is no definitive answer. All of the major
manufacturers, and even the< smaller manufacturers,
know how to shape the bore, where to place
the tone holes, and other factors in making
a Saxophone play well. Just as in choosing
an automobile, choosing a Saxophone depends
on looking at the various features, and
finding those that are meaningful to you.
article is not going to tell you which is
the "best Saxophone", as that is not possible.
In the following paragraphs, I will go over
the features that make each of the major
brands stand apart from its rivals.
Selmer is, by far, the Saxophone to which all others
are compared. Years ago, Selmer
set a very high standard with their famous
Mk. VI--a quantum leap ahead of all the
current lineup from Selmer is comprised
of the Super Action 80 Series II and
Series III instruments. Both series are
being marketed simultaneously. The Series
alto has an additional tone hole that opens
for middle C#, bringing this usually flat
note up to pitch. This feature is not included
in the tenor or soprano, though the
Selmer sopranos, and most other brands,
already have a double pad assembly
that accomplishes the same purpose.
Several new models have been announced.
Series II soprano has a range to high F#,
and a straight, one-piece body.
The Series III soprano has a range to high
G, and two removable necks, one straight,
USA has two professional models, the AS-110
alto, and TS-100 tenor.
These have many of the same features as
the Series II Paris models, but at a lower
The key hinges are of conventional design.
continues to manufacture their Eb Sopranino
and Bb Bass Saxophones.
Yamaha is Selmer's biggest rival in the Saxophone
market. There are two professional models
in the Yamaha lineup, the 62 series, and
the Custom series. There are adjustments
for each key in the upper and lower stack
in the 62 series instruments. This makes
setup of the instrument, and fine tuning
by the repairman much easier. I am very
surprised other Saxophone manufacturers
have not copied this feature. The Custom
models strangely lack this feature. The
Custom also has Selmer Mk VI style ball
joints on the side C and side Bb keys. Experience
with the Mk. VI has shown that with years
of wear, the ball joints get rather noisy.
Fortunately, the Oleg side key silencers
can correct this poor feature. Otherwise,
the Custom is a very fine saxophone.
the 62 series is nice, the Custom series keywork
really feels good to me. While nearly all
manufacturers have gone from the round pearl
front F to a spatula design, the shape and
placement of the Custom's front F spatula
is the best I have seen. There is a subtle
tone difference between the 62 and Custom,
the Custom being slightly brighter to some
from G. Leblanc Corp. in the U. S., has
some outstanding mechanical features. With
the 990 and 991 series, Yanagisawa has incorporated
many of the custom modifications offered
by the top Saxophone repairmen. These include
double arms on low C and B natural pad cups,
and F# helper linkage to insure proper closing
of this pad. The Yanagisawa Saxes have an
excellent, tight "core" to the tone. This
is subjective, but is my observation. This
company is now offering solid silver body
parts in its lineup.
was the first major manufacturer in recent
years to bring back the curved soprano.
They have continued to refine this instrument
by adding a front F spatula and improved,
independent, palm keys.
offers straight and curved sopranos, and
a sopranino. The S991 soprano offers a high
G key, and two necks.
Keilwerth saxophones are designed by Mr. Herb
Couf. In designing these saxophones, Mr.
Couf appears to have started with a clean
drawing board, and not copied or modified
Selmer's Saxophones. They incorporate some
features not found in the other top brands.
One feature immediately noticeable is the
larger radius of the bow, and bigger flare
of the bell. This is Mr. Couf's solution
to the difficult low end. One drawback,
these Saxes do not fit into just any case,
but Keilwerth offers excellent, roadworthy
cases as standard equipment. Rolled tone
holes on their top models give increased
pad life and better sealing. The palm keys
are adjustable for height and angle. There
is also an F# helper mechanism, bridging
from the F pad, to positively close the
F# pad. The most outstanding feature is
their positive opening mechanism for the
G# pad. No more wrong notes from a stuck
G# on these Saxes!
has an excellent straight alto. The neck
is of conventional design, but the main
body tube is straight all the way to the
end of the bell, which tips forward, Saxello
style. The tone bounces off the floor, and
has a milder, warm tone. This alto may appeal
to classical players, for solo or quartet
work. I would think it could be used to
good effect in a pit orchestra.