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Saxologic's video description
I played on some student model Selmer for my very first sax in 6th grade, then in 7th grade I got a silver Jupiter with gold keys (I thought it was the coolest thing in the world lol), then finally in 10th grade I got the Yamaha YAS-62III and I've been playing on it since.

Before I got it, they had me blind test 2 Yamaha saxes: the 62 and the 82z. I felt that the 82z was better in my hands but the 62 sounded better. So I went with the 62 because I figured my fingers can get used to anything.

There are a bajillion saxes I want to try but where do I even begin? And with what excess funds? I need to go to a sax convention/festival! Sax.co.uk, please move to America!!
 

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An excellent "playing review" of the saxophone, however there are more aspects to judge a quality instrument than those addressed in the video. Rather than take the time to list and discuss them all I am providing a link to an expert who has done in depth "reviews" of many makes of saxophones for many years. As a former music educator I am always concerned about low cost instruments staying in adjustment and having springs, corks, felts, and pads that hold up over time under normal playing conditions. Many of the "bottom of the barrel" instruments my students brought to class before I retired in 2002 had those types of issues and more. Perhaps those instruments have improved a lot in the past 18 years, but I still think an "autopsy" is in order to see how they are "really" made when they sell at 1/5 the price of established student saxophones. http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Reviews.htm
 

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Everything he said ^^^^^.

I appreciate people endeavoring to post useful sax stuff on YT, I do gotta say, however, I have watched a few of this guy's vids (very good player, BTW) but the messages/suggestions they tend to convey are....a bit arguable....

This reminds me of these sorta threads which appear here with fair regularity.... someone picking up a new uber-cheapie and immediately starting a thread about how happy they are with their new uber-cheapie, and people shouldn't be so judgmental about uber-cheapie-Chinese saxes, etc. etc....

(comments not dissimilar from ones which appear in the vid here)

Those threads have about a 2-week life before they fade into the archives...

....and for 90% of them...the ecstatic owner is never to be heard from 6 months, 1 year, 2 years later...or....

...... ever Again.....

.....which tends to tell you something....

(BTW...the actually playtest begins at around 6:00 into the vid....thank me later)
 

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Yeah ... I guess I will keep on wasting my $$$ on expensive instruments too.
The thing is, seems to me, that a beginner - the market for ¥€£$cheep - may well not know if that horrible noise is them or the sax having sprung leak or gone wonky somehow - and will assume it's them; possibly getting frustrated, etc.
You would know, might know how to fix it or when to take it for a seeing to.
Further, a solid player - like all the reviewers - could play through or adjust to minor flaws.
That's what these reviews very rarely consider. What are these like in the hands of beginners for 12-24 months or so?
 

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He did address build quality from a player's perspective - namely, that the action felt good, and that it sealed well and responded well throughout the range of the horn (altissimo excepted). He also indicated that the horn was a little more resistant than his YAS62III.

I agree that what that horn will be like after 6 months of playing is a different story - and an unknown one! I hope he keeps it and plays it a few times a week on an ongoing basis. Things that are likely to go bad are corks and felts, and maybe pads. Then comes a trip to a tech - or maybe it's cheaper to just buy a new one! A "Dispose-a-phone" (TM)!!!

All that said, I think Jay Metcalf's (aka Better Sax) review of an el-cheapo Amazon horn has a little more authority.

FWIW neither of those reviews made *_me_* want to go and buy a $250 horn from Amazon....
 

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That's not really build quality, however. I guess not from my standpoint. (Although the fact that a $250 sax arrived and was playable out of the case...that IS something to cheer about, actually).

An assessment of build quality would have been him checking out, for example, if any of the keys had any key play, whether the body metal gauge seemed substantial or light, whether the point screws turned smoothly, whether the keywork felt substantial or sorta plastic-y, whether the pads felt fluffy....just to name a few quickies which one can ascertain without disassembling the horn.

Key play is a biggie...most cheapy horns have a significant amount of key play....
 

