Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

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    Default Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Hey all,

    After playing guitar and drums for years, and more recently getting more interested in jazz, I decided to take up saxophone. About six months ago, I picked up an old Buescher c-melody for cheap on craigslist, and I've had an absolute blast so far. I truly feel like sax is the instrument for me. I've always been more of a melody guy on guitar, and even though my voice is pretty rough, I love singing, and I get a very similar rush from playing sax. I've been playing several hours a day, and loving every minute, even the 'boring' stuff like long tones.

    However, I'm starting to think its time to move on to a proper tenor. I've met a few other players, and playing a c-melody can make it tough to jam and trade licks/tips. Plus, although my sax play top to bottom well enough, it could definitely use some work and will probably need a full overhaul soon. I spoke to a local tech and he said that it probably isn't worth putting money into the Buescher. I've also had some trouble getting a regular tenor mouthpiece to play in tune correctly (though it's been a great opportunity to work on my ear and bending skills!), and would like a low (concert) A for playing along with guitars (especially blues jams).

    I'm having a pretty tough time navigating the market place. On the one hand, music is my main hobby, and I can afford to spend a bit on a new instrument. On the other, since I am strictly and amateur (and have no plans on trying to change that!), it seems a little crazy to spend a ton on money on a sax. If possible, I'd like to spend less that $1000 on a horn, unless the quality of a more expensive instrument is more than I realize.

    From what I can tell, that leaves me choosing between a used Big 4 student model, or a new Chinese sax. Looking around on reverb, I see stuff like these:

    https://reverb.com/item/8212313-yama...c-condition-37
    https://reverb.com/item/6492878-vito-tenor-sax
    https://reverb.com/item/6356689-vito...th-accessories

    and looking around the forum I have read good things about the Crescent line from Just Saxes and the Kesller house brand.

    The used horns are cheaper and from well known brands. The new horns are less time tested. However, the old horns could need repair work done, and especially with the Vito's, it's hard to know whether is a good (Japanese made?) model or not. I'm not really the kind of person who likes to learn all about different makes and hunt around for the perfect bargain. I'd rather just get a good quality sax that will grow with me as a player.

    So, what do you guys think is a better player/value when it comes to durability/build quality, tone, intonation and ergonomics?

    FWIW, I'll be playing everything from blues and standards to old rock and funk. My sound concept is not really well formed yet I guess. I love so many players, but especially admire the tone of Pharaoh Sanders, Trane, and Roland Kirk.

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    You'll get all sorts of opinions either way and it really boils down to what you like and what works best for you. If you figure a budget of $1000 - $1500 you can likely find a used model of just about anything except newer pro horns from the major manufacturers. If you've been playing an old C Melody then it's likely the keywork on a vintage horn won't bother you so may want to consider those as well as they generally sound better than many new student model horns and can often be found for very good prices.

    I haven't played a Crescent but Palo is a good guy and a fine tech by all accounts so I wouldn't talk you out of buying a Just Saxes brand horn if you definitely want to get something new for a good price. I tried the Kesslers several years ago and not surprisingly I liked their mid and upper line house brand horns better than the entry level ones. I'd buy something else used before the entry level Kessler. Used versions of some of the Taiwanese horns come up from time to time between $1000 and $1500 like Barones, TK Melody, Buffet, etc. and these can be very good deals though it maybe tricky to buy one of these if you aren't familiar with the brands.

    As for the horns you linked to above;
    The first is a Yamaha 23 in very good cosmetic condition and they are asking top dollar for it because of this. You can get these cheaper if you shop around and are willing to take one with a few scratches and maybe a small ding or two.
    The second is a Yamaha stencil made for Vito. It's a YTS-21 which is the predecessor to that the YTS-23. These are solid horns the same as the Yamahas but generally a bit less expensive because they have the Vito name stamped on them. This one also looks like it is in good shape and again the asking price reflects that.
    The last one looks like a YTS-23 stencil made for Vito. So basically you have 3 Yamahas there just with two of them stamped Vito. These are all likely to be dependable and reliable horns once adjusted but there's a good chance they will also have a brighter sound than the vintage Buescher you're presently playing. Not necessarily a bad thing especially for rock and funk but different.

