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JS Crescent, JS NOS, Selmer SBA, Couf Superba I, Conn, Buescher, King
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Discussion Starter #1
I was going to do this as an article, but I'm never going to have that much time, so I'm putting it here in plebe form in the interest of undoing some bad consensus thinking.

To begin, two recordings of two 10Ms with close serial numbers that would have very different sale expectations online (whether sold by me directly, on eBay by me or someone else, on Reverb, here on this forum, or in any format whatsoever that doesn't include playtesting).

https://soundcloud.com/justsaxes%2Fsets%2Fa-tale-of-two-10ms-on-relacquers-sound-samples-consensus-and-misconceptions
I'm new to the recording equipment I'm using, and didn't intend to put so much reverb on the 1st recorded track (the higher serial number), but by the time I realized I was recording with the reverb live the whole 1st track was done, so rather than redo it I just did everything the same for the 2nd track.

The recording equipment is a good quality CAD mic, running into an M-Audio air, into a minim Mac, recorded on Garage band.

The second recording doesn't include any notes while playing because they're all on the first recording. There are mistakes. That's an indicator of how unedited these clips are.

As always a disclaimer in advance: I'm not a good player. If poor playing offends or traumatizes you, it's probably advisable to skip listening.
 

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Okay, well a couple of things. First, don't sell yourself short, you've got a good tone and you play well enough to get the message across. What I got from listening to these was the re-lac projected more. But that could just be where you were in position to the mike. If the recording set up was the same then the re-lac was definitely projecting better. It would be nice if you posted some pics which is a must if you offer them for sale. Of course I would not be a potential buyer as I would have to play test them first and I am at the other end of the country. Good luck.
 

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JS Crescent, JS NOS, Selmer SBA, Couf Superba I, Conn, Buescher, King
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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you, Reet. Photos are coming -- that is a big part of this thread, I just haven't taken them yet (likely Monday for these). I'm interested in what you and others hear of the core of the horns' sound. One point I actually made this topic to address is that you can't know what the core of the horn's sound is like -- what it feels like to play it -- from recordings or from anything except actually playing it, or the feedback of someone (the seller/person who possesses it) giving you feedback about it. That should be obvious, as it seems to be to you. I mean, that's the most important part to most players: what is the core of the sound like, and what does it feel like to play the horn.

I did make an effort to orient the horn the same way in both recordings, but inevitably there will be aspects in which I didn't, and as you note that absolutely does matter. I did try. I can't promise I succeeded.

The good faith effort should be somewhat supported by how bad the palm key playing in the "relac"-titled clip is. The one time the palm D is played quickly as a passing note to me it sounds extremely bad, due to a failure of the player. But that matters, too, i.e. in a demo if you can hear where the player fails, and you have some idea of the player's ability level that is actually realistic, that can help a great deal in extrapolating about the horn you're listening to (IMO).

When really good players come into the shop to try horns, you will find them just naturally gravitating toward different ways of playing as a response to the horn. Guys get on a King alto, whose playing style you know, and suddenly they're playing the palms like Cannonball (which is not their normal), or they get on a tenor whose palms are lyrical and respond easily and suddenly their doing glisses in Coltrane's trademark way. Those are interesting and telling details about what they're experiencing, but you have to know the player to glean a lot of them from a situation like this.

My tone in palms is not strong. I tend to bite and sometimes strangle the notes. I do always try not to do that, especially making a recording. So that is informative of my failure on the palms in that "relac" titled recording. That horn's palms do need to be adjusted a bit. Another factor on that tenor that was/is a bigger deal than I was accounting for is that the neck was still rocking a bit when I was playing it. It needs work, and I did some yesterday after posting this thread, and the horn greatly (GREATLY) improved as far as how full and integrated the tone is in the room. I have no idea how well that would translate, recording it again.
 

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JS Crescent, JS NOS, Selmer SBA, Couf Superba I, Conn, Buescher, King
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Discussion Starter #4
I agree that on the recordings the relac sounds like it is projecting better (which as far as the mic's perspective means that it IS projecting better). I don't want to say a lot about this now, because I don't want to influence people's listening experience or analytical process.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ugh. I misstated above, and have to correct myself. I think people may find that one sounds brighter and more projecting on some playback equipment (e.g. the higher serial number one on their phone's speaker), and the other (e.g. lower serial "relac") sounds brighter/more-projecting on higher fidelity equipment like the PC going through a stereo system. I should avoid saying more for now, but that needed to be corrected and noted, because topical.
 

