Saxophone Forum


by azurealto
(79 posts)
6 years ago

The best saxophone

What do you think is the best

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  1. by saxcompany
    (6 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: The best saxophone

    Hi, I consider the alto sax Selmer Super Balanced, Buescher Aristocrat, Conn Lady as best. Tenores MK IV of the five digits are unbeatable; already sopranos with certainty Yanagisawas, preferably with more than 15/20 years old.

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    1. by Tranesyadaddy
      (279 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: The best saxophone

      I agree with all of that, tho I would add the super balanced to the tenors as well.

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      1. by Tranesyadaddy
        (279 posts)

        6 years ago

        Re: The best saxophone

        and the MkVI for the alto list. and also a super 20.

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    2. by basssaxman88
      (68 posts)

      5 years ago

      Re: The best saxophone

      how about C Melody Saxophones? My C.G.Conn (1915) c melody works very well and in tune surprisingly, but my buescher is another story.

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  2. by cuber
    (653 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: The best saxophone

    there's bound to be a huge argument here, but personally: the conn m series. i know the mkvi's are good, but if you figure in the fact that some of them are not so good, and the bari version fails in comparison to the 12m, yea

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    1. by Namaste
      (9 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: The best saxophone

      I purchased (new) a Yamaha YTS62II two years ago. I purchsed (new) s Selmer Super Action 80II about four months ago. The 62II positioning of the low and side keys are wonderful, the action is always there, and it will wisper like a Queen or scream like a pissed off dog. The 62II will produce a great tone, but lacks personality. I love my Yamaha!! The Selmer 80II and I produce "the tone". The 80II low keys and side keys are not friendly. They are both top of the line horns and I'm lucky to have in my family..

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    2. by cuber
      (653 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: The best saxophone

      by m series i mean the 6/10/12 m

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  3. by speedy_1424
    (23 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: The best saxophone

    eventhough i play on a selmer, i just recently tried a yamaha and those seem like better horns. i'd like to have more time with one to be sure...but that's my opinion

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  4. by I8BurntToast
    (5 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: The best saxophone

    I liked all of the pro models that I have ever played, this includes Selmer, Keilwerth, Cannonball, Yamaha, yani, and the P.mauriat's. But out of all of them I did love the Cannonball's that much more with the Keilwerth's in a close second followed by the Yamaha's. The yamaha's custom z not only sounds as good or better than a selmer but it's almost a $1000 cheaper! And Cannonball's are cheaper than that!

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  5. by swingstreet
    (315 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: The best saxophone

    Personally, the best horns I ever played were the Conn M series saxes. I've yet to play a VI that has the depth of tone these horns have. Personally, I don't give a damn whether the ergonomics of a VI are better or not. The Conn in my experience just sounds better, and has a richer sound than any Selmer I've tried. The Martin is another one that I find is too under appreciated, but can compete with any horn out there. Having said that, it's still best if you try a bunch of horns and make your own decision based on what you like about it, not your teacher or well-meaning friends. I had a 16 year old kid walk into my shop with his dad to get a Mark VI, but he ended up walking out with a 10M. The kid was smart and chose the horn on sound, though initially he asked for a VI because that's what everyone told him to buy. Well, he tried them both and went away with the Conn. Go figure.

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    1. by kelsey
      (801 posts)

      6 years ago

      Re: The best saxophone

      People have different ideas so far as what sounds good to them. If you have played a Conn a lot , have that sound in your mind as being your sound, look no further. Still, with mouthpieces and some time, you can probably get the sound you like with the selmer and without the not so good ergonomics of the Conn. Personally I have tried the Conn, although the sound isn't bad, and I find uncomfortable to play. ButI have always played a Mark Vl so I guess you could say, beauty is in the eye of the saxholder....Kelsey
      Barry Kelsey

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      1. by swingstreet
        (315 posts)

