Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
344 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Greetins All
After a 30 year layoff from woodwinds (played 10 years as a youngser) Im seriously thinking of picking up a sop to have around the home. After some practice and a few lessons if things seem to fit Ill most likely look to start playing around town (and studying). During the 30 year layoff I played pecussion the entire time so fortunately have been exposed to some great stuff. In the meantime Im fiddling with an old student flute and have been enjoying that.

Im very interested in a vintage horn as those are what I really liked as a kid and most of the older guys I got to see often played them. Martin was one of my favorites for reasons that are hard to articulate (sound)?

From reading on here and elsewhere my short list is:
Buescher
Cannonball
Conn
King
Martin

..with Martin and Buescher being the front runners. I cant even imagine finding a good Selmer in my price range.

Ill be looking through all the old pawn shops hoping to find something special. Slim chance I know but should be fun just the same.

I know there are already a ton of "Help me find a horn" threads but the reason I am posting is I was hoping for just a few tips on buying from visual inspection. I know that playing a horn is always best, and trying out a lot is better. But in my case (and budget) that probably wont be an option. I dont play well enough right now, and if Im lucky and find an old vintage horn ie Martin or Buescher it most likely will not be in good playing condition anyway.

Im willing to repair (find a good tech). Im not much concerned with finish, engraving, or fancy stuff. It would be nice to find a collectable horn, but mostly Im looking for a great playing horn, with character and sound that needs a good home to be appreciated in. Maybe a stage once in awhile too if it goes there.

Any good information on the brands above would be greatly appreciated! Quirks, deficiencies, peculiarities etc unique to the horns.

Also, Im not very familiar with stencils but I know what they are. Are there any major stencils I should be looking out for? I know a big list is asking a lot so just the top performers might be nice?

I hope to write this info out on a list of paper, and take it with me during my search.

Forgive me if Im asking for much repeated information. Like I said Ive searched here and elsewhere and there is a lot of information out there (and in here). However, being out of the country and with a very narrow pipe to search with, I just end up with more questions than answers!
Thanks very much
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
272 Posts
The more current horns have better intonation and are easier to play IMHO. Seriously look into some of the inexpensive Chinese horns that you can get for less than 500 bucks, get it set up by a good tech, and start playing. I think they play wonderfully, have great intonation, and have great mechanics, AND if you really like the sound you are screwed for the rest of your life :lol: because you won't want to play anything else.

However, I don't know if a drummer should be allowed to play sop, something just isn't right with that .... :mrgreen:
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
1,526 Posts
Very nice looking sop bb... What's your protocol for keeping those beautiful silver Conns in humid Miami, A/C? ( I lived in Jensen Beach for several years and everything rusts or tarnishes quickly! )
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
344 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies!

Yep, thats a beautiful horn. About twice what I want to pay unfortunately. Not that it isnt worth it especially since its been sorted out etc. If I was up to speed and ready to play with others (or had a bigger budget) I would definintely be talking to you.

Regarding import horns, I do have those on my radar. And yes, I can get one for a very good price. Probably one that plays fairly well from what Ive been reading here. Or, I could even rent to own. Just like a student would. But I would prefer a vintage horn. Just like my drum kit. Its an older 60s model. Just player quality. But it has a history and sounds great. I get attached to older instruments and they become family.

As far as this thread is concerned, Im hoping to get information regarding finding that individual horn collecting dust at a pawn shop somewhere. Or on CL etc etc. The prospects arent great. But it will be fun just the same. And Im sure Ill learn a thing or two. Or maybe Ill find something else that Im supposed to find in the process?

If I could have whatever I wanted, it would be an old Martin or Buescher, straight model, B flat. Or maybe some cool old stencil.

If any of you have advice, or good stories about finding an old orphan soprano, Id love to hear it-
Thanks all!

