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nosaxyet
16/08/07 09:44:58 AM
Help choosing a sax please
Hi, first post and a question I guess that has been asked by many.


I'm looking for a good instrument that will hopefully last me some while and as it is a 'life-long' ambition to learn to play as well as I can I'm hoping to find a sax that will fit the bill.

But what should I buy? Do I need to spend that much for something good?

I like the look of the Hanson and Steve Goodson altos but can find no 'independant' well informed opinions on either. Are they worth considering?

I guess the safe bet is a Trevor James or Jupiter 700 series? Any advice is welcome. A few people have suggested that I 'try' some out but to be honest apart form the finish itself I don't believe I could spot a good one from a bad one.

I'm a serious photographer and generally buy gear second hand but I know what I am looking for. Not so with a sax and so I am nervous of buying second hand other than maybe from a dealer.

My short list (in no particular order):

Trevor James Revolution II
Keilwerth ST90
Earlham EAS 309
Steve Goodson Vespro
Steve Goodson LA Sax
Hanson SA-5 or SA-8
Sakkusu Alto

Thanks in advance.

Ian

pjonah
16/08/07 10:17:21 AM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Hi Ian,

Your shortlist is fairly extensive, I think Id drop the Earlham and add something from either Yamaha or Yanagisawa.

Another new comer finding favour in these hallowed rooms is the Walstein in Phosphor bronze, I know Linky rates these as does the great man himself Pete Thomas.

Hanso also have a great reputation for sales and service which counts for a lot. Its worth arranging a day with Alistair and taking his advice, although he will only be selling Hansons and Gulf if there are any left.

With your budget I think the Walstein would present excellent value for money leaving some over to buy all the accessories that go with it, in fact Woodwind and Brass do an alto kit featuring the Walstein.


Good luck what ever you choose.

Simon

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frankb
16/08/07 11:14:26 AM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Pretty much exactly what Simon said, except I'd add that the change from the Walstein would also fund quite a number of lessons from a decent teacher...

nosaxyet
16/08/07 11:57:36 AM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Simon/Frank

Thanks for the comments. I am not worried about spending a little more to get the right sax as funds are not an issue - I hope my purchase will last me some time.



I am not familiar with the Walstein at all, will have a look at that one.

Cheers

Ian


frankb
16/08/07 1:34:44 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
nosaxyet wrote:

I am not familiar with the Walstein at all, will have a look at that one.


Hi Ian,

Yes, I think we have the same thought process on this one!

I bought just before the Walsteins came out and played it as safe as I possibly could with a Yamaha YTS275 tenor. It's a good horn and I'm sure will last me for several years, indeed I may never feel the need to change (although GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is a cruel mistress!)).

The Walsteins are half the price and so far nobody seems to have a bad word to say about them. As they're available on trial it might be worth your while taking a look. Here's a thread on the subject - http://www.breakfastroom.co.uk/index.cgi?fid=01&topic_id=1177884582

Here's a link to the saxes themselves - http://tinyurl.com/3a2o69

...and no, I'm not on commission!

Hansons are well thought of here too, and the company do seem to stand very firmly behind their products (always a good sign).

Whatever you end up with, may it bring you many years of happiness!

All the best,

Frank



rogerb
16/08/07 2:07:04 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
I'm pretty sure that none of the Hanson fans in this forum (apart, possibly, from Maria!) is 'on commission'..... speaking for myself, just 'blown away' by the absolute quality, value for money, and amazing service offered by Alastair Hanson and his team.


_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

pjonah
16/08/07 2:14:49 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
One other thought, you will have to change your name when you get it!

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nick_cook
16/08/07 3:44:16 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
...and I don't think that's possible on this forum!!!!



_________________
Hanson SA-5.

If God wanted us to be vegetarians, why did he make animals out of meat?

Pete Thomas
16/08/07 4:23:50 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Nick Cook wrote:
...and I don't think that's possible on this forum!!!!


Actually it is, but it's a very expensive process...



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xxxxxx

Pete Thomas
16/08/07 4:30:25 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
From your list I would recommend the Hanson. Sakkusu I would trust as they are from sax.co.uk a very reputable shop, I keep meaning to get over there and try them out. Maybe our very own Nachoman can give us some info as he works there.

I also find Walsteins to be very good (I currently have tenor on loan, also borrowed a Yanagisawa 901, and I think the Walstein is as good.

