All Things Saxophone

Wellington Alto Sax

Last modified 09/12/08


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I recently received an Alto sax from a major instrument dealer asking me to check it out.  This dealer told me NOTHING about this horn so I would have no specifics to bias my evaluation of it.  Of course I did some research but didn't find anything.  So, let me tell you all in advance that I have no idea where in the world this saxophone was made or who designed it.  The brand name is Wellington, there is no model number on it, and the serial number indicates that it is one of the first to be released by this manufacturer.

Aesthetically it is a good looking instrument. The general key layout, lacquering, and modest engraving makes for a pleasant appearance.  I wouldn't expect anything otherwise from a serious manufacturer -- they all seem to have the aesthetic thing down because they know that sells (even if it has little to do with how well a horn plays).

The construction is sound, with sturdy braces

and keys.  I’m not happy with the neck joint plug — they cut some corners on that.  It is cheap plastic and doesn’t fit well — it probably won’t do a good job of protecting the body part of the neck joint, which is well made even though it is not the best fitting I have ever seen (see the review — Yamaha Custom Z Alto Saxophone).  The pads have good nickel resonators, except where they again cut some corners in the palm key pads which have no resonators at all.  Along the line of pads on the left hand keys there appears to be a pad that is different manufacture from the others (same size but smaller resonator?).  This is not true on the Alto’s sister horn, the Wellington Tenor.

The feel of the horn is quite good — just a bit of klunkyness on the low B flat key.  The rollers on the spatula keys have good action & feel as does the horn in general with the exception of the right hand E, side C, and side b-flat keys which are built a little low, much like the old Selmer Mark VI design (a knockoff?).

This saxophone has a sound that kicks butt considering a very low price ($1200—$1300).  Bright & brassy—nearly as good as a premium saxophone like the Buffet 400 Alto.  Here’s an audio clip soloing over these standard E flat changes (click the changes).  The setup used is a Meyer 6M with Harrison ligature and Zonda 3.5 Alto reed:

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

Text Box:  3.5

Wellington Alto Sax

The Wellington Alto has modest engraving

The weakness on this horn is the intonation (also true for its sister horn the Wellington Tenor).  The lowest notes are a bit sharp and among the highest notes (inc. altissimo) some are flat and some are sharp.  An experienced player can deal with this and a beginning or intermediate player won’t have to deal with the notes that have the issue.  Since even the very best saxophones have intonation issues, the horn could serve a pro on a budget as well as a student.

This horn is another very good inexpensive saxophone amongst the many that are being made today, and will continue driving the changes being seen in the market (see SaxophoneMan’s blog).

Looking to try a Wellington saxophone?