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I was in the market for a Conn and had been researching them studiously. Played a couple here in Germany at Bruno Waltersbacher's and loved a Chu with modified ergos, but didn't have the cash at the time.

I went back in the last month and played a massive range of vintage and modern horns - Leo Bundy Conn stencil, Hamilton, New King, Selmer, Keilwerth SX90R, etc.

In the end I bought a lovely '38 (I think - serial is 124xxx) Holton 'Elkhorn'. It won the tone contest hands-down (although there were no playable Conns to directly compare to at the time - I'm going on my memory of the Chu). It's been completely overhauled, so it might be hard to compare to others.

Intonation is great (I've only played it a little so far, but so far so good). The tone is warm, but also pretty versatile. I want to try a few different MPCs on it to see what happens. I can get a really warm deep, breathy jazz sound but belt out some power too. Free blowing and no stuffy D like that Keilwerth either!

Build quality is great - it's heavy horn and the keywork is very solid.

Pretty sure the keys are nickel plated and they compare in arrangement to a Chu/transitional I'd say. The palm keys are longer (no spoon keys) and the left-hand pinky keys are quite Chu nailfile G# in arrangement. It has that top F/C trill key and the G# trill key too.

Keywork is not as complicated/comprehensive as a modern horn, but straightforward and I like it. Bruno's techs have done a great job of restoring it and setting up the action - it's very quiet, smooth and certainly quick enough for my level of playing. Finished off with top of the line Selmer pads.

I was totally surprised, as was Bruno and his guys, by the tone and quality of it. Maybe it's just a lucky one, maybe it's the restoration process. He's had a couple of Holton Barris that have also been great, though.

If anyone can point me to some more info I'd be very keen to read more about it.
 

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Yes, I'm still very happy with my Holton. It seems to be a bit of a mysterious hit and miss though about which models are good and bad. My sax tech reckons mine is late 30s or early 40s judging by the design and so that would mean that the 1938 date I found (I think on Dr. Rick's serial lists) would be about right. Certainly the key guards look late deco moving into 40s style. I promise I'll post some pictures soon!
 

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I'm still really enjoying my Tenor. I'll try and post some images of it soon and I'd like to share the serial number too, which I know is a total lottery with Holtons.

In terms of playing tendencies, I find that the pitch and intonation difference between cold and warm is larger than I've noticed on other saxes. Sometimes I find myself having to adjust by a good 6mm by after about 10 mins of playing.
 
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