Eye-Opening Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck Review

Today, I am excited to be reviewing the new BSS (Boston Sax Shop) Heritage tenor saxophone neck released by Jack Tyler at the Boston Sax Shop.   Jack had told me about this new BSS Heritage tenor sax neck a number of years ago and although I am a bit tentative to add another variable to my saxophone playing experience, my curiosity about this Heritage saxophone neck finally got the best of me and I decided to give the Heritage tenor sax neck a try.

Jack Tyler is the owner of Boston Sax Shop and has been my saxophone repairman for the last eight years. I usually head down to Boston about once a year (way overdue now because of Covid) for Jack to check out my tenor saxophone and while he is giving my sax a tune up, he always gives me the inside scoop on all the saxophone world gossip as well as updating me on the latest saxophone gear that is coming out.

Besides being a phenomenal repairman, craftsman and helluva nice guy, Jack is always up to some saxophone related endeavor.  Whether it be straps, cases, ligatures, saxophone necks, reed cases, reeds, mouthpieces, etc….. Jack always seems like he has a new project on the horizon……

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck with some BSS Reeds and the New BSS R-Series Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Like I mentioned above, I don’t usually like to mess around with saxophone necks. I already have my hands full playing the huge variety of saxophone mouthpieces, ligatures and reeds I have reviewed at neffmusic.com over the last 15 years.  Trying out different saxophone necks seems like it is adding another variable to the equation that would further complicate my already too busy life but after hearing Jack’s excitement about his new BSS Heritage tenor neck and seeing countless great sax players using the Heritage neck all over social media, I decided to give the BSS Heritage tenor sax neck a try.

I asked Jack for more specific details about the Boston Sax Shop Heritage tenor saxophone neck and this is what Jack told me (This is transcribed from a couple phone messages he left me):

In terms of the design of the new Heritage tenor saxophone neck, I really wanted to get the flexibility that the balanced action necks have but with improved intonation.  The problem with just putting a balanced action neck onto a Mark VI or other modern saxophone is that the intonation gets totally out of whack and the upper register becomes super sharp.  To correct this, I experimented with the angle, bore and placement of the octave pip so that I could get that flexibility of tone that the balanced action necks have but while still keeping the better intonation of modern horns. 

In particular, this Heritage tenor sax neck can help in the areas where many Selmer Mark VI saxophones and other modern saxophones suffer which is in the middle register where the middle D gets closed down,  the palm keys get kind of thin sounding, as well as the boxiness in the low register of the horn.  The Selmer balanced action design is superior in these areas but with the tradeoff that the Mark VI and modern horns are more in-tune. 

In designing this new Heritage tenor saxophone neck,  I was trying to combine the best of both worlds which is the flexibility and warmth of the balanced action tone as well as the ability to push in the upper register while still having great intonation and a solid core to the tone. The balanced action neck has a higher angle than a SBA or Mark VI neck which I think is why they have a little more openness to the tone.

Although the Heritage neck was inspired by the balanced action neck, the Heritage neck has an even higher angle than a typical Selmer Balanced Action neck which I find decreases the air resistance and gives the tone a more open and flexible feel.  An analogy I like to use is that of a kinked water hose.  The more kinks, bends and turns in the hose, the more restricted the water flow will be. The less kinked the hose is the faster and freer the water will flow. 

This higher angle to the neck idea stemmed from working on, and modifying some necks for Joe Lovano.  Joe likes to conceptualize blowing down into the bore of the tenor rather than blowing across to the bore.  This creates a more free blowing, less resistant, open tone and playing experience. An SBA neck is a little more straight across in angle which tends to give it the most centered sound and a Mark VI neck angle is kind of in-between the SBA and Balanced Action neck angle.“-Jack Tyler

Boston “Bare Brass” Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck (also comes silver plated, gold plated, as well as plated with a cool looking stippled plating)

In the title of this review, I use the words “eye-opening”.   I was indeed surprised by my experience playing the Boston Sax Shop Heritage tenor saxophone neck and I will go into more detail about that as I work through the variety of short sound clips below.

Usually,  I just provide one long sound clip as an example of a product but I felt like the details and specific findings of this review would be better served by providing shorter sound clips along side my Selmer SBA (Super Balanced Action) tenor saxophone neck clips with my findings and observations below each set of sound clips.

