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Discussion Starter #1
I'm sure there's probably a thread on here about this, but I can't find it. What my question is exactly is what makes a $6000 sax more expensive than a $2000 sax. Here are some components that I've come up with, but they don't really add up...

Structure - intonation and tone. Unless there is some "hidden recipe" anyone can make a stencil.
Material - Good materials? Do they really add up to make such a difference in cost? I mean that's 4 grand I'm talking about.
Engraving - Ok, maybe add a few hundred for fancy engraving.
Proper assembly - This might be the main reason. If a saxophone is set up with no mechanical problems (ie. no side play, flat tone holes, centered and well-seated pads, etc... well adjusted)
Consistency - How consistent a company pumps out good product.
Brand reputation - If Selmer made a saxophone with a fake Chinese name (for example) how much could it sell for? How many people would notice? How many TECHS would notice?

So what is it mainly? Anything I'm missing:?
 

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A lot of it comes from brand reputation. I think there's also something to be said for quality of design and construction. Your typical $500 Chinese tenor is often flimsy, poorly assembled, and needs near-constant repairing. As far as the difference between a $2000 horn and a $6000 horn, though, that may not be as big a factor. If you could get away with charging somebody extra for no real reason, and you were a heartless, profit-driven corporation, wouldn't you?
 

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If you could get away with charging somebody extra for no real reason, and you were a heartless, profit-driven corporation, wouldn't you?
If I were a heartless, profit-driven corporation, how would I go about continuing to fool my consumers into buying my stuff :?
 

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To me, a Selmer Paris sax is like a Colt .45 - it's the original. There are obviously a lot of facts you don't know about sax manufacturing. I'll touch on a couple; hammer-forged keys, for example. Selmer has it, I don't know who else might, but probably not many. Its important because it not only means lasting adjustments but also is responsible for crisp action without key flexing. Hand-hammered bell. All tubes annealed after final forming/tone hole extrusion. The list goes on and on. Yes, practically anyone can make a sax that LOOKS LIKE a $6000 horn, but nobody yet has made a $2000 horn with all the attributes of a $6000 horn.
I have a strange mix of saxes that I use every week. American-made (Selmer USA and Martin), Taiwan-made (soprano) and French-made (MKVI tenor). I have done a lot of maintenance/repairs on all of them. Plus, I have done the same on my saxes for many years. When you do this, you see things that make you appreciate Selmer Paris. I can't list every little thing. Its also true that the Taiwan horns have experienced a revolution in quality over the last ten years, but the sax world is still in four tiers; Paris is the top tier. Japanese and German premium saxes are the second tier. Everybody else except mainland China is the third tier and China of course is the fourth tier. And you know what? They all play. A great sax player can make any of them sound good. The question is, which one is a professional tool and which one is a cheap imitation? A professional instrument is one that you can use for a lifetime - something that may look like it but is not the same is going to be trouble sooner than later.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Very interesting stuff Saxman. I have a little repairing experience, but I'm not a professional. I have repaired Selmers and Taiwan-made saxes before and haven't noticed a whole lot of difference other than differences in mechanism. As for the annealing process, does the metal get hardened afterward? I've noticed that the keys on a Mark VI are much harder than those on a new Series III. Is that because of aging or is just me?
 

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What my question is exactly is what makes a $6000 sax more expensive than a $2000 sax.
The price tag.

:dazed: ;)

Sorry....I couldn't help myself.

The answer to your question is many-fold. You have touched on some, and are in the right ballpark. Saxman touched on others.

I have repaired Selmers and Taiwan-made saxes before and haven't noticed a whole lot of difference other than differences in mechanism.
That is a bit of a wacky comment, no offense intended, really. Because it is the exact detailing and specifications of the build, and the precision of how the horn's parts are put together...which separates the men from the boys, so to speak.

I would suggest if you get the chance, you take a selmer, Paris...or a Yani...or an old Conn or Keilwerth or Buescher, Beaugnier, Holton, King, Martin etc. ....and compare the elements of the horn, the specs and detailing of how things connect to one another, the rigidity of the keys, the substantial-ness of the materials, etc.

These differences are not subtle. They are quite noticeable. Yet to the naked eye, one might look a lot like the other. What is the proportion of the barrels and spines ? How are the posts threaded ? How well have the keys and cups been grinded/finished ? How substantial is the body ? How precise are the ferrules which connect one part to another ? Are things misaligned ? Can they become misaligned relatively easily ? How has it held up after a year of relatively heavy use ? Two years ? Ten ?