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Another way to look at it is this---$250 covers:

- cost of raw materials
- cost to fabricate body, neck, and parts
- cost to assemble, inspect, and test
- cost of case and accessories
- cost of factory profit and overhead
- cost of shipping overseas
- cost of retailer mark up
- cost of "free shipping" to purchaser

Granted the cost of labor is probably very low and the factory may be subsidized by the Chinese government. Parts and materials are probably purchased in bulk quantities keeping down the price. Instruments are shipped in large numbers to lower the cost of each. Even with all this there has to be an effect upon quality to arrive at a price that is 1/4 that of a Chateau student model, 1/5 the cost of a Wilmington or YAS-280, or 1/10 the cost of a Jupiter JAS700A.
 

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That's not really build quality, however. I guess not from my standpoint. (Although the fact that a $250 sax arrived and was playable out of the case...that IS something to cheer about, actually).

An assessment of build quality would have been him checking out, for example, if any of the keys had any key play, whether the body metal gauge seemed substantial or light, whether the point screws turned smoothly, whether the keywork felt substantial or sorta plastic-y, whether the pads felt fluffy....just to name a few quickies which one can ascertain without disassembling the horn.

Key play is a biggie...most cheapy horns have a significant amount of key play....
How much Credence would you give such a review in all honesty? JayeLid this is not a personal attack on you, I'm merely using your post because you talk about build quality to bring up an issue I'm not sure I've seen addressed in other threads.

One thing I see repeatedly on threads in which the discussion of inexpensive saxophones is the lack of repeatability of the manufacture to hold to those specifications. So for instance Jay may have received a great instrument for the money from Amazon, however what is the statistical probability that I will receive one of similar quantity. Do we overlook this because we accept saxophones are still assembled and made by hand, and as such will come from the factory with some variation?

Quality Assurance and Quality Control will factor in to the total cost of the horn. If the retail cost of a horn is $250 new how much quality control and quality assurance was done? Or in other words Profit = revenue - costs (fixed and variable), where is the profit in a $250 saxophone? Even with the Chinese ability to scale production and the willingness of their government to subsidize factories to encourage continued production. How much money is being made on a Saxophone at $250 retail, while also paying Amazon's fees for hosting the sale?

Just some thoughts...
 

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At $250, perhaps these saxes are intended to be disposable instruments to last a year or so, rather than being kept and regularly maintained.
 

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These kinds of videos are popular and also dangerous, because they perpetuate the "Cheap Chinese saxophones can sound just as good as the expensive ones" conversation. On the surface, sure, they can. But as others have said here, the difference comes out in build quality, quality of the metal used, and workmanship.

How long will that $250 horn stay in adjustment. When it gets adjusted, how long will that last? How easily does it get knocked out of whack due to soft alloy? How long until the pads, felts, and corks start falling off due to poor workmanship or poor quality glue?

And why are videos always comparing the cheapest sax possible to a $3k horn? I'm thinking it's to get clicks.
 

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How much Credence would you give such a review in all honesty? JayeLid this is not a personal attack on you, I'm merely using your post because you talk about build quality to bring up an issue I'm not sure I've seen addressed in other threads.

One thing I see repeatedly on threads in which the discussion of inexpensive saxophones is the lack of repeatability of the manufacture to hold to those specifications. So for instance Jay may have received a great instrument for the money from Amazon, however what is the statistical probability that I will receive one of similar quantity. Do we overlook this because we accept saxophones are still assembled and made by hand, and as such will come from the factory with some variation?

Quality Assurance and Quality Control will factor in to the total cost of the horn. If the retail cost of a horn is $250 new how much quality control and quality assurance was done? Or in other words Profit = revenue - costs (fixed and variable), where is the profit in a $250 saxophone? Even with the Chinese ability to scale production and the willingness of their government to subsidize factories to encourage continued production. How much money is being made on a Saxophone at $250 retail, while also paying Amazon's fees for hosting the sale?

Just some thoughts...
I agree with most of this... let's look at it this way:

This "review" was.... 'glowing', right ? I mean 'it's a good sax' was a term used repeatedly.

Talking up the fact that it has a high F# - as if that is some sorta really amazing thing to find on a chinese cheapie...when in fact it's really pretty common to find it on a cheapie; and then intimating that somehow the manufacturer was 'able' to provide the high F# while mfr's of horns 10x as expensive... are not.

