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Series VII, VIII, DA, SDA tenors

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#1
Which is your favorite from the Series VII, VIII, DA and SDA horns.

Personally, the VII has the most gorgeous engraving.
I haven't played (recently) all these horns in one setting but i'm curious on other peoples opinions

Is all the keywork relatively similar - straight stacks, etc ?
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#3
OK, because I've got a couple minutes of break left.

Possibly the highest evolution of the horns you mention would be the Buffet SDA/S1 "transitional". That's the horn with the SDA body and bore, but S1 keywork. And A=440, not A=442. (Yes, I know that the S1s with the A serial numbers are supposed to be A=440 and that the 2hz doesn't make that much difference.)

I owned a very, very minty Dynaction alto. If an SDA is a better horn, which it's supposed to be, than I'd be extra happy with the "transitional". Gimme some o' that sparkle lacquer. On bari.

I do agree that the "VII" or "SA" (as too many people were calling them, so I went back to that terminology -- and French people are laughing at this) has the best engraving. Although, the Buffet-Powell has its own grace and beauty.
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
#4
I've never played an SA just a handful of SDA's. Mostly tenors. Nice horns but I didn't like the ergos as much as some other horns.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#5
"Ergonomics" are a little different and that's as individual as the player. Hey, some people love the Buescher G# key. I can't use it. It's too tight on Aristocrat/400 and my pinky's been broken too many times. And New Aristocrat and older? Nah. Rather not.

The feel, IMO, depends on the pitch, for the Buffet Dynaction, at least.

The Dynaction had a very light, flute-like, feel. Suited the alto perfectly. I don't think that'd work for the baritone, but I wouldn't mind trying it. I like a little more resistance on the bari. I'm sure I could have that adjusted, to an extent.

And I liked the G# trill and forked Eb :D.
 
#6
I've a SDA at my tech at the moment. I hope it will be back in playing condition shortly. (It's a rather boring one Steve, silver with no engraving except for the BC logo :emoji_smile: ). When I found it this one was in trouble. Banana-body because it had a rough landing falling from the stand, only one rod bent though but several rods had lots of play to the posts, even showing the pivotscrews. Small ding in the bow and some minor issues, but ofcourse in need of the full works.

I test played one before (my tech always has one or two available, Buffets are really appreciated in this part of the country) and liked the sound. Dark with some velvet feel, French with an American twist -a bit of a Buescher/Martin kind of influence in the sound. Ergo's are fine, I currently switch between a Selmer SIII and an Aristocrat and find it ok to switch between the ergo styles, (pete, I actually like the left pinky on the Buescher but this is the tenor I learned most on) This made me decide to get the SDA I found back in shape and these horns deserve to be alive, worth saving.

The SDA/S1 tranny I also tried was really a fine horn and this keywork is really comfortable to my hands.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#7
I've made the comment before that the Buffets have a Martin Committee-ish flavor, before. Glad someone agrees with me :).
 
#8
I saw a Buffet tenor for sale recently made in the 1940's, probably a VII or VIII as the engraving was most elaborate all up & down the bell & bow. How do these horns sound in comparison to a Buescher Big B tenor or Conn 10M?
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
#9
Great question.

They have more of a French vibe. I thought that the Buffet horns felt like the keyboard was more spread. The keywork is faster than the Buescher and I think it's faster than the 10M. I don't think they roar like a 10M can. I think they're a better all around horn than the 10M. I think the Aristocrat is also a good all around horn. I can play anything from jazz to classical to rock on it. I never felt a classical vibe on a 10M.

Those are my disjointed thoughts.
 
#10
the one I'm looking at has SA 18-20 on it & a serial number of 1197, probably available at around $1000.....it "looks" like a pretty nice horn for it's age, but then a nice Big B Aristocrat would probably be in that range or a bit more. I have a 140 Aristocrat alto as a back up to my Selmer VII alto & was thinking of getting the companion tenor, but this Buffet caught my eye. It's not available to play first so I'd take a chance on it if I bought it as I would on any internet horn. I play more alto than tenor by far so I don't want to put that much money into a tenor at this point which is why I'm thinking vintage pro horn and the older Buffets & Bueschers seem a good choice both sound & dollar wise, I was just wanting an opinion/s on which would be the best all around all purpose horn based on experience (anyone's) with both.

sigh....decisions
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#11
It should say "SA 18-20". The "SA" is the French version of "Inc." and "18-20" is part of Buffet's address :).

