I play tenor saxophone and piano. I studied clarinet and saxophone at a music school in Kiev during 1987-1992. I started out on an old Selmer clarinet and then switched to a tenor sax. My first saxophone was a German-made B&S. The company is still around, but it no longer manufactures saxophones. B&S built saxes like tanks – lots of metal, making them heavy but reliable and consistent. In 1991 my parents bought me a new B&S tenor, which I still have. A silver-plated B&S Sterling Medusa is one of the most beautiful tenor saxes ever made.
Upon my arrival to the States, I was determined to upgrade to a King or a Selmer. I was really disappointed in the various King models I tried. While lighter than B&S, Kings were flimsy and unpleasant to play. Selmers were excellent but expensive and quirky. I realized that what I needed was another B&S. I guess I just got used to it. Unfortunately for me, by that time B&S already stopped making saxes and I did not want to buy second-hand.
Purely by chance I stumbled onto a small online store selling new Codera Resoblade tenor saxes. The Resoblade was created by German jazz saxophonist Wolf Codera and for a short time the model was built by B&S. The sax featured self-balancing pads for low notes that improved sound stability and required less air to play. I’ve seen a prototype of this saxophone at a music expo years ago when I was still in school. I remember I really wanted it, but the prototype was auctioned off after the show for some astronomical amount. And so when I saw it at the store I had to have it.
Some compare B&S Codera Resoblade to the Selmer padless saxes. There is one big difference between the two: the Selmer padless design lacks Codera’s pivoting system for the key hole covers. Taking low notes on the Resoblade is as easy as taking mid-range notes. Too bad Codera never produced a baritone: it would have been epic.
Over the years I went through a number of pianos and electronic keyboards. Most of them were Yamahas. Having studied on an actual piano, my playing style is a bit heavy-handed for most flimsy electronic keyboards. Almost every keyboard I owned eventually ended up with a bunch of broken keys. The last one to break was the Yamaha PSR 9000. I had to upgrade to something more heavy-duty. After looking at a bunch of Rolands, Korgs, and Kurzweils I decided on another Yamaha. But this time I got the Motif XS8 with a balanced-action piano keyboard. With an extended warranty.
Big, heavy, convoluted and expensive, Motif’s redeeming quality is the sound. It has the most realistic-sounding acoustic instruments of any keyboard. This was the selling point for me. Roland Fantom X8 was an option I was considering until I tried it at the store. Aside from the piano, it has no good acoustic instruments. Everything I tried sounded worse than an old Yamaha PSR from 1990s. And I didn’t like Fantom’s much advertised weighted keyboard. It did feel like an actual piano keyboard – an old, beat up piano that’s been inside a moving truck one too many times.
The Motif came with a user manual. This is what Yamaha gingerly calls the giant book full of incomprehensible techno-babble (and I am a computer engineer) printed in tiny fonts on cheap paper. Can’t even use it as a paperweight. It’s all soft and slippery. On the bright side, the keyboard has a CAT5 network plug and (drum roll) ability configure static IP and mount SMB network shares. Motif does run a Unix-based operating system.