Untitled Document
     
Advertisement Click to advertise with us!
     

Favorite Modern Tenors

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
My favorite modern tenors:

I need to give a caveat up front that I think that vintage Selmer tenors play better than anything on this list.

1. Keilwerth Pre 110k SX-90 - I like the older non-rolled tone hole JK's. The middle D is really out of tune but the tone is great.
2. Yamaha 82Z - The closest thing you can find brand new to a VI.
3. Selmer Reference 36 - If you need the Selmer sound then this is the horn to get. Much more interesting than the 54.
4. Yanagisawa 992 - Great ergonomics and a nice rich tone.
5. Selmer Reference 54 - Selmer's failed attempt at recreating the Mark VI tenor. The key works is very different and the horn does not compare to the original. In spite of all of that it's still a pretty nice modern horn taken on its own merits.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I think we can all safely say that Ed thinks that the Mark VI was the best saxophone evar.

I remain somewhat unconvinced.

I really, really like the VIs that I've played, except for the sopranos (and, as mentioned, that may be more me than the horns), but I'm also way more pragmatic.

As far as a professional horn goes, a Mark VI may be a "gold standard" (no offense to SML owners), but Selmer sold a LOT more S80s than Mark VIs and there are an awful lot of folks out there that own other pro horns, especially Yamahas, that seem quite happy with their purchases.

It also depends a lot on what kind of music you play, IMO.
 

saxismyaxe

Friends of the WF
Distinguished Member
As far as modern make, top of the line tenors go, the Reference 36 gets my vote as one of the best. Although I confess to having sold mine quite awhile ago in favor of my vintage (mostly American) horns.

The 36 has a lot of the core complexity and richness of tone of the classic, vintage horns, but with the lovely action and feel of the modern horn keywork designs. Like Ed, I found it much more interesting in character than the 54.
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
I think that the vintage American tenors have a lot going for them. I like Buescher's a lot (own a 400 TH&C and an Aristocrat 156) and would love to own a Martin. King's are great horns as well but a nice Super 20 is a little over what I want to spend on another backup horn these days. The Conn 10M's have never done it for me. I like the Chu's a fair bit more but I've never warmed up to Conn's.

My analogy about American horns versus French is that my TH&C is like a great American muscle car. It roars, it's bold, but it's not really nimble. The Selmer's are a lot like a sexy little European sports car. They zig and zag and sound cool doing it.

I just really like Selmer tenors. Now don't get me started on my favorite bari's because people will think I hate Selmer! :D
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
That's actually not that bad of an analogy, Ed, however I'm not sure that could apply to the Buescher Aristocrat, say. (Although you could make the argument that the keywork is antique on the Aristocrat.) Or how 'bout the Conn 28M Connstellation?

Talking about the car analogy, the American muscle car is built to do one thing: go fast.

I'm a fan of a British show called TopGear. They compared a Ford GT40 to a Ferrari 430. The Ferrari 430 did just about everything better -- except go really, really fast.

However, the Mark VI, for instance possibly isn't even the best Fernch-made saxophone. What about the SML Gold Medal? Remember, it won that gold medal over the Mark VI. And I rather like the Buffet SuperDynaction -- and one can argue that the keywork "improvements" in the SuperDynaction/S1 crossover were the best possible ones you could get on any saxophone, evar.

Let's also talk German, ja? You could argue that German saxophones, particularly Keilwerths and Kohlerts (up to and including the 58) have a lot of the American "muscle car" sensibility, but a good dollop of the French "Italian roadster".

Hey, do you want a Mercedes or do you want a Ferrari? THAT'S a difficult choice.

Now, let's bring this conversation up to date.

You don't have the "Great American Muscle Car" of saxophones anymore. The closest would be a Keilwerth SX90r. Most others are heavily influenced by Selmer and are, arguably, trying to be either the best Mark VI copy or the best improvement on the Mark VI. IMO, that award STILL goes to Yamaha. I think, maybe, I'd want to try a Keilwerth -- if I had to buy a new sax (and because I owned one) -- but it's really finely splitting hairs. If you're a pro (or think you are) and you want a new horn, just sit down and play test some and pick one.

FWIW, I owned as minty of a Martin Committee as is possible to own without possessing a time machine. I liked the tone. I disliked the intonation. Y'know, the tone reminds me an awful lot of the Buffet (or, maybe, vice-versa).
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
SML's are very nice but I'm not so sold on the keywork. The Buffet S1 on the other hand has what may very well be the best thought out keywork of all time.

I have a Kohlert that has a serial number of 62k and says on the bell "The Kohlert". The engraving is almost identical to the "57". Feels like a JK in the hand and a JK neck fits on it. The table keys are "vintage" which is the only real downside to the horn in my opinion. It also has real rolled tone holes.

I think of a vintage horn as any horn older than 20 or 25 years. The Selmer Mark VII falls in that time frame along with the Yamaha 61.

The Aristocrat that I have was built to my "classical" horn. It has a full and rich tone and the keywork is quite usable. The table keys aren't that bad to get around and in certain situations may be a better layout than the Selmer style keys. The TH&C (Top Hat & Cane) is like a muscle car.

