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Hi all,

I am actually looking for a cheap soprano.... PAN AMERICAN soprano saxophone for only $301... as per seller, pads are newly replaced. He need the money for emergency that is why he want to sell this one for lower price.


any comment and advise before i pay, is highly appreciated... thank you so much!

jojo ;)


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"Good" is a relative term, but I would say that from everything I see in your pics that it is certainly a 'good deal' for the price. Pan American is a second line horn, meaning it was a lesser quality instrument produced by Conn, so it isn't as good as the main line (Conn New Wonder model), but then again, those cost a lot more. It is an old horn, so it might be a little wonky intonation wise, but then again, most sopranos are to some extent. It looks to be a re-lacquer to me, but it also looks to be in good condition and the pads (what I see) look great. That, plus the new-ish case and Selmer mpc make this a deal in my book. At the very least, it is at a price where you could easily re-sell it on ebay or here for what you paid, if not a bit more if you decide you don't like it and/or want to get something different later on. I'd jump on that for $300!
 

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A large chamber mouthpiece makes a significant difference on vintage sopranos and their intonation.

Sent from my LGUS997 using Tapatalk
 

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Well, first of all, someone thought it was a good idea to buff off all the silver or nickel plating (it wasn't a good idea) and then apparently realized when they got to the keys that they were never going to get it all off the keys. So the metal is probably significantly thinned in some areas, which probably doesn't matter, but the tops of the tone holes could be anything after being hit with a high speed buff and aggressive cutting compound a few times.

"Recently replaced all the pads" and "sell for peanuts due to emergency", on an eBay horn, translate to me as "knucklehead bought a pad set, stuck them in there with hot melt glue, found out the thing won't play because he didn't know what he was doing, lost interest, wants to get it out of the house". I mean, it might be a great deal, but what I've just described is way more likely.

We've had this discussion already, on this exact instrument. If you just can't resist a project and you have plenty of experience at saxophone restoration, and you don't mind spending lots of money and time to get a horn kind of playing that will never be worth more than it is right now, go ahead. If, on the other hand, you want to buy an inexpensive soprano sax to actually PLAY, move on. I would recommend a lightly used Chinese/Taiwanese soprano (there are dozens of brands like "Antigua Winds", or the Woodwind/Brasswind house brand), sold by a reputable used instrument seller (like one of the several people who regularly post here), not a clapped-out Pan Am that probably will require hundreds of dollars worth of work before you can even get a peep out of it.
 

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+ what turf3 says. An unmolested Pan Am could be a great buy at $300, but all that messing around on it does not sound good.
 

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Well, first of all, someone thought it was a good idea to buff off all the silver or nickel plating (it wasn't a good idea) and then apparently realized when they got to the keys that they were never going to get it all off the keys. So the metal is probably significantly thinned in some areas, which probably doesn't matter, but the tops of the tone holes could be anything after being hit with a high speed buff and aggressive cutting compound a few times.
I agree with most of your posts here...but this is going a bit over-the-top. Yes the horn is a refinish...but that does not automatically mean that it has had someone go Neanderthal on it. So..."overbuffing until metal is thin"...this has been discussed in threads before: to actually DO that...would take such physical force and effort leaning into a buffing wheel that this is not gonna be a likely result of an after-factory lacq job.

There was a period where silver or nickelplate finishes were deemed unmarketable, and when techs who did finish work would actually remove old plated finishes and relacqued. Member Hornfixer used to do that. This doesn't automatically translate into it being a sub-par job.

Likewise, damaged toneholes ? Possible.....but not probable. Again, one would really have to lean in to the wheel with an absurd amount of force to do that.


So...while these are possibilities, they are not likelihoods. When people see a refinish they tend to jump to the most negative polarity of how well it was done.
There is probably as much a likelihood, if not more, that the refinish was done quite competently.

More of a risk than an original-finish vintage sop ? Yeah...but the latter is gonna cost you $850+. This one is $300, so....not a bad roll of the dice, IMHO.


You can ask a few more questions : does any area seem overbuffed ? How long have you had it ? Does it speak up and down nicely ? Is there any play or looseness in feel to the keywork ?

If all ends up being well...you will have yoursef a horn which is way, way, way better than any cheapie asian budget sop you can pick up today. As noted already, you could easily resell it on eBay for what you paid for it if it doesn't suit....
 

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My Buescher True Tone soprano had its original silver plate buffed off at some point in its hundred year run, and at least two goopy lacquer jobs after that, which cultivated red rust. Was always a great player though. When I had it restored and re-plated (silver) it remained a great player. Just looks better these days.
 

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I agree with most of your posts here...but this is going a bit over-the-top. Yes the horn is a refinish...but that does not automatically mean that it has had someone go Neanderthal on it. So..."overbuffing until metal is thin"...this has been discussed in threads before: to actually DO that...would take such physical force and effort leaning into a buffing wheel that this is not gonna be a likely result of an after-factory lacq job.

