The LA Sax story:
The Early Days:
The first company to move away from the "French" sound model and develop a saxophone specifically designed for contemporary jazz playing, the L.A. Sax Company began in 1985 in the small garage in the mid-western town of Barrington Illinois. From its very beginnings, the goal of the L.A. Sax Company was to produce not only an artist quality saxophone but one that had a look as unique as its sound. Those early L.A. Sax instruments were produced from imported saxophones that were stripped of keys and pads, the bodies and keys were painted with a special automotive paint, the instruments were reassembled and set-up to provide plenty of edge and projection. With the final addition of the logo badge, a new L.A. Sax was born.
As the company began to grow, it quickly attracted the attention of the day's prominent players. Early endorsers included Tom Scott (Don Ellis Orchestra), Jay Beckenstein (Spyro Gyra), Jim Nelson (Alabama), Kim Waters and Richard Elliot. In just a few short years, L.A. Sax had established itself as a reputable, artist quality instrument for contemporary players.
L.A. Sax Innovation:
Needless to say, L.A. Sax was not afraid to push the envelope with regard to instrument design. Armed with input from its top line artist partners, it outpaced its competitors with the introduction of several new and innovative models. These included a new concept saxello and the trademark straight bodied alto and tenor. These uniquely American instruments continued to gain acclaim for the L.A. Sax and in 1994, the owners of the company were invited to the White House where they presented a special edition “Commander In Chief” tenor to then President Bill Clinton.
Though L.A. Sax continued to innovate and grow throughout the 1990s, the early 2000s saw a flood of “copycat” brands into the market. Not being willing to sacrifice quality for sake of lower prices, L.A. Sax saw a decline in sales that limited its ability to develop new and exciting instruments. The result was financial hardship for L.A. Sax to the point where the original owners sold the business to professional saxophonist and then owner of The Woodwind & Brasswind, Dennis Bamber.
Shortly after the acquisition of L.A. Sax, the L.A. Sax team went to work restoring a culture of innovation to the line and, with the help of old friends Kim Waters and Jim Nelson as well as a new stable of artists including Paula Atherton, Shelby Brown and Dan Cipriano, introduced a new L.A. Sax.
In December of 2015, Gemeinhardt Musical Instruments, LLC acquired the rights from Dennis Bamber and became the exclusive U.S. distributor of L.A. Sax.
L.A. Sax Today:
•The Sound: The new instruments of L.A. Sax possess the expected edge and flexibility that are hallmarks of the L.A. Sax brand but they sound crisper, cleaner and more projecting than anything you've played before. You'll find that you can easily control the softest whisper of a dynamic one minute and easily power to the front of any ensemble the next.
•The Feel: Whether you are playing the straight tone holes of the V Series, Signature Sopranos and The “6” or the rolled tone holes of the X Series and “Frankie” models, you will notice a velvety smooth feel and little pad noise. We've also improved our key design and placement to be more responsive to the hands aiding both in response and comfort.
•The Look: The look of the new L.A Sax is slightly more refined than previous generations. The tiger stripes and bold colors of yesteryear have been replaced with elegant finishes of silver, vintage matte, black nickel and unpolished brass . . . each beautifully hand engraved and owning its own unique tonal properties. Refined yes but still with a visual statement that is all L.A. Sax.
Clearwater is now carrying two styles of LA Sax: the X and V series. The new innovations have made it possible for us to stand behind this line as we do everything we carry. The rib construction adds to the strength of the body which I can forsee being a benefit for those of our customers who may have an accident with their horn. It will likely have less damage then an instrument with post to body construction. Here are some of the details of the two series we now have in stock;
All Big Lip "X" Series Saxophones feature rolled tone holes, Reactor Panel pads, engraved bell and lower pad cups, semi-precious stone finger buttons, adjustable thumb hook, 3 ring strap hook and a high F# key. They come complete with a deluxe lightweight flight style case featuring a durable weave cover with backpack and shoulder straps and 2 outer pockets, mouthpiece, cap, ligature and neck strap
All Big Lip "V" Series Saxophones feature an engraved body, pearl like finger buttons, straight tone holes, high F# key and a 3 ring strap hook. They come with a lightweight flight style case featuring durable nylon covering, backpack straps and shoulder strap and an outer side pocket. The outfit is complete with a mouthpiece, cap and ligature.