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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everybody, I've used the forums here for a while but I never actually got an account until now so just wanted to say hey.

I'm looking at choices for a new alto sax. The store I'm looking at has a full lineup of Cannonball saxes, which they highly recommend, a King Super 20, a Buescher, and a variety of other saxes. I've narrowed the choice down to the Cannonball "Raven" model and the Super 20, and I just wanted to see the different opinions you guys would have about it.

After playing both, I love the vintage tone of the Super 20 but greatly prefer the feel of the Cannonball keywork. I also greatly enjoy the Cannonball's tone; it has a naturally sweet and mellow sound but if I push it with my JodyJazz it kicks into overdrive with a great dirty jazz/rock sound. They're both around the same price so that isn't an issue.

I think as of right now I prefer the Cannonball more, but I would like to get some opinions before I go back to the store to make the purchase.

Thanks everyone!
Garrett
 

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You should put some prices into the picture to get a more accurate recommendation.
Assuming that the Cannonball is brand new, just be aware that its value will drop sharply since you leave the store (maybe even by 50%) while the S20 is likely to increase value with time.
If reselling is no issue, keep asking prices and playability in mind: since you seem to prefer the Cannonball make sure you don't overpay for it (or, even better, look for a lightly used one).
 

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"King In The Castle" & Distinguished SOTW Member
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Garrett -

My blood pressure jumped up real HIGH when I first saw the heading of your thread: I thought you were comparing the shortly hyped CB with the legendary Super 20! (If you wonder why, I, or many other members, can tell you).

In any case, the advice you got here all seems reasonable. But all things considered, I think you should go for the King, assuming the difference in the prices of the two horns is not an issue to you.

Just imagine the day when your son or grandson plays that King and the pride, might, and sound that come with it!!! As good as it may be, the CB will never be able to do that - not in this lifetime, in my view!
 

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I'd rather take the super20, since you can buy a Raven almost anytime now(providing you have money) yet it's not every day you'd run into a Super20. The keyworth, you'd get used to it, eventually.
Just my 2 cents ;)
 

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I'd actually say that it all depends. I've played some dog Super 20's (generally, brass alto's with the overslung octave key). I'm going to quote someone here and say "go for the tone" though. Check to make sure there isn't a HUGE problem with the intonation of the Super 20. If that is good, you can get around the key work. It's all about the sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok so it looks like a lot of people are in favor of the Super 20 because of the investment value; while it would be great to see my great great great grandkids play the legendary Super 20, I'm much more concerned about having the best saxophone for right now. As I'm only 16, I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities in the future to find a great vintage horn. In short, the investment value is not a high priority for me.

A few people asked about prices...both horns are $1900.

Regarding tone, I can't decide which horn's tone I like better...both have distinctive but equally pleasing sounds.

I've read about all the legend surrounding the Super 20 but in the end, it really comes down to which horn feels most suited to the player, right? (I've also read about people switching from MkVI's to cannonballs...shouldn't that say enough on its own?) I think the Cannonball feels much more natural, both in the keywork and in its free-blowing playability; it just has that intangible quality that makes it seem like it fits me better than anything else.

Thank you all for the responses, and sorry if I tend to ramble :D
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've read about the legend and hype surrounding the Super 20, and while it certainly makes it a horn worth considering, I don't think it should make the decision automatic, no matter what horn it is being compared against. Also, while long-term value makes it a good investment, I'd much rather have the best horn I can get for right now--I'm only 16 and I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity later to get a valuable vintage horn.

I can't decide which sax's tone I like better; they are both quite different but Iove them both. There is no clear-cut winner here.
I guess what I meant about the keywork and ease of use was that the Super 20 has a great sound by itself, but the Cannonball is the one that really just "feels" the most natural. It's hard to describe, but it's as though I'm hearing another (albeit great-sounding) saxophonist player play the Super 20, but the Cannonball just feels like it's "me" that I'm hearing, like an extension of myself. I don't know how much sense that makes...

Anyway, the "feel" of playing the cannonball is what sets it apart (for me) from the Super 20...so I think at this stage I'd prefer the Cannonball.

