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Discussion Starter #1
I recently acquired a 1946 king super 20, beautiful horn with a monstrous lh pinky table.
Is there anyone here in the UK who could modify this horn with a slightly more modern lh pinky table design?
Even just an extension to make moving from Bb to C# easier would do.
 

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You're saying the one you bought has been enlarged and you want to go back to original?
 

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That's why I like and chose the Series III, my Super 20's are...alto: 369xxx, tenor: 367xxx, these pinky table's play more like a Mark VI, more than the Series I and II...I played a 300xxx, and the pinky table on it was monstrous!
 

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I had an early Super 20 tenor and I never thought the table key array was unusual. I guess you mean the 'rounded' table on the Series I. As valuable as a Series I is, I sure wouldn't change anything.
 

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It's funny because the earliest S20 tables were basically Zephyr tables...if this is what we are discussing here. And folks bitch about Zeph tables all the time (and granted, while they are no worse than many other vintage tables...they certainly are a bit less responsive than some, too).

Saxman's point is a good one, however. A siginificant alteration to an unadulterated S20, even a series I, will result in a hit to its market value...if you care about such things...

A good tech can do a pinky table transplant, although it's a mighty pricey proposition to alter a 'traditional' mechanism table to a 'modern' one. & I don't think a 'tweak' mod will really significantly improve the 'clover' style Zeph/S20 table a whole lot.

An alternative might be to sell your current S20 and get a later version, with the more 'modern' table mechanisms ~ actually by around late '48, serial # 294,XXX or so (I don't quite get the comment re the 300,XXX having a monstrous table..because by then it was a modern table....)
 

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Are you saying that around 1948 was when they changed the direction of pivoting, putting the rods down between the bell and the body, thus eliminating the key linkage?

Because the level of work that would be required to change the direction of pivoting of an existing horn would just be tremendous - and it would probably require a donor instrument as well.

Personally I prefer the older style of table (I play mostly old Conns), but a person who has grown up on Selmer and Selmer copy mechanisms might be better served getting a later instrument.
 

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Are you saying that around 1948 was when they changed the direction of pivoting, putting the rods down between the bell and the body, thus eliminating the key linkage?

Because the level of work that would be required to change the direction of pivoting of an existing horn would just be tremendous - and it would probably require a donor instrument as well..
1) Yes, looks like around serial 294,XXX the table changed to a left-hinged 'modern' style one.

2) Yes, this is why as I noted it's an expensive proposition. Not to get heavily into the mechanics of it here...it would not necessarily require a complete replacement of all elements from the keytouches to the key cups. It could be done with new touches and intermediate linkages, thus preserving some elements of the original keys/barrels/etc. For sure it would require replacement of some posts and quite possible the addition of one or two where there weren't any before.

But yes, you need a donor table (not very hard to find as long as you are not insisting the table also be from a King or other vintage horn...this is something which a tech who does these sorta mods would probably already have on hand).

But your points and those of others are correct...it's a major, permanent change to the horn. And as many folks love their S20-I's, it may be a better alternative just to sell it.

I am ASSUMING here the OP means a fairly substantial alteration...and not just some spring adjusting (or adding of a counterspring) or an extending of a touch plate or two (all of which is far more straightforward work).

Or play it for a week/month and get used to it! ;-)

J.
True....OP wrote 'recently acquired'. It may well be that some woodshedding and perhaps some tech spring adjusting is all which is really needed here to bring it into acceptable range ? Traditional tables are what they are; IMHO they aren't necessarily 'bad' or unresponsive, they just require good regulation and one to get 'em under their fingers.
 