Before I get to these sound clips, let me just spend a few moments writing about the physical aspects of the BSS Heritage tenor saxophone neck.  I received the “bare brass” BSS Heritage tenor sax neck to review.  Jack knows I play a Selmer SBA (Super Balanced Action) tenor saxophone that he has worked on many times and he custom fit the BSS Heritage tenor neck tenon to fit perfectly into the neck receiver of my Selmer SBA tenor saxophone.  Jack has had almost every vintage and modern day tenor saxophone through his BSS shop in Boston so he most likely can fit the BSS Heritage tenor neck to your specific tenor saxophone if you ask him. (This is my guess, not Jack’s actual words so reach out to him to find out if he can fit your saxophone with this neck)

The BSS Heritage neck feels and looks just as sturdy as my original Selmer SBA tenor sax neck.  My Selmer SBA neck weighs in at 5.59 ounces on my wife’s high-tech food scale and the BSS Heritage neck weighs in at 5.47 ounces.  The bore of the neck looks a little wider in diameter than my SBA neck (this was also confirmed by Jack) but the tenon and cork openings are the same diameter as the original Selmer SBA saxophone neck.

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck

The Heritage neck has “Heritage” engraved on the octave arm and the BSS logo is engraved on the front plate of the neck as seen in the photo below.  The octave arm looks very similar in design to my SBA neck octave arm.  The only difference I can see with my eye is that where my SBA support columns for the arm are shorter and different lengths from each other, the Heritage neck octave arm columns look to be longer and the same length.

The octave pip on the BSS Heritage tenor sax neck is a little bit further down the neck towards the cork compared to my original SBA tenor saxophone neck.  I am assuming that this was the best placement of the octave pip for optimal intonation between the octaves on the Heritage neck as Jack has told me that they tested many prototypes looking for the best neck design and intonation.

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck with the BSS Logo

Here is how Jack Tyler describes the Boston Sax Shop Heritage tenor saxophone neck on his website at BostonSaxShop.com:

“The Heritage Tenor Saxophone neck was conceived from my twin passions; restoring vintage saxophones and playing them. I have had the privilege as a repairman to examine and test hundreds of vintage necks and put into the concept of the Heritage little pieces of my favorite attributes from each one that I found to be exceptional. A significant amount of influence for this neck comes from the free blowing characteristics I have found in earlier Selmers such as the Radio Improved and Balanced Action horns which have higher neck angles. These models are getting harder and harder to find and often people prefer their sound but not their ergonomics, so I set out to produce a neck that would allow players to experience the magic of these older saxophones on more standard horns. After several years of measuring and adjusting neck angles, and many prototypes, the Heritage neck was born.

The Heritage neck plays with more flexibility and has more width to the sound than a standard Mark VI or VI style neck without sacrificing control or pitch. Due to its higher neck angle It also gives the feeling of blowing more downward into the horn which decreases resistance. I find the Heritage neck offers the player more room to push and opens up the middle register which is often more covered on tenor, producing a more homogenous sound across the horn. It is my dream neck and I am proud to share it with you!”

-Jack Tyler, owner and repair technician

Each bare brass neck will form its own naturally beautiful patina over time and handling. The Heritage neck is precision made to exacting tolerances to ensure consistency and are individually hand engraved.

Each neck includes a complimentary in house custom fitting to your horn. If you wish to order a neck to try at home please select your saxophone type and follow up by contacting me for additional fitting information. We have machined custom fitting dies that allow us to size any neck to the following models: All vintage Selmer models, All current production Selmer models, Yanagisawa, Yamaha, P. Mauriat, Cannonball, Eastman, All other Taiwanese made saxophones.

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck

The first thing I noticed when I first tried the BSS Heritage tenor saxophone neck was that I had to lower my neck strap.  Before I even knew that the Heritage tenor sax neck had a higher angle than my SBA sax neck, I went to try it and the mouthpiece was between my mouth and my nose.   I had to lower my neck strap to get it to the right height for me.

Now, to the eye-opening part about this review, when I first played on the BSS Heritage tenor saxophone neck, I realized that my reed was way too soft.  This was weird because I had just played it for a while on my original SBA tenor sax neck and thought the reed was perfect.  I took the mouthpiece off the BSS Heritage neck and then tried it on my SBA neck again and the reed felt perfect again.  Not too soft, not too hard, a perfect reed with the perfect resistance.  I put the BSS Heritage tenor neck back on my saxophone and sure enough, the reed felt too soft again!  It was very free blowing with not enough resistance.  It just felt way too soft.  Interesting, I had never experienced this before!   I had to find a harder saxophone reed.

