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Hello everyone. I was recently given a 1946(?) King Zephyr with s/n 281xxx, and I was wondering if someone could provide a rough valuation and/or maybe a suggestion as to what I should or could do with it next.


I believe Imgur albums are allowed.

1946 King Zephyr Album:

I'm not too knowledgeable about Altos (or vintage instruments at all, really), so I apologize for a lack of proper terminology and the like. However, I have been trying to do my research over the last few days that I've had it! I've found a few other sites and forums, and have searched for current or past sales, but I'm sure I don't know the best places to look. I haven't really found anything in the way of Zephyrs with serial numbers close by; most are much older or much newer. I've noticed most of the King saxes talked about around this time period are the Super 20.


I used to play alto sax back in high school (which is one of the main reasons this was given to me), but my experience is comprised only of marching + concert band and some jazz classes I took in high school, and some rather-amateur, small-group jazz performances at local clubs and bars for a few years after.


I tried to take some pictures that showed the condition of all parts of the instrument, but in complete honesty I'm not 100% sure of precisely what I should be taking pictures of. It's obviously seen a bit of use, and the metal hasn't been tended to too well. To my knowledge, it has been sitting in a soft case for the last 10 years or so in a closet (at least temperature and humidity-controlled). The pads are definitely not original but look to be in good condition, and to my inexperienced eyes it doesn't look like it's ever been re-lacquered. It has a double-socket, silver neck piece, and pearl keys/buttons. There are a few small dings on the bell (from the inside out?!), but the rest of the alto looks quite sound. All of the keys work smoothly, and it still plays rather well. It has all the screws, and the joints look to be in good condition.


I guess I'm asking if someone can provide an initial value, or a good place I should go or contact to find out, and/or if I should consider having any restoration work done to it. I don't see any chance of me ever playing in any professional or semi-professional setting, but I may bust it out as a hobby from time to time. Maybe a birthday party for the kids here and there.


Appreciate any suggestions for what I should do, or if you just had any more information about the instrument or others in this serial # range!


Thank you!

P.S. I posted this earlier but think I accidentally deleted it when trying to delete a single image. Apologies if it gets double-posted or something somehow.
 

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Your horn seems very used and has lost a lot of lacquer, if this is indicative of the pads state probably all of them need replacing.

It certainly would need a clean and full disassembly to do a good job of this. Yours seem to have a valuable solid silver neck and original neck plug.

Value is, these days, even more difficult to assess. In the US where you are saxophones tend to be cheaper than in Europe .

In the US you can buy an overhauled Zephyr alto with a solid silver neck for anything between $1500 to $2000, maybe more if a Zephyr special full pearls ( yours doesn’t have the full pearls option).



Good luck with your sale, you need 6 months membership and 50 posts to qualify for the marketplace here
 

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The silver neck is rather unusual for a standard Zephyr, but may have been an option.

Does the neck has a serial number and does it match with the serial number of the horn?
 

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Your alto was made right after the Super 20's showed up. Some argue that their similarities outnumber their differences. Either way, it's a decent vintage horn and is worth putting the money into for an overhaul if you're going to play it. If you're going to flip it, you won't get the kind of money in a private sale that a shop would get for it; even if you have it overhauled. So you might want to sell it as is if you really don't want to start playing again. You can check completed ebay sales and find a few similar horns.
 

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Around $500 is the market value in that state.

I am not certain you could actually get $1500 if it was overhauled.
$1200-1300 certainly.

It is a GREAT model, and yours is right in the sweet-spot era, so the most desireable of the Zephs.
IF you had a hankerin' to start playing again, it IS worth having refurbished.

I mean, sounds like you got it for cheap, and tech prices for an overhaul will range from around $700-1500 depending where in the US you live. I would gladly work it up for you for around $500-ish if you don't have any techs local to you. IF the pads really do not look shot, and you say it's playable now....it's possible that a cleaning and 25-50% repad could get her back into quite good playing tack.
Might be worth getting a local tech to give an assessment/estimate....although beware: a knee-jerk reaction from many a tech when they see an old sax which LOOKS like that will be either :

a) "it's not worth fixing'

or

b) a very high estimate, because either they have no desire to do the work ....or they think simply by appearance it will NEED a full overhaul - when in fact many times, one the horn is examined closely, this may not be the case.

If they come in high (the estimate/s), contact me via my website in my signature, below.

But even if you invested $1000 in it - if your intent was to start playing again, it'd be a great horn and money wisely spent. Even as a hobbyists horn.

IMHO this opportunity has sorta landed in your lap, it seems. So regardless of playing professionally or not, IF you were to play at all....have it refurbed/overhauled.

On the other hand IF your musical days are over, and converting it to cash is actually more helpful... it could make you a quick $500, maybe $600 if you wanted to liquidate it quickly....

Indeed the silver neck is interesting, but even if not original, it IS a Zeph neck and its presence certainly does not hurt its value...
 

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'Silver neck' in this case means Sterling silver/'solid silver', not silver plated. Let's just say it will 'clean up' in spectacular fashion but don't let anybody machine buff it - clean it by hand with metal polish. As the others say, a horn that should be easily worth an overhaul, and then if you give up the sax later, you can get your money back plus a profit.
 

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I have an older Z Special with the pearls and sterling neck. I own a Mark VI, 6M, all models of Martins and so far.....my Z is the best alto.
 
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