At IAJE 2006, ARK Corporation’s GB saxophones were definitely something to take note of. These handmade French saxophones designed by Gilbert Bouton all played great. Their European design was very unique but had the basic core elements that still make them appealing here in the states. The designer, Gilbert Bouton is new in the US and is researching US consumers’ opinions on how to improve his saxophones for the US market – and I must honestly say with the expertise put into these saxophones, there isn’t much room for improvement.

Some of the things that stood out with these saxophones were their titanium pearls, so that the pearls do not wear down and the right hand placement on the baritone saxophone which seemed low. Apparently this hand position is popular with the classical saxophonists in Europe. However, the creator takes digital analysis’ of the saxophonists’ hand positions and crafts the saxophone to match the location best for each player.

Yet another unique quality that the saxophones have, is that in lieu of using brass, Gilbert Bouton has created different alloys. In the words of ARK Corporation’s president, Andris Kursietis, “While the saxes were created and designed in France, by a French sax expert (Gilbert Bouton), they are actually assembled in his own factory in Taiwan. He uses alloys created to his own specifications (not off-the-shelf metals), many of which he has patented.”

There are a variety of GB saxophones available, but they are a little expensive. Their silver nickel tenor played absolutely amazing, but was around $6,490 . The saxophones are assembled in France by the saxophone guru repairman there, so they are surely worth the price, it is just the rare person who could afford one.

I am going to talk a little bit more about the silver nickel tenor since it was so fantastique. For another thousand dollars, you could buy a satin gold neck that improved the sound of the saxophone noticeably. However, the saxophone was magnificent sounding enough on its own. Although it was an expensive saxophone, it would definitely be worth the investment to anyone who is looking for a new tenor sax.

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.