LA Sax tenor saxophone ( basic model? )
Origin: Assembled in USA
Guide price : Not known, bought used for £400
Age of review model : Unknown, but at least 3 years
Date reviewed : Mar.02
Description : An intermediate level sax, finished in metallic blue with
gold lacquered keywork.
LA Sax are a relatively new company on the sax scene, and they've made
a name for themselves by virtue of the amazing range of finishes they
offer their instruments in.
It's no longer the case that the budding sax player is stuck with either
gold or clear lacquer, silver or nickel plate - LA Sax finish their horns
in anything from electric blue to psychedelic chaos.
All very funky - but what lies beneath the glitzy surface?
Well, lets have a closer look at that glitzy surface first.
Esoteric finished are all good and well, but it must be borne in mind
that saxes are prone to wear and tear, the odd knock and dent, scratches,
dings and even bits falling off. In order to fix these problems the finish
of the instrument is likely to suffer to some degree, if it hasn't already
by virtue of the problem.
Traditional finishes have some advantages. Clear lacquer is just that...clear,
so what you see beneath it is the colour of the bare metal. In the event
of a scratch or a repair that removes the finish the difference in colour
is minimal - and it's easy enough to patch up the odd spot where the lacquer
Gold lacquer is deeper and darker than the original brass, but small patches
of brass showing through won't look too bad and it is possible to retouch
the lacquer to some degree ( though it can be hard to achieve a perfect
The plated finishes tend to fare better as they're inherently more durable
- though when they do go through it means having to live with it unless
you replate the entire body.
If you whack a funky finish on a sax, what will it look
like once the finish starts to wear?
You should be aware that unlike plain lacquer some of these funky finishes
have a tendency to chip off when knocked - and because of the contrasting
surface beneath you could end up with a rather shabby looking horn!
Bear in mind that there are some genuine coloured lacquer finishes to
be found - and whilst these won't chip off they'll still be subject to
looking tatty when they wear.
On stripping the horn down I noticed that the finish had been applied
OVER the springs. Understandable really, as fitting springs afterwards
would risk damaging the finish ( something to bear in mind if a spring
breaks! ), but having said that the springs fitted are of the stainless
type - so they'll last. Even so, if springs require tweaking during a
setup then the finish may well chip off
I was pleased to note that the tops of the tone holes were free of the
finish, and had been nicely levelled.
The keywork is nice - one innovation that really impressed me was the
fitting of a nylon grommet in the top F/F# key barrel guard. Usually this
is just a plain 'dome' of brass that keeps the long key barrels secure,
but due to the whip of the keys they can sometimes be a source of noise.
The grommet holds the barrels apart and away from the sides of the dome.
The setup was fair, I did note a few pads up at the back but given the
age of the instrument this may not have been down to poor build.
LA Sax have used
cylindrical point screws
which means that free play can be adjusted indefinitely, which is always
I noted that some of the edges of the key cups were a little uneven -
though this was a cosmetic glitch as the cups themselves appeared to be
quite level. More concern too about the size of the low C cup - a bigger
cup would make for a more reliable seal, I feel.
One or two of the pillars had suspect soldering - this could be an issue
as the horn doesn't use straps for the pillars. If pillars pop off they'll
need resoldering...and that'll damage the finish.
Under the fingers the action felt tight and secure, and quite comfortable.
The bell key spatulas were well placed, though the low C/Eb spatulas were
a little bit of a reach for me. I felt the palm keys were set a tad on
the low side - some players may find the need for add-on risers.
Tonewise, fair to middling - a little lacking in definition perhaps,
and a trifle thin at the upper end. The lower end was beefy enough, but
the lack of definition left it sounding a little hollow. This is a sax
that might benefit from a warmer mouthpiece.
Summing up then : A nicely put together instrument that, if bought at
the right price, represents a fair deal. The secondhand price paid for
this example makes it a bargain.
I have reservations about the durability and longevity of the finish,
but provided you're comfortable with these then these instruments provide
a interesting slant on traditional finishes.
for ebayers and other auctioneers