You need no longer believe cheap always means nasty. But don't buy a Cookie Monster saxophone.


_________________
Pete

xxxxxx

nosaxyet
16/08/07 6:01:36 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Pete Thomas wrote:
From your list I would recommend the Hanson. Sakkusu I would trust as they are from sax.co.uk a very reputable shop, I keep meaning to get over there and try them out. Maybe our very own Nachoman can give us some info as he works there.

I also find Wwalsteins to be very good (I currently have tenor on loan, also borrowed a Yanagisawa 901, and I think the Wwalstein is as good.

You need no longer believe cheap always means nasty. But don't buy a Cookie Monster saxophone.


Well a big thanks to everyone for your helpful comments. So my shortlist should be:

Hanson SA-5
Hanson SA-8
Sakkusu Alto
Walstein Alto


No comments from anyone on the Steve Goodson sax?

Oh and also, what is a Cookie Monster sax?

cheers

Ian

greg_strange
17/08/07 05:36:42 AM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
I imported a Walstein soprano and tenor sax from the UK and they are very good instruments. I would classify them as a pro-level horn on a budget. The mouthpieces that come with the horns are not too bad, but something like a Yamaha 4C would be a good starting point and get a good sax repair person to regulate and set the horn up. It then leaves you with a few quid to get something like a sax stand, Pete's DVD perhaps, and invest in a few lessons with a local sax teacher.
In regard to Steve Goodson (according to a recent interview in Saxophone Journal magazine) he used to be involved with Unison and now designs saxes for LA Sax. I think Tom Scott is now endorsing the top of the line LA Sax range called the Saxgourmet horns. Check out Steve Goodson's website for details.
Good luck with whatever horn you end up purchasing.
Regards,
Greg Strange,
New Zealand.

_________________
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pjonah
17/08/07 08:50:34 AM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Ian,

If you get time (and inclination) try visiting http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/ its interesting reading and getting an insight into what instruments are considered duffers and ones rated highly from a techs point of view.

I think Pete means a cookie monster sax is an ebay special from China, to be avoided at all costs.

Simon

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The man's an absolute shower!

rogerb
17/08/07 1:07:40 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
I personally wouldn't buy a saxGourmet sax, under any circumstances, especially if I were in Europe (as I am ).

IMO, the SA-5 is a better buy than the SA-8V, but I find 'fake Vintage ' finishes horrible, anyway.... the silver- & gold-plate models are much prettier, and I could be tempted!

The 'best buy' among the 'better-known' makers, is, IMO, the Yani S901.... still not in the same league for value as the others.

_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

linky_lee
17/08/07 3:06:32 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
I would agree with almost everything said above.
Being a Walstein owner and a Hanson owner, still not on commission though...

I think the Walstein actually represents the best value for money, and for me the best *tenor model* of the lot. I haven't tried Walstein Altos or Sopranos so I cannot comment on what I would deem better between those, but I do rate my Hanson Alto Incredibly highly.

I would also agree that the SA-5 and SA-8 doesn't have an equal quality to price ratio. With the SA-8 it's pretty much a better quality finish. I have the SA-8-24K-F (ohh fancy ) it looks lovely but I was actually going to buy the SA-5 when my dad thought since I was committed enough to buy my own sax he'd treat me a bit. Ok a lot!

So on that short-list of yours, I'd keep an open mind, and do try out the saxes! You may find you really like one because of how it feels. They all weigh different amounts, they balance in different positions on the sling, they feel different under the fingers and that's before you've even got onto the mechanics and sound!

I'm quite a firm believer in 'If it feels right to you, you'll get good responses'. You can have the worlds most technologically superior sax, but if you don't like it, you won't play very well on it.


_________________
Started December 2005
Soprano: Borgani (1950's), Yam 4C, Rico Royal 3.5
Alto: Hanson SA-8/Martin Handcraft 1925, Link Tone Edge 6, RJS 3M
Tenor: Walstein Phosphor Bronze (prototype), Link STM 6*, ZZ 3

nosaxyet
17/08/07 3:35:30 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Well thanks again for all your comments. Having though about it I think I understand the Cookie Monster reference so they are off the original list.

