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Tim's Picks

This page is dedicated to products that I have come across that I think are worthy of special mention in the saxophone world.This edition features the products of P. Mauriat Saxophones,  SR Technologies Mouthpieces and Vandoren Saxophone Mouthpieces.

 

ANDREAS EASTMAN SAXOPHONES

The new Andreas Eastman saxophones are making a big splash in the saxophone world!  The "52nd Street" alto and tenor are fantastic with a huge, warm sound quality, rolled tone holes (soldered on) and an un-lacquered finish.  We sold an alto to the lead alto with the Air Force Falconaires who likes it better than the Selmer Reference 54 he has been playing!  The 2nd Alto with the Falconaires is also playing the 52nd Street alto and is now trying out the tenor as well.  The alto also plays more even from top to bottom and with better intonation than the similar P. Mauriat alto!!  This is the alto that I now own and am playing myself!

Eastman Music EAS-652-RL "52nd Street" Professional Alto Saxophone, Rolled Tone Holes, No Lacquer

The 52nd Street tenor is now being played and endorsed by Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets), Gary Bias (Earth, Wind & Fire) and Steve Watts (Dotsero).   Bob is also playing the straight, one-piece soprano which he says is the most in tune soprano he has ever played!  Even with rolled tone holes these play with more center and focus than the rolled tone hole Mauriat models and slightly prettier sound as well.

Eastman Music ETS-652-RL "52nd Street" Professional Tenor Saxophone, Rolled Tone Holes, No Lacquer
Eastman Music ESS-642-GL Professional Soprano Saxophone, Straight One-Piece, Gold Lacquer

There is also a straight tone hole 640-VL (Vintage Lacquer) series alto and tenor that play more centered and focused if that is what you like.  Either don't play quite as big as the 52nd Street models, but have a warmer sound and would work very well for classical saxophone or for someone who does not like the slightly more spread sound of rolled tone holes.

Eastman Music ETS-640-VL Professional Tenor Saxophone, Vintage Lacquer

I believe these are THE BEST new saxophones out there and you need to check them out if you are looking for a serious new saxophone that will give you a huge, warm sound for a very reasonable price!!

Thanks Eastman for making a FANTASTIC saxophone that we are thrilled to endorse and sell at Sax Alley!!!

 

TM CUSTOM TENOR SAXOPHONES

Randy Jones has created a true rolled tone hole tenor with hours and hours of custom work and features including Pisoni Premium Pads, Tenor Madness resonators and multiple necks to choose from.  This is the best tenor of this type being made today and it feels and plays great!  Doug Lawrence of the Count Basie Orchestra is playing and endorsing this great tenor.

 

P. MAURIAT SAXOPHONES

Sax Alley is an Authorized Dealer for P. Mauriat and has sold more P. Mauriat Saxophones than any dealer in the US in the first 10 years of Mauriat's introduction.  Even with a new distributor and numerous stores set up to sell P. Mauriat, we are still one of the top 5 dealers in North America!  These fine instruments are made out of French Brass by an excellent Taiwanese manufacturer, which gives them the warm sound quality that, before the P. Mauriat saxophone, has been missing in Taiwanese made instruments. I played these next to what I believe is the best major French brand and the sound was very obviously warmer, richer and better overall. Keywork is similar to the Selmer Series II and the price is great, making them a super playing instrument that is affordable.

The dark lacquer alto and tenor have an antique, vintage finish, much like the Selmer Reference 54 only with a nicer texture and are now completely hand engraved as well. These instruments are getting great reviews in "Jazz Times" and "Downbeat" magazines and many great players are now playing and endorsing these great instruments. I think you will be impressed with the sound and quality of this very well made saxophone. People come in and compare the Mauriat Saxophones with the major brands and they end up purchasing the Mauriat, not because of the price, but for the sound!

The PMXT-66R and PMXA-67R, rolled tone hole, tenor and alto have been a big hit.  The unlacquered models, PMXA-67R UL and PMXT-66R UL are absolutely out of this world . They have more presence than the dark lacquer horns and still have that same huge sound. The alto, played next to a vintage Mark VI, had a very similar sound quality, but with a bigger bottom, more responsive middle D and more power in the palm keys as well. The tenor has more of the vintage VI sound as well, but with a fatter core due to the rolled tone holes.