I'm not sure if Yamaha or Yanagisawa has the better VI influenced horn these days. The Yanagisawa T-6 and 8xx horns showed a pretty striking resemblance. The 62/82's sure feel a lot like a VI in the hands but are much brighter than the earlier VI's. It seems like all horns have gotten brighter though.

It really does come down to what you bond with. Even though I have a bunch of horns I really do believe most players are better off just having a couple of horns in each pitch (hey a backup is handy) and play them until they wear it out.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I'm not really sure saxophones are intended to "wear out" -- except student models.

--> Aside: Keilwerth looks like Kohlert, actually: J. Keilwerth apprenticed with Kohlert and they "shared" designs (actually, most Czech/German manufacturers did this).

The 400 is different for quite a few reasons. First, while it's a "jazz horn" -- it's got obvious "Conn roots" -- it's got the Buescher intonation going for it. It also has the behind-the-bell keys, the interesting "cocked" chromatic side keys and a bunch of other "features". It's a good horn that's made quite well. It's -- continuing the car analogy -- maybe a Cadillac CTS. It's getting kinda sporty, there.

FWIW, Ed and I have been talking about key layout. While I and others could argue that there isn't anything "wrong" with the key layout on, say, the Buescher 400 "Top Hat" or others, the Mark VI has "scoreboard": the ONLY saxophones these days that have keywork like the Buescher 400 are student models (such as the Yamaha 23), so regardless of whether YOU think the old style is superior, the MANUFACTURERS think the Mark VI style is superior, and they generally think that because people have voted with their pocketbooks.

In my very not-so-humble opinion, the success of the Mark VI came more from having a superior keywork system connected to a decent sounding horn with decent intonation and unparalleled marketing -- rather than being an outstanding horn at all levels.

=================

For "vintage", you have to satisfy the following:

* Professional quality by today's standards.
* Valuable.
* No longer in production.

(Dude. 20 years ago was 1988. They stopped making the Mark VII in 1981. Heck, I got my YBS-52 in 1989. :) )
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the yamaha 875. Sure the 82Z is nice but i always preferred the 875.

also as mentioned the 61s and the early 62 (improved intonation over the 61s) are superb

the pre110k JKs were mostly labeled Coufs until 1989 (also Conn DJH horns). I loved those Couf horns - i got my middle D working well as well as the palm keys (normally flat).

The Ref36 and, my preference, the KING of them all the SBA - okay, not modern but it's my favorite horn.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
The thing about saxophones is that the "modern era" is essentially ushered in when the Selmer Balanced Action was introduced in 1939. Other than that, we've had a few tweaks to that basic keywork design, but nothing much special. And I don't consider an altissimo G to be that special :).

I, myself, haven't tried the 875 or 82Z. I tried the 855. That was a decent horn. I liked it a LOT better than the S80 (I think it was the Serie II, at the time).

Someone made the comment, once, that really new horns are designed in such a way (i.e., by computer) that intonation flaws in the design are mostly eliminated, so the player, provided he has a decent embochure, doesn't have to compensate as much. That would mean that if you have a truly modern saxophone -- one designed in the last few years, like a Yamaha 82Z -- and couple that with a somewhat modern mouthpiece, you should have a very, very nice setup that could easily blow older setups out of the water.

I think some of the problems that crusty older players have with "modern" horns is that they have to unlearn their compensation skillz. No, you don't have to lip up that Eb. It's in tune, now.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
pete said:
I think some of the problems that crusty older players have with "modern" horns is that they have to unlearn their compensation skillz. No, you don't have to lip up that Eb. It's in tune, now.
Jeez, I've never considered myself a "crusty older player" Pete. Thanks for that. :emoji_smile:

Anyways, I really struggled with the intonation on the new Yamahas that I have tried. I could not get the horns to play in tune. I don't blame them, it was really me compensating. In the end I decided that I don't like the new horns' sound that much that I would want to give up my old timers and have to relearn how to play in tune.

So perhaps that does make me crusty and old... :eek:
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
I think players get used to the horn they have. If they have a decent set of ears they can normally compensate for slight intonation issues.

The Selmer's since the days of the original Super Action 80 have seemed pretty locked in to me. The Yamaha's since the 62 have been pretty good. The Yani's have really nice tuning (particularly the horns after the 900/990 series). Keilwerth is slightly better than they were when the SX-90's first came out in terms of intonation.

It's not like you could find a vintage horn that had rock solid intonation. I own two altos that are at least the equal if not better for intonation than any modern Yamaha. The first is an obvious one: Buescher Aristocrat 140. The second one is a Couesnon Monopole. I don't think I've ever played another alto as locked in as the Couesnon.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Helen said:
pete said:
I think some of the problems that crusty older players have with "modern" horns is that they have to unlearn their compensation skillz. No, you don't have to lip up that Eb. It's in tune, now.
Jeez, I've never considered myself a "crusty older player" Pete. Thanks for that. :emoji_smile:
Happy to be of service!

