Any opinions on these? How do they fare for bebop and ballads?
That description in saxpics was written a long time ago, and I disagree with about 90% of it.saxpics.com gives a pretty dismal review of Holton.
The Frank Holton Company of Elkhorn, Wisconsin is one of the earliest saxophone makers, with the Rudy Wiedoeft model being the most famous model that they produced (the Elkhorn being one of the more infamous). Unfortunately, these horns have questionable intonation at best, odd keywork and tinny sound. They were bought out by the G. Leblanc corporation in the 60's -- the company that makes Vito saxophones (hmm ...). They now make brasswinds exclusively.
I'm of the opinion that Holton more_or_less submitted to the fact that, after 1925 or so, they could never really compete with the other big saxophone makers like Conn and Buescher. They do produce a quite respectable line of brasswinds, but I think they produced saxophones for the sake of saying, "We offer an entire line of band instruments."
Their soprano saxophones are of slightly better quality than their altos and tenors (strangely enough), I've been told. I've only heard of two baris -- and one was a recent (well, 1960_ish) horn. The example I have below is the only other one I've ever seen. I wonder how it sounds.
There aren't a lot of Holton models worth mentioning, so no jump station. Go here for a serial number chart."
Also, no mention of Holton in most "vintage sax guides" and this brand is not sold often by sax dealers, even when they might carry lots of other American horns.
I know it's just because its a less famous brand... the Stratodyne, for example, looks like an awesome horn.