Sax Dakota SDT-XR 52 Review
It’s the sound! Having spent three months with this gorgeous horn, playing a minimum of five live shows a week throughout the summer, for me, the sound is the outstanding aspect of this top of the line instrument. Some horns have a big sound that lacks focus. Some horns have a well focused sound that lacks size and complexity. Somehow, Pete LaPlaca and his team at Sax Dakota, have overcome those “this or that, but not both” restrictions and created a horn that defies expectations about the limits of sound.
Maybe it’s the high bronze alloy, or the combination of that with the silver plated neck and large bell. The result is a sound that has character for days, with a solid core and focus, yet at the same time an unusually satisfying beefiness and complexity. There’s so much you can draw out of this horn, no matter if you’re crafting a subtle line with nuance and dynamics, or shouting and honking the blues with all the abandon you can muster, this horn will be there for you all the way. And no matter where you are at any given moment in the dynamic spectrum, from triple piano to triple forte, the responsiveness of the SDT-XR 52 is solid and dependable. It offers a finely tuned balance between being very free blowing, while retaining a surprisingly reassuring and comfortable feeling of stability and control, so that you can push it hard, but never feel like it will “get away from you.”
Another quick note on responsiveness. As a naturally bright player, I prefer a mouthpiece that does not accentuate any additional brightness. I endorse and play the darkest piece in the great Theo Wanne tenor line, the Ambika. I can get all the bark and bite I need from it. In my testing of the SDT-XR 52, I also used some other mouthpieces, some metal, some hard rubber, including an old handmade Guardala studio model, a piece with a significant step baffle. No matter what setup I used, the Dakota horn maintained and offered up all its best qualities across the board.
The ergonomics are excellent, very natural and comfortable right out of the case. I own a 1964 Selmer MK VI that I bought brand new way back when it landed here from the factory in Paris, and the mechanism, feel and placement of the keys on the Dakota feel pretty close to home, no significant adjustment necessary, either in the keys or my hands. Quality springs make the action crisp and even, and the shape of the mother-of-pearl keys have an almost pre broken in feel.
The sound from register to register and the intonation from top to bottom is also very even and accurate. In short, the horn gives you a feeling of confidence and ease, knowing that there are no quirks or idiosyncrasies to wrestle with. I looked forward to playing it every show, knowing this “wow factor” of a sound would come singing from the bell, almost effortlessly.
One last thing. The visual appearance of an instrument may be more important to some than others. If it’s important to you, this is one of the most visually stunning and beautiful saxophones I’ve ever seen. If you’re in the market for a full on professional instrument, the SDT-XR 52 should be at the top of your short list.
Robert Martin - www.multimartinmusic.comSeptember 2018
My SDA-XG-404 Dakota Alto Sax you just shipped me couldn't be better. It came in perfect playing condition. The fit and feel is awesome.
OMG... are you kidding me, the action is better that the Yamaha I just sold. The horn's sound is as good if not better than any horn I've played. It projects and resonates like a champ. Not bad for having two hours of playing logged on the horn so far.
Can't wait to have a coupe of months on this horn. just like your Tenor SDT-XG-606, it will get even better with breaking me in with the horn and breaking the horn in. This sounds like an ad for your saxophones, but it's not.
Your horns are crazy good. I feel like I've known you for a long time the short time I've been going back and forth with you about your horns. You have been a pleasure to deal with. God bless you and Sax Dakota for a long time to come.
Your friend for life.
Gerald Jonutz - California
This is Ken Ozimek. You will remember me as Pattie Cossentino’s friend
from Nashville. I wanted to tell you how happy I am with my new Dakota
sax alto and tenor saxes. I have been playing them throughout the
middle TN area to many compliments. One of my students also bought
one of your tenors and loves it. They are a joy to play. Thanks for all you
do and the quality you put into these horns. I hope to see you at the
NAMM show in Nashville again. When my students are looking to
upgrade to a pro horn, Dakota sax are right at the top of the list.
CADE LIVELY, Sophomore Sax player from Lebanon, Tenn., just sent us these photos playing his Dakota Bari sax model SDB-XR 62 on the field with the Wilson Central High School Marching band.
Photos were taken by Bobby Reynolds… and Cade’s Mom, Holly, tells us he is having a “blast” playing his new Bari sax by Sax Dakota.
Good morning, Pete!
