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Buffet 400 Series

#1
Anyone try a Buffet 400? I'm considering one of the altos right now...I've heard that they are very good, but I've only run into about three people who have played one, and none of them are people who's opinion I trust.

It won't replace the Grassi, but I occasionally need a different alto for gigs that I don't want to use the Grassi...
 

Ed

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#2
I checked one out some months ago. My understanding is that they are Chinese made for what that is worth.

General impressions were that it was reasonably well made. Some minor fit and finish items but no worse than most horns these days. I wasn't overwhelmed by it but I've played a lot of horns that were worse options for students. It felt more intermediate than pro to me.

Are you just looking for a cheap clone for backup? If that's the case it might be worth considering. The one I played was about as thrilling as the Selmer LaVoix.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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#3
I agree with Ed's summary. I haven't played one, but when I heard that Buffet had a new alto out, I Googled it and found a picture of a Chinese horn.

Not that Chinese = bad, but it's just ... not a real Buffet.
 
#4
Yeah, they're made by the same factory that makes Topsax, so I know they're Chinese. I'm considering it for a back up...Someone offered me one for half the normal retail price, which is why I'm considering it.

Not planning on replacing my current set-up with THIS Buffet, though.
 
#6
Ed Svoboda said:
Would topsax be cheaper? At that price I would probably bite.
Possibly, but the Topsax horns are actually different. The Buffets are made in the same factory but have a different design than any of the Topsax/Legend horns. They just happen to be made in the same factory.
 
#7
I got this today, but haven't had a chance to play it. It's absolutely beautiful though, and is actually quite a bit different from the Topsax Legend. There are a bunch of keywork differences for one - they're minor, but definitely there. It's actually heavier than my Grassi 2000, and has a fantastic feel up and down. We'll see how it sounds.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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Administrator
#8
The essential point Ed was making is that, keywork aside, it's the bore that makes the horn.

It's a pretty horn and I somewhat doubt that Buffet would allow something with really low quality to carry their name.
 
#9
pete said:
The essential point Ed was making is that, keywork aside, it's the bore that makes the horn.

It's a pretty horn and I somewhat doubt that Buffet would allow something with really low quality to carry their name.
I get that the bore makes the horn, my point was that people keep saying that these are the exact same horn as the Topsax, (mostly because Bob Campbell has said that the they are making them in his factory)...the keywork differences are evidence that they aren't. Not sure about the bore yet - unless it's parabolic ( :emoji_rage: ) it's tough to tell without playing it. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's probably similar to either a Selmer or Yani. ;)

I have a feeling that it will play similar to a Mauriat, Barone, Sugal (yes, Gary makes nice horns even if his mouthpieces are suspect), Antigua, or any of the other top-line Taiwanese horns. (The 100 series is probably similar to the Keilwerth ST-90 or Jupiter Student line). I've heard nothing but good things on these, so I'm looking forward to trying it tomorrow.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#10
Yes. Please write a review!
 

Ed

Founder
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#11
I'm always interested in hearing from people about their impressions of various horns that I've played. It serves to further educate me about them. I find that after hearing someone else's impression I am able to ask different questions about the same horn and verify for myself previous conclusions and verify additional elements. It also helps me keep an open mind about what I'm playing.
 
#12
OK, so I got it...here's a review: (I used a Morgan 3C, FF Tensing Ring, and Vandoren 3 1/2 reed)

Initial impressions: WOW! The finish is beautiful, nice case too. The parts and metal are thick and high quality, and it actually weighs a bit more than my Grassi. The engraving is very well done.

Ergonomics: Well, it feels a lot like an SA-80 Serie II. The only real difference is that the altissimo F# key is straight rather than slightly L shaped. Nice MOP key touches and very nice spring action. My only complaint is that the "throw" of the octave key is a bit long - the could probably be rectified with a larger cork bumper on the end of the key itself.

Intonation: Very even up and down the horn, except for A2 and D2.

Response: OK, here's where things are a bit strange. The horn has a bit of resistance to it that feels like Selmer - unfortunately, that also means that the low register also doesn't respond nearly as fast as the Grassi or Keilwerth. It also has the infamous low register warble on low C that the Selmer horns have, which is irritating, but not unexpected. I can't get around in the low register quite as fast on this horn than I can on my Grassi either. The good news is that the high register, particularly the altissimo, comes out very nice and evenly.

Sound: It's a medium dark horn, actually a bit darker than the Grassi and far darker than a Yamaha. Again, it has a very "Selmer-like" core to the sound. One problem here...the middle D and A are kind of stuffy compared to my Grassi, which is one thing I always look out for on any horn. Since those two horns are where the register break occur, it takes some doing to get them to sound right and not stick out and sound "airy". Even some of the best "big four" horns have this problem, and it's very annoying because it can be difficult to get thee into tune. I didn't expect this horn to be much different in this respect. Larger bore horns don't seem to suffer this problem as much, but every Selmer and Yamaha I've owned have had the same issue. All and all, the sound is very good, but the two "register notes" are kind of ordinary - I'm always hoping for something a bit nicer. (I've run across very few horns that didn't have this problem in one form or another.)

Summary: This is a very good horn from Buffet. The price is right too. I disagree that it isn't a pro horn...it certainly plays very well, although it's different than the Buffets of old. I think it would work well in most situations, as I could see playing chamber music with it and jazz/rock. It's built like a tank, too, with double arms on the bell keys. I think they have a real winner here, but it's not enough to make me give up my Grassi 2000 - then again, it would take a lot to do that and the fact that I even considered it says quite a bit.
 
#13
OK, so I got it...here's a review: (I used a Morgan 3C, FF Tensing Ring, and Vandoren 3 1/2 reed)
Initial impressions: WOW!
Thank you for this review. I play a Buffet 400 Alto, too, and I can only say: It's a great horn and it doesn't have to hide before horns which are much more expensive. I'm very happy I got a wonderful pro horn like this for the price of a student's horn.
 
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