Saxophone Forum


by weijj
(2 posts)
10 years ago

Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

I`ve been searching for a new alto saxophone lately, and I came across information about two very extraordinary saxophones but I`m not sure which one to pick over the other. Both are SOLID sterling silver (neck, body, AND bell!) which I’ve heard creates a bright and punchy, more vibrant sound because of the way the silver vibrates in comparison to normal brass. First, there`s the Selmer Series III Solid Sterling Silver Alto Saxophone. It`s sounds like an outstanding saxophone, but it lacks any engraving whatsoever. I know, I know. The engraving on saxophones makes NO difference at all and it doesn`t effect the playing, but I`ve always liked the look of professional saxophones that are engraved. The next one is the Yanagisawa a9937 Solid Sterling Silver Alto Saxophone. This one also sounds like an outstanding saxophone and it is completely engraved from the neck all the way to the bell! Some of the keys are even engraved. It is absolutely stunning! Both alto saxophones are top of the line and are made by very prestigious companies. They have very similar qualities. Does anyone have any suggestions as to which one they think would be a better choice? I know there`s been a lot of conflict over whether Selmer is better than Yanagisawa and the other way around, and I`ve heard from many that, although both are extremely fantastic, Selmer is the better brand in the end. Any suggestions to help me decide would be greatly appreciated! If you have tried either of these saxophones, please let me know how you personally think they felt. Thanks! For information on the Yanagisawa a9937: www.yanagisawasax.co.jp/en/alto/9937 For information on the STANDARD Series III Selmer (should be the same specs as the solid silver with just a few minor differences): www.selmer.com/woodwind/parissx/alto.html

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  1. by johnsonfromwisconsin
    (767 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

    That Yani sounds quite appealing (and expensive) "I`ve heard from many that, although both are extremely fantastic, Selmer is the better brand in the end." I tend to forge what a lot of people say when comparing horns. Most of the time when someone says "brand X is better than Y", it invaribly includes a highly subjective basis which may or may not apply to you.

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    1. by Spunky2sax75
      (75 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

      I haven't played the Series 3 or that kind of Yanagisawa, but heres my opinion as far as the companies are concerned... I've been playing my schools Yanagisawa A-901 for a bout2 and a half months now, and I decided to get out my old Bundy II (made by Selmer) an I was amazed at how much I liked the Bundy after the Yana. Personally, i'm a selmer kind of guy. I think Yanagisawas have horrible tone, but thats just me... try to find somewhere that will let you try each of them and decide for yourself.

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      1. by chiamac
        (586 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

        I'm not a big fan of polished silver and brass on the same piece... it looks tacky or something. I am a big fan of the Yanagisawa A992PG... www.saxophones.co.uk/acatalog/saxophones_co_uk_Yanagisawa_Alto_Saxes_57.html (on the bottom, just found the site on a yahoo search) now that's a cool horn! It would kinda be neat to get a silver plated or solid silver sax, then take some steelwool on it and put some neat patterns and crap on it. That would also help with fingerprints and what not. But I'm not sure of anyone crazy enough to do that to a high polish silver sax hehe.

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        1. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

          I play a silver plated III and it's definitely to the brighter side of the various horns I've tried. I would surmise the silver plating would play similar to a horn that is unlacquered. If sterling horns play even brighter or "sweeter", I'd be afraid that the characteristic saxophone tone might get lost. Haven't tried one. Definitely try before you buy or settle on a rock solid return policy. A sterling horn might not give you the tonal qualities you expect. And BTW, I have taken steel wool to old polished silver plated keys before. I don't have the balls to take 0000 to my III, though. The engraving is just too beautiful.

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        2. by kesslermusic
          (8 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

          I have had both in my store. Both are great saxophones. However, we prefer the Yanagisawa. Just find it more open and more comfortable. Whichever you get though, you will not be sorry. I can say that every technician/player that played the Sterling Series III, still prefered the Reference 54 alto over it. When they play the A9937 next to the Ref54, its Very close and some take the yani, some take the reference.

