Sunday, November 27, 2016

Setting Something Straight

I have been dealing with some health issues lately and so haven't been playing or looking at any new or vintage horns lately.  However, not too long ago, someone commented on a review that I did for the Phil Barone Saxophones "I was looking for a serious review of these horns. Sounds like you got one free or are best friends with Phil. Too bad. I just want an honest hard review."

I've stated this before, and I will say it again.  I have played the saxophone for most of my life.  I have worked in music retail, have learned a lot of information from my trusted old tech and the other techs I come into contact with.  I look up information on saxophones all the time.  I write the various manufacturers building horns today, and I research all the information I can about vintage horns.  That goes with what I had already learned from my father and other players when I was young.

While I hardly consider myself a great player, I still love to play and the saxophone always will be my main instrument of choice.  I started this blog because I also enjoy discussing my favorite instrument, and the greats who have played and play them now.  I do not consider myself an "expert", especially because I am not a technician, and only know how to do the most basic adjustments to the horn.  However, I still have done my research, and when I write something, I try to make sure my facts are straight.

When it comes to reviewing a saxophone, one thing really needs to be made clear.  I do not ever receive any free instruments or products.  All of my reviews are based on my having handled them and playing them.  There are other reviews on the web where they get into a detailed discussions about mechanics, how it performed when they played this scale and this key, how their mouthpiece affected its sound, etc.  All of the saxophones I've played for review were either in the shop when I worked in music retail, or belonged to friends of mine who allowed me to try out their saxophones.

 My reviews are based on a very simple criteria.   The first consideration is always the sound.  Then there is build quality.  Is it solidly put together, are keys and posts properly aligned and nothing loose or rattling because of poor workmanship or QC, are there solder blobs visible anywhere?  Is the lacquer evenly applied?  As far as mechanics go, how it plays is not only determined by its design and materials used, but in a large part to how a technician, both at the factory and in a private shop, adjusts and regulates the action.  I have always suggested that no matter how well a saxophone plays out of the box, it's always a good idea to have tech go over it.  I found that even vintage saxophones, with their very different ergonomics play smoothly and in tune when a tech who knows what they're doing has worked on them.

When I do a review, I make it short and simple.  The fact is, most of my readers are not professionals, or are semi-professionals who hold day jobs and play their instruments on weekends at local bars or clubs, and the articles that get the most hits are the ones discussing beginner or intermediate saxophones, or pro saxophones on a budget.  The questions I get from them are usually in regard to what choices to make in buying their first or step up horn.  The choices today are greater than ever before, and it's confusing for many novice players.  I try and help with these reviews, not confusing anyone with long technical details, but with getting right to the point about how the sax sounds, feels and responds.  I try to lead them to their best choices based on my own experience with these horns.  It's the only way I know how.

When I worked in music retail, I was able to play and evaluate saxophones from the top professional brands to the no name horns.  Most of my readers are not professionals, and most of them cannot afford 6 grand or more for a saxophone, yet still want a quality instrument.  There is no question that if you buy a Selmer, Yamaha, Keilwerth or Yanigasawa, you're getting a top quality instrument, and also no question that in most cases, you're going to spend a small fortune on it.  Other brands have come out that can now offer professional level sound and build quality at a fraction of the price of the Big 4.  Yamaha and Selmer are also building instruments catering to the beginner and experienced student, so this is a very important part of the market.

Again, when I find saxophones that are of a professional build quality and sound, but are comparably cheaper than a more famous name, I will rave about it.  I get nothing for it from the manufacturers.  Nothing.

Anyway, once I resolve, if I can, any of my health issues, then I will get back to going out and looking at and playing more saxophones and then posting my reviews here the same manner I always have.

I'll be back!!!

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