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Opus USA Soprano Sax (China!)

I ordered a black and gold from eBay seller Kevin at ktonemusic, who currently (15Dec2010) has 348 feedback scores, with 99.1% positive.
On the feedback page, clicking Show All, I was able to find out that another feedback said that this was a “good intermediate soprano saxophone.” I thought that was enlightening, because the auction listing says this is a “Professional” model.

My horn came with severe damage. The package must have been dropped on the bell end. The sax was packed in two boxes, but the outer box was simply wrapping the inner box, with no extra packing to cushion a fall. The bell was smashed, shortening the instrument by about 1/2 inch. However Kevin addressed the problem, offering several different options.

Serial #: none found!

I assume that this was made in China. The eBay ad mentions that something is Italian, but the noun was left out, so one doesn't know, “Italian what?” Perhaps the engraved design?? [A month later, Jan2011: I think that Italian pads were what was meant.]

The instrument comes with a straight and curved neck. I am using the straight one. The neck is supposed to be secured by tightening a screw. There is no slack in the gap, so the neck is loose no matter how hard you tighten the screw. I like how the separate neck allows for a much shorter case. The Chinese case may not last long. I have a clarinet case like it that quickly cracked. But the case is certainly serviceable for now. It withstood the drop that damaged the horn, with only two layers of cardboard protecting it.

Another result of the dropping: The double octave key mechanism is not working well. The lower octave key is not opening far enough. There is also another key that often sticks shut.

Intonation results taken when playing loud and only moderate lipping. Above high B-flat, Lingot doesn't work. Above that I use my old Quicktune electronic tuner, so the results are less accurate.

I am using the same Vandoren SL3 Optimum mouthpiece and Legere 3 1/4 reed for this test as I did for the Selmer. I am pulled farther out on the neck with the Opus than the Selmer, in order to start with an in-tune low G. Also below I am redoing the Selmer results in order to start with about the same low G.

High

LINGOT
Selmer
Opus

F



E
10


D
-2, 0 with rt mid side key
-20 w/o side key, 5 with

C#
-11, with rt middle side key +3
0 with mid side key, -30 without!

C
1
2

B
-1
1

B-flat
-5
-1

A-20
-4

G-7
-11
Left-right division




F1
-2

E-4
-4

D7
0

C#
1
0

C0
0

B1
2

B-flat-9
-1

A-12 or more
-6

G-2
2

F6
0

E6
0

D11
-5

C14
0

B
12
1

B-flat7/0 even lower if seated and leaning between legs
+18 because squashed

Included mouthpiece: More open than my Vandoren SL3. It will probably play well with a softer reed than what I play.

Intonation summary: The intonation of this instrument is better than the Selmer. But the Selmer is rather old now, perhaps made in the 1980s. The technology for saxophones has dramatically improved, even more than it has for clarinets. It is no wonder that the Chinese makers have copied the best they could find. I haven't had the chance to review the current top models, but even they will have some sharp and flat places. I see from the above that I should have pushed in a bit more, as so few notes were sharp. Still, look at the zeros! The highest tones might be slightly more responsive than on the Selmer.

Key work quality: I haven't tried to bend anything yet. I have a bit of concern for the low B-flat, that a metal band leading to the key looks a bit thin. The key work looks good for an intermediate horn. [UPDATE 9May2012: I still like the intonation. The instrument feels a bit stuffy to play even though it doesn't seem to be leaking. The tone is duller than the Selmer. But the big thing that is a problem is that the tone holes are extremely sharp and the pads are extremely soft. Deep grooves have formed in many pads, and this causes them to stick down. In some cases the spring no longer is strong enough to raise the pad. It has helped somewhat to apply silicon spray to the pads. On high quality saxophones, the tone holes are rolled, or have a thicker bead around the edge of the tone hole, so the pad does not get so deeply grooved.]

Jan2011, one month after purchase: The tone holes are not rolled over to give a nice surface for the pads. The sharp edges have cut into the thin leather of the pads. This has caused some pads to stick.

This sax is most appropriate for: Anyone, including intermediate and advanced players.

Tone: I am pleased with the tone. It is perhaps a bit less brash than my Selmer. There is a noticeable difference in tone in the lower register. The Selmer more reedy sounding, and this one duller sounding, or perhaps lacking in some high overtones. This duller or more stuffy sound might even be preferred for classical music.

[Apr2014 update] I bought a second one because the first one developed problems because of being dropped in shipment. The second one is not as well in tune. The upper G# is WAY flat, but generally the upper register from A on is way sharp. It would be OK if the upper register key could be activated for that note. It seems that the neck portions do not give good intonation with the second one. I try to compensate by pulling the neck out where it attaches to the body. The instrument is sort of OK, but not great, for what I use it for in churches in Indonesia.




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