    Regardless, if possible it's always best to try a few horns so you can narrow down the list a bit by knowing at least a little about what you like and what you don't.

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    @Funchaus, I would also look at a Conn 16m director, better known as a shooting star. Pre early 1960s, you’re looking for one with wire guards not sheet metal covers. With that kind of budget you should be able to find one and have a full re-pad/tuneup done. know exactly what you have with enough change left over to buy a reasonable mouthpiece. Just a suggestion outside the ones already mentioned they’re all good.
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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    At this stage, keep life simple and just get a Yamaha YTS-23 tenor sax in good condition. It will play well for you right now, and if you decide to sell it later, you won't lose any money. And you might keep it as a backup if you decide to buy a pro horn later on.
    You can start out with a student mouthpiece like a Yamaha 4C, and then get a better, pro level mouthpiece later on after you have some experience.

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    In general, a second-hand horn will be better value for money than a new one because of the depreciation, just like a second-hand car.
    But with a private-sale second-hand horn you should expect to spend some money on a service and minor repairs to get it into good condition. So include that in your calculations.

    A YTS-23 or the Vito equivalent is going to give you excellent bang for the buck in build quality, tone, intonation, and ergonomics.
    Here is a review (written by a Yamaha enthusiast):
    http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/...maha_yts23.htm

    However, just because lots of other people like Yamahas doesn't mean that you automatically will. You need to try one to see how it feels.
    My guess is that after an old Buescher you will be surprised how easy it is to play.

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Thanks for all the responses so far,

    Right now I think I'm leaning toward the Crescent. I talked with Palo at Just Saxes and he was really helpful. From what he said, and from what I've read I think the Crescent might be built a bit more durably, have nicer ergonomics, and have a slightly fuller tone. I also like the idea of buying a new instrument so I don't have to worry about getting it checked at a tech. I figure I have count on spending $100-$300 getting a used Yamaha into top shape, and that brings it to the same price as a new Crescent.

    The biggest concern I have with the Crescent is the lack of information. If anybody has played one along with a Yamaha 23, I'd love to hear your impressions.

    The other option is to look for something vintage. However, I have smaller hands, and the pinky keys on my c-melody are already a bit of a stretch. I really think I would benefit from something a bit more modern (though I suppose my true tone is about as old school as you can get!). However, it seems like the good deals really start closer to $1500 for vintage american horns. One that caught my eye was

    https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...phone-for-sale

    Which I think is an early built Vito. However, from the little reading I did, those earlier models aren't as easy to play as the later ones, which tend to go for a bit more. Again, the biggest issue I have with any vintage horn is my ignorance. I would really have to just trust the person selling about it's condition, and well known dealers (understandably) tend to charge a bit more

    Thanks again for all the help. This forum is a great resource for a beginner like me!

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    You can not go wrong with a Kessler horn. But, that's coming from a Kessler snob who's had one of the Custom Deluxe tenors since 1/2007 and it hasn't fallen apart. Very flexible horns in which you can color the tone by your utilization of mouthpiece and reed combinations. I've had a couple different techs work on it with no build issues expressed. Seems to be easily adjustable and will hold the adjustments/settings well. But then, I don't abuse the horn by practicing hours a day and then multiple gigs a week either. I play for pleasure, primarily for myself with an occasional weekend gig.
    I have played some highly regarded horns at the annual Sax Symposium and unfortunately, I sound like myself on any of the big four and more horns. I'm happily stuck with my humble little Kessler horn. I highly recommend you give them a call and talk to Chuck or Dave. They won't steer you wrong! Good luck in the hornie hunting! Come back and let us know how it all works out.

    Btw, you can't go wrong with the Yamaha, Yamaha-made Vito, or the Crescent horn either. All good horns - just my 2¢ . Keep the change! Cheers!

