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Its not the most sought after vintage. It lacks the engraving on the keys, no double socket neck and the pearls are special order (they were long gone as standard when that horn was made.) It, however, doesnt mean that its not a great horn. I would just hesitate to spend the same one would on a prime vintage with all the bells and whistles. Like any other horn..there can be great ones from any generation and dogs as well. As I understand it Gayle is very good to deal with.
 

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Do yourself a favor and go buy a good Zyepher serial ## 250xxx-320xxx
same horn 1/3 the price there plenty of alto's and i'm sure a tenor won't be too hard to find
 

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"King In The Castle" & Distinguished SOTW Member
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Michael -

I don't know if you want a collectible-item horn or a player, but if you want the latter, look at Eastlake S20's too. They come with sterling bells and necks, sterling necks, and without both (all-brass). The general consensus is that after King moved from Cleveland to Eastlake, the cosmetics of the S20 were stripped down. But that does not necessarily mean that S20's made in Eastlake are bad horns (unlike the Mexiconns).

The good thing about this is that you can have a great horn for less dough! So, don't be influenced by King snobs! Some of the most seasoned players on this forum play Eastlake horns!
 

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EastCoastGhost said:
Do yourself a favor and go buy a good Zyepher
serial ## 250xxx-320xxx same horn 1/3 the price there plenty of
alto's and i'm sure a tenor won't be too hard to find

No, they may have some things in common, but Silver Sonics and
Zephyrs are certainly not the same; the action and the sound is
substantially different. I've blown on a few Zephyr's and although
they may have been good horns, I've never picked one up that's lit it
up it up like a good Silver Sonic. A good Silver Sonic is a really
loud, bright, and free-blowing instrument, and Zephyrs wouldn't be
the poor second cousin of the Silver Sonic if they sounded anything
like them. I think it's fair to say they are at least as far apart as
Yamaha and Selmer tenors -- at least as far apart.

For one, most Zephyrs don't have a silver neck, and I think the
dimensions and/or the material (being silver) of those necks does
make a difference. I've experimented with swapping some earlier
vintage King necks (composed of silver) on a Silver Sonic, and one of
the necks in particular (from a 1948 Super 20) changes the sound on
the Silver Sonic quite noticeably, causing the sound to be more
diffuse and less bright.

If you've got the dough hold out for the double socket HN White model
from the late '50's or early '60's, with a serial number that's less
than 383K. Those are the non-pearl models that have the best table
keys and octave key mechanism, in my opinion.

The pearl side keys would almost double the price on the
aforementioned model, however, so forget about that unless money is
not a concern.

Also, since you don't know the history regarding the one that you
inquired about, you have to assume that the pearl work may have been
added later by a talented repair person -- a task that really
wouldn't be that difficult for someone that does that kind of work.
Note that the horn does not have the pearl on the Eb, C, and table
keys, and probably doesn't have it on the octave key, either.

There was another horn floating around that had pearl work on it that
was well after the period that it was standard, and there was a horn
that was reputed to have been a special order for Charlie Ventura
that had it, too.

And I think King lacquer is pretty good on the ones from that vintage
(Silver Sonic bells and necks were clear lacquered, too, by the way)
and that horn you're looking at looks like the lacquer has been been
removed everywhere, including the gold wash in the inside of the
bell. Lacquerless and no gold wash in the bell was certainly not an
option that the King Company offered, which makes me wonder all the
more about the pearl work on it.

I should also add that the Silver Sonics I have are the easiest
blowing horns I've ever tried, and I suspect that the resistance of
the Zephyr would be noticeably different.

So Zephyrs may cost a less, a lot less, and they may be good horns,
but they are definitely not the same instrument as a Silver Sonic.

Is there anyone here in the forum that has both horns and thinks the
Zephyr is the equivalent or sounds the same as a Silver Sonic?
 

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"King In The Castle" & Distinguished SOTW Member
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Sterling vs. silver-plated necks and bells

Robert_Allan said:
(Silver Sonic bells and necks were clear lacquered, too, by the way)
and that horn you're looking at looks like the lacquer has been been
removed everywhere, including the gold wash in the inside of the
bell.

So, is it correct that the S20 bells that are made of sterling silver have the words "sterling bell" engraved on them and the silver-plated ones don't have that stamp?
 

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Yellowhorn said:
So, is it correct that the S20 bells that are made
of sterling silver have the words "sterling bell" engraved on them
and the silver-plated ones don't have that stamp?

