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Discussion Starter #1
Hey, all:

I sold my New Wonder-style Pan American alto a few months back and now need to find another alto.

Can anyone compare and contrast the Indiana altos to the New Wonder?

I've never had the opportunity to play an Indiana, but have heard a section mate play on a smashed-up/repaired example of one. It seemed to have a more refined timbre above high G and a little more punch below low E versus my Pan Am. If that's typical of the Indiana altos, I think it'd be a great sax for me to get familiar with.

I had to wait about a year for a good fixer-upper Pan Am alto to turn up on eBay, while good-looking Indianas seem to be almost always available.

Thanks in advance for your insights...
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013-
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Some research into second line horns might help you.

The Indiana horn was not a single design, but evolved from the split bell handcraft into a version of the Committee I.

The Pan Am horns were far more variable. There is hardly any telling from the name what one might bump into.

However, in your case you know that the Pan Am in question is based upon the Conn New Wonder.

The next one might not be.

There are stories told about a wide range of quality control variation in the Pan Am horns.

Some are just like the first line horns, only with a different engraving.

Some apparently were made with thin metal and soft rods.

Buying off ebay, I would pick an Indiana of any year every time.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the replay. Your point on Pan American variability is well taken. I have a Pan Am 884N metal clarinet that, despite being a four-piece design with double-wall bell, is bedeviled by flimsy soft metal key work, hinge tubes, and rods. Bah...

My former Pan Am alto, thankfully, was built with no such compromises. I've been able to compare it to a Conn New Wonder and the body and mechanism were identical, except for the lack of rolled tone hole edges. The neck, of course, lacked the microtuner.

It was and is a dreamy good classic alto. I sold it to a local young man who plays it an hour or two every day. We got together yesterday and did a lesson on properly oiling the mechanism. It's holding up extremely well.

I already have a Martin Indiana sousaphone and nobody needs to convince me that it's built just as nicely as a first-line Martin--it most certainly is. The build quality shames most Conn, Holton, and King sousaphones that I've encountered.

I've been so smitten with that sousaphone that I'd like to stick with Martin products going forward.
 
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