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I came into possession of a Holton Rudy Wiedoeft alto a couple of days ago. I hadn't planned on owning a Holton; I had been shopping around for vintage altos and was leaning towards a Buescher. But when I saw this particular horn going at a ridiculously low price, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try for it. I won the bid easily, and, now that I have the horn, I'm glad I took a chance. Mechanically, this horn is in pristine condition. The pads and neck cork are shot and will definitely need to be replaced, but all the parts are there and the keys move easily. It also needs a bath; I plan on disassembling it and giving it one after I restock on cleaning supplies. The mouthpiece doesn't appear to be original, but it works well enough for its purpose, and I might upgrade to a new one once I become more familiar with the horn.

I love this alto. The trill keys are a neat feature and the sound is amazing despite the pad and cork issues. I can't believe I got this amazing horn for peanuts.

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Basically a Conn stencil with similar horns under Elkhart and Gretsch.

That might not be right. I was surprised to find out that Holton actually did make a few models.
 

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Basically a Conn stencil with similar horns under Elkhart and Gretsch.

That might not be right. I was surprised to find out that Holton actually did make a few models.
While Holton basses are sometimes Conns, this (as my soprano from about the same time period) was definitely Holton made. Soldered tone holes, different mechanism, note the front high F (also present on the Bb sopranos - at least many of them).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I checked the serial number against the list; it was apparently made in 1929. I'm going to give it some very basic cleaning this weekend, maybe clean up the case a bit, too. That should tide it over until I can take it apart and give it the proper bath it so desperately needs. :)
 

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I checked the serial number against the list; it was apparently made in 1929. I'm going to give it some very basic cleaning this weekend, maybe clean up the case a bit, too. That should tide it over until I can take it apart and give it the proper bath it so desperately needs. :)

Very cool alto! Very undervalued indeed.
Only use this list for date https://vintage.saxontheweb.net/Holton.html


I just cleaned one I have:) https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?352138-Rudy-Wiedoeft-alto-1930-cleaning-pictures
 

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Discussion Starter #9
That's the list I used! A list I found on another site gave me an extremely unrealistic date; I knew that Holton wasn't manufacturing the Wiedoeft models in 1916/17.

Wow, your horn is beautiful! I hope mine cleans up that well! :)
 

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That's the list I used! A list I found on another site gave me an extremely unrealistic date; I knew that Holton wasn't manufacturing the Wiedoeft models in 1916/17.
Wow, your horn is beautiful! I hope mine cleans up that well! :)
Thanks for the compliment. I see no reason your alto wouldn’t clean up as well too. One thing I would do differently is use the blue bottle Hagertys overall as last step before assembly.

Glad you got date that quick. My Holton Chicago Alto was not that easy....#5456 One of the older ones on record in serial number registry.see post #858 https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?70892-Holton-Saxophone-Serial-number-registry

My Rudy is 34 numbers higher than this one but has no “R” stamped on it. Does yours ?
https://www.saxophone.org/museum/saxophones/specimen/334
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Mine - #34239 - does have the R. It's odd that it wouldn't be on yours. An error of omission, maybe?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Okay, I've restocked on cleaning supplies and plan to start disassembling the horn this weekend if everything goes as planned. I've also discovered a couple of interesting things about it in the meantime. A closer examination of the keys show signs of heavy use; some of the silver plate has worn down to the brass, particularly on the octave and palm keys. The case has a very worn sticker on the lid for the French Lick Springs Hotel, which was a famous health resort; it was hit hard by the Depression and bought out by the Jesuits in 1930, a year after my horn was made. I looked up some info on the hotel, and they did have a band during the '20s. Could this alto have been part of a hotel band? I have no way of knowing for certain, but that would certainly explain the heavy wear on the keys. The pads also seem to be original, which makes me think it probably didn't change hands too many times before it came to me. Anyway, it's pretty cool to think that I might have a horn with a history! :)
 

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It may not be too far-fetched find some pictures of that band if there was one. The Taggart Family has some good art, automobile and motorcycle collections. If you have ever seen a loaf of “Wonder Bread” the design on the package came from the Indy 500 and the release of balloons at the beginning of the race. Taggart came up with the idea when he took his son to the races. That son was the owner of the hotel I think.
That would be really fun to find some pictures.

Just found this. They did have bands!
Look at the 7th row down.
http://indicatorloops.com/usn_pequot_jusek.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Wow, amazing! I'm going to keep looking around and see if I can find other band pictures. It would be insane if my saxophone showed up in one! :)
 

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Wow, it's been a long time since I updated this topic. Real life got in the way of progress, but I finally have something to report. I disassembled my Rudy about two weeks ago but couldn't find enough free time to give it the long, thorough cleaning it needed until today. I put it in the bathtub and carefully wiped down...whatever it was coated with after ninety years. It was disgusting; the water was BLACK by the time I was ready to move on to the next step. After draining the contaminated water, I gave it a light spray of Hagerty's and probably spent over an hour polishing the thing (I went through THREE different cloths). I wasn't able to get all of the tarnish off - I gave up after being stabbed by those springs too many times - but it still looks great, and the slight patina gives it a cool vintage look.

