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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some old horns seem haunted. Ever wonder who blew their spirit, art, essence down that brassy tunnel before you? What narrative have you created or might you speculate about your horn's previous owner?
 

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15 years ago or so I bought a Buescher from Shopgoodwill. My tech said they were sleepers and the 156. The first thing I played on it after his overhaul was Blue Moon, never played before or since. The previous owner must have played it a lot.
 

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No. I always got my MKVI baris straight from the factory.
My tenor was used by a small college, and I didn't care because it played good.:)
 

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I have no idea who played my 12M before I did, but when I bought it, the case was basically being held together by nothing more than congealed cigarette smoke and beer fumes. Whoo! Also, all the plating was (and still is) worn off the metal touch points and the pearls were (are) worn way way down. All the plating was (is) off most of the neck. How many times do you have to install the neck to wear off the plating?

There's no telling how many thousands of hours were on this thing before I got it - and I've put some thousands of hours more - but the way it plays makes it clear why it was played and played and played. Every time I went into the shop where I bought it, the owner (the late Richard Thomas, a super-fine saxophone player as well as a talented repair man) tried to buy it back from me.
 

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I bought my 1954 The Martin directly from the first owner's daughter, after he passed. His name was inscribed on the inside of the case. So no, I know exactly who played my horn before me! Kinda love that I'm the second owner of a horn from 1954.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I bought my 1954 The Martin directly from the first owner's daughter, after he passed. His name was inscribed on the inside of the case. So no, I know exactly who played my horn before me! Kinda love that I'm the second owner of a horn from 1954.
@MyMartinTenor Oh yes, I want those stories too, the true ones too. Where did he play, was he a pro, what did he play, etc.? All desirable
 

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My first tenor was an Ida Maria Grassi. I believe that company came about in the 50s, so this horn definitely wasn't as old as my current tenor, a 1920s True Tone... but when I bought the Grassi, the shop owner said it was previously owned by a local sax monster. I don't recall their name now, and I didn't recognize it then... but I thought it was cool. As far as the TT goes, I can only imagine who had it. Though it did come to me in a very sorry state of disrepair, so I suspect it spent several decades in a musty basement. Maybe the ghosts had a go at it?
 

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I got my Super 20 in Bradford, Yorkshire, it was on consignment for somebody living in the Pennines who agreed to a hefty discount as he needed to fix his car. He had apparently picked it up in Buenos Aires. It was, and is, plenty beat up but plays like a dream and I have idly speculated about it playing tangos in Argentina back in the 60s.
 
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Just looking at my YTS-21, its rich history and adventures are evident: 1970’s High School marching band, wild parties, tied to a rope and dragged up a gravel mountain road behind a pickup driven by drunken teenagers. Such was the life of a 36 year old rental sax when I bought it. It now leads a serene existence.

Yet it plays and has amazing intonation.
 

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My 1971 MK VI was a one-owner that was sold to Sax Alley. I stupidly bought it as 'near mint' but this was 1998 and the net was just starting, so since Sax Alley had a good rep, I bought it. When it arrived, it did look good but it had evidence of at least one 'event' that had been repaired, which also involved the neck. It did play/sound great, though, so when SA offered a few hundred back, I took it. I would just like to ask that guy what happened to it. Its been through several overhauls now and i had the neck tweaked by Kim Bock, and the horn is at a performance peak. Judging by the condition of the horn, which had 50% original pads when i got it, I concluded that the owner had been a doubler, perhaps a pit reed man. It still ain't too shaggy, but no, I don't ever think about him or what he played - couldn't care less, really. But since it was made the year King Curtis was killed, sometimes i think about it as my KC tribute horn.

109425
 

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I purchased a MKVI that was from a sax player with Brian Setzer, I think in 1998. I don't remember his name but it was sold through PM Woodwinds (when it was still in the owners basement). It was a good horn, traded for a better one which I sold since I now have the best one I've ever played.
 

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My two Keilwerth stencil sops seem each to have been played a lot by a distinctive personality. The Dutch one must have been played by someone who chain-smoked to the point the very metal is infused with nicotine and breathing in even near the thing gave me a sore throat. I believe that he didn't actually die, just the nicotine-mummification process reached a point where they had to pry his fingers off the sop and bury him just because it had been a month and he still hadn't finished his last sentence.

The Couf must have been played endlessly by a player who was a control freak, the action is set very low, and he must have kept the sax in his lap when eating because there are strange drool-like patterns of lacquer loss and corrosion on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
15 years ago or so I bought a Buescher from Shopgoodwill. My tech said they were sleepers and the 156. The first thing I played on it after his overhaul was Blue Moon, never played before or since. The previous owner must have played it a lot.
@adamk I have to ask: what is a sleeper, and a 156?
 

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I have a Martin Handcraft stencil alto from Wm. Frank in Chicago. It's probably late 20s vintage, from the design. I picked it up for $70 at the goodwill in my hometown in Ohio. No idea the history, probably not anything exciting, but having been around through the whole swing era, a world war, and everything after...who knows. Lacquer appears mostly original and in pretty good shape and aside from a minor repair to the neck octave key, there doesn't seem to be any major work done to it. It plays really sweet and has a great tone. I have thought about where it might have been, though. Could have been played in a Chicago speakeasy in front of Al Capone, who knows. I think the mystery is probably better than knowing that it was bought for school band and then sat in an attic for decades until the owner passed on.

109429
 

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Some old horns seem haunted.
An impossibility. But I did have one experience with one of numerous vintage horns I've owned that is on topic. It's an ancient Conn bari given to me long ago, and after coming to this site way back when, I was inspired to get it back into playing shape and match the right mouthpiece to it. When it was ready, I took it out one night and sat in with a local funk band. Heck of a night, and I couldn't help but think of what the horn's original owner might have thought of the situation. Of course, likely being long dead, they'd be hard pressed to formulate a response. In the back of my mind though, while I was playing, I thought maybe the horn would appreciate its new life. No. The horn didn't know the difference either. It's not alive. It won't love you back. It's simply an object we use to make music.
 

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My father bought my 60's Tenor Zephyr back 1973 when I transitioned to the tenor at the request of my band director.
The horn has an area on the bell where someone had polished(?) or buffed out an inscription. I remember thinking about who had owned it previously.

Jumping to late 2019 and getting ready to start playing again, I took some photos of the sax with my phone and enlarging the pictures. I was able to read bits and pieces, among them, "Property of" , "Biggs AFB", and "building number".
Some of the writing is cursive and some is in block form.
I deleted the pics as I was going to get some powdered graphite to see if I could see more detail and I never did.
I'll try getting some more info when I return home in a month or so.
Ill see if this thread is alive then and post some pics if they reveal anything else.
In the meantime, I've got a Yamaha to keep me company and annoy the wife.
 
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