Saxophone Forum


by Ya Boi Ike
(19 posts)
3 months ago

Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

Previously, I started a forum on the best way to try different saxes and how I should go about upgrading to a pro model instrument. Now after extensive research, I've come up with my best options and the pros and cons of all of them. Thoughts, comments, and suggestions are appreciated while I continue my search.

Option Number One: Sax Dakota SDT-1200
Pros: 

  • Plays well, good tone 
  • Fair price
  • Attractive cosmetics
  • Durable
  • Fast key action

Cons:

  • Must be purchased from far away store
  • Short financing period - high monthly payments
  • Cosmetics arguably put above sound
  • Tone leaves some to be desired



Option Two: Cannonball Big Bell Series
Pros:

  • Best cosmetics on the list
  • Great ergonomics
  • Incredible tone
  • Full, dark, warm sound
  • Two necks


Cons:

  • Far more expensive than other options
  • Must be purchased from local store with short financing period
  • Takes a long time for order to be processed and delivered
  • Trivial brand, some band directors or conductors may disapprove



Option Three: Phil Barone Vintage
Pros:

  • Extremely cheap, sub $2000
  • Pretty antique finish
  • Best bang for its buck
  • Dark sound 
  • Comes with nice case and mouthpiece
  • Custom engraved


Cons:

  • Questionable seller
  • Brand not as well known
  • Tone isn't quite as good as other options
  • No financing available, must be paid out of pocket



Option Four: Kessler Custom Handmade NS
Pros:

  • Incredible price and financing ($52 a month over 5 years)
  • Very natural and raw finish
  • Powerful sound
  • Truly a "pro model" for a cheap price
  • Gorgeous engravings
  • Good case options
  • Good shop warranty and returns


Cons: 

  • I have littler knowledge than I do on other saxes, buying would be a slight gamble
  • Ergonomics seem bigger than tone



Option Five: Selmer Paris Jubilee
Pros:

  • Well known brand 
  • Crystal clear tone
  • Stunning lacquer and engraving
  • Reliable, no gamble in buying
  • Some of the best ergonomics on the market
  • Director renowned


Cons:

  • Extremely expensive
  • Easily out of budget
  • Unsuitable for marching band and other rougher gigs
  • Potentially "too professional" for what my current skill level warrants



Option Six: Used Keilwerth Shadow
Pros:

  • World renowned sound, exactly what I'm looking for
  • Well known in the saxophone industry
  • Once played by a true professional
  • Better playability mixed with more durable designs
  • Truly top of the line


Cons: 

  • Doesn't have that "new sax" feeling
  • Potentially very different sound from other people I play with, could stand out too much
  • Everything listed under the Selmer Paris Jubilee



Option Seven: Theo Wanne
Pros:

  • Exceptionally unique, one of a kind
  • Jam-packed with revolutionary features
  • Ergonomics and sound have the best balance of the list
  • Patented neck changes playing in a vastly positive way


Cons:

  • Finish isn't as attractive as other saxophones
  • Everything listed under the Selmer Paris Jubilee

 

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Replies

  1. by historicsaxwhisperer
    (214 posts)

    3 months ago

    Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

    Wow,

    I didn't put this much thought into marrying my wife. Ive had her for

    28 years now. If you put this much effort into practicing, a bundy will be good enough.

    Go pay the saxophone!!

    Reply To Post


    1. by GFC
      (716 posts)

      3 months ago

      Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

      Yeah, my saxophone started being a lot nicer to me after I started bribing her.

      I know Wayne Shorter recorded with a Bundy, but frankly his tone sucked.

      Reply To Post


  2. by GFC
    (716 posts)

    3 months ago

    Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

    It seems your budget criteria would eliminate the Theo Wanne, Keilwerth Shadow, Selmer Jubilee, and possibly the Cannonball.  That would leave the Barone Vintage, Kessler Custom Handmade, and Sax Dakota as the remaining options.  You seem to have some reservations about Sax Dakota - looks over tone - that are consistent with my prejudices.  Sax Dakota is run by the same guy who ran LA Sax, which was all about "look at me" horns that were mostly mediocre in quality and functionality.  But you could prove me wrong if you had one in your hands for testing and verification of build quality by a knowledgable tech.  I don't know if that sort of pre-purchase arrangement is available from anyone selling Sax Dakota.  

    Kessler has a good trial/return policy described on their website and, unlike too many retailers who sell horns as received from the factory, they do an in-house setup.  "That new sax feeling" is frequently not a good thing, as it often means a horn with a poor, leaky factory setup that needs costly revisions (the SA80/II has generated lots of complaints in that regard).

    I don't know what's behind your characterization of Barone as a "questionable seller."  He's one of the top mouthpiece makers and customizers in the country.  He personally enforces the quality standards for the horns that he sells.  His horns are sometimes characterized as less-expensive Mauriats.  You might be able to arrange an appointment to try out horns in his New Yawk shop.  Or you might be able to work out a long distance trial on terms that allow him to protect his own interests.  Contact him.  But don't play games with him, it makes him ornery.