        4 years ago

        Re: The best saxophone

        Actually, the ergonomics of a 6M are fine. Everything is where it should be. The left pinky cluster is far to the left for sure, but it is wider, and the low Bb key wraps around the B, making chromatics easier, because you can move your pinky straight across rather than have to shift down. It's just a different sense of ergonomics from a Selmer. At any rate, I work for a woodwind shop, have for years, and have played literally hundreds of Mark VI's. Only one in those hundreds really impressed me and gave me that "wow" feeling when I blew into it. Sorry, but I just don't think Mark VI's are all they're cracked up to be. You really have to wonder why you can find an overabundance of Mark VI's on the market. Every shop, every vintage sax web site has more Mark VI's than any other sax out there. Aside from the prices they command, if the horn was so great, why do so many people want to sell theirs? For Selmer, I always thought the Balanced Action was a better horn. But that's just me. I think a lot of people have heard the mantra about Mark VI so much, that those who never played one are envious of those who have one and want to own one. Also, I know too many players who own one for status. Ask them what they play, and they puff up their chests when they say "Mark VI", as though because of that, they're the shit. Well, aside from my Conn and Martin, I've played other horns that sounded better than a Mark VI, but that's just my opinion. I know players who traded their Mark VI's for other horns. Seriously, if the Mark VI was all that, why would they have traded? It comes down to this. The player makes the horn. There is no magic horn out there. As long as the horn is well made and set up right, and the player practices, then good music and good sounds will come out of any horn they choose. Hell, I recently played a Buffet 400 matte lacquer alto that played and sounded better than just about any other horn in the shop, including the top of the line Selmers. Anyway, I would reiterate my advice. Play as many horns as you can, then decide which one is best for you. Do not buy a horn because that's what everyone tells you to buy. If they really think you should have a particular horn, let them buy it.

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    2. by LC
      (25 posts)

      5 years ago

      Re: The best saxophone

      The best saxophone is the one I play, a 1938 Selmer. The instrument itself means nothing. The player is what matters.

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      1. by cuber
        (653 posts)

        5 years ago

        Re: The best saxophone

        any reasoning behind your choice? and if the instrument doesnt matter, why is yours the best? and i just read this post.... didnt realize how many of you are selmer players.... yuck.

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        1. by LC
          (25 posts)

          5 years ago

          Re: The best saxophone

          It is the best for me. Prior to purchasing this horn I tested as many as I could get my hands on. I was working at a music store at the time so i played the Yamaha Z and custom, Selmer series III, reference 54 and 36, all the Guardala models, and several mark VI's. (I did play an old Conn that was amazing but sadly it was not for sale) I had serious issues with all of the new horns. Some of them were unplayable. (I am willing to get into that later if you must know) Perhaps I was somewhat foolish in saying that the instrument does not matter. (note the time of the post) However, I think you would agree that one of the many great aspects of playing the saxophone or any wind instrument is that you cannot buy a great sound. One must invest countless hours of practice. If you do not like Selmer players you are missing out on many of the greatest. I can suggest a few if you would like.

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          1. by cuber
            (653 posts)

            5 years ago

            Re: The best saxophone

            ok, fair enough. i am curious as to why newer horns didnt work for you, though. Sure, you cant buy great sound. but the instrument can make it very easy to go where you want to go with your playing. never said i dont like selmer players... i just dont like selmers (im a yamaha guy) What are you talking about time for? theres only one recognized 4:30, and its in the mid-afternoon

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          2. by LC
            (25 posts)

            5 years ago

            Re: The best saxophone

            I seriously considered buying a Yamaha 82z. The horn felt and played great but the sound just wasn't right for me. With the Yamaha Custom, the Reference 36 and some of the Mark VI's I tried it was nearly impossible to slur octaves. In some cases the low register responded the same with the octave key depressed. There was nothing mechanically wrong with horns. Generally I think Yamahas are very good but I did try an older Custom recently that played extremely flat. It was almost an Ebb saxophone. I could not afford a Selmer so I got an older Yanagisawa 991. It is quite bright but it tunes well and the altissimo screams. I think it was around 3:00am when I responded to this post. It was one of many that night but I remember few.

