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Discussion Starter #1
Kings have a reputation of being cutting and "loud" (ok, wrong word but you get the idea) but does that rep. apply to all models and is it really deserved? The reason I ask is, I'm considering (among others) a 40's Zephyr tenor but I'm looking more for a dark, "smokier" (or "throatier") sound. I once owned a Zephyr alto (early 40's) with the double socket neck and 3-ring neckstrap - I liked it a lot and although it did have "some" bite to it it, wasn't extreme. Maybe a better way of asking this is....what does a Zephyr tenor "sound like" to your ears and how does it compare to say a Conn, or a Buescher?
 

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I have a late 50's Zephyr.

It can actually dark and mellow if you have the appropriate mpc and reed setup and sound concept .

I like and use Otto Link type pieces on mine also an older boat table rubber Berg Larsen .

The Berg/King combo is a classic sound and one I use a lot .


My Zephyr compared to my Buescher or Conn tenors ? I'd say it just has a certain crispness and edge to it that is just

unmistakably King . Hard for me to describe with words. You just have to play 'em and compare I think .
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. I can't lie. I'm sure I'll be happy with whatever one I eventually choose but my heart is with a King. My Zephyr alto was cool and the tenor I played in HS was also a King. I can't recall the model but it was a neat horn that I really enjoyed playing at the time. I agree they just sound "different" but it's hard to pinpoint it. I'll check into that mouthpiece too! This one I have my eye on has metal resonators.....wondering if that would "put it over the top" on the "edge" category, hmmm?
 

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My '46, 281xxx Zephyr tenor is more like you describe, and is perhaps darker or throatier and maybe with somewhat less edge and power than my'49, 305xxx and '57, 340xxx Zephyr tenors, which I prefer, and which are more S20-like than earlier Zephyrs.

Some like the Zephyr Voll true, but imo they have an old timey sound, which I don't care for.

For me, I have stayed away from Zephyr tenors with squared rh spatulas.
I prefer ones upwards from approx 280xxx to 350xxx ( whenever Zephyr tenors devolved somewhat with clunkier nickel plated key work, circa 1960 resembling the 615.)

You have focused on several excellent choices for vintage tenors.
A well set up Buescher Aristocrat or 400 pre Selmer buyout, Conn 10m or late '40s or '50s Zephyrs are good choices, if you can get one reasonably.

I appreciate them all and choosing one from this group is really down to personal preference.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My Zephyr alto had rounded spatulas which I prefer as well.

I'm trying to keep things in the $1000 - $1300 range, so, pretty limiting (if money were less of an object there's a Martin on SaxQuest I would kill to have but it's $2700.00). It seems Zephrys, Conns (later 50's to mid 60s.....I havent seen a 10M from 40's 50's for under 2K unless it needed an overhaul) and Bueschers can be had for the price range I'm in. Good to know all of those are decent choices. I don't want to rush into a purchase but also want to be ready to jump if I see something that seems to be a good deal.
 

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My '46, 281xxx Zephyr tenor is more like you describe, and is perhaps darker or throatier and maybe with somewhat less edge and power than my'49, 305xxx and '57, 340xxx Zephyr tenors, which I prefer, and which are more S20-like than earlier Zephyrs.

Some like the Zephyr Voll true, but imo they have an old timey sound, which I don't care for.

For me, I have stayed away from Zephyr tenors with squared rh spatulas.
I prefer ones upwards from approx 280xxx to 350xxx ( whenever Zephyr tenors devolved somewhat with clunkier nickel plated key work, circa 1960 resembling the 615.)

You have focused on several excellent choices for vintage tenors.
A well set up Buescher Aristocrat or 400 pre Selmer buyout, Conn 10m or late '40s or '50s Zephyrs are good choices, if you can get one reasonably.

I appreciate them all and choosing one from this group is really down to personal preference.
Yeah, if I had to choose "only one" between my Conn NWII, Big B, and Zephyr it would be a difficult choice .. each one is unique .
 

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My Zephyr alto had rounded spatulas which I prefer as well.

I'm trying to keep things in the $1000 - $1300 range, so, pretty limiting (if money were less of an object there's a Martin on SaxQuest I would kill to have but it's $2700.00). It seems Zephrys, Conns (later 50's to mid 60s.....I havent seen a 10M from 40's 50's for under 2K unless it needed an overhaul) and Bueschers can be had for the price range I'm in. Good to know all of those are decent choices. I don't want to rush into a purchase but also want to be ready to jump if I see something that seems to be a good deal.
Are you in the U.S. ?
 

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I believe, roughly speaking, when the spats changed to rounded is when the body changed to what would become the S20 body. The rectangular spat Zephs had VT-II bodies.

I like VT-II's, as SaxPhil mentioned they have a throwback sorta tone which may or may not be everyone's cup of tea.

The 275,xxx-375,xxx Zephs are the 'sweet spot' ones, give or take a thousand...

It is kinda hard to say in words how a nice King stacks up to a nice Conn, Martin, or Boosh....they are all stellar horns with signature sounds.

IMHO a nice 'Crat is a bit more focused in tone, IMHO a Zeph has more spread to its overtones; while a 10M will be a tad darker sounding than a Zeph. When I describe a Zeph or S20, I often use the term 'kickass'...while when describing a 10M I will say "wide and dark"

If you (OP) are in no rush...FWIW I do have a Zeph Tenor here which is slated for refurb in the next 2-3 weeks....
 

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I've had a couple of Zephyrs but it was over 20 years ago. I agree with what others said particularly with regard to finding a dark mouthpiece to go along with the crisp King sound. But, if you really want dark and smoky, try a Buescher 400 preferably the TH&C. My avatar is one of them.

