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Which alto would you recommend for me?

  • Choice 1 - Conn 6M

    Votes: 11 34.4%
  • Choice 2 - King Zephyr

    Votes: 12 37.5%
  • Choice 3 - Martin Handcraft Comm.

    Votes: 9 28.1%
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As you may know I have a Buescher Aristocrat tenor up for trade, and have gotten a few responses so far, so I am basically honing my choices down to 3 main (possible) options. I know there has been a lot of discussion on the board in other threads on comparisons between brands, but I am really going to focus on 3 specific choices here, and hopefully you guys can help head me in the right direction before the weekend is over and I may be inclined to make my decision. I like to play jazz, like bebop, swing & dixieland type stuff, and blues, r&b/r&r, mainly, but also experimental type stuff and legit/classical sometimes. I'm not going to say what my personal preferences are thus far, so maybe I can open it up to some discussion or comments that may help me be more objective. If you don't want to post, maybe vote on the poll.

This is as much info as I know or can give right now.

1. Conn 6M - earlier model /w rolled tone holes

2. King Zephyr - serial around 295,xxx

3. Martin Handcraft Comm. - Not sure what vintage or any other info for now, but assuming it is a good example.
 
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All 3 are great. Write all 3 done on separate pieces of paper, adhere to wall, and throw one dart at them. Whatever it hits, thats your sax !
 

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You have (or had) an Indiana alto, right? And now you are trading a very fine tenor for another alto. This leads me to suspect that your Indiana is, for some reason, not doing it for you. If that's the case, then I think you want to try something new, and the HC Committee is probably not going to be "new enough" for your taste. It should be quite similar in sound to your Indiana.
The Zephyr will have power, but is the predecessor horn to the Super 20, and I've heard that relatively inexperienced players have alot of trouble playing them in tune. So given the choice of the 3 you've mentioned, I would go with the Conn 6M.

All of this could be subject to change based on the condition of the horns in question, however. If one of them is mint, and the others are not, then by all means take the mint horn. That would trump everything I've said above.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Actually the Indiana has an intonation problem that needs to be fixed before I can spend much time with it. I really like the sound. But if I get the Conn 6M or the Zephyr, I will still have the Indiana and can use it as an alternative when it's fixed. OTOH, the Handcraft may be perfect for me, so it might be nice to keep the Indiana as a backup.

pc1234 said:
You have (or had) an Indiana alto, right? And now you are trading a very fine tenor for another alto. This leads me to suspect that your Indiana is, for some reason, not doing it for you. If that's the case, then I think you want to try something new, and the HC Committee is probably not going to be "new enough" for your taste. It should be quite similar in sound to your Indiana.
The Zephyr will have power, but is the predecessor horn to the Super 20, and I've heard that relatively inexperienced players have alot of trouble playing them in tune. So given the choice of the 3 you've mentioned, I would go with the Conn 6M.

All of this could be subject to change based on the condition of the horns in question, however. If one of them is mint, and the others are not, then by all means take the mint horn. That would trump everything I've said above.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I talked to a friend of mine who really thinks the 6M is the choice for me, (but he has never played a Martin.) I like a smoother, more laid-back sound sometimes, so I think the King may not be for me, even though it may be a great horn with a more distinctive voice than the 6M. (just my impression)

But if you really want to know the truth (here it comes) my heart is set on the Handcraft. It will have that beautiful tone I am looking for, if it's like my Indiana.

That's not considering intonation, ergos, construction, or anything else. The main reason I would pick the 6M would not be for the sound, it would be for the ergos, the reliability, build, intonation, etc. and then the sound (and it does sound good!) That is how I see things now...

If I could make my Indiana better (without sacrificing sound,) I would make the brass stronger, I would also make the keywork more sturdy and comfortable, I would make the octave mechanism quicker and more reliable, I would definitely fix the sharp C#3... and I was really have trouble controlling the intonation sometimes when I put a lot of air through the Indiana. I guess I might need to learn to "chew gum" to stay in tune as someone put it. That's okay but I haven't learned how yet. The badly sharp C#3 keeps me from practicing (but it can be fixed, and I'll be dealing with it soon.)
 

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coolsax2k7 said:
I talked to a friend of mine who really thinks the 6M is the choice for me, (but he has never played a Martin.) I like a smoother, more laid-back sound sometimes, so I think the King may not be for me, even though it may be a great horn with a more distinctive voice than the 6M. (just my impression)

But if you really want to know the truth (here it comes) my heart is set on the Handcraft. It will have that beautiful tone I am looking for, if it's like my Indiana.

That's not considering intonation, ergos, construction, or anything else. The main reason I would pick the 6M would not be for the sound, it would be for the ergos, the reliability, build, intonation, etc. and then the sound (and it does sound good!) That is how I see things now...

