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This wasn't supposed to happen. I picked up a 10M at JunkDude a few months ago almost on a lark, while on a more serious quest for an alto. In a trade, JunkDude offered me an alto along with either a goodly sum of cash or this 10M. I figured hey, you can always have cash, but when are you gonna have a 10M? So, although I've been perfectly happy with my Mark VI tenor, I grabbed this 10M as a "spare."

Over the summer I've played her for a few gigs just to see what she's got to offer.

I'm extremely damn impressed! The 10M isn't as loud or bright as my late VI, but it goes from a velvety subtone that's fatter than what my VI has to offer at that volume level, to a pretty impressive bark. The horn feels resonant, fleet and lively, a joy to play.

Except. Twice a week for the past month I've been playing this horn along with my new TH&C alto on trio and quintet gigs, and I'm starting to get the thumb equivalent of carpel tunnel syndrome thanks to the cruel, convex, satanic pearl left thumb rest on both horns. My left thumb burns and tingles, and I have problems even with grasping objects and such (I'm left-handed besides...). I didn't have this problem when I was alternating between my (cruel) TH&C alto and the (oh-so-very-kind) VI tenor, because I think the tenor's friendly thumb rest gave my poor hand a break. When I'm alternating between the Buescher and the Conn, my thumb is aching by the end of the night.

Part of the problem is the 10M's odd balance, which has been noted here by plenty of folks. The placement of the neckstrap hook makes the horn want to swing over and crack you in the chops. So, of course, I'm pushing away with my thumb...

Anyways, here's what I'm considering doing with (or TO) this horn:

1) moving the neckstrap hook, or adding a second, lower one, and achieving sweet balance;

2) somehow modifying the convex thumb rest (a friend of mine who loves and plays vintage horns but doesn't give a hoot about "collectability" suggested filing it down ... eek!);

3) modifying the front-F key so it vents instead of opening far -- otherwise, no high G for me! (I don't think this last mod would be truly destructive -- looks like a lever could be bent to achieve my purpose...);

4) maybe removing the annoying-to-me G# trill key (looks like I could unscrew a rod and just take it out, without doing anything permanent...)

1 and 2 above would be destructive, no turning back kinds of things to do to the horn.

I *thought* I didn't give a fig about the horn as a fetishistic collector's object. A horn's only useful to me as a player's tool. But: this 10M came to me from JunkDude in beautiful, original condition. It was made in 1946, the last year with rolled tone holes. It's in original lacquer, and in great condition. The Naked Lady is all naked and stuff.

If I do these things to the horn, *I'll* be the guy who took an irreplaceable horn and ... messed with it.

Also if I do these things to the horn, it'll likely become my primary tenor. And the instrument was meant to be played, was it not? Those 1946 brass molecules will put out 2007 sound waves, and isn't that what the horn gods intended?

If I don't make the mods, the horn will still function as a spare tenor, but will spend the absolute vast majority of its days in a case.

So what would you do?
 

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They're great horns. The only "problems" are some of which you mention. If you intend to keep the horn, do whatever it takes to make playing it a pleasure. It'll be worth it. If you think you might resell it, I believe the modifications will lower the resale value since most folks what an unaltered instrument.
 

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Sell the 10M to one of those fetishistic collectors or put it in the closet waiting for 10M mania to kick in and prices to soar.

Get a backup horn that works for you. Repetitive stress syndrome can do permanent damage. Don't risk it.
 

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Will it really become your main horn long term? I'm no purist when it comes to altering a horn to make it play better or more comfortably and frankly all that look at her but never touch her horn collector BS kinda pisses me off. Instruments were made to make music. Tools. like a hammer.

But, human nature being what it is, I think many times when we get a new horn we think its great and better than our main horn but after a while the new wears off and we wind up back on with our old standby.

I have made similar mods to most of the horns that became my main horns for any length of time but I would suggest not doing anything that can't be reversed until the honeymoon is over. Maybe try to find a temp/reversible solution for the thumbrest issue and see if the horn will really stands the test of time before doing anything else. After all a horn can only be in original condition once.
 

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look at the Planet Conn website. Les Arbuckle puts a selmer stuff thumbrest for the left hand on his 10Ms.
 

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Sell your "fancy" 10M and get one that plays well, but doesn't look as nice. I've put a second strap hook ring on my well-played 1936 10M, replaced the original LH thumb rest with a black plastic alto size Selmer-style rest, and the G# key is disconnected. It makes the sax a lot more comfortable, and has no negative impact on the sound.

But I couldn't have made myself do it if it was pristine.
 

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Sell it don't damage a mint 10M. Kelly let me expand on my answer.
I have a 10M the same age as yours but mine was a save from a pawn shop. From what I can tell it had been a survivor of marching band. big dent in the bow and next to right hand thumb rest. Also it looked like someone tried to remove the neck while it was clamped down. The rods where also bent. I took it to my tech and he was able to repair it good as new. It is amazing that everything was still intact after all those years.

So when I read your post and yours is in much better condition. I think you should leave the old girl alone. I notice on mine the previous owner had a problem with the left hand thumb rest also. It looks like he or she just moved there thumb over to the side of the rest. I use a neotech strap or sometimes I use my neotech harness that seems to help. Sometimes I play sitting down. I also try some of the sitting position Lester Young used.
 