Im looking forward to the search as much as getting the horn itself, if that makes sense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,943 Posts
You seem to be mixing a romantic idea with practical box ticking on a budget.
I too love vintage horns and the adventure that goes with acquiring them but unfortunately like all romance it ain't cheap and it ain't practical. ;)
I think you may be underestimating the $$$s needed to bring this pawnshop orphan up to a playable state.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
344 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
You seem to be mixing a romantic idea with practical box ticking on a budget.
I too love vintage horns and the adventure that goes with acquiring them but unfortunately like all romance it ain't cheap and it ain't practical. ;)
I think you may be underestimating the $$$s needed to bring this pawnshop orphan up to a playable state.
Not sure about romance but...

My thinking was, if the horn (assuming I find one) is in decent condition ie only needs cork and pads (maybe a spring or two) then it could be a great deal if it comes at a good price. Hopefully a good tuneup and some parts and I could play it.

If I find something great that needs a lot of work I wouldnt offer that much money realizing that I was looking at a restoration.

If I wanted to play right away I would just get a BW sent to my home and have it waiting for me. I still might do that (I want to lay). A solid Chinese horn is high on my list but another discussion (leaning hard towards BW though only if they are available at local music stores and I can try one).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
344 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Not to mention....the music stores in my area dont carry BW or some of the other brands Ive seen here.

Almost all carry Yamaha, Yani, , Antigua, Amati, and Jupiter. with the Jupiters costing around 1000 dollars or more.

For that kind of money I could buy BBs sweet Buescher and be done with it.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,001 Posts
You don't give a clue to where you are but I suspect you are in the same boat I was in about 9 years ago (depending strongly on the Internet) when I did something similar only I took a more basic approach to sax - not starting with a soprano. Since you have not been blowing a horn in recent years, but you have been playing flute, I would suggest building on that. If you have had no previous experience with reeds, starting with a sop is not a good idea. Sops have big tone and intonation issues. You don't simply turn one on and get the sound you expect. I think you must first learn basic sax-playing on either an alto or a tenor. Develop sax chops and reed experience. Then try a sop. That's what I did, tenor first, then sop after a long layoff from blowing horns. But you could do very well just polishing your flute and getting in to general music with some keyboard work in addition to the flute and drums. Changing chops is a major re-direction that could take several years before it produces any tangible benefit.

Incidentally, I am a fan of Kessler's as a source and either a Kessler or an Antigua Winds as a low cost soprano or alto. I don't think you can get a low cost tenor that will be suitable for anything. I bought a pro-quality tenor and don't regret it. I only regret not having enough time in a day to maintain proficiency on my several horns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
344 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Tom
Thanks for your input. Ive read many of your posts and have learned quite a bit from what youve had to say.

Regarding woodwinds, I played for about 10 years previously. But stopped a little bit after highschool. I still have an indent from my previous embrouchure, after all these years!

Id rather not get a tenor or alto for personal reasons though I did play both in the past including first position in a stage band. I also enjoyed playing bari in another stage band as well as bass clarinet in a competitive high school wind ensemble. Of course, thats miles below where you guys are playing.

Sticking with the flute is a great idea and where Ill most lilely go in the meantime if this doesnt work out. Of course, I have plenty of time on my side so finding a sop someday is only a matter of....time-
Thanks!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
2,090 Posts
I used to haunt Pawnshops all the time in an area of about 5 million and all the surroundin towns. I never saw a soprano. Lots of altos, a few tenors and one bari (which I bought). I bought a bassoon once. In recent years, however, it's rare to find a bargain. I find them overpriced based on Ebay asking prices or some other mystic pricing scheme. Of course, you might get lucky. As far as a horn is concerned, although I agree with Tom above, here's my favorite war horse soprano. If you can find a Yanagisawa S-6 or the Vito equivalent (made in Japan) for less than $1000.00 you will have a good horn with spot on intonation and beautful tone that will last generations.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,030 Posts
You may want to consider an alto. Vintage sopranos needing repair still cost over $500 and will need another $500-700 for pads,etc. I can sell you a Buescher TT alto that is almost identical to the soprano I showed. It would cost you $550 shipped ready to play.These are many other nice altos around in the $500-700 range ready to play. Many of the Asian sopranos have issues adjustment and tuning wise so in the altos seem to be a lot better choice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
344 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Bruce
Thanks for offering to sell me an alto.