This is LaDarrel Johnson, also known as “Saxappeal.” I want to say thank you for the opportunity you’ve given me & thank you for allowing me to purchase and play your amazing, top of the line (and might I add, VERY saxy) horns! This Gray Onyx Alto is gorgeous.
I’ve had two performances with her (the sax) since then; one with Sy Smith & Z0, both members of the internationally known band Foreign Exchange. The gig was in Detroit, MI and the second show was in Charlston, West Virginia for an event given by the Ronald McDonald House charity. At both performances, I received many compliments of great playing, both by artists as well as the audience members.
A lot of people I spoke with were curious about the brand of which the horn was...I gave them as much information as I had about the company as well as the models that Sax Dakota makes. I’m very excited to give people information pertaining to your company!
Again, I just would like to thank you for the opportunity and for seeing something in me. I wish you all nothing but great success as a company, and I hope that we can continue to make beautiful music together!
LaDarrel Johnson, 'Saxappeal'
Detroit Sax Artist - February 2012
Your Dakota Soprano Sax came yesterday; the UPS guy delivered it just as I was walking out the door for a gig. I blew a few notes through it and decided to play it on the job. It was great. I was very pleased.
I‘ve tried a lot of new horns in recent years, and while almost all of them have something good about them, there‘s something about yours that I just dig the most. A big part of it is the shallow key cups, I think. There‘s a percussive sureness to the fingering that really benefits my playing. I would recommend one of these to anybody (indeed, I have).
Last month I reviewed a new soprano from a major manufacturer, and while it's a good horn, I like this one much better. And for the money, there's no contest, although, if you offered me my choice of either, I‘d take yours in a heartbeat.
I could really see myself playing your horns exclusively. Besides being great instruments, I just love the distinctive look. I think the unique design/finish-as well as the unusual look of the straight alto and tenor, one or both of which I crave - could really help with my branding.
Anyway, just thought I'd keep you posted. Hope all's well!
N.Y. Sax Artist/Clinician
May 10, 2011
This is Eddie Berg. a Contemporary Jazz. Blues and Funk player from New York. It is funny how small this world is since I have been playing your horns from you past company LA SAX since the early 90's. I never realized you started a new company until early 2012 when I saw a YouTube video of my all-time favorite sax player, Richard Elliot, playing a new horn. I remember how big and fat his tenor sounded. This attracted me to what horn manufacturer he is playing on now.
When I discovered Sax Dakota was his new horn I did my research and discovered you started a new company. The best decision I ever made was to contact you to find out more about Sax Dakotas. I must say you have been with me throughout my decision to move off my LA Saxes. You listened to me and a player and created a setup I was looking for which no other company offered.
As a performer I always got great feedback on the style and sound of my horns. I am not just a player as I entertain my audiences. The stylish looks of these horns take you over the top. You continue to focus on the individual player and give us the horns that provide great exposure to our audiences. I am very excited to let you know my Tenor, Alto and Soprano horn of choice is now Sax Dakota. I look forward to being one of your ambassadors to show the world what we can do playing behind Sax Dakotas.
Eddie Berg - Smithtown. N.Y.
August 21, 2012
Dear Peter LaPlaca,
For the past two weeks, I’ve been playing on what I must now call the best Saxophone on the Market. The Sax Dakota SD-505 XG model is a Saxophone that has completely blown me away in every aspect, and not just looks and ergonomics. The sound of his horn is incredible, gorgeous, deep, fat and huge. Its color in sound will definitely attract listeners. It’s a saxophone that just needs someone to start to play with closed eyes and let the music take us to places. I have played many different brands on the market, and I can seriously testify that these horns of Sax Dakota have nothing to envy of any other brand.
Saxophone players from all over the world need to try out and purchase a Sax Dakota today'll not only will you get your money‘s worth, but you’ll get more than you can imagine. I am extremely happy to have met Sax Dakota Saxophones!!! In a short amount of time I have had this saxophone, l have received many compliments about the sound, looks and elegance.
This saxophone was play tested for one week with lots of attention to detail. I have no complaints, but many compliments. I am very eager and excited to join the Sax Dakota family and establish a great relationship with what will become one of the best Saxophone companies in the world. The intonation, response and action, overall construction of these saxophones are professionally done and with much attention to detail.
I am honored to play at part with Peter LaPlaca at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California in 2013.
