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Discussion Starter #1
We all know tenors are the best saxophones, but which ones are the best tenors?

For those of us who love to try great vintage horns, it would be helpful to create a list of the best (most desirable) vintage tenors from each major manufacturer. When possible, try to be specific to the time period/serial number. You could maybe think of this as a collector's checklist of vintage tenors.

There are likely more than one "best" tenor from major manufacturers, so it might be helpful to list a runner-up (or two), for example a 1960 Selmer Mark VI and a 1952 Selmer SBA. I understand there are exceptions to the rule, everyone has different preferences, there can be variation from one vintage horn to the next, etc..., so try to think of this in general terms. Feel free to list your personal favorites at the bottom, as well, but keep in mind, the focus is to create a general list of each manufacturer's best tenor(s).

I'll start, but remember, this is a work in progress. Feel free to update the list, narrow it down, or disagree…

Checklist of Great Vintage Tenors:

Selmer: Mark VI (c1960); SBA (c1952); BA (c1939)
Conn: 10M ("pre war" - mid-late 1930's??); Transitional (c. early 30's??)
King: Super 20 (c1950??)
Buescher: 400 Top Hat & Cane (c??); Big B (c??)
Martin:
SML:
Buffet:
Keilwerth:
Yamaha:
Others?...

My personal favorites (at least for now): 80k Mark VI; 47k SBA; 27k BA
 

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I would put all the Conn tenors from New Wonder till the end of rolled tone holes. (Lester Young, Chu Berry, Prince Robinson, and Bud Freeman knew something...)
I would add the Selmer Super. In my limited experience with one of these I thought it was better than any Mark 6 I've played (though I haven't played a lot of those either).
Martin Committee 1, 2, 3 are all great.
King Zephyr is a heck of a nice horn too.
 

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I'm not going to post the best serial numbers for the best sleeper vintage horns, 'cause then other people would buy them up and spoil the market for those that already know the good ones to get. :shock:

Do the homework instead of asking for the answers. :twisted:
 

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You mentioned Yamaha as a vintage horn. Maybe we should define vintage.
 

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You mentioned Yamaha as a vintage horn. Maybe we should define vintage.
To me, vintage is anything made before my birthday - that was a looooong time ago.

I can believe that for a lot of members, anything made in the previous century is "vintage".
 

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You mentioned Yamaha as a vintage horn. Maybe we should define vintage.
Well, this is just how I think of it.

Conn: anything before about 1960 or 65.
Martin: Any of the "Martin" saxes, none of the Yanagisawa ones.
Buescher: Before the Selmer buyout.
King: Before about 1970 or so.
Selmer: Mark 6 and before.
Yamaha: none.
Yanagisawa: Maybe some of the first weird Conn-imitations, but more in a "look how weird" sort of way, like the Toyota Crown, rather than a real "vintage" way like the Studebaker Golden Hawk.
Vito: Maybe the ones made by Beaugnier, definitely not the Yamaha ones.



Basically, the Mark 6 defined the "modern" saxophone. I am willing to put it in the list because it was the first one, but not any of the subsequent copies. For companies that did not make Selmer Mark 6 copies, I consider "vintage" to be their production up to the point where they started seriously cheapening the instruments and marketing them as student models. There is a certain implication of quality in the term "vintage".
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm not going to post the best serial numbers for the best sleeper vintage horns, 'cause then other people would buy them up and spoil the market for those that already know the good ones to get. :shock:

Do the homework instead of asking for the answers. :twisted:
Maybe it would be better if I call it a cheat sheet? This is part of the homework; I first need to figure out what the homework is and then spend some time in the practice room with it :)

You mentioned Yamaha as a vintage horn. Maybe we should define vintage.
Yeah, Yamaha is probably a stretch, although I really like the 62 purple logos. Let's define vintage as anything 50+ years old.
 

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Maybe it would be better if I call it a cheat sheet? This is part of the homework; I first need to figure out what the homework is and then spend some time in the practice room with it :)
All these discussions have been run to ground in the various brand forums. If you want me to define the homework for you, go to each forum and read "What is the best year/serial number for _____________ brand?"

Exercise the search function.
 

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We all know tenors are the best saxophones, but which ones are the best tenors?

For those of us who love to try great vintage horns, it would be helpful to create a list of the best (most desirable) vintage tenors from each major manufacturer. When possible, try to be specific to the time period/serial number. You could maybe think of this as a collector's checklist of vintage tenors.