That's either a severe misunderstanding of the importance/popularity of that key to most players....or....it's hyping it, right ?

Personally... I WOULD actually take a "review" more seriously IF the reviewer then went on to say "OK, so what can we be critical of ?"
The only critique mentioned is that altissimo doesn't speak as well as his Yama.

He failed to mention (I believe) that compared to the Yama the cheapie sounds like crap, tonally.

Had he actually stated some criticisms, the vid might be seen as somewhat...I dunno...'objective' ? And again, the things I mentioned...VERY easy to ascertain for any player...it doesn't take a tech to ascertain those things. Had some been gone over & mentioned I would have given the review at least some begrudging acknowledgment for having some substance...

You raise some good considerations and I will add this one:

~ the company solicited this guy to do a review and sent him a horn. Likelihood is quite high that they did a bit of extra setup and tweaking to the instrument knowing it was gonna be playtested and a public vid made. So...greater value would have been to review one which was (ostensibly) purchased by just some random bloke on the internet...wanting to buy a new sax when they cannot really afford to. We need to be aware that whenever a company sends a 'reviewer' a horn....the company WILL have given it some extra attention before sending it out.

They didn't just pull out the next one closest to the front of the shelf and pack it up.

Give me THAT bloke's horn, and lets review that one. That is all that really matters, the horns which they actually sell to people on a regular basis (hopefully not too regular a basis)....
 

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And why are videos always comparing the cheapest sax possible to a $3k horn? I'm thinking it's to get clicks.
There's an interesting point.

Makes me think...here's a BETTER idea for a vid:

Take the $300 chinese jobber and compare it, say, to the lowest-priced alto model which at least has SOME repute...say, for example, the $700 Kessler (although I have never held one, they do seem to have some repute and I do believe they'd be the cheapest Alto of decent repute available).

THAT would be a very useful comparison, methinks.....because either the 'result' would be:

a) "so you see, spending a few hundred extra gets you a considerably better, more reliable instrument"

or

b) "well, fact is by and large, this cheapie is as good as a reputed model costing a bit more than twice as much"

Either result provides information. This vid simply provides questionable assertions....
 

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A $250 saxophone can certainly beat out one for three K. I know this for a fact. Yup. I bought a Buescher True Tone alto many years ago and soon sold my SBA alto. As for the cheap, disposable import featured in the video... great players are going to sound great on nearly anything that functions. No surprise there. And no reason to waste money on one.
 

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At $250, perhaps these saxes are intended to be disposable instruments to last a year or so, rather than being kept and regularly maintained.
I was thinking - even if it lasted just a year or two, it's cheaper than renting and possibly servicing costs...

Then I was thinking, this almost happened in the biking world - really cheep low CC bikes started appearing that where almost cheaper than an oil change and new tyers... that was 20 years ago and they didn't really take off; just not that big a market for bikes made of the particular alloy they used... IIRC it was chewinggummium.
 

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I recently bought a $240 curved soprano and I am blown away by how good the body and keywork are -- and it has blued needle springs. I don't have any worries that the keys and rods and screws will fall apart or wear out prematurely. They seem to be good quality and fit well too. On the down side, I'm quite sure the poor quality pads won't last long. None of the corks are glued on well and if you try to sand them, the corks fall right off. As a former sax tech I can easily re-pad it when it needs them and I've already glued several corks as I needed to adjust some key heights to get the horn playing well.

For someone who can't do their own work, here is what I heard from repairmen that I talked to about it:
"Where are you gonna get parts when you need them?"
"You can gold plate a mud flap, but it's still a mud flap"

So the issue would be that you just cannot take them to a repairman and have them lovingly work on the horn to make it play well. Most repairmen will see this as a **** and will not be willing to polish it for you.

It has left me feeling really torn about the horn when I see the thousands of them out there for sale. I've spent a modest amount of time adjusting mine for intonation and to remove stuffy notes where pads didn't open wide enough -- and re-gluing a few corks -- and adjusting spring tension to get the action I like. And the result is a horn that plays like a $3000 horn if I were doing a blindfolded comparison. But techs won't work on them.

I'm old enough to remember when Yamaha and Yanagisawa horns first started to show up in the USA and all the techs refused to work on them and said they were garbage.
 
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