Andrew Dixon
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  Makes of Saxophones Source Sax Shop
Yamaha | Yanagisawa | Selmer | Buffet | Keilwerth | Conn | Martin | King | Buescher


There are about 100 different brand names. A few pros and cons of the most important brand names are addressed below. For new saxophones, Japanese brand names are most frequently sold. At the moment a lot of saxophones come from the countries in the Far East such as The Republic of China and Korea. Seven years ago their quality was very poor, but not any more. Dixon and Jupiter produce reasonable saxophones for students. However, care is necessary, these factories deliver a lot of different models with various quality levels. It is common custom among wholesalers to order a whole range of instruments in these countries under their own brand name such as Boston, New York Symphony, Windsor and many more. The cheaper Evette model of Buffet Crampon e.g. is produced in R.O.C,. The price-quality relationship is difficult to understand for an 'innocent' consumer. For instruments of the same quality there is sometimes a difference in price from 20 to 80%.The fact is that too often a new saxophone needs too much correction to play properly. Within Europe there are only two countries which can be taken seriously, France and Germany. The Italian  brand names have a poor price-quality relationship. Probably, they won't be able to compete much longer with the Fareast. Schenkelaars, a producer from the South of Holland has gone bankrupt already.

America has over the years produced four well established brand names: Conn, Buescher, Martin and King. From the twenties to the fifties good to excellent saxophones were produced. In the sixties and the seventies the quality level came down and now they produce good quality saxophones for students but not excellent quality any more. Examples of these types are: King Cleveland, Buescher 200 and Bundy . Nowadays America doesn't play an important part in the world of the saxophone industry. They are completely withdrawn from the scene because of bankruptcy or poor quality. However, many saxophone players rediscover the old instruments from the glory period of the American industry. If they are overhauled well then you can easily see the craftsmanship. These saxophones have a full sound and the sound is full of expression. They are well-suited to play jazz or pop. Some examples of the better American saxophones:


is market leader in selling the student models (23 & 25 series). (25 = a 23 with high F sharp-key). The clarity is rather good and the mechanism is of good quality, with no great differences between the various models. Yahama are easy to play and   have an application which is useful for people with small hands. A lot of music colleges and teachers recommend a Yahama for people who are just starting to play.
The saxophone is light in weight and therefore the sound is rather thin. People who are more experienced prefer to buy a better quality and more expensive saxophone. Yamaha also produce  more professional models. The 32 -series is not much more than the 23/25 student models. But the 62- series is a typical Japanese semi-professional saxophone. Not really the top but well build and not to expensive. The custom-series of Yamaha are real beauties.

Yamaha Sopranos >>Yamaha Altos >>Yamaha Tenors >>
Yamaha Baritones >>

Another very good manufacturer is Yanagisawa. This is an example of creative imitation of the Mark 6 Selmer. They continually improve their instrument. The application is terrific and the technical finish is very good. The Yanagisawa is, at the moment, the only brand name whose products are delivered fault-free from the factory. The price- quality relationship is excellent. This brand name has achieved a market position among the better quality brand names. The fullness of the sound has perhaps less personality than Selmer saxophones or the older American ones. Yanagisawa build a semi-professional model and a more expensive "Elimona"   pro-model. One can also buy all kinds of extra's saxophones build of bronze, and of solid silver. Even pure gold is a possibility.
Yanagisawa Sopranos >>
Yanagisawa Altos >>
Yanagisawa Tenors >>Yanagisawa Baritones >>

Selmer This French brand name has a lot of advantages: a tradition, an instrument with a good application and a many-sided fullness of sound. The instrument can be used for pop music, jazz and classical music. A lot of players are very fond of this particular brand name. Nevertheless, the time has passed when professional players automatically chose a Selmer. There are two reasons: 1 Competition. The Japanese brand names get better and better and competition from this country is enormous. And a lot of players have rediscovered the robust sound of the older American saxophones. 2 Carelessness. The design of the Selmer is very good, but the technical finish is not always good. Faults, such as leaking pads and mechanism which doesn't work, occur too often. A lot of saxophone players complain too often; "The instrument has a nice sound, but the lower tones sound miserable". This is caused by leaking pads. The instrument is never corrected after it has left the factory. Sometimes the pads are stuck with glue instead of shellac. This is an example of poor workmanship and may damage the firm's reputation. We are not suggesting that these saxophones are no good at all their finish in the factory needs to be improved and unfortunately a lot of retailers and consumers don't recognize this. But the last years Selmer has improved a lot.
Selmer Sopranos >>
Selmer Altos >>
Selmer Tenors >>