Hanson and Walstein look to be coming out on top at the moment so I think I will concentrate on those two and move elsewhere if I need to. I just need to find some time to check them out

Thanks again and I shall keep you informed of developments. Any suggestions for my 'new' login name - wonder what it's gonna cost to change though

cheers

Ian

bobk
17/08/07 4:13:15 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
I think they both do no-quibble return deals. So, if you can spare the money to buy two saxes for a short period, the ideal thing would be to try and get both at the same time. You could try them back-to-back (use the same mouthpiece on both) and then send back the one you liked less.

cheers,

Bob (didn't send my Walstein tenor back!)

nosaxyet wrote:
Well thanks again for all your comments. Having though about it I think I understand the Cookie Monster reference so they are off the original list.

Hanson and Walstein look to be coming out on top at the moment so I think I will concentrate on those two and move elsewhere if I need to. I just need to find some time to check them out

Thanks again and I shall keep you informed of developments. Any suggestions for my 'new' login name - wonder what it's gonna cost to change though

cheers

Ian




col9
17/08/07 4:34:45 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
I think they both do no-quibble return deals. So, if you can spare the money to buy two saxes for a short period, the ideal thing would be to try and get both at the same time. You could try them back-to-back (use the same mouthpiece on both) and then send back the one you liked less. <br>
<br>
cheers, <br>
<br>
Bob (didn't send my Walstein tenor back!) <br>
<br>
<table border=0 bgcolor='#FFF9EC' class='tableborder' cellspacing='0' cellpadding='0' style='margin-left:20px;margin-top:20px;'><tr><td class='tdborder'><div style='margin:10px;'><font class='smallfont'><b>nosaxyet wrote:</b> <br>
Well thanks again for all your comments. Having though about it I think I understand the Cookie Monster reference <img src='simpleforum_files/images/smileys/laughing.gif' border='0'> so they are off the original list. <br>
<br>
Hanson and Walstein look to be coming out on top at the moment so I think I will concentrate on those two and move elsewhere if I need to. I just need to find some time to check them out <img src='simpleforum_files/images/smileys/ermm.gif' border='0'> <br>
<br>
Thanks again and I shall keep you informed of developments. Any suggestions for my 'new' login name - wonder what it's gonna cost to change though <img src='simpleforum_files/images/smileys/cool.gif' border='0'> <br>
<br>
cheers <br>
<br>
Ian <br>
</font></div></td></tr></table> <br>
<br>
<br>

_________________
Hanson SA8 -24KF (Brand spanker)
Jupiter 767-769 (Ebay)

Friendly neighbours 9/10, no, 8/10 hang on its only 4/10 ;-)

nosaxyet
17/08/07 5:21:50 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
bobk wrote:
I think they both do no-quibble return deals. So, if you can spare the money to buy two saxes for a short period, the ideal thing would be to try and get both at the same time. You could try them back-to-back (use the same mouthpiece on both) and then send back the one you liked less.

cheers,

Bob (didn't send my Walstein tenor back!)



May be a good idea though I am so 'green' I am not that sure that I will spot anything major between them - or am I wrong here? Also, won't they expect me to 'buy something else from them' if I return one?

Col9 wrote:

I also looked at the vintage as a first choice, not just the price I actually loved the finish. In the end though frosted gold won the day.

I also have an older Jupiter 7xx, Its alright but not as good as the Hanson in both overall feel and tone.

Col.



Col

I have looked at the 'clearance' section and the prices are less, SA-5's are a great price and SA-8's less so and cetainly not as low as you paid

cheers

Ian

scooch
17/08/07 7:38:00 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Go for the Hanson!!
I've just got their student Gulf alto and the tone on this is really nice, so the more 'upmarket' SA-5 will be fab.
In fact I know it will be because my first purchase from Hanson was the ST-5 and this has an amazing tone. Even as a beginner I can hear and feel the vast improvement in quality between the gulf alto and the ST-5, and believe me the gulf has a great sound.
5 years parts and warranty, plus a great buy-back option if (in the very very very unlikely event) you decide sax is not for you!! Yeah right.!
all the best
Scooch.

frankb
17/08/07 8:42:20 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
nosaxyet wrote:
bobk wrote:
I think they both do no-quibble return deals. So, if you can spare the money to buy two saxes for a short period, the ideal thing would be to try and get both at the same time. You could try them back-to-back (use the same mouthpiece on both) and then send back the one you liked less.

cheers,

Bob (didn't send my Walstein tenor back!)



