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Distinguished SOTW Member
4,022 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Have you made a purchase, or had something drop into your lap, where you really weren't expecting much -- and had it turn out to be much better than expected? It could be a mouthpiece, a horn, a music stand -- really anything you would use in connection with performance (including electronics).

I grabbed an Orpheo alto off eBay, VERY lightly used, for $212. I figured I could always use a backup alto, and if it's decent but just not "me" I can swap it for the Buescher Aristocrat that is out on loan.

In a lot of ways, it is exactly what I expected. It's cosmetically beautiful but I don't think there's anything "nickel" about this "black nickel". It feels like a nice powdercoat or enamel to me. It also has some interesting manufacturing errors (like rods that have their threads cut off-center, so the key only works with the rod in one particular rotational position), it's bright, and the springs were really stiff (WERE -- I just got done fixing that).

What I didn't expect is that the intonation is quite good (and where it's wonky, it's wonky in the same way as the Jupiter JAS-767 it will be backing up), the response is not perfect but quite reasonable, and it uses the same altissimo fingerings as the Jupiter! The only real issues I've had are the low note warble I haven't solved yet (fixed now, the seating of the C# pad was a disaster), and it doesn't like my opened metal Meyer 5J (also fixed now that the leaks are adjusted out) though it works just fine on the Jupiter. Overall it is not as good a horn as the Jupiter, but I paid $900 for the JAS-767 almost 20 years ago. For $212, it's quite a bargain. I think I've found my backup/rough trade alto!

Here it is between the Jupiter and the Aquilasax C-mel:

NOTE: Something like Bill Bua's Mark VI purchase DOES NOT COUNT. He knew what he was buying. It may be a surprise discovery, but no longer a surprise by the time it arrives.
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