Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Would someone mind making a list of Holtons, in order thru the years, with some indication of quality or intended market? Which were extra high quality premium, pro, intermediate, or student? Another good index to help me understand each Holton sax would be to list other makers' similarly competitive offerings, like which model of Martin, Selmer, King, or Conn?

Hope it's not too much trouble or contentious.

Thanks.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
alto: 82Zii/Medusa/Supreme, tenor: Medusa, bari: b-901, sop, sc-990
Joined
·
7,617 Posts
the concept of pro, inter and student horns is kind of a modern idea. In the 1920s and 30s, most all the saxophones could be considered professional (for the time). Around mid-century, the idea of student (read inexpensive) horns was born and many were sold to school districts.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
19,013 Posts
Yeah...I'd say later than that actually, like early-mid 60's...that's when the terms "student", "beginner", "intermediate" really began to be marketed and come into use. Coincidentally (?) that's when a lotta horn models underwent "redesigns" (an industry euphemism if ever there was one). So models such as King Zephyrs and King Clevelands were cheapened, as were Buescher 400's, Conn 14 and 16m's, the list goes on and on....

Now, there was the term "band instrument" floating around pre-60's...which sorta meant the second-line horns. Not student horns....just horns which were solid but lacking some of the features of the top-line horns; likely more intended/marketed to be used in a band section and such, as opposed to really being a lead or solo horn.

But it creates a lotta problems, because people who insist on the aforementioned labels began to seriously miscategorize the second line "band" horns as "student" or "beginner" models (they still do this every day...drives me nutz...I HATE it when folks call a nice old Conn Director or King Cleveland a "student" horn...grrrrrrrrrr:evil:) It's really a rather lazy interpretation done by folks who wanna sound like they are familiar with every brand, every era.

This sorta misinterpretation then gets amplified on a place like the internet...where opinion, once in writing...suddenly becomes accepted fact (did you read the thread here entitled "Why do people say these things ?") BTW, the irony is NOT lost that this is being discussed in the HOLTON section....:TGNCHK:

I have taken a fair number of these vintage second line horns to techs..and each time they initially kinda roll their eyes before they start, but by the time I come back to pick 'em up, they always say some form of the same thing: "this is really a solid player...I didn't think much of it when you took it outta the case, but..."

So, from what I have read and my experiences with Holtons (see ? I was gonna get off the soapbox eventually)...IMHO, the Revelations and 214's (ResoTones ?) and 241's, for example, were some horns which were designed and intended to be top-line pro horns (indeed they ARE)...while the Collegiates were intended to be the second-line band instruments.

I wish I knew more about the Rudys and the older era, but I don't... so someone else w/ far more expertise than I can chime in there.

Now, does this mean a '57 Collegiate...or King Ceveland...or Couf Royalist...or a Kohlert Bixley... or Martin Indiana, for chrissake.... is a "student" horn ? Yipes ! :shock:

Not by the contemporary definition of the word. All are better than contemporary "intermediate" players, in my opinion. Better sound, better construction, better Mojo. Much more bang for the buck. But somehow they have garnered the reputation as being inferior models....

And so it goes....

BTW, there's a nice-lookin' 241 which just popped up on eFlay today....
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
400 Posts
I agree with JayeSF. No American manufacturer made a "cheap" horn. When Conn moved to Mexico 40 years ago, the quality dipped, but those horns still play well for the intermediate player. Likewise with everyone else, as by the 1960s, most pro players played or wanted a Selmer. That's when I sold my Top Hat and Cane Buescher tenor for a decent price of $100. The horn makers could not find a market for their best horns, so they stopped making them and sold horns to the school market. I have read that King was losing $$ on every silver Super 20, but kept making them for the status. If you want a good sound without fancy engraving and more common finish, a "shooting star" Conn from the 1950s-60s is very similar to the famous "Chu Berry" model of the 1920s, but can be had for $150-300. I have never seen a "Made in USA" horn that wasn't a quality player. These were built by union craftsmen (including many women) who had spent years apprenticing. They were not built by robots or poorly trained workers who were on a family farm six months ago. Every horn has it's own timbre and character. As to Holtons, the same applies. The Holtons of the 20s, especially the Rudy models have a great sound, with the altos and c melodys possessing a brightness unrivalled by any horn of the day. If I were to buy a $300 horn, I would buy a used American horn, not a "Suckahatchi", as I call them. The better Asian horns are decent, but you'll pay over $700 and often get pads that wear out in a few years, costing a $200-400 rebuild. Another reason, as I have had experience in metallurgy, is an unusual phenomenon in metals (brass saxophones). The crystalline structure of sheet metal slowly aligns itself the longer it exists, that is, the atom structure assumes a direction of electron flow. This is perhaps why old horns have a different sound from new horns (also, the brass is usually thicker). The sound seems to resonate better down the brass tube, as it vibrates in an alignment (not perfect, as it takes centuries to achieve). This is my theory, but I know the atomic structure of sheet metal slowly re-aligns itself as it sits, so this could be a reason for that "vintage" tone. Jazzbug has rambled again!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
alto: 82Zii/Medusa/Supreme, tenor: Medusa, bari: b-901, sop, sc-990
Joined
·
7,617 Posts
in my opinion. Better sound, better construction, better Mojo. Much more bang for the buck. But somehow they have garnered the reputation as being inferior models....
I agree, epecially in durability of construction. The only exception is that some of the better brands of "student" sax (i.e. Jupiter, Cannonball, Antigua, et al) have better intonation than the older "band instruments".

