Saxophone Forum


by sax_maniac
(984 posts)
10 years ago

Happy with your junk horn? Good for you!

An email I received from a fellow SaxQuest user... "I wanted to let you know that I have a Helmke tenor sax for about 2 years now and I have never had any problems with it. It is hardly a piece of junk. I plays wonderfully and has beautiful tone. I dont think you have anything to back up your recomendation about this brand seeing as you have never played one. And as for Selmer Bundy...I bought a selmer bundy plastic clarinet in 8th grade and its a piece of junk. I'm a senior in high school now and now I just let middle schoolers use it if they forgot their instrument because its barely playable." (End of Quote) Thought this was worthy of public response. _______________ Ok?... I'm glad it's working out for you. Congratulations. Reliability of saxophones are basically an odds game - no matter what manufacturer you are talking about. There are Selmer III or Mark VI horns that are pieces of crap, but the odds are more in your favor than with a Helmke, that's for sure. I believe any modern saxophone can be set-up to play well - initially. If you care well for your Helmke, I'm sure it will hold it's own. There are music shops that will not repair or guarantee repairs for horns dumped off the long boat from China because the repairs may not necessarily hold due to the materials used or availability of replacement parts. Because of this, the distributors of these horns, in some cases, have set up repair agreements with specific shops and facilities. For example, if action can become maladjusted because someone bumped their horn the wrong way or mashed the keys too hard, how can a good repair be maintained, and should the repair facility get bagged for it? Your local repair shop will fix it? Awesome. I'm sure you will be their favorite customer before long. And what I'm sharing with you is not heresay - this comes directly from three different shops in my area. And I'm sorry that you had a bad experience with your Bundy clarinet. The fact it was made of plastic puts its quality and long-term performance at a disadvantage moreso than the fact it was a Bundy. So you maybe understand the importance of using quality materials? Is your Bundy clarinet barely playable because its design and materials are inferior or because it hasn't seen a professional set-up since the day you bought it? Maybe it's got a dog mouthpiece on it? Who knows. Some horns are worth repairing if something major goes wrong. I'd say your Helmke is not in that category, but if you love it that much, you don't care, right? My Bundy II was brand new to me in 1980. It's been through hell and back and looks like it, but plays beautifully. If it had a high F#, I'd have not bothered buying a new alto for any other reason except that I just felt like it (and when I got back into playing publicly, I didn't want to look like I stole it from a homeless street corner musician.) No need to get defensive. Just enjoy your instrument for crying out loud!

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  1. by saxgrobie
    (86 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Happy with your junk horn? Good for you!

    I agree. Ultimately, its all up to what works for YOU. Though, some saxes might work for fewer than other saxes would. There are those saxes that are pretty much for beginners. They're easy to play and learn on, but not so easy to get good on. Then there are those saxes that are for more advanced players. There's also the amazingly versatile sax that is easy to play, easy to master, and easy to listen to. Lastly, there is the in-betweener, the one that is just not quite right for anyone. Which is the Helmke?

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    1. by skittle911
      (3 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Happy with your junk horn? Good for you!

      I not as naive as you think I am. I've been a musician since I was five playing piano now up to professional level, I've played clarinet and sax for 7 years. So to say that maybe the reason I think well of the brand is because I'm inexperienced, or my clarinet was sucky because the player was sucky ("hasn't recieved professional w/e" ) is horribly wrong. You people seem to make a lot of assumptions in here. I dunno maybe u just need an ego boost for the day.

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      1. by jazzsaxman
        (28 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Happy with your junk horn? Good for you!

        I HAVE A MAXTONE ALTO AND FIND IT TO BE FINE FOR MY USE. NOTHING WRONG WITH IT. BECAUSE I AM MAINLY A TENOR PLAYER- I DO HAVE A SELMER MARK 6 FOR THE HEAVY DUTY JOBS. OTHERWISE AS AN OCCASIONAL DOUBLE- THIS $298.00 MAXTONE GOTTEN ON E-BAY DOES ME JUST FINE

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    2. by johnsonfromwisconsin
      (767 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Happy with your junk horn? Good for you!

      _maniac. I agree completely. I'd also like to comment that reputation counts for a lot. So you have a Helmke you like, that doesn't change it's abomidable reputation amongst technicians. So you like it's tone, that doesn't change the fact that it's marketed under missdirective ["Hey look, German Engineering!"] comments about it's origin designed to fool the unwary. You may like how it plays, it doesn't change the fact that there are a number of testimonials to the contrary that go into details on it's deficiencies. Whether I've personally tried a Helmke is irrelevent, as none of this above stuff originates from me. It is possible that the crap-shoot that is cheap horn QC can produce a horn that is passable. I just don't like the thought of beginners in particular having to combat that many potential horn issues. I'd personally rather spend $4000 wisely than spend $400 on something that is at best, a question mark. I don't like dissrespecting people's horns and I say what I do to dissuade people from making what I think to be a poor purchase that they might regret. Once you have it, make the best of it. I'm not a brand cheerleader nor have I any delusions about my horns being the greatest.

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      1. by golferguy675
        (600 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Happy with your junk horn? Good for you!

        Skittlez, saxmaniac didn't say the horn was bad because the player was, he suggested it might not have been set up by a pro since it was bought, so it would most likely be quite out of adjustment. Unless you're a tech, you wouldn't know that that was the problem, and yes, plastic clarinets are far less playable that traditional wooden ones. And as johnson said, it also has to do with reputation. Helmke has a terrible reputation(for good reasons) for quality and playability. You just found one that played well, which is a hard find, but no need to take things personal. If you took some old poj student Helmke from the 40's, if a pro fixed it up with a big enough budget, it could play like a pro horn. Just slap new parts on it.

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