Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 45 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm helping a buddy with finding a tenor sax. He's been using the schools horn which can't really play a few notes, etc. Now he has a job, so we've been seriously looking into different things.

There have been a few different times when I've heard people saying to steer away from vintage horns due to the intonation issues they present. Since he's not doing great on money and will be paying for this by himself, would you find it appropriate to get a horn, for college, high schools, (hopefully beyond) that is a vintage horn? I play a Cannonball Tenor, Ref. 54 Alto, and New Wonder I Alto.

When his parents were helping him before (now they aren't) he was supposed to stay around $2,000 - $2,500 max. Considering I got my New Wonder for $400.00 in excellent condition from a good guy I've kept in contact with, I feel compelled to move him that way. Before we were looking Taiwanese.

If so, I was considering leading him towards: Conn: New Wonders, 10M. King: Super 20, Voll's. Selmer Mk7 (if we could test). Martin Tenors? Buescher Tenors?

Thanks guys,
-Bubba-
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,450 Posts
It really depends on the horn and the mouthpieces he would use, as well as condition of the instrument, as well as his chops, etc. The "deep" vintage horns like your New Wonder can be a real concern, but later vintage stuff made during, say, the 70s tend to have lesser worries with modern mouthpieces. There is no guarantee until he puts his piece on the horn and blows, however.

One honest dealer you trust who has horns he can actually try is worth more than a trillion internet recommendations.

Also, it would be a real neat trick to find another New Wonder tenor for $400.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,016 Posts
There have been a few different times when I've heard people saying to steer away from vintage horns due to the intonation issues they present.
This is not true across the board. All saxes have intonation issues to some extent. Bueschers probably have the best intonation of the vintage horns from the '30s to early '50s, and imo they have at least as good or better intonation than any modern horn. I'd look at Buescher Aristocrats (especially series one & Big B), Conn 10M, and Martins. Super20 would likely be out of his price range, and not necessarily any better than the Conns or Bueschers.

The single, most important, crucial thing is to get a horn in top playing condition or budget to have it put into top playing condition.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
It really depends on the horn and the mouthpieces he would use, as well as condition of the instrument, as well as his chops, etc. The "deep" vintage horns like your New Wonder can be a real concern, but later vintage stuff made during, say, the 70s tend to have lesser worries with modern mouthpieces. There is no guarantee until he puts his piece on the horn and blows, however.

One honest dealer you trust who has horns he can actually try is worth more than a trillion internet recommendations.

Also, it would be a real neat trick to find another New Wonder tenor for $400.
He's got pretty good chops as far as reading, ears, etc... A lot of his issues that I see in his playing seem to stem from being stuck with really bad instruments, he forces, tongues incredibly hard, etc.

He was actually planning on getting a good mouthpiece at the same time he gets a new horn. He likes playing on my Otto HR 7*.

Could you recommend a few areas in the later vintage range? I'm more of a 20s - 50s area personally.

My Conn is an alto if that makes you feel better. I think the guy cut me a deal since I sent a few buddies to him for Clarinets, and Saxes. :)

-Bubba-
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
The single, most important, crucial thing is to get a horn in top playing condition or budget to have it put into top playing condition.
Of course.

I've personally never played any of the Bueschers. Curious, Selmer Bundy's are supposed to be the same as a buescher horn, wouldn't that be like having a student horn all over again? Surely, they can't be exactly the same? A bit off topic...

-Bubba-
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
Of course.

I've personally never played any of the Bueschers. Curious, Selmer Bundy's are supposed to be the same as a buescher horn, wouldn't that be like having a student horn all over again? Surely, they can't be exactly the same? A bit off topic...

-Bubba-
Nope, my Buescher 400 TH&C kicks the pants off every horn I've played!! No way comparable to a bundy. Never had problems hopefully never will!
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,016 Posts
I've personally never played any of the Bueschers. Curious, Selmer Bundy's are supposed to be the same as a buescher horn, wouldn't that be like having a student horn all over again? Surely, they can't be exactly the same?-
No. I wonder where you heard that? The real Bueschers were made in the '20s to early '50s. Just like any other brand, they varied quite a bit, but were generally top quality horns thoughout that period. If you've never played an Aristocrat ('series 1' or Big B/156), you might want to try one sometime. I have a very good MKVI tenor ('65) and a couple of Aristocrats. The 'Crats are serious contenders to the VI, especially in tone quality where they excel beyond most horns, imo.

The TH&C is a great horn also, but not as reasonably priced as the Aristocrats.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Don't get me wrong. I love vintage saxes. I currently own 3 vintage sopranos, a 1950 SBA alto, and a closet Conn 10 M tenor. I have also worked on and overhauled several old Conns, Bueschers, and Selmers. Saxes made in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's that have had a lot of playing time can have some significant mechanical issues due to the wear of the soft brass of the keys and posts. This along with very imperfect toneholes can make an older sax very undependable and difficult to keep in good regulation without a mechanical overhaul.

Since a quality repad/mechanical overhaul can run anywhere from $800 - $1600 depending on where you take it, that "great deal" on a vintage horn for $600 can end up costing over 3 times that amount in order to make it a dependable playing instrument. At that point a modern Taiwan saxophone with no miles on it and a new case becomes a viable option.