Ill stick to looking for a sop.

Back to lurking....
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,397 Posts
OK, you're stuck on a soprano and would prefer vintage. Keep in mind some of the European makes as your list seems very US centered and these are not necessairly the best horns in terms of intonation, ergonomics, or price. Check out B&S, Keilwerth, Kolhert, Orsi, etc. You might want to do a little research in the "Makes and Models" section. Many of these older horns are very professional but NOT as well known as those on your list so can be found at extremely reasonable prices. If you can find a B&S I'd recommend it highly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
297 Posts
Hey, you never know. I wanted to add some flute playing to my repertoire and started looking at craigslist, just checking from time to time. I found a Gemienhardt Model 3 that looks brand new (another disappointed parent) for $150 (sells new from Woodwind and Brasswind for $579-$619). If you're not in a hurry anything can happen. And, as you say, there are always the Bauhaus Walstein horns as a fall back.

Just as a personal note, vintage is just another word for OLD (I get to say that because I'm a "vintage" musician). Best of luck in your quest.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
344 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
OK, you're stuck on a soprano and would prefer vintage. Keep in mind some of the European makes as your list seems very US centered and these are not necessairly the best horns in terms of intonation, ergonomics, or price. Check out B&S, Keilwerth, Kolhert, Orsi, etc. You might want to do a little research in the "Makes and Models" section. Many of these older horns are very professional but NOT as well known as those on your list so can be found at extremely reasonable prices. If you can find a B&S I'd recommend it highly.
Wade and Soul Patch
Thanks for your input. Ill keep looking until I find what I want, or Im fortunate to find something.

Yes, Im set on a soprano for various reasons. Its a horn Ive always loved, and since I dont have to make money doing this its not an issue for me. If things go well I envision having a sop, flute, and Bb clarinet (something else I played in the younger years).

I appreciate the brands you mentioned. Ive looked at those (and all the others) in this forum and elsewhere with the currently limited bandwidth and time I have at this point. What I plan to do is write down those brands (and stencils) on a sheet of paper and take it with me a a guide. And a cellphone with internet!

I emailed a guy about a Kolhert and Im hoping for some pictures. I havent found B&S anywhere yet. Ive been looking on CL and Ebay for now, but will expand my search when I get home and I can actually get out and do some driving aorund and shopping. Its amazing how few horns are for sale. Not to mention how much people want to charge for them considering we are sliding into one of the worst depressions in history.

Ive also looked at other brands like BW, Antigua, and Kessler (500.00?). But would love to get a vintage horn really.

I wouldnt even mind a complete restoration but that wouldnt be nearly as fun as finding something I could play after some minor work by a good tech.

Saw this on Ebay:
http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-1923-C-...066?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b0de14fa

Would love to give him 100 bucks then take it somewhere to be restored. Most likely impossible to get that to playing condition again. And know way of knowing it if would even play well (not to mention they wouldnt accept 100 dollars)-

Mr Baily has a nice horn for sale but its about 400-500 dollars out of my price range.

The kessler horn might be the way to go but Ive not read great reviews of them so.....the search continues. Its fun anyway, learning about all these brands. When I played, Selmer and vintage was the way to go. There are so many horns out there I hadnt heard of until recently-
Thanks all!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
17,948 Posts
The more current horns have better intonation and are easier to play IMHO. Seriously look into some of the inexpensive Chinese horns that you can get for less than 500 bucks, get it set up by a good tech, and start playing. I think they play wonderfully, have great intonation, and have great mechanics, AND if you really like the sound you are screwed for the rest of your life :lol: because you won't want to play anything else.

However, I don't know if a drummer should be allowed to play sop, something just isn't right with that .... :mrgreen:
oh lordy...that advice is such an anathema to my experiences, I almost went into a fit of apoplexy.

