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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have this old sax.... MartinMusicMan directed me toward the "Grassi" saxshun of the forum (thanks!!) and I'm hoping for a positive ID on this horn and an approximate value so I can find it a new owner. I don't want to list or sell and have an unhappy buyer because I advertised incorrectly.

I corresponded with a gentleman my the name of Larry Ross on this a few months back, and in his opinion this is a very early Grassi. Can anyone confirm this information? One thing he mentioned was the "laurel band" around the bell as a distinctive characteristic of a Grassi instrument. It does not have the name Grassi anywhere on in. It simply has hand engraving and the word "Majestic" on the bell. Other than the 4 digit SN I can find nothing inscribed to indicate a manufacturer. It will need a re pad for sure and one of the little diamond shaped mounts for one of the key guards will need to be re soldered (its visible in the sraight ahead bell image and is the uppermost mount attachment) but all the parts are here excluding a reed and a ligature.

Can anyone tell me if my info is correct so far?





 

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I know nothing about Grassis, but member Milandro here does. Send him a PM if there's no reply to this thread.
 

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You rang M'lord!? :) I don't think this is a Grassi and although Larry Ross says so I disagree. I think that Majestics are more likely to have been Rampone & Cazzani stencils. Grassi was never big on stencils. The way the serial number is stamped is absolutely not typical of Grassi (their serial number would be also higher for a model of this age) but would be consistent with a Orsi but they always had a letter before the vertically stamped serial number.The engraving is also not like any engraving done by Grassi. I would email Claudio Zolla at Rampone & Cazzani. I am confident that he would recognise a horn made by someone in his family.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don't think this is a Grassi and although Larry Ross says so I disagree.
He said he thought it might be a Grassi based on the laurel band around the horn which I too have seen on other Grassi horns. He didn't say it was definitely a Grassi. I will try to find this Claudio of whom you speak...
 

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This Claudio........is Claudio Zolla, son of the owner of Rampone and Cazzani............however the laurel band by Grassi is, in my view, slightly different
 

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I actually think it might be one....here's why:

1) The octave key isn't like a Rampone...it's more like Grassi sans the typical embossed "G" on it....which a stencil would have omitted, anyway.

2) The pinky table, from what I can see of it, appears Malerne-esque. In fact, Grassis of a certain period have these Malerne-sorta pinky tables. I have sold a pair that were like that...

3) The laurel/fascia/flora patterns on the bow ferrule bands are very Grassi-esque.....

.... here's one of my former ones, engraved Grassi....and it looks a lot like yours:

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e213/jaye86/GrassiC.jpg
 

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I can be mistaken but they look very different to me

the fascia too.....not the same.......to me
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I actually think it might be one....here's why:

1) The octave key isn't like a Rampone...it's more like Grassi sans the typical embossed "G" on it....which a stencil would have omitted, anyway.

2) The pinky table, from what I can see of it, appears Malerne-esque. In fact, Grassis of a certain period have these Malerne-sorta pinky tables. I have sold a pair that were like that...

3) The laurel/fascia/flora patterns on the bow ferrule bands are very Grassi-esque.....

.... here's one of my former ones, engraved Grassi....and it looks a lot like yours:

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e213/jaye86/GrassiC.jpg
If I can provide additional pictures that would help in a positive ID what should I concentrate on? The little rollers on my sax are black as are the ones on your horn if that counts for anything......
 

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I have a Majestic SN 16XXX that I believe to be a Grassi. The Majestic logo is in the typical Grassi wreath on the right side of the bell, the SN is in the same direction as on a Jade series, Italy has the characteristic backwards tail, and the bow band has the Grassi wreath style engraving.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have a Majestic SN 16XXX that I believe to be a Grassi. The Majestic logo is in the typical Grassi wreath on the right side of the bell, the SN is in the same direction as on a Jade series, Italy has the characteristic backwards tail, and the bow band has the Grassi wreath style engraving.
Interesting.... So far this looks closest to my horn. Explain a couple of things to this noob please: What direction is your serial #, what's a "backwards tail", and what part is the "bow band"? I'm working on additional images now....
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I actually think it might be one....here's why:

1) The octave key isn't like a Rampone...it's more like Grassi sans the typical embossed "G" on it....which a stencil would have omitted, anyway.

