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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I'm very impressed with the one Holton (non-Rudy) i own. Estimated age is 1926-27. My feeling is, Holton was like Avis rent-a-car; they had to try harder. They were seriously trying to improve the saxophone in practical ways. Their new keywork and better intonation (mid 1920s on) really worked. They are the only company I have seen that moved the strap ring on their C-melody saxophones to a better position. Their saxes came standard with metal mouthpieces before anyone. So in many ways, they were trying to make a better horn. It would be fun to have a time machine and go back to 1929 to interview professional players about the Holton sax. Those guys may have had a lot of respect for what Frank Holton was doing.
I noted the picture of Charlie Parker playing a Holton in another recent thread about all the different horns he played.;)
 

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I have a 1953 Holton Collegiate tenor. I use it more than my other pro vintage horns. Although the Collegiate models were student horns they do have a nice sound and I like the key layout. There is very little demand for them therefore they are not worth much. The only problem I see with the horn is the
g# key. It is very long and a tad wobbley. I,m used to it so it doesn't impact my playing one way or the other. The tech I take it to says the Holtons are good horns and well made.
 

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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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Hi every body,
I am the happy owner of a Rudy Wiedoft soprano estimated late 20’s. It is my first soprano, I was expected to buy a Conn or Buescher but a repairer/seller convinced me to try this Holton and I am really not desapointed. I bought it recently, he is in a bad shape (dirty and vey old pads) but relly playable, I will repad it as soon as I havetime for it and as soon as I accept to stop playing it!!

I am not familiar with vintage horns but I can try to give my point of view on this sax :
the construction is very heavy and solid, it is a bit built like a tank but quite easy to play.
The tone is very rich, full of harmonics, really a nice big warm tone.
The silver plated is really perfect my sax has 100% of the plating even after all those years of service.
It has a top F/C key and 2 trill keys, the palm keys are a bit tricky for me (familiar with a yamaha alto)
The pearl key are small for my fingers but I am used to it now.
The G# key is round a too close to the G key for me so my finger slip on it sometimes.

As a conclusion a really love this sax for the sound, I previously had played a Yani S981 and a far prefer the Holton for the sound.

In the future I will for sure consider Holton saxs for my next purchase!!

Hope this help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Hi every body,
I am the happy owner of a Rudy Wiedoft soprano estimated late 20's. It is my first soprano, I was expected to buy a Conn or Buescher but a repairer/seller convinced me to try this Holton and I am really not desapointed. I bought it recently, he is in a bad shape (dirty and vey old pads) but relly playable, I will repad it as soon as I havetime for it and as soon as I accept to stop playing it!!

I am not familiar with vintage horns but I can try to give my point of view on this sax :
the construction is very heavy and solid, it is a bit built like a tank but quite easy to play.
The tone is very rich, full of harmonics, really a nice big warm tone.
The silver plated is really perfect my sax has 100% of the plating even after all those years of service.
It has a top F/C key and 2 trill keys, the palm keys are a bit tricky for me (familiar with a yamaha alto)
The pearl key are small for my fingers but I am used to it now.
The G# key is round a too close to the G key for me so my finger slip on it sometimes.

As a conclusion a really love this sax for the sound, I previously had played a Yani S981 and a far prefer the Holton for the sound.

In the future I will for sure consider Holton saxs for my next purchase!!

Hope this help.
Jojosax,
Thanks for the info, and it sounds like you have a great little soprano there. Nice to know we have SOTW folks all the way down in Gabon! I visited there last year (in Port Gentil) and had a great time.
 

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Some other thoughts: I kind of wish I'd have kept an eye out for a horn with a high front F. Many of the Holtons of the same age range, and even 10K earlier on the serial number range have the spatula high front F.
I don't know if you're averse to such things, but it looks to me like there is plenty of room to "acquire" a Front F from some junker and have it expertly modified and affixed. It's not like any new holes have to be drilled, and the repairer could bend the crap out of the key as necessary since it isn't coming off that horn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I don't know if you're averse to such things, but it looks to me like there is plenty of room to "acquire" a Front F from some junker and have it expertly modified and affixed. It's not like any new holes have to be drilled, and the repairer could bend the crap out of the key as necessary since it isn't coming off that horn.
I had been thinking about that as well. I wonder if the front F mechanism from an alto or C melody would work on my tenor, since I see many more of those than tenors for sale. Wouldn't the post(s) just need to be soldered on? I'm guessing here, since I'm not sure exactly how Holton affixed the "spatula" front F workings however. Anybody out there with an Elkhorn or Rudy with a front F willing to take a close up picture and post?