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck next to a Selmer Super Balanced Action Neck (the top arch of the BSS neck is higher than the SBA neck)

Now, if you have been a fan of my reviews for awhile, you know that I usually gravitate to a size 2 1/2 or 3 tenor saxophone reed depending on which tenor sax mouthpiece I am reviewing.  The main reason for this, is that on my Selmer SBA (Super Balanced Action) tenor sax, I find that the middle D tends to get airy and what I call “tubby” with a harder saxophone reed.  I don’t like that at all.  I feel like the middle D sticks out as different from all the other notes on the horn and it really has always bothered me so I tend to stay away from tenor sax reeds over a size 3.

Now, for this Heritage neck review, I found that I had to move from the Boston Sax Shop size 3 reed I had been using to a size 3 1/2 Boston Sax Shop tenor sax reed.  I thought for sure this would be too hard but I was surprised to find that it felt great with the BSS Heritage saxophone neck!   Here is the first sound clip I want to share.  I am going to be a bit vulnerable in these sound clips with what I perceive of as weaknesses in the hopes that I can shine a light on some of these eye-opening findings I discovered while working on this review.  I call this the “Middle D” clip:

*Please keep in mind that the better your speakers and sound system are, the more details you will hear in these clips.  Listening on your old iPhone while you ride the subway will probably not give you optimal results……….

Middle D

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

Notice that on the original SBA neck above, the tone on middle D is quite different than the other notes.  It’s more airy and diffused (less focused).  In my opinion, it is not as even and flowing as the other notes. It’s also a bit sharper than the other notes.  This is the exact middle D airiness that I dislike with harder reeds.

Secondly, you might not be able to tell from the clip but I am experiencing a lot of resistance in this clip.  The reed feels too hard for me.  For me, the resistance has crossed from a “good” resistance to a “bad” resistance. I feel like I am working too hard to play on this saxophone reed with the original SBA neck.

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

On this clip with the BSS Heritage sax neck, the reed feels much easier to play (compare the response of the first note in each clip).  It responds faster and the resistance is now back in that “good” range of resistance that feels natural.  Although the middle D still sound like middle D, the difference between it and the other notes is lessened. I don’t hear the airiness and nasal tubbiness I heard with the first SBA neck clip.  It sounds more even with the rest of the notes of the scale (when I play the full G major scale the D isn’t even noticeable to me) and isn’t as sharp as the middle D with the original SBA neck.  When I play fast during this clip, the notes seem to flow smoother and faster because of the evenness of the notes and better resistance.  It feels like I can actually play faster because of the BSS neck!

Middle D Clip 2

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

In this clip above, on the original SBA neck, I still sound and felt uncomfortable.  The resistance is too much and I felt kind of clunky playing this line.  Since the day I first got my SBA tenor sax in 1996, I had an issue with the middle D jumping up to the G above at times.  It seemed really delicate and touchy when it came to “voicing” on that middle D note.  I am feeling that here in this clip. I feel like the middle D is about to break or jump up to the next overtone and you can hear how it is affecting the lack of smoothness of the line.

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

Again, this clip with the BSS Heritage sax neck feels so much better.  The BSS Heritage neck has better resistance and I feel much more comfortable.  It feels smoother and more even as I was playing but also as I listen back to the sound clip.  The middle D touchiness is no longer there and it feels more stable and solid now.

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck next to a Selmer Super Balanced Action Neck (notice the BSS Heritage neck on the right looks a little wider and the octave pip is a little closer to the cork end of the neck)

Intonation

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

The next test is intonation.  If a neck is out of tune with the octaves it is useless to me.  I am used to my SBA neck and how it plays as far as intonation.  Above, I am just playing a note, then a 5th and then the octave up.  On my SBA tenor neck, I know that I have to have a certain firmness in my embouchure for the higher octave or the notes will be a little flat.  I know that my middle register notes will tend to be a little sharper in pitch.  This is just the tendencies of this original SBA tenor sax neck.

