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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ok, according to several sites around the web, Holton made in excess of half a million saxophones in its business lifetime! Why don't we know anything about them? Somebody had to be buying these things, and we do know that not all of them were stencils.

http://www.dancipsax.com/iserial.html

If you know anything about Holton sax history, or worked at Holton, or know somebody who worked at Holton, step up and tell us something!

Can you tell that I am intrigued?:)

Sax Magic
 

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Some are great, others not great. I have found that they tended to have models made by them (the ones with the added C# trill and clarinet style front F) and some made by others. I had an alto that was a Courturier stencil that was like a Lyon & Healy with Martin style tone holes. What I DO know is that the serial number lists are way off. Mine was from around 1928 but the serial number came back as a 1917 horn. Go by style and features not by the numbers. The made a lot of gold plated ones and some of the gold plated sopranos are really nice. I have seen several in C.
 

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Holton Collegeate

I picked up a Holton Collegeate alto from Goodsax for a student of mine. It has a nice sweet tone, good intonation, and basically is a heck of alot easier to play than my 60s Buescher. My student will get a heck of a horn for under 200 clams. K
 

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I had a 1930s Holton Professional once, which was anything but. My recollection is that Jason DuMars said on his web site that Holton had fallen behind the opposition well before then and were no longer attempting to sell pro saxes. They sold plenty though of whatever calibre.

I suppose that the essence of the answer is that they stopped making pro level saxes, but their 1920s instruments (and earlier) should be comparable. The Rudy Weitoft model was Holton made, of course, but i do not have any experience other than the one misfortune mentioned.
 

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I've got a lovely Holton I just bought - serial 124xxx, so I'm still trying to work out if the year really is '38 as per Dr Rick's serials or 1911 as per Dan's.

I know a few people on SOTW don't hold much store by Holtons, but there are Holtons and Holtons and this one played easily as good as a couple of Conns and Selmers I've tried - I tried a whole range from vintage to modern saxes and this came out on top. Quite a surprise, I'm very happy - maybe I just got a good one.
 

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You might think I've lost it, but just last month I purchased a C-Melody on eBay; a Holton tenor model, serial number c 21290 LP - $305.00. Only problem, the deal did not include a mouthpiece.
Tried several alto and tenor pieces but everything was a compromise, so I bought a new C Melody mouthpiece and I must tell you, it plays really well from top to bottom with just a bit of coaxing on notes below low D... probably just needs a bit of adjustment. A lot of people seem to think Conn is the one to get, but I think it depends on the vintage.
Having soprano, alto, tenor and bari in my arsenal that I use all the time, you might wonder why I'd go for this... one of the bands I play in is a traditional New Orleans / dixieland group and I think the sound of this horn is in keeping with the traditional sound and style of playing.
Anyway, I'm having a lot of fun with this beautiful instrument that I was lucky to find. Don't assume that Holton was not a good make of instrument.
 

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Terrific info, Dr Sax--glad to hear you're enjoying your Holton C-Mel. In a recent C-mel thread, Holtons were ruled out almost immediately as options. Too bad, in my opinion. Didn't Frankie Trumbauer play a Holton? One of the most famous C-mel guys in history, and his choice of horn didn't even rate a try?

I wonder how much of Holton's negative press is simply pile-on from people who have never played one, or who tried one old out-of-adjustment beater for a few minutes, and simply validated pre-conceived notions. Now, if folks have actually played one set up well and it still sucked, then that's a good data point, I welcome it, and I thank those who have already provided such first hand info.

My tenor is set up very well, and is available to any pro/semi pro in the RI/MA area who wants to conduct a blind test shootout vs other horns--especially models from the same era roughly (late 20's). It may or may not come out on top, and it aint perfect, but at least the brand can get a fair shake. Offer stands--I'll be in the region until late June 08.
 

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I have a Holton 240 Tenor Sax
The serial number is 145583
I got it used back in about 1965
How I can find out more information about it?
 

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Take a look at EBay listing #190246172326. This is an Evette-Schaeffer C melody from around 1910. You will see that Holton COPIED the hgh C to D trill key and that odd G# trill lever from this horn. I always thought these were Holton inventions, but here they are about seven years before the first Holton saxophones. Always some more useless knowlege to gain!
 

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Take a look at EBay listing #190246172326. This is an Evette-Schaeffer C melody from around 1910. You will see that Holton COPIED the hgh C to D trill key and that odd G# trill lever from this horn. I always thought these were Holton inventions, but here they are about seven years before the first Holton saxophones. Always some more useless knowlege to gain!
That's interesting jazzbug. I wonder if there was any cross-pollination with Holton buying parts from Evette-schaeffer?
 

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The following link gives serial numbers from 1901: http://www.dancipsax.com/iserialholtonsax.html
I have no further information, but it does suggest that the start date of 1917 (derived from jazzbug1) is incorrect. Holton was certainly an early sax maker; 1917 looks way, way late.

On reflection: 1917 may be the date of the Rudy Wiedoft model. Holton experts may be able to confirm or correct.
 

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Wiedoeft models came out in the Spring of 1928 per a company brochure in my sweaty little hands.
 

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I recently purchased for re-build and EBay sale a Holton C Melody, #21803. It is the first time I have come accross a front F key linked with a bar style G# key. The best of both worlds, as many players like the bigger platform of the bar vs. the pearl-covered button, which came into use afterward. This is probably is the last of the bar G#s coupled with the first front Fs. I would put it at 1927, as the first Rudys are high 25,000, which would have been assigned in late 27 or early 28. More interesting, but useless trivia from the desk of jazzbug1.
 

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I would put it at 1927, as the first Rudys are high 25,000, which would have been assigned in late 27 or early 28.
Take into account your C-sopranosax SN#18319 shipped out 11-18-1924! The annual output between 1924 and 1926 were at top hight (ca. 3,000 - 4,000 p.a.).

Felix
 

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It looks like Holton saxophone sales really took off with the introduction of the Wiedoeft model, as, assuming #26000 was early 1928 and I have seen Wiedoefts as high as 36000, which I would guess would be 1930 or 31. The altos are very common, whereas the C melody, tenor, and especially the baritone, are unusual. In three years of EBay activity I have seen two tenors, two C Melodys, and one baritone vs. too many altos to count. My guess is the Wiedoefts accounted for a quarter of the altos sold. Then came the Depression and sales plummeted, Wiedoeft was by then seldom heard of, and newer players such as Jimmy Dorsey were in ads. Its surprising that Holton, King, Martin, and Buescher stayed in business. Conn was so large it could weather anything.
 

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In three years of EBay activity I have seen two tenors, two C Melodys, and one baritone vs. too many altos to count. My guess is the Wiedoefts accounted for a quarter of the altos sold. Then came the Depression and sales plummeted…
Interesting what you can find out by carefully watching eBay. This is good information Mr Bug. By the way, does the Wiedoeft bari have the extra "master keys" and other features, or is it a Wiedoeft in name only?
 
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