Howarth's Chiletern [Report Abuse]

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Manufacturer: Howarth's Chiletern
Model: A900 Alto

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By: Nick Webb  See all of this user's reviews  on Mar 28, 2013


    The first thing that people comment on about this sax is the way it looks. And that’s before they hear the way it sounds.


Having played this horn exclusively for the past four years, gigging it regularly and playing a wide variety of styles: classical, jazz, rock, funk, strange experimental fusion… And this sax has managed to handle them all. The tone is clear as a bell, allowing for piercing high-register sounds and growling lows. Each note which comes out of the instrument is distinctive, which creates even long, high-speed passages to sound very much like a series of individual notes, rather than just a wash of sound. The action on this horn is incredibly light, meaning that little or no effort is needed to press down any key, and makes faster passages all the easier to play without making it unbalanced.

Tonally, this horn is extremely flexible, giving off a warm, rounded sound, suitable for flowing, slow classical passages as easily as a more raw, raunchy sound, perfect for funk and rock styles.

The vintage finish on this horn is surprisingly robust and, despite four years of hard service, shows little in the way of every day dings and scratches which other instruments collect in day to day use. However I am starting to notice a slight build-up of a copper residue on the inside of the bell, nothing that seems structural, but possibly showing the beginning of a slow erosion process on the finish.  The vintage look is complimented by the unusual green-y Mother-of-pearl inlays on the key-work.

Occasionally this horn has a couple of issues with control over leaping large ranges of notes, and holding lower octave frequencies does from time to time lead to higher harmonics coming through.

This sax is incredibly light-weight, making for very comfortable playing, and meaning that carrying the horn around is a lot less effort with many other, similar quality horns, which is fantastic for touring and regularly gigging musicians. The horn comes in a snazzy zip-up, hard shell case, moulded closely to the body of the sax. This closeness does mean that there is no room for any of the extras which anybody keeps in their cases- spare reeds have to be kept to a minimum, and your sling has to be kept inside the bell of the saxophone. The case itself, whilst strong enough for standard use, does scratch and graze with any unusually heavy duty use. The hard shell is quite thin which means that some deeper grazes feel like they have cut quite close to the inside of the case.

Overall, I love this horn. It has everything that the modern player really needs. An easy playing instrument which can handle any genre and survives the rough and tumble of heavy use and being thrown into the backs of vans and cars, this is a professional standard horn which is very competitive in its pricing.

(Played using a Mayer Rubber Mouthpiece, Rovner “light” leather ligature and Vandoren Jazz 3 ½ reeds)


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