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      2. by keilwerth_Shadow
        (1 post)

        9 years ago

        Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

        Before you post on a thread about two types of saxophones u should play both the saxophones, the bundy II is the lowest model selmer makes, and the a901 is the worst that yanagisawa makes the series three and the yanagisawa in question are the two high end models.

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    2. by paintandrecord
      (1 post)

      9 years ago

      Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

      I had a Selmer Solid Silver. Recorded it a few times and I liked the sound I was getting. I wouldn't say bright, because I have a Selmer SA 80 thats silver plated and that is bright. It seemed to have a nice warm core with a slight buzz on the top. Projected very well. The action is what got me. When I first got it, I felt like my forearms would look like Popeye after a while. REALLY hard. I had it lightened by a very good tech, and is got very sloppy. Not nimble. Never could get it feeling right. Ended up selling it and getting a Super 20. Can't say enough about that horn. Hey, and it has a solid silver neck. What more can a saxophinist want.

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    3. by ameetp
      (14 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

      The Serie III is probably the better choice. If the engraving is that important to you, send it to Woodwind Brasswind and get a custom engraving. Its not cheap, but if you can afford a solid silver Paris, you can drop a few hundred on a nice engraving.

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      1. by YanagisawA-901
        (312 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

        Free up your sound with an unlacquered sax! Lose the dampening effect of all that lacquer and let your horn resonate freely. And, if you like your sax to have a vintage look it will soon start to tarnish if you don't polish it. is it just me or is that the stupidest thing youv ever herad?? your horn will soon begin to tarnish.. hahaha i just saw that on the yani link the dude sent.. but i donno bout the horn bro.. im startn to think selmers play better but the yani does look damn sweet my old sax teacher has one

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        1. by Radjammin
          (255 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

          I going to have to agree to not comment on a top of the line horn when you play the bottom of the line. I think the Bundy II is a fine horn for the end of the market its in. Maybe you can talk about what you like about silver horns. I haven't played either but I did play a silver plated 1950's Silver Bari some time in college. It had a very warm tone and I was allways told people like to listen to it. As far as upkeep I don't remember it being much but people always say the tarnish thing and that much silver might be a headache to keepup with, The Bari had recently been overhauled. I have played regular Selmer IIIs shortly and if you can connect the action with a warm sound that's great. The only thing I would worry about is Selmer III in my humble opinion are very bight horns, to the point of being irritating to listen to. That could also be effected by the players that played them in collage were usually rich snobs and I usually can't stand to listen to legit players unless they are really good at conveying a music message. [Edited my own rant out, not related to topic NO MORE MULTIPHONICS!] So pluses, Warm sound and it's not a lauquer horn. Cons, High Maintainance for look. Have you thought black nickel? You could do silver keys? I just bought a Cannonball with that look, waiting for it. Just sent back a Chicago Series with that look and I got it with HEAVY Tarnish on the keys. They were very nice but WOW, tarnish build up.

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          1. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Well you can guess which one I prefer. I will be buying my own Sterling Series 3. and all info I have says -there is nothing like it -VERY OPEN- and resonant, less resistive than the brass series 3. This is straight from the horse's mouth . Yanis are already bright too bright silver would be a bit much . As for choice, I rather think that Selmer might stop making these and that will mean that they will increase in value better than a Yani,, should your children want to sell the inheritance one day. As for brass and silver on the same horn ( not my favorite combo ) Selmer cannot make these any other way . I wrote Selmer about making it in silver only even if the keys needed to be silver plated . Their answer was-- brass is needed for the keys for strength sake-- and should they silver plate the keys then the keys would be of different color to the body since it is Sterling . I would keep this as stock as possible believe me saxes without engraving age better. I would like to see Selmer identify these a little different though by labeling the bell or so . Any way enjoy it .

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          2. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Hold off on the purchse,,,, my sterling series 3 is in Canada at customs I will let you know how it sounds in a week or so after I give it a good run !!!!!

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          3. by connsaxman_jim
            (2336 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Buy an old Conn New Wonder Series II, a transitional horn, or an early 6M from about 1926-1936 in silver with rolled tone holes. Then, have it completely overhauled; new springs, kangaroo pads with metal resonators, corks, etc. Have the body chemically cleaned and polished. The sound is amazing, and these old horns play so easy! You can't buy a better horn today!

