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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
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Discussion Starter #1
How many working players out there have back-up horns. I keep thinking I should buy another tenor but the reality is that I've used the same horn for 20 years and have never needed a back-up.
 

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I do.
It depends on your criteria. If you feel a back-up horn should be the same or at least as good as your gigging horn then it's going to be an expensive proposition.
If all you need is a horn that 'will do' for the odd gig, then you needn't splash out a great deal.
My back-up tenor is a BW - a Chinese horn. It lives in the boot (trunk) of the car. I've never 'needed' to use it yet, but it's there in case I do...and it comes in handy for those gigs where things might get a bit rowdy.
If there's a caveat it's that the one time your main horn fails it will be just before the gig where you really need 'that sound', and nothing else will do.

Regards,
 

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If I had the money to buy another horn I would rather spend it on a piano instead, or a bari or alto.
 

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If I had the money to buy another horn I would rather spend it on a piano instead, or a bari or alto.
Yeah, unless you don't know what to do with your money, it's really not necessary to have a back up.
In the 25 years I've played professionally, it's never happened that my horn gave up on me just before a gig. If it ever did happen, I could always borrow one.
 

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How does a horn give up on you? I had never heard of backup horns until reading of it on this forum. I guess it makes since for tours where your horn is with all the gear, and could become a speed bump.... Is that the type of scenario it's for? Or is this what we tell our wives to justify buying more horns? ;). Just curious, thanks
 

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I'm not a "working pro" but I do play in a big band where if one part is missing it's pretty obvious.

I play tenor 1 in that band, and I have two horns, just in case. I'm taking my Selmer into the shop today, it's developed some play in the keywork, causing intermittent leaks. Since I have a backup, I can still play on Sunday. For me, borrowing another sax is a royal pain. I've been given loaners that were worse off than what I was getting fixed.

My stance on the matter is that so long as I'm in a group where if I'm not there my part is not covered, I should have an extra horn. Is it absolutely necessary, no... but it does give me a good deal of peace of mind. My wife is also a sax player, and has no problem with me bringing home another horn, so long as the bills are paid. I feel it's a win win for both of us.
 

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I do have backup clarinet for open air gigs, to avoid rain or direct sunlight on the horn's wood. It is a Resotone 3 synth clarinet. It turns out to have a lot of projection, so it really does the job, and I use it a lot.
I also have a low end Jupiter alto, but almost never use it. I'm thinking of doing the same on tenor, with whatever Jupiter or YTS-275 comes across. But I'm not really rushing: saxes are less sensitive to bad weather than clarinets.
 

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I have two tenors, and I am glad for it. Right now my tech is quite busy, and I need some work done on one of them. Instead of asking him to rush (which may or may not cost more), I can just play the other tenor and put the repair job on the back burner.

I guess I have a "My tech is backed-up horn." :bluewink:
 

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I have a bar horn that I use when I just don't want to worry about my good horn. A lot of times I ride my scooter to gigs. I won't do that with my MarkVI.
I don't have worry about drunks or drummers knocking over my horn or that if I walk away it will sprout legs.
After a few different horns I found an old Yanagisawa T5 that feels really close to my Selmer. Of course it doesn't quite sound the same, but once you start playing in a loud band with a guitar player, any sort of nuance is lost anyway.
Have a good horn stolen and you will appreciate the worry free back up horn.
 

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How does a horn give up on you? I had never heard of backup horns until reading of it on this forum. I guess it makes since for tours where your horn is with all the gear, and could become a speed bump.... Is that the type of scenario it's for? Or is this what we tell our wives to justify buying more horns? ;). Just curious, thanks
Same way that a car does.
If you don't have it regularly serviced it can end up being a bit of a gamble knowing when something's going to fail.
In most cases it might only result in a poor tone or some trouble getting the low notes etc. - but I've had late-night calls from clients asking me what to do with a pillar that's just dropped off.

It's by no means a 'must have', but I always feel more comfortable on a gig knowing I have a backup handy.

Regards,
 

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I have a backup horn. I don't take it to the gig, but since I also play wind synth, if something happens to my tenor I can make the rest of the night using the wind synth.

I bring a spare wind controller and sound module to each gig. They are small and I can play the sax, flute, and limp through lead guitar parts on the wind controller.

I use the backup horn for outdoor gigs near the Atlantic Ocean's salt air, and when either horn has to go into the shop for routine maintenance, I have the other one to gig with.

Notes ♫
 

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I think it is probably some of both. Here in Colorado we have very few really good techs and at times it can be difficult to get your horn worked on in a convenient way. In my case, the best work in northern Colorado is done by Tim Glesmann at Sax Alley. At this point he typically sets up a time for you to bring your horn in and he works on it while you wait almost like a doctor's appointment. For me it's a 45 minute trip each way, and I'm close to his shop relatively speaking. An hour and a half round trip travel time plus the same in the shop ( which often proves costly since you have plenty of time to try other horns and mouthpieces) and you're looking a 3+ hours. It was closer to 5 when I was living south of Denver, and this is all assuming the work can be done while you wait.

I enjoy going up there and spending some time at the shop but not everyone has that kind of time available in their schedule not to mention if I called Tim today he'd likely give me an appointment 2 weeks out- not great if you have something serious wrong.

Personnally, I don't worry about this and I own several horns just because I like playing different ones from time-to-time but I don't make my living just playing sax either. In the end, like most of the things on this forum, it really comes down the particular individual and their situation.
 

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I have back-ups for all of my gigging horns. Sometimes a no. 1 needs to go in the shop for work. That could take a couple of weeks if my tech is busy. So with back-ups I don't miss a beat.
 

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Those are excellent reasons! Thanks for your replies. I already have a keilwerth soprano, but for all the reasons listed I should go ahead and order that 82z soprano! Now I need to prepare my 'honey, I need a backup soprano' speech.....
 

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I gave up all of my back up horns about a year ago and never looked back. If my tenor needs work I play alto or soprano and vise versa. If you play a horn that is constantly in the shop than you might need more than a backup horn.

B
 

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I have an old, plastic Bundy clarinet that I use for outdoor gigs or when I have to drive to a gig when the temps here in the mid-western US are in the sub-zero range. Otherwise, I play the R-13.

I bought a YTS-61 for outdoor gigs a couple of years ago so that I wouldn't have to use my recently overhauled SBA. The phone's not ringing as much these days so I don't really need an "alternate tenor." I'll probably sell it and just be more careful with the SBA.

Best advice: What are you comfortable with and what does your checkbook tell you?
 

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I have a back-up tenor which has become my main horn. I have found it handy to have another for when the other tenor is in the shop. It only seems to be a factor a couple of times a year as my tech is pretty good at fixing up my horn quickly.
 

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I have back-ups for all my horns except for my bari. One night during a show a trombone player's slide hit my tenor's neck (on a stand while I was on alto), knocked it onto the floor and screwed up the palm keys. Fortunately the gig was about 2 miles from my house and Mrs. Sidepipes was able to fetch my backup tenor and "on with the show".
 
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