Selmer Baritones >>

Selmer Mark 6. This legendary saxophone produced from the fifties to the seventies sometimes lives up to its reputation but not always. The best are the older ones, which are regarded as the best ever made. The later ones, though not bad quality, have a less spectacular sound. It is interesting that Selmer is still producing the neck of the Mark 6 and it fits newer types and other brand names

Buffet Crampon is another French brand name. They are market leader in the area of clarinets, less so in the area of saxophones. Buffet Crampon produces various models and they are expensive.
The main comment is: not bad, but the sound is too decent???   Buffet Crampon has been taken over recently by the Boosy & Hawkes group. which also includes Keilwerth. Since then the various Buffet types show a remarkeble resemblance with Jullius Keilwerth saxophones.

Keilwerth saxophones are known for their dark-old American sound. The cheaper ST-models are largely build by Amati. professional EX ans SX(R) models are build in Germany, They are build very solid. The SX-R saxophones even have rolled tone holes. 
Keilwerth Sopranos >>
Keilwerth Altos >>
Keilwerth Tenors >>
Keilwerth Baritones >>

LA Sax
Makers of pretty groovy saxes. Check out the range and you will see why. I play an LA Sax Tenor and love it.
LA SAX Sopranos >>LA SAX Altos >> LA SAX Tenors >>
Very affordable with meny options and add-ons for the beginner and pro.
Legacy Sopranos >>
Legacy Altos >>
Legacy Tenors >>
Legacy Baritones >>

Another very affordable brand with meny model options and price ranges.
Cecilio Sopranos >>
Cecilio Altos >>
Cecilio Tenors >>
Cecilio Baritones >>

Jupiter have been manufacturing saxophones for some time now and constantly improove their instruments. A good mid-priced sax.
Jupiter Sopranos >>
Jupiter Altos >>
Jupiter Tenors >>
Jupiter Baritones >>

Conn. The showpieces of this once famous brand name are the Conn Conqueror, the Conn Ladyface and the Conn LTD or Chu Berry. The application and the comfort to play was for that period in time excellent. In particular the fullness of the alto sound (with tuning-neck) brought many player in pleasant confusion. The more recently produced 16 M models are a worthy second best.  Nowadays Conn produces only very poor quality.

Martin. The main characteristic of Martin is its thick soldered tone holes.
Everything about the Martin is thick, fat and robust and so is its sound. This brand name has various good models such as their Indiana and Handcraft. They're best piece is "The Martin". A wonderful model produced in 'Jugendstill' with a massive neck, with a smooth control and a solid sound. The Martin's sound remains full and warm where others sound shrill.

King. King is especially known for its Super 20 model with its massive neck made of silver. A little less famous is the King Zephyr Again as for other saxophones the real champions are among the older models. Many players prefer the King S-20 in stead of the Mark 6. Please note! Brand names named New King come from Eastern Europe and there is no connection with the King from the USA.

Buescher. The older types have rather thick plating and this makes the clarity of the sound very harmonious. Such an instrument can whisper beautifully soft. The Buescher was in early days rather late with improvements on modernizing of the application. When Conn started their new manufacturing techniques in the twenties and the thirties, Buescher was still producing an old key systems.  The best ones are the older 400-series and the Aristocrat.

In general the older saxophones represent an era where craftsmanship was available everywhere and the wages were low. There you find the masterpieces. The older instruments are becoming more and more expensive. Buying a quality instrument is a good way of investing your money e.g. in the Conn  Ladyface or the "The Martin". In the more expensive countries such as Japan and Germany the prices are increasing rapidly at the moment. The price of a Mark-6 is already very high world-wide.

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