They are both priced at $1900...I may look at the Raven listed here in the forums (thanks rispoli! :D)

Anyway, thanks to everyone for the advice (and please feel free to post some more if you have any!)
 

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You should, obviously, make this decision based on which pleases you most. I would only add that the feel of a horn is something to which one rapidly grows accustomed (usually). I once went from an ergonomically "correct" (i.e. modern) Guardala (@1992) to a Chu Berry (@1929). Huge difference! I went for the sound, and the "feel" soon followed, even though I've never seen a horn I had to reach so far to get the G# key! It all became quite normal after a week or so of practice. I still have the Chu as my backup; the Guardala (a very good horn, it must be said) is long gone and I have no regrets.
 

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If you feel the Cannonball is what you want then go for it, why take someones preference on the internet and take a horn that you don't think you'd be as happy with?
 

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garrettg said:
I'd much rather have the best horn I can get for right now--I'm only 16 and I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity later to get a valuable vintage horn.
You don't state your budget and you don't state what your future plans are. If you intend to study sax seriously in college neither would be a good choice. Best bang for the buck is seldom a new horn, let alone a newcomer to the field. Selmer, Yamaha, or Yanigasawa pro horn if you want to get serious. After school you can play whatever you want, but the wrong horn in school will make life miserable for you.

If you've got to get something new, talk to Phil Barone. His stuff should smoke either option you present us with and probably cost less too.
 

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Piggybacking on Carl H's post, you should try a Yani 901. You should be able to find one in the price range you're considering. Maybe you'll like it, maybe not. They have a good rep and should hold their value.

When trying saxes, use a tuner to check intonation from top to bottom. Very important when playing with others.

Not all Super 20s -- or any other make -- are created equal, which is why it's preferable to play the horn you're thinking of buying.

Mouthpieces can have a major impact on sound. If you have a decent mouthpiece use it for an even comparison, and also compare it to the one that comes with the sax you're trying. That way you'll also have a basis for picking a new mouthpiece.

Picking a new horn takes time and effort, and information and experience help. SOTW is a great place for the last two, but keep in mind that what you read are our opinions, and not basic truths.

Good luck in your search, and hope you come back often.
Welcome.
 

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What we see here are just opinions - no truths!
 

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Here's a truth. When you're 16, "vintage" has less meaning than it does when you're 67. Depreciation and investment value don't mean as much either.
 

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I don't know if thats true. I'm 17, and love a good vintage horn. If I had to choose between the two, I would take the King hands down. But then thats me. Once you go vintage though their is really no turning back, the keywork and the sound just stick with you.
 

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BigBandPhil said:
Piggybacking on Carl H's post, you should try a Yani 901. You should be able to find one in the price range you're considering. Maybe you'll like it, maybe not. They have a good rep and should hold their value.

When trying saxes, use a tuner to check intonation from top to bottom. Very important when playing with others.

Not all Super 20s -- or any other make -- are created equal, which is why it's preferable to play the horn you're thinking of buying.

Mouthpieces can have a major impact on sound. If you have a decent mouthpiece use it for an even comparison, and also compare it to the one that comes with the sax you're trying. That way you'll also have a basis for picking a new mouthpiece.

Picking a new horn takes time and effort, and information and experience help. SOTW is a great place for the last two, but keep in mind that what you read are our opinions, and not basic truths.

Good luck in your search, and hope you come back often.
Welcome.
And make sure you use a decent reed.

Seriously, go with the one whose core sound you like the most. (And 1900 is a good price for a Super 20 as long as it plays and is in good shape and expecially if it has a silver neck and bell). However, get get the one whose sound yo ulike the most.
 

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This one is true (to me): Among vintage horns, the MK6 and S20 have the modern left-hand key cluster that is better, easier to play, and more logical than the one you see on the vintage Conns, Martins, and Bueschers.

Think about it: being the smallest and weakest finger of your hands, the little finger of your left hand is made even weaker because it has to push the G#, B, Bb, and C# to the left when the other four fingers press other keys downward.
 
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