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Looking at Winston and Palatino Alto - Need your input

1864 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  BobbyC
Hi all,

My first post here so go easy on me.
I'm not even sure I posted where I'm supposed to for this.

Here's the deal:
A local music shop has 2 Altos for sale.
A used E.M. Winston 303GD Pro alto that was originally listed at ~$1500 and a new Palatino.

Both horns are less than $400.

I can't find anything on the web about the Winston 303GD but I did find other 303 models for around $1500.

I read the reviews on these forums about Winston horns and they don't seem to get any respect.

I played both horns and intonation seemed fine.
They both had a good feel and quick key response.
The Winston had a darker tone than the Palatino.
Both offered various adjustment screws and other professional-like features.

Both horns have Manufacturer websites that (as you would expect) tout the greatness of their products.

I am very nervous about buying from ebay or anyplace where I can't try a horn first.

I would really like to hear from anyone who has actually played a Winston 303 Alto or Palatino to see what you liked/disliked about the horn.

Most of the Winston posts related to the soprano or tenor.
Palatino has been mentioned a couple times but no reviews or opinions were found.

I have been playing since 1974 and was playing semi-pro* in the 80's and 90's.
My current gear includes an old Evette Schaffer tenor borrowed from a friend, A Conn student model Alto I found in a pawn shop for $25 and a Yanagisawa soprano I bought used back in 1983.

You can see my current gear is an odd collection but my son has started playing Alto so I was looking for a horn of my own since I gave him the Conn.

I play mostly concert band and musicals now.

I was going back to the music store tomorrow to buy.
I figured I should register here and post in case I'm doing something amazingly stupid and you want me to stop before I spend the $$.

Thanks in advance for any help.

*semi-pro defined as getting paid to play while still working a regular day job.
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I've got views but no replies.

I checked the locals but no Altos for sale.
I did find a Yamaha clarinet for $65 (Model 20).

No one out there with experience on an E.M. Winston?
Im don't know anything about the two horns you have listed.
But if you are looking for a used horn check out the market place here
Click this link.

ther are some bargins to be had there

I picked up the Winston today.
It's actually called:
E. M. Winston Boston Pro Series I 303GD.
It was under $400 used.

Compared to the Conn I already had it's a HUGE improvement.

I'm guessing the finish won't last on this horn but it plays great and the action is fast. Sounds great with my Meyer 6M.

I had a chance to try a Selmer cigar cutter for comparison as well as a Monique and Palatino.

I have to admit, the Selmer sounded better and even with a softer/slower action played better too.
This was my first chance to put a few Chinese/Taiwanese horns against a classic.
I see now why so many people love those old horns.
The Selmer wasn't for sale as it belonged to the shop's owner who is also the tech.

Was the Selmer worth $1000 more than what I paid for the Winston?
I don't think so. Maybe after 60 years the Winston will have long disintegrated but only time will tell.

OK - I'm bracing myself for the FLAMES.
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The Winston was my first soprano; I kept it for a few years. No bad, really. The thing played fine...rather nice tone and good intonation. You can tell that the parts were not as well-machined and finished as the more expensive pro horns, and the key metal is a bit softer and easily bent, but for $400 and some care, you can make good music with it.
I did end up with the Winston.

I compared both of the (what I believe to be) Chinese horns.
They both looked and played great.

I went with the used Winston because I figured that if I want to sell it in the future I might be able to recover more of what I spent on it than I would have got with the Palatino.

The new Palatino lists around $700-800 and was priced at $385 at my local dealer.
The used Winston was priced at $395 with an original list of around $1500.

If I magically find a Mark IV at a yard sale for $50 I can always turn around and sell the Winston for closer to what I spent on it than the Palatino.

At least, that's how it all works out in my head.
Your reality may differ.
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Some of these horns have fictitious list prices. They are marketing ploys to make the buyer think they are getting a better deal than they really are. You would never see one selling for it's list price because they aren't worth it.

Since I got The Winston for almost 1/4 of its list I figured I could recover that if I resell it.
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