Silver Sonic Super 20's have "Sterling Bell" stamped into the front
of the bell just above where the bell meets the bow. The bells are
solid silver, but it may not actually be "sterling silver." From
what I've read, the alloy of sterling silver contains a minimum of
92.5 percent silver. The test to check for sterling silver involves
putting nitric acid on the silver; if it turns green you've got low
grade stuff, and if it turns a creamy color then it's the goods. Let
us know how it turns out if you end up testing one.

As far as I know, any Super 20 that's silver plated would be a
special order horn, or a refinished instrument that was done by a
private party. Somewhere I read something about it being an option
(silver plating), but I've never seen one.

I hope that anyone reading this thread that owns a factory silver
plated Super 20 will share some pictures.

Same thing for the Silver Sonic baritone. I've seen the talk, but
can anyone produce a picture of one?
 

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Robert_Allan said:
No, they may have some things in common, but Silver Sonics and
Zephyrs are certainly not the same; the action and the sound is
substantially different. I've blown on a few Zephyr's and although
they may have been good horns, I've never picked one up that's lit it
up it up like a good Silver Sonic. A good Silver Sonic is a really
loud, bright, and free-blowing instrument, and Zephyrs wouldn't be
the poor second cousin of the Silver Sonic if they sounded anything
like them. I think it's fair to say they are at least as far apart as
Yamaha and Selmer tenors -- at least as far apart.

For one, most Zephyrs don't have a silver neck, and I think the
dimensions and/or the material (being silver) of those necks does
make a difference. I've experimented with swapping some earlier
vintage King necks (composed of silver) on a Silver Sonic, and one of
the necks in particular (from a 1948 Super 20) changes the sound on
the Silver Sonic quite noticeably, causing the sound to be more
diffuse and less bright.
This doesn't make any sense to me. The silver may cause the horn to sound brighter but it doesn't make it louder. If it seems to, it's just that--a perception that is not based in reality.

Starting in the late 40's and continuing up through the mid 70's the Zephyr is the same horn as the Super 20 in all important construction (i.e. neck, body tube, etc.). The only differences are in the keywork (the Zephyr has Zephyr Special style keywork from 1947 on) and some of the materials--the Zephyr does not have a silver neck or bell. But the rest is the same--the bore, the bell size, the composition of the body tube (brass in all), the gage of the metals used, basically everything that determines how loud a horn can be.

But in the end, it's the player who determines the volume, is it not? I guarantee if I handed my 1956 Zephyr tenor with DS neck to Clarence Clemons between songs while he was on tour with his Boss, that he could make the hair stand up on Mr. Allan's head--and cause him to have to refill his fish bowl while he was at it. In contrast, I sincerely doubt that Mr. Allan would impress the Big Man with whatever volume he could coax out of his SS.

Again, if you're on a budget (i.e., can't raise the 4 G's for a SS) I second the suggestion for a good Zephyr, preferably one made before 1958, the year they eliminated the double socket neck. My '56 Zeph is a real screamer, an absolute monster whenever I want it to be. Basically, it's the horn I put away when I'm afraid of offending the neighbors.

Another way to look at it--I've never heard of SS's being appreciably louder than regular silver-neck Super 20's. And going from there I've never heard anyone claim that a Silver neck Super 20 is any louder than a Zephyr made the same year (for I admit the designs did change over the years).

Is it possible that the few Zephyr's Mr. Allan blew on were lemons? I've owned 6 Zephyr tenors in the last 4 years of different vintages ('38, '46, '52, '54, '56 (times 2)) and all of them were a little different with two being outright stuffy and the 56 examples being the most monstrous.

With all handmade horns, sometimes you have to keep searching as I did until you find a great one (same with the VI's). Perhaps the Zephyrs he blew just weren't that great.

And isn't it possible that King may have only used the best sax bodies that came off the line to bear the name of Silver Sonic, which if true, would mean there would be fewer SS lemons? I have heard they reserved the best of the best for Cannonball and other product endorsers so this theory would make sense to me too.

The moral of this story is not to judge any vintage horn model after just blowing on one or two examples.

And saying a SS is physically louder than a Zephyr of the same year is just pure Barbra Streisand. Brighter?--perhaps, but again that's probably a more subtle issue of perception that is more evident to the player than the audience.

It's the player that determines how loud a horn is. Just go ask the Big Man. :)
 
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