Nelson Garcia - CT Recording artist & Gospel saxophonist
December 3, 2012
I believe you guys at Sax Dakota have outdid yourselves with this Tenor. Man, I‘m in love and at a lost for words. I picked it up for the first time this morning at 10:45am and did not put it down until about 5:15pm. Everything is perfect, tone, look, feel, and continuity from top to bottom. I'm just amazed. I‘ll be writing up a review, recording a few covers, and doing a photo shoot very soon.
You have a winner here!!
I also have a few folks interested in Sax Dakota, so I'll be sending them your way soon. Thanks for everything and for making this amazing horn. I gotta find a name for her now LOL!
Review Date: March 21, 2013
Pete LaPlaca and his staff at Sax Dakota have been producing excellent instruments for some time now and this is quite apparent with the new SDT-XR-92 tenor saxophone. I was made aware of Sax Dakota by Melvin Llord at www.mysaxtalk.com. He put me in contact with Pete who, after hearing me play, asked me if l would be interested in trying out a Sex Dakota horn and possibly endorsing them. I tried the horn and l was really happy with it. So, I purchased my SDT-XG-606 and l have been playing it ever since. That was in May of 2012. The SDT-XR-92 is Sax Dakota’s newest addition to their already excellent line of professional saxophones; it is unlike any of their previous models. The standard for Sax Dakota has been plated brass horns. However, this new model is comprised of a completely unlacquered bronze brass alloy. The hand engraving and the unlacquered bronze brass of the SDT-XR-92 give it an attractive “vintage” look. It is a really cool looking horn. I received the SDT-XR-92 on trial from Pete in order to spend some time playing it, and to give my thoughts on the horn. After playing it. I can say that this new model is an excellent instrument. I spent time on longtones, overtones, scales, technique exercises, tunes, improvisation, transcribed solos; everything I could think of in order to put the horn through the paces, so to speak. I really wanted to see what it could do.
First of all, I found it to be very tree blowing (a trait I prefer) which made it very comfortable to play. The intonation is very good throughout the range of the horn from low B - flat through the altissimo register and the tone was consistent as well. One of the best characteristics I have noticed with Sax Dakota horns is that the sound is very focused and centered, and this horn was no exception. Another great aspect of this horn is the response. As I played it, I found that it did exactly what I wanted when I wanted it to happen. I did not have to make drastic adjustments or ‘fight’ with the horn in order to get everything to sound clearly. In addition, I was able to play very soft subtones all the way down to low B - flat. Everything spoke very well.
As is the case with everything Sax Dakota makes, the keywork and action are excellent. For starters, the key work is very ergonomic. This provides for comfortable hand placement and efficiency of motion which makes it easier for the player to reduce tension. Furthermore, the action is amazing. There is no play or wasted motion in the mechanism.
I spent some time recording myself playing it side by side with my Sax Dakota SDT-XG-606, my Selmer Mark VI, my Keilwerth SX90-R, and my friend’s Selmer Reference 54. To keep things consistent, I used the set up I always use: a #9 facing Drake Tenor Contemporary I mouthpiece with Rigotti Gold #3 medium reeds. Alter comparing these horns I can say that they are all excellent horns and, for the most part, the differences in tone were quite subtle. The brightest and most focused was the Sax Dakota SDT-XG-606 while the Reference 54 was the darkest and most spread. I did notice that there was quite a large amount of resistance with the Reference 54; all of the other horns were very free blowing. The SDT-XR-92 was very similar to the Mark VI and the Keilwerth. All three of them had a very balanced and well rounded tone.
I can say without a doubt that Sax Dakota’s new SDT-XR-92 model tenor saxophone is an excellent horn. It has every characteristic the professional player is looking for: the tone is great, the response in impeccable, the action is excellent, and overall it is very comfortable to play. In addition to all at that, the hand engraving and raw bronze brass give it a unique look. This is a high quality professional horn that can easily hold its own with any horn on the market.
This horn is an exemplary example of the very high level of quality and craftsmanship Pete and his staff at Sax Dakota put into all at their horns which are why I not only recommend them without hesitation, but I also play and endorse them.
Christopher D. Mickell, D.M.A.