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          4. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Say connsaxman the original question was concerning sterling not OLD NEW WONDER or NEW OLD WONDER or OLD NEW NO WONDER or WONDER if OLD IS NEW or NEW IS OLD MY WONDER IS why can you not lay off the OLD proselyting. You are sounding like you are in some cult following. Do you bow down and light candles to these mummys????? Or maybe are you trying to get us all onto these relics so that you are left with new horns at low prices all to yourself?

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          5. by Radjammin
            (255 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            If you haven't figured it out Jim has a Shrine to Charles Gerard Conn in his Basement. He visites it daily and makes live selmer offerings to his demi God. All hail the power of the Mighty CONN.

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          6. by connsaxman_jim
            (2336 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Amen Radjammin! Selmer 4 Ever's musical style could not be more different than mine. He is a classical player who likes the more sophisticated (AKA Snobby) tone of his Selmer Mark 7. My other theory is that the barometric pressure up there in Canada has effected his hearing! I like the bold and brassy, sometimes sassy sounds of my old Conns and Kings. I play jazz, bob, blues and funk. The orginal question was in regards to 2 sterling silver saxophones; a Silver Selmer Series III and a Yanagisawa A 9937. The Yanagisawa has a nice action, and the quality is very good, but it still gets a "yuck" rating in the tone catagory in my opinion. The Selmer not only gets a "yuck" rating in tone, but in quality also. I used to own one. If you want a nice Silver horn with a tone that will turn people's heads, then here are my recommendations: My first choice would be a Conn New Wonder Series II, Transitional, or early 6M in Silver. You can usually find them in need of repair fairly cheap. Give it a complete overhaul and you have one AWESOME sax! You just can't buy a horn like that today! My second choice would be a King Super 20 Silversonic if you can find one at a decent price. As for new, I would look at the Silver Keilwerth SX-90R or the Cannonball Stone Series.

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          7. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Here we go again Cryogenic Connsaxman like Rip Van Winkle should wake up ,,no sorry,,,,,, go back to sleep your out of synch with reality anyway and it will be too big a shock for you . Conn sax ,,,,I am not tying to change your mind I rather think that is futile since No one is as deaf as he who chooses to not hear.

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          8. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Should we revive Conns Con't Play

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          9. by EL Seano
            (255 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Selmer 4ever, how old are you?

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          10. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            What difference does it make and how old do you think I might be seeing that I have owned 3 mk VI -one buffet prestige -2 super action 80 -3 Series 2 - one cigar cutter - 4 Mk 7 - and now one Sterling Series 3 THIS ONLY IN ALTOs A varied soprano selection but only one tenor and a one Buffet Baritone

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          11. by connsaxman_jim
            (2336 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Buffet makes the best clarinet money can buy without a doubt! I play a Buffet R-13. FANTASTIC tone! (Not that I play clarinet too often) I've played a few of their saxophones and I was very impressed with the action and feel. I especially liked the Super Dynaction alto. Their tenors just sounded a little weak to me. You just can't beat a Conn tenor for sound! As for baritones, I can't decide what I like best; my 1955 King Zephyr II, or my 1930 Conn New Wonder Series II.

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          12. by markseez
            (17 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Good suggestion the silversonic if you want to have absolutely the Silver, you could get a regular Super-20 with the silver neck. Keilwerth says they wanted to reproduce those horns with the Sx-90r series adding the Conn rolled tone. Having tried the Shadow the feeling is comparable to the Super-20. Personnally I chose both Tenor (chu berry and S-20) after trying silver ones and the Killwert nickel and of course the Mk6, ref 36 and 54. I got two hell of a sound for the price of one.

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          13. by definition
            (963 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            Sorry Selmer 4 Ever, but Jim aint alone. Im another vintage is King afficianado... and Have my own collection of vintage horns. For that classical tone - your Selmer wont sand a Chance against my Buffet SDA alto or Big B tenor. everything else - I stand by TH&C and Super 20 Silversonic tenors now, my Martin Bari, and 6M alto As for the solid silver horn issue, if you *have* to have one of those horns get the Yanagisawa. Much better quality, and tone than the selmer these days. I personally see no need for the whole sax to be sterling though, and suggest that if you want a silver horn, just go for your favorite horn(new or vintage) and find one in silver plate!

