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What's your definition of "made by hand" ?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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Basically, the vintage saxes were made in factories and mainly by hand. But this is not like a hand-made guitar where one person selects the wood, carves and glues it, etc. It's sort of an assembly line type thing. The modern big names like yamaha are very consistent in "spec". So you can order replacement parts and be 99% sure they will fit. That is not the case with many vintage saxes where necks and other parts are often not interchangeable.

There are some videos online showing tours of saxophone factories. Much of the technology has not changed since the old days.
 

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There are some videos online showing tours of saxophone factories. Much of the technology has not changed since the old days.
You might say that it's a matter of degree; they were more "made by hand" back in the day than today. For instance, much of the key work has to be machined; back then that involved a skilled machinist personally milling raw metal into the proper components. Today much milling machinery is automated with constant computerized measurement and regulation of the tooling as it shapes the metal. Thus the capacity of a maker like Yamaha to turn out identical parts within specification and with a high rate of consistency.

Though it was certainly possible to consistently make very precisely milled parts in the past, the precision could vary more from individual machinist to machinist. More room for error.

But then, today the horns are still largely assembled by hand, giving plenty of room for inconsistencies from horn to horn!!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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Well, as stated above...there were machines back in the 20's, also...milling devices, augers, drills, grinders, lathes and such...but they were operated by a machinist as opposed to being automated....
 

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All saxes are made by hand using machines. In the flute business, handmade usually means soldered tone holes but I discount the word "handmade" as I do "professional model".
 
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