 The new System 76 Soprano is the best soprano Mauriat has offered to date. Some of the slight problems in the previous models have been overcome in this model. The response is even from top to bottom, the intonation is very good and they play the way a soprano should at a much lower cost than the other major brands. Mauriat just keeps making them better and better and their instruments are right up there with the "Big Boys" in terms of playability, but with a lower price. My thanks to Alex at Mauriat who set out to make a GREAT new saxophone and succeeded!

 

PHIL-TONE, Hand Crafted, SAXOPHONE MOUTHPIECES

Phil Engleman is making a wonderful alto mouthpiece, the "Solstice", which plays with extreme ease.  It has a slightly smaller chamber than a standard hard rubber, medium chamber Meyer.  The first alto piece he sent me (a .071" tip) played so easily with the same reed I was using on my Selmer S80 C* test mouthpiece, that I decided to keep it for myself!  We have also found that this mouthpiece plays particularly well with the new Andreas Eastman 52nd Street Alto!! 

One of his tenor models, the "Eclipse", is very Link-like and plays with more ease than any standard hard rubber Link I have played recently.  Phil-Tone Eclipse Hard Rubber Tenor Mouthpiece

The new "Sapphire" is a cross between an Early Babbit and late Florida hard rubber Link.  These are really nice playing and he is now coming with another hard rubber piece, the "Mosaic" which I am looking forward to playing.

Phil's new metal tenor "Tribute" is a copy of the Vintage Florida Link that plays extremely well at a price that is much for affordable than the vintage Link.  

Phil also does excellent refacing work and has numerous models available in his line of hand-crafted mouthpieces.

Check out Phil's web site to see what is available and don't hesitate to ask us if you would like a model different than what we are currently offering.  http://www.phil-tone.com/

My congratulations to Phil and I trust he will keep up the good work. We are very proud here at Sax Alley to be able to offer Phil's mouthpieces.

 

 

VANDOREN

The Vandoren mouthpieces are the best mass production mouthpieces out today. They are what they say on the box, a standard that other mouthpiece manufacturers might want to consider. The facings are accurate and the pieces are very playable.

Do you play a Keilwerth saxophone? Consider the classical "Series 5" mouthpieces for players who own a Keilwerth and can't get that Selmer C* to work with it. The Keilwerth requires a round chamber mouthpiece that is shorter in overall length than the Selmer. If you are having intonation problems playing classical saxophone with your Keilwerth and it is getting more flat in pitch the higher you go, then you should try a Vandoren "Series 5" mouthpiece.

The new "Optimum" classical saxophone mouthpieces for alto, tenor and bari are also a great choice. I have had some great classical players try these out and they were very impressed.  Many classical players are now switching to this mouthpiece due to the flexibility of the round chamber and slightly different sound than you get with other classical mouthpieces. 

The V16 Metal Tenor has not been one of my favorites, but I have found it to be an excellent match for a King Super 20 tenor. If you own a Super 20 and don't like a vintage metal Berg Larsen, try the V16 Metal Tenor. You will be glad you did!

My compliments to Vandoren for striving to make consistently high quality, accurate mouthpieces and actually achieving that goal!

 

OTTO LINK "NEW VINTAGE" HARD RUBBER TENOR MOUTHPIECES

The words "new" and "vintage" in the same sentence seem to contradict each other, but Babbit is putting out these really fine mouthpieces that are copies of the old "Slant Signature" mouthpieces that Otto Link produced in the past.

These are made from an old design and play very nearly the same as the mouthpiece they are emulating for a fraction of what you would have to pay for the same mouthpiece in a true vintage model.  These seem to work well with players both young and old and are very free-blowing.

Otto Link New "Vintage" Hard Rubber Tenor Mouthpiece
 

I am thrilled that J. J. Babbit dug out some old designs and made some great tenor mouthpieces that are reasonably priced and a real joy to play!!