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          14. by connsaxman_jim
            (2336 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            I find it quite remarkable the number of people who have recently purchased vintage American horns. I get several emails each day from people telling stories about the old horns that they found on ebay, garage sales, or tucked away in their uncle's closet. It's quite obvious that these people really love their saxophones. The price that some of these vintage saxophones are selling for is also quite surprising. While many are available at very affordable prices, other popular horns like the King Super 20 often sell for more than $3500 in good condition. Conn 6M's and 10M's; especially earlier models with rolled tone holes, are selling for $2,500 to $3,500! Many new manufacturers have tried to recapture some of the vintage appeal. Several manufacturers offer saxophones in Silver, with a more vintage look. Keilwerth SX-90's feature soldered on tone rings, which resemble the rolled tone holes of the vintage Conn saxophones of the 30's and 40's. Cannonball Big Bell Global Series horns are designed to produce a sound more like the King Silversonic that their namesake, Cannonball Adderly played. There are several mouthpieces available that are designed specifically for these old horns. What really surprises me is the sudden popularity of the C Melody saxophones. Many people are buying these old horns to restore and play. So many, in fact, that some companies have started making C Melody mouthpieces once again! There are even websites specifically for C Melody owners. I think many people recognize that many of the horns today just don't have the quality of the older horns. These antique American horns were built by highly skilled American craftsmen. These saxophones were built to last, and last they have! Many of them are still around 85 years later! I've been collecting vintage horns for the past 8 years. I have played all of the new saxophone models, and many vintage models. I love vintage horns! They just have character, and maybe a little magic tucked away in those stinky old cases! The Selmer snobs just don't seem to understand. They think that many of these horns are just old relics that aren't even worth the brass they were made out of! Well, I've seen more than one Selmer snob put down their Super Balanced Action or Mark VI, and pick up one of these vintage American horns! It's all a matter of preference. Different people prefer different styles and have different tastes. I've excepted that fact regardless of my own personal opinions. My time is very valuable since I have been so busy these past couple months. I regret that I haven't had the time to answer many of the posts I have read here on Saxquest. Therefore, Selmer 4 Ever, I must decline another debate with you on this topic. It seems as though it would be pointless, since I'm not about to change your mind any more than you are mine! Keep the emails coming and long live vintage American saxophones! Jim

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          15. by simonknight
            (11 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            I have been playing the sax for many years and have owned Bueschers, Mk VIs, Conns, Yamahas, I forget them all. I have settled on two altos which I find do everything I want. 1. Yani A9930. The solid silver is hugely different from a silver plate horn. The build and action are the best and the material gives a huge range and flexibility of tones from great subtley to power. I find the regular 991 a bit bland but the 9930 is fantastic. Don't see teh necessity to spend the extra $s on a 9937 2. Transitonal Conn (silver plate). Light fast action, big solid tone. Nothing else quite like it. I would only advise going for a vinatge horn as your main instrument if it's in very sound condition and free of wear in the action. Beware of badly swaged keys - they'll never stay tight and adjusted. I've made a number of attempts to like selmers but have nver found one for sale that I really loved. Since the MkVI quality control is poor both on the action and tone, but if you find a good one they can be great. I also have tenor and soprano 9930's and don;t see myself changing them ever.

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          16. by markseez
            (17 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            ConnsaxmanJim, if you have time, what do you mean by having the horn chemically cleaned? i use a neutral soap for horns, is that it or something more specialized. Polishing i red is not recommanded unless...?

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          17. by connsaxman_jim
            (2336 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            There is a chemical cleaner made specifically for cleaning brass instruments. It's a mild acid cleaner. The tech who repairs my horns uses it. It does a pretty good job of removing tarnish and corrosion. What I do with the silver horns that I have restored is I use Tarn-X and an old tooth brush to remove tarnish. An small paint brush helps to get in around the posts and keyguards. After cleaning with Tarn-X, I rinse them in warm water and polish them with a silver polish. You have to be careful with the engraving though. I would not use any type of buffer, just a soft rag, and be careful not to use anything that is abrasive. Wright's Silver cream works very well.