There was a period where silver or nickelplate finishes were deemed unmarketable, and when techs who did finish work would actually remove old plated finishes and relacqued. Member Hornfixer used to do that. This doesn't automatically translate into it being a sub-par job.

Likewise, damaged toneholes ? Possible.....but not probable. Again, one would really have to lean in to the wheel with an absurd amount of force to do that.


So...while these are possibilities, they are not likelihoods. When people see a refinish they tend to jump to the most negative polarity of how well it was done.
There is probably as much a likelihood, if not more, that the refinish was done quite competently.

More of a risk than an original-finish vintage sop ? Yeah...but the latter is gonna cost you $850+. This one is $300, so....not a bad roll of the dice, IMHO.


You can ask a few more questions : does any area seem overbuffed ? How long have you had it ? Does it speak up and down nicely ? Is there any play or looseness in feel to the keywork ?

If all ends up being well...you will have yoursef a horn which is way, way, way better than any cheapie asian budget sop you can pick up today. As noted already, you could easily resell it on eBay for what you paid for it if it doesn't suit....
Yeah, yeah, I understand all that. Someone like you or me can ask the right questions and find out whether it is a dog (given Ebay, 99% probability) or a gem in the rough (given Ebay, 1% probability). Heck, I am the guy who just bought a Mexi-Conn tenor with pads so worn out they're sealing on the felt.

But the OP has been floundering around, first buying a clapped out C soprano without first realizing that there are big differences between C and Bb sopranos, and disregarding the big blob of solder around the back side key that would have sent most of us running for the hills right off the bat, and then being shocked, yes shocked, to find that that horn, for which he paid half the going rate for a good playable one, was neither good nor playable. Now he wants advice on whether it's a good idea to buy another clapped out soprano that according to the seller "just had all the pads replaced" and now needs to be sold for less than half the going rate for a good playable one "because of an emergency".

Hence my advice, that the probability is very high that this will be another waste of time and money, and very low that it will be a gem in the rough. Again, someone like you or me could take something like this, evaluate it for what it is, understand what we would probably have to put into it, and make an informed decision. The OP does not have the experience and knowledge to make that informed decision.

If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.
 

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From my experience on Ebay (say 40 or so instruments over the years), only one was as described. The rest needed at least some measure of repair. A few were rubbish.I Personally would not recommend buying on Ebay unless the buyer can actually do the repairs themselves. But if you cannot, in a best case scenario, realistically bank of $100 or more to get to get any horn to minimal playing standard. My red flags would be; from the look of the relacquer there has been reasonable buffing on the bell. What does that say for the rest of the horn? There is no original case. Why? This can be an indication of a hard life. No vintage mouthpiece (will it play OK with a Selmer C*?). Maybe more expense for a suitable mouthpiece. So I would say, if you can't test play it and see it in the 'flesh' so to speak, pass.
 

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I've bought 32 horns/instruments on eBay in the past 3 years and only one of them was not working - a piccolo, just needed a little TLC. The others: a 1950s flute, 1960s clarinet, 1940s wood clarinet, 1960s sopranino wood clarinet, 1960s leblanc wood bass clarinet, 1950s wood alto clarinet, 1920s wood oboe, 1800s wood bassoon, 1950s french horn, 1900s mellophone, mellophonium, TUBA, 1920s baritone, 1960s alto horn, 1900s valve trombone, 1800s trombone, 1980s trombone, 1980s bass trombone, 1920s bari sax, 1940s zephyr tenor sax, 1930s alto sax, 1920s melody sax, 1930s soprano sax, 1960s tenor sax, 1920s bugle, 1960s trumpet, 1920s cornet, 1940s violin, etc, etc, etc, etc, I still own all of them and they all work perfectly.

It is not the nature of eBay to sell crappy horns, however it is the nature of a desperate buyer to buy a horn for cheap instead of having patience and looking at the HORN and NOT THE PRICE.
 

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I've bought 32 horns/instruments on eBay in the past 3 years and only one of them was not working - a piccolo, just needed a little TLC. The others: a 1950s flute, 1960s clarinet, 1940s wood clarinet, 1960s sopranino wood clarinet, 1960s leblanc wood bass clarinet, 1950s wood alto clarinet, 1920s wood oboe, 1800s wood bassoon, 1950s french horn, 1900s mellophone, mellophonium, TUBA, 1920s baritone, 1960s alto horn, 1900s valve trombone, 1800s trombone, 1980s trombone, 1980s bass trombone, 1920s bari sax, 1940s zephyr tenor sax, 1930s alto sax, 1920s melody sax, 1930s soprano sax, 1960s tenor sax, 1920s bugle, 1960s trumpet, 1920s cornet, 1940s violin, etc, etc, etc, etc, I still own all of them and they all work perfectly.

