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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Most of the discussion you see on the web about Holton saxes deals with the sax craze-era horns from the teens and twenties. You don't hear much about, nor see very often, Holtons from the late '40s. For the better part of the last year I eyeballed one that Junkdude had for sale, thinking it didn't look half bad. Finally, late in the summer I got tired of seeing it on his site so I threw down the $375 asking price and gave it a try. A couple weeks later I found another of the same model on eBay for even less. It's the model "232" alto. I think the tenor counterpart is "244" or some such. While I've yet to get either of these horns into full playing form (each needs padwork and regulation) I have to say they're built like tanks, play very smoothly, and sound HUGE! They really are comparable in all key respects to the Conn 6M and the "The Martin" Committee horns of the day. Also, at least in the case of the alto, they have right-hand bell keys, which few of the American horns had at the time. If you've gotten accustomed to that feature on modern horns, sometimes the left-hand bell keys of older American horns can get in the way. Pretty spiffy starburst engraving, too. All in all you get a lot of brass for the buck, so keep your eyes peeled. They look like this:

 

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The first sax I bought, about 6 yrs ago was a Holton Tenor. Model 251 or 254 I think. It really was pretty nice, cost $350 from a local tech. eBayed it off after a yr or so. Intonation was at least acceptable, probably much better than that but I didn't really check back then. Certainly nothing glaringly wrong. Definitely underrated/undervalued horns which get unfairly trash talked.
 

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modern vintage is quite an oxymoron, but i get your point, and its an interesting perspective. i have holtons from 1902-1925, and they are built like tanks, the bell keys are on the left side though except for my tenor that has split bell keys. the real key is finding a tech that understands what these vintage instruments need. my guy dan at ABI in southern california is a walking encyclopedia, and his apprentice is well educated in the saxual arts. they keep these horns of mine in perfect playing shape. yes there are ergonomic things especially with the rudy weidhoff model i have, yes there are intonation things, but only i know where they are and self correct. the tone however is unreal, really thick silver plating does wonders. they are built like tanks and i think they are underappreciated and under valued, which is good for me because i get a lot of things off of e-bay and have scored really well so far. if i could put up pictures i would, but i cant seem to get that to work, so if anyone wants to see what a great 1902 tenor looks like, or any of them, just e-mail me and i will send them.
 

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"modern" vintage

Bernards20040 said:
Heres what a really nice 1909 gold plated tenor looks like
nice, interesting to see that yours, seven years later than mine does not have all the extra keywork. did they stop that, or get away from it? because the rudy wiedhoff models i have from 1916 or so do have all the extra keywork. here is my tenor.
 

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mine does have the extra key work here is a better photo which shows it clearer
it also has the original mouthpiece, lig and cap (lig and cap also satin gold plate)
 

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Bernards20040 said:
mine does have the extra key work here is a better photo which shows it clearer
it also has the original mouthpiece, lig and cap (lig and cap also satin gold plate)
interesting, i cant tell, do you have the front f key as well? do you use it as a regular player?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Funny how this thread has turned into being about exactly the horns I meant NOT to discuss: Holtons from the teens and twenties. Illustrates my point, I guess, that those are the ones people have and talk about the most. Oh well...all to the good, I reckon.
 

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I had a Holton "241" tenor in college that I bought for $400 from my tech (this was a while ago). It played pretty well - but really roared after I had it overhauled a few years later. The sound was always very good - the keywork was OK - but not incredable. The engraving was a starburst like your alto. Good player overall.
 

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honkytone said:
Funny how this thread has turned into being about exactly the horns I meant NOT to discuss: Holtons from the teens and twenties. Illustrates my point, I guess, that those are the ones people have and talk about the most. Oh well...all to the good, I reckon.
sorry, didnt mean to hijack your thread. i actually came upon the ones i have because that was what was available at the time i was looking. i guess if a later holton was available when i was searching for a price i was willing to pay, i would have gotten that. my experience has been that holton is much maligned and i dont see the reason for it.
 

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Holtons can be great saxes!

Hey all,
To bolster this thread about "Modern" vintage Holtons, I've been playing a silver-plated Holton tenor model 243 (sn 277xxx) from 1955, and I have rarely played its equal.

It has thick, soldered tone holes (not beveled, as on Martins), solid construction, ergonomic keywork (very comfortable and nimble), good intonation, and a sound to die for (BIG and warm). It reminds me of a Conn 10M, but with more complexity of sound.

While I agree with most comments about Holtons from the 20s and 30s, and of course he lack-luster Collegiates, I have never understood why these later Holton saxes (from the 40s and 50s) have been so maligned. Like I said, I have rarely played its equal, and I've compared it side by side with SBAs, SML GM1s, SML-KMs, King Zephyrs (mid 40s), Conn 10Ms (rolled-tone holes), The Martins, and Buescher Big Bs; it still comes out on top, though I must admit that with a few of them, it was tough to tell.

