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I have heard plenty about the brightness and focus of the Bueschers, the tenorism and balls of the Martins and Kings, and the darkness and focus of the Conns.

How do Holton C-Melodies compare to the other brands?

---Mostly sound wise, tuning and tone... but also as far as build quality, holding adjustment, ergonomics, playing position... etc.

Am I mistaken or does the Holton have the smallest bore of the bunch?
 

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Bruce Bailey has one he's offering for $135. Buy one and give us a review! :)
 

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Aye DvDberg, That is why I ask.

Information on the Holtons is both elusive... and extremely varied.
 

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I'll try to get the beast out and see if it plays at all. I paid $135 on ebay for it to match a Holton C soprano I had and sold the sop. I took it out of the case and saw it was a nice horn with the old white pads but never even gave it a try. Since the cases are so hard to find, I may just sell the case! On a thread a while back, someone said these were good horns. The 2 Holton C sopranos I had were very nice. Usually I would say that I would ship it out for a trial but since it needs work, that would not help anyone out. It does have all those extra keys however.
 

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I have heard plenty about the brightness and focus of the Bueschers, the tenorism and balls of the Martins and Kings, and the darkness and focus of the Conns.

How do Holton C-Melodies compare to the other brands?

---Mostly sound wise, tuning and tone... but also as far as build quality, holding adjustment, ergonomics, playing position... etc.

Am I mistaken or does the Holton have the smallest bore of the bunch?
Allegedly the sweetest sounding of all....more so than the Conn.
Arguably the opposite to you previously stated tonal requirement.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Indeed. Thankyou Captain...
 

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I have played a Holton for 40 years. My teacher studied under Rudy Wiedoeft, who used a Selmer, and knew Frankie Trumbauer. Trumbauer had his choice of all makes and chose the Holton. He was by far the greatest C melody jazz player and was the inspiration for the lilting understated style of Lester Young, who influenced many tenor players to this day. I have no intonation problems with the Holton and its ergonomics are comfortable for me. The left pinky cluster is a bit clumsy, but this was not good on any horns until the mid-1930s. If you want an alto sound-go for the Holton. Tenor sound- go for Martin or King. All my horns are Holton, as they are unknown by most players and hence-super bargains.
 

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Supreme. Thank you jazzbug, I think that I will acquire a Holton later... my next objective is currently to just save some $... and shed on the 3 Conns I already have. Eventually I aim to have a C from each of the manufacturers... although it seems I will mostly always be a Conn-man.

One thing I like about the Holtons is the extra-unusual key work around the RH side keys, some kind of D-E trill thing?!? Just fascinating....
 

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Bruce, have you had the chance to blow some notes out of the Holton you were going to test? Would you agree with jazzbug on the alto sound of a Holton C-mel?
 

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I got it out tonight and dropped a light down it and the only real leaks I found were a weak low C# spring and a questionable pad. The keys were sluggish, I put a little oil on them and took it for a play. Even with no neck cork (paper on it), using a Selmer alto mouthpiece, it played well down to low D. A really sweet sounding honr and yes, very alto like. Much more free sounding than the Bueschers I have had, not as bold as the Conns (which have been adjusted) and I think these may be one of the better C melodies. I will still sell it for $135 (about $160 shipped) or someday I will put a set of white roos with flat metal resos on it and clean it up. The plating is very nice and should clean up and just a few minor marks. These are the horns I like to redo as they have not been worked on by sloppy pliers, etc. as the stack keys worked well even after about 90 years of sleep. As with the Holton C sopranos I have owned, these may be one of those overlooked gems. If I hadn't read this thread, I would have never guessed. Still keeping my gold plated Conns and gold Martin.
Thanks Jazzbug for the nudge!
 

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Yes Danny, you should really buy and try my Buescher that I have for sale! :bluewink:
 

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Yes Danny, you should really buy and try my Buescher that I have for sale! :bluewink:
Do you prefer your Conn? :)

EDIT: I found your sale thread... I wish I was rich... :)



One horn at a time Danny... and learn to actually play first.

One horn at a time Danny... and learn to actually play first.

One horn at a time Danny... and learn to actually play first.


A strange statement when you have tried only Conns.
You have made up your mind without trying any of the competition.
You make a great point Captain, but do you still not hold a certain affinity for your that beautiful Buescher of yours, if I am not mistaken that was your first C?

I think we can agree that all of the pro-model C's made around the roarin' 20's were good solid horns that will play well in a variety of settings, and each one has its pros and its.... er .... Conns haha. At that point it seems to come down to matters of preference about the different qualities they have.

