assembled and sturdier.

I think Lupifaro's business is more towards US.
Here in Italy, a Lupifaro it sold at the same price of new Selmer Jubilee tenor. You get a nice jazzy tone, but the overall quality of a really Selmer is another story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Granted the finish on my Lupifaro isn't in the same league as Selmer but it's acceptable. It's an instrument from a couple of years ago. The assembly is entirely solid, and certainly artisanal. If they are not cleaning up post soldering on the new instruments then they need to get a grip on scaling numbers vs quality of finish. The intrinsic quality of the instrument is unquestionably high. Then it's a question of whether you like the tone production, playability and tuning. That's what I focused on in the comparative review.

I think you've got it wrong on the body and bell. Those are made from sheet brass and formed in Italy.
 

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The instrument I tried sounded pretty good.
Of course, I can't base my evaluation on the quality of a single instrument: that tenor I tried in that local shop was really crappy assembled, I can't speak for the others Lupifaro, for sure.

I don't know where those are made... I had just read on another thread here on SaxOnTheWeb, there was a user who had a talk with the supplier of Lupifaro parts at the 2017 Music China show: https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...c-China-show&p=3134210&viewfull=1#post3134210
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Thanks for the link to the other thread Tzadik. Interesting and a great thread.

I had gathered the Lupifaro line other than the Platinum model reviewed here is made in China or Taiwan as well as the keywork for all the saxes including the Platinum.

I understand the bodies and necks of the Lupifaro Platinum are made in Italy. The cosmetic finish of the Selmer is light years ahead of the Lupifaro. It's an area the Lupifaro should do better given the money they are charging. The keywork on the Selmer is a lot more sophisticated as well. But the out of the factory set up of the Lupifaro was clearly better than Selmers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Tzadik,bBetter to look at the Luca Cardinali website http://www.cardinali.it/il-sax-lupifaro/

"The first steps

Already these early phases are characterised by the manual nature of the work, demonstrating that a truly unique instrument can not be realised by relying solely on modern techniques using numerically controlled machines."

They are not burning the lacquer on the Facebook post you refer to :) They are annealing the brass. To my knowledge most manufacturers do it one way or another. It's a step before burnishing the body and bell, soldering on the posts and key work, and before lacquer is applied.

It does make for a VERY different finish compared to the sophistication of the Selmer ref 36; unquestionably much more obviously artisanal in its finished look, and less well finished than the traditional master artisans of Paris from the pre-computerised industrial period such as Selmer, SML and Buffet; perhaps more like the cosmetic quality of a later Beaugnier (but with far nicer keywork and action).
 
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