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          3. by cuber
            (653 posts)

            5 years ago

            Re: The best saxophone

            whatever works for you. I think the older customs DID have problems. yamaha has fixed them. in shwoodwind.co.uk, the guy reviews a custom, and it had a tuning problem similar.... well, yamaha supposedly made it better. havent checked for myself though

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        2. by MartinMods
          (63 posts)

          5 years ago

          Re: The best saxophone

          There are plenty of great horns, which are "artist" class instruments. Choosing which to play is simply a matter of personal preference. I played Mk6's (SATB) for 35 years in recording studios. A few years ago I came to the realization that though the Selmers sounded great, the Vintage American sound was what I was looking for. I sold my 82,020 tenor and bought a 300,996 King Super 20. The King was great, but then I heard John Michalak demoing a The Martin Tenor on a CE Winds auction, and it was all over. The Martin has a huge sound and what's more, a "zing" in the upper register that won't quit. I got goose bumps hearing it and my stomach did flip-flops. That was the sound I had been trying to get out of Selmers for so many years. I got The Martin ATB, made some new keys for them so they are comfortable, and now I'm set. A very fine Mk6 Jazz tenor recording artist (3 CD's released as leader with Randy Brecker as side man) just ordered a fully modded The Martin Tenor from me. After A/B'ing a Martin against his Selmer, he said there was no question as to which sound and response he preferred. With the ergonomic and mechanism modifications now available, the Martin saxes will be a good choice for players looking for something special. He promised that his 4th CD will be on the Martin. I'll reveal his name and have him post a review of the horn here once he gets it back. I have Conn Chu's, 10m's 12m's, Wonders, Kings, and Bueschers here for mods, and they are ALL absolutely great sounding/plaing horns.

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        3. by Tranesyadaddy
          (279 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: The best saxophone

          I can end this discussion right here.. it's any genuine Selmer.

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          1. by swingstreet
            (315 posts)

            6 years ago

            Re: The best saxophone

            That doesn't end the discussion. While a Selmer is a good choice, my experience shows me that they are NOT the be-all and end-all of the saxophone world. My old Conn and Martin beats any Selmer I've tried(not ergonomically, true, but where it counts, the sound). Anyway, there are still other choices and Semer is one of them, not the only one.

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        4. by Hunter R.
          (13 posts)

          5 years ago

          Re: The best saxophone

          I like the Selmer Super Action Series III, and Cannonball makes very good saxes. Hunter R.

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        5. by stealth_swimmer
          (7 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: The best saxophone

          depends on what you're looking for in an instrument, but I tend to favor Selmer Paris. I've played a few Yamahas (although I don't think they were pro horns, I think they were intermediates) and they sounded fine but had HORRIBLE tuning problems in the middle and very high registers.

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        6. by swingstreet
          (315 posts)

          6 years ago

          Re: The best saxophone

          Well, there are several good brands, vintage and new. It all depends on the sound you're looking for, what you can afford. Try out some horns and determine that for yourself. Sure, you can get good advice here, but the proof is in the playing. I've had guys come into my shop wanting a Selmer or Yamaha, but walking out with a P. Mauriat or Yanigasawa. So try some instruments, then make a decision.

          Reply To Post


          1. by JBTSAX
            (364 posts)

            6 years ago

            Re: The best saxophone

            The best saxophone is the one you've got in your hands if you like the look and feel of it and the sound you are making. Everyone has a slightly different concept of sound they want to achieve. The mouthpiece and reed determine the greatest portion of the sound, perhaps 70 - 80 %. The saxophone itself determinesthe rest. It all has to start with the concept of sound in the player's mind. The purpose of the equipment is simply to provide the most efficient way to achieve that sound. The best saxophone? There is no one answer that is true for everyone. John

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            1. by Namaste
              (9 posts)

              6 years ago

              Re: The best saxophone

              Brother ------You are soooooo right !!!

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              1. by saxophonist_104
                (148 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                My gorgeous nickel-plated Wexler alto. 'course I'm a bit biased. . .

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              2. by chalazon
                (547 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                jbt's right. I bought a yamaha "61 tenor brand new in '73..I still play this horn..never found one I liked that much better..it depends on you and what you want..I play a conn 6M and dig it..whatever floats your boat..

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              3. by saxjunkie89
                (393 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                I'd have to say the best saxophone I ever played was a King Zephyr Tenor that resides at our middle school. There is actually pictures of it on Radjammin's site: www.vintagehorn.com If anyone remembers that site.