You can do the same thing by taking a Yamaha or Jupiter and comparing it to one of these boutiquey brands which claim themselves to be the rave. They can talk the talk, but they cannot walk the talk.


Yes, practically anyone can make a sax that LOOKS LIKE a $6000 horn, but nobody yet has made a $2000 horn with all the attributes of a $6000 horn.
Amen, broooother. Nor a $1200 horn with the attributes of a $3800 one*. :notworth:



*talking new
 

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If I were a heartless, profit-driven corporation, how would I go about continuing to fool my consumers into buying my stuff :?
Never use your own name on the product and keep introducing new brands. Use a lot of hyperbole in your promotions and state favorable comparisons to famous brands. Try to find someone famous to try it under favorable conditions so you can claim they play it. Sell cheap and always include a free pair of white gloves.
 

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To me, a Selmer Paris sax is like a Colt .45 - it's the original. There are obviously a lot of facts you don't know about sax manufacturing. I'll touch on a couple; hammer-forged keys, for example... All tubes annealed after final forming/tone hole extrusion.
Very interesting stuff Saxman. I have a little repairing experience, but I'm not a professional. I have repaired Selmers and Taiwan-made saxes before and haven't noticed a whole lot of difference other than differences in mechanism. As for the annealing process, does the metal get hardened afterward? I've noticed that the keys on a Mark VI are much harder than those on a new Series III. Is that because of aging or is just me?
1saxman nailed it in his summary - mechanism is forged, tubes are annealed. Forging makes the metal more resistant to further deformation; annealing relieves residual stresses - they are opposites in the nature of what they do to the structure of the metal. Once you anneal the tube, the only easy way to harden it is to work it again (hammering, etc.).

Brass does not tend to harden with age.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That is a bit of a wacky comment, no offense intended, really. Because it is the exact detailing and specifications of the build, and the precision of how the horn's parts are put together...which separates the men from the boys, so to speak.

I would suggest if you get the chance, you take a selmer, Paris...or a Yani...or an old Conn or Keilwerth or Buescher, Beaugnier, Holton, King, Martin etc. ....and compare the elements of the horn, the specs and detailing of how things connect to one another, the rigidity of the keys, the substantial-ness of the materials, etc.

These differences are not subtle. They are quite noticeable. Yet to the naked eye, one might look a lot like the other. What is the proportion of the barrels and spines ? How are the posts threaded ? How well have the keys and cups been grinded/finished ? How substantial is the body ? How precise are the ferrules which connect one part to another ? Are things misaligned ? Can they become misaligned relatively easily ? How has it held up after a year of relatively heavy use ? Two years ? Ten ?

You can do the same thing by taking a Yamaha or Jupiter and comparing it to one of these boutiquey brands which claim themselves to be the rave. They can talk the talk, but they cannot walk the talk.


*talking new
I'll have to take note of those things next time I get the chance to compare instruments. Luckily I own a Yamaha, Selmer, and P. Mauriat :)

Never use your own name on the product and keep introducing new brands. Use a lot of hyperbole in your promotions and state favorable comparisons to famous brands. Try to find someone famous to try it under favorable conditions so you can claim they play it. Sell cheap and always include a free pair of white gloves.
Free gloves?? What kind of operation do you think I'm trying to run here?
 

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Never use your own name on the product ...
It's no accident that the "big four" of modern saxophone brands are companies named after people who not only existed, but were actual musical instrument makers: Henri Selmer, Julius Keilwerth, Torakusu Yamaha, and Tokutaro Yanagisawa. And the same is true of companies like Buffet, Conn, Buescher, etc.
 

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A lot of good answers about what makes saxes different, but I don't think that answers to price question. I think companies beat out its contemporaries through aggressive marketing to get their horns seen in the hands of pros. First Conn in the 30s, then Selmer in the 50s, then Yamaha in the 80s, etc. That caused more demand, allowing higher prices, larger scale manufacturing. In the process I think they also got a heap of player feedback that went into making their products better, being the biggest allowed them to spend more in development, source better tooling, etc. If you are big you have the opportunity to make something really good. Sadly, most big companies use the opportunity to make themselves very rich instead.
 
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