Signature Custom Saxophones



In July 2006 Mark was presented with a Signature Custom Solid Silver Body Tenor Saxophone. All performances and recording thereafter will be using this amazing British instrument . The first recorded works on the instrument is Good Bye Pork Pie Hat and Lover Man. These tracks will be available the on the CD Solo. Mark Buckingham. Which also contains versions of Misty, Tenderly, Stardust (on Alto) and improvisations on alto and Eb clarinets. (not forgetting the Flintstone's Theme for solo bass clarinet). Please check the www.signaturecustom.co.uk web site for details of the awesome instrument. CD avaliable hopefully in August.

Please enjoy the test recording of Good Bye Porkpie Hat, recorded on the first evening of delivery. Straight out of the case, incredible craftsmanship and musicality. MP3 and Improvisation.

Photographs of the Signature Custom will be appearing thanks to Kevin Mayhew Publishers on the Jammin' The Blues Books for Bb and Eb instruments.

Just discoverd that the Signature Custom crooks fit on my selmer series 80 alto and made a remarkable improvement. Check that out.

Signature Custom 925 Tenor Saxophone

First Impressions

The instrument sent to me has a solid silver crook and body, bronze bow and bell. The instrument is supplied in a rugged Hiscox case.
Opening the case of this instrument is an experience in itself. The saxophone is flawless - not one fingerprint anywhere! The finish is exquisite. The solid silver patina is marvelous, the lacquered bow and bell is many-layered and with a wonderful colour; the lacquered keywork, faultless. Looking down the bell (as you do) there is the wonderful colour of natural bronze. Lush! The saxophone had no marks, scratches, blobs of solder, not even dust. A fantastic experience. I keep washing my hands so as not to leave fingerprints all over it. An honour to hold it.

The instrument is ‘Made in England’ (the only UK saxophone) and is meticulously designed and built by David Farley at the Trevor James premises. Each Signature Custom saxophone is built by David only and to your own specifications, hence the quality and workmanship is unprecedented in the saxophone world. There is a waiting time for the Custom Signature saxophone. David will custom set-up for you and will adjust and alter keywork if you have particular requirements. Again absolutely unique by a maker.

I could devote many pages to describing the playing and sound of the saxophone and all its nuances, but I will endeavour to be fairly brief.
Listening to the recordings I and others have done will really speak the words.

I fitted my Bobby Dukoff 9* with a Rico Royal 2 (I’m expecting criticism of my soft reeds) and then spent all day playing it - I only put it down to eat and drink, and even then rushed my food to get back to it. As you may deduce from my soft reeds, I demand flexibility from the instruments I perform and record with, so that I can create colour and tone adjustments within phrases very quickly. The Signature Custom response and quality of tone is otherworldly.

Playing pianissimo low Bb and fiddling around all the low notes at PPP and with subtone is always a good test for any saxophone and this instrument is faultless. But it is the tone that got me; most saxes, even top of the range, lose clarity and go sort of woofy, if you know what I mean, but the Signature Custom maintains an absolutely clear tone and ease to add colour to the tones that I’ve not experienced before. Playing the whole range of the Signature at PPP is also an experience. No fluffy notes, no creaking or cracking/splitting of notes. It just does what it’s told - again, the depth of tone at PPP and the options available to alter and develop colours and effects is outrageous. I then spent the day working the Signature through the volume range at all pitches, playing long notes and at speed altering the tones and colours, growling, singing the same pitch as the note I was playing, then singing the 5 above etc. - what fun! Again, the Signature did exactly what it was told to do and just made it sound so clear and concise and so easy to project.

Projection on the Signature will inspire confidence, many players these days are not taught to project so when they want to be heard they just blow harder to turn the volume up but because the tone of the Signature is so broad and focussed, there is an inbuilt projection. I don’t know how the Signature does it - I just play it but I’m sure David and the Trevor James personnel could explain the science of acoustics and metals for you but ut however they achieve it, the instrument sings, which is what it is all about at the end of the day. I think players that have not had the years of projection training and want to be heard will be astounded with the presence of focus, sound and tone the Signature offers without having to force the volume up and stress everybody.

When it comes to fff the Signature takes on beastly proportions, the power available is immense, and with no loss of tone quality. Playing medium volume phrases and then punching out a fff in the middle of it is such fun (simple pleasures). The saxophone is there waiting to respond and produce a glorious sound.
Enough of trying to describe sound in words. On the second day of receiving the Signature I recorded Goodbye Porkpie Hat by Charlie Mingus. It can be heard on www.gruntproductions.com This improvisation is one take - no edits, no cut-and-pasting of the audio.

When it comes to the action of the Signature it is faultless. Fast, responsive, positive, lightning quick. I did a short improvisation just to see how fast the Signature would go. Anything I tried, worked. This is also available to hear.I have recorded Lover Man and re-recorded Goodbye Porkpie Hat for the CD Solo Mark Buckingham, it also includes the improvisation to see how fast the Signature would play. In the recordings I have endeavoured to show the complete sonic range that I am capable of creating with a saxophone and which the Signature allows me to achieve, which is far more than any other tenor I have played. I have no doubt that as I work more with the Signature Custom, new sound opportunities will be revealed and recorded. What joy awaits?