Nah. I'm not trying to be insulting, I'm just trying to make a point: a lot of the folks out there that are saying that $make/model is SO much better than some new $make/model really isn't giving the new horn a chance. And I think a lot of "old school" players are basing their opinions solely on "tone". "Tone" is great. I adored the tone on my Martin Committee tenor. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to play even close to in tune without working really, really hard. It wasn't worth it. I'd sacrifice even half of that tone to get a lot of the intonation back.

Because the player makes a good deal of difference in the tone, too.
 

saxismyaxe

Friends of the WF
Distinguished Member
Hi Pete,

I keep hearing you speak of the intonation issues with the Martin Committee you once owned. Have you played many besides that one?

I have quite a few in my collection, and have played many beyond those, and none display(ed) any undue intonation quirks above and beyond their contemporaries. In fact, I find them to have better intonation than most.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I've only played a couple Committees and a Magna. Reasoning behind that's pretty simple:

* G# cluster sucks on the Magna. A lot. It's got a roller for the Bb that's REALLY annoying.
* The baritones generally don't have chromatic F# keys and I generally play baritone. And I use the chromatic F# key.

... thus, I've got no great desire to pursue the Committee or Magna.

I try to be very, very specific because I don't like being a web target: I have NOT played a lot of Martin Committees. However, the one I did "own" in high school was extremely minty -- NO lacquer loss, great shape, etc and I played that beast daily for a long while. That was the one that I had the intonation problems with. The other ones didn't make a great impression on me. I have *heard* (or more rather *read*) other people make similar statements about Committees not havening the world's best intonation -- and that if you want a Martin with decent intonation, you probably want a Committee II.

i.e. the standard disclaimer :).

I did like the Martin mouthpiece, though. That was a nice thing.

So, if you've got a couple extra, I have no problems with you sending 'em my way. My wife could use a tenor.
 

saxismyaxe

Friends of the WF
Distinguished Member
Well Pete,

The upside of this is, if you and I were in a room with a wall of horns, we would not likely be grabbing for the same ones. ;)
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Ruediger Kramer said:
don't forget the superior quality of B&S-saxes (Guardala, Medusa...)

:)
However, these horns are ... derivative ... of Keilwerth. And they're not made anymore, IIRC (well, I think Guardala is, but by a different company, now. Please correct me if I'm wrong).

The question, then, is do you want the original or do you want the derivative? No, they're not really "copies", it's like they had the same great-great-great-great grandfather.

==========

Of course we'd grab what we'd know and prefer. That's kind of obvious. :)

As I've said many times, there is no "best" pro horn. There are only different choices. The one thing I can say is that there are popular choices, and I've polled those before. The Mark VI usually isn't one of the most popular choices in a specific category, but as an all-around instrument. However, I also generally don't compare it against modern instruments.
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
My understanding of the Medusa's and the 2001's were that they essentially copied a Mark VI and went from there. The keywork is slightly different but the bore is like the VI. Not sure about the tone hole placement. I thought the intonation was better than most VI's on the few examples that I have played.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Ruediger Kramer said:
pete said:
[quote="Ruediger Kramer":1anbip7v]don't forget the superior quality of B&S-saxes (Guardala, Medusa...)

:)
However, these horns are ... derivative ... of Keilwerth. And they're not made anymore, IIRC (well, I think Guardala is, but by a different company, now. Please correct me if I'm wrong).

The question, then, is do you want the original or do you want the derivative? No, they're not really "copies", it's like they had the same great-great-great-great grandfather.

==========

Of course we'd grab what we'd know and prefer. That's kind of obvious. :)

As I've said many times, there is no "best" pro horn. There are only different choices. The one thing I can say is that there are popular choices, and I've polled those before. The Mark VI usually isn't one of the most popular choices in a specific category, but as an all-around instrument. However, I also generally don't compare it against modern instruments.
the first time i?ve read, that B&S-saxes are Keilwerth-derivates - very innovative idea...
:eek:[/quote:1anbip7v]
I'm not going to drop that that easily.

History of B&S: started as Huller. Became Weltklang. Became B&S.

Huller's horns were essentially Kohlert/Keilwerth copies. No shame in that: all German instruments of that era were copies of all other horns of that era -- and ultimately from Conn. Weltklang's baritones were made by Richard Keilwerth, IIRC.

B&S's modern instruments like the Medusa and Guardala may have a lot of "Mark VI-ness" at their core, but they have German DNA. That's Keilwerth. Hey, don't they have rolled tone holes?

I've also not read anyplace that the newer B&S horns were supposed to be copies of Mark VIs. If they were a) why doesn't Ed like them more b) why did B&S essentially go out of business and c) why don't more people get Yanagisawa? Those are VI copies. Allegedly copied from original VI molds, as one story went.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
... Then I could be wrong about B&S and RTH. It's more helpful to say, "Mmm. Dude. Reality check: here." Rather than go all YAGE. But thanks for playing. Hope you enjoyed your visit!

Anyhow, I'll still say that B&S still has a large helping of that German bit. And Welklang and Huller saxophones definitely do have rolled tone holes :oops:.

And Mercedes and BMW have always been trying to compete with each other and some of the cars are eerily similar. Don't you watch TopGear?
 
Top Bottom