May be a good idea though I am so 'green' I am not that sure that I will spot anything major between them - or am I wrong here? Also, won't they expect me to 'buy something else from them' if I return one?


It's a fair point and subtle differences in tone may elude you. But weight, balance, quality of finish, degree of comfort in ergonomics... Play them back-to-back with the same mouthpiece and reed and you will find that differences start to show themselves.

Saxes (and all their accessories) are intensely personal things. Other people's preferences will tell you what is generally likely to be a well made and well performing sax, but won't necessarily tell you what's right for you.

As for wanting you to buy something else... I believe the trial periods are "no obligation". If on returning a sax you are made to feel that there is an obligation (I don't think for a moment that it'll happen), please do post the experience here...!



Pete Thomas
18/08/07 07:45:06 AM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Companies who offer this kind of return do not expect you to be obliged to buy something else, that's why it's money back not a credit note. They do this because they have enough faith in their own product. ie I imagine they sell more this way - many people like that kind of guarantee and are usually happy with what they get.

Of course if everybody bought from two comapnies at once knowing that one would be returned it may not be so good for the companies, but I doubt many people actually do that.

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Pete

xxxxxx

pjonah
18/08/07 08:21:17 AM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
What about "Havesaxnow"?

_________________
The man's an absolute shower!

nosaxyet
18/08/07 12:21:14 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
What about mouthpeices?

The Hanson SA-8 has a choice of Selmer S-80 C?, Vandoren or Ottolink. Which should I opt for? If I go for the SA-5 or Walstein, should I upgrade the mouthpeice and if so to what?

Also, is the finish on the SA-8 unlacquered and if so will that be a problem to keep the sax looking great on either the Vintage of S2K silver plated model?

Finally can anyone recommend a stand that is robust but great value?

cheers

Ian

pjonah
18/08/07 3:47:22 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Mouthpieces are very much a personal choice, for a starter I would get a Yamaha 4c or 5c and consider upgrading later on.

Also a sax which looks old and shabby is just the dogs B.........s, dead kewl! its also a personal thing though, so if you want your sax to look like new in five years time don't get a natural unlaquered finish.

I have a silver baritone which is hard work to keep looking new, but hey what the heck let it go, they always look better IMO when they look stressed and grubby.

I have a Rosetti stand which was cheapish and is pretty robust, I have a neat folding stand for my alto and tenor saxes.

Simon

_________________
The man's an absolute shower!

Pete Thomas
18/08/07 3:53:16 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
I agree with Simon, a Yamaha 4C is a good starter mouthpiece.

I don't see the point in getting an unlacquered saxophone. Saxrax are the satnds I like best.

_________________
Pete

xxxxxx

nosaxyet
18/08/07 6:24:55 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Thanks both but as I said, if I opt for the SA-8 (which I am begining to lean towards) it comes with a choice of Selmer S-80 C*, Vandoren or Ottolink so the Yamaha 4C would not be an option.

rogerb
18/08/07 7:46:56 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Vandorens, are, reputedly, very consistent, and I got on very easily, as a beginner, with a V5 A25 model. If in doubt, ring Hanson and ask what models/tip sizes they can supply as standard....they don't bite

Only the SA-8R is 'raw brass', all the other 8s are lacquered or silver/gold-plated.

I personally like a shiny sax(preferably 'gold' coloured), but don't like polishing, so I'd opt for lacquered or gold-plated finishes.

I think that old.... sorry 'Vintage' .... saxophones often look (and smell) pretty horrible! I really dislike the smell of raw brass

_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

Pete Thomas
18/08/07 8:13:14 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
Yes, Vandorens are good. I would choose one over a Link or Selmer s-80.

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Pete

xxxxxx

col9
19/08/07 12:30:24 PM
Re: Help choosing a sax please
I had the Ottolink with my SA-8, I cant play it yet easily so am using a 4c But its there for practice and when I fancy a challenge.

If you speak to them they will put in a ESM (4c Equiv I think) standard mouthpiece. I suppose if you're paying for a branded one though you should have a branded one.


Like people have said phone them, they are very very helpful and don't try to push you one way or the other, they just advise. Although he did warn against the raw brass one as it requires alot of work to keep it looking good.

Col.




_________________
Hanson SA8 -24KF (Brand spanker)
Jupiter 767-769 (Ebay)

Friendly neighbours 9/10, no, 8/10 hang on its only 4/10 ;-)
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