    There are lots of old fogies  and snobs in the teaching world who are prejudiced against anything not Selmer or not Yamaha and are especially snobbish towards Taiwanese horns.  But such political considerations are an unnecessary complication on a restricted budget.  Cross that bridge when you come to it and validate your choice of instrument with your own playing.

    Some music programs frown on horns with unconventional finishes - gotta keep those sections looking uniform!

    If you need a horn suitable for marching band, hold on to your Yamaha.  If it gives you specific problems in certain parts of the scale, they might be related to leaks.  Get them fixed.  It might never be a horn that you love, but you can at least make sure it's a horn that doesn't get in your way.


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    1. by Ya Boi Ike
      (19 posts)

      3 months ago

      Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

      The Keilwerth Shadow is also sold on Kessler's website, so it includes their return policy and incredible financing. At $98 a month, it actually seems like a great and affordable option, and I'm loving everything I hear of them (in a very literal sense). I've boiled down my best choices to either the Keilwerth or the Kessler. Do you know any specifics about why one of them might be a better choice?
      The only problem is running the risk of them getting banged up in marching band. While I could use a school instrument for marching, I'd rather attempt to find a good warranty that would cover that, if possible. I don't want to skip out on a much-needed upgrade just because I'm scared of hurting it, though

      Reply To Post


      1. by GFC
        (716 posts)

        3 months ago

        Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

        I doubt that a warranty would cover the sort of damage that tends to occur in marching band situations, and damage would still be a bummer even if it did.  Your Yamaha or a school horn really is the best option for that situation.

        Kessler is a conscientious supplier with good horns under their house brand.  I have my doubts that they would satisfy your desire for what you hear from the Keilwerth, but I suppose there would be no harm in trying one out on trial-return.

        If you want a house-brand horn with a deeper-than-average sound, I would suggest the Barone Vintage.  The lack of house financing should not be a deal breaker for the price at which they sell.

        Reply To Post


        1. by Ya Boi Ike
          (19 posts)

          3 months ago

          Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

          Well the other ones are cheap, but my mom's not going to get me a new one just for a cheap average price. But a high end brand that's in near perfect condition for about $3200 cheaper than a brand new one is practically a steal, and it's my best selling point. I have to talk to my dad and see what he says though, and he plays an instrument so he's more inclined to say yes. If he can own four guitars, I think I deserve a second saxophone lol

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        2. by GFC
          (716 posts)

          3 months ago

          Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

          If you're looking for support for your idea that you must have the Keilwerth now, you're not getting it here.  Four grand is a serious amount of dough even for a professional.  A dream horn is for most people a long-term endeavor worth saving your own money for (and your parents might look upon it more favorably if you had skin in the game).  There will be other used Keilwerths in the market.  




          Reply To Post


        3. by Ya Boi Ike
          (19 posts)

          3 months ago

          Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

          Forgive me if I sound stupid, but what do you mean by "skin in the game?" Also that Keilwerth is sold, so too late now :/

          Reply To Post


        4. by GFC
          (716 posts)

          3 months ago

          Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

          The Keilwerth is sold?  Lucky you!  Now you can engage in a level-headed process for upgrading from your Yamaha, unfettered by impulsive decisions.  

          "Skin in the game" is a term for financial commitment.  If the folks knew you were working to save some cash for your dream horn, they might take your desire more seriously.  

          The Barone Vintage is an excellent value that seems to have a good chance of scratching that itch you were looking to the Keilwerth for.  You could contact Phil and ask him if he thinks it would be a good match for your sound concept and if so, try one out.  

          Kessler used to sell a horn called the "Sonus" that has been compared to the Keilwerth.  You could ask them if they're planning to sell them again.  

          That's about it for affordable new horns to suit your taste that I can think of.  But your options increase dramatically if you're willing to consider used.

          Reply To Post


      2. by Ya Boi Ike
        (19 posts)

        3 months ago

        Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

        Even though I do perform in Marching Band, it's just about the lowest of my priorities. I'm more of a concert person and I play all sorts of styles, mostly jazz and classical. And that recquires a more focused, truly saxophone sound that my YTS doesn't offer, if that makes sense. I'm all about playing at my absolute best, which is why I'm looking into the Keilwerth

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        1. by bjroosevelt
          (47 posts)

          3 months ago

          Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

          Are you still trying to figure out the best saxophone for you via the internet?   

          Reply To Post


          1. by Ya Boi Ike
            (19 posts)

            3 months ago

            Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

            Well the Keilwerth is pretty much my best option. My mom doesn't want to upgrade yet despite all my reasonings, so an incredible steal that won't last long is pretty much my best selling point. I'm going to talk to my father about it though and see what he says, because he plays a musical instrument too.

            Reply To Post


        2. by kelsey
          (930 posts)

          3 months ago

          Re: Tenor Saxophone Upgrade

          I only play Selmers and Yamahas. I have a Mark Vl tenor and a Yamaha YTS purple logo 62 tenor as a backup, a Reference 54 selmer alto and a Selmer Mark Vl alto. The Selmers are expensive horns so if I didn't do music for a living as I do I guess I'd play Yamahas! 

          Barry Kelsey

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