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Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #1
There is much discussion about how the horns, mouthpieces, reeds, etc. of the 50's, 60's and 70"s were better. Surely, there must be some advances in the horns and accessories we have available now, apart from sheer variety.

What better toys do we have now that we didn't back then?

I'll start - better neckstraps.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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Way better tuners for one. And a whole lot better selection of replacement pads too.
 

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Woodwinds in general are made with better tuning as time goes on. The players, however, not so much...
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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Razzy said:
Woodwinds in general are made with better tuning as time goes on. The players, however, not so much...
Yeah, exactly. I blame the fancy tuners and neckstraps. ;) On topic: better access to quality recordings to listen to and learn from. (Though even there i sometimes suspect that playing just the one favourite record til it's worn out might have something to be said for it :) )
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
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The newest thing that makes the good old days better, is probably a revisionist memory. The older I get, the better I used to be.
 

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SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
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I don't know if this is really good or bad, but I believe we have a bigger selection of good mouthpieces now. It's good if you can find one that suits you and stick to it. Not so good if you are constantly switching around.

It's worth mentioning that you can still get the great old horns and there are more techs than ever reviving those horns. So, the other improvement now is the internet and computers to help us find all those great horns from the past. I'd cite the 30's through the 50's as the real golden age for great horns, with the exception of the MKVI, which continued into the early '70s (?).
 

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saxjd said:
There is much discussion about how the horns, mouthpieces, reeds, etc. of the 50's, 60's and 70"s were better.
This happens with respect to anything. In the fifties people were saying this about the 20's, when it came to cars, music, musical instruments, whatever. It's the 90% garbage conundrum: at any given time, 90% of what is newly available in a given market is garbage, and it takes a few decades for the 10% quality stuff to be filtered through as the only things of any value. Ask anybody who was around 40 years ago, checking out mouthpieces. Quality control was just as bad back then, if not even worse. What people forget is that only the good mouthpieces are the ones left sticking around after a while.
 

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Razzy said:
This happens with respect to anything. In the fifties people were saying this about the 20's, when it came to cars, music, musical instruments, whatever. It's the 90% garbage conundrum: at any given time, 90% of what is newly available in a given market is garbage, and it takes a few decades for the 10% quality stuff to be filtered through as the only things of any value. Ask anybody who was around 40 years ago, checking out mouthpieces. Quality control was just as bad back then, if not even worse. What people forget is that only the good mouthpieces are the ones left sticking around after a while.
Exactly. The passage of time acts as a filter, sifting out the junk and leaving the good stuff to be remembered better. In almost every endeavor, things made today are superior to those made before. I bet that sax gear too is a heck of a lot better than the 50's.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
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I always tell my students this bit of advice:

You what's good about the "GOOD OLD DAYS" - They're OVER.

But seriously folks - Laptops have come a long way since the one my dad had back in the 50's.:D
 

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The Internet and forums like SOTW have enabled knowledge sharing and access to old gear that has stood the test of time and new gear that might. Without it, I'd be at the mercy of local music stores and mail order catalogs.
 

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dstack79 said:
Exactly. The passage of time acts as a filter, sifting out the junk and leaving the good stuff to be remembered better. In almost every endeavor, things made today are superior to those made before. I bet that sax gear too is a heck of a lot better than the 50's.
Exactly, regarding the "time filter" Razzy mentioned (very astute). Regarding things made today being superior, the caveat "almost every endeavor" is important. The saxophone itself has not changed that much since the '30s, unlike automobiles and, in more modern times, computers. I think it could be argued that the workmanship has declined somewhat on saxophones, and that the modern horns are not necessarily superior.

The same can be said for a lot of mass-produced items that in the good old days were hand-crafted with some care. Just compare a modern house to an older one. The appliances will be far superior, but the woodwork and overall building quality might not.
 

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My list...

The good:
Pads and resonators
Ergonomics
Aftermarket necks
Custom finish types
Mouthpieces

The bad:
The ubiquitous acoustically-dead modern sax bore/taper
Shoddy workmanship and inattention to detail (especially in terms of hand-finishing)
Shoddy materials
Lack of craftsmanship in general
Reliance on computers instead of practical know-how

The ugly:
All of the horrors produced in China, India and elsewhere
The great mind saxophone
High F# and G keys
"perloid" touch points
cryogenics
internet-induced GAS
modern engraving
 
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