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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
To Stephen Howard I'm sure it's the G word, one up from the F word.

Following the recent thread and video which surprised many folk, I feel it's only fair to continue Grafton Appreciation Week with a link to Stephen Howard's excellent article: The Naked Grafton.

Yes that's the very same Grafton in the thread and video that fooled you all (sorry).

Here's the story:

I bought a Grafton (my fourth one) a few years back in very very good condition. (ie it wasn't cracked or melted). I took it to Stephen for a quick tweak.

Now, anyone who knows Graftons, will know that the action feels spongy and Stephen mentioned he could improve that, but it would need better pads. Hmmm, I thought, OK why not. If anyone can polish a ****, Mr Howard can.

The result, probably the only Grafton in the world that plays without that sponginess, but to begin to imagine the pain he must have gone through, see the article.
 

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Re: The Naked G

Thanks for the link...it was quite a good read.

But it doesn't sway me from wanting to add one to my stable :twisted:.

I think this should be permanently pasted somewhere on the forum:
In fact the Grafton is a rather good demonstration of how little body materials matter when it comes to tone.
Consider the following; if you accept that material makes a difference then there ought to be a very noticeable difference between the tone of the Grafton and that of a standard brass saxophone. But there isn't - which means that the difference between one alloy of brass and another will be far, far smaller...and the difference a coat of lacquer or plating will make will be even less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: The Naked G

Thanks for the link...it was quite a good read.

But it doesn't sway me from wanting to add one to my stable :twisted:.
Nor me another one. But who's going to fix it?
 

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Re: The Naked G

Just a general comment. I played a Grafton maybe seven or eight years ago at the Saxofoonwinkel in the Netherlands that was a superb player. I don't recall any abnormalities in its response, tone or anything else. It was a really good horn. I grew up on the legend about Bird "having to play a plastic horn" on the legendary Massey Hall concert, which fit the legends of the time of his having to play anything because of feeding his drug habit, so I was really surprised to play this Grafton and find out what a good horn it was. Another Bird urban legend trashed.
 

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Re: The Naked G

Nor me another one. But who's going to fix it?
That is a good question. I know of at least one semi-local tech that has successfully overhauled and performed body repairs on a Grafton. The question is whether I'll still be living near them by the time I get a Grafton of my own.

A vibratosax appeals to me as a temporary solution for my craving to have a Grafton...but that could yield its own headaches.
 

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Re: The Naked G

I grew up on the legend about Bird "having to play a plastic horn" on the legendary Massey Hall concert, which fit the legends of the time of his having to play anything because of feeding his drug habit, so I was really surprised to play this Grafton and find out what a good horn it was. Another Bird urban legend trashed.
Although a lot of Bird legends probably were true, I never bought the idea he didn't care about what type of horn he played. No doubt he pawned a number of saxes, but I bet he wouldn't play a horn on any gig, never mind Massey Hall, unless he liked the horn.
 

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Re: The Naked G

I restored one Grafton, and that will be the last one as well. Mine was a steaming pile condition wise compared to Pete's example that Stephen worked on, however I feel for him and what he went through none the less.

In the end, they sound great with good intonation. But that keywork, spring design, and body material.........what a nightmare!
 

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Re: The Naked G

C' mon Stephen...you love em really. I have had a couple over the years. They used to be cheap.; you could always find them. In saying that however, that was around the time i paid £300 for a Mk.VI tenor. As to how it played; dunno really. I get my alto fix from listening to Bud Shank....thanks guys...a
 

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Re: The Naked G

Nooo, I don't - honest!
I respect them for what they represent, and I admire them for their innovation at the time they were built.
Thing is, they were built for students - and a lot of compromises were made with regard to the action. If this is all we expected of them these days then it wouldn't be so bad...but I don't think I've ever seen a Grafton in the hands of a beginner.

And yes, they used to be cheap. I remember being offered one for £250 way back in the '70s. Mind you, they weren't alone...you couldn't give away a Martin back then.

Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
r.

And yes, they used to be cheap. I remember being offered one for £250 way back in the '70s. Mind you, they weren't alone...you couldn't give away a Martin back then.

Regards,
My first Grafton was £12/10.6d. Subsequent ones were £25 and £50. (That one was actually mint and I sold it for £75). The £25 one melted after I put Christmas tree lights in it. My current (VGC but not mint) was about £1700.

