MartinMods of Miami, wrote his theory about some of the differences between vintage and modern saxophones, in a thread on SOTW. His theory is very interesting. I hadn’t thought of this before, but it makes a lot of sense. I’m curious to know whether or not there’s validity to it. He writes:
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.
I totally agree with his last paragraph. It certainly reflects my overall experiences with the modern horns I’ve played, and echos my feelings about vintage versus modern instruments.
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