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              4. by Lotus54
                (32 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                I agree. There is no 'best' saxophone. It depends on the individual horn and player/mp combo- AND what the player is trying to achive/type of music. For me, I owned a very nice early 60's Mk VI that I bought in '74. I really liked it, but I tried a new Selmer Ref 36 a few years ago (from SaxQuest). I kept the Mk VI until I could decide if I'd keep the new horn, or old one. After much playing, recording, listening etc- the 36 sounded better, played better, was more in tune and wasn't 40 years old. I sold the Mk VI for enough to pay for the new Ref 36 and have never been sorry that I did so. If I was playing in a loud rock band or something- I would have kept the MK VI. It was brighter and edgier. But I am working toward a bigger/darker sound (think Yusef Lateef/Dexter Gordon) and this gets me closer. Plus it is a LOT more in tune, I like the egenomics better and it even looks good. The bottom end of the horn is huge! A nice loud Bb will shake the house. For alto- the best one I've tried so far is my old Selmer Super Balanced Action (around '48). I was keeping my eye out for a tenor of this vintage before I got the 36, but never found one to try that came up at the right time. It is a very 'iquid' horn, incredibly responsive and a great sound. Not as in tune as the 36. Would I like a really good 'Super' tenor better than the 36? I don't know until I try it (and can't afford it right now anyway). I have a MK VI soprano I quite like, but I haven't tried out more than a dozen or so sopranos. I have no complaints. I tried some old Conn tenors. They sounded great but I hated the way they played. Plus the intonation was terrible compared to the 36. I can see once you figured them out why someone would really like them, but not for me. I really didn't like the Buschers I've tried, nothing was where I was looking for- but perhaps if I grew up on them I'd love 'em. I've played an old King Alto (super 20?) silver plate that I really liked too. Some Yamahas I've tried played well, but the earlier ones wouldn't stay in adjustment. I hear they have solved that problem. A good buddy of mine loves vintage horns, thats pretty much all he plays now. The earlier the better- with vintage type MPs too. But I think he has been doing a lot of 'legit' small group stuff lately. Certainly a good player can make anything sound good, it just may not work *with* the person as well as a different horn might. Mark

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              5. by azurealto
                (79 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                Thanks all of you for posting! i agree with JBT and Lotus54 that there isn't a single saxophone to fit everyones needs, but there're lots of good ones out there, depending on what you're looking for. Thanks, azurealto

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              6. by cuber
                (653 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                lotus54- there is absolutly no horn that plays "in tune" its up to the player to make the minor adjustments to play "in tune" and if you are playing a horn that you arent used to, you tend to play slightly out of tune

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              7. by Lotus54
                (32 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                >> lotus54- there is absolutly no horn that plays "in tune" its up to the player to make the minor adjustments to play "in tune" >>. Yes, I agree. But some are a heck of a lot more in tune (with itself) that others! Some of those old horns were all over the place. you could adjust, but it is always nice if you don't have to. Mark

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              8. by cuber
                (653 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                i agree. I dont want to do any more work than i have too. If you are trying a horn and one note in perticular is REALLY off, check for damage around the tone hole. When i was looking for my bari i tried a KILLER 12m. The only problem was the low and middle E were ridiculously off. There was evidence of a dent that was taken out near the tone hole. the dent had messed with the tone hole, which messed with the "in-tune-ness"

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              9. by The Connman
                (4 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                There is no true answer to this question.....except that the best sax is the Mark VI. Case closed.

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              10. by kelsey
                (801 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                For someone who calls himself Connman, you now have stirred up a hornets nest. However, I agree that the Mark Vl is the best sax as far as I'm concerned..........Kelsey
                Barry Kelsey

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              11. by The Connman
                (4 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                Yeah, my username is more a play on my REAL name, not the brand Conn. I am simply giving my opinion though, the Mark VI was the best horn ever forged. Ever since its production, horns have been trying to emulate and downright copy the MKVI.

                Reply To Post


              12. by saxxsymbol
                (217 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                The best sax I have ever played is my saxgourmet model six tenor. Period.

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              13. by cuber
                (653 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                isnt that kinda an oxymoron? typical selmer players.... (just kidding)

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              14. by cuber
                (653 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                meant that to go below connmans original post...

