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I own a rare Rudy C Melody, a Rudy Bb soprano (still being restored) and a gold Rudy alto. I find the C Melody to be superior to all I have played (The Martin has a slightly larger bore and is capable of more volume) and this horn does well in the altissimo. The alto has a big sound, like a Conn, but is noticeably brighter, using a Goldbeck mouthpiece. My Holton C soprano plays very well in tune and I can't wait to finish the Bb. Holton got its act together by the mid 1920s. Plating problems and sometimes intonation differences pop up in their early horns, serial #s under 10,000. Don't believe those published serial #s(see the other topics), as they are wrong. The Rudys came out in the Spring of 1928 and Holtons kept the odd breather key on the low C into the 1930s. Furthermore, the Rudys copied the Selmer idea of placing both bell keys on the left side. I believe they were the first US company to do this. Mid 20s and later Holtons play in tune and can match any vintage horn for big sound and projection. I play jazz from classic to progressive and always have other players wondering what kind of horn I am playing. Holtons are probably the most undervalued 1920s-30s horns on the market. Try one and you will agree.
 

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As to the front F key: Holtons after approximately #18000 have them, placing this addition to around 1924. They, along with King and Conn, had this feature in the 20s. As Rascher's altissimo fingerings came into use, other companies added this feature in the early 1930s. Holton used the spatula type front F vs. Conn and King who used the pearl finger key. Keilworth and Selmer used this the spatula key off and on to the present. If you are a clarinettist, you realise the advantage of the spatula, as in the middle A key. The side of the finger can reach it quickly, without a direct finger placement on a key, as in the Conn design. Other than that odd low C breather key, which was used only for about five years, all those odd Holton features are very useful. For you concert players, that C to D trill key makes the very last phrase of Wiedoeft's "Saxophobia" relatively easy. Try that very rapid move from G# to mid C to mid D numerous times. It is extremely difficult with any other horn except the Holton. I'll call Frank Holton on the Psychic Hotline for more information.
 

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Hello-- I have been playing mid to late 1920s Holtons professionally for 40 years. Mine are all in excellent condition. I have a Rudy C Melody, C soprano, Rudy Bb soprano (currently at Jand J woodwinds for re-plating), and I had a baritone. I have found the ergonomics among the best of the per-war horns, the intonation to be excellent, the plating and assembly excellent, and they are heavy, with thick tone hole edges. I have never tried a tenor, and the baritone was replaced by a "Chu Berry" Conn, which had more punch vs. the mellower Holton. The C soprano is surprisingly in tune, and all the horns, except the aforementioned baritone, play much like a Conn. However: the Holton bore is larger, enabling more volume, and the alto and C Melody produce a noticeably brighter tone than the Conn, so they can fit into a more modern sound with an aggressive mouthpiece. I think the reason Holton saxophones received a bad rap (contrary to their brass instruments) is as follows: I have re-built and sold many Holton C Melodys. I have noticed, in the serial #s below 10,000, which dates them to the teens and early 20s, a definite problem with some horns in intonation. Furthermore, I have seen in these thin plating, which wears in places no other horn wear, such as around the edges of the keys. My guess is, when these horns were polished a few times, the plating was so thin it wore off easily. By the mid 20s, these defects disappear, as my 1924 C soprano is flawless in finish and is as good as one could expect in intonation, even up to high F. The Holtons were early in supplying a front F key, around 1925, their sopranos went to high F, which was rare in other makes, and that funny key at the right hand near side C/Bb is a very useful C to D, D to Eb, and C# to D. Try those on any other horn with lightning speed. I have seen Holton prices climbing, perhaps due to fans like myself blabbing about them. Tha Rudy Wiedoeft models are the most interesting, due to their cute little (effective?) low C breather key and the sliding mouthpiece attachment. Another Holton "plus" was that their cases were made at the plant and not by an outside supplyer. They are very plush and are custom fit for Holtons. Some other makes will not fit a Holton case. Did you ever notice how much movement is allowed for in some 1920s cases. This factor allows the horn to sustain damage in a hard drop. The Holtons are very snug and well-padded. I have seen photos of Holtons from the late
1930s which have rolled tone holes, and probably sound much like a 10M, which is my tenor choice. Love those Holtons.
 