Sax Dakota Performing Artist
Teacher and Senior Forum Moderator as www.mysaxtalk.com
Dear Sax Dakota,
My name is Gerald Jonutz. I had talked to Pete about two months ago. I am the Sax guy that got a great deal on the SDT-XG-606 Tenor Sax off of eBay. Holy sh*t, that sax keeps on getting better and better as I get more playing time on it. My tone has never been better.
Keep on doing such a great job with Dakota Saxophones!
August 9, 2013
Dear Mr. LaPlaca
I've been playing semi-professionally for about 20 years, with a few small bands at coffee houses and my church. I play soprano, alto and tenor and was ready to upgrade from my old Conn tenor to a pro horn. I went to Simonetti Music, where I purchased my soprano and have all my horns serviced to check one out.
I told the owner, Jim, I wanted to purchase a new Tenor Sax... and as he had just got back from the NAMM show where he got this new tenor sax from a company called Sax Dakota, he showed me their beautiful silver and gold tenor. At first, I said, no. I'd done my research and decided on another brand. Jim said well let's keep an open mind, take several horns in the back and you play them and see which one chooses you. He brought back a Yamaha 62, Selmer Mark VI, Cannonball Big bell, and the new Sax Dakota. I spent a couple of hours playing all of the horns and narrowed it to the Cannonball and the Sax Dakota.
I loved how great the Sax Dakota performed. The ease of playing and the feel of the horn told me that this horn chose me. I never regretted the decision and even had a couple of professional players check it out and exclaim how great my horn played.
After a couple of years I had a minor issue with the lacquer finish on the horn, sent an email to Pete at Sax Dakota, expecting, after such a long time from my purchase, to receive no help.
I was impressed when Pete went out of his way to help me, and after sending my horn to him for repair he asked if he could send me a brand new horn, a newer model, instead of repairing my horn so I would not be without a horn for very long. Now THAT is OUTSTANDING customer service! I received the new horn within a week and it was everything I loved about my old horn but better! We been playing the new horn for about a month now and find myself grabbing it more than my soprano and alto when I play.
I highly recommend the Sax Dakota Saxophones as the build quality is the same and even better than the big names, the sound and playability are outstanding.
Pete and his team have really hit it out of the park!
Steven Howse, July, 2012 - Castaic, California
I purchased the tenor and an alto and decided to give it a serious shot. It's been a year since my purchase and I am very satisfied with the horns for lots of reasons.
The tuning is very good but not rigid like some models from a leading brand from Japan. The altissimo notes are incredibly easy to play clearly, and even the troublesome G# and Bb respond better than the Selmers I have owned. I remember owning two or three Keilwerths over the years and the altisiomo G# and low Eb were always a nightmare. The Sax Dakota gives you a free blowing low Bb all the way up the scale of the horn and it is easy to control without any unwanted resistance.
The Sax Dakota is the very definition of a player’s horn. It lets you whisper on a ballad or even sub tone and will accommodate you playing modern funk jazz and everything else in between. The tone is so fat, you get what so many modern horns don't give you and that’s “FEEDBACK”. You can hear the tone of the horn from behind and feel the vibration. This is truly inspiring. The construction and durability of these saxophones is second to none. The materials used for this horn, especially the rods and keys will most definitely keep the horn in regulation.
As I said, no saxophone is perfect. But the Sax Dakota is a battle tested instrument that sounds as good as it is built and is a better value sound wise than any horn twice the cost. And, to all your players out there....get your head out of the past. These horns are worth trying.
Rich Maraday - Circleville, N.Y.
"I just want to say that I have two of your sax Dakota saxes... one is the SDT-XR 52 Tenor and the SDA-XR 82 Alto and man-o-man do I love both of these horns they are very free blowing and mouthpiece friendly."
"I'm looking forward to buying a sax Dakota Bari and Soprano soon. Love the horns, hope to meet you someday,"
Sax Dakota artist, Rick Parma talks about his new sax and what he loves about it.
For the first time in forty years I added a new tenor to my roster, a Sax Dakota XR 92 in Raw Bronze. I have always had a King Super Twenty Tenor hanging around my neck bought new by my family in 1957. Both of my Altos are Super Twenty’s as well. I have never played another horn that I preferred.
In the first week of ownership I had two rehearsals, one loud gig not contained and three church services in a R & B horn section mildly loud somewhat contained and oh yea, a long lesson with Tim Price! So I put the horn through it’s paces.