Here's my Rudy, fresh from its bath. (These were the only pictures I took that turned out well enough to share. I REALLY need a new camera...)

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Ignore the mouthpiece; it didn't come with the sax. I'd given it a thorough cleaning before I started scrubbing the horn and had left it on the towel to dry. Unless an unforeseen catastrophe arises, I'm probably going to tackle cleaning the keys tomorrow. I'm expecting them to be even worse than the horn; some of the pivot rods have congealed grease on them, making them really nasty to touch.

In other news, I have a little more information that might pertain to this horn's previous owner! When I first bought the horn, the original handle had broken off the case and had been placed inside. I hadn't given the handle much thought, but had held onto it to use as a reference for when I inevitably bought a new handle. When I was cleaning out the case to deodorize it, I took my first good look at the handle...and found a name on it! Someone had scratched "J. HOWE 1614" into the leather. I haven't been able to trace the name yet, but it's still pretty cool!
 

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Looks really nice! Look at your original post. That’s quite a cosmetic improvement! The pictures are good and clear here.
I see you’ve looked at the cleaning thread. I didn’t make mine pristinely perfect either.

I put it in the bathtub and carefully wiped down...whatever it was coated with after ninety years. It was disgusting
Yep, that many years leaves a nice coating to play with. Did you try the Dawn soap & baking soda mix? I’m curious.

spent over an hour polishing the thing (I went through THREE different cloths). I wasn't able to get all of the tarnish off - I gave up after being stabbed by those springs too many times - but it still looks great, and the slight patina gives it a cool vintage look.
Only one hour?? Dude you got lucky. It took me a lot more than one hour.
I’ve had some pretty good success using the biggest softest toothbrush I could find. Going with long smooth strokes instead of little circles maintains a even surface patina. Yours looks like a really nice job.
Using a toothbrush also helps with the blood sweat and tears. War stories told here. https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?351878-Any-needle-spring-Horror-Stories

I'm probably going to tackle cleaning the keys tomorrow. I'm expecting them to be even worse than the horn; some of the pivot rods have congealed grease on them, making them really nasty to touch.
Keys look tons better than what I started with. I think Holton sourced Ox cart axel grease. What’s odd about that is Frank Holton’s first product was slide lube for trombones. Try some nail polish remover (acetone) on cotton pad/rag. Be careful it will remove finish on table and melt plastic. Lighter fluid and WD-40 works too. Keep the WD off the pads(smell). After degreasing rods I polished them with extra Fine steel wool. Same fluids work on pipe cleaners for the tubes.

found a name on it! Someone had scratched "J. HOWE 1614" into the leather. I haven't been able to trace the name yet, but it's still pretty cool!
So very cool! You have a City,State,hotel and name! 1614? Address? 1930 census! I can only dream of having that information. Lucky you!:)
 

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Make sure to put a very slight film of oil on the springs to keep them from rusting. I recently did a simialr job (cleaning and repadding) on a Mexi-Conn tenor.

You have an interesting and high quality old alto there. Keep us periodically updated as you go.

The silver being worn down to the brass is very typical of old silver horns. I have four silver saxes and they all have this to some degree. Just define it as "patina" and you're good to go.
 

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For any worn spots and around the post spats, use "rub 'n buff" as it is a good cover. Cheap at art supply stores.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
@PigSquealer Yes, I did use Dawn/baking soda; it worked like a dream! All in all, this horn has caused me remarkably little trouble in the cleaning department; I'm still amazed at how lucky I've been.

I just spent close to three hours cleaning the keys; I expected to spend longer, simply because of the sheer amount of grease I got off of them. I didn't spend that much time on the tarnish; my goal is not so much to make this horn look new as it is to make it less of a biohazard, and once I got the grease off the keys actually looked pretty good. Something cool that I found while I was cleaning was that all of the keys had 239 stamped into them...except two, on which had 2439 and 34239 respectively. The latter is actually the serial number for for my saxophone! The former number looked like a mistake, though; the stamping was crooked, as if someone had realized they made a mistake and tried to stamp the correct numbers over the wrong ones (great going, quality control), so it was probably supposed to be 4239. So, it looks like all of the parts were made specifically for this horn!

Taking a closer look at the pads, I've reached two conclusions: that they are indeed the original pads, and also that they are utterly beyond saving. A couple of them look like they've been water damaged, and none of them will be capable of sealing properly again. I'm probably going to be taking a break from this for a while until I figure out how I'm going to proceed from here.
 
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