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'How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?'

The whole thing is, everybody knows some relacquers can play and sound great. Selmer in Elkhart used to do the best overhauls/refinishes possible and guys would get their horns done every few years, and the engraving was still good.
The question of original or refinish mainly arises when someone wants to know what a horn is worth, and regardless of potential, a re-lacquer is worth less than an original with no lacquer.
 

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Acoustically speaking, a relacquer in and of itself will NOT change the acoustic properties of a horn, no matter how many people know somebody who knows some pro who swears that his horn was ruined by relacquering it. The lacquer does not change the stiffness of the metal or the shape of the bore, so there is no mechanism by which the lacquer could possibly affect the sound or response of the horn. Nor is it really possible to take enough metal off with buffing to cause a structural change that would affect the sound. Relacquer ruining or changing a horn's sound or response is nothing but an old wive's tale, but very good news to anyone looking for a good horn. Buying a relacquered Mk VI, for instance, can save you thousands.

I did not listen to the comparison, but there is a simple explanation as to why the horns sound different, and that is because they are different horns. Due to manufacturing differences, no two saxes are exactly alike. Subtle differences in the bore, due to manufacturing tolerances or the use of different mandrels, will cause supposedly identical saxes to play and sound differently. We all know stories of the "killer" Mk V, which means that others are not so killer--and this is before they have or do not have a relacquer.

What mostly causes the perceived differences in a horn that is relacquered has to do with the "expectation effect" where what is expected causes the perception. If a horn plays differently after a relacquer, it probably was not well set up after the stripdown.
 

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What mouthpiece are you playing in that clip? I am guessing something with a large chamber?
 

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I did not listen to the comparison, but there is a simple explanation as to why the horns sound different, and that is because they are different horns. Due to manufacturing differences, no two saxes are exactly alike.
Especially with Conns whose manufacturing always looks to me like there was a great deal of string and sealing wax involved.
 

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As far as I can tell, the purpose of this thread is to convince us that tenor A (relac) sounds "better" than tenor B (original lacquer), even though tenor B is worth more. But I'm wondering if any of us find that unlikely, or even mildly surprising.

So: is there anyone in the Forum who believes that original lacquer horns always sound better than relacs?
If not, then the OP is preaching to the converted.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Especially with Conns whose manufacturing always looks to me like there was a great deal of string and sealing wax involved.
I know exactly of what you speak. I don't think any ever left the factory in what we would today consider "tight" mechanical condition. Yet every single one has a beautiful voice unequaled by anything in production today.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I thought this morning about taking pictures, which is an annoying task, so I thought of a better way to do this.

If you haven't figured it out (some sort of have) I like the 294K quite a bit better than the 312K. To me, in the room, the 312 is "smokier," and I find that to my own ear I kind of think a little better on it (you will notice that articulation is more personal and I have minor things to say that are interesting on it, little personally connected inflections, and that's not just because it was the first clip I made, but because it's easier for me to play and think on), but the 294 has the voice. It has the thicker core, and is darker in the room (in a good, not rubbery way), and fills it more; it makes me wet, bro lol. The 312 on the other hand is just good. And better looking and it doesn't have horn arthritis (inside joke about its tenon issue, which is still in process). It is rich and thick and chocolatey, and I actually want to keep it because I don't have a 10M for myself right now, and with the cosmetic issues it was it's worth more to keep and play than to sell.

The 294K is what I would choose for myself in the state it was in when I made the two clips, blindfolded. It's not close.

I did mainly want to get around to a little historical commentary on why relacquer logic was what it was ("IMO") prior to the internet, and why it's even more valid in some cases when buying on the web, and at the same time totally invalid specifically because the web now exists.

nigeld - I hear you, but I don't think your view is as universal as it seems to you (holding it already). I'm not saying anything new. I'm just illustrating some known points in a practical way, to contribute to further dispelling misconceptions that are in play enough that they've already created weird self-contradictions on this thread.

Anyway, this was not what I had in mind at the start -- basically what I had in mind at the start was exactly what I've written above, but I decided rather than doing sort of a mock rehearsal I'm going to list both saxophones at the same price on eBay with a mark-up for their 15% double-dip. My intent isn't to sell, but that might happen, anyway. Some of you may not understand what I'm up to when I list items on eBay, if you see listings of mine. Some will, or will have already in the past. My intent listing there is almost never to sell. It's to advertise.

My intent here's genuinely not to advertise, though as a retailer some aspect of my participation here is always to advertise. I try to balance that with content of use.

