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Non Resident SOTW Eccentric & 2012 Forum Contribut
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After reading the conical tenon threads and others of a similar vein I am left with the impression that a great sax as opposed to a good one is the sum of a lot of little things all done very well so that they come together in a synergistic way to create a great voice, ease of playablility, correctness of intonation etc.

This is certainly true of acoustic guitars.

What are your thoughts.

Moderator, if I have posted this in the wrong forum please accept my apology and move it where it should be. I wasn't sure where to put it even after a fair bit of thought.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
selmer 26 nino, 22 curved sop, super alto, King Super 20 and Martin tenors, Stowasser tartogatos
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Benade stresses the need for good partial alignment in any wind instrument, meaning that the bore is so designed that the tube impedances fall near integer ratios for all tube lengths. While mode locking will endure that all the partials will be pulled into alignment when a note sounds, if the tube impedances are near correct the regime of oscillation will form more quickly, will be more stable, will not vary as much with changes in dynamics and will generally be richer in partial content. The instrument will feel more responsive, agile and alive.

But of course no tube is perfect, and variations within a certain range give different good instruments their different character. I'm sure you've found this in different acoustic guitars. Some are clearly better than others, but at a certain point it comes down to a matter of "personality".

In any case, all bore designs are to some extent a compromise. For instance, a larger cone angle will increase loudness, but at the expense of response. Just as there is no optimal recipe for chocolate cake, there is no optimal sax design; it is all about balancing trade-offs in coming up with something to successfully meet given objectives.

This last point is important. The roles of instruments in music evolve, and so do their designs. Selmer, since the Model 22, has been enlarging the bore in order to give the instrument more power. This apparently culminated in the Mk. VII, which just went too far.

Beyond this would be a question of keywork and ergonomics, also important, not to mention build quality and materials.

My 2 cents...
 

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Non Resident SOTW Eccentric & 2012 Forum Contribut
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I will try and define great via guitar where I have much more knowledge and experience, The fellow who built my Maccaferri style guitar is acknowledged to be one of the top luthiers in our country. He has built many of this model however he told me that this one tap tested better than any of the others. When he strung it up he knew there was something special about it. The guitar has more presence more of just about everything. Not so much that it puts the other instruments to shame it just sticks out and lets one know "I'm Special" Everyone who has played it comments on it. It is a real privilege to own it.

When I played sax as a boy and young man while I longed to have a Selmer all we could afford was Richmond tenor. I didn't know enough about saxes back then to compare other than those in the band who had Selmers were the guys. I often read and have heard from those of you who have played a number of say Mk VI (or could be any other) say that there was a fair bit of variation in the horns with the odd one being special.

Best I can do with a definition I'm afraid

Kymarto Does this mean that the quality of the tube material and in manufacture that getting the sizing and hole locations just right is the fundamental key to a great sax with the regulation and the rest of the setup being a smaller but vital part
 

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this looks like the thread of "Mark vi, why can't they make it again" or something... what is a great horn? a new thread for 30.000 post ehehe
good luck =)
 

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Distinguished SOTW Technician
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First up, someone needs to define what a great sax actually is.
It's the one you just can't put down, the one that makes you go "Oh yeah!" every time you play it, the one that stops you bothering to try anything else, the one you lug into the curry house after the gig 'cos you just won't leave it in the car - and it's the one that you feel is better than any other horn, even if people feel the same way about them as you do about yours.

Regards,
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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The person playing it.
While that's the obvious answer. I think here on SOTW, many members consider a "great sax" as one that if played by those same members, it will make them sound like the person you are talking about that can make any sax they play sound like a great sax. :bluewink:
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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How many SOTW members are there? You might just get that many different answers! I haven't played nearly as long, or as many saxes as 98% of the people who will probably respond to your question, but for me, I just know one when I play it.

The tone, and how the horn lets me speak through it. The feel, some saxes I have played just have a certain buzz/ vibe to them (not a buzzy sound, but a vibrant feeling). The ease of getting around the horn both ergonomically and throughout the registers.

I played quite a few tenors before I picked out my Cball Raven, including two other Cball Ravens. The one I bought just felt right to me. It may feel horrible to someone else, but it works for me. My Cball alto felt the same way, and I just sold it because I also have a Maxtone alto that just has a certain quality that makes me want to play it more.

I have played a lot of saxes that sounded really good, or felt right in my hands that just didn't put everything together. It is such a personal thing IMHO, there is no right or wrong answer I guess...I played a Jubilee Borgani tenor a few weeks ago, and it was killer (might have pulled the trigger if I had the cash:tsk:) I sure didn't sound like Joe Lovano, just sounded like me playing a Joe Lovano song, but I was playing the same horn he does:mrgreen:
 

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Non Resident SOTW Eccentric & 2012 Forum Contribut
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I think we are starting to get toward what I was so awkwardly trying to describe. If one compares 6 saxes of the same make and model I read and hear some saying that (like guitars, violin family and pianos for certain) some are better than others even though the were designed and built to be pretty much the same. Wooden instruments can put that down to the particular piece of wood and the dimensions being just right.

What are the technical bits that makes one sax of a brand/model noticeably better than it's bretheren. That was what I was trying to get to. I get the fact that by far and away the most important part of the sax is the windbag (ooops) behind it.
 

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I think we are starting to get toward what I was so awkwardly trying to describe. If one compares 6 saxes of the same make and model I read and hear some saying that (like guitars, violin family and pianos for certain) some are better than others even though the were designed and built to be pretty much the same. Wooden instruments can put that down to the particular piece of wood and the dimensions being just right.

What are the technical bits that makes one sax of a brand/model noticeably better than it's bretheren. That was what I was trying to get to. I get the fact that by far and away the most important part of the sax is the windbag (ooops) behind it.
but if you play a bright horn vs a dark one, and you like more a bright sound for instance..wouldn't you say the bright feels better to you?..
 

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SOTW-er MAYHO says, "The same Sax that will make you laugh, will make you cry!"

Soo, perhaps a great sax doesn't make you cry quite as often...
 

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a great sa:

Should inspire you to practice and play as often as you can
Be in top mechnical playing condition with ergos and MP/reed set-up that make the horn comfortable to play and not a constant struggle do to inherent flaws
Plays in tune with skilled embrochure/air pressure compensation as needed
Allows the player to freely express his or herself in solo mode and must fit in well in an ensemble for critical tonal and intonation matching (e.g. sax section or quartet, etc.)
Also allows playing with wide range of tonal color nuances and full range of dynamics with control from top to bottom (harmonics included).
Brand (especially finish) does not really matter at all if the horn and set-up and requsite skills meets these basic criteria.
 
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