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    I’d definitely go for the Crescent
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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    I've been wanting to try the Crescent, especially given Palo's asking price for a bari! That said, one of my college professors was mainly an alto player. On the rare occasion that he had a (professional orchestral) gig that called for tenor, he swore by his YTS-23. The other thing in the Yamaha's favor is that they tend to retain their resale value. I'm not one to cycle through horns, so that's not a big concern for me, but it matters to some.
    Soprano - Antigua Winds 590-BC JodyJazz Classic 8-3/4, Fibracell; Rascher, Legere Signature, Rovner Dark
    Alto - Yamaha YAS-875EXB JodyJazz Classic 9, Legere Studio Cut, Rovner Dark; Rascher, Legere Classic, Francois Louis
    Tenor - Yamaha YTS-62 JodyJazz Classic 12, Legere Studio Cut, Rovner Light; Rascher, Legere Classic, Francois Louis

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eulipion2 View Post
    That said, one of my college professors was mainly an alto player. On the rare occasion that he had a (professional orchestral) gig that called for tenor, he swore by his YTS-23.
    Was his main horn a YAS-23? Yeah, didn’t think so...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eulipion2 View Post
    The other thing in the Yamaha's favor is that they tend to retain their resale value.
    That holds true for any used horn bought at a decent price. Once depreciated, it should hold fairly constant if well maintained.
    Go for The Tone,

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G View Post
    Was his main horn a YAS-23? Yeah, didn’t think so...
    No, but the 23 was the only tenor he owned, and played professionally several times a year.
    Soprano - Antigua Winds 590-BC JodyJazz Classic 8-3/4, Fibracell; Rascher, Legere Signature, Rovner Dark
    Alto - Yamaha YAS-875EXB JodyJazz Classic 9, Legere Studio Cut, Rovner Dark; Rascher, Legere Classic, Francois Louis
    Tenor - Yamaha YTS-62 JodyJazz Classic 12, Legere Studio Cut, Rovner Light; Rascher, Legere Classic, Francois Louis

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eulipion2 View Post
    No, but the 23 was the only tenor he owned, and played professionally several times a year.
    Sorry to call him on it, but he is clearly not taking tenor as seriously as alto. If he really thought that the -23 was suitable for professional performance, why waste money on anything more for his alto?

    P.S. I see that you play a 62. Why that choice if the -23 was good enough for professional use?
    Go for The Tone,

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G View Post
    Was his main horn a YAS-23? Yeah, didn’t think so...



    That holds true for any used horn bought at a decent price. Once depreciated, it should hold fairly constant if well maintained.
    A pro player will usually have a good pro horn for his main sax, and quite often student/intermediate level horns for all his doubling instruments.
    For instance, there have been many posts remarking on the number of Yamaha 23's seen among players in pit orchestras.
    At the student/intermediate level horns, Yamaha is very clearly the runaway winner in holding its market value.
    At the pro level horns, your statement holds true for the most popular ones.

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G View Post
    Sorry to call him on it, but he is clearly not taking tenor as seriously as alto. If he really thought that the -23 was suitable for professional performance, why waste money on anything more for his alto?
    If I recall correctly (it's been nearly 20 years since I studied with him), the piece they were playing required a tenor, so he rented one from a local shop for the duration of the run, but liked it and figured it'd be good to have just in case so he bought it. In the time I studied with him I never actually saw the horn (but his Mark VII alto was LOVELY!) I was just offering an anecdote to suggest that the horn may be better than the "student" moniker suggests.
    Soprano - Antigua Winds 590-BC JodyJazz Classic 8-3/4, Fibracell; Rascher, Legere Signature, Rovner Dark
    Alto - Yamaha YAS-875EXB JodyJazz Classic 9, Legere Studio Cut, Rovner Dark; Rascher, Legere Classic, Francois Louis
    Tenor - Yamaha YTS-62 JodyJazz Classic 12, Legere Studio Cut, Rovner Light; Rascher, Legere Classic, Francois Louis

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    I owned a Cresent before and I have owned a 23. However not at the same time. I think the Cresent is a good horn. I would choose it over the 23. Sounds like a good way to go if you want a new horn for under 1k.

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G View Post
    Sorry to call him on it, but he is clearly not taking tenor as seriously as alto. If he really thought that the -23 was suitable for professional performance, why waste money on anything more for his alto?

    P.S. I see that you play a 62. Why that choice if the -23 was good enough for professional use?
    In regards to the P.S., some prefer those engravings, MOP key touches, and fancier looking keywork. The 62 is the better hand crafted tool, but the end result is remarkably similar to the 21/23/Advantage/whatever else they're calling their student series this year.