As for the term "student", that should really be saved for some quality that makes the horn better for beginners. For example, some of the Vito clarinets which have smaller tone holes which are closer together than a standard clarinet. Those features really help young students.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
6,831 Posts
Yeah...I'd say later than that actually, like early-mid 60's...that's when the terms "student", "beginner", "intermediate" really began to be marketed and come into use. Coincidentally (?) that's when a lotta horn models underwent "redesigns" (an industry euphemism if ever there was one). So models such as King Zephyrs and King Clevelands were cheapened, as were Buescher 400's, Conn 14 and 16m's, the list goes on and on....

Now, there was the term "band instrument" floating around pre-60's...which sorta meant the second-line horns. Not student horns....just horns which were solid but lacking some of the features of the top-line horns; likely more intended/marketed to be used in a band section and such, as opposed to really being a lead or solo horn.

But it creates a lotta problems, because people who insist on the aforementioned labels began to seriously miscategorize the second line "band" horns as "student" or "beginner" models (they still do this every day...drives me nutz...I HATE it when folks call a nice old Conn Director or King Cleveland a "student" horn...grrrrrrrrrr:evil:) It's really a rather lazy interpretation done by folks who wanna sound like they are familiar with every brand, every era.

....
....
....

....

Now, does this mean a '57 Collegiate...or King Ceveland...or Couf Royalist...or a Kohlert Bixley... or Martin Indiana, for chrissake.... is a "student" horn ? Yipes ! :shock:

Not by the contemporary definition of the word. All are better than contemporary "intermediate" players, in my opinion. Better sound, better construction, better Mojo. Much more bang for the buck. But somehow they have garnered the reputation as being inferior models....

And so it goes....

BTW, there's a nice-lookin' 241 which just popped up on eFlay today....
On the King subject. Depends on era. And yes, Kings had 3 lines marketed by the 1960s. Pro, Intermediate, and Student.

The Pro line was the Super 20
The Intermediate line (shared the same body tube, with similar keywork, but old style LH table) Zephyr
The Student line King Cleveland (still had bell keys on LH side, along with the old keywork).

Here's an old ad to prove it.

Were they any less? No. They shared the same or similar body tubes, but different keywork in places. They all have the big King sound.

I don't know about Holtons, but you touched a nerve with the Kings! I had to say something! :) .

http://www.hnwhite.com/King/Saxophone page/1963 Z Bari Large.jpg
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the Holt
Joined
·
1,477 Posts
As far as later second line/student horns, the 566 and 577s labeled later as Collegiates (tenors and altos--can't remember right now which is which) seem to have been built to fill that niche. I'd like to hear impressions on them, if anyone has one. They look quite similar to other Holtons, although it has been said that they have drawn tone holes. I'm not sure if there is a Bari counterpart either. I have no idea how 566 and 577 serial numbers fit in either, and if other models were still being produced alongside them (stratodynes maybe???)

Also, since I mentioned tone holes: Is there a difference between the "soft soldered" thick Holton tone holes (like Martin) of early models and later models with "hard soldered" tone holes (like King s-20s???) I'm not a tech, so I maybe off here (assistance is appreciated!), but my 241 seems to have slightly thinner tone holes than my Revelation. Also, they are not as obvious on the 241 as being soldered, but when looking closely, they are not drawn--just kind of a different look, at least to me. Thoughts?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
35,011 Posts
Another reason, as I have had experience in metallurgy, is an unusual phenomenon in metals (brass saxophones). The crystalline structure of sheet metal slowly aligns itself the longer it exists, that is, the atom structure assumes a direction of electron flow. This is perhaps why old horns have a different sound from new horns (also, the brass is usually thicker). The sound seems to resonate better down the brass tube, as it vibrates in an alignment (not perfect, as it takes centuries to achieve). This is my theory, but I know the atomic structure of sheet metal slowly re-aligns itself as it sits, so this could be a reason for that "vintage" tone. Jazzbug has rambled again!
You'll have to provide some compelling evidence to back up those claims of metallurgy. The effect you mention of aligning with the direction of electron flow is true for copper traces experiencing a DC current but that's not the case in saxophones. THERE IS NO FLOW OF ELECTRONS IN A SAXOPHONE.

