Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

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  1. #1

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    Question Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    If some people prefer a specific vintage sax over a modern one, why can't technology and all that modern stuff help make a better saxophone? Cars now are more fuel-efficiant and/or have better preformance than older cars. What about saxophones?

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    until they make a more fuel efficient saxophone i'm sticking with my yts 62

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    It's a subjective matter really, but for all intents and purposes, modern saxophones are more perfect in terms of tone and intonation. Some players, most who have grown up on vintage, feel that older horns have more character and are more flexible. Some have even learned how to use the quirks of vintage horns to their advantage. Take for instance, a note that blows flat and needs to be lipped up can more easily be used when you are intentionally trying to bend that note.

    I also feel that there is a certain mystic with old instruments that can not be duplicated by their modern counterparts. There's something cool about playing on a 60 year old Buescher 400 as opposed to a run of the mill Yamaha Custom or Selmer Serie II. After all, the latter are still being made in abundance as the former is becoming harder and harder to find.

    Finally, a lot of vintage horns seem to have advantages in certain areas. IMHO nothing compares to the deep low end of the old Bueschers, or the booming sound of the old Conns, or the screaming altissimo of the old Kings. Of course, all of these horns had weaknesses that rivaled their strengths. The modern horn is designed to be the best possible compromise between feel, tone, and intonation. Some players like em, while others feel that modern horns sound "neutered".

    In all, there is really no right or wrong choice. Go with what you like.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member HeavyWeather77's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Quote Originally Posted by Yamahaaltoplayer View Post
    If some people prefer a specific vintage sax over a modern one, why can't technology and all that modern stuff help make a better saxophone? Cars now are more fuel-efficiant and/or have better preformance than older cars. What about saxophones?
    For what it's worth I play all new(ish) horns-- Z tenor, Series III alto, YSS475 soprano. I used to play vintage tenors but I prefer the Z to anything I've ever owned, and my Series III plays as well as any Mark VI I've ever tried. When the C# vent isn't leaking... there's one piece of technology I could do without...

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Hmm... just wondering. I look in old pictures and read about history and all that blah and notice how "advanced" we are in terms of technology (compared to "then").

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    I wish made vintage horns with modern keywork...
    Buescher curved soprano silver plate high F/Jicaino custom large chamber sop piece
    Buescher Aristocrat 140 silver plate /Jicaino refaced Buescher piece

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    I wish modern horns had the same key spacings as the vintage horns
    especially sops and altos.

    The vintage horns (or at least my conns) fit my hands a lot more comfortably.

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    Forum Contributor 2013-2017 Kenneth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    I actually think that in terms of keywork, today's horns are over-engineered. I find my 1933 Conn transitional really easy to play, everything seems to fall naturally under my -- small -- hands, and the response is quick and precise.
    As has been pointed out, intonation is as intonation is. It's up to you.

    Plus, after you're done, because of the relatively "unbusy" keywork, you can easily clean and dry all the pads and toneholes. Maybe on the vintage Conns the grub-screws are a pain, but that's the only gripe I have. And there's no beating the sound, which in the end, is all that really matters, at least to me.
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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    I remember trying a Buescher being sold by a sax tech when I brought my Conn 24M to him for repad. Although the sound and intonation are good, what I did not like was the keyworks. I would rather go for a horn with keyworks which suit my fingers (short) and just compensate whatever shortcomings it may have on intonation with my embochure.

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperAction80 View Post
    It's a subjective matter really, but for all intents and purposes, modern saxophones are more perfect in terms of tone and intonation. Some players, most who have grown up on vintage, feel that older horns have more character and are more flexible.
    I gotta disagree that modern saxes are more perfect in terms of intonation. I've owned a yas-62, serie ii, 82Z and Martin Committee altos and serie ii, yanaigawas 991, ST90, 82Z and Martin Committee tenors. NONE of them more in tune than another- just different in their tendancies.
    The Martins ARE very flexible and if you really don't aim the pitch it just doesn't give it to you like other horns do.
    That said, I'm yet to play an 'in-tune' saxophone. If heard plenty of out-of-tune players though.