The first thing I loved was the vintage case with the attached, beautifully embroidered, velvet interior cover. This is a very elegant touch. The second thing that hit me was the weight of the instrument. This is a solid horn! Indeed, upon closer inspection this is an exceptionally well built horn. From the post and rod construction to the screws, everywhere you look there is quality.
As advertised there is a lot of attention to detail providing numerous refinements. I especially appreciate the double arms on all the lower keys and the low profile key cups. I also love the Pisoni pads with resonators.
So how will this feel under the fingers? I was naturally a bit nervous being so comfortable with a good horn for so long. It literally took me one hour to feel at home on this Saxophone. The feel of this horn is buttery smooth. The pearl touches have a played in feel and the action is just the right nimble balance. This instrument came set up perfectly and plays flawlessly top to bottom.
I’m used to the centered brightness of a Super Twenty so I may be a bit skewed. I think the XR 92 in raw bronze possess a lush, spread, warm tone. It’s certainly fully capable of pushing the acoustic limits with the right mouthpiece when desired, as my tech director informed me. Playing this sax in tune from top to bottom on my two normal mouthpieces was effortless.
I like shiny instruments as much as the next guy but I’m in love with the cosmetics of this raw bronze tenor! It’s gorgeous. There are all sorts of iridescent colorings in the bronze. The elaborate engraving on bell and neck are well executed and really pop. I’ve always loved the aging chocolate lacquer of a King Zephyr Special but this beats the band!
What do the recipients of the sound of this horn say? Both people who never heard me before and people who hear me every week smiled as they were complimenting my efforts this past week. I believe the Dakota XR 92 may well improve my lot in life as a player. Along with the efforts of Mr. Price of course!
Finally and most importantly, from the first email to the delivery of the horn Mr. LaPlaca treated me like a VIP. That meant a lot to me considering how busy he is and the professional players he rubs shoulders with. Every interaction was timely and courteous. In fact, my student’s family was treated the exact same way when they purchased his raw bronze Bari. It’s a killer horn as well and transformed his playing! Simply put, Pete is what I call the real deal.
I am not an endorsing artist by any means, just a novice player who plays prolifically. It’s obvious to me much passion and experience have come to fruition in a beautiful line of instruments. Certainly the most bang for the buck that I’ve ever experienced!
Thank you Pete!
Darin Esterly - Lancaster, PA
Thanks a ton for the great support and insightful renovation suggestions. I agree that the prior owner treated this horn criminally but we are really happy to be part of the Sax Dakota family! We promise to bring it as far back to its prior glory as possible.
Thank you for making such wonderful horns!
Review of Sax Dakota’s SDT – XG 606 Tenor Saxophone
I will be reviewing the new Sax Dakota SDT – XG 606 tenor saxophone. Sax Dakota (www.saxdakota.com) is a new company, which is a part of Pete LaPlaca’s PJLA music. I have been playing this horn since May of this year (2012) and I can say that it is an excellent instrument. Pete and his staff at Sax Dakota have done a great job with these horns.
When I first received my horn, I was very impressed with its appearance. The neck, bow, and bell have a brushed silver finish with the bell having a shiny silver interior. The body is plated with a dark chrome finish, which Sax Dakota refers to as “Black Onyx.” Lastly, the keys are gold plated. After speaking with Pete, I found that all of the Sax Dakota horns are plated. Plating is much stronger than typical lacquer finishes which tend to wear off quickly.
In addition to having an excellent look, the horn plays great. The scale is even from low B – flat to high F – Sharp and above into the altissimo register. I really like the tone, this horn has a big robust sound with lots of projection, I never feel like I am being swallowed up when playing with electric instruments (I use a Drake Ceramic Chamber Tenor Contemporary I with Vandoren V – 16 #3 reeds).
Furthermore, the horn is very responsive, I am easily able to play the softest subtones all the way down to low B – flat and I can easily control the tone to create the different timbres I want. One of the best things about this horn is that it is really free blowing. I never get the feeling that the air is backing up on me when I really have to play loud. I have found some horns are very resistant and almost create a dynamic governor, which seems to cut me off at mezzo forte. I know some players like this resistance; however, I am glad this characteristic is not present in Sax Dakota horns.
