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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm just starting out and have a rental Yas-23. I've only been playing a week but I can't seem to put my saxophone down I just really love it playing it. I'm planning on renting this one for at least a couple of months but in the mean time I've been browsing around of course to get an idea of what i want and how to finance it.

So my question is about silver saxophones. I LOVE the way they look but I need some opinions on the pros and cons... how do you care for them vs. brass, which is better silver lacquer or plating, do they sound different, are they more/less expensive, etc.

I'm also kinda drawn about the used vs. new because honestly I have NO ONE that can help me select a used saxophone. I live in the boonies and would probably have to travel to vancouver or victoria to get to a store that has a decent selection. How long should I wait to buy? Did you guys change your preferences a lot? Part of me just wants to buy a nice saxophone (intermediate and up) and have it and cherish it for a long time (my first guitar is still my one and only guitar and it's my really crappy baby so part of me wished I would've bought a nicer one but its got sentimental value to me so even when i bought a nicer guitar, it just collected dust so i sold it lol). I know what kind of sound I like not sure what it's called but i'll know it when i hear it ;)

Anyways if you guys could give me your opinions on the matter it would be greatly appreciated.:mrgreen:
 

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Silver lacquer doesn't exist at all. Silver in saxophones as in cutlery or crockery is plate or solid (ok, there is Sheffield plate in crockery but that's different). Some silver plated saxophones have a coat of clear lacquer on it. That will preserve the saxophone form the unavoidable tarnish, caused by light or gasses, which affects all unprotected silver in time. The sound of a saxophone hasn't much to do with the material that the saxophone is plated with ,plating is only a few microns thick ( A micron (one-millionth of a meter) is a unit used for microscopic measurements. A human hair is approximately 75-microns ). A silver plated saxophone is usually more expensive than a lacquered saxophone although the value of the plating is absolutely marginal.
 

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As Milandro said, Silver is plating...electrochemically applied and adhered to the bare brass. Lacquer is just what it is...a spray-applied lacquer finish over brass.

Plating used to be the standard way to finish brass instruments back in the day....this is why so many old horns (pre-'30's) are either Silver, nickel, or gold-plated. Occasionally bare brass....

If you like how Silver looks (or Nickel, for that matter since sometimes they are hard to tell apart) then you can definitely investigate that. As Milandro said, NEW Silver/Nickel plated horns ARE more expensive than lacquered brass ones. And new horns IMHO are very overpriced to begin with. So, to get a new plated Alto of a good quality/repute...you are gonna have to lay out a lotta money. A plated used horn is gonna be much less expensive.

Play the rental for 6 months or so (hopefully the rental rate isn't outrageous...if it is....maybe 3 months instead)...and start researching what you can get in a used plated Alto. A very solid used one can run anywhere from $600-1200 or so.

If you like (not trying to make a sale here) check out the vidfiles on my website (below). I direct you to them only so you can get an idea of the relative sounds of different saxes. Some are dark, some are punchy, some are bright, some a reedy, some are smooth and smoky. There's a whole range of tones...
 

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Plating used to be the standard way to finish brass instruments back in the day.......
And this is why those silver-plated horns, when polished, can look as good as new even if they are 70 years old! I have a silver plated (original plating) 1940 Buescher tenor and it looks far better than my '65 lacquered MKVI (with only about 60% lac left). Sliver plating holds up very well; far better than lacquer. And I agree it looks great.

About the only con I can think of to silver plating is that it can tarnish, but it's not really that difficult to polish it ocassionally and keep it looking good. The finish has no effect on the sound or tone quality of the horn, so don't worry about that.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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As Milandro said, NEW Silver/Nickel plated horns ARE more expensive than lacquered brass ones. And new horns IMHO are very overpriced to begin with.
Not necessarily. For a while I borrowed a really nice BW silver plated M2 alto (have some soundclips somewhere), it was very reasonably priced for a pro horn (can't remember the exact price but way less than a Selmer, Yamaha or other comparable alto)

About the only con I can think of to silver plating is that it can tarnish, but it's not really that difficult to polish it occasionally and keep it looking good.
The alto I mentioned above was lacquered over the silver plate, so wouldn't tarnish until the lacquer goes. best of both worlds.

But i wouldn't recommend lacquering over a second hand silver horn unless it was immaculately cleaned first, as any slight bit of existing tarnish under the mew lacquer would probably spread and cause the lacquer to flake.
 

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No question !...plating has always been a superior finish to lacquer, which had impermanence built into it from the start. I actually don't even mind the look of a plated horn when some of the plating has worn and brass begins to show here and there...far more aesthetically pleasing than worn lacquer.....
 