    Quote Originally Posted by conn1933 View Post
    I actually think that in terms of keywork, today's horns are over-engineered.
    Particularly in the palm keys, low c/Eb spatulas and the main stack table.
    Last edited by Benny; 12-04-2008 at 10:45 AM. Reason: typos

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    I have read (I think here on SOTW ) that some people have tried having their vintage horns rebuilt with modern keywork. I think the great expense ( or working hours investment) which would be involved in something like this is only justifiable if one can do this on his own and has enormous skills , time and willingness to experiment but there is very , very, little to be gained from such a thing other than having a unique saxophone which ( I am sure that some would argue ) has or not such special sound qualities.

    With regards to innovation not having been applied to the more that a century old musical instrument . I would say that this is, in general terms, incorrect.
    The saxophone has undergone some, although unsuccessful but stunning, evolution by the likes of Jim Schmidt whose saxophones (and flutes) are anything but ordinary or traditional. Yet, this is perhaps one of the few attempts to have been reforming the saxophone as it wwas invented (to be fair , also the Tubax and the soprillo by Benedikt Eppelsheim, to a certain extent, are). The saxophone is like the bicycle, although some different projects have been introduced (the many layback bicycles ) the most successful design is still one of the oldest ones , albeit improved in the different materials used to produce a modern type.
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Quote Originally Posted by zxcvbnm View Post
    I wish made vintage horns with modern keywork...
    Check out www.martinmods.com

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Modern vs Vintage is alot like Photo's Vs Memory

    Having a Photo is having a perfect recording of a event - while your memory (with no photo to refer to) will be more apt to make it seem unforgettable and legendary.

    I think its all the imperfections in a vintage horn that makes a player HAVE to participate more in its performance - and thus making it a more personal experience. Modern horns are Sooooooo nice that the player doesn't have to do much to get a great result.
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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Quote Originally Posted by Yamahaaltoplayer View Post
    If some people prefer a specific vintage sax over a modern one, why can't technology and all that modern stuff help make a better saxophone? Cars now are more fuel-efficiant and/or have better preformance than older cars. What about saxophones?
    Vintage saxophones were designed to play with a big sound - loud - because they didn't have microphones and PA's to help them. And thusly, they are very flexible as far as tone quality and intonation are concerned. This is a good thing if you know how to tame one - You play the horn and you tell it what to do. Then you have a seemingly endless pallet of tone color and effects to use in making your music.

    If, however, you haven't yet developed your chops/ears enough to tame one of these, then it is going to take you all over the place - to key centers that don't even exist.

    Modern saxophones are designed to be "safer" in regards to intonation, and as a result, they have far less flexible tonal qualities. For this reason, some players consider them "nutered".

    Maybe someone will disagree, but from my experience, once you can play a vintage horn and make it do what you want, you have absolutely no interest in playing a modern saxophone. They are too limiting tonally.

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Are the Selmer Reference not the answer ?
    Buffet-Crampon S1 tenor sax
    Yanagisawa S990 soprano sax
    Yamaha YAS32 alto sax

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMods View Post
    I like your work, Impressive workmanship! Compliments!
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Quote Originally Posted by silvin View Post
    Are the Selmer Reference not the answer ?
    One would think...I played one next to my 82000 MK6 Tenor. It had similar qualities, but it still felt like a modern horn. I had the feeling that I wanted to take it apart, take off the finish, and put some dents in it so I could take them back out. Then maybe it would do what I wanted.

    milandro - thanks

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    FOR MOST PEOPLE, Modern saxes do have better intonation, evenness of scale, better response, better action, better ergonomics, more reliability than vintage.
    "The key to improvising is being able to play and listen at the same time."

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperAction80 View Post
    ...Of course, all of these horns had weaknesses that rivaled their strengths. The modern horn is designed to be the best possible compromise between feel, tone, and intonation.
    Yeah: I think most modern horns try to be all things to all people—within a vague sense of "Mark VI-ishness."

    The modern horns I've most often heard compared to vintage seem to be going for a vague sense of American horn, albeit not with the specifics of any single one.

    I do agree, though, that the Series III can compete with an average Mark VI (at least the tenors).

    I also have a theory about how we, as a society, have traded quality for convenience: we accept things that don't work quite as well as they used to because they are easier to use and/or easier to manufacture in a one-size-fits-all way. But I'm just a prematurely cranky old dude, so that might just be a crackpot theory.

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    Default Re: Vintage saxes vs. modern saxes and technology

    The best sounding tenor that I ever had was a 1942 Buescher Big B, and like the idiot that I occasionally become, I let it get away from me. I have a great Randy Jones Reference 36 now, but I sure do miss that Buescher

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