Distributed by: Australis Music | Expect to pay: TR200 - $599; SX200 - $1,299
Key Features: If you’re familiar with the history of instrument manufacturing in this country, you would no doubt be familiar with Beale.
The Sydney company has been a fixture on the Australian musical landscape since 1883, when a gentleman by the name of Octavious Charles Beale set up shop in Annandale, NSW with the goal of producing the finest in local pianos.
This was at a time when the piano was very much the social hub of the household and safe to say, the Beale brand spread like wildfire, with the company producing around 95,000 pianos between 1883 and 1975, becoming the largest piano manufacturer in the Commonwealth in the process.
Their pioneering use of the patented ‘All-Iron Tuning System’ and early adoption of indigenous timbers (to withstand the rigours of the harsh local climate) put the brand on the cutting edge of global piano design, while the company’s absolute dedication to build quality (full iron frames, overstrung layout, quality under-damper mechanism) has meant that many of these original Beale pianos are still being played in lounge rooms and school music rooms across the country today.
Needless to say, anything bearing the Beale logo has the potential to last a lifetime, and it’s this commitment to craftsmanship and quality manufacturing that has carried over into the brand’s recent expansion into brass and woodwind.
Of particular note are the TR200 Trumpet and SR200 Alto Sax, both of which rate highly on our value/quality meter, and both of which are a particularly good fit for the student musician, with a tonal quality and durability that is hard to match.
With its striking combination of brass/rose brass for the bell and body (with bi- metallic, Monel valves and pistons), the Beale TR200 Trumpet is a horn that is just as functional as it is pretty to look at. The combination dark/rose brass finish, lends itself to less frequent cleaning and with the accompanying high quality hard case with fitted red velvet lining, it’s a setup more than equipped to withstand the punishment of school life.
Tonally, the TR200 offers a rich fullness with elite intonation, making it an awesome choice for performance and recording should you be looking for some extra curricular fun on the side.
Of all the obvious upsides found with the TR200, perhaps the biggest takeaway is in the quality and smoothness of the valve apparatus itself. With the Monel valves giving the TR200 a pleasant, natural action usually reserved for instruments of a much higher price, it’s an absolute delight to play, promoting smooth transitions and correct fingering technique from the first note.
It’s these high quality valves combined with the inclusion of the industry standard 7c mouthpiece that makes for an instrument that genuinely feels like it is working with you, not against you – fast-tracking the learning process and getting things sounding musical as quickly as possible.
The SX200 Alto Saxophone is another high quality offering from Beale, and like the aforementioned TR200, firmly places its focus on sourcing the highest quality moving components possible, with pads and springs from Italy and the USA, respectively. This makes for an Alto Sax with an extremely nice action and exceptional key cluster, and a clean, true timbre that maintains its purity, even as you push further into altissimo.
The high quality adjustable thumb rests and deluxe neck strap – a merciful touch if there ever was one – also make for an extremely comfortably playing sax, easy on the neck and hands and absolutely perfect for extended practise sessions, or reducing neck fatigue during those the long waits between solos.
Mixdown Says: Striking a finely tuned balance between quality and affordability, the Beale SX200 and TR200 provide some of the best ‘under the radar’ choices out there for anyone looking to dip a toe in the world of brass.
With a dedication to sourcing the very best in moving components and given their illustrious history in the piano game, it’s awesome to see Beale applying this same approach to their wind and brass instruments. This focus on quality, especially when it comes to the keybed and valve clusters, means that the general standard of action and tonality is generally a cut above what one would normally expect from an entry-level instrument, providing some of the best playability and ‘bang for your buck’ of anything out there at the moment.
Combine this with the rugged construction, tendency for low maintenance finishes and high quality extras like mouthpieces and complementary reeds, and you have a range of instruments that excel in optimising the learning process, providing clean tones and smooth tactile functionality and allowing students to place their full attention on developing their auditory/motor skillset, rather than getting caught up wrestling with their own equipment.
Overall: An Australian icon in the piano world (and fast becoming the go to ‘lifehack’ choice for brass and woodwind), when it comes to affordable instruments that over deliver both on sound and general build quality, Beale should be at the top of everyone’s list.
For more details on pricing and local availability, get in touch with Australis Music.