2) The pinky table, from what I can see of it, appears Malerne-esque. In fact, Grassis of a certain period have these Malerne-sorta pinky tables. I have sold a pair that were like that...

3) The laurel/fascia/flora patterns on the bow ferrule bands are very Grassi-esque.....

.... here's one of my former ones, engraved Grassi....and it looks a lot like yours:

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e213/jaye86/GrassiC.jpg
Here is a picture of my horn in the same position. I agree there are several similarities.



I have a Majestic SN 16XXX that I believe to be a Grassi. The Majestic logo is in the typical Grassi wreath on the right side of the bell, the SN is in the same direction as on a Jade series, Italy has the characteristic backwards tail, and the bow band has the Grassi wreath style engraving.
I can't draw conclusions based on the engraving between these two as mine appears to have been entirely engraved by hand and would be obviously different from horn to horn. I wish there was something written on this to help, but there just isn't. The neck has a serial # as well that is invisible when it is installed. The numbers match except the leading 3 has been omitted on the neck. Why would this be I wonder....?

Here are additional images:








And of the neck:




 

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If you stuck a round bellbrace on Sidepipe's horn...you'd have my former horn. If you stuck a wire bellbrace on my horn, you'd have Sidepipe's horn.

Look at the keytouches of the lower stack.... and the shape of the low spatula keys...look at the angle of the spines on the bellkeys and the low C key....look at the keyguards.

I raise you one.....I still say Ida Maria......
 

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VW....what you have there, as you know, is a stencil....and just like drum stencils, the intent of the actual maker was to make the horn ambiguous enough so as to not be obvious as to who made it. So they'll omit a few details, maybe throw on a different bell brace, maybe change the octave mechanism to something simper than usual.....stuff like that.

I am just guessing, much like a cymbal stamp occasionally has a lightly stamped or mis-stamped character, the leading digit on the neck just got mis-stamped.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e213/jaye86/GrassiA.jpg

I think your pic seals it (at least for me). Grassi. Granted, some odd details there and both the table and the brace show Malerne influence. But it's almost the same sax as mine, and mine's got the Grassi insignia on it.

I sold mine about 4 months ago for $400 after rehabbing it into good playing shape. That is about their market values currently. I liked that horn, very big, dark, smooth sound....almost lyrical...which is typical of many older Italians....
 

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There are convincing and unconvincing bits of evidence involving these horns .

These new pictures reveal few interesting details some of which could indeed point in the Grassi direction, but I would like to remind everyone that Quarna Sotto (where Grassi was made) is a minute village on the mountains above the Orta lake where there were 3 saxophone's factories (Rampone& Cazzani, Grassi and Alfonso Rampone) and where almost the whole village was , some way or other , working in de music instrument business.

Some workers worked at home (and they still do, padding the Rampone & Cazzani for example) with material coming from all 3 of these factories and , as Claudio Zolla has said several times also to other members of this forum who took time to write him, that there is always the possibility that some of these worker assembled saxophones from different parts coming from different factories.

Grassi started its history around 1960 when 3 or 4 people working at the Rampone factory went to offer their services to Ida Maria Grassi in Milan who was previously involved in the flute production. At first they produced flutes and pretty soon they went into the production of saxophones.

The first model made had indeed the same left pinky table that we see in the pictures but , at least as far as I have seen in several examples, had a different arrangement of the lower notes than the two that we see in the pictures.

Almost immediately Grassi sought a way to look like (but those were just appearances ) the Selmer saxophones and adopted the ring and the G logo that looked so much like the Selmer logo and bell to body brace.

Having said this I remain unconvinced because although there are elements that are similar there are also important differences.


Again of the 3 companies there Grassi was the last one to enter the business and the other two had a serious stencilling tradition which Grassi didn't have.

This horn could easily be a Alfonso Rampone or a Rampone & Cazzani stencil.