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          18. by JZ
            (83 posts)

            9 years ago

            Somewhat related . . . to chemical cleaning, etc.

            Best stuff I found for cleaning Ni is "Flitz". Blue and silver colored tube in triangular box. German formula, made in France, imported through Canada. Did the job where others failed. FYI.

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          19. by markseez
            (17 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Somewhat related . . . to chemical cleaning, etc.

            thank you both Jz and CsaxJ for input. Mark

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          20. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Somewhat related . . . to chemical cleaning, etc.

            So I have been playing the Selmer Solid Silver Series 3 ( alto ) for one week now and it is getting better the more I break it in . Here is my assesment the sound is rather very centered almost as if it is one tree trunk in front of you( it is by no means as wide as say a mark 7 ) which renders the sterling silver particularly adept for classical. I suppose jazz as well since this is what the mark 6 was like, Not as bright as a Mk6 however, color is very flexible it responds well and quickly this is surprising since it is much heavier than the brass version or even a plated super balanced action If you use plenty of pressure in your playing as i do ( very fast air speed and strong downward diaphramatic support) you will find that the horn can take it without cracking ppp is no problem as is fff the lower range is hefty and bold without overbooming , The attacks are clear and precise ( I like and make this a must in my playing and sax selections) the notes start as soon as the tongue releases the reed. Tuning is very good among the best I have seen and this does not come at the cost of homogeneity . The timbre is constant throughout the range I can blend it with piano, organ and even strings---- again great for classical-- jazz guys don't give a hoot . Sorry they do hoot!!!!! It will blow the whole section away with power as it has plenty , One thing though if you do not like a refined horn but rather prefer a brute THIS IS NOT FOR YOU!!!!! It is a finess horn the silver does sweeten it quite a bit but I am not sure how much is caused by the neck alone as opposed to the full silver deal. The best attribute i would say sweetness and flexibility of sound . Is it worth the money ?????? depends on you but i could live with this horn quite a while and work it. Now I wait for a factory hand picked version !!!!!

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          21. by Kitch22
            (98 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Somewhat related . . . to chemical cleaning, etc.

            Hey, I'd get a Silver Custom Z. Many people overlook the newer Yamaha horns, but I have a Custom and it's real nice. Best modern alto out there; I even think it hold's it own with a Mark VI!

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          22. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Somewhat related . . . to chemical cleaning, etc.

            Hey Kitch we are talking sterling not plated !!!

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          23. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            5 years ago

            Re: Somewhat related . . . to chemical cleaning, etc.

            So its been a while that I have this horn 3+ years ,,, it is a Serie III in sterling silver ,,handpicked at the Selmer Paris factory by Delangle ( took a while to get) It is impressive ,,sweet ,,round and precise both in intonation and sound emission,,(attacks) One reservation ,,,it is not a rock sax it is not grouchy ,,it is capable of the most fff and the softest ppp ,,very refined Is it worth the money ,,, more so than a Yani ( which costs more and they stopped the elaborate engraving of yesteryear) but still overkill ,,in my case it was same price as the regular brass model ,,, given it is sterling and hand picked ,,certainly worth every penny

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          24. by selmer 4evr
            (309 posts)

            5 years ago

            Re: Solid Silver Alto Saxophone Selection

            on 3/19/2009 12:38:00 PM So its been a while that I have this horn 3+ years ,,, it is a Serie III in sterling silver ,,handpicked at the Selmer Paris factory by Delangle ( took a while to get) It is impressive ,,sweet ,,round and precise both in intonation and sound emission,,(attacks) One reservation ,,,it is not a rock sax it is not grouchy ,,it is capable of the most fff and the softest ppp ,,very refined Is it worth the money ,,, more so than a Yani ( which costs more and they stopped the elaborate engraving of yesteryear) but still overkill ,,in my case it was same price as the regular brass model ,,, given it is sterling and hand picked ,,certainly worth every penny

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