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I picked up a Zephyr tenor and was wondering what it is worth? It is S/N 305XXX. It has the double socket neck but only one strap ring (Series IV?) IMG_0145.jpg IMG_0146.jpg IMG_0147.jpg . It has the traingle brace. It plays pretty well on older pads and has the origonal case. I already have two nice tenors (both have modern keyowrk) and think I'm going to sell this one. Any thoughts on its value would be appreciated.
Jack
 

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Don't get hung up about it not having the 3-ring strap hook. The belief that those that did were the bees knees of Zephyrs was just the opinion of one guy who started a site on saxophones called saxpics.com--and it caught on like a lot of things do on the Internet. What you have to realize is that he admitted to never playing any of these horns personally or their brethren, the King Super 20, prior to writing his review. He was just going on second-hand opinions from sites such as these.

However, as someone who has owned and played around 10 Zephyr tenors across the entire 30-year plus span of their production, I can tell you that the horn you have there--a ca. 1950 example--is the cream of the crop as far as Zephyrs are concerned. Because starting around 280,xxx, the Zephyr shares the same bore dimensions as the illustrious Super 20, meaning that your horn is basically a no-frills Super 20 with a different octave mechanism and LH platter and sans the sterling silver neck, extra pearl key touches and fancier engraving.

Plus the H.N. White horns from the late '40s through the mid '50s are considered the best by many because their sound was a little richer, darker and more colorful than later Kings which sported an increasingly cleaner and brighter sound into the 1960s. Was it the quality or quantity of the brass used? Possibly, as a 1951 Zephyr I had seemed to weigh a little more than my 1957 though they otherwise appeared to have the exact same design/dimensions.

But I've already told you more than you wanted to know. It's value? Well, it looks like the lacquer is original and everything is there; and the case isn't too shabby which is important since King collectors will cream over original White cases in decent shape. However, there looks to be a fair amount of lacquer loss and/or oxidation, so I would place its value in the $1,000 to $1,300 range. If the pads are shot and the horn is close to unplayable, I'd put that closer to $1,000--closer to 13 if it plays well now. If it was a real closet queen looker, the desirability of the vintage would easily push it to $1,500 or more.
 

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From the looks of it, it needs at least a new neck cork.

The value quoted above is possible (IMO) only if it's perfect in terms of playability, no tweaking needed.

Zephyrs are one of the most undervalued horns on the planet, great bargains to be had on them, which doesnt' help you much as a seller.
 

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I was actually being conservative on my estimate, as a mid 1960s Zephyr with nickel keys (and clunkier keywork than these more elegant, earlier examples) sold for $700 or $800 on ebay just a week ago. I can tell you as someone who's followed the market on these for a decade, ca. 1950 H.N. White horns are rarer than hen's teeth. You just don't see them very often at all for some reason compared to Conns, Bueschers and Martins. I don't have access to White's production figures but I would hazard to guess their output was a lot smaller than these other firms--especially for these pro horns. Now, you see tons of student Clevelands on ebay all the time--but not many 1950s Zephyr or Super 20 tenors. I really think they were made for the pro market--not for school band programs as I believe The Martins were (which is why I always find it funny that folks describe The Martins as "pro" horns when they were mostly used by students).

But really, if that horn had all new pads a retailer like worldwidesax.com would price it around $2,500, again due to the desirability and rarity of that vintage. For comparison, a 305,xxx brass Super 20 tenor, which again would be pretty much sonically indistinguishable from this horn (assuming your horn is a decent example), would be worth $3,700 to $4,500 depending on condition.

And a new neck cork costs about 15 bucks. :bluewink:
 

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Lol, yeah neck corks are cheap, but... It can be indicative of an instrument that may need more work. If they let the neck cork go, who knows what else minor and fiddly but still takes extra time and effort to make right.

I've been following Zephyrs recently too, especially after dumping about $900 into the restoration of my own personal Zephyr alto. I just haven't seen them bringing all that much personally, regardless of year. Of course, I also reserve the right to be wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all of the information! SOTW is a definite asset. The pads are definitely old but I can get every note from low Bb up into the altissimo range to play easily. The case is not bad. You can read the King label on the outside and the metal logo inside is intact. The only thing missing seems to be a rubber foot in the back.
The lacquer appears to be original. The neck S/N matches the horn. It came with 2 old mouthpieces. One is black and has "5436" and "Bb" on it. The other is a white Brilhart Personaline "10835" "L4" and is chipped.
 

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I looked at the photos and I'd say the lacquer is original--though I'd definitely have this checked by a repair tech.
 

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it is always very difficult , based on pictures, to say whether lacquer is original or not and sometimes even when handling a horn some have different opinions to that effect.

