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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all --

I am falling more & more in love with playing soprano. Now I want to get a vintage sop for the feel of an era (>1920s; I have a new one already). The questions is: which ones are good sopranos, which ones are better avoided?

Any insights you could give me would be appreciated. In particular, what brands/models are recommended (Buescher, Conn, King ...)? How much $$$ would give me a nice playable horn? Many vintage horns seem yo go for around $800 on Ebay, which is within my budget. I even like the idea of restoring a sop myself, so I wouldn't mind getting sth that needs new pads, etc, and is in less than perfect condition. My last question is an embarrassing one: True Tone horns are horns in C (rather than Bb), right? If you entertain selling one of yours, feel free to shoot me a PM.

Thanks!
 

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TrueTone was Buescher's model designation in the 1920's. When they changed to Aristocrats and 400's, they still kept the TrueTone logo and name stamped on the back of their saxophones.

TrueTone is a model, not a key. I have four TT's from that era (two Bb sops, an alto, and a C-mel). Bechet played Buescher TT sops.

I've owned Conn sopranos and Bueschers. I've never played a Conn with a solid scale; not that they don't exist, I've just never played one. But all the Bueschers I've owned and played were all solid horns with good scales.

I've never tried a Martin, so I'll reserve judgement on them. Buy a TT soprano and be glad you have one. DAVE
 

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A hard question to answer. I just sold a Buescher and still have a Conn, L&H and 3 Kings. I think most people will like the Conn overall but the King is a much overlooked horn. Many are keyed to high F, have a high C# adjuster and the LH pinky cluster is the best of them all. I think you need to look around and buy by condition. I have a customer who is selling a Conn Chu Berry that is in nice condition with a few dings but it is over the $800 number. A vintage one in decent playing condition will usually go for over $600.Remember that pads are not that expensive to replace but if you want a looker, it will cost a bunch to refinish. This is why I prefer to find one that has a good finish.
 

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Giganova said:
True Tone horns are horns in C (rather than Bb), right?
The Buescher C sopranos are going to be straight and only keyed to Eb3. They'll measure about 22" as well. It's also very important to make sure a vintage soprano isn't a high pitched horn. I've got a curved Buescher TT you're welcome to try out (not for sale, however), as I'm not far from DC. Just shoot me a PM.
 

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From my experience, if you find a clean one, you can't go wrong with a mid to late 1920s Martin, Conn, or Buescher. Short of auditioning all three at the same time, pick one that appeals to you and learn how to make it sing. Each has a different center, but work at it for a while and you're sure to find it whichever of these terrific vintage saxes you choose.

For a newly overhauled sax, expect to pay around $1000, but don't be stingy.


Two caveats:
Unless you're an expert technician, don't work on the horn yourself (I know this from experience, too).
And, if the horn needs pads, corks, etc., expect to add about $400 to the purchase price.

Anyway, post us the horns you're interested in, and we'll throw in our two cents.

This Buescher looks really nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all for your great suggestions, which is a big help!

Betel: I saw that one, too -- looks really nice! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great suggestions so far!

If you had the choice between a White, King, Buescher True Tone, Conn New Wonder, Evette (Couf), Tone King or Armstrong (both Keilwerth), what would you chose??

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just wanted to let you all know that I bought an Evette & Schaeffer Buffet soprano from 1925 because it was relatively cheap ($300; Ebay item 150164453538).

I always wanted to restore a vintage sax (even though this one is in rather nice condition), so this one gives me the chance to practice (disassemble, de-lacquer, put in new springs & Roo pads, etc). There is another vintage soprano from 1897 (!) on Ebay right now that is very tempting, but it's in rather bad shape and I am not sure if I could succeed in restoring it to playing condition.

The True Tones look fantastic, but I didn't want to shell out a grand without knowing how it will play in the end. If my Evette & Schaefer restoration project goes well, I will buy a Buescher True Tone and restore it.

I think I am getting into that "vintage vibe" :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Carl H. said:
Is that a Goldbeck?
The mouthpiece? Not sure, we'll see when I get the horn.
 

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Grumps said:
Well, as long as it's not high pitched or keyed in C, you'll have a nice project.
No, neither of those - I asked about that, as I was bidding for a while, and the reply was "The sax is just a hair over 25 1/2 inches long without the mouthpiece."

Just what you needed to know, Giganova, and just what I didn't want to hear :cry:. If ever you want the matching alto, PM me.
 

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Hey Gig,

I have one of these too...about 600 S/N's newer than yours. I don't often play Soprano but if I need to, this is what I use. I bought it in the late '70's from a friend of mine. My wife says that she can't stand the intonation but I don't think it is that bad.

For a long time I used a hard rubber Wolfe Tayne mouthpiece but in the last couple of years switched to a Mogan J7.

If I stumbled on to a good quality newer horn at a 'friendly' price I would 'probably' update...but I really haven't been looking and nothing has ever dropped into my lap.

Also note that I am not a pro player...
 

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He also has a bass clarinet listed as a "vintage saxophone" and that is 36" so I think he has posted the wrong info.
 

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Vintage Lyon and Healy

I owned a vintage Lyon and Healy Low Pitch curved soprano that sounded as great as it looked. I had the horn silver plated in order to add metal to the tube where it was worn. Sweet, in tune, played easily top to bottom. One horn I regret selling :(
 
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