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There’s vintage and just too damn old. There was a reason you couldn’t give away some of these horns before.
I dunno, guys like Johnny Griffin, Zoot and Al, Chu Berry, Lester Young, and so on seem to have coped with "old style" left hand layouts.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm fairly used to old style tables having played old bueschers for a while, but the weight of the low c# on this tenor surprised me, even after it was loosened off a little by my tech. granted shedding is most likely the answer as usual but perhaps in 6 months I'll think about having the Bb touchpiece extended so the Bb to C# transition is slicker. Slick right now is what it definitely is not! There is also quite a gap between the c# and b keys which could be closed up a little, it feels like you could lose a finger down there if you weren't careful :)
Perhaps a '48/'49 will come my way one day, but they don't come around much in the UK as far as I can tell, most of the really lovely ones seem to change hands across the pond and I just don't feel right buying a horn I haven't played.
JayePDX, you mention the addition of a counter spring, could you elaborate please?
Thanks for all your input so far everyone, it's been a while since I've been on the forum but I'm always overjoyed by the amount of time and info people are so glad to share :)
 

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Yes, you hit the nail on the head regarding the issue most people mention, the C# resistance. The second issue, Bb to C#, is also a valid criticism, since you mention it.

I actually don't have a Zeph here in the shop so I am not sure counterspringing would work in this instance; I just know that on certain horns (Martins and Noblets come to mind), certain pinky touch-to-key connections are sprung in 2 places to 'split' the required tensions to make the key work properly. Thus sometimes one can take that as a departure point and add a sring someplace along the mechanism which alleviates the heavy tension on the touch in question.

Again, sorry I am writing this on the fly...the comment may or may not have been germane. But it might be something worth asking a tech about.

If there's a gap between the C# and B, and they are on different posts...it's likely one post or another got whacked out of alignment just a bit, thus creating the gap.
 

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It's a big job because the geometry of the B/Bb/ C#needs to change direction of travel. The B and Bb pad cups need to be on individual rods -Selmer style-the C# then needs to be re-directed to compliment this new arrangement and in addition G#mechanism has to be drastically re-designed.
PTung on here is 'the man who knows' Charles Grey has i think done similar with a Conn NW11 The German guys who did James Carters NW11 tenor have also done this mod.
I've done similar on my Baritone without using a donor horn but 'cannibalising' parts lying around. It's time consuming and not for the feint hearted and i would not do it again!
 

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I dunno, guys like Johnny Griffin, Zoot and Al, Chu Berry, Lester Young, and so on seem to have coped with "old style" left hand layouts.
Absofreakinglutely correct! It's honestly ALL about what you're used to and/or getting used to. I've played on Selmer Supers and my Buescher Big B for 25+ yrs (well, the Big B is more recent) and to be quite honest, a "modern" layout horn slows me down and feels weird. I get around with the pinky cluster on those horns just as well if not better than anyone who plays a modern horn. Also, unless you have a VERY good repairman who's great at fabrication and soldering, it's not an easy/simple job, not to mention the cost involved. But hey, whatever floats yer boat. ;-)

John
 

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The C# on those is difficult if *at the very least* any of the following conditions are not met:

- there must be zero play in the long C# rod
- there must be zero play of any kind in the C# rocker
- there must be zero play of any kind in the C# pad cup key
- there must be zero lost motion of any kind in the linkage from the C# to the rocker to the C# pad cup key
- the material chosen for the adjustments between the C# spatula key to the rocker to the C# pad cup must be firm and slick
- the studs and receiving slots for the C# spatula, rocker, and C# pad cup must be smooth and completely aligned in the same plane
- the G# spatula key must have zero play of any kind
- the G# spatula key must be sprung relatively lightly and operating smoothly throughout its range of motion
- the adjustment material on the arm on the C# spatula key that contacts the G# key must be firm and slick
- the C# must actually contact the G# when both are at rest (no lost motion of any kind)
- the C# must be sprung somewhat lightly, but not so lightly that the C# blows open easily
- the C# and G# must have perfect pad seal, all the way around, with light pressure.


This is difficult, but less difficult (and much less expensive) than completely modifying a horn that doesn't really need it when it is in proper operating condition.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for your input Matt. I think my horn does not have a rocker as it is just a direct mechanism, the c# is one piece; touchpiece, rod and pad cup are one part. The connection to the g# is perfect but the point screw at the touchpiece end of the C# needs running further in as there is a lot of play there. I've lightened the springs on the g# and c# further with good effect.
 