IMHO, best bang for the buck these days is a Martin Handcraft Standard (or Standard Special). The Committee 2 or 3 may even be a better horn but they are coming up in appreciation and price.

This is my Handcraft SS - https://m.facebook.com/StuartSaxophone/albums/698761270221306/
It's on sale for what I spent yesterday on getting a new timing belt and water pump for my '87 BMW 325.

More good deals on saxes as we tear into the front suspension.
 

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My dilemma, as described in the other post referenced above by saxcop, is that I KNOW that I love the way the early 300xxx Zephyrs sound. But couldn’t afford one at this time. I just purchased - it hasn’t been shipped yet - a 26xxxx with a repad. I’ve had one from this same era before that, as someone said above, had a kick *** sound to it. I woke up and tore up a jam one night with its sound even though I was nowhere near the best tenor player in the room. Give a Zephyr a ‘LIVE’ room and you won’t forget hearing it!! But my experience is that those slightly later ones have a much more full sound at the top. The two Zephyrs - 1 I owned and another I tried - in the earlier range, thinned out at the top. One friend says “that’s the set up. They sound just as good.” But I can’t quite get a consensus. So. It is probably just an individual taste thing or a ‘setup’ issue. Either way. A mid ‘40’s 10 M will remain my main horn. But I LOVE to have a Zephyr around!! I love their unique sound !! So. That’s my two cents: The earlier ones are thinner at the top. The three I’ve owned from 305xxx to 353xxx were wonderful horns that sold as soon as I could get someone in the door to try them.

But - I am LOOKING for someone to tell me that these 26x,xxx range Zephyrs sound just as good and that my experiences are just too anecdotal. And. When DID the bore change? I am assuming that what I’ve heard - 27xxxx something - accounts for the difference I hear in tone quality. Anyone agree or disagree please.
 

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My dilemma, as described in the other post referenced above by saxcop, is that I KNOW that I love the way the early 300xxx Zephyrs sound. But couldn’t afford one at this time. I just purchased - it hasn’t been shipped yet - a 26xxxx with a repad. I’ve had one from this same era before that, as someone said above, had a kick *** sound to it. I woke up and tore up a jam one night with its sound even though I was nowhere near the best tenor player in the room. Give a Zephyr a ‘LIVE’ room and you won’t forget hearing it!! But my experience is that those slightly later ones have a much more full sound at the top. The two Zephyrs - 1 I owned and another I tried - in the earlier range, thinned out at the top. One friend says “that’s the set up. They sound just as good.” But I can’t quite get a consensus. So. It is probably just an individual taste thing or a ‘setup’ issue. Either way. A mid ‘40’s 10 M will remain my main horn. But I LOVE to have a Zephyr around!! I love their unique sound !! So. That’s my two cents: The earlier ones are thinner at the top. The three I’ve owned from 305xxx to 353xxx were wonderful horns that sold as soon as I could get someone in the door to try them.

But - I am LOOKING for someone to tell me that these 26x,xxx range Zephyrs sound just as good and that my experiences are just too anecdotal. And. When DID the bore change? I am assuming that what I’ve heard - 27xxxx something - accounts for the difference I hear in tone quality. Anyone agree or disagree please.

Here is my anecdotal input regarding the mid 40's Zephyrs. I own a 269xxx Tenor, 1945'ish, post war - so it has the rounded keys and clover pinkie cluster. I couldn't say if my horn has the same bore dimensions as an older Zephyr, a Super 20, or possibly a Zephyr Special - but I can certainly get a modern sound out of it. With my style of play, and that may be more a factor than anything else, I can pull a throaty/edgy tone out of this horn fairly easy - and that is with a Link style or a higher baffle MP. It does play loose, so you need to know where you are going musically or it can give you some of intonation issues. But, that looseness is one of it's strengths, it can be a very expressive horn.

As far as sounding thin in the upper register, I think it sounds fine up top. However, I have a fairly "bright" MP set up, that and my style of play may be correcting for this.

I guess any vintage horn is going to have it's pain points.
 

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Here is my anecdotal input regarding the mid 40's Zephyrs. I own a 269xxx Tenor, 1945'ish, post war - so it has the rounded keys and clover pinkie cluster. I couldn't say if my horn has the same bore dimensions as an older Zephyr, a Super 20, or possibly a Zephyr Special - but I can certainly get a modern sound out of it. With my style of play, and that may be more a factor than anything else, I can pull a throaty/edgy tone out of this horn fairly easy - and that is with a Link style or a higher baffle MP. It does play loose, so you need to know where you are going musically or it can give you some of intonation issues. But, that looseness is one of it's strengths, it can be a very expressive horn.

As far as sounding thin in the upper register, I think it sounds fine up top. However, I have a fairly "bright" MP set up, that and my style of play may be correcting for this.

I guess any vintage horn is going to have it's pain points.
The 266xxx arrived. Unplayable from F down!! Except low B.B. which was big full and as booming as you want. I loved the core sound of the horn and th high notes were fine. But there were $500 and up of repairs needed to get it playable. So I returned it. But I wanted it!! It really ripped AND it sounded warm and full in the range that played: The best of my experience with a Zephyr that was not over a 300xxx. Thanks for your response. I won’t be concerned again. Except. I’m not sure I’ll buy one from someone who isn’t a player and I don’t think this seller is.
 

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Bummer. Even when they play OK, setup is a big factor - heights etc. - in getting to the level of exact tonal performance you're after.
 
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