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Discussion Starter #1
Hello

I play in an 11 piece gypsy band and use a very crappy Sax that needs to be changed (Armstrong from 1950's). The band itself is very loud and I am the lead Sax player (I play all the melodies and cue everyone including the drum and sousaphone). I need a Sax with has a powerful sound (deep and rich). I am looking to buy a new horn that will last me for a while. I prefer the vintage horns since I have tried some and enjoyed their sounds (tried a Selmer C-Melody made by Buescher in the 1920's and the sound has been stuck in my ear ever since). From my understanding, Conn 6m and Beuscher Aristocrat are two models that are ideal vintage horns (I may be wrong). I am willing to spend upto 600$ and am looking on Ebay at this point. I need to know what brands/models to look for and what to watch out when buying from Ebay. I checked the listings on the forum as well. However, most of the listings are for very expensive and amazing horns (Selmer Mark VI being a common one). Could I get some guidelines please.
 

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I'm no alto player, but I know you can't go far wrong with either a 6M or an Aristocrat. That said, after a certain serial number these horns declined in quality. I'm sure the experts on these horns will chime in here.
Aside from those two, there's plenty other vintage brands that produced great quality horns, and can be had for cheap sometimes. Keilwerth, Zing Zephyr, Martin, French-made Vito, etc etc.
Good luck!
 

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I have sent you a PM also.

I don't think you can land a 6M in good playing shape for $600usd. An Aristocrat, yes. You just want it to have a serial # below 400,000 or so; and ones with the bellkeys on the same side (i.e. not the earlier TrueTones)...because the post 400,000's are when selmer started changing the designs and messing up the classic Buescher horns for good.

Vito (Kenosha or France)....King Cleveland....usa-made Conn 14M or 50M's (the 50M's were basically Vito bodies)....Kohlert Bixleys.....Pierret, France-made horns...OR...how can we forget ?....MARTINS (the ultimate vintage screamers, IMHO).

All of these can be had for $600 or well under and they are all excellent horns. (I don't mean middlin', intermediate horns...I mean horns which can blow away newer models priced 7-10x their cost).

.....eBay is OK, but tricky...because seldom do horns arrive to you in "play-out-of-the-case" condition (unless seller guarantees it will - and most do NOT).
 

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BTW...there are TONS of good vintage Altos...I named some of the above only because it seems to me you want a horn with a big, full tone but with a lot of edge and punch, also. Some vintage horns fit that bill, and some do not (i.e. the very dark or smooth-toned ones such as Keilwerths, Dolnets, Chu Berrys, and a lot of the Italians aren't naturally predisposed to 'pop' up-top.)

You haven't given us too much to go on, and you should probably keep researching a bit (as well as perhaps playing some used horns in your area, if there are some) to see what sorta sound really suits you. This is a good place for that, although expect way more information than you ever bargained for ! ;)
 

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I played one of my students old Vitos and it played very well with a big powerful sound. Jaye knows his old horns so you can trust his advice. As a side note to jaye I remember a thread about a month ago that we both posted on and it got me to rethink something I used to take as truth about horns. I used to feel like the horn had a very small impact on the end result of your sound. I thought the mouthpiece had much more to do with the sound. Well, it had been a long time since I really A,B any horns and I just did it with a lot of horns. I now really feel like the horn and the mouthpiece have equal weight to your tone. The biggest impact is the player but I think the trend on this forum is to sell the horn short in it's effect on sound. Jaye have you seen the Don Menza Cannonball video. He shows use mortals that it is really all about the player. He gets every sax greats tone on his Cannonball. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oc0VzGBPxY I can't stop watching it.
 

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I think JayeSF is correct that you won't find too many good horns in the aprice range that play and are from those years. Maybe a 1950s 6M or later Aristo will turn up but for a Big B or 30s-40s Conn you may need to go over $1,000.
Also Armstrong didn't make saxes until the 1970s.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
First of all, Thank you Jay. That was very helpful.