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Ah, make it play if you love it. Sooner or later the horn bubble will collapse like the real estate market but worse. These old horn are great but the prices have been really jacked up by ebay wanna be horn flippers. Go ahead and flame me. I know Im askin for it. Sooner or later someone has to say it! :director: :a-run: :a-run: :shaking2:
 

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I had to make a decision in regard to my 10M after I bought it, as my tech found the neck receiver to be hopelessly out of round. He could work with brass though, and made a near exact duplicate for my near mint '40 10M. That was a repair more for need than preference, but still I was taking a chance and definitely reducing my horn's value. So... after I went ahead and had the duplicate part installed, the horn played so much better. In fact, had the seller figured out what might have been holding it back, it probably never would have been offered for sale. I kept the old receiver though, should I sell the horn down the road and a buyer wants to try to resurrect it. Wish I didn't have to do it... but I'm glad I did.
 

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In regards to the thumb rest issue:

I had a similar problem with the convex thumb pearl on my 6m. At first I used a soft stick-on felt (like you would put under chair legs).You could get a donut shaped one which kind of 'flattens' out the pearl. This alleviated most of the discomfort. Looked daggy but did the job.

I eventually got my tech to slightly raise the octave key. I have taken the felt off and it feels fine now.
 

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i added a second strap ring to my 10m and it made all the diff in the world.
 

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Hey Kelly,

I'm not disagreeing with Al about the potentially serious problem of repetitive strain injury, but I had some fairly significant pain/discomfort when I first got my vintage King tenor, and then again when I got my Martin tenor.

In both cases it got to a point where I thought I would have to do some kind of modifications to make the horn truly playable; however, in both cases, the discomfort just went away after a while. With the King I just got used to it and, while the ergos are still rough, the horn itself feels very comfortable. With the Martin (which also has the cruel left thumb pearl), I'm still looking for just the right neckstrap, but the effects of the pressure on my hand seem to be going away.

If I'm remembering correctly, in both cases the discomfort started a few months after I got each horn and lasted for maybe 3 months total.

Rory

ps. I'm agonizing over a different mod: whether to detach or disarticulate the G# mechanism to lighten the low C# on my Martin.
 

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Brad Wherry attached an extension to my neckstrap hook, about an inch and a half long. Later, we just moved the whole thing (but it would've been fine if I had used a plastic hook on my straps at the time). Great horns, it can be fixed and Who cares about resale if you want to play the thing.
 

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I'll second what retread said... If you are looking to PLAY it, sell it, get the nice premium for a minty RTH 10m that you will undoubtedly get, then take those funds and get one that looks like poop, is a relac, etc., but is set up well and modify away. It'll play just dandy, you can make it whatever way you want it with a clean conscience, and the best part is you'll have a bunch of money in your pocket.
 

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I borrowed a 10M a couple of times from my buddy. I couldn't stand the balance. I would defintely move the strap ring.

About the left hand thumb rest--I played a selmer signet for a number of years. It has a similar problem. I started practicing not resting my thumb on the pearl. The pain, I found came because I was gripping the horn too hard with my thumb. Using minimal pressure made the problem go away.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Many thanks to all for your thoughtful comments. Lots of stuff to chew on.

Spiderjames is astute about getting past the "honeymoon" stage before doing anything drastic. Since I need to play the horn to find out if it's "the one," while the ergos are making that exploration tough to do, I'll grab some non-destructive ideas here and give those a shot. Along those lines, I like freejazz's idea of the doughnut shaped felt as a first thing to try....

If this horn were a relaq, I'd go for the mods with no twinges of conscience. I'm not concerned about resale value of the horn at all (I think!) -- it's more an awareness that this tenor, old as she is, will I guess be around longer than I'll be, and eventually will pass on to somebody else (and, of course, in the future the use of mag-lev neckstraps and bionic thumb implants will eliminate the need to modify the ergos anyway...).

I don't want to be the guy that someone not yet born will remember as "that dork who screwed up this horn."

Anyways, thank you all for your insight and suggestions....
 

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area51recording said:
I'm also a pragmatist with this stuff. The damn thing isn't Excalibur. It's a sax, albeit a nice one. Mod it and play the dang thing.
It depends on your financial picture. If you're never going to be hurt for money, it sounds like a horn you could keep for a lifetime. The 10m is one of THE classic horns. If I thought I'd be able to hold onto it for many years, then I'd definitely do the mods and make it MINE. But if you're a horn flipper, then the advice not to jeopardize its minty original condition is pretty sound.
 

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Go For It!!!

elly, as the owner of an admittedly rough 10M I would advise you to make those changes. At a minimum ,at least get the hook moved or just add a new one at a good balance point. You'll appreciate not getting hit in the chops when you let go the horn. As for the left hand thumb rest, if you don't want to make a permanent change ( I used epoxy putty tarted up with pearlescent white nail polish ):cool: but want something that doesn't look like a bodge job,try using Sculpy ( available at hobby shops or Lee Valley ). It's a plasticine -like product that hardens when baked in an oven.Just put a blob on your thumbrest,press your thumb into it to shape it,clean it up a bit for appearances sake,remove CAREFULLY so as not to deform it and bake as per directions. Once hardened you can glue it in place with some kind of adhesive that's removable and Bob's your uncle.The other changes you're talking about sound like they would involve simply replacing the components to bring back to spec.The bottom line though is that these changes will actually improve the horn and make it more usable. The only people who won't appreciate these mods if you decide to sell on are collectors who are buying the horn for looks not sound .Do you really want to see this horn silently getting dusty in a glass case?:(
 
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