The keywork and action are great. The long rods are stainless steel, so there is less chance of bending. Also, the low profile key cups, double bracing on the low C, low B, and low B – flat keys, and black oxide needle springs aid in creating action that is the tightest I have ever played. The keys move and feel great under the fingers. Regarding regulation, the right hand stack is usually the one to go out first on any horn and it the most difficult to get into adjustment. The designers at Sax Dakota have taken the time to include adjustment screws for the right hand stack keys, which makes getting these keys into adjustment much easier.
Overall, I am very happy with my Sax Dakota horn. I have played it on several gigs and it has performed well. The musicians I work with (and others who come to our shows) have been impressed with the sound and look of this new horn. These are high-end professional model horns, which can easily hold their own with any professional horn on the market. I think players will like their top-notch quality and their reasonable price. I recommend them without hesitation and I am happy to endorse them.
Christopher D. Mickel, D.M.A.
I was first introduced to Sax Dakota when I met The Saxations at the 2014 NAMM Show. I tried the straight alto and tenor saxophones and really enjoyed playing them. Soon after, I started to play with The Saxations, and became more curious about DAKOTA. Since all the girls in the band were playing Dakota horns, I did see different models which, instead of the standard lacquered brass, these had a more modern and elegant look.
I did some online research and fell in love with the raw bronze tenor. I was intrigued by the strong character and unique texture resulting from the mixture of the metals and oxidation; every horn has a different look.
I talked to LeiLani from The Saxations, and she put me in touch with Peter LaPlaca. A few weeks later when horn was in stock, Peter shipped one to me on approval. It came in a well-made case with velvet covering the horn and was very impressed with the presentation.
At first I was concerned my hands would become discolored from the raw bronze finish since some people with high acidity have that problem. I was pleasantly surprised that after playing it for a few hours, I noticed only a hint of metallic smell, but no discoloration on my hands.
The key action was strong, fast, well balanced, plus the intonation was very accurate. This horn has a dark and focused sound with robust sub tones. It has a similar sound to the Selmer Super Balanced Action I've been playing up until now. It is also easy blowing at all dynamic levels. Ultimately, we decided on the raw bronze model due to the excellent sound quality, ease I of playing, vintage look and the great value.
Thank you Sax Dakota for making this wonderful instrument!
Tomoka Jarvis - San Diego, California
Sax Dakota SDT-XR-52 Tenor Saxophone
Highly Responsive, Aesthetically Detailed
The SDT-XR 52 Tenor Saxophone from Sax Dakota is an ergonomically designed, aesthetically detailed and highly responsive instrument. It’s the company’s top-line tenor, made of raw bronze with a semi-matte Black Onyx finish on the body, bow and bell, and a bright Black Onyx finish on the inside of the bell.
The SDT-XR 52’s neck is silver-plated, and the keywork, trim and grille-style keyguards are unfinished, sporting a distinct art deco-like design. The neck and bell are decorated with attractive hand-engraving. The raw bronze body of the SDT-XR 52 is essentially a brass alloy with increased copper content (77 percent), resulting in a smooth and highly resonant sound that’s reminiscent of certain post-World War II vintage horns. Playing it, I experienced a pleasing feeling of vibration in the instrument’s body, even on upper-stack fingerings.
The SDT-XR 52 responded well and played nicely in tune with two different types of mouthpieces: a hard-rubber Vandoren Jumbo Java #7 and metal Jody Jazz Super Jet matched with #2½ and #3 Vandoren Java Red Box reeds. I got the strongest projection and altissimo response with the metal mouthpiece and #3 reed, and the hard-rubber mouthpiece with #2½ reed was my favored setup for subtone and warmth. The SDT-XR 52 felt consistently reliable in articulation at all volume levels with both types of mouthpieces.
The keys of the SDT-XR 52 are well-placed for ease of fingering and rapid playing. The left-hand little-finger bank is especially nimble. Three neckstrap attachment rings are provided (like on the old King Zephyr saxophone models), and I was pleased to find that choosing one over another really did make a difference in airstream control and physical comfort.
Additional professional touches include a conveniently located front high-F lever, an adjustable right-hand thumb rest and a high F# key. Stainless steel key rods help enhance the action. Black oxide steel springs and pivot screws team with custom Italian pads and tone boosters. The reinforced double arms on the low C/B/B-flat keys, along with Pisoni Pro key pads, are designed to aid response and ensure consistent tone. Adjustment screws are placed at critical points. The SDT-XR-52 has a specially designed neck taper and a graduated bell flare that begins at the bottom bow and collar.