I basically am looking at a couple of Horns right now on Ebay. a Conn 6M, Martin Handcraft, Conn New Wonder (the early models), and Beuscher Aristocract (thanks for letting me know about True Tone). I really like the sound of Conn 6M and think they sound great. I have heard a lot about Martins and don't mind knowing about them more. I originally am a flute player, so I have a very developed diaphragm and can make a really nice tone. What other information do you need in order to help me more?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
OH I didn't know that about Armstrong. Whatever it is, I know for a fact that it is not a good horn. I am not a beginner at playing Sax, so I need something that is intermediate-professional (preferably professional). I originally am a flute player, so it was super easy for me to switch to Sax since in comparison to flute or duduk, you don't need much air to blow into the instrument and the figuring is exactly like a recorder. What I need from the horn is basically a very strong sound since I know I can make the instrument play well. I play many different styles (jazz, gypsy, blues, classical, etc.). I will be playing jazz and gypsy mostly on this saxophone. I improvise a lot and I use the upper register (E and F key) a lot. As well, I like jumping between octaves or two octaves even (for example, from D first octave to C third octave). So I like to be able to do that easily.
 

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You could maybe consider at Yamaha 23 also, half the price of the 6m, twice the horn of the Armstrong and no shrinking violet when it comes to honking out a good volume.
 

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Hey -

I really like my Martin Indiana alto.
Those would be a great choice. Indianas, and also the 60's Imperials. They are almost identical horns, and they usually go for under $300 although oftentimes will need a bit of work for that price. I have a '40's Handcraft stencil which is engraved Olds Ambassador...those also kick butt and go for less than $500 (because most folks don't realize they are Martins).

http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-F-E-Old...436?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a62f3ab4c

This guy and his auction keeps enticing me, because these are good horns. But a low feedback count... and it's hard to figure exactly what 'adjustments to the lower register' might mean. But, hey, these are good horns...and this could be a nice snag for someone. I have one which will be setup to go in a couple of weeks for $365, and that won't need anything fer' sure.

Yamaha 23's....they just don't sound good. Period. Industry standard. Default student horn. Built well. Consistent, reliable. But sonically very mediocre.

You have given enough info regarding your likes and your experience and your desires in a horn to glean that if what you want is a vintage horn (most of which tend to sound significantly bigger and better than contemporary ones in your pricerange), a player at an intermediate or better level, and what you have is 6 bill$.... you can pull that off just fine.

As noted above, you won't be able to nab a 6M for $600. I have a late-model one for $650 and I am shocked it is still around. But any 6M going for $600 on eFlay is gonna need $ome work. That's why I suggested the 14M and 50M horns, the ones engraved 'usa'. They are good and they are cheap.

A nice Aristo, possibly you can pull in for that dolla'.

Vitos, certainly. Very sadly the Vito name has suffered ever since their association with asian makers began back in the '80's. But the Beaugnier-made and/or designed horns of the '70's and earlier are true gems.

Also an Olds Parisian Ambassador, made by Pierret. Those tend to go for around $200 and even if they need $300 of work, it's well worth it. Those have some bite, those horns. I have a kick#ss Pierret which really punches for that price, too.

Again, am trying to keep it in the vein of 'punchy', as opposed to dark or smooth....
 

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Yamaha 23's....they just don't sound good. Period. Industry standard. Default student horn. Built well. Consistent, reliable. But sonically very mediocre..
They sound "like Yamaha 23's" but i don't think mediocre is fair. You've also got to bear in mind the criteria and that was for a horn that will predominantly plays at high volume and therefore far less opportunity for nuance and tonal colour.

To get a vintage for $600 inc set-ups is going to be a fairly risky challenge for the inexperienced where as a Yamaha (or it's Vito clone) will give change even after a trip to the tech.

(for reference I play a 23 and a '48 Big B alto)
 

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The Indiana is a great choice. Identical to it are the Medalists, Olds Ambassador, and Wurlitzer Lyric Custom. King Zephyrs are awesome too.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Personally, after playing music for 22 years, I know what a Yamaha is and what they are capable of. Those instruments are probably very balanced and great, but not something that I am looking in an instrument. I like Jaye's suggestions because I feel he understands what I need from a horn. I think I am going to keep my eyes open until something interesting comes along. Both my flutes are Yamahas and they are fabulous instruments (I even overhauled my student flute and learned how to do that on a flute). But after playing the flute for almost 10 years, I do feel that I need something beyond Yamaha (something like a Miyazawa). I also disagree with you on the idea that if one plays at a high volume, there would be less opportunity for nuance and tonal color (that would be another discussion that would probably suite in a different forum).
 
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