Anyway, I think it adds kind of an interesting reality to what I'm trying to get at because it makes it real.

I ask that NONE of you bid, sort of to maintain the integrity of the project.

I'll get back to the claims and arguments and agenda underlying after that.

Cheers to all.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I really do want to keep the 294K, but if the freakish happens and that sells, I can always acquire more and keep another. The 312K is good, just not for me. If it sells, whomever buys it won't be getting a raw deal in any way. This again is just an interesting way, IMO, to make this real and tangible.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Acoustically speaking, a relacquer in and of itself will NOT change the acoustic properties of a horn, no matter how many people know somebody who knows some pro who swears that his horn was ruined by relacquering it. The lacquer does not change the stiffness of the metal or the shape of the bore, so there is no mechanism by which the lacquer could possibly affect the sound or response of the horn. Nor is it really possible to take enough metal off with buffing to cause a structural change that would affect the sound. Relacquer ruining or changing a horn's sound or response is nothing but an old wive's tale, but very good news to anyone looking for a good horn. Buying a relacquered Mk VI, for instance, can save you thousands.

I did not listen to the comparison, but there is a simple explanation as to why the horns sound different, and that is because they are different horns. Due to manufacturing differences, no two saxes are exactly alike. Subtle differences in the bore, due to manufacturing tolerances or the use of different mandrels, will cause supposedly identical saxes to play and sound differently. We all know stories of the "killer" Mk V, which means that others are not so killer--and this is before they have or do not have a relacquer.

What mostly causes the perceived differences in a horn that is relacquered has to do with the "expectation effect" where what is expected causes the perception. If a horn plays differently after a relacquer, it probably was not well set up after the stripdown.
One thing I would point out: I overhauled both of these. The one that sounds better -- that I like better, that could not be determined prior to overhaul because no horn is going to reveal itself to me fully without being the best I can make it -- is not the one I would have expected myself to want to keep. There was no agenda, doing the work, as far as "privileging" one over the other. I did intend to maybe keep one -- actually, I have that possible intention with every single horn that I buy when I overhaul it, I think this is probably pretty common with restorers -- but that did not affect either horn differently, so far as I'm aware.

The 312 may or may not be original lacquer, but that it's cosmetically more appealing is not really in question, overall. I'm not sure how obvious this will be in photos til I take them. To put the set-ups in perspective, I think I overhauled these like 2 or 3 years ago, at the most recent, and just never had time to take them out of the cases again until recently, and the OHs were most likely done a year or more apart, but most likely they have the exact same resonator sizes on all the pads, because my taste and expectations and experience are what they are, and when readying horns for probable sale I always choose set-ups the same way. If I were already certain that I would keep one, I might have done the OH with very slightly larger (maxed, hand tooled) resonators, but that wasn't the case with either.
 

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It is generally thought that the best years for Conn 10Ms go from 1937 to 1947. In 1937 the 10M range was still very new, but on the up-and-up. 10M afficionados generally believe that the best year of production was 1941, but the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of that year forced the USA into the war they'd managed to avoid since it began in 1939. The WWII years placed great stress on Conn's saxophone production, which was suspended for a time owing to the need to support the "war effort". After the war, there was a gradual decline in production quality for various reasons.

Now, to the instruments in question: the 294K was produced towards the end of 1940, whereas the 312K dates to 1945. Thus the earlier horn was produced just when Conn was bringing the 10M to its peak, whereas the later one was produced straight after the war, which had seen production cut right back. The worst year was 1943 when the total number of Conn saxophones released was only 50; most of Conn's long term craftsmen had either retired or joined the armed services. By 1945, production was on the up again, but the absence of the old skilled craftsmen ensured that the quality was not quite as high as it had been upo till the end of 1941.

So what I'm saying is, if the 294K 10M has a better sound than the 312K, I suspect that may have little or nothing to do with original versus refurbished lacquer, and more to do with the history of those years of production.

(By the way, I have two 10Ms: one from 1937 is a relacq; the other from 1949 is original lacquer. They are both excellent horns, but the 1937 relacq has a wonderful BIG tone, much better than the 1949 original lacquer has.)
 

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Well, my late 60s underslung 10m - original laquer almost all gone - to me has a much punchier, fuller sound than my '52 mint original 10m, when both are compared using the same Berg 110/0/M. So what does that prove, more laquer = worse sound, or just that two handmade horns with different dates will almost always perform differently?

BTW, congrats to the OP for picking up the loquacity baton from the late lamented JazzisAll!
 
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