You are right though, I cannot say with 100% certainty that I have made up my mind. I feel though that even after I have a Buescher, Holton, King, Martin, etc. that I will always come back to my Conns for inexplicable reasons.

I honestly was hoping a lot that the Chu Conn I recently purchased was ANY other brand but Conn, the original ad had such a low resolution pic. I could tell from the pic that it was a lacquered finish which led me to think that it was not a Conn. When I found how close the seller lived to me and went to see the horn and it was old lacquer (Rare because Conn only did silver/nickel/gold plate at the time (1926)) and it played perfectly from bottom to top (Except the little tang problem over the G#, and the sticky body pip pad that are fixed now) for the price I had to snag it!

I am glad I did, I feel honored to have three consecutive models that they offered, and these will always form the core of my C's and I try to rotate the playing of them regularly and maintain them the best I can. When I line them up from 1919, to 1920, to 1926 I feel connected to past times long gone that still echo out through the trio. To have the full lineup I only lack the elusive Worcester and New Invention models, which at this point I don't have much interest in getting. (Who wants to mess with double octave keys anyways?) The Conn that I do still hold esteemed as my dream horn will always be the Conn Virtuoso model...

View attachment 30701

Darn that Wonder looks good... I really should pull apart my NW 1 and 2 and polish them up...
 

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Conn made very fine horns & they deserve the accolades showered upon them.
I simply question your declared desire to play a C tenor which matches most closely the sound of a Bb tenor....most would agree that this, without question, is the Martin.
That said, I share your sense of the period & the history...but that is known as the start of a collection for the sake of collecting, & trait known to most of us; otherwise, why do I own nine very different but treasured saxophones?
Perhaps we should be thankful that horns are relatively inexpensive; a friend, with a similar addiction, chose vintage cars....currently, his collection stands at fourteen....very expensive. A lesson perhaps to avoid collecting for the sake of it.
They are musical instruments, so try them all, find the one which is best for you, & stick with it.
 

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I have re-built and played numerous C melodys and have played at least three different specimens of each American C melody using the Goldbeck mouthpiece, which was the very best of its day. Here are my modest opinions:
1. Conn- excellent quality,ergonomics, and plating, with a front F, but it takes an effort and the right mouthpiece to get rid of the tubby sound. A disappointment compared to their other horns of the 1920s
2. King- Front F with a big sound, but a sticky octave system and an antiquated G# make these horns more trouble to set up.
3. Buescher- No front F until late production, but they feel nice to the hands. However, a rather weak sound due to a small bore.
4. Couturier (some Lyon and Healys) Big bore=big sound. No front F, but beautiful engraving. Tapered tone holes like a Martin. Low production=nice quality
5. Martin- the only horn of this era in which I have seen sloppy soldering (under the plating,so its original) No front F until late production. Very BIG sound for a C. Note Captain Beefat's rockin' sound!
6. Holton- My favorite. A bigger bore than Buescher, but smaller than the others. A beautiful singing alto sound. The best cases with the heaviest padding. Frankie Trumbauer had his pick and chose a Holton burnished gold model with deluxe engraving even inside the bell. I own the exact same model (horribly scarce) and with the Goldbeck, one gets the Trumbauer sound. These horns have nice ergonomics, quality craftmanship and the right hand palm trill key for C toD, C# to D, and D to Eb. Use it and fly through some tough changes.
Go ahead and beat me up!!
 

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Those Holton cases are quite good. The C Melody I have fits very well. I have a Holton for alto that is the same way, lots of side padding.
 

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I have re-built and played numerous C melodys and have played at least three different specimens of each American C melody using the Goldbeck mouthpiece, which was the very best of its day. Here are my modest opinions:
........
Go ahead and beat me up!!
Not at all jb, great review - sincerest thanks !

Can I add to that list a Buffet C - pics here - that I briefly had, it played poorly because it needed tlc, but well enough to get an idea of the sound. Smaller bore, lovely feel from dished metal touches, front-f as well, but definitely on the 'focussed' light and gentle side - leaning well towards a tubby alto sound, even with a meaty tenor mouthpiece. But fun to play before it was re-homed ! :bluewink:
 

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Yes...a very good summary.
To some degree we are fortunate that the saxophone has so many voices...that we can choose the style & sound that suits; anything from a gentle bouncy 1920s style to Rock.
This discussion could not exist on an oboe or viola site.
There is perhaps no "best"....just different.
 

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Indeed, Beeflat, just doing a quick reckoning, you've owned Conn / Buescher / King and Martin C's over the years - so that's a fair old tally !
 
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