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I see from the above that MrYikes has an interest in woodwind instruments. I played for many years in a community band on the tenor sax. I have two comments that may have some use for you.
Having an interest in all things mechanical and wanting to get a good deal on an instrument, I began looking on eBay and noticed that Couesnon Monopole saxophones from the 1950's looked interesting and were going cheap (or not selling at all) at the time. I purchased one (then several, see a pattern). The Monopole line instruments were created for a French music conservatory and all of the students needed one for practice at the conservatory. Extremely good intonation, rolled tone holes, and an unusual double socket for the neck joint. Couesnon clarinets are also very good but the Monopole issue were "discovered" on eBay and I could not afford one, so I got one of their standard issue.
My second point may save you some money on reeds. There was a French company (I forget their name but I have a box that I can find if you are interested) that put an unusual feature on their reeds. If you mentally picture the scalloped out portion on the top of the reed that has the appearance of a thumb nail, they routed a 1/4" cylinder that almost penetrated through the reed in the curved portion (base of the thumb nail). This is easily duplicated on a drill press. It really opened up the reed and I never had to reject reeds once I found this trick.
Everything I've played:
Piano -- lessons age 5-17, ABRSM Diploma, continued playing regularly through college.
Euphonium -- 2 years in middle school band, 1 year of high school band, picked it up again briefly for last 6 months of college.
Violin -- self-taught beginning at 16, but stopped playing regularly after getting a viola.
Viola -- self-taught beginning a month before 18th birthday, have played regularly without interruption since starting, took lessons for 3 months at age 33.
Other instruments I've played a little but never practiced seriously: trombone, ukelele, recorder, pennywhistle, rebab, guzheng.
Other musical experience/training: about 7 years singing in choirs (age 20-27); studied composition informally for last two years of college (I had a biology professor who had formerly been a full-time composer and was one of Nadia Boulanger's students!), and in UCLA Extension film scoring program for two years in late 20s.
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