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

On the BSS tenor sax neck sound clip above, I actually found the BSS Heritage tenor sax neck to be easier to play in tune.  At first, I found the upper octave to be a bit sharper when I applied that same tight embouchure as I normally use with my SBA tenor neck, but if I didn’t tighten at all but kept the same exact firmness as the lower register, the upper notes were right on the money.  The middle register was also not as sharp on the BSS Heritage neck as the original SBA tenor saxophone neck. Overall, I found the intonation of the BSS Heritage neck to be excellent and I think even better than on my original SBA neck!

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck next to a Selmer Super Balanced Action Neck (notice the higher angle of the cork end of the BSS neck)

Low Notes

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

The low notes in the SBA neck clip above with the 3 1/2 reed sound a bit resistant to me.  They also sound a bit uneven in tone to me.  Some are more airy, some are more focused, etc…..  You can hear the resistance a bit more clearly when I try to tongue them going down halfway through the clip.  There is a lush round focused quality that I love about the low notes on a Selmer SBA tenor sax, but I would opt for a slightly softer reed than this BSS 3 1/2 to get those lush low notes with this SBA neck. The low notes are a bit sharp but that is normal on my Selmer SBA tenor sax without adjusting them lower through voicing.

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

Immediately, you can hear that the BSS Heritage sax neck seems to speak more immediately and clearly.  The notes seem more even and uniform of tone to me.  The intonation of the low notes seems about the same as my original SBA neck with the low notes being sharper but that is normal on my sax.  The tone does have more of an “open” vibe to it that is not as round, warm and focused as the SBA neck but I think the notes have a bigger, more powerful sound in my opinion.

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck next to a Selmer Super Balanced Action Neck

A Lick

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

Here’s a little fast line that I play on most mouthpiece reviews as a way to test the evenness of the tone.  It jumps between the lower octave to the upper octave with a fast line.  In this SBA neck clip above, the tone sounds airy and a bit spread to my ears.

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

In this BSS Heritage neck clip playing the same line, the tone sounds smoother, cleaner, crisper and more present and focused.  You can hear that the line sounds less resistant and more free blowing.  The notes also sound more even to me when compared to the first original SBA sax neck clip.

Moose the Mooche

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

On this Moose the Mooche line with the original SBA neck above, the tone sound spread and diffuse to me with the 3 1/2 reed.  It seems to lack a certain clarity and precision because of the added resistance.  The middle D at the :04-:05 mark just annoys the tar out of me.

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

The BSS Heritage saxophone neck sound cleaner, clearer and more solid in tone to me.  The intonation seems more locked in as well I think.  Listen to that same middle D at the :04-:05 mark.  It sounds totally normal and like the rest of the notes to my ears.  Wow!  That is a huge difference from the first clip with the original Selmer SBA sax neck.

Donna Lee

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

Donna Lee in the clip above sound tiring with the original SBA tenor sax neck and the BSS 3 1/2 tenor reed.  It sounds like I am working so hard and every time I tongue it is like a bump or pothole in the road jarring the flow of the line.  The low notes sound forced and difficult to play with the harder reed.

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

With the BSS Heritage tenor neck,  the Donna Lee line sound smoother and more effortless.  It flows easier and the articulation isn’t as painfully obvious (a little bit on the low notes but I’m still getting used to a harder reed….).  The low notes sound much more manageable and easier to attain. The resistance sounds so much better on this clip when compared to the first SBA neck clip in my opinion.

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck next to a Selmer Super Balanced Action Neck

Invitation Interval

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

The Invitation Interval clips above are another example of how the BSS Heritage sax neck sounds so much easier to blow than the original SBA tenor saxophone neck.  I’m using the same mouthpiece and reed on both necks. Nothing is changing except the neck but the second BSS Heritage neck sound clip sounds like it is so much easier to play for me.

Theme in F

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

Theme in F is another example where I am trying to demonstrate a wider range of the horn as well as the intonation.  If you just listen to the very first note of each clip, you can hear how the BSS Heritage saxophone neck speaks so immediately and clearly.  The notes on the BSS Heritage neck clip sound more present and right in front of you where as the SBA neck clip sounds farther away and more distant to me.  The line sounds more even and uniform throughout the range of the horn on the BSS Heritage tenor saxophone neck in my opinion.  The last fast phrase at the :35 mark of the second clip sound so much cleaner and smoother to the same phrase played at the end of the first SBA neck clip (also :35 mark) in my opinion.