    In regards to the OP, I think that all of these options are great horns that can keep up with saxophones well outside their price points.

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    To the OP, sorry this has gone a little off course.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G View Post
    P.S. I see that you play a 62. Why that choice if the -23 was good enough for professional use?
    Didn't see this earlier. The 62 is my main horn, and was a high school graduation present from my parents, before I'd begun studying with the professor mentioned above. Most likely the shop where they bought it recommended it to them as something better than a student horn. Also, it was used, and my dad had a connection at the shop, so they probably got a killer deal.

    I didn't own an alto, my YAS-875EX, until my third year of college when a different instructor made me switch to alto for classical study because that's where all the repertoire is. Yamaha had just released the EX and Z series, I was curious, my local shop had a single EX, in black lacquer (would have preferred gold laq or silver plate), available for a darned good price, which was reduced further by my dad's connection. I needed the horn by the start of the spring semester, this one played great and was affordable and immediately available. The rest is history.

    I'm not trying to say that a Yamaha 23 is going to be better or worse than a Crescent -- I mentioned in my initial post that I want a Crescent bari. As for (non-Big 4) Asian horns, my soprano is an Antigua Winds 590 from Kessler, and it has served me well for the last 14 years. Does it have the same quality craftsmanship and materials as the Yamahas? No, but it's a great player, and I have no major qualms with it. I'm sure the Crescent would be at least as good, if not better.
    Soprano - Antigua Winds 590-BC JodyJazz Classic 8-3/4, Fibracell; Rascher, Legere Signature, Rovner Dark
    Alto - Yamaha YAS-875EXB JodyJazz Classic 9, Legere Studio Cut, Rovner Dark; Rascher, Legere Classic, Francois Louis
    Tenor - Yamaha YTS-62 JodyJazz Classic 12, Legere Studio Cut, Rovner Light; Rascher, Legere Classic, Francois Louis

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G View Post
    Sorry to call him on it, but he is clearly not taking tenor as seriously as alto. If he really thought that the -23 was suitable for professional performance, why waste money on anything more for his alto?
    A YTS23 is fine for professional performance. I have used one, and I'm not the only pro player to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eulipion2 View Post
    The other thing in the Yamaha's favor is that they tend to retain their resale value.
    If you buy one new it doesn't have a great resale value, only if you buy used. This obviously applies to most instruments.
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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    Quote Originally Posted by funchaus View Post

    The used horns are cheaper and from well known brands. The new horns are less time tested. However, the old horns could need repair work done, and especially with the Vito's, it's hard to know whether is a good (Japanese made?) model or not.
    The Reverb listing with the distinctive continuous low register key guard is a -23. Isn't the other "made in Japan" also a Yamaha, but looks like a 200 or 275 platform? At anyrate, I've got/had Yamaha student horns, and they are everything everyone claims. But I like playing my older US beaters more.

    Since you are playing an 80 year old Buescher and enjoying it, I'd say you might look into adding "old horns" to your search. Just find a good, reputable tech. Tech's can do great things with a decent vintage specimen for not a lot of money. Considering what they can do, having access to a good tech is a relative bargain. The lure of older vintage horns, is discovering the many underrated horns out there, rescuing a nice find, and enjoying something from the hey dey. It also can be a cheaper way to own a superior horn. But, its not for everyone.
    Best, Jim

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    Default Re: Crescent/Kessler Tenor vs used Yamaha/Vito vs ?

    @funchaus
    I'm having a pretty tough time navigating the market place.
    If possible, I'd like to spend less that $1000 on a horn.



    As a suggestion and because it seems like you’re in no hurry. Learn a little bit about what to look for in a used saxophone. IE wear/damage. Spend some time stopping at some yard sales or at fleamarket. Don’t hesitate to ask at a yard sale if you don’t see one.
    Here is an example of a Conn 16M director a.k.a. “shooting star”....needs repad. And yeah it has a few signs of being used since 1958. But what would you expect for $35 at a yard sale. Now add $500 for a full re-pad and you end up with enough change to buy a decent YAS 23 alto. Or one hell of a Mouthpiece and ligature.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the other horns you were looking at. Just throwing this at you because it is very doable. And you seem not to have any issues with vintage.
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