The SDT-XR 52 comes in a reinforced, vintage-looking tweed-exterior wood case with a plush interior blanket for extra cushioning and protection.
Bruce Gibson - Downbeat Magazine
I got the horn (Soprano Sax) after dinner time last night and was able to play it for a short time. I‘m very impressed! I think I mentioned that l have a Yamaha Custom and a curved Bronze Yani. These are two of the best out there. Your Dakota stood up to them and in some areas played better than them.
I have my own system for evaluating horns and it will take some time for a final verdict. Two biggies.....pitch and sound quality seem to be definite strong points. Very FAT sound.
When I read your blurb praising the virtues of these horns, being the skeptic that I am, I thought, what is he going to say......“My horn is not all that good”?
I‘ll call you after I‘ve had more time to spend with the horn. Then, “maybe we can talk some business?"
Editor's Note: The sax was purchased 2 days later from Dillon Music of Woodbridge. NJ.
Rich Radice - Holmdell, N.J.
Thank you Pete.
The Sax Dakota Alto Sax SD-XG-303 hand rubbed brass finish has been a blessing for Michael. His horn playing skills have gone off the chart with it. Such mellow rich tone, effortless to play he tells me. And he is all over it, up and down those keys. Him, and that horn, can talk to an audience. Thank you again for such a fine product and this opportunity.
Jim Polezoes, Tour Manager for Michael Hulett
I am Andy Dudnick, a jazz musician from the San Francisco Bay Area. www.andydudnick.com I am the very proud owner of a Sax Dakota straight tenor saxophone with the Grey Onyx finish. The tenor is, in a word, awesome. It is awesome playing, it is awesome looking, and it draws awesome gasps of wonder from fellow musicians and audience members alike. The horn has a smooth and resonant sound, particularly in the lower register. And you can more readily aim the bell towards (or away) from the audience and bandmates to achieve different dynamics and palettes of sound.
There is also a definite ease and fluidity of playing, as it is ergonomically substantially different (and better, in my opinion) than the typical curved tenor sax. Key and tone hole placements are well-designed and I find there is actually less hand, arm and neck fatigue than with a curved tenor. The piece de resistance - there is a fabulous, sturdy stand that is available for it (for a modest additional charge) which really holds the sax firmly in place - and that’s a HUGE added bonus since a proper stand for the straight saxophones is exceedingly hard to find. I heartily recommend the Sax Dakota straight tenor, there is nothing else on the planet like it!
Several months ago, after connecting with the founder of Sax Dakota, Peter LaPlaca. l was given the honor of becoming a member of the Sax Dakota family alongside the likes of Richard Elliot, Deon Yates, Chris Kelsey, Rick Keller, and Hayan Charlston just to name a few. This is my review of their Straight Soprano Saxophone.
When l first received my hom, it felt like an early Christmas morning I was completely fascinated with the appearance of the retro one-piece tube, the sleek Gray Onyx matte finish of the body, the high-gloss interior bell, and the silver-plated keys. The feel of the horn was equally impressive, not to heavy, not too light, but well balanced. lt honestly felt as if it was custom designed to fit me. After admiring the craftsmanship and attention to detail on the horn, next came the play test.
I started my play test with a simple long tone exercise from the bottom of the horn to the top with the included mouthpiece. To my surprise, the tone was pure, warm with a little bite, and consistent throughout the horn with great projection. The soprano saxophone is no stranger to intonation issues, whether from user error (improper embouchure tension, mouthpiece setup, etc.) or construction issues (low quality metals, inaccuracy in design/build, etc.), but the improvements made by Sax Dakota definitely removes the latter. The horn responds well from a whisper to an all out scream, which provides much room for tasteful, dynamic nuances. The key design and placement sits perfectly under the fingers, feels natural and comfortable which is great for reducing fatigue, thus allowing one the freedom of extended sets.
Overall, l am completely satisfied with my Sax Dakota SOprano Saxophone, better known as “Misty." Together, we have performed many shows and pleased the ears of many audiences. After one show in particular, an audience member told me that they were surprised by the warm tone, given it being a soprano, and was very pleased to finally hear a soprano sax played in tune. I wholeheartedly recommend and proudly endorse Sax Dakota because their horns are designed for professionals by professionals, and are reasonable priced given the quality and obvious care that one expects from a pro-level instrument. The horn looks and sounds great, but it gets out of the way, so that the true essence of the player can be experienced.Thanks again to Peter LaPlaca and the Sax Dakota team for creating an exceptional horn, and allowing me the opportunity to be apart of the family.
