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The Imperial isn't a Handcraft Imperial. It was made much later than the Handcraft Imperials and while I have not played either, I have read here that the later Imperials are the worst model Martin made. Though a few people have said their late Imperial sounds great.

At these prices I would get both the NW1 and the Zephyr, get them both in top shape and sell the one I didn't like as much.
 

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The owner of the Zephyr stop responding when I asked him about the general condition of his horn, so, guess he was trying to sell a not full working horn,
Sounds like you are being very careful! As well its possible to persuade yourself something is OK if you like the idea of it. And then end up with something that you soon realise is going to cost you a lot of money. I hope I can always be so careful!
 

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Tenor, alto, Bb Clarinet, Flute
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I have one of the later Imperials. Mine is the ugliest horn you鈥檒l ever see. The original lacquer has darkened to a dark chocolate color and the bell is riddled with light colored 鈥榖ullseyes鈥 where someone tapped out the little dings which caused the dark lacquer to flake off. Thing is, the horn has a really sweet tone to it. Even though it鈥檚 a student horn it plays very nicely. The key work is much lighter and quicker than my main alto, a 1990s Antigua Winds.
 

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Buescher Aristocrat 140 Alto - Morgan NY 5, Buescher 400 Tenor - Otto Link HR 6*, Rigotti Gold Reeds
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If you have the opportunity to go test it, absolutely do it. Older vintage instruments (early-mid 20s and prior) can have serious intonation issues, though I find the tone to be really good on a good chunk of the American-made vintage instruments from manufacturers like Conn, Buescher, King, Martin, etc. The top 2 things to look out for on older instruments are 1) The mechanical condition of the instrument, and 2) the Quality of the Intonation. Matt Stohrer has a great video that goes into better detail on buying used (
). I would stay away from anything from an unreliable/less-than-reputable seller, anything with incomplete or minimal photos, and especially any listings which do NOT include a picture of the serial number. One of the other golden rules is that if you have the opportunity or means to go actually test the instrument you are interested in purchasing, you should absolutely do it. There's a whole heck of a lot of things you can't find out about the instrument just by looking at the photos. Conn-made saxophones are absolutely fantastic, however, do make sure that the micro tuner and neck joints are working properly. They should have a nice seal and zero leakage. Matt Stohrer has some more videos on his channel specific to issues you can encounter when buying a Conn that would be great to go watch.
Best of luck.
 

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OK, so @DavyJonesSax ...have you tested the Conn yet ?

IMHO, ALL of the prices are very LOW. I am not surprised the seller of the Zephyr will not reply to your question, because even a Zeph THAT old can get $400 as a project horn.

It's the old Zephs, which are Voll True -II's...not bad horns but their pinky tables are quite clunky. So for those folks suggesting the Zeph...I would ask: have you played a VT-II ? Because that is what this particular Zeph....is.

I wish the Martin Imperial was an Indiana, because then the decision would be easier. But the later Imperials have a very clunky pinky table...I would actually rather play a Bundy 1 than one of those model Martins.

Honestly....having refurbished over 1400 saxes at this point...the Grassi is the best of that lot. (You say you 'think it is one of their first models so not so good"....that is incorrect, actually).

It is a "Jade"...professional ? Not in the sense that it was the top-shelf model Grassi made at the time, no. But it's a real good sax. The Jade had updated keywork which while still 'traditional' mostly in mechanics, is better than the Martin, King, and I might argue the Conn too.

I hear it is hard to find repair techs in MX...if this is true, you want seller to absolutely GUARANTEE the horn will arive in your hands in playing shape....otherwise, none of these options are particularly good.

So suggestions to try the Conn are good suggestions...IF you like it and it speaks up and down nicely and it intones OK for you (bring your tuner), then buy it...period. Because it would be the only say which you KNOW will play well for you. All others are a roll of dice since they would be shipped to you (I assume),

I do not know where in MX you are...I am in New Mexico and I have shipped to MX before, if you ultimately decide none of those are a great choice for you, PM me.
 

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Selmer Paris Mark VI Alto 119XXX
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There is a good reason none of these are sought after horns given their own later models are much better horns. If it were me id continue to save for a solid pro horn like a YAS-62 or if you want vintage a King Super 20, Conn 6M, Beuscher Big B or Martin Committee III. If your not picky on how these look but care more about its mechanical state you can find them fairly inexpensive and are arguably just as good as modern horns or better.
 

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VI Soprano, Searchlight Alto, TH&C Tenor
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(Broken record here.). From the early 鈥30鈥檚 into the war there were a multitude of excellent altos build domestically. Transitional-6Ms, Aristocrats, Committees, Zephyrs. I鈥檇 take any of those 5 in the right shape. And they can be had at a very affordable price. 400s and Supers might go for a little more, but well worth keeping an eye out for.
 

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I'm too cheap to buy a horn that I haven't played. Sit on yer cash if you have to and wait for a horn that you like playing. Maybe add a little cash each month and improve you prospects.

Love my 1992 Grassi, btw.
 

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I'm too cheap to buy a horn that I haven't played. Sit on yer cash if you have to and wait for a horn that you like playing. Maybe add a little cash each month and improve you prospects.

Love my 1992 Grassi, btw.
Couldn鈥檛 disagree more. I wouldn鈥檛 have my beautiful 6m or YSS 62. You can absolutely make an educated purchase online and plenty of great horns are available with reasonable return policies. Limiting your search to your own town is unnecessary.
 

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Super Action 80 Tenor, Buescher 156 Tenor, Yamaha Vito YAS-21 , Kessler Soprano, Superba II Bari
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That Conn, 1924 puts it at a year where both the New Wonder and New Wonder II were being produced. Does it have a nail file pattern on the G# key? If so, it's a New Wonder II. Both series are pretty much the same, but the bow size on the II was slightly reduced, the G# key was changed, and the keys were manufactured better overall. The latter New Wonder altos are also good horns, or at least I never played one that I didn't like. They have their quirks, but it adds to their charm. It does look like this one was re-lacquered, but give it a try if you have access to it.
 
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