All Things Saxophone

Buffet 400 series BC8402 Tenor Sax

Last modified 09/12/08


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The first time I heard of the new Buffet 400 series of saxophones was at a New Years Eve gig ringing in 2006.  I was backing up Frank Sinatra Jr. and the lead alto man (who travels with the show) was playing a sax I had never seen before — the matte finish was what first drew my attention to it.  I asked him about it and learned of this new line of saxes that Buffet introduced.  I played his Alto briefly and was very impressed (here’s my full review of the Buffet 400 Alto ).

When I had the opportunity to try out the 400 series Tenor (pictured at right) I jumped on it.  I was initially VERY dissatisfied with the horn.  There was an issue with the neck design that was contributing to sound issues on the C, B & A notes in both octaves.  My original review on the horn can be found here.  I had some discussions with Buffet about this and they informed me that they were redesigning the neck.  This review is my take on the horn with the new neck — a marked improvement.

The lacquer finish on the sax has a very good aesthetic appeal, although that has little to do with the sound.  There’s a standing argument in the world of all things saxophone that lacquer (or its absence) has an affect on the sound a saxophone produces.  I will address that in later in an article in the controversies  section of this website.  Even if the matte finish has only aesthetic appeal, this will have an positive impact on how many of these horns they sell (just ask the automobile manufacturers if it matters how a car “looks”).

The weight of the metal falls in the middle range category — heavier than some but lighter than others.  Construction is sound — there is a very sturdy brace for the keys operating the low notes (pictured at left).  The action and feel of the horn is good with the exception of the low C-E flat spatula keys on the right hand — they don’t roll well between them like the spatula keys for the left hand.

The sound is good — comparable to other premium saxophones.  I played the horn using a Runyon 7 mouthpiece & ligature with a Zonda 3.5 reed.  The stuffy notes that were present with the old neck have been improved greatly but they are still weaker than those same notes on a Cannonball stone series Tenor or a Wellington Tenor.  This horn also doesn’t yet measure up to the sound I produce on my classic King Super 20.

Here is a sample of the sound I produce on this horn

Buffet 400 Series Tenor Sax Sound Byte

The saxophone is priced very reasonably as are most of the saxophones these days that are being built overseas to American (or French) specifications.  Full retail is $2900, but if you shop around you may be able to get it for $1,900.

In redesigning the neck, Buffet has made it clear that they are committed to making saxophones as high quality as the clarinets the make.  They’ve already accomplished that with the Buffet 400 Alto, and they are on their way with the Tenor.  This horn is good, and with some more tweaking they can make it excellent.  I look forward to additional improvements.

Text Box: SaxophoneMan’s ratings:
(5 is best, 1 is worst)
Overall is not an average
Text Box: Sound

Text Box:  3.5

Buffet 400 series BC8402 Tenor Sax with redesigned neck

The Buffet 400 Tenor has a sturdy brace supporting the low note keys

Buffet has redesigned the neck on the 400 series Tenor (old neck top, new neck below)