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck next to a Selmer Super Balanced Action Neck (the Heritage neck on the right ends at a higher height and has a reinforced metal ring around the cork entrance)

Tonguing/Altissimo

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

In the two clips above, I definitely felt like the ease of resistance with the BSS neck made it easier and smoother to tongue legato.  You can actually hear it in the clip as I start going faster than the SBA clip.  It just sounds smoother.  The altissimo sounds cleaner and more effortless to me on the second BSS Heritage neck clip as well.

G Bebop Lick

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

The first G Bebop lick SBA neck clip above is a great example of “bad” resistance and it’s effect on my playing.  This clip sounds awful!  The harder 3 1/2 reed and the unevenness of the notes make the line feel forced, awkward and sloppy as I listen back to it.  The second BSS Heritage neck sound clip is so much smoother, more even and flows so much cleaner.

Green Dolphin

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

The two “Green Dolphin” sound clips above are again reminding me of that middle D issue.  In the first SBA neck sound clip I am very aware of every middle D I play during that improvisation.  It is like the middle D is sticking out just to annoy me. In the second BSS Heritage clip, I don’t even notice the middle D’s. On the  second BSS Heritage neck clip, the notes sound more even and they have a smoother blend with each other.

Two Chords

SBA-Super Balanced Action Neck

BSS-Boston Sax Shop Heritage Neck

Again, you might not be able to hear it in the sound clips above but the difference in resistance can have a huge impact on a player.  After the first SBA neck clip above, I felt tired like I was having to work too hard to play the lines in that sound clip.

The second BSS Heritage neck clip with less resistance was much easier to blow and more effortless.  In my mind,  being one with your saxophone while playing is directly tied to the balance of that “good” resistance I wrote about earlier in the review.  When that perfect balance in resistance is achieved, you are no longer spending your energy and brain power trying to make the saxophone do what you want but now you are freed up to spend all those energies actually creating fresh musical ideas knowing that once they are imagined they will effortlessly come out of your saxophone.  There is no better feeling than that!

Boston Sax Shop Heritage Tenor Saxophone Neck

In my opinion, the BSS Boston Sax Shop Heritage tenor saxophone neck is a great tenor sax neck for those of you looking to explore the advantages a different tenor sax neck can give you.  I was pleasantly surprised at the differences between this neck and my original SBA tenor saxophone neck.  This BSS Heritage sax neck has pretty much opened up my eyes and mind to new tonal possibilities by allowing me to use harder 3 1/2 reeds on the tenor mouthpieces I already have in my collection.   I’m so excited to go through my mouthpieces with this new BSS Heritage saxophone neck and discover these new  possibilities.

Modern tenor sax players such as Branford Marsalis, Jeff Coffin, Joel Frahm, Ryan Devlin, Joe Lovano, Mike Tucker, Tucker Antell, Mark Turner, Dayna Stephens, Adam Larson, Kris Urbanski, Chris Bullock, Chris Bittner, Steve Kortyka, Jeff Ellwood and many others are now all playing the Boston Sax Shop Heritage tenor saxophone neck.  I am sure there will be many more in the coming months to add to this list!

If you like the sound and look of the Heritage tenor saxophone neck by the Boston Sax Shop, you can find them at the Boston Sax Shop website.  BSS HAS AGREED TO GIVE READER’S OF THIS REVIEW 10% OFF THE PURCHASE OF ANY BSS NECK OR ANY OTHER BSS PRODUCT IF YOU USE THE COUPON CODE NEFFMUSIC WHEN YOU CHECKOUT ON THEIR WEBSITE. (Neffmusic also gets a small commission from each sale using this coupon which helps support this website,  so thank you in advance if you use the code).

If you try a BSS Boston Sax Shop Heritage tenor saxophone neck or have any thoughts, comments or questions on this review,  I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.  If you end up buying a Boston Sax Shop Heritage tenor saxophone neck make sure to use the promo code NEFFMUSIC to save 10% and please come back here to tell us what you think.  I hope you find this review helpful and as eye-opening as I did.    Thanks,  Steve

Disclosure: I received the BSS Heritage neck reviewed above for free in the hope that I would try it and perhaps review it on my blog. I also receive a small commission when you purchase from the Boston Sax Shop website using the 10% off coupon code “NEFFMUSIC” above that helps to support this site. Regardless, I only review sax mouthpieces and other sax related gear that I enjoy playing and believe will be good for other saxophone players to try also. Steve
Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site Neffmusic.com.

