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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Guys,

I need a sub - $600 vintage alto. I have considered Bueschers, Conns, Martins, Buffets, etc. What is my best bet for a solid horn? I use a V16 A6 now on my Antigua, and I love it, but I need to step it up.

Matt
 

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It's going to be more than $600 (unless you REALLY hunt around), but I think Buffet Super Dynactions and Dynactions are an excellent value on the vintage market. My tenor is an SDA and it is phenomenal. Great scale, good keywork, and, most importantly, it sounds great.

Under $600, though... I'm not sure. A really used Martin, maybe?
 

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To elaborate, an alto True Tone can have such a sweet sound for so little money; and they're plentiful to boot. An overhaul can cost more than they sell for on Ebay, but to those entranced by their flavor, it's well worth the job.
 

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my vote is for the King Zephyr. I think they can be found (ebay mostly) in playing condition for $600. The sax stores around here seem to charge around $1300 regardless of playing condition :(
 

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The True Tones are probably the best value out there.

For a little more $ I think the Martin Handcrafts sound a bit better when playing a more modern (Vanduren in my case) mpc - but both are great horns.
 

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Art_Salt said:
my vote is for the King Zephyr. I think they can be found (ebay mostly) in playing condition for $600. The sax stores around here seem to charge around $1300 regardless of playing condition :(
I agree. Get a late 1940's early 1950's example, and you have a horn that sounds and plays just about as good as a Super 20 for very little money.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think I might have found a chu berry silver plate for $350, plus about $350 in needed repair. what do you think?
 

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Assuming it is indeed a New Wonder Series II, and in otherwise fine condition save for the adjustment and repad, that is a fair price to pay.
 

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Now that I have shelled out $3K for a Ref 54 alto, I have no need for the TruTone I got last fall. It's in good playing shape and can be had for around $500 + Shp.

From what I have read here and experienced recently, the SDA altos are TRULY underrated...(but say that quietly, so everyone doesn't catch on)!
 

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1920s Conns, 1950s Conn 6M, Buescher 140, Martin HC (1928 or newer). You can find them in good playing condition for around $500 and with a good finish for about $800.
 

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Value for money and easy to find - TrueTone, end of story. As ever Bruce produces a very good list (although with TT missing!). Grumps is spot on about stencils, though.
 

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True Tones come highly recommended HOWEVER, if you get on that's TOO old pitch gets interesting. Look for the models with the Front F and it's probably workable. This isn't a hard-fast rule but I've owned both a TT Alto and Tenor PRE-Front F.
 

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Are you going to play the horn?
Or are you just looking put it on display and blow it occasionally?
If you're going to practice and play every day, in what setting?
Will you be playing in a variety of settings?
Do you have a reaaly good tech?
Do you have really deep pockets?

All the suggestions you've been given, are valid. Like many other members here, I regularly play an assortment of the horns listed above. I play an Aristocrat in the Big Band. My New Wonder, or "Chu Berry," as it's often mistakenly referred to, is my everyday practice horn. I've played and spent time with Martin altos too.

A lot of folks would use the Aristocrat as the practice horn and play the Conn in the Big Band. It's not a cut and dried thing, and that's my point. The best value for the money horn, for you, is going to depend on what you want the horn to do.

For example, the New Wonder has a BIG sound and it'd make a great lead alto....for someone other than me. The ergos of the left hand pinky keys, don't suit my long fingers. Also, for me, I'm TOO LOUD on the Conn and I have to work harder on intonation.
The Buescher, for me, is just an easier horn to do the job with. When I'm trying to play in tune and blend with the other altos, the Buescher does it easier for me. When I'm trying to execute my parts on uptempo Big Band charts, whilst coping with the fact that all the other altos are good sight readers and I'm the only "****e reader," the Buescher ergos are easier, for me. When I'm at home, working on refining my fingering and intonation, the Conn makes me concentrate harder and shows up all my bad habits more.

You're experience is going to be different to mine and everyone else's. My advice is to know what you want the horn to do, before you spend the money. They're all good horns. I'd go for a New Wonder, or True Tone, but only because you'll be able to get into one, live with it for a while, and if the marriage doesn't work out, get a divorce, without losing too much money. This way you'll have sufficent funds left to try one of the others. Just remember that the rarer and more expensive you go, the harder it is to divorce the horn, without losing time, money, or both.

The most important thing IMO is to really do your homework on the true condition of any prospective purchase. "Needs a few minor adjustments," is seller speak for "budget at least $1000 for a complete overhaul." Don't get burned. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. True Tones and New Wonders are so common that no seller is going to spend big money on getting the horn fully serviced before selling. You'd spend more than you're gonna get for it. For the buyer, it means that, there's a lot of good horns to be had, but you're very rarely going to get a $500 vintage horn that is in great condition and plays like a dream without any additional on road costs. Don't chase the bargain of a lifetime. It's too much of a crap shoot. Pay what the market demands for a good example of your chosen horn and then get it serviced.You'll be happier in the long run.
Hope all this helps.

The best bang for the buck? You aren't going to know
 

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Although I realize you are asking about vintage, I am going to suggest a horn that has the vintage sound and is a steal.

The Conn 21M with rolled tone holes....The earlier ones without the rolled tone holes are substandard instruments.

These 21M horns have a very, very vintage sound, IMHO, and are really undervalued and underrated. I believe they are indeed a pro level horn.
They generally run $225.00 to $300.00.
 

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Couesnon Monopole

To quote Steve Howard

"Well, I blew barely five notes on it and wouldn't have been at all surprised if a gospel choir had appeared out of nowhere behind me and began to sing in exquisite and glorious harmony.
This little alto just oozes soul.
Just like the tenor, the tone of the alto seems to capture the very best of the vintage genre and blend it seamlessly with the brighter, punchier contemporary tone. The final result is a tone for all seasons.
But surely, if you're a jack of all trades you're a master of none?
Not so...this alto has so much flexibility that it takes a mere tweak of the embouchure to lay the tone back or kick it into overdrive. It is, frankly, stunningly articulate."

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Alto/Couesnon_Monopole_II_alto.htm

This must give it fairly high bang for buck factor......
 

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Buescher 140.
 
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