A good strategy would be to not pay too much for a sax that has not had a good overhaul in its recent past to allow for the work it probably needs. I like to think of saxes as cars. I wouldn't buy a car with over 200,000 miles on it unless it has had an engine and transmission overhaul unless I could get it at a rock bottom price so that the necessary preventive work could be done to make it dependable. Just putting a new set of tires (pads) on it would help some, but it would take quite a bit more mechanical work to get another 200,000 miles out of it.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
17,982 Posts
Gotta disagree (very respectfully) with most of that first paragraph, although I understand the spirit of the comment. The assumption that vintage = worn out/in need of major work...is really misleading. (The vintage car analogy didn't help either....as I like to point out...saxes aren't Edsels. They are saxes, and if they have been taken care of even moderately well over their lives, they have a hecka lot left to give...). I accept it as a caveat emptor comment, though.

A $700 budget can get you arguably some of the most solid vintage Tenors EVER produced, in good condition.

If one cannot find a vintage horn online which has been worked into poppin' playing shape and has no significant structural issues for under $800...then one isn't looking very hard. Because it is a BUYER'S market right now, and will be for a long time to come if not forever (likely the latter).

Six of one, half-dozen of the other: As JB notes.... you CAN also buy a solid vintage player for $400-500 and have a tech work it up. However, I feel that for $300-400 you should be able to get some significant work done to it (unless you live in SF, where the 3 most popular techs here will insist you need to put 2-3 times that amount into it)....So the buy price plus tech work can put you at $750...so, it'll get you in the same exact place as buying one worked-up, really. Why not make it easy for yourself and just buy a horn which already is set to go ?

$700-800 can also get you an incredibly mediocre contemporary horn (although, granted...it'll be nice and shiny). It's not much of a contest, really...unless one is really looking for that newer, bright, reedy, brassy tonal paradigm which the vast majority of post 1980 saxes tend to offer.

In response to your other concerns:

~ Intonation...I agree w/JL, although I would expand that threshold back to 1950. The '20's and '30's saxes can get a little challenging, as a generalization. By the 50's, the good makers had ironed out most intonation quirks. I also feel that vintage horns get a bad knock in this dept. because over their lifetime they often have failed to receive proper attention regarding keyheight settings. Once a good tech gets that dialed in, many vintage horns are in the pocket.

~ Choices: you are going back in time in order to find cheaper prices. I understand this, and Kudos for doing some research and realizing that something like a Voll-True II or a Conn Wonder will be cheaper than a Zephyr Special or a 10M.
I would offer this advice...stay in the 50's and beyond and go to second-shelf models...Conn 16M usa-made, King Clevelands, Martin Indianas, Buescher Elkharts or Aristocrats....OR... European horns such as Keilwerth New Kings or Kohlerts or D & J's or Pierrets and such. Any of these can be had for $200-500 needing some work, or $500-800 all set to go.

I love VT-II's and those other oldies....they are gorgeous and have a sound of a bygone era which is quite beautiful.... but it's fair to say they aren't the most flexible of horns. Any of the above horns are really quite impressive players when adjusted properly and they can last a good, serious player for a long time, if not forever...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
I'll have to agree with JayeSF. Some really really great vintage horns out there, and you can get a lot of bang for your buck! And in most cases if the horns are taken care of and properly maintained they will play like new, no matter how old they look. If your on a budget, the Mark vi worshiping crowd and look into the other horn makers. A vintage horn is great value for money, and as long as its not too old it will suit a beginner to intermediate player just fine. It's important not to have to fight your equipment and a good quality vintage horn will never be something you have to fight against.

Bueschers are extremely undervalued right now and will probably remain that way (The crats are abundant on the online market right now I know). Their tone IMO is absolutely top notch a good crat or 400 will get you a long way in that regard. Listen to Johnny Hodges, he played a 400. That'd be my recommendation but thats only my preference!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I'm personally more compelled to agree with JayeSF as well, though I definitely understand jbtsax's point. Especially coming from a sax tech.

I'll definitely look more at the Bueschers than I was in the past. They were actually the first real vintage horn that I ever saw... Which got me hooked.

I've personally not had much experience with the older European horns, though I'll be doing some research on them now that you bring them up.

What things make these horns not the "most flexible" horns? You mean the ergos? The ability to play different settings? Projection? Classical/Jazz settings?

Thanks
-Bubba-
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member.
Joined
·
2,090 Posts
I'm not really sure about your buget ,$400 or $2000, but imho the best bargains with more modern keywork are the Buffet SDA or S-1, and the Mark VII. You seemed worried about the VII. Don't be, unless your friend has small weak hands, these are great horns, contrary to the bad press. If these break the budget, one of the nicest horns I owned was a very early 60's Buescher 400. Great sound, decent ergos and easy to play. I sold it years ago and the person who bought it still owns and loves it. Also, The Martin Tenor from the 50's are monsters, and approach modern ergos. Of course, condition is everything when buying used, but the later 2 could be a real bargain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Spike, I agree, I LOVE the buffet horns that I've tried. At our OMEA Convention we had a Buffet/Everette/Keilwerth stand with about two of each model since the beginning of their makings. Surprisingly, one of the early 2000 horns was the best playing/sounding horn I tried while I was there. (Over some Selmers/Yamaha's/Yanis/CB). I completely overlooked them, I'll definitely make a point of bringing them up to him, since there is a Buffet dealer about 45 minutes north of us.