If I could make my Indiana better (without sacrificing sound,) I would make the brass stronger, I would also make the keywork more sturdy and comfortable, I would make the octave mechanism quicker and more reliable, I would definitely fix the sharp C#3... and I was really have trouble controlling the intonation sometimes when I put a lot of air through the Indiana. I guess I might need to learn to "chew gum" to stay in tune as someone put it. That's okay but I haven't learned how yet. The badly sharp C#3 keeps me from practicing (but it can be fixed, and I'll be dealing with it soon.)
Hey, that sounds great - go with your heart, man. My prior email was based on an assumption that there was something about the Martin sound you didn't like. I actually have a HC Comm (aka "Searchlight") alto, and I love it. If anything, my C3 is a little flat, not sharp, but the sound throughout is so smooth - even moreso than my later model Martin. If you like the Martin sound, you won't go wrong with the Searchlight. That said, the 6M is a terrific horn too, so if you are going to get that Indiana fixed, and you want to throw a little variety into the mix, the 6M could be a good bet. Either way, I don't think you'll go wrong.

EDIT - I should re-emphasize, again, that the relative condition of the horns should figure prominently in your decision. In short, the horn that is closest to original condition, without any mechanism problems, etc., may give you the kind of enjoyment that could well trump any differences in "sound." With these vintage horns, you don't want to be going back to the shop every 2 months with a new problem. That'll put a chill in your romance with a fabulous sounding horn pretty quickly. So the horn that is in the best condition should definitely get "bonus points" in your deliberations.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
pc1234 said:
Hey, that sounds great - go with your heart, man. My prior email was based on an assumption that there was something about the Martin sound you didn't like. I actually have a HC Comm (aka "Searchlight") alto, and I love it. If anything, my C3 is a little flat, not sharp, but the sound throughout is so smooth - even moreso than my later model Martin. If you like the Martin sound, you won't go wrong with the Searchlight. That said, the 6M is a terrific horn too, so if you are going to get that Indiana fixed, and you want to throw a little variety into the mix, the 6M could be a good bet. Either way, I don't think you'll go wrong.
Actually it is the 3rd octave C#, the C3 is a different beast altogether. I have to humor it to get it to come out, and yea it does start out on the flat side. It doesn't respond immediately and perfectly like on most other saxes, on which I have found this note plays quite easy. But those are the only two notes I really feel are worth complaining about - everything else seems fine and I actually may prefer the lighter action and lower key heights (I think they are) on the pre-war Martin compared to the 6M.
 

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coolsax2k7 said:
Actually it is the 3rd octave C#, the C3 is a different beast altogether. I have to humor it to get it to come out, and yea it does start out on the flat side. It doesn't respond immediately and perfectly like on most other saxes, on which I have found this note plays quite easy. But those are the only two notes I really feel are worth complaining about - everything else seems fine and I actually may prefer the lighter action and lower key heights (I think they are) on the pre-war Martin compared to the 6M.
That was actually my typo (sorry) - I meant to say that my C#3 is a little flat on the Searchlight. Yep, my tech told me that Martins tend to be set with slightly lower key heights and with lighter action than most -- though Bird had no trouble getting around on that 6M! ;) Good luck with your decision - they are all great horns.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Well the poll seems pretty much useless! I've been watching it and all 3 horns got about the same number of votes. The King was in lead for a while and now the Conn, by one vote, but the Martin was never on top. There may have been a twist of fate, because it looks like the Handcraft actually won't be an option for me anymore.

I think the 6M is gonna blow it away in terms of overall versatility though, anyway. I used to own a 10M tenor, so I have an idea. And if it turns out the Indiana plays better for me, I could always seek out a nice Handcraft alto later if I think it's going to be better than the Indiana. (but from what I've read they are pretty close.)
 

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pc1234 said:
The Zephyr will have power, but is the predecessor horn to the Super 20, and I've heard that relatively inexperienced players have alot of trouble playing them in tune. So given the choice of the 3 you've mentioned, I would go with the Conn 6M.
Some Zephyrs have great intonation (I own one); some Conn's have not-so-good intonation. Because all these vintage horns were hand-made (and can thus fluctuate in quality), you really should test play them and then decide.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Swingtone said:
You might check out my and Dave Dolson's comments from another recent thread on a similar topic--

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=63047

I kind of agree with Dave's comments about the intonation on Conn's.
I know the Bueschers have rock-solid intonation, but then again the Buescher is more of a classical sort of horn, isn't it? The 400, as I understand it, is the only true "jazz" horn made by Buescher. Maybe I am wrong... my 156 tenor is great for all styles, but it has that very smooth and consistent tone and feel, vs. the Martin Indiana, for example, which is not quite like that, it has a bit quirkier response and intonation is little more flexible - and so it may not be that good for classical. I remember the Conn Chu/10M as being a bit less centered and my teacher complained about my intonation once when I was on a 10M, but it could have been that instrument. Anyway I feel more confident in my playing now and I know many great players have been able to get their 6M or 10M to play in tune, at least it sounds that way on the records, even if it takes a little more work.
 

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Discussion Starter #15

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
doh! It's not a Martin Handcraft Committee, it's a Martin Committee! Those Martin names are so confusing!

I am bringing in my tenor to be looked over prior to the trade (gonna check out horn improvement,) so I may want to try out a 6M or whatever they have while I'm there but I think the later Martin Committee may have been what I was looking for all along, although I mixed up the models and thought it was like my Indiana... but that goes against my experience in the music store, so it's a bit confusing... I am pretty sure though that the later Martins I tried in the shop were not set up well (some had a strange assortment of resonators, like noyeks, plastic domes, and flat metal resos all in the same horn - and played awful)
 
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