BTW Mal 2--what is that sax in your avatar? I saw it on another post earlier and meant to ask then. It looks quite striking.
 

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I had been thinking about that as well. I wonder if the front F mechanism from an alto or C melody would work on my tenor, since I see many more of those than tenors for sale. Wouldn't the post(s) just need to be soldered on? I'm guessing here, since I'm not sure exactly how Holton affixed the "spatula" front F workings however. Anybody out there with an Elkhorn or Rudy with a front F willing to take a close up picture and post?

BTW Mal 2--what is that sax in your avatar? I saw it on another post earlier and meant to ask then. It looks quite striking.
You could probably get away with one piece shaped like |__| for minimal alteration to the horn itself, depending on the key that was chosen.

The horn in the avatar is my "daily driver" Jupiter JAS-767. When I was doing the cruise ship thing a friend and I had this "great" idea that bare metal would make us sound better. He put up an old Buescher tenor with half the lacquer already gone, and I picked the Jupiter, and we got some solvents, masks, and gloves. In the middle of the night we went out on deck and started working. I stripped the neck and bell, while he did just the neck.

You can guess how much this changed our sounds -- none at all. Neither one of us could detect any difference whatsoever, except now we had bare brass that was a PITA to handle and keep clean.

A couple weeks later we undid our mistakes as best we could. He bought a clear furniture varnish and I bought white bathtub enamel. My replacement finish has survived, and his was falling off inside of a month, so he used the last of my bathtub enamel. (If you see a tenor player in the Miami area sporting a Buescher with a white neck, and a sound modeled after Charlie Rouse, it's probably him.) It's actually a very effective finish, if you like white. I have left the inside of the bell bare brass, since it is possible to avoid touching it without TOO much difficulty.

I got tired of the white after a couple years, so I slapped metallic blue auto paint over the white bathtub enamel. Much to my surprise, it has been remarkably solid and I haven't so much as touched it up since I did so about 10 years ago. It has cracked in a couple places (mostly near the bell brace) to reveal a glimpse of the white enamel underneath, but it has not peeled off. Once again, I detected absolutely no difference in the sound.

The lacquer on this instrument is so unbelievably bad that I may complete the stripping job some day and apply some new finish, but I think the blue just might have to stay. It is, as you mentioned, quite striking. I will have to find a color of bathtub enamel I really like, since I have yet to find anything that is as durable.

A full size picture can be found at http://mal-2.com/sax/alto-mods3.jpg -- if you look really closely you can see where the paint did not stick well at the base of the B/Bb key guard, and the enamel shows through a little bit. Also there is a tiny (about 1.5 mm) white spot visible on the front, where the horn got dented from the inside by an SM-57. The paint cracked but the enamel did not. Finally, down at the bell/bow ring, you can see a ring of white where the enamel clings tenaciously but the blue paint didn't.

Embarrassingly, you can see the low B pad is mismatched (plastic reso) because I failed to order one when I ordered every other pad on the instrument! That one pad is original equipment, all the others have been changed out.
 

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Years ago we added a frton F to a Conn soprano using parts from a Clarinet A key. For Tenor, an alto or bass clarinet A key may wor. You could remove the key cup, bend or lengthen the arm and use the mounting posts. Epoxy them on so the finish is not altered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Years ago we added a frton F to a Conn soprano using parts from a Clarinet A key. For Tenor, an alto or bass clarinet A key may wor. You could remove the key cup, bend or lengthen the arm and use the mounting posts. Epoxy them on so the finish is not altered.
Great idea about the clarinet parts--it would certainly look similar to the Holton spatula key. I'll be on the look out for suitable parts.
 

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Yesterday I played a yani S981 and for sure the sound of the holton is far better the intonation of both sax are very good but the sound of my holton is more dark, more rich.
 

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I've read on some vintage horn sites that some of the 50s Holtons have a sound similar to the Conn 10 Ms. I also own a 36 10M and would say this is true. I,m only a neophyte, but this is my observation. I test played a beautiful Holton alto for sale at doctorsax.biz a while back. Ended up buying a Martin tho. The horn is still there and cheap. Check it out.
 

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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 did have plastic resonators installed. There is no real difference other than a more balanced tone up and down- the notes with more open holes and the notes with more closed holes are closer tone-wise. But on the whole, nothing dramatic. Still that big full sound. And now my forked Eb works!
 

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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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Good to hear the C soprano is in tune. I had 2 Conns that were horrible and just got a Holton C soprano and have not got it working yet. I also have 4 altos and they are very nice and affordable.
 

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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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