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I bought a Rudy model tenor on Ebay several weeks ago. It was VERY misrepresented, as the following flaws were not mentioned: G# trill key missing, plating on keys flaking (usually due to moist storage), and the Eb palm key had a huge solder mess. These flaws were NOT visible in the photos and this was from an instrument dealer who had a 100% rating. Now that I've blown off steam, all except the plating, which I will send to J and J Woodwinds, is professionally fixed (by me). I have played a Conn 10M tenor, which has been cared for by its previous owner and myself. It plays flawlessly and the huge fat sound is amazing. I compared both horns, using a 1941 Link Master Tone #3 mouthpiece with a #3 1/2 V-16 Van Doren reed. Here are the results: The octave key register on the Holton is brighter and easier to play, including some altissimo vs. the Conn on which altissimo is virtually impossible with my conservative set-up. The notes on the bottom, below F, are silky and can be whispered on the Conn like no other horn, whereas the Holton has a beautifully colored tone, but is not quite as soft. The bore on the Holton is a few thousanths inch smaller, which would give it these characteristics. The ergonomics of both horns are excellent, with a slight plus to the Conn for a bar type G# touch. The Holton is every bit a Conn Chu Berry model, with an extra brightness in the top end, exactly as I found the Rudy alto. I have never played a non-Rudy Holton alto or tenor, but I have re-built many C melodys and find them the best, along with the Martins, especially the front F models, so I would assume all later 1920s Holtons have this advantage of brightness over the Conns.I will keep the Holton and put the Conn on Ebay, as visually the Holton will be stunning when finished and it gives an over-all balance in both octaves. I play classic jazz from 20s to be-bop, so the mellower, older horns fit my needs. I would love to find out why Holton saxophones have been dissed so much, mainly by people who never owned one. I can't understand how a few so-so models in the late teens-early 20s could have caused such a bad rap. Most players would think I'm nuts to trade a 10M for a Holton. I would love to try one of the late 30s Holton tenors with the rolled tone holes and cool-looking coat guard on the bell. They are as scarce as the Rudy tenors.
 

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I find it odd that your tenor does not have the alternate high F fingering. Perhaps this model was a lower-priced horn. Another year or so later, Holton got away from alternate side bell keys and put them both on the left side, as was first done on the Wiedoeft models of 1928. Your model also has a gold inner bell, which was new for 1930 on the non-Rudy models, as with rare exceptions, Holton was the only US maker to not feature a gold bell in the 1920s. Instead they used a highly polished silver bell. I agree that the metal thickness on the Holtons makes not only for a big solid sound, but also seals the pads very well. I recently overhauled a Conn C Melody and was surprised at the thinness of the metal, so perhaps the rolled edge tone hole had to added to get a firm seal. Most Conn stencils do not have rolled tone holes and the seal is so narrow, it looks like it could cut the pad in a few years. Bsesides, the celebrated Conn C Melody sounds "tubby" and does not have the projection and brightness of the Holton. I just sold a Holton C melody on Ebay and using Freree's maximum size resonator pads, it sounded fantastic. I almost kept it, but why have two C melodys? The lucky buyer $300) got the best sounding C I have ever played (along with my Rudy).
 

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Pad sets are not a good option, as makers frequently changed their cup size. The only way to re-pad a horn is to measure each cup with a mm ruler. They go by 1/2 mm size, so when in doubt, order the smaller of the two options. A tiny bit smaller than the cup is better than a tiny bit larger. I recommend Music Medic. The only reason I use Frerree's is that someone gave me a huge supply. Good luck!
 

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I find the overall tone to be brighter than other horns of the 1920s-30s. The ergonomics are good for the era. The only serious intonation problem I've had was on the Rudy tenor, which required the low C and breather key to be adjusted down about 1/4 inch to get the D in tune. I'm very excited to see how my new 244 tenor will play. It is about a month from completon.
 

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I recently picked up a Conn Comet mouthpiece on EBay. It is a Santy Runyon design from about 1950 and is of the elongated style, giving the airflow a higher velocity. The sound proced is round and full, with a slight edge. It sounds great and plays in tune on my Rudy tenor. Aside from my rarely used 85/2 Berg Larsen M.P., it is the only post 1940 item in my heap. The Larsen makes the Rudy scream. Not the sound I (or Rudy) want. I was surprised how modern the aged Rudy tenor sounded with either M.P. I noticed the neck bore to be very close to a Selmer Mark VI, which would be quite radical for 1929.
 
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