Comments

  1. Avatar Warren Anderson says

    Who is Jack Tyler? Did Finucane change his name?
    Do I win a free neck?
    Great article. Been playing my BSS HN for a year and love it.

    • Warren, Yes, I think his fame became too much for him much like with Prince and he changed his name to Jack Tyler. Jack Finucane is now living on a tropical island somewhere sipping margaritas………..

    • Avatar Tony Riley (UK) says

      I have recently bought a BSS heritage neck for my 1971 Selmer Mark 6. It’s opened up the sound and has more projection than the original neck. When going back to the original Selmer neck I found it was harder work. Although quite expensive for me it is money well spent and I’m thinking of buying one for my alto sax.

  2. Avatar Mike Abraham says

    Oh man. Now you have to redo all those mouthpiece and reed reviews. 🙂

    • Mike, My greatest fear! My conundrum is do I go forward doing reviews on the BSS neck or the old SBA neck? If I do them on the BSS neck people will be wondering how much of the sound is the mouthpiece, the neck or the reed. I think I might stick with my old SBA neck to avoid all the questions……..

    • I have to say Steve that as a pro player I’m so happy you did this review. What I have got from it is that YOU found it easier in certain regards. However as a listener the difference is so negligible that I certainly wouldn’t be buying one ….UNLESS the feeling of ease transferred to me when I noticed it. Thanks again for a great detailed review.

      • Simon, Most of the comments and observations were written while I was listening back to the sound clips. Many of my thoughts didn’t find words until I listened to the clips and heard what I describe in my comments. I would question how good your speakers are that you listened to these clips on. I listened back on my Klipsch speakers that are in no way high end but are much better than the computer speakers and the differences are quite obvious to me. On my laptop speakers I can’t hear much of the differences that I write about because the speakers aren’t as good. I will say that just because you can’t hear a difference doesn’t mean that the differences are negligible because I guarantee that if you were in the room with me listening you would hear these differences. Thanks for taking the time to read the review. Steve

  3. I replaced the neck on my Ref 36 Tenor a year ago with one of these. My primary is not Tenor so I did not do such a comprehensive comparison. I am not good at describing sound per se or play-ability, but just found it to play and sound better overall. It increased the focus a little, made the core tone a little richer, added a little volume. It was already a very free-blowing and responsive horn so I did not notice anything there.

  4. Avatar Angelo Yodice says

    What is the cost of this neck?

    • Angelo, You would have to click on the Boston Sax Shop link in the review. The prices vary depending on if you get bare brass, gold plated, silver plated or plating that is stippled. Steve

  5. Hi Steve,
    Could you post side pics of these 2 please? With the shank flat on surface so I can compare the arches and angles of the cork end of the neck (height above flat surface).
    Always fascinating stuff in your newsletters.
    Paul

    • Paul, I already provided those photos with photos #8 and #11 (if you count the photos from the beginning of the review to the end). If you need something that is not in those photos let me know. Steve

  6. Got a few different necks (Selmer MK6, Ponzol, Paraschos (now split and broken), SaxGourmet, Selmer Ref. 54), and, to be honest, I end up gravitating back to the original. They all have slight differences, but eventually get smoothed out by my internal sound conception. None are miraculously better, so I just stay simple now…. Isn’t that the GAS journey?!

  7. Avatar Kenny Tseng says

    I have silver neck one, and it plays awesome! But I’d like to try gold (bare brass) one, anyone want to exchange with me ? 🙂

  8. Avatar Andy Geiger says

    Steve,

    You always sound great, but the Heritage Neck clips show a remarkable difference. I have a BSS Heritage Neck on my Cannonball Big Bell Global Series. Also, BSS R Series Mouthpiece, Superlative Ligature and 3 Reeds. Jack’s products are simply superior! Another mouthpiece I use is the Phil-Tone Tribute LTD, and it is wonderful with the Heritage Neck. My horn has been more fun to play since I got the BSS neck.

    Great review; and thank you for the depth of your work on it. You have integrity!

  9. Steve you are spot on! I’ve just listened back to the clips using my studio speakers and can now really hear a difference…. Much bigger and broader sound with the BSS than with the SBA neck. I admit first hearing was using my iPhone and didn’t do it justice.