Hi there. This is Ricar Bartolomei from Puerto Rico.
First of all my new Alto Dakota ( SDA-XL-110 ) in Satin Silver with Gold keys, that I bought last week, arrived in time for my weekend shows. The sax was excellent in all aspects. I could spend hours talking about all the good things about this sax.
Immediately after the first set, people came to me to ask about the sax. The sound is superb and extremely comfortable. The pads sealed tight all the way up and down. I have used many brands during my music life ( Selmer. Yamaha. Blessing. King among others ) and for many years now, a PMauriat that I bought when they first came out on the market.
After doing research, watching videos, asking other sax players, the Dakota was recommended by a good friend, and was the best decision I made.
A company is building my website and is going to be on air maybe in one or two weeks. Now it is under construction, but I am including the website address below. When it is complete. I will let you know. Thanks for designing and building a marvelous saxophone. I love it.
As you know. I purchased SAX DAKOTA STD-XG 505 Tenor Sax from you one week ago. I've owned Yamaha, Selmer super balanced action, Cannonball and Chateau. These four are all very good playing horns. The super balanced Selmer was definitely the best of the group.
The thing that really sets your horns apart from all the others, is the tone... and more tone... and more tone. The 505 I just received from you is incredible. The Burnished Antique looks are to die for and the way that sax resonates and plays in tune from top to bottom is extra special. The build quality is second to none. As you can tell... I could not be happier.
Thanks so much,
Gerald Junutz - Roseville, California
Review Date: April 8, 2017
Thank you for updating me... I am so proud playing your products. Both the Raw Brass/Bronze soprano and my new SDT-XR-92 tenor have their own character and as time goes on, the tone has become richer in sound.
I try not to play favorites because the custom Dakota Saxes I have are just as great. The DSA-XR-82 alto will be another piece of equipment that will allow me to express my music with a great sound. Thanks again for creating the top of the line saxphones on the market.
You are far ahead of the other manufacturerez in creativity, providing us musicians the best saxophones.
Ed Berg - Long Island, N.Y.
April 21, 2014
Dear Sax Dakota:
My name is D'Erania Stampley. I'm a multi-instrumentalist, Jazz recording artist from Chicago. I perform in front of at least 1000 people every week as I have steady gigs year round. One of my regular gigs is a Jazz set I do every Friday called "D'Erania & Friends', where I bring in and put together a different band every week consisting of the most talented musicians in and around Chicago. For the past few months I have been exclusively playing on my Sax Dakota Straight Alto. I want to let you know that I am literally in LOVE with its warm, honest & organic sound. I get so many compliments on my playing from fans and fellow musicians when I play this horn. Everyone loves it!! I feel that it has truly become my signature sound. It's also a very 'hip' looking instrument; people are always interested in knowing more about it and I'm told that I look very 'hip' holding it (laugh!!) It's also very comfortable to hold & play on. Again, I LOVE it.
People view me as being a very unique artist already because I'm an African-American, Female, Saxophonist, Organist. Vocalist. Song Writer, Studio Engineer & Performer who leads her own Jazz bands. I feel that my Sax Dakota Straight Alto just contributes to making me all the MORE interesting to people.
I want to THANK YOU for making such a GREAT, PROFESSIONAL INSTRUMENT!!!
I have performed and collected many top of the line instruments over my 27 years of playing the sax. However, I can honestly say, Dakota Saxes have caused me to park and retire horns that I thought would accompany me throughout my entire musical career.
Dakota horns have effortlessly combined aesthetics, technology and expert craftsmanship. The look, feel and performance will surely captivate professionals worldwide. The ease with which my horn plays causes me to "woo" her in a whole new way.
I've found myself not wanting to put my straight alto down, nor desiring to pick up my other horns; I honestly didn't want to remove the alto from my lips and I'm predominantly a Tenor/Soprano player. All I can say is, thank you Pete for increasing my practice hours and contributing something brilliant to the woodwind family.
The exceptional Dakota Brand instruments will carve out an impression, leave a lasting legacy and set a new standard for excellence.
Yancyy - Detroit professional Sax Artist
August 9, 2013