Today, I am reviewing the Andreas Eastman ETS652RL unlacquered tenor saxophone. This is another great saxophone that is manufactured in Taiwan. I had never heard of Eastman saxophones until a couple of months ago when I received an email asking me if I would be willing to review them.
Andreas Eastman EAS640 Tenor Saxophone
Eastman Musical Instrument company started out with violins, then evolved into a full string line. They next added brass instruments, bought the Haynes Flute Company, and are now expanding to include saxophones. Here is a quote from Roger Greenberg who is helping to develop these saxophones:
“Our priority with these saxophones is to capture the best of some of the great vintage horns and combine these features with modern technology, etc. to make the finest horn possible in all aspects including response, sound, intonation, ergonomics and construction. I’m feeling very good about these new horns. We have two very different models, one more traditional in sound and response, and the other more adventurous with rolled tone holes and an amazing response combined with a huge sound.”
This Eastman tenor saxophone is a gorgeous unlacquered sax which gives it a vintage look. It has a high F# key on it and the key work is ergonomically smooth and efficient. It has rolled tone holes which reminds me of my first tenor sax which was a H. Couf which also had rolled tone holes. The metal on the sax and key work is thick and sturdy. There’s nothing flimsy or weak about it. It wasn’t too long ago that you would see a sax from Taiwan or China and the metal would be subpar. I would always get frustrated when students came to their lesson every week and the horn had leaks because the metal bent so easily. The saxophones I’ve seen from Taiwan in the last 2 years have all had excellent build quality though.
The key work was great and I felt like I could get around the horn well. I have a history of tendonitis so I prefer a pretty light spring tension on my saxophones. I found the spring tension to be a bit too strong for me but that can be adjusted by any competent repair person. The bottom Bb table of keys was a bit hard for me to get around but that is due to the stronger spring tension. The placement of the keys and the mechanism looked fine. It had resonators that were metal with rivets in the middle. I’ve heard a few repair techs say these aren’t the best resonators but I’ll leave that discussion for another day as everyone has different opinions on resonators.
The tone of this saxophone was fat and thick sounding. Sometimes when a saxophone is too fat and spread sounding it loses the core to the sound. I think of the core as a tight ball of sound within the tone. This sax still had that core to the sound but it isn’t as focused and tight as my Selmer Super Balanced Action. I think it was more husky and thick sounding than the SBA though.
The first thing I check when I try a saxophone is the intonation. I tune the middle B and then see how the octave B tunes in comparison. If the high B is sharp or out of whack I usually just put the sax back in it’s case and move on. The octaves were great on this sax. The intonation was as good as I have seen on any modern tenor saxophone. The octaves were in tune and the high notes weren’t sharp at all. I really enjoyed playing this saxophone.
I played an Ishimori Woodstone hard rubber 7* mouthpiece on it with a Woodstone #2 1/2 reed. The sax played well with this setup although if I played this sax all the time I think I would go for a more modern sounding setup. The great intonation made it very easy to play right from the beginning. The true test is to play the sax with music and this saxophone passed that test. I played it with a couple of recordings and it was easy to play in tune at louder and softer volumes. The tone was very flexible and felt like I could play with it while still staying in tune. When I played at 95% volume it still kept the same tone and I didn’t feel like I could out blow it.
I have provided a video clip below so you can see and hear the sax for yourself. Anyone can write great reviews about a sax but the true test is to see and hear it for yourself. The final test is for you to play it yourself.
If you are interested in a Andreas Eastman saxophone you can click on http://www.eastmanmusiccompany.com/ . I am told that the saxophones aren’t on there yet but they are in the process of redesigning their site to include them. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks, Steve
Andreas Eastman ETS652RL Tenor Saxophone