This is some soprano! The moment you pick it up, you feel instantly at home with the instrument. The balance is good and the keywork (particularly for those of us with larger hands!) is excellent. I readily appreciated the overall ergonomics, especially the positioning of the palm keys and the slightly deeper Bb key to the table, giving more space for that little finger to rest on. Having said that, I wasn’t that keen on the shaping of     the top F sharp key, but that’s purely personal and a slight change that I think I could quickly get used to. The crook (the Custom EX is supplied with both straight and curved crooks) fitted snugly into the top post and I was immediately impressed by the action with a particularly smooth octave key – this sax has been set up superbly. It is also immediately apparent that the Custom EX is an extremely responsive instrument, having a good dynamic range and affording effortless playing in both the altissimo and the lower register. Intonation on our sample was almost clinically precise – quite remarkable. Tonally, the Yamaha isn’t as sweet as a Selmer Series 3, but it has a particular sonic quality that is both rich and warm, is very even across the full range and delivers a well rounded bottom end and a clear, clean and spirited altissimo. I noticed that the instrument carries plastic and not metal reflectors and assume that this has been done to cut back a brightness to the tone. If so, this has certainly had the desired effect. The Custom EX comes in a solidly built rectangular, leatherette, lockable plush lined shaped case, with reinforced corners and grab handles to both the top and side. There are also a couple of small ‘D’ rings if you prefer to use the supplied shoulder strap. For more go to

With it’s antiqued lacquer finish, abalone pearls imported direct from Indonesia and a superb overall build quality, it looks (and feels) like a million dollars before you even get to play a note. Look more closely and you’ll see that the instrument has hand made rolled tone holes that come straight out of the body – there’s no soldering. The bell has also been enlarged from the standard size, and this gives some indication of what you might expect from the instrument. And boy, does this 66 live up to all those expectations! Handling is not dissimilar to a Reference 54, with very positive keywork and a relatively close action.

We looked at both the alto and soprano versions of the 24Kt gold plated DV mouthpiece. Hand finished, this mouthpiece oozes quality and comes with a leather ligature, velveteen pouch and truly exquisite cylindrical wooden case with a leather tong tie and tab. Tested on Selmer instruments, both the alto and soprano versions produced a big, bright, hard , ‘American’ metal sound. Harmonics were good and popped out cleanly, and control in altissimo was excellent, allowing the player to pitch with complete confidence. Although we found the lower and upper registers played well, we weren’t quite so happy with the mid-range which we felt lacked definition and sounded stuffy.

We were also a little disappointed that there wasn’t more character and individuality to the sound, and that the much hyped concept of the “golden section” proportions, producing the perfect chamber/bore/facing combination, wasn’t exactly setting our world on fire. However, the DV does have remarkable power and projection and when blown softly, has a richness to the tone that is so often missing in metal mouthpieces. Not perhaps the ideal unit for acoustic ensembles, but we reckon that it would be the perfect foil for amplified instruments, where power and projection is paramount.

The rolled tone holes help to give a certain feel of solidity and offer optimum contact to the pods, while the palm key action is a sheer delight to play through – the positioning is near on perfect and those top notes really do ‘pop’. Intonation on our sample was exceptional, with a positive dynamic range that is not too overpowering, even allowing for the large bell, which gives the instrument a big, beefy bottom end. Tonally the 66 has a really distinctive, dark, centered tone that reminds you of the Selmers of the late 40s and early 50s. The mouthpiece supplied was a generic ‘C’, which we understand will shortly be upgraded, although we did try a metal piece which naturally gave a brighter sound, with an interestingly different palette of tonal textures.

The 66 is clearly a horn with a big personality, and if you’re looking for that full, big, rich sound of the likes of Ben Webster or Don Byas – then the 66 comes with our unreserved recommendation.

This unlacquered Mauriat has to be the most stylish sax that I have ever laid eyes on – I’ve forgotten all about that 65 Mk6! The engraving on the body is tasteful and not overstated and the finishing is superb – you only have to look at the top post. Indeed, this alto has "class" written all over it, with an unlacquered surface that will tarnish with time, giving the instrument a rich golden brown vintage appearance, and that’s before you’ve even blown a note! The keywork is very similar to the Selmer Mk 2 series and is well sprung with no play in any of the mechanisms, while the action is very positive, with perfectly positioned palm keys and excellently balanced table keys. With a Rico Royal 3 securely fitted to the Mauriat mouthpiece, there is immediately plenty of character and body to the sound, and a gloriously wide dynamic range that comes with very little effort. The instrument is very responsive – the bottom end having the trademark Mauriat warm-centred tone, while the top has a slight edge and bite to it.

Harmonics are crystal clear and pop out using the Selmer fingering and with rolled tone holes (standard on Mauriats), the intonation on this instrument was spot on. The octave key had a great deal of travel on it, which surprised me, but I’m sure that’s something that the individual player could easily get used to. Coming in a shaped, plush lined, semi-hard Denier-covered zippered case, with two large zippered side pockets, nylon feet, rubberised "grab" handle, standard handle and adjustable shoulder strap, there is plenty of cushioned cover to keep it from getting biffed and banged in transit.

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The first thing that strikes you about the DCL 750 is the quality of both the finish and the engineering. Manufactured in China by a Taiwanese company, this is an exceptionally well made instrument. The main body of this bass clarinet is made from a resin composite that is specially manufactured to mimic ebony, while the nickel plated brass crook and the bell are solid and beautifully tooled to fit easily and snugly onto the body. The keys are also nickel plated and are comfortably positioned, well balanced and have a very positive feel. I fitted the generic mouthpiece with a No. 3 reed, and the DCL750 turned out to be a remarkably easy player – particularly down at the bottom end. Intonation was excellent and the tuning was spot on. The depth of the dynamic range, the resonance and the warm, of the rich tone, also pleasantly surprised me.

Slightly annoying, though, is the positioning of the non-adjustable thumb rest, which invariably meant catching the Eb key with the top of the index finger and consequently blowing out. Although I never tried it, there is the added convenience of an adjustable lock for those players wishing to play the instrument on a stand. The DCL750 comes in a plush lined, fully fitted traditional hard shell case, with reinforced corners, double latch locks and grab handles to both the top and the side.Good quality bass clarinets are notoriously expensive, so this competitively priced offering from Wisemann could find a ready market for those tempted to go “out to lunch” as Dolphy once said.

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