In this article, we’ll be taking an in-depth ook at Jupiter; not the planet or the Roman God, but Jupiter saxophones!
Although the brand is a relative late-comer in the saxophone world, they quickly established themselves as one of the most popular choices for beginner and intermediate players.
Read on for a short history of the brand and a few top picks from its line of beginner, intermediate and pro saxophones.
Are Jupiter Saxophones Good Quality?
In a word: yes.
In their fully automated factories, Jupiter uses high-quality parts and raw materials like brass and silver plates, which are imported from Japan to build the instrument’s bodies.
They use Italian pads, springs, felt and natural cork. Mouthpieces and the pearl shell used on the keys are imported from Germany. The lacquer is imported from Britain and the USA, while the soldering powder comes from Canada.
Each saxophone is designed with the most up to date software and assembled by hand and gone through a series of checks and test plays before leaving the factory.
In 2000 they decided to improve even further their manufacturing game by investing in an R&D centre in Taiwan, in order to achieve world-class quality.
These investments resulted in several awards the following years such as “Best Instrument” at the 2004 UK MIA Awards, “Supplier Excellence Award” by Music Inc. Magazine in 2007 and 2008, in 2008 Jupiter received “Companies to Watch: Jupiter, NAMM’s Best in Show award.
Jupiter’s reputation has never quite lived up to the likes of Yamaha, but people who use Jupiter horns speak highly about their sturdiness, easy maintenance, good intonation and innovative design that we will talk about in more detail soon.
Which Jupiter saxophone is right for me?
Jupiter’s saxophone range consists of three models:
- JAS500 / JTS500 (for beginners)
- JAS700 / JTS700 (for advanced students)
- JAS1100 / JTS1100 (for professionals)
Understanding Jupiter’s model numbers are fairly simple J=Jupiter A=alto S=sax 500. They will often have the code ‘GL’ added to the end, which represents the gold lacquer finish.
If you’re looking for the slightly more niche baritone or soprano models, they just have the 1000 and 1100 series available.
Best model for beginners – JAS-500
The new Jupiter JAS-500 (Previously called JAS-567GL) is the ideal beginner saxophone from this brand.
Both teachers and students highly recommend these instruments as they’re sturdy with good intonation and a light tone. They are also known for being easy to fix with their detachable bell and plenty of parts available.
The instrument has lacquered brass body and neck, an adjustable plastic thumb rest, plastic tone boosters, stainless steel springs and no engraving on the bell which helps keep the price low.
It’s the ideal instrument for someone who is about to start their journey on the saxophone but not yet fully committed to the instrument.
Best model for intermediate players – JAS-700 / JTS-700
The ‘700’ model Jupiter saxophone was designed for the more advanced students in mind meaning it comes with some innovative features.
One example is its adjustable left-hand palm keys, which make it the perfect horn for people with smaller hands or children, as it can “grow with the player’s hand”.
The plastic thumb rest and the felts in the bumper keypads are also adjustable which improves weak intonation. Another interesting new design is the adjustment screw for the body-octave key, which serves to facilitate a more reliable middle A tuning.
The body and neck are made of brass and fully lacquered. The Japanese lacquer gives a warmer, richer sound to the Jupiter JAS700 compared to the JAS-500.
It has Italian leather pads and plastic tone boosters like its cheaper brother, but the 700 has blued steel springs which help with the ergonomics and comfort of the horn.
The JAS-700 is slightly more expansive than the 500, which is explained by the innovative features and better-quality materials.
It comes with a mouthpiece, neck strap and the same Deluxe Jupiter case as the JAS-500.
Best model for professionals – JAS-1100 / JTS-1100
This horn was designed with the professional player in mind and is the perfect example of a classic hand-crafted design combined with a state-of-the-art manufacturing process.
The 1100 series has the so-called Sona-Pure Neck which helps to achieve a big sound thanks to the specially developed temperature treatment and the engraved resonance guard.
Like the JAS-700, it has the same adjustable palm keys and adjustment screw for the body-octave key to help with middle A tuning, plus an adjustable octave key mechanism that allows the player to fine-tune the octave key response.
The gold lacquered brass body and the Sona-Pure Neck gives this instrument that dark vintage sound lots of players are looking for.
Unlike the 500 and 700 series, the 1100 has metal tone boosters instead of plastic which allows you to achieve a big sound with the horn.
Jupiter offers two other versions of the 1100 Performance Series, a silver-plated model (JAS-1100S) and a silver-plated model with gold lacquer keys (JAS-1100SG)
Best models for soprano and baritone players- JSS-1100 & JBS-1100
For the soprano and baritone saxophones Jupiter offers only two models: the 1000 and the 1100.
The JSS-1000 is an intermediate instrument with the same key features as the 700 series. The JSS-1100 Performance Series has the same features as the alto and tenor versions above.
The soprano models come with a choice of two lacquers; gold or silver body with gold keys.
The baritones have the same model range and characteristics as the soprano.
The JBS-1000 is for intermediate students with adjustable palm keys just as the 700 series. The JBS-1100 Performance Series has a Sone-Pure Neck and a choice of either a gold lacquered brass body or a silver body with gold keys.
The baritone models come with a detachable floor peg and a Deluxe case with casters.
How it all began: a brief history of Jupiter Saxophones
K.H.S., the parent company of Jupiter, was founded in 1930 by Jin-Chung Hsieh and Jin-Li Hsieh and their brothers, as “Wan-Wu Zhu Shi Hui She” in southern Taiwan in a town called Chi-San.
Their first products were educational books, stationery accessories and musical instruments.
After WWII they changed their name to K.H.S which stands for Kung Hsue She – which translates roughly to a ‘company helping schools and culture’. They started to provide people with pianos, accordions and harmonicas imported from Japan.
In 1956, they hit their first milestone as manufacturers by building their first factory to build harmonicas in Luzhou, Taipei. A year later they started to build band instruments; mainly trumpets and trombones under the brand name, Swallow.
By 1977, they were mass-producing flutes and saxophones and in 1980 Swallow was renamed, Jupiter.
In 1981 K.H.S provided Jupiter musical instruments to school bands, and financed music teacher training programs to enhance the quality of music teachers in Taiwan.
The first high school marching band and first jazz band in Taiwan were established by K.H.S. too, proving that their core message of helping education didn’t change throughout the year.
Fifteen years later, in 1996 K.H.S opened their Chinese factory in Tianjin, where they producing some of their entry-level instruments and instrument parts, while the mid and high-end instruments are made in their Taiwanese factory.
Thanks for reading!
We hope you found this article helpful. Not sure if Jupiter saxophones are for you? Check out our guide to the best saxophone brands around the world or, if you’re a complete sax beginner, the best choice of alto saxes.
The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!