Oh yes, I did bid on a "near mint" one on ebay, when I went to collect it I found it was the typical cracked Grafton with a few bits missing. part of the LH stack fell off when I picked it up. So I refused to pay and got my first and only negative for being a "timewaster"

EDIT: I changed the title, maybe nobody wants to see the Naked G
 

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Re: The Naked G

I have played, a couple of years ago, the same Grafton that Gary played at the Saxofoonwinkel in Deventer the Netherlands, a superb Grafton example which was equipped with their toptone pads (Incidentally, they still have it and it is for sale for a huge 3750€ which doesn't sound like they want to sell it!) but I don't know how they dealt with the original Grafton Pad system which has screwed central rivets like a flute, possibly they had to remove that making it not " original" anymore ......in any case this horn because of the toptone pads wouldn't appeal to a collector.

I also have played another one which was considerably cheaper (1500€) but would have required some attention and that would have been a problem. ( Steve you have my sympathy! )

This horn was overhauled by a local tech . The pad job was not bad but the horn had a cracked body to bell joint , missed the pants-guard and there was also something which was wrongly mounted that impaired the correct opening of the alternate side C. I offered a considerable smaller sum than the seller was asking and he wouldn't budge , nor would I........so that one stayed where it was.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
possibly they had to remove that making it not " original" anymore ......in any case this horn because of the toptone pads wouldn't appeal to a collector.
Yes, to pay that much you'd expect mint or at least original. Of course you could always take it to Stephen Howard to restore it to the original style of pad/reflector

This horn was overhauled by a local tech . The pad job was not bad but the horn had a cracked body to bell joint , missed the pants-guard and there was also something which was wrongly mounted that impaired the correct opening of the alternate side C. I offered a considerable smaller sum than the seller was asking and he wouldn't budge , nor would I........so that one stayed where it was.
Good move. I think there is a vast contrast in value between the typical cracked and repaired Grafton and a mint or VGC. I recently was offered a mint one for about 3000, which I turned down, but apparently it sold quite quickly.

A scragged (but just about barely playable) Grafton I wouldn't consider more than £500, but I bet in this day and age somebody will. These are horns that I believe will go up in value, as more and more get dropped. Unlike a MKVI they can't be be repaired so there will be fewer and fewer undamaged ones as years go by. That's why was happy to pay what I did for my current one, apart from the fact I really wanted one to play and record, for its sound.
 

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Of course you could always take it to Stephen Howard to restore it to the original style of pad/reflector
Nahhh! I like to keep Steve as a friend! :bluewink:!

I was happy to pay what I did for my current one, apart from the fact I really wanted one to play and record, for its sound.
And what I have heard was a nice job too!
 

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Oh yes, I did bid on a "near mint" one on ebay, when I went to collect it I found it was the typical cracked Grafton with a few bits missing. part of the LH stack fell off when I picked it up. So I refused to pay and got my first and only negative for being a "timewaster"
"Near mint" you say? 'Ere ya go, guv!

 

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I know of a project for $2,500. I'm guessing the seller is also set on that price, since it's been for sale for at least several years. The keyguard is only partially there, all the mounting locations for it are damaged, it certainly needs an overhaul, and it looks crummy to boot. I've tried finding out more about it from the people who are selling it, but any time I've asked it seems like they don't want to talk about it.

I wish there were projects around for 10$...I would eagerly snatch up a few!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I know of a project for $2,500. I'm guessing the seller is also set on that price, since it's been for sale for at least several years.
fair enough, just waiting for either a sucker or the inevitable market value of Graftons and spare parts to rise. As I mentioned above. Currently that is not a reasonable price but it will be sooner or later.
 

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I think that although it is possible that the price of the Grafton (and of the Mark VI......but please let's not talk about it just this once!......) will go up again (although I think they have come down somewhat the last couple of years) we should ask ourselves if these are not myths for an ageing generation which is not going to be around in 25 to 50 years time.
In other words to be able to put these things on a pedestal you have to love Jazz and to have loved and known the likes of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane and all the other Jazz heroes. I am not sure that the people who will have the most disposable income in the future would know and value the same music heroes whom we value.
 

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I think the Grafton is always likely to rise in price - not perhaps because of any association with Parker etc., but simply because as each year passes there are fewer and fewer of them around.
Drop any other vintage horn and yes, it's a disaster...but it can be fixed. Drop the Grafton and all you have left is a bag of spares.

Regards,
 
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