Jazzwise Review of the Los Angeles model – August 2013
No holds (or should that be ‘holes’?) barred, this is quite simply the most playable, sweet sounding sax that has ever landed on the Jazzwise test bench. Each instrument is named after a location where Sheppard has performed and each one is tested by the man himself, before going onto the market.
The first thing that you notice about this tenor is the raw brass, or as I would term it, brushed brass finish, although a lacquer coating has been applied to the inside of the bell, presumably to give the instrument a brighter sound. Interestingly, the neck has been ‘relaxed’ – it’s more turned up, which makes the whole instrument feel very comfortable in the playing position. The overall keywork is very positive and we particularly liked the ‘stopper’ behind the octave key, The palm keys are perfectly positioned and the top table is nicely laid out, while the double barring on the bottom C and C-sharp keys gives better support and contact, and helps the player to ‘get there’. Reflectors are of the metal-domed variety with calf pads.
Locating our metal Brancher mouthpiece with a 3 Rico Jazz Select reed, the Autograph is a very easy blower and to our ear, sounds as though it’s perfectly in tune. The intonation is spot on, the harmonics are smooth and easy to achieve and there is a good centered tone. The top end is very positive, while the bottom end is really rich and warm – and there’s plenty in there if you really want to give it some. The Autograph also has an extraordinary dynamic range – this sax feels like it wants to be played. A quality instrument deserves a quality case and the Autograph series comes in a shaped fiberglass, fitted and plush-lined Eastman case with four latch locks, a shoulder strap and back harness. Classy.
OK, coming in at just under £5,000 isn’t going to be a ‘spur of the moment’ purchase. But lets face it, you’ll probably never want another tenor.