Eastman Rue Saint George - ETS850 - Tenor Saxophone

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A ground breaking design from Eastman. A remarkable new saxophone

Eastman have raised the bar with the introduction of the Rue St George alto and tenor range. Contrasting somewhat with the fat, powerful American sound of the 52nd street models. The Rue St George offers a more refined and focussed sound, while bringing in some of the most ground-breaking innovations the saxophone has seen in decades.

Eastman are the parent company of WMS Haynes, specialist flute makers, based in Boston, and has such have enlisted the expertise of their head key designer and body maker, David Schipanui, to apply some World beating technical innovations from their flutes to this new top-series 850 range. 

The big innovation on this saxophone is that the main right and left key hand action has been redesigned to offer a much more fluid and light action. This has been achieved by altering the pivot point between the feet and regulation bar behind each stack; traditionally the contact between these two parts was directly under the bar, whereas now the contact point is on the opposite side of the bar, essentially lowering the resistance. The mechanism involved to create this system features solid square feet that align with symmetrically identical tabs on the opposing side of the regulation bar. 

Beyond this the ergonomic and aesthetic features are countless: 

Completely redesigned the placement and shape of the right-hand side keys, side F# and top F# keys.

They are sculpted and rounded to perfectly suit the shape of finger placement of the right hand. 

Redesigned palm keys - The shaping and positioning of each individual key has been reconceived, involving bevelling, and shaping of each key to suit the average hand shape. 

Redesigned table key ergonomics to allow for extra ease of finger movement, including a sculpted C# key that allows for seamless transition to all other surrounding keys (G#, B, Bb). 

Completely re-designed thumb rest and octave key configuration. The traditional shaping of a circular thumb-rest has been ditched in place of a crescent shaped one, while the adjacent octave key has a circular, sculpted shape, creating a new level of comfort for this important area on the saxophone. 

Nickel Silver Key touches - creating a new aesthetic and responsive feel.

Rounded Tone-Hole Cups - paying tribute to the aesthetic of the vintage horn, as well as lightening the key work to some extent 

Innovative bell to body brace, featuring an intertwined cord, giving a beautiful look. 

The Rue St George Tenor and alto models come equipped with two different necks, each one presenting a tone and a response. The R neck has a slightly more open taper, whereas the S neck is a little more focussed.


 Material: Brass

 Finish: Clear Lacquer

 Key Touches: Nickel Silver

 Neck: 2 x Eastman necks, ‘R’ and ‘S’

 Engraving: Fully engraved

 Case: Padded Rectangular style case, backpacks.

 Mouthpiece: Manufactures Own

 Made in: Eastman-Owned Chinese Factory.

• Free Professional Set Up & Free Check over within a year

 Recommended for: Professionals – Jazz or Classical styles


Before getting stuck into playing these new saxes I knew that I wasn’t about to review just ‘another Asian sax’ in the professional sax market. Having already gained a certain degree of insight from the NAMM 2019 show, I knew that these instruments have been a long time in the making and as such I wanted to treat them with respect. In fact, I even had to sign a NDA at the time due to the fact that there was a particular feature on this sax that was so unique they couldn’t have me talk about it to anyone (whilst it was still being fully developed). Having now received our first batch into Sax.co in the past few days I have to say that Eastman have surpassed themselves in terms of delivering on the promises on which they originally set out. 

The level of detail that has been attended to is second-to-none. EVERY single technical and ergonomic aspect of saxophone key design and mechanism and has been reconsidered and brought together in the most exciting way imaginable. There are so many innovations that it’s hard to know where to start, in terms of your appreciation for what Eastman have done. I think it’s great thinking on Eastman’s part to ‘think outside the box’ and enlist the experience of their expert flute designer from the Haynes factory. Sometimes we become too engrossed in our own world and don’t realise that there are innovations going on in other areas that could be of massive benefit to the conquest of furthering the design of the saxophone. The combination of all the technical innovations that Eastman have brought us has delivered, in my opinion, a saxophone that has a key action like no other. Most of the time, with new saxes it takes a little while to adjust to the way things ‘feel’ and are set-out; there can often be heavier spots here and there, and often it can be a combination of making some spring tension adjustments and simply giving a new sax time to bed in. This one is different – it plays immediately, and everything is perfectly balanced.

Sound-wise the direction is more focussed and compact than the broader, more ‘old Conn’ feel of the 52nd St. I can see how it might appeal to classical players, with a feeling of more precision in the sound – especially given there is a choice of 2 necks to really hone in the ideal sound – but for me it sits really well in the jazz sphere too, playing with a well-defined core tone. On balance it doesn’t have the same bright overtones as the 52nd model, but it has instead a slightly silkier and more response-driven sound, articulating really cleanly, and with absolutely perfect intonation.

For sure the alto and tenor Rue St George 850 models have set a new standard in saxophone design. Jim Cheek

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