There are likely more than one "best" tenor from major manufacturers, so it might be helpful to list a runner-up (or two), for example a 1960 Selmer Mark VI and a 1952 Selmer SBA. I understand there are exceptions to the rule, everyone has different preferences, there can be variation from one vintage horn to the next, etc..., so try to think of this in general terms. Feel free to list your personal favorites at the bottom, as well, but keep in mind, the focus is to create a general list of each manufacturer's best tenor(s).

I'll start, but remember, this is a work in progress. Feel free to update the list, narrow it down, or disagree…

Checklist of Great Vintage Tenors:

Selmer: Mark VI (c1960); SBA (c1952); BA (c1939)
Conn: 10M ("pre war" - mid-late 1930's??); Transitional (c. early 30's??)
King: Super 20 (c1950??)
Buescher: 400 Top Hat & Cane (c??); Big B (c??)
Martin:
SML:
Buffet:
Keilwerth:
Yamaha:
Others?...

My personal favorites (at least for now): 80k Mark VI; 47k SBA; 27k BA
Instead of chastising you or trolling you, I'll try to add a positive reply to your question. :)

Selmer: Mark VI (120k range for me), SBA (the 44k horns), BA (26k)
Conn: Chu Berry (later ones, 200k-235k), Transitional (250k - 259k), 10M (260k - 290k)
King: Zephyr Special (300k), Super 20 (320k)
Buescher: Big B (serial 290k-300k), Top Hat and Cane (any)
Martin: Committee I, II, or III. (any. Searchlight, Lion and Crown, "The Martin" horns respectively. All are great)
SML: Gold Medal, Rev D. (any serial)
Buffet: Superdynaction and S1, S2, S3 horns. (Any serial).
Keilwerth: Vintage Tonekings
Yamaha: Nope.

My personal favorite is the vintage "The Martin Tenor" in any serial range. Early ones are supposed to be darker and later ones supposed to be brighter. I play a 190,xxx range one and it can do anything. Have been playing it over a dozen years now.

A big vintage sleeper horn is the Couesnon Monople II. Wonderful french tenors with excellent intonation, good action, and a wonderful full rich tone. Hard to find one in perfect playing condition to try, though. Their altos are great, too. Very under-priced for what they are. Properly set up, will compete with horns many times it's value.

- Saxaholic
 

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Hey, you're not Milandro! ;)
The tip of that hat goes to Gary. Milandro is the resident gunslinger on using the search function - I am amazed at the store of citations that Andre sometimes unleashes.

+1 to the King 320xxx Super 20. I had one.

All the pre-Mk VI Selmers back to the Super can be something special. It just depends what you want out of a horn.
 

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The tip of that hat goes to Gary. Milandro is the resident gunslinger on using the search function - I am amazed at the store of citations that Andre sometimes unleashes.

+1 to the King 320xxx Super 20. I had one.

All the pre-Mk VI Selmers back to the Super can be something special. It just depends what you want out of a horn.
Gary retired from being the Search Function Warden years before he sadly retired from the forum. Now it seems George, that you have picked up where he left off. Quite nicely too, I might add. Milandro, as you have mentioned has a compendium of more links to every subject ever asked here than a school of barracuda have scales. Kudos to him for his scholarly ability.

As to the issue at hand I personally favor the Martin Comm III made in 1945 that I own. Better than any other tenor I've played or heard. Buescher Aristo Big Bs are also excellent sounding horns.
 

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Maybe it would be better if I call it a cheat sheet? This is part of the homework; I first need to figure out what the homework is and then spend some time in the practice room with it :)



Yeah, Yamaha is probably a stretch, although I really like the 62 purple logos. Let's define vintage as anything 50+ years old.
Yamaha 61. Beginning in 1966. 50+
 

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A big vintage sleeper horn is the Couesnon Monople II. Wonderful french tenors with excellent intonation, good action, and a wonderful full rich tone. Hard to find one in perfect playing condition to try, though. Their altos are great, too. Very under-priced for what they are. Properly set up, will compete with horns many times it's value.
+1. They can be had for almost nothing and are excellent horns indeed. Stencils cost even less.
I would add the Couf Superba I to the list just for clarity.
All of the Cleveland Super 20's are great BTW.
Beaugnier horns are great too and so are many of the Selmer VII's.
 

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I would add the Couf Superba I to the list
Agreed! This has been one of my favorite horns. Before this horn I honked a Yamaha 52, a '51 King Zephyr, 30s Conn 10M woth RTH, and for several years a fantastic late 50s Martin Committee III tenor. Those are all gone now, and I've picked up a Keilwerth Toneking sop to go with it, considering looking to find an alto to go with as well!
 
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