A $500 chinese contemporary horn ? I mean...that's NOT serious, right ? Really.....

Look, there was a serious shift in the saxophone sound paradigm beginning in the '80's, and in no instrument is it more apparent than the Soprano. So, 11...you probably like the old ones because they just sound so much better. Fuller, darker, rounder, bigger...not the contemporary nails-on-blackboard tone which has become all too familiar.

You can certainly get a very good, used straight Soprano for around $800-1200. Just off the top of my head you can land a Vito-Japan model, or a Buescher or a Weltklang or a Holton, nice European make like an older Borgani or perhaps another European make (I liked Wade's quick-list). . Stencils are a good way to go, also. I have a Buescher stencil from the '40's which is a very nice horn which will certainly end up selling for less than had it been engraved 'Buescher'.

You short list ain't bad...I mean, Cannonballs aren't BAD horns...although my two techs tell me they are overrated and there are better and cheaper coming out of asia; but they are generally respectable. But I would go for any of those american oldies hands-down. The ergonomic argument is way overrated, if it really holds water at all...particularly on a horn the scale of a Soprano. So all you wanna be careful of is intonation. THAT is completely valid (however, it is also not limited to vintage horns...plenty of new lil'horns have lousy intonation, also). Given you are a musician of some experience, I think you would generally be OK in dealing with that.

The american ones in good playing shape will require about a $1200-1500 investment. The European ones a bit less, maybe $800 or so....same holds true for the american stencils, if you don't mine the horn being engraved with an obscure name.

Always difficult to buy a horn unplayed, regardless of vidfiles and soundfiles provided. Buy from a seller with a return policy, if you cannot buy local.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
506 Posts
... hoping for just a few tips on buying from visual inspection.
Just a few thoughts. You probably know to look for abuse damage like dents, flattened bell, etc. These should reduce the selling price, but the lower price might not compensate for the increased repair bill. When checking pads, the ones to look out for are the dark, hard ones; these will need to be replaced immediately because they will not seal. Softer pads might last a while, but if they're old will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Also give the keys a good looking over - the cup that holds the pad should be centered over the tone hole and level with the top of the hole. If the heights of the open key are all different then a lot of adjustments are needed. These can all be fixed, but expect to pay more to fix it. I could probably think of some more things, but it's getting late.

I haven't bought much from pawn shops, but my guess is that they don't know a lot about saxophones. So they'll probably not notice the less obvious problems that should reduce the selling price because it will cost more to repair. The few time I've looked in pawn shops, most of what I've seen has been overpriced (and definitely NOT quality instruments). But there are surprises out there - a friend of mine got an SML alto a few years ago in pretty good shape for a great price.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
344 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Look, there was a serious shift in the saxophone sound paradigm beginning in the '80's, and in no instrument is it more apparent than the Soprano. So, 11...you probably like the old ones because they just sound so much better. Fuller, darker, rounder, bigger...not the contemporary nails-on-blackboard tone which has become all too familiar.
Thanks Jay and Rondalo for the replies.

Jay, I think you have a point. Im not really sure about the "New Sound" of sopranos but asa a youngster I got to go to small clubs, and practices of older guys (at the time, now Im one) and watch them play. They almost always had a Selmer tenor or alto, then some vintage sop or bari. And I just fell in love with those horns. Maybe its also just something Im familiar with. I also tend to like old stuff that hold its own among new technologies. Kind of like me!

Anyway, having done some reading, Im strongly considering the Kessler custom 1 or Antigua entery level horn as something to start with, and persue a vintage horn at the same time. That way I could start playing something set up right out of the box, practice, practice, practice and teake lessons.....while continuing my search of an old Martin or Buescher. Then restore it when I find it.

I have found a few Bueschers, Conns, and an old Martin for right around my price range. But its obvious that theyll need complete repads at around 500 bucks. Not to mention Im not an Ebay guy and dont really know the pitfalls etc.

Sigh......but its good fun, really-
V/r
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top