Another vote for a Buescher. Doing some research right now!

Thanks,
-Bubba-
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,016 Posts
What things make these horns not the "most flexible" horns? You mean the ergos? The ability to play different settings? Projection? Classical/Jazz settings?-
Bubba, it depends on what you mean by 'flexible.' In my experience the vintage horns I've played are decidedly MORE flexible (in terms of tone, note bending) than any modern horn I've played. Ergos don't have anything to do with flexibility; they have more to do with how the keywork responds. The better vintage horns have excellent ergos once you get used to them. I admit my VI has the best ergos of any horn I've ever tried, but after a short adjustment period, the Bueschers feel just fine.

I can't speak for all the vintage horns. Most of my experience is with a MKVI (I assume a VI is out of contention due to price) that I've owned for 25+ years, a couple of Buescher Aristocrats which I also own and play, and some trials on a King Super20, Conn 10M, and Martin. These are all great (not just good) horns, imo, assuming they are properly set up in good playing condition.

p.s. JayeSF could certainly steer you in the right direction for a wide range of vintage horns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
p.s. JayeSF could certainly steer you in the right direction for a wide range of vintage horns.
Check out his site if you haven't already, it'll give you some nifty value info
The link is in his signature
Cheers
 

·
Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
Joined
·
8,588 Posts
Of course.

I've personally never played any of the Bueschers. Curious, Selmer Bundy's are supposed to be the same as a buescher horn, wouldn't that be like having a student horn all over again? Surely, they can't be exactly the same? A bit off topic...

-Bubba-
You'll note he said 30's to the '50s. I'd extend that through the 50's. A Selmer USA Bundy II is based on the Buescher Aristocrat design, but it isn't the same horn by any stretch of the imagination.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,484 Posts
Speaking of Bundys... I have had several Bundy saxes, and some are certainly better than others.

I have a Bundy tenor from about '69 that is fantastic, it's my backup tenor, and I happily play it when necessary. I've got a Bundy alto from about '76 that's not quite as nice. Feels good and seals well, but a bit of a bear to play in tune. Makes my King Zephyr "look like a Yamaha" in terms of intonation. (As an aside, not every Yamaha is as in tune as their reputation suggests, but that's another topic). But the tone, man... that Bundy has a great tone. I keep it for emergencies. My wife has had two Bundy II saxes from the '80's and 90's. She has since sold both. When we had a "Bundy I" and a "Bundy II" to compare directly, I studied them both carefully. The fingerboard is largely identical except for the "modern Selmer type" LH pinky cluster, the shape of the octave key touch, and the shape of the high E key. Body tubes are identical except for the bell. Somehow, though, even with all the similarities, the Bundy I just outplayed the II.

If you can only find a Bundy, I have no issue recommending one. My personal Bundy tenor will probably stick around until I'm dead, not even kidding. Not worth enough to bother selling and the tone is too good to put away. It's not as good as my VI, don't get me wrong here, but it's not horrible in comparision, either.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,484 Posts
Oh, and as for the "is a vintage horn bad for a student" argument... definitely not. Any sax that plays well and is in good adjustment is potentially suitable for any player. This much should be obvious, really.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
17,982 Posts
Not to get too off-topic, but Bundy was made by a lotta different factories over the life of the name.

The early Geo. M. Bundy horns were Conns...up into the '30's, if I am not mistaken. Wayne Shorter played one of those on some very early recordings, I believe. I just worked one up; those are pretty nice, actually, for an inexpensive vintage Tenor...they possess many of the great qualities of those older Conns, that huuuge sound and pretty comfy ergos for so old a beast...as well as the not-so great old-Conn aspect of the player having to learn to intone it properly.

There are J. Keilwerth Bundys (H & A Bundy Specials) from the '60's. Those are fantastic (I have one of 'em I am working up, too).

And...recently uncovered, in another thread here...was an Italian-made Orsi Bundy, apparently from the '50's. It looked pretty nice, too.

I find it an interesting measure as to the quality of contemporary student instruments that old Bundys have now earned quite a bit of respect !
Back in the day...middle school, high school...we razzed players if "all" they had was a Bundy (and the band rooms were full of 'em ~ yes, we could be twits back then). But today, I have heard several well-respected techs advise questioners the same thing: between a contemporary asian-made budget-ish horn and a used Bundy from the 60's-'80's...choose the Bundy, hands-down. And indeed, by today's standards, they are pretty good, tough ol' muthas which don't sound bad (well, the I's or earlier, that is...I think the II's are awful really).

I do feel, however, with a budget of $700...you can do better than an old Buescher-esque Bundy. For a $350-400 budget, the argument grows much stronger. But for 7 bill$, there's more out there.
 
1 - 20 of 45 Posts
Top