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I was at a local chain store where there is a dad with his grade 10 son trying out tenor saxophones. The Dad know nothing about saxophones. We had a chat and he asked me why some people prefer vintage sax over new. Because the sales person was just next to us, so, I didn't say a lot but just said usually vintage saxes has a different and darker tone that people like.

However, that's not the major reason in my opinion. I think the price is the biggest reason. I had a Buescher Super 400 and a Buffet Super Dynaction. Both of them have a great tone, but I have challenge to get out low Bb smoothly. This can very well be my lack of skill. Yesterday, I went to try out some new saxophones to see if they are better. I tried a Yamaha 82Z UL, Selmer Reference 54, Yanagisawa TWO1 and TWO2. TWO2 is the only one I like better than my Buescher and Buffet. It has a good or different tone, and it is so even and smooth. The low Bb comes out effortless where I am currently struggling. The 82Z and TWO1 are more than double than my vintage saxes. The TWO2 is 3x more, the Ref54 is 5x more!!! . Honestly, I am quite disappointed by the Ref54 given its super high price.

I am so tempted to buy the TWO2 because I really dig the copper body. I know this topic is controversial but I feel there is a slight difference compared to brass. I have been checking the forum, eBay, Reverb everyday and have not yet seen a used TWO2 with reasonable priced in the market. The cheapest new TWO2 I can find on the internet is still more than double than my Super 400 and SDA. I am struggling to justify to soend that money to get maybe 10% better in playability. I am not a pro. I only have time to play at home alone a couple hours a week. Maybe nowadays, the kids are so lucky that parents are willing to spend $5000+ on a new sax.


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I am struggling to justify to spend that money to get maybe 10% better in playability.
DealAddict, I was in your shoes less than a month ago, I posted some details here.

Playability is not measured in percentage points. After I switched from my vintage Blue Label (US$700) to my new YTS-62III (US$3000), I suddenly found myself making progress through tonal and finger transitions that seemed positively beyond my ability before. It's like a new woman I want to keep because with her everything comes effortless and natural, whereas the old one meant constant struggle and a closed horizon. There is no way one can measure that in percentage points. It's more of a yes or no proposition.
 

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Truthfully, horns are not more expensive now than they were in 1971, when I bought my mkVI alto that listed for around $700. Converted to 2018 dollars, that's $4370.85.
 

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Of course you can discuss playability by saying you think it is 10% better.
*i don't*, but why not?

I am a little concerned that some folks may think their saxes are women tho.

DealAddict, i really like my yanagisawas. I have some terrific tenors that do not get played much because the TWO1 goes to most gigs.
 

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For me the issue was price. I bought an old 10M on eBay for $700 and had it completely refurbished for $900. I ended up with a like new sax for $1600.

I realize the ergonomics are better along with intonation on a new horn but there was also the idea of saving a small piece of history that went into the decision. I still lust over the new ones but it’s a lot of cash for a hobby. I doubt I’ll ever feel good enough about my playing to play with a band.
 

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For me it's about affordability (I do my own tech work, so I can buy something used and overhaul it). But it's also about feel and sound because when I play high end modern horns in stores they just don't cut it IMO compared to my vintage budget horns.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I know this is all subjective depends on many things. For me having a family with three kids, everything needs money. I must evaluate my hobby among all other things. $2000 is not a small amount, I can spend it on my kids education, on a family trip, on a new camera ... but I am sure the decision will be different for a professional musician because they need to achieve the best regardless of the cost. Also, if someone is more serious than me who is a weekend warrior, he/she will likely spend that $2000 also.

Just thinking about the father and son. I am also a dad, I likely won't buy a brand new shiny Yanagisawa for my grade 10 son, unless he plays at a provincial level, or planning to go to university major in music.

So, I think there should still be a market for vintage saxes.


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I was playing my Big B alto today and noticing again how incredibly fast the action is. I can play faster on it. The light action is easy on my hands. LH pinky table doesn't bother me. Tone and intonation are great. What's not to like? I guess it is a matter of personal taste.
Why try to come up with reasons for or against? I would just try vintage and modern horns if you can, and buy what gets you excited and seems to want to take you someplace. Then you will want to play it. My 2 cents. I would love to try lots more horns, vintage and modern, but time and price forbidss.
 

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Even though I love and have collected a bunch of vintage horns I do love how modern horns have better tuning and ergonomics. The newer horns from the gig 4 manufacturers just play so much easier for me . Everything is fresh and new like the pads,felts,corks etc. just make newer horns fun to play for me. Easy is good!
 

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doesn't matter what age a saxophone is,if sealing properly,they will also play to lowBb with ease.
one doesn't want to buy a vintage sax for their child because of ergonomics and tuning issues with vintage saxophones.
when one is mature,and can think about these things,then a vintage saxophone is fine.
 

