What You’ll Learn About:
As a working professional musician , it helps to own backup saxophone equipment in case of an emergency…
or to even help a friend out in case THEY have an emergency!
Hence, I will describe my main and backup gear (when applicable), with an added bonus of what saxophone equipment I WOULD buy with a few extra figures in my bank account!
Update: I will also add my clarinet equipment, and some suggestions for buyers!
Main Saxophone Equipment:
How Does It Sound?
You can hear the Bronze Soprano Sax in my Intermediate Sax Lesson here!
Soprano – Ammoon / SLADE / (Treble Clef) LADE Straight, Red Bronze
Despite it’s unclear branding and somewhat odd set of accessories, this bronze soprano punches far above its weight.
Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware!)
- These horns may not play well when you take them right out of the box, and some reviewers posted photos of another Ammoon Red Bronze soprano saxophone that may have been crushed in transit! Always have a saxophone expert and/or a woodwind repairman look at your saxophone equipment, and play test if you are a beginner!
- Aesthetically pleasing aged-metal finish and engravings…typical of what you would see on a pro level horn. Also the somewhat psychedelic looking abalone key pearls are a nice touch, and feel comfortable under my fingers.
- The entire range from low Bb to the high F# key responds easily and plays surprisingly well in tune for the price! Modern keywork as well, which I prefer over vintage.
- The mouthpiece it comes with resembles a Yamaha 4C – a good starting point for beginners. I prefer a Selmer C* or C** (Double Star) personally.
- The solid bronze feels heavy, and contributes to a rich sound. Most Chinese horns in my experience tend to feel and sound “tinny,” but this is certainly an exception.
- The one I ordered had a glaring problem with the G# key…something on the axe was propping it OPEN and I had to shut it with my pinky…my trusted repairman Tim Dolzine in New Orleans was able to remedy this at a very reasonable price.
- I’ve noticed (at least with the curved neck) that twisting it too much to one side will make the octave lever unable to contact the mechanism on the neck…makes for a good overtone exercise, but it might not be what you want to happen on stage! You can mitigate this by trying to center the mouthpiece on the cork, or adjust to a slight angle (with the mouthpiece) to make the keywork more comfortable.
- The craftsmanship on a Chinese horn is sometimes questionable, and there may be problems down the road that are costly, or impractical, to repair. But I will say that after playing 6 hour gigs on it outdoors on a weekly basis (and then some!) for an entire year, it still plays!
- Includes a pair of white gloves for some reason. Woooo.
- Comes with a cheap reed on the mouthpiece, and a pack of 10 other reeds that all play terribly. Try some Hemke 2.5 Reeds , unless you know you prefer softer/harder ones.
- The neckstrap it comes with may work fine, but the design does not inspire confidence to me. I tend to use Rico neckstraps on soprano and alto.
What Saxophone Equipment I would buy:
Yamaha YSS-875EX Custom EX Soprano Saxophone Silver Plated with High G
While I did not particularly love the few Yamaha tenors that I've tried in the past, my very first horn was a YAS-23 alto, and I've enjoyed every Yamaha baritone and soprano. These custom models are well engineered, using some of the best materials out there.
What I would ALSO buy:
Selmer Paris Professional Model 53J Soprano SaxophonePart of the Selmer Paris Series III, this horn is built for speed. Quick response, optimal ergonomics, and a rich sound make these horns stand out.
Alto Saxophone Equipment:
SLADE Bronze Alto Saxophone, Burnished Finish
Here's another option if you prefer the bronze finish. Last I checked, the price was even lower! SLADE ammoon Antique Finish Bend Eb E-flat Alto Saxophone (Style 2)
My Clarinet Equipment:
Main Clarinet - Yamaha 62IIA mid-level horn, this wooden clarinet was once a mainstay of New York woodwind doublers. According to my research, these were mainly produced during the 1970's, and similar designs have been used in updated models.It is worth a look to find a used one in good condition; mine was about $650. However, there is a comparable model in production today: the YCL-650:
Backup Clarinet - Mendini
You can also select different colors!Even at such a shockingly low price point, these will play with a good mouthpiece and reed setup. However, I strongly recommend you bring these to a trusted repairman once you unbox them, the same way you would with SLADE saxophone equipment. If you live in or around New Orleans and need a good woodwind repairman, feel free to contact me and I will make some recommendations!
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