Brand snobbery

Photo, Steve Rawley

I recently met a fellow woodwind player, and the conversation inevitably turned to gear. We had each recently tried out an instrument by a relatively new maker. My new acquaintance found it not to his liking. “I’m a _____ snob,” he proudly explained, naming a very popular and well-established instrument maker.

I also recently read a woodwind-related message board thread (why do I torture myself?) in which some discussion was taking place about an accessories maker who had recently branched out into a new venture. A commenter scoffed at the new product and at the maker in general, indicating his disinclination even to sample any of their (generally well-regarded) products. He offered no explanation for his strong and seemingly arbitrary opinion.

Your gear choices are your own. But if you find yourself clinging to brand names, and defending those choices with something besides objective comparisons, then you might be missing out.


One response to “Brand snobbery”

  1. ericdano Avatar

    I tell students or people to get whatever works for them. Just because Michael Brecker played a Selmer doesn’t mean you have to as well. Heck, Phil Woods plays a Yamaha after decades on a Selmer.

    Going to a lot of these “boards” (or rather “that board”), you get the arm-chair philosophers waxing poetic on everything and proclaiming winners left and right. I think it’s funny to read “that board” and the questions and answers people put there. I wish I had the money to own or have tried all these horns the “experts” there have.

    Back on topic…….It is also good to consider that people tend to stick with what works, especially musicians. You find a sound or an instrument, and you stick with it. I know I do that. I very seldom try different brands of reeds, I buy the ones I’ve used for years and years. Instruments, honestly, I rarely try anything out. Why? I have no interest, and I don’t want to start chasing that “if I only had that ______ sax things would be better” thing. I have good instruments, I don’t need to get the latest Cannonball Alto or whatever. I don’t need to relearn all the little quirks it will have. I know the quirks my horn has. If I won the Lottery, sure, I’d go out and buy a bunch of horns…..probably….in addition to a boat, couple of cars, houses……

    There are PLENTY of excellent instruments being made, even by people/companies not known. If you are shopping for something, for a first time purchase, then totally check them out. Cannonball, RS Berkeley, Barone, Yanigasawa, etc, etc. I’d be happy with any of these if I didn’t already own horns (I grew up in the era in the 80s/90s when there were not the plethora of good makers of instruments and for better or worse ended up with two Mark VI horns and a Yanigasawa soprano).

    If I were shopping for horns, I’d not even consider Selmer……way way overpriced for what you get. You can get a whole set of horns from one of the other makers (say Barone) for the price of ONE Selmer horn. For $5K I could get an alto, and tenor Barone and maybe a Soprano…..

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