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              15. by saxjunkie89
                (393 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                You're right, the Mark VI is the best sax case closed. When it's in its case, and the case is closed :) By the way, I changed my mind from my previous post about my "best sax" about 6 months ago. I would have to go with any horn from any of the brands that had succumbed to Selmer before the buyout. I'm talking Martin, King, Conn, Buescher, Bundy, etc...

                Reply To Post


              16. by Altonian11
                (39 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                My band director is always pushing for Yamahas and never wants us to branch out. : (

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              17. by saxjunkie89
                (393 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                For Yamaha, it really depends on the style of playing. Yamahas generally produce a brighter sound, compared to say, Keilwerths, which make a darker sound. Yamaha's are overused in my opinion :)

                Reply To Post


              18. by kelsey
                (801 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                I have said in the past that my favorite modern horns were the Yamaha professional line. I play Mark Vls, but I have used the 62 as a backup horn. Last week I had the opportunity to play a Yamaha YAS 82z horn at my son's house in New York. It was sent to him to review for a jazz magazine. It was a good solid horn but in no way comes close to my Mark Vls. I don't think any saxophone will ever come close to the excellence of the Selmer Mark Vl. This isn't just my opinion but most everybody else. Just check out what those old horns sell for. I wish I could buy a horn with the quality of the Mark Vl just to have a new horn to play. Oh well, it's all a bunch of (deleted).....Kelsey
                Barry Kelsey

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              19. by saxjunkie89
                (393 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                I'm not saying that Yamahas are bad, not at all! I just think that they're WAY too overused. At my college, the sax studio is comprised mostly of Yamaha players, with 1 or 2 Mark VIs, some SA80II/IIIs, and ONE vintage horn (Conn Chu Berry Tenor). They're excellent players, the 875 being my preference, but way too many people are Yamaha anymore when it comes to a new horn. I do abhor YS-23s, though.

                Reply To Post


              20. by chalazon
                (547 posts)

                6 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                I love my YTS 61.

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            2. by azurealto
              (79 posts)

              6 years ago

              Re: The best saxophone

              I agree with JBT!

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              1. by chuberry
                (2 posts)

                5 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                the best horn i ever played was a 1933 king new voll true silver plated tenor. Most people say these horns have intonation problems, but i think that was there mouthpiece not liking the horn. I have no intonation problems with mine and it has an amazing sound.

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              2. by Lotus54
                (32 posts)

                5 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                A buddy got three horns in to possibly buy. All tenors. Buscher, 30's I think- silver plate just redone. Another same model, original Conn - 20s model (I forget exactly which one now) Buscher early 40's I think (could use a 'tune up'). I compared them all to my Selmer Reference 36. Guardala MP- 'traditional' gold plate, around a 10, big chamber. I liked the silver plate 'completely overhauled' Buscher the best of the vintage horns. It played by far the best, sounded good - but perhaps a bit on the 'bright' side for one of those. The Conn was a bit stuffy on the lower stack, the non- overhauled Buscher was ok, but didn't play nearly as well. All the ones that hadn't had work done I'm sure would have been WAY better with a good service. I hated the key layout of the early Conn, but to be fair the G# key was bent. I didn't like the flat little finger keys either. I had less trouble with the layout of the Buscher, but I'm so used to Selmer layouts that it would take me awhile to switch. Some were just different, some I think are not as good. It was interesting to try out a bunch of vintage horns at once, I haven't done that in a long time. Plus comparing it to a horn that is supposed to be 'in the spirit of' a 1936 horn seemed fair. I still liked the Ref 36 the best by far- HUGE bottom end, more in tune with itself and I think a bit more flexible in tones it could get. Of course, all that is just how I percieved them, with how I play and what I'm looking for. I still sounded like me on all of them, but some worked better with the sound I'm looking for than others. Mark

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              3. by Lotus54
                (32 posts)

                5 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                It was a Conn 'New Wonder' I think Buscher Aristocrat.

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              4. by basssaxman88
                (68 posts)

                5 years ago

                Re: The best saxophone

                What would be the best sounding C Melody saxophone that you've ever heard personally?

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