Does the horn look like the top or the bottom picture at http://www.saxpics.com/buffet/SA.htm?

=======

Anyhow, I can describe my old Dynaction's tone as very Martin Committee-like, but with a bit more focus -- but it's a very soft focus. Other people have used this same general description, too.

As far as a shoot-out between your horn and the Big B Aristocrat? I think it'd be a toss-up. I'm sure that your Buffet is going to be fairly simular to the Dynaction in response and tone and I've played around with some Big Bs. I've already said that, minus the G# cluster, I like it a lot. The action on the Big B is a bit stiffer, but that might be more pleasant for a tenor.

On the Buffet "SA", I took a look at some pics and I can't see the pads, but on my Dynaction, the original equipment is a rather large flat metal resonator with a screw in the middle (yes, I've verified this with a few other owners). So, the Buescher would definitely be more convenient for replacing pads -- if the Snap-Ons are intact.
 
#12
looks more like the bottom pic, but I figure after the seller said it had been stored in the closet for 30 yrs it would need a total overhaul & $990 was a bit much to have to spend another $300 or more on it......the only thing I don't like about the Buescher Big B's are those darn spatula keys. I can manage em (barely) on my 140 Aristocrat alto, but as weak as my little finger is I might have to have it injected with steroids to play the tenor version. That Buffet VII was/is a classy, beautiful horn though.
 
#13
I finally got my SDA tenor back a few days ago and I must say I'm having lots of fun with this horn. I had to wait about 6 months longer as expected, but my tech was very busy and we agreed on doing the work on this horn 'between jobs'. A longer wait, but evrything that had to be done this also saved me some.

The horn came out very well after having the full works done. After playing her for some days I'm getting used to it.
First thing to notice is it's weight, these are heavy. The ergo's are fine but need to get used to. Keytouches are rather spread, no problem with my right hand, the left hand needs some getting used to. Front F and the pinky cluster have to be reached for and with the inline keywork I need to watch not hitting the palm F key by accident. Just needs some getting used to, it's not a problem.

The action on this horn is really nice, feels a bit in between the smooth feel from my Crat and the more snappy feel from my Serie III.

Sound and intonation are incredible. This is a very mpc friendly horn and it speaks so easy all over the range. Not much resistance, comparable to the Crat. Lush dark sounding, at least to the players ears. Boomy low end, a bit spread. These seem to be very allround horns, capable on doing all kinds of work.

Somehow this is the kind of sound I like in a tenor. My Crat has this sweet warm sound but can roar when needed. The Selmer a have is really less focussed compared to most Selmers I played and it projects like crazy. This SDA does the same but is closer to the Buescher. There was no need for another tenor, but when I found this one it was in such bad shape and I thought this horns deserved to be brought back alive again. As for now I'm very happy with that decision and the end it was a steal aswell.

Some quick snapshots are here

Oh and sorry Steve, this is one without any engraving exept for the BC logo.
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
#14
I luv'd the sound of my SDA and hated the ergos. I put it up on eBay as the first instrument I'd ever sold there, wandered downstairs to show Suzy how I'd saved money in the post by using a collage picture, and found the horn had been bought by time I walked downstairs! I mailed it to a very nice business professor in South Korea.

The 'Buy Now' price was $300 more than what I paid for the instrument. There is demand for this instrument out there.
 
#15
I've had my sparkle SDA alto for almost three years now. I matched it up with a silver gloger neck. The combo keeps getting better and better for me as I get better. I recently was considering getting a new modern alto. I brought my SDA into the store and play tested it against two Ref 54's (Flamigo and standard), a JK SX90R BN, and a two Yamahas (62II and 82Z). All those newer saxes played great and I would not mind having any of them. The SDA was by far the most unique sound. They have a certain lush characteristic that you don't hear in the newer horns. The ergos are not as good though. I had both a DA and SDA tenors for a short time that I sold because I couldn't deal with the left hand position. The altos are the best of the line IMO.

Mostly, it looks purty :)

 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#17
Besides the unique left-pinkie cluster keys, the real problem for me was the right-pinkie stretch for the Eb/C keys. Always hated that.
It's not that unique on the the horns, until you get to the split design of the SDA Transitional (which was then used on the S1 and beyond).
 
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