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Favorite Modern Tenors

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Of course, this derails the topic, but I'm very, very pleased that the BBC has allowed YouTube to start carrying episodes, again.

My favorite episode is Jeremy in the micro-mini cars.
 
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).
Guardala and Allora (another B&S brand) are still being sold by WWBW, and I believe that they are both made in Taiwan from the original B&S designs. Giardinelli has a similar horn too.

EDIT: It's possible that the Guardalas are NOS, as Jeff Powell claimed about the laser trimmed Guardala mouthpieces on WWBW now, but I'm not sure. They did have a "Chicago Jazz" B&S on their site very recently, which was absolutely a B&S horn, no question.
 

Ed

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Staff member
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When I last looked at the "new" Guardala horns from woodwind and brasswind I thought they looked a lot like the latest Amati horns. The key touches appeared to be identical and the look of the horn was a close match. I thought that woodwind and brasswind was still touting these as German made saxophones as well. For someone looking to play a great horn at a killer price the B&S Allora horns and B&S Guardala horns were the way to go. I doubt the new horns are as good.
 
At the risk of derailing this thread to get back on track... ;)

My favorite modern tenors (that most people can find) are the Selmer Serie III and the Reference 36. They are different and will suit different needs but both are very comfortable, flexible, responsive, and (like it or leave it) have the Selmer core sound. I find the Ref 54 to be somewhere between the two, a compromise at best, having neither the vintage character of the Ref 36 nor the response of the Serie III.

For a horn that you will probably never have the opportunity to play - at least in shops in the U.S. - I commend the Borgani Jubilee. These horns have sustained continuous improvement since their inception (I have owned a 4xxJ series and now a 18,xxxJ) and are quite remarkable for keywork, craftsmanship, tone, response, and character.

BTW, where is the Borgani (Borg) smiley?
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Well, I could find a Borg smiley, I suppose, but I really don't want to be assimilated ....

Please, post a mini-review of your horn. You Borg fans are pretty passionate about your horns!
 
pete said:
Well, I could find a Borg smiley, I suppose, but I really don't want to be assimilated ....
Sure you do. ;)

pete said:
Please, post a mini-review of your horn. You Borg fans are pretty passionate about your horns!
The mini-est of reviews is that I sold my Ref 36. :emoji_astonished:

The more verbose version follows:

I'm afraid that my horn is not representative of an off-the-shelf Borg'. It was ordered without springs and pads then assembled and setup by Joe Artley with blue steel springs, custom tan roo pads, neck work by Karsten Gloger, etc., ad nauseum. The silver plate is gorgeous and each key bears the horns serial number - indicating to me that each key was fitted to the horn before plating. (This, BTW, was also a feature of my previous silver pearl Jubilee.) These horns have the double arms that Yanagisawa features on their horns as well as adjustment features allegedly suggested to Borgani by Randy Jones. Whether the low end response (bell tones) is due to the double arms or Joe's setup, I cannot say, but it is even better than that of my Ref 36 after Randy Jones soldered the bow to the body - and that was an outstanding horn!

I'm a little self-conscious about the finish as it always draws comments from players but that is usually followed a few tunes later by compliments on the sound so I get over it. ;) The action of the Borg' is lighter and smoother than that of either my III or my Ref. I chalk that up to the design and fit of the mechanism. I don't think the Refs can be adjusted to have the same feel - it is more similar to my Balanced Action than the Ref ever could be. The sound is somewhat diffuse but carries very well. In sum, I like it. ;)

Now where's that Borg' smiley. :emoji_rage:
 
Ed Svoboda said:
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.
Actually, by your definition the Selmer Super Action 80 Serie II would be the only vintage horn that is still being produced. They started that model back in 1986. I was 2 years old, does that make me vintage? Hey that means that the line has lasted longer than the Mark VI. Oh, and you can also add the Serie I to that vintage list. :D

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.
That's a very believable statement. When I first switched from an old Armstrong student alto to a true pro horn, I didn't know what to do. You mean I don't have to compensate for the low end being extremely sharp? It took me a while to get the new alto (Yamaha 62) to sing. Now I was (and still am in most respects) a kid when I made this switch, and it still took time for me to adjust. I couldn't comprehend playing a problematic note a certain way for 20 or 30 years and then one day...poof...it's gone.

Back on topic, my favorite modern horn for both alto and tenor is the Super Action 80 II. Their low ends sound very VI like, but their high ends sound a little more contemporary. My SA80 tenor is very similar to the II in most respects, but of course I did change that by adding the III neck. I can't really count my horn since I think we're talking "stock" here. I also like the Yamaha 62's and 875's. The 62's are also very similar to the SA80's, and the 875's are really in a league of their own. I prefer horns that are neither extremely tonally dark nor tonally bright. The Ref's and III's IMO break this rule. I do like the Ref's, III's, and a slew of vintage horns, but I prefer the more "neutral" nature of the other horns I mentioned as they more easily allow me to decide what I want the tone to sound like. Meaning that you hear "my voice" and not the built in voice of the horn.
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
SuperAction80 said:
Ed Svoboda said:
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.
Actually, by your definition the Selmer Super Action 80 Serie II would be the only vintage horn that is still being produced. They started that model back in 1986. I was 2 years old, does that make me vintage? Hey that means that the line has lasted longer than the Mark VI. Oh, and you can also add the Serie I to that vintage list. :D
I generally count the years after the last year of production for a given model. The clock hasn't started on the Serie II's but the Super Action 80's (serie I) probably fit my criteria.
 
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.
This is a big deal. It has to do with every aspect of the horn. Mouthpiece/reed combo, position of mouthpiece on neck, neck tip openings, key heights, how you play your Bb. Everything. The only reason I notice it so strong is I go between a modern tenor (ref54) and an old alto ('38 6m). Without time, tones, and tuner, I would be lost. Every decision I make to change setup is with intonation "retraining" in mind.
 
My favorite 5 modern tenors are as follows:

Selmer Ref. 54
Selmer Series III Silver Plate
Keilwerth SX90R Brushed Nickle
Yamaha 82Z Silver Plate
Yamaha 875
 
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