It has a classic American vintage sound (which I prefer to the more focused, "refined" sound of French saxes): robust, boistrous, and hearty. I've never found it wanting, and I've been playing (and gigging) for years.

With this model, it seems Holton made their last effort to produce a first-rate professional saxophone, but being concurrent with the SBA and the advent of the Mark VI, they (like other American sax manufactureres) just couldn't compete with Selmer, who had by this time pretty much cornered the market on professional saxes, and relegated themselves to brasswinds.

While I wouldn't vouch for most Holtons, if you find one you like, by all means give it a go. You'll probably never get much money for it, so don't consider it much of an "investment" purchase. But if you're a player more than a shiner or collector, and you're into it to make music, you may well be surprised.

Hafuch
 

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Holtons can be great saxes!

Hey all,

To bolster this thread about "Modern" vintage Holtons, I've been playing a silver-plated Holton tenor model 243 (sn 277xxx) from 1955, and I have rarely played its equal.

It has thick, soldered tone holes (not beveled, as on Martins), solid construction, ergonomic keywork (very comfortable and nimble), good intonation, and a sound to die for (BIG and warm). It reminds me of a Conn 10M, but with more complexity of sound.

While I agree with most comments about Holtons from the 20s and 30s, and of course the lack-luster Collegiate models, I have never understood why these later Holton saxes (from the 40s and 50s) have been so maligned. I haven't really cared much though because, as I noted earlier, I have rarely played its equal, and I've compared it side by side with the best of them: SBAs, SML GM1s, SML-KMs, King Zephyrs (mid 40s), Conn 10Ms (rolled-tone holes), The Martins, and Buescher Big Bs. My Holton still comes out on top, though I must admit that with a few of them, it was a toss-up.

It has a classic American vintage voice (distinctly different from the more focused, "refined" sound of French saxes): robust, boistrous, and hearty. I've never found it wanting in any respects, and I've been playing (and gigging) with it for years.

I saw one (lacquer) for sale at Roberto's Woodwinds on 46th St in NYC about a year ago for $2,350 (seemed a bit pricey though), and I'm not inclined to believe Roberto sells junk ... and certainly not at that price (see this thread here http://forum.saxontheweb.net/archive/index.php/t-31531.html).

With these particular models, it seems Holton made their last effort to produce a truly first-rate professional saxophone, but being concurrent with the SBA and the advent of the Mark VI, Holton (like other American sax manufactureres) just couldn't compete with Selmer, who had by this time pretty much cornered the market on professional saxes, and relegated themselves to brasswinds.

While I wouldn't vouch for most Holtons, if you find one you like, by all means give it a go. You'll probably never get much money for it, so don't consider it much of an "investment" purchase. But if you're a player more than a shiner or collector, and you're into it to make music, you may well be pleasantly surprised.

Hafuch
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
NOW we're talkin'! Not sure the '40s-'50s Holtons are maligned so much as ignored. In any event they're very substantial horns. I'm looking forward to getting one or both of mine in top shape. Question about the Model 243 tenor: are the bell keys on the left or right-hand side?
 

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Hi Honkytone,

On my Holton tenor model 243, the bell keys are on the left, as with Conn 10Ms, Bueschers, and Martins of the same era. Also, it seems these later model, more "modern" vintage Holtons shed the quirky, esoteric keywork of earlier models; no odd extra keys on models from the 40s and 50s, it seems.

The left pinky spatula is very similar to, but slightly less rounded and more square than that of your lacquered alto pictured above. It's distinctly different from the otherwise very angular, square pinkey cluster of previous Holton models. I will add, though, that I quite like the G# key: it's of a rather unique lever design I've not seen on any other saxes. It works very nicely, and doesn't stick, although I think this has less to do with the mechanism itself than with the pads. Lastly, the pinky cluster has no low C#-G# key linkage; they're entirely independent keys. This is easily overcome, though, because the pinky spatula is quite comfortable and one can move between these keys with relative ease.

The Holton 243 model does, however, bear the same starburst engraving on the bell as your alto pictured above does, and the wire key guards are the same, save for a slightly less curvy low B-Bb key guard and bell brace on the left side.

If I can, I'll try to post a few pictures.

Hafuch
 

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Hey Honkytone,

Out of curiosity, what's the serial number (approx.) on that alto anyway? In what year was it manufactured?

Hafuch
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The one pictured is #192XXX and is from 1948 according to the charts out there. My other 243 alto is 176XXX, which would imply mid-1947.
 

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Interesting. My silver-plated tenor (also model 243) is 277xxx, which places it in 1955. Perhaps it was produced toward the end of the run? Who knows. I sure know it plays like no other.
 

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well, i just won a 1940 silver baritone. when i get it and have it gone over, hopefully i will be able to join the ranks with the rest of you guys.
 
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