A phenomenal saxophone, a work of art that sounds amazing!
Please listen to the results.
Mark Buckingham.

Goodbye Porkpie

Improvisation at Speed

Signature Custom Alto Saxophone.

Solid Silver 925 crook with red brass body bow and bell.
The instrument arrived on Thursday afternoon in a rugged Hiscox case, which is supplied as standard for all Signature Custom Saxophones.
The quality of the finish is outstanding, a deep gold lacquer, which is 3 layers thick; the workmanship is faultless.
David Farley, who designed and builds all the Signature at the Trevor J. James workshops to order, knows how I like my saxophones set up, as I already use a Signature Custom tenor. He set all the side key springing perfectly as I find if they are too heavy the instrument moves when I hit them, affecting stability and thus tone. The main finger keywork on first impression seemed a bit too light even for me, but the feel is growing on me. Being a privileged Signature Custom owner entitles one to the ‘after service’; David will adjust any keywork and set-up to the player’s requirements. This is unique, as no other maker offers that. An element of the saxophone I also like is where the fingers and hands touch the instrument the keywork is rounded and smooth making it very comfortable to hold.
Having complete faith with the Signature Custom I tuned it up in the afternoon then gigged with the sax that evening, a funk, jazz and jazz/rock gig in Clapham (I left my Selmer at home, I had such faith in it). The instrument was fantastic, straight out of the case and ready for professional work - not like certain makers with huge reputations where the saxes need to go to your repairer for pad setting etc.
The beauty of having one man as designer, builder and quality control separates the Signature Custom from all manufacturers.
On the first gig I made the mistake of using a Otto Link 7* instead of my normal 6*. The difference is huge and I did not realise the mistake until the next day. I felt my tone did not quite have the projection and power as normal. The next day I was totally knocked out when I stuck the 6* on the alto.
The power and projection is immense. Playing sub-tones and PPP is so clear it’s shocking. The solid silver crook has to be experienced, with such a clean sound throughout the dynamic range. Performers need to have very clearly projected tone these days so that they are able to carry their sound through electric guitars and drums etc., often at high decibel levels. The Signature Custom series will surprise even the most fixed player who insists on a particular brand (me included). It is so powerful. Volume is essential for most band work; if you are lucky enough to be working with quiet ensembles then the depth of tone of the Signature Custom at low levels will inspire you.
An incredible aspect to the Signature Custom series of saxophones, which I have also discovered with the tenor, is the balance of tone on every note throughout the instrument range, and beyond. This is a remarkable achievement for the Trevor J. James Company because nearly all saxes however expensive have tonal weak spots.
In conclusion, with regard to the initial performing and playing/testing of the Signature I am wholly impressed. I can find no fault and in many respects the alto outplays my normal alto. The tonal clarity, power and projection is superior.
When one considers value for money this alto wins hands down. Professional saxophones are very expensive even with retailer discounts and what you get with the Signature Custom is staggering. Just look at the cost of a silver crooked instrument and compare with Signature Customs competitors!
I will be using the Signature Custom from now onwards, the asset of the power, clarity, projection and balanced tone over the whole instrument as well the inherent tone of the silver crook has won my favor.
Anybody looking for a professional saxophone would do well to have an unbiased and unprejudiced attitude and blow a Signature Custom Saxophone from Trevor J. James & Co.

Alex uses a Red Brass Signature Custom Tenor with an option of a Solid Silver crook.

Alex Mitchell studied the saxophone at the Royal Northern College of Music, graduating with both a Degree and a Professional Performance Diploma. As a member of the Adelphi Saxophone Quartet he was a finalist in the Royal Overseas League Competition, received a major award from the John Tunnell Trust and was selected to perform as part of the Park Lane Group Young Artists Concert Series. He has given recitals in North America and Canada as well as all over the United Kingdom in venues such as the Purcell Room, the Barbican Centre, and St Martin-in-the-Fields. He is an EMI recording artist and has broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM and Granada TV. He has also performed at the British and World Saxophone Congresses, at the New England Saxophone Symposium and at the Spitalfields Festival. He also has experience with orchestral theatre work, including a summer season with the National Youth Theatre, a winter season at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre and on board a P&O liner. Alex Mitchell has appeared regularly at the Edinburgh Fringe in possibly the world's only tribute band to the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. He teaches the saxophone at St Paul's School and at Godolphin & Latymer School, and has been a visiting saxophone tutor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in the United States, and at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.




Signature Custom Alto, solid silver crook, red brass body, bow and bell.

Live at Cafe Cairo Clapham North every Thursday.

Photo' s by Defiance.


Mark wiit the Signature Custom Tenor Saxophone.

Solid Silver crook and body, bronze bow and bell.



IOTA live at Hampton Court.

"Signature Custom"

This is the Signature Custom Alto 925 Solid Silver crook, body, bow and bell.






IOTA Live at Hampton Court.July 06...................

The first gig with the tenor.



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All Saxophone Photographs remain Copyright Trevor J James & Co.- All other content Copyright Grunt Productions 2006