Thursday, October 23, 2014
It's Been A Long Time, But I'm Back
I've been away for some time because a lot of things in my personal life just overwhelmed me for a while and I had to get things straightened out. I'm sure a lot of you know how it is. Sometimes life takes over and you have to do things other than what you love to do. I'm no longer working in music retail because the money just wasn't there, and it seemed that each year sales on band and orchestral instruments seemed to be go steadily down until I had to consider what is going to pay my rent and put food on the table. However, I still spent a lot of time this past year trying out many new horns as well as a few vintage horns. Also, despite the fact that at least for now, I see a downturn on saxophone sales, I am still encouraged to see many new models of saxophones with a variety of finishes coming from the established and newer manufacturers, as well as a greater number of quality student level horns for players on a budget. It's also good to see that many manufacturers have professional level horns at intermediate prices, making it possible for the working and amateur musician to have a high quality instrument that won't break the bank. Okay, so they're not Mark VI's or other high level horns from Selmer, Keilwerth, Yamaha or Yanigasawa, but they're still good instruments and play just as well when properly set up and with the right mouthpiece reed combination that fits the player.
The technology today makes it possible to offer quality instruments at budget prices. However, I still maintain that you should only buy instruments from reputable companies or dealers. EBay saxophones for $250 are not worth the money, even at that price. If you buy from EBay, buyer beware, and also make sure it's a name you know, otherwise get what you pay for, which is an inferior instrument that can sometimes feel like it's coming apart in your hands. Make sure that they have a return policy and also that they back up their instruments from any defects in materials or workmanship. Even the best saxophones occasionally have a lemon in the bunch, but most no-name brands are all lemons. I don't care if the horn is made in China, as long as a known company backs it up and maintains quality control. Yamaha makes their student and intermediate lines in China, but since they maintain strict quality control, the instrument is still just as good as always. Saxophones made in Taiwan have really come up in quality, and I will venture to say that many of them are as good as anything made anywhere else. I will later review a few of these, as I was impressed with what I tried from Taiwan lately from manufacturers that haven't quite established themselves here yet, but have already made saxophones for reputable makers. I recently tried two altos from a brand called Chateau, which is made by Tenon in Taiwan. I believe they also make Steve Goodson's saxophones, The Super 400 and The Voodoo Rex, but unless I can make it down to New Orleans and get my hands on them to test them out, I can't review them. However, my next post will be a review of the two Chateau Altos, the TYA-753ANE3 with a vintage copper finish, and the TYA-760E3 made from solid nickel. Both horns impressed me a lot!
Sad to say that the Powell Silver Eagle had to be discontinued. The market just wasn't there, and product development became too costly, as was the horn itself. However, for the few that have been made and in the hands of players, it will no doubt become somewhat of a collector's item. It's a shame really that the market wouldn't support a high quality instrument made in the US, but that is the reality. This is why we still have to rely on Asian manufacturers in order to get new quality instruments that we can still afford. Maybe one day again, we can build a great saxophone here and bring back the spirit of companies like Conn, Buescher, King and Martin, which at one time built some of the finest saxophones ever made. Oh well!
I want to thank all of my friends and followers for their support and kind comments. This is the main reason I keep up this blog. I love the saxophone, and I like to also help people make the right choices when they are in the market for a horn so they get the best for what they can afford. Thanks again everyone, and now that I'm back in action, I hope you'll continue to enjoy my reviews and articles!