|Virtuoso Saxophones by R.S. Berkeley|
|Written by Skip Spratt|
|Sunday, 15 March 2009|
R.S. Berkeley has recently released their new, professional “Virtuoso” line of saxophones. Virtuoso alto and tenor saxophone models are currently manufactured in China and distributed in the U.S. They are offered in gold lacquer, gold plating, silver plating, black lacquer and matte finishes.
The saxophone in its present form has not changed significantly since the modifications implemented by Selmer in the 1950s. As a result, the Selmer Mark VI is the standard by which all other saxophones are measured. With the continued popularity of the Selmer Mark VI, which was made from 1955 to 1975, the resale market has shot up sharply over the past couple of decades. Now more than 30 years since the last Mark VI was made, the marketplace has become flooded with many lesser-expensive yet high-quality saxophones. Virtuoso Saxophones by R.S. Berkeley are among the relative newcomers to this same, new market.
Several weeks ago I had my first opportunity to see and play these remarkable new Virtuoso saxophones. The annual NJMEA convention in East Brunswick, NJ is host to many manufacturers and instrument dealers as well as clinician and presenters in music education. It was at NJMEA where I met up again with Les Silver of R.S. Berkeley. Les was kind enough to have me as a guest at his booth and I got to try all 10 of the altos and tenors on display. In addition to Les being at the booth, Bob Ackerman was on hand, demonstrating his gold plated Virtuoso alto sax. Later in the day, Tim Ries was on hand to demonstrate the Virtuoso tenor he endorses.
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