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- there must be zero play in the long C# rod
- the studs and receiving slots for the C# spatula, rocker, and C# pad cup must be smooth and completely aligned in the same plane
- the G# spatula key must have zero play of any kind
- the G# spatula key must be sprung relatively lightly and operating smoothly throughout its range of motion
- the adjustment material on the arm on the C# spatula key that contacts the G# key must be firm and slick
- the C# must actually contact the G# when both are at rest (no lost motion of any kind)
- the C# must be sprung somewhat lightly, but not so lightly that the C# blows open easily
THESE are the most key elements which a tech can adjust on any given Zeph table (and this s20 has a Zeph table) that should help out. The question is, and history shows, that even after these adjustments certain players still find that table lacking. It's a left-hinging traditional table at the end of the day. One can only dial it in so much. Some players just don't like it.

In which case, again, one has to move into an actual alteration of the mechanisms.

Again, I would say at that point, one should consider looking into how much they can sell the horn for, and do an equation as to whether liquidating the series I and taking that $ to buy a later S20 is gonna be cheaper and/or faster than keeping the series I and paying a very GOOD tech a substantial amount of $ to actually graft on a modern-esque table (I am talking a $400-500 alteration at the VERY, VERY least...this is not a $300 job. Honestly this is a good 8-hour job, min., when all is said and done).

If you can get good $ for the series I, and have to add $500 to your proceeds to buy a later S20 in equal shape....then this is the same expenditure as taking your series I and having it modified.
 

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THESE are the most key elements which a tech can adjust on any given Zeph table (and this s20 has a Zeph table) that should help out. The question is, and history shows, that even after these adjustments certain players still find that table lacking. It's a left-hinging traditional table at the end of the day. One can only dial it in so much. Some players just don't like it.

In which case, again, one has to move into an actual alteration of the mechanisms.

Again, I would say at that point, one should consider looking into how much they can sell the horn for, and do an equation as to whether liquidating the series I and taking that $ to buy a later S20 is gonna be cheaper and/or faster than keeping the series I and paying a very GOOD tech a substantial amount of $ to actually graft on a modern-esque table (I am talking a $400-500 alteration at the VERY, VERY least...this is not a $300 job. Honestly this is a good 8-hour job, min., when all is said and done).

If you can get good $ for the series I, and have to add $500 to your proceeds to buy a later S20 in equal shape....then this is the same expenditure as taking your series I and having it modified.
I think way more than 8 hours. I will bet that when you actually start to do the grafting you will find that the tone holes are not in exactly the same place, leading to shortening or lengthening of key arms and moving pad cups sideways; that the place you wanted to put a particular post is already occupied by something else and you have to make up a special mounting; that when you get all the new keys in place you will find that one or two of them interfere with some of the existing mechanism; that the bell brace ends up being right exactly where a particular piece of mechanism needs to go; and so on, and so on.

And of course when you are done you have a donor horn without the bell key mechanism, and you have a Super 20 that's deeply devalued.

My recommendation is to do some basic stuff to get the Super 20 as good as possible with a reasonable expenditure. Then put some time in the shed on it. If at the end of the day you find you just can't get on with the LH mechanism, sell it to someone who can, and buy a different horn. There are a lot of us, myself included, who don't mind, or even prefer, the old style LH setup.
 

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It could conceivably run into complications but just as likely not. You are right, sorta depends on whether there are obstructions on the body...although IMHO it wouldn't be toneholes or keycups that would be causing the problems; but rather existing posts, existing braces, pantguard, etc. This is why I said earlier one can actually keep part of the existing bellkey mechanisms, and just replace the touch area and link to the existing remaining truncated keys via armatures. It DOES take a bit of design/planning for sure.

You are right, though...8 hours is probably a low time estimate for this.

And I do agree, the horn would be devalued for probably 85% of potential buyers.
 
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