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Not necessarily. For a while I borrowed a really nice BW silver plated M2 alto (have some soundclips somewhere), it was very reasonably priced for a pro horn (can't remember the exact price but way less than a Selmer, Yamaha or other comparable alto)
Fair enough; and good to know...but it was more expensive than the same model in brass/lacq, yes ?

(Am not sure how I feel about lacquer over plating....seems a little odd to me.....)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It seems like the silver-plated horns aren't as common as the others.

I mean financially I have couple of options. I can continue renting my Yas23 for 40 a month for about a year while I save up around 1500-2000 on a used horn (but again, I have no mentor/tutor/anyone to help me... where i live there is ONE sax teacher and i'd probably have to travel to get a sax).

Option 2... I can buy out my rental YAS23 for 600 bucks (and keep it for 1.5-2 years while I save up for something better). Not so sure about this... when I got the rental the octave key on the neck was leaking and the lacquer's wearing off.

Option 3... Keep the yas23 as a rental for about 6 months or as long as it takes me to sound somewhat respectable and then head down to seattle/victoria/vancouver and find myself an intermediate or pro horn and finance a large portion of it.

I keep reading different opinions on where to start. I see some say start with a student then upgrade to pro, some say don't even bother with a student start with an intermediate, etc. I also heard that having new horns financed is a waste. Then I read somewhere that buying used horns is a bad idea unless you really know your stuff.

I'm pretty set on the silver-plating... I'm really drawn to that look (my trumpet was silver too) but I'm afraid it decreases my options.
 

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Most silver plate horns are lacquered over the plating nowadays and that is keeping the horn nice and shiny.

If you like the silver look but not the fact that it could tarnish, at some stage, when the layer of lacquer over the plating will wear out, many years from now, you could decide to buy a Nickel silver horn or , even better, a Cupronickel horn. These don't tarnish and need no protection at all. Many brands, mainly Taiwanese but also Keilwerth, are producing horns made of these alloys, I own a cupronickel alto HL sax " silver bolt"model.

 

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Silver Yamahas aren't lacquered and they do tarnish and require regular polishing to keep them looking their best. Start saving your coins and keep on the lookout for nice silver plated horns and see what they're selling for.
 

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I had a silver Mark VII of which the silver actually wore away quite quickly. I thought it could have been the effect of my sweat or something like that, but I now own a Conn of which the silver was still in good condition and which remains that way.

I bought the MVII back then on the advice of a saxophone playing friend whom I had asked to come with me and help pick out a horn. I wouldn't have known any other way of knowing what to pick.

So my advice would be to somehow -hard though it may be - have someone come with you to a shop and play the horns for you, and play them yourself to get an idea of the feel of them. And take your time. Rent the YAS for a bit longer because your playing will change from one half year to another and so will your predilections. At least, that happened with me...

Good luck, and enjoy playing the sax!
 

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It seems like the silver-plated horns aren't as common as the others.

I mean financially I have couple of options. I can continue renting my Yas23 for 40 a month for about a year while I save up around 1500-2000 on a used horn (but again, I have no mentor/tutor/anyone to help me... where i live there is ONE sax teacher and i'd probably have to travel to get a sax).
Evilfeline -

I'm compelled to mention the Phil Barone option for your consideration. Your price range is right, and Phil gives excellent support and customer service and he ships the horn to your door - no traveling for you. See his facebook page (below) or website: http://www.philbarone.com/saxophones/index.html

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Barone-Saxophones-Mouthpieces/153737791337022

I recently purchased his Vintage Alto in silver with a lacquer coating. The horn shines like a jewel and plays like a dream. You have some time to study the market so do just that. Your opinion and needs will evolve as you process the info.

Happy Hunting!

GPD
 

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It seems like the silver-plated horns aren't as common as the others.

I mean financially I have couple of options. I can continue renting my Yas23 for 40 a month for about a year while I save up around 1500-2000 on a used horn (but again, I have no mentor/tutor/anyone to help me... where i live there is ONE sax teacher and i'd probably have to travel to get a sax).

Option 2... I can buy out my rental YAS23 for 600 bucks (and keep it for 1.5-2 years while I save up for something better). Not so sure about this... when I got the rental the octave key on the neck was leaking and the lacquer's wearing off.

Option 3... Keep the yas23 as a rental for about 6 months or as long as it takes me to sound somewhat respectable and then head down to seattle/victoria/vancouver and find myself an intermediate or pro horn and finance a large portion of it.

