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I am not sure why would OP mention in particular those three horns together.

I don’t find Dolnet all that dark at all for example.


I am sure that as far as “ darkness” go , Keilwerth is up there with the darkerst and most powerful ones, besides , the player and the mouthpieces can darken almost anything, methinks.
 

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I also don't think of Conn when I think of dark sounding horns - Buescher comes to mind and I'd say Martins are probably darker than Conns are. "Dark" is subjective though, different mouthpieces and the player can affect the timbre of different horns.
 

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I'm not sure the horn is the greatest deciding factor of tone. For instance, I know someone who plays on a Buescher and has a pretty bright sound. Maybe try out darker alto mouthpieces. I love the darker tone quality of my Vandoren AL3.
 

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Compare, if you will, Charlie Parker when he was playing on a Conn, vs. Lee Konitz when he was playing on a Conn.

Arthur Blythe played a Buescher True Tone for decades. Not a "dark" sound.

Compare PHil Woods vs. Paul Desmond vs. David Sanborn vs. Frank Morgan on Selmer Mark 6.

Not alto, but consider the difference between Herschel Evans and Lester Young both playing Conn tenors with Otto Link metal mouthpieces.

John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Stan Getz all played Selmer tenors.

Consider also the difference amongst Harry Carney, Gerry Mulligan, and Hamiett Bluiett all on Conn baritones.

Personally I would pick an instrument that responds well and is comfortable for you to play at all dynamic levels and with good intonation, and then work on getting the sound you want by practice and mouthpiece selection.
 

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Conn and Buescher aren't what I would call dark.

The darkest vintage horns I've played were Couf and Selmer USA, both of which had relatively thick, heavy brass.

But the horn really has the least effect on the sound. The mouthpiece, reed, ligature and neck has a far greater effect. Best to just get a horn you like and change those other variables (as well as practice) to achieve the sound you're after.

I see from your signature that you play what are typically very bright mouthpieces. So I'd change that before I bought a different horn. For me, a Rovner ligature can make any mouthpiece or horn dark.
 

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I think the OP's statement & query is completely valid. A Dolnet may not be 'dark' in comparison to a Conn or Holton, but in comparison to a Yama or Yani, Cannonball, Antigua, etc (you get my drift)....it sure is.

Compared to most contemporary models, it is quite Dark.

So...yes, Conn is considered dark and I agree...using a definition of the quality of the harmonics which are prevalent in the horn's intrinsic sound (yes, every model has an intrinsic tone due to its specs). I also use the quality of the 'spread' of the tone, to a degree....as often harmonic boost and harmonic spread go hand in hand....

Personally I consider Conn, Holton, B&S, and Keilwerths to be the kings of darkness. But it can certainly be said that Martin, King, Buescher, Beaugnier, and some of the Italians to a degree are also 'dark' horns. Again, especially compared to modern horns, most vintage horns blow darker. This doesn't mean they are NOT flexible enough to sound bright and edgy...because all of them can with the right setup and player. But again, their intrinsic qualities lean towards 'darkness' in tone.

(Inevitably someone is gonna come along with the "it's 80% the player & mouthpiece setup, notsomuch the horn" line or such and such, if they haven't already...which is an oft-heard but pretty specious opinion which too often has been spread and taken as fact - and as a quick example of how this can be contradicted one need only simply have a look at one of the YT 'sax showdown' vids made by sax.co.uk - where the player and mouthpiece setup and room and recording device remain completely consistent, only the horns being blown are different....thus illustrating that the significant differences in tonal characteristics one is hearing (bright, dark, focused, spread, fat, thin, vibrant, dead, edgy, smooth, smoky, reedy, etc.) are in fact the result of the particular piece of hardware (aka the sax) being played. I sorta hope this thread doesn't digress too much into that 'debate', for the sake of the OP especially, who again asked a valid Q, IMHO).

So, to the OP, there's MY list:

Conn
Keilwerth
B&S
Holton

add to it some others

Martin
King
Buescher
Kohlert (Germany)
Beaugnier
Malerne-Santoni

Then I throw in, as far as contemporary horns:

Eastman
Borgani
R&C


 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
so many different opinions...........
the reason I asked was that I played my King S 20 / 1948. next,to my Dolnet M70

and the King was much brighter (especially in the upper and mid register ) I played it with Dukoff Supersonic Large Chamber
even when I played the Dolnet with a Vintage Berg it was still darker.
-I would never play the S20 with a Berg-is to bright
I know I can play Conns with a Berg as well.

Martin Com 1. and 2 , Zephyrs .... I can not play with a Berg it gets to bright

so for vintage altos Conns and Bueschers are dark for me and Kings and Martins more bright sounding
I am sure there are other altos which are brighter then these....
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
A. Blythe played a Buescher with a Steel Berg , this is a dark horn with a very bright edgy mouthpiece

With a Link four Star my S 20 sounds pretty dark......( dark mpc with medium bright horn )
 

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My S20 sounds pretty dark with a Brancher but chances are that I sound dark on a Brancher (not known or designed to be a “ dark” mouthpiece) regardless of the horn.

Someone whom played in the community band where I played liked my sound (which is a compliment) and proceeded to bu the same mouthpiece , well she was disappointed to find out that she wouldn’t sound like me.

Yesterday I played the Keiwerth Toneking that I am now selling and a friend that has a similar horn said that he didn’t sound anything like that on his horn and that I sounded pretty much the same on the Kins as I do on the Keilwerth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sanborn plays a Dukoff Silverite on a M6. ( crazy edgy bright mouthpiece with a medium dark / bright horn )
Paul Desmond played. a Gregory with a M6 ( very dark mellow mouthpiece with medium bright / dark horn )

of course they sound very different on a M6, these are not helpful comparisons,
and I would call a M6 a medium. bright horn
 

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@supersonic, that matches my experience with the S20 as well - fairly bright with a Berg. Contrary to JayeLID's list, I find King and Beaugnier to be on the bright side. But keep in mind the baffle has a big effect. A low baffle Berg can be dark, a high baffle bright. Again, the horn has some effect, but the mouthpiece has more. So I wouldn't necessarily go chasing different horns to play with one mouthpiece, rather get different mouthpieces/reeds/ligatures for the horns you already have. Otherwise things get very expensive.

I guess I don't have golden ears, but most of these sound an awful lot alike to me in terms of dark/bright. I'd say the Keilwerth is on the bright side.
 

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I owned a Martin Committee III alto and used it concurrently with a Mark VI with the same mouthpiece and reed set up. I believe it did sound darker (both were leak free). Also, am I mistaken to believe Desmond played a Super Balanced Action alto, not a Mark VI?
 

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I had a couf back in the 90s and it was a very dark horn.
 

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Mouthpiece/reed combo is a FAR bigger determining factor towards a bright or dark sound than ANY horn. Is it possible that some horns might have a certain "timbre" to them? Sure, but in my experience, it's a horn-to-horn thing, not by manufacturer.
 
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