However , it looks pretty original and wear is consistent with a horn that has been well used. I am only a little suspicious about the neck being original lacquer , on the pictures on my monitor it looks even of a slightly different colour. Having said this, a perfectly adjusted horn like this would cost, in the Netherlands, between 1250 to 1500€ (private seller) to 2500€ (shop).

We don't have as many vintage horns on sale as in the USA so the prices tend to be somewhat higher.
 

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Better pics of the bell engraving would be most helpful in sorting out original lacquer; otherwise it's just a guess. "Appears to be original lacquer", when I see it on Ebay, always means to me that it's definitely a relacquer. So I would avoid putting it that way when you sell. You can also check out Dr. Rick's relacquer page, which even has a '59 King as an example that might be helpful.
 

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Recently, I had some work done on a ca. 1951 Zephyr tenor at PM Woodwind, and as Jason Cates, that shop's resident King expert explained to me, Zephyrs from this era are rarely relacs because the Super 20 was already out by then, and since historically the folks who relacquered horns were pros, rather than spending the money to overhaul their Zephyr they would have just upgraded to a Super 20 instead. This made a lot of sense to me.

But yes, though the horn appears to be original finish if you have a repair tech at your disposal at the local music store, etc., you can find the answer to this question pretty quickly and without spending any money, as most techs would be open to giving you an assessment on this particular point without charging you for an estimate.

Also, Zephyrs from this era do not deserve the moniker "Poor Man's Super 20," as I kept a Cleveland-made 1957 example over four other Eastlake-made Super 20s (all tenors). Yes, I just kept buying those Eastlakes thinking they would be an improvement, but though the keywork was faster, the sound quality on the Eastlake Kings is just not as good as these earlier H.N. White Kings from that company's "Golden Era." By the Eastlake era, Kings are very clean and bright and powerful horns that are very good choices for rock playing. But these earlier ones are more elegant examples that are equally suited for jazz as well as rock, with a darker, richer, sweeter, and more "singing" quality to them.
 

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I recently paid $1500 US for a 1951 King zephyr tenor that was repadded and set up.
Only to have it arrive here in Australia hanging out of its box with a crushed Eb key guard and a new dent in the bell.
Thanks Australia Post for your continued mishandling and absolute lack of respect for anything you touch.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, what I was about to say is that I would happily pay this amount again for the same horn without blinking an eyelid.
(only I would not let Aust Post get their hands on it.)
When I took it to my tech to get these repairs made, he offered to take it off my hands for $2000 even in the damaged condition.
This without even playing it.
Needless to say I didn't and wouldn't sell it.
It has such an amazing sound very warm and lush.
Certainly one of the best vintage horns I have ever played and definitely the best I have owned.
Very undervalued.
 

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Recently, I had some work done on a ca. 1951 Zephyr tenor at PM Woodwind, and as Jason Cates, that shop's resident King expert explained to me, Zephyrs from this era are rarely relacs because the Super 20 was already out by then, and since historically the folks who relacquered horns were pros, rather than spending the money to overhaul their Zephyr they would have just upgraded to a Super 20 instead. This made a lot of sense to me.
This makes absolute sense.
I have sold a relacquered Zephyr Tenor 299.xxx which played as good as my other four Zephyrs.
(Zephyr Special 237.xxx, Zephyr US 265.xxx, Zephyr with Sterling Silver Neck 281.xxx, Zephyr 272.xxx)

I like the Sound of the Zephyr as much as the Super 20.
To be honest i play tested only five Super 20 Tenors over the time and didn´t own one.

To answer the Question.
The Prices on the Market are far too low for the Zephyrs!
The prices from the Shops respects much more their Value.
This didn´t help much, but i wouldn´t sell it for less than 1200.- if it needs some work.

The low 3xx.xxx are not often for sale and this shows me that these Horns are undervalued.
 

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A nice playing late 40s to early 50s Zephyr tenor with life in the pads is worth $1500; needing a repad $1000-; really nice $2000+.

Later ones lose a step in quality(nickel plated brass keywork); early (Art Deco) Zs sound just as nice (with an even bigger tone) but the bell key table keeps them an acquired taste.

re. S20 see Dr Whippet post above
 

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There are a few good looking series III (1940's) Zephyrs on ebay right now. If I hadn't just bought a 1954 Zephyr I'd be bidding on of them.
 

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I bought a tenor King Zephyr recently for $900. It came with two vintage mouthpieces and a hard shell case. It is in mint condition. Did I get a good deal? Thanks, Bill
Depends. Serial number range, silver plate, lacquer or relacquer all affect value. If the mouthpieces are not altered, depending upon what they are, you might be able to resell them for what you bought the horn for.
 
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