I keep reading different opinions on where to start. I see some say start with a student then upgrade to pro, some say don't even bother with a student start with an intermediate, etc. I also heard that having new horns financed is a waste. Then I read somewhere that buying used horns is a bad idea unless you really know your stuff.

I'm pretty set on the silver-plating... I'm really drawn to that look (my trumpet was silver too) but I'm afraid it decreases my options.
That's cool...you want Silver (again, maybe Nickel as they can look the same) then go for it ! Yes, indeed..lacquered brass is the norm so there are fewer Silver-plated horns out there. But it's not exactly a 'rare' finish, either. It's readily available.

Now, in response to your ideas:

~ Don't buy the Yas23 for $600 in its current shape...because you can get one (used as well) in good shape for about $400-450 pretty easily. So that's a bad option. Unless you can convince them to do a nice tech job on it where they clean it, do a full regulation, remove any significant dents, and replace any questionable pads. If they'd agree to that, then $600 isn't so bad.

~ You can nab a used Silverplate Alto, a good one, for around $1000, really. I recently sold a Silver Vito, France 35 for $1000 and am about to sell a Silver Chu for $850....both completely overhauled. If you wanna have a budget of $1500, then you can get either an amazing vintage horn or a decent, respectable brand-new one (such as the Barone Silverplate Classic as mentioned earlier). So, you don't quite have to invest $1500+ into it...you can still end up with a good used horn for less than that.

~ Your 3) is always an option as, everyone would agree, nothing takes the place of trying a horn in person. You don't even have to walk out of the shop WITH a horn, but just make note of some of the brands/models you liked...and then search for used ones online...

As has been suggested before, herein begins the research. I would keep the Yamaha for a while longer while you sorta figure out what sort of horn you wish to have (beyond just the finish, I mean).
 

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That's not a bad diff, really....but dang, those ain't cheap. I assume it's the top model...
Seems very cheap to me for a horn of that quailty. Ccompared with Selmer, Yanagisawa, Yamaha for me it would be a no brainer..
 

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I played one of the new BW's, intonation was spot on, didn't seem to need any effort to get it in tune completely across the range. As for looks, silver with gold keys...it's shiny :)

I have a 10 year old beginner (£300) horn. Silver plated. I'll link a few pictures of it when I get home. It still looks (and plays) fine to me, just a few areas of age showing through.

I think the BW will be my upgrade of choice when I get round to it, but no rush yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Evilfeline -

I'm compelled to mention the Phil Barone option for your consideration. Your price range is right, and Phil gives excellent support and customer service and he ships the horn to your door - no traveling for you. See his facebook page (below) or website: http://www.philbarone.com/saxophones/index.html

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Barone-Saxophones-Mouthpieces/153737791337022

I recently purchased his Vintage Alto in silver with a lacquer coating. The horn shines like a jewel and plays like a dream. You have some time to study the market so do just that. Your opinion and needs will evolve as you process the info.

Happy Hunting!

GPD
I'd be curious to know what it sounds like. How did you make a decision to buy a horn like that online? And how are these horns considered vintage when they're new?
 

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And how are these horns considered vintage when they're new?
Ha ! Classic question ! Kudos for asking it !!!!!

On of the more...ironic...dimensions of marketing in the new millenium. It's NOT a vintage horn...the name of the model includes the word 'Vintage' is all.

Makes for hilarious misunderstandings and occasional hijinks in conversations, sometimes....

"Antique" is another word used in such a way....and "Classic".....

But the quick answer to your question when it comes to new horns and contemporary makers is: over a (relatively short) period of time, some newer (relatively inexpensive) brands have received decent reviews from people...so over time, these horns have acquired a respectable reputation. Barone being one of them.

This is where your research starts if what you want is a modern/new horn. Separate the contenders from the pretenders....because price doesn't necessarily do it for you.

Both Pete Thomas and Steven Howard, for example, have very useful horn reviews on their websites....these tend to go deeper than some dude just posting that he loves his brand-new XXXX Vintage-Classic model, it's the besssstest horn ever !...because some reviewers (such as those two blokes) really do an in-depth review of all aspects of the horn (mechanics, construction quality, finish, ergonomics, tone, playability).

You see...sometimes the internet is good for something.....:whistle:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
i've read several amazing 'analyses' (better word dont you think?) on the Barones....

I've been listening to different saxophones on youtube and yamaha seems to be out of the question... tooo.... uhm 'twingy'? is that a good word?

So far I like the sound of Conns and some selmers.

still.... after all the "always try a horn before you buy"... why are so many people buying without trying?
 
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