It is not the nature of eBay to sell crappy horns, however it is the nature of a desperate buyer to buy a horn for cheap instead of having patience and looking at the HORN and NOT THE PRICE.
I guess the definition of 'working perfectly' would come into play then....because unless you are the luckiest buyer alive....or unless EVERY seller stated that they guaranteed their instrument was in good playing condition and needed no servicing.....OR unless yeah- you bought 'em but you paid the higher-end of market value on all (meaning you had some $ to spend, eh ?).....I respectfully doubt very highly that you are 32 for 33.

The horns may have 'played', or been 'playable'...but I would bet that they were not in good, up-to-serviced-condition, need-nothing, play-out-of-case nick.....

Horns play with leaks; woodwinds can play with old pads; saxes are 'playable' although they have key slop; trumpets/valve instruments can play with dented tuning slides and crooks and valve casings slightly out of plumb even; and with slightly leaky valves and lost compression; trombones can play OK although the slide plating is worn or the slide has too much play; etc. But to many/most players, that doesn't translate to 'working well'.

Your post intimates that eBay is, by its nature, a place where one should be able to find in-good-tack instruments...and if they cannot it's the buyer's fault. In reality, the vast majority of wind instruments sold on eBay are far from in good shape, and the vast majority of sellers who sell 'em make no claim that they are in respectable playing shape. It doesn't mean the horns are 'crappy' - it means they need some work. Again, to avoid this, one must know the right questions to ask and usually be willing to pay the upper half of market value for one.
Most eBay buyers want to peg something for significantly less than market value and have it play fine, needing nothing. This doesn't happen often.

As noted by others.....when you buy/win an eBay horn for a below-market price....unless buyer states unequivocally that the horn is in good playing shape and needs no work.....expect to put some $ into servicing the horn to get it into proper playing shape after receiving. Anyone who doesn't do this is foolish.

Here's an alternate interpretation to your final sentence, as well:

Some people just don't have a lotta money.

It's true.

One can even argue that MOST people do not. (It can be such a drag having 'desperate people' around sometimes....)

So, while I agree with you that one gets what they paid for and one needs to start with a realistic budget (and god knows I get inquiries all the time asking whether I have $200 Altos, $75 Trumpets, $500 Bari Saxes, etc)....I never judge 'em and insult.
For some folks, they can afford what they can afford.
So if something pops up on the radar which ISN'T a cheapie new asian soprano for $299.....and the seller states it is in good playing shape; it's probably worth investigating, at least.
 

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I agree entirely on all your comments. Often though problems with descriptions nothing to do with the seller integrity. They often go to deceased estate auctions, garage sales and the like and without a genuine knowledge of instruments deem them as 'in great condition' because they, for a layperson, look very impressive. I look at purchasing on Ebay as a risk - you are buying an instrument you haven't seen in the flesh from someone you don't know based on maybe 6 or 8 photos and associated feedback which may or may not be relevant.
 

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I have a late 1920's Conn Pan American sop - it's stenciled E.K. Blessing.

It's in full satin silverplate but the engraved area is not satin, so it shines. It's a beautiful horn.

I personally have some ergonomic issues with the palm keys and thumb ring, but other than that it's a great horn especially for the prices they can be had at. I can get a very nice tone out of it and with my BARI 66 mouthpiece and plasticover 2.5's it plays very, very in tune. I've played it in several pit orchestras and all the other reed players were impressed by the sound and intonation.

As some of the other posts pointed out it may have some mechanical issues, but at $300 you should have some left over funds in your budget to get it looked over by a tech.

Good luck,
Nico
 

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I have a late 1920's Conn Pan American sop - it's stenciled E.K. Blessing.

It's in full satin silverplate but the engraved area is not satin, so it shines. It's a beautiful horn.

I personally have some ergonomic issues with the palm keys and thumb ring, but other than that it's a great horn especially for the prices they can be had at. I can get a very nice tone out of it and with my BARI 66 mouthpiece and plasticover 2.5's it plays very, very in tune. I've played it in several pit orchestras and all the other reed players were impressed by the sound and intonation.

As some of the other posts pointed out it may have some mechanical issues, but at $300 you should have some left over funds in your budget to get it looked over by a tech.

Good luck,
Nico
Really, the question is not "is a Pan Am in good condition a good horn?" The answer to that is clearly YES. The question is whether the individual instrument in question, which has had a lot of work done to it, is in far from original condition, is being sold for far below the market rate for a playable Pan Am soprano that is actually in good condition, and has a number of red flags in the Ebay listing such as the ones I pointed out, would be a good choice for a first soprano for someone whose posts show clearly that he is not a expert on the restoration of saxophones or how to judge them. It's true, it is POSSIBLE that $100 into this horn could make a good player. Given the experiences most people have had on Ebay, especially less experienced people, it's just as likely that you could put $500 into it and end up with something that is worth $300 and isn't really all that great of a player.
 
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