EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT STRAIGHT SAXES......BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK!
When Adolph Sax originally invented and designed saxophones in the late 1800's, they were all straight tubes...and not bent/curved in the middle as they are today. The "bending" became a requirement when orchestras/bands included saxophones in their arrangements and musicians all sat in chairs along with everyone else. The straight saxophones were too large/long when played in a sitting position, ergo they were redesigned with a bend so that a player could sit comfortably while playing and reading music.
The sound of a straight tenor saxophone is a bit more nasal with the sound projecting from below and away from the player. The elimination of all "bends" does away with most, if not all, turbulence and unwanted overtones produced when the moving air experiences resistance at the bow of a bent horn. This gives the player greater freedom and provides for a more free flowing air stream that is far more sonorous than with the current construction of saxophones.
Some players choose a straight Tenor for special performances when extreme timbres are required within the setting of a smaller venue or for that very special sound possible only with a straight saxophone. Other players find the straight tenor to be more facile and flexible in their genre of music selections. Others feel it is a great opportunity to set themselves apart from the hundreds of others who continue to rely and perform on their 'bent/curved' saxophones.
Though Straight Tenors are not as popular as curved models, the interest in both Altos and Tenors has been growing rapidly throughout the world from demanding professional players seeking new frontiers in saxophone sounds. The pricing of Straight Tenors is a bit more than the curved models, but not so much that they are out of reach of most budgets.
Given the increasing interest in unique performing groups, more and more reed players are taking the time to fairly evaluate straight Altos and Tenors so as to better determine their fit within any size combo. A typical comment from a first time Straight Tenor test player is...."Wow...this is really a lot easier to play than I thought".
So, it seems that the retro design of a straight tenor can often deter a player from giving the sax a fair try....but after playing it, they quickly change their mind.