There is also a very remote possibility that this was a Desidera of Verona (the least known of the Italian makers)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Here is the email response from Rampone and Cazzani:

"WE DID NOT MANUFACTURE THIS SAXOPHONE. DESPITE THIS WE BELIEVE IT CAN HAVE
ITALIAN ORIGINS
REGARDS

RAMPONE & CAZZANI
HANDMADE ITALIAN SAXOPHONES
Piazza Santa rita 2
28896 Quarna Sotto (VB)"


So, can I draw the conclusion this mean it's most likely a very early Grassi? If not, where else should I turn for information?
 

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No, not necessarily......but getting closer
 

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I have an old Grassi alto, serial number 8867, which looks exactly like VW's. It also has a neck serial number which omits the the leading digit, but matches the final three digits. I don't think it was misstamped. My old Grassi tenor is the same way.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
VW....what you have there, as you know, is a stencil....and just like drum stencils, the intent of the actual maker was to make the horn ambiguous enough so as to not be obvious as to who made it. So they'll omit a few details, maybe throw on a different bell brace, maybe change the octave mechanism to something simper than usual.....stuff like that.

I am just guessing, much like a cymbal stamp occasionally has a lightly stamped or mis-stamped character, the leading digit on the neck just got mis-stamped.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e213/jaye86/GrassiA.jpg

I think your pic seals it (at least for me). Grassi. Granted, some odd details there and both the table and the brace show Malerne influence. But it's almost the same sax as mine, and mine's got the Grassi insignia on it.

I sold mine about 4 months ago for $400 after rehabbing it into good playing shape. That is about their market values currently. I liked that horn, very big, dark, smooth sound....almost lyrical...which is typical of many older Italians....
Seriously, thanks for the information! I know about stencil drum kits as you assume. Pearl made (and probably still makes) stencil kits. My understanding is that a large company makes an instrument without identifying markings so a smaller, less well known company (or one that doesn't even make that kind of product) can "stencil" their name on it. Was Grassi that big of a company? The other end of the spectrum I guess is a knock off, where an unknown or small er company makes a copy of a well known, highly respected instrument hoping to steal away some of the big company's revenue. Is this likely the case with Grassi, or am I wrong?

As far as value goes, this one does need some rehab. It has a slight dent at the bottom of the bow (?) and the little ring where the neck strap attaches is slightly tipped off to the right and could be straightened. Pads would probably be a must too in addition to a good cleaning. If you sold yours for $400 would I be able to sell this one in its current condition, and what would be a reasonable asking price? I'm not sure about doing the work myself. I suppose I could try, but it seems an interesting example and would be a shame to ruin it. I'm quite comfortable with all things mechanical having worked as a mechanic, and electrician and in HVAC in the past. I'm just afraid I'd get started and never finish as I have probably 10 current percussion projects going right now....


No, not necessarily......but getting closer
Mr Milandro, Any other ideas where I should look, or would it be reasonable to sell this as "probably Grassi, but certainly Italian"? I have to think by other images provided it certainly looks like a close match to me.


I have an old Grassi alto, serial number 8867, which looks exactly like VW's. It also has a neck serial number which omits the the leading digit, but matches the final three digits. I don't think it was misstamped. My old Grassi tenor is the same way.
I agree. I don't believe this was a mis-stamp either. The numbers are well defined and deliberately struck so that I don't believe the missing 3 was an accident. Probably just unnecessary and one less thing for the maker to do.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this post so far. This is proving to be a great learning experience, and tracking this information down is quite satisfying.!
 

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I think you can absolutely sell it as " probably a Grassi stencil " since at the very best anyone can only give an attribution there is no Grassi factory employee to confirm this anymore, although the old director of the company is still around........., the buyer is not gonna be influenced one way or another from this detail, unless you know a fanatic Grassi collector who collects very rare and obscure stencils, Grassi are not getting incredible prices an to get 500$ for this horn would be an achievement (I am not being sarcastic, I mean it)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
$500 never entered my mind.... That's a huge price. I'll try to list it here, but I guess I have to play "The Name Game" to increase post count since I can't really talk sax. Seems silly, but I can't even see classifieds yet as I'm too new.... I wish I played and I'd consider keeping it, or at least try to learn. Too much going on in my world raising kids/working/drumming for me to ever get to learn sax.
 
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