  10. Steve, you wrote: “… The notes on the BSS Heritage neck clip sound more present and right in front of you where as the SBA neck clip sounds farther away and more distant to me …”.
    Exactly what I perceive even with only the additional speakers of my computer purchased, when his sound system broke down, in a household goods shop run by Chinese, for the price of six euros!
    I have read everything and listened to all the audio clips and I agree with everything you point out.
    The difference is felt; and I’m not an easily swayed person.
    I dare say that the sound seems also to have more projection; maybe a little more focused and slightly brighter and, of course, the BSS neck gives more pitch.
    The difference in intonation with the audio clips of the middle D is very noticeable.
    The timbre changes a bit; but this is a matter of personal taste.
    Perhaps the sound with the original neck is more full bodied.
    It would be interesting to hear the sound of the silver neck which, in my opinion (this is very controversial among saxophonists), could give a more full bodied sound.
    Thanks for the interesting review!
    Giuseppe.

  11. Steve, I went to the BSS website and I saw that the neck also exists in 18K gold: if it sounds as good as I hear some gold flutes playing I think it would be wonderful!
    Ask Mr. Tyler if he also sends you a gold neck to try for review!
    Giuseppe.

  12. Avatar Ken Kirkpatrick says

    Steve, Not sure the comparison is completely valid using the same reed for both necks. Just like when you find the ideal reed for a given mouthpiece for best playability it’s not always the same due to tip size and resistance. You wouldn’t post a review audio sample for a mouthpiece using too stiff of a reed for it. It’s fine to show how it has less resistance compared to the stock neck, but most of the audio samples should use a reed that is optimized for each particular neck as they would be used in a real playing setting. Good information anyway, but it does leave a question in my mind about how different they really are when each is optimized.
    Ken

    • Hi Ken, You make a good point but at the same time, in the past I have done side by side mouthpiece reviews with different reeds and people asked the question “How do I know how much of the sound difference I hear in the comparison is from the mouthpiece or the different reed? Can you do the same comparison again using the same reed?” Hopefully, I can revisit this review and maybe make some clips like you have asked with the perfect reed for both. Thanks for reading the review and the feedback. Steve

  13. Avatar Mats Granath says

    Thanks Steve for this review! Very informative and thorough! I absolutely hear differences in all of the sound clips. All in all a stronger and more even tone on the BSS neck. Also interesting to read all the comments and different experiences other player had with necks. I just wanted to share mine as well.

    I used to play a very early SBA (-47) . Four years ago I bought a Kim Bock Vanguard neck and felt that the improvement in sound was substantial just the same way as your review, Steve. But after that I switched my main horn to a Mark VI. I wanted to try out my KB-neck on that horn as well, and had my sax technician modifying the neck to fit my Mark VI. The result this time wasn’t the same. I could agree that there was some improvement regarding evenness of sound in all the register of the horn compared to my original neck. But on the other hand there was something in the sound that went missing with the KB neck this time.. something quite hard to describe.. complexity of sound, sizzle, depth, sparkle or just .. “that..something”. In the end I had it refitted for my old SBA and there it still does a very good job! And I now play my original Mark VI neck again. To sum it up: For me it’s still very interesting to try out different necks and it definitely makes a difference in sound and feel.

  14. Avatar Marjorie L. Black says

    Steve always sounds good, on any equipment. However, this is probably not a blinded comparison. The differences are more pronounced particularly on those clips where Steve plays more slowly and deliberately on the BSS neck than he did on the SBA neck. I’d like to hear a blindfold test of the two, where the player doesn’t know what neck is on the horn. Not gonna happen, of course, but may prove interesting…

  15. Avatar Paul Sorensen says

    Ease of playing is essential along with a free blowing horn and intonation. I play a Mark VII Selmer which has served me great for 55 years (I’m 82 YO). The sax I bought new years ago, since I loved the free blowing bright sound Stanley Turrentine was getting on that horn! I can still emulate that sound without much trouble ( loud or soft ) and have no need to change the neck. My old Selmer tenor sax was quite a workhorse to get through, but was doable. Of course mouthpieces play a big part, but to have a free blowing horn is really the beginning. There are other trade – offs, but not the neck for any reason.

  16. Avatar ROGER SALLES says

    I hear no difference, your SBA neck sounds great just like it should, the Boston Neck sounds good too but for me not a deal breaker to make a switch. great playing as always Steve and thanks for always doing these reviews, it helps us a lot.

    • Besides the differences in the sound, the biggest difference with the BSS neck for me is in the way it blows easier with less resistance. It’s a night and day difference like I write about in the review.

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