I've been testing a Peter Ponzol neck for my Selmer alto for a couple of weeks and thought I would share my reaction for anyone interested in after-market necks.
I respond to sound first, and then I back up from there. If I cannot get a good sound out of a piece of equipment everything else is irrelevant. So my first impression of this neck was the sound - which is gorgeous; a bit rounder and a bit darker than my Selmer neck, although the term “dark” is relative in this sense; maybe richer, and with more presence.
When the neck came, I spontaneously grabbed my Meyer because I figured if I kept this neck it would be for jazz playing not classical. But when I blew just a couple of seconds I was floored. I loved the sound. To be honest, when I got the neck I thought, O.K. I’ll give it a good blow and evaluate it but I did not have any more expectations than that. But after a couple of seconds, I thought, this neck is not going back. No way. It is mine!
Now do not misunderstand, the stock sound of my Selmer is great but the natural characteristics of this Ponzol neck gave me something I had been missing ever since I traded my Conn Lady Face for my Serie II and that was a certain kind of roundness to the sound. Additionally, response and articulation are excellent. Intonation throughout the horn is sound, altissimo excellent. Again, the altissimo on my stock Selmer is outstanding, but the Ponzol easily matched that.
Now here is the kicker. I was not intending on using it for legit, being perfectly satisfied with my conventional Selmer setup. But since the neck was already on the horn, I left it there as I started practicing for two upcoming all-day rehearsals with a wind ensemble and unexpectedly, it added a richness and a wonderful smoothness to the sound. I decided to continue using it for the rehearsals and it was wonderful. I could not wait to play the exposed passages and solos just to let everyone else hear this rich sound. I am using it with a Rousseau/Vandoren trad/metal lig combination and what a sound! I still have my “beloved” French type sound but it has more body and less buzz to it.
I also tested the neck in a big band rehearsal. Because you’re sitting in front of the brasses who are blowing their brains out, the advantages of the Ponzol neck weren't as obvious in the ensemble, except for blending better with the Chu and JK players whom I sit between. The advantage for me here is that, when blowing hard with the Selmer neck, I can play a bit shrill if I am not careful, whereas the Ponzol neck smoothed out that tendency without losing my sense of presence. In the solo playing it maintained its presence and richness but had the "pop" you needed as well.
If there is one criticism of the neck, it might come from those who would say it “ditches” the Selmer core sound. My only response to that would be - which Selmer core sound, LOL. But I think I know what is meant, and for anyone wanting to retain what they perceive as a core Selmer sound, with a little reed and mouthpiece experimentation they can get back to that and at the same time retain the benefit of having the fullness and roundness to that sound that the Ponzol neck gives.
Keep in mind, I am comparing this neck to a hand-selected, Selmer saxophone and neck and not to a problematic neck or horn. My alto was the pick of the litter when I tried it out so all the factors of the Ponzol neck are being made in comparison to the highest of quality. Anyone who does have problems with a neck and sax, especially regarding sound and intonation, should get one of these. Your problems should be either greatly diminished or eliminated and it should add an extra dimension to your playing. BTW, it is beautiful looking, being gold plated (over brass).