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+1. One thing I have learned while tinkering with my horns is that just because it looks dark with a leak light, that does not mean it doesn't leak. It is important to not only get each pad to fully close, but to adjust things so that the pad closes evenly around the entire periphery of the tone hole at the same time. When this is achieved, low B and Bb are just a couple of additional notes. Not all techs make certain that the pad seals evenly around the tone holes.

Also, stuffy D2 disappears too.
 

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Not all techs make certain that the pad seals evenly around the tone holes.
Then they should be stripped of their soldering iron and apron and hounded to hell by five dogs with the heads of spiders. Or is it spiders with the heads of dogs? I've never been quite sure of that. But you know what I mean.
 

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Then they should be stripped of their soldering iron and apron and hounded to hell by five dogs with the heads of spiders. Or is it spiders with the heads of dogs? I've never been quite sure of that. But you know what I mean.
True. I was referring to some of the people who claim to be techs, but aren't really!
 

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The only reason to buy a vintage saxophone is if that sax speaks to you and you will love playing it more than any other.

I bought my Mark VI in 1960 for $600. Sat first in the all-state school band, then gigged with it over 10 years, had it overhauled and re-lacquered a few times, traveled the country with it, and traded it in. What $600 bought in 1960 $4,865.01 buys today. So if I had not played it, not made the gigging money, and kept it with original lacquer, it wouldn't have been an investment, just a hedge against inflation, and I wouldn't have had those years of joy playing the horn. Personally, I think a S&P indexed mutual fund is a better investment than a classic sax by far, and I'd rather have the joy of playing the horn.

Since then I've had a Mark VII, Couf Superba, Grassi Prestige, MacSax Classic (custom build for me) and a Yamaha YTS-52. I've also had a Conn (Fireworks), Pan-American and Buscher as back-up/outdoor gig horns.

The Mark VII and all the other indoor gig saxes since had better intonation than the VI, the Superba had the deepest sound, the Mac the most 'balls' and the Yamaha the sweetest sound, the most flexible tone, and the best intonation of them all.

I play the Mac indoors and the Yamaha for outdoor gigs.

IMHO play the horn that gives you the most joy, whether it is a classic, newer, or even a semi-pro model. If you love to play it, you will play better.

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Vintage horns were once modern horns and plenty of beginners started on them. Some became great, some abandoned their horns to the closet...not much has changed in that respect.
 

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Ergonomically I much prefer modern horns, which is what I think is meant by "new" in this context. There is, however, a certain artistry of engraving and construction in some vintage horns that is is simply a turn on for me. There is a uniqueness, brand to brand and even horn to horn within a brand that is rare in modern horns. Most seem to be minor variations of the same blueprint. There are some real bargains out there in the vintage horn world if somebody wants to take the time and effort to find them.
 

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~ doesn't matter what age a saxophone is,if sealing properly,they will also play to lowBb with ease.
~one doesn't want to buy a vintage sax for their child because of ergonomics and tuning issues with vintage saxophones.
~when one is mature,and can think about these things,then a vintage saxophone is fine.
1) absolutely. If one has difficult getting low Bb on their horn but can get it fine on others, 90% likely the horn has a leak.

2) these may be the common reasons....but both reasons are only partially valid. to lump ALL vintage horns into having these attributes...is poppycock. Period.
I can think of 12 models off the top of my head which - in good playing shape - are great choices for young players...ergonomically, intonationally, and reliability-wise.
So yeah...that is a commonly-heard and commonly-repeated knock....but it is very much an ersatz generalization, IMHO

3) see 2).

Vintage horns were once modern horns and plenty of beginners started on them. Some became great, some abandoned their horns to the closet...not much has changed in that respect.
Yup.
 

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I am so tempted to buy the TWO2 because I really dig the copper body. I know this topic is controversial but I feel there is a slight difference compared to brass. I have been checking the forum, eBay, Reverb everyday and have not yet seen a used TWO2 with reasonable priced in the market. The cheapest new TWO2 I can find on the internet is still more than double than my Super 400 and SDA.
Maybe look for a used T902, the predecessor to the TWO2. Much cheaper than a new horn, and you may like it about the same.

Btw, these horns are bronze, not pure copper.
 

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I always like the equipment that the greats used, not because its superior [many times, it was not], but because it had something that spoke to that musician, and even the limitations will guide you towards what they did. Old keywork? Slow clunky action? Stuffy D? If that's the challenges they had with their horns, that's what pushed them to overcome, adjust, adapt. I've found, that vintage instruments when in proper working order [which is rare, because a lot of folks buy vintage to save $$, and are too tight to spend some hundreds making them right, leaving them with a poor example], are really flattering, have great volume and tone, a lot like the early recordings we all love. The advantages and the limitations of vintage gear can reveal a little of why the greats sounded as they did.
 
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