What is your "experience in metallurgy"?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
400 Posts
I worked in precious metals for over 20 years at the industrial level. I'm going by discussions with metallurgists who discussed the alignment of atoms (crystal structure) in metal objects. Being a player, I asked if this is true for brass and the answer was "Yes". They said it could improve the sound quality via better resonance, but it's possible that it would take many years to show a difference, perhaps a half century, as it is a very slow process which never really stops. The electrons flow in magnetic fields. These fields are obviously weak in brass, but all metals show a trace of magnetism. I am going second hand here, with no sources other than discussions with some elderly scientists form thirty years ago.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
6,831 Posts
Those theories aren't complete hogwash. That wwhat cryo-freezing, and heating is supposed to. Kinda, speed up the natural process. However, I only believe it makes the metal stronger, and do not subscribe to the thought of it actually changing the sound.

Brass (and all metals) also had a much different compound back then, due to no EPA regulations, so, the process in the old brass would be different from todays alloy.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
6,831 Posts
Ditto. Sorry about that :) .
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
400 Posts
Maybe we would have to travel back in time to find a Holton at its birth, sort of a "molten Holton" for an answer to the metal question. BACK ON TRACK: I have never played a Collegiate, but they look the same as other Holtons, except the early ones are based on Couturier horns, which would make the early Collegiates fine horns. I have restored and played Couturier C melodys and an alto and they are great players.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
418 Posts
We interupt this Holton thread for a .....
I worked in precious metals for over 20 years at the industrial level. I'm going by discussions with metallurgists who discussed the alignment of atoms (crystal structure) in metal objects. Being a player, I asked if this is true for brass and the answer was "Yes". They said it could improve the sound quality via better resonance, but it's possible that it would take many years to show a difference, perhaps a half century, as it is a very slow process which never really stops. The electrons flow in magnetic fields. These fields are obviously weak in brass, but all metals show a trace of magnetism. I am going second hand here, with no sources other than discussions with some elderly scientists form thirty years ago.
My secondary instrument is trombone. Over on the trombone forum many trombone players also claim older trombones sound better, as if the brass "mellows with age". Many prefer to work with a "broken in" trombone. I never knew if it was scientific, but after reading above maybe those guys weren't just imagining the difference.....hmmmm.........

We now return you to the regularly scheduled Holton thread...........
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
19,013 Posts
On the King subject. Depends on era. And yes, Kings had 3 lines marketed by the 1960s. Pro, Intermediate, and Student....
Just one more digression, then we can just take this outside, pal... ;) :TGNCHK:

What exact year is that ad ? Can you link me to the site, not just the image ? You said the ad is from the '60's...Clevelands go back much further than the 60's...it was exactly somewhere between '61 and '64 that the Clevelands got designed 'down'....smack-dab in that era when the word 'student' was starting to be used....
I have seen clippings from the late '50's , they don't describe the horns as "student" ....

And actually...here we go with what I wuz sayin'...to describe an old Zephyr as an "intermediate" horn....is just a friggin' joke. Your point is well-taken...that even King used the word sometime in the '60's. And I know Super 20 folks love to dress 'em down, those old Zephs, but heck...those (pre early '60's) , by today's standards....are friggin' professional beasts of a horn...they are kick#ss big-soundin' American horns.

Soybean....agreed...it's the on area where one can claim advantage to contemporary horns...intonation quirks...but IMHO, those are pretty easy to learn/accommodate on a vitage horn...ain't rocket science to figure out the particular horn....and for me, when you tally the all the pluses and minuses...vintage horns come out big winners....

....I promise not-'a-one-mo' Digression from these lipz.........

OK, so Holtons, yes....Geausax, I have a Collegiate here, an alto...I can't answer your Q although I am very curious too...but it's not in playing shape right now (hey anyone have a Holton alto neck, BTW ?) It's solidly built, significant...I haven't taken it out and compared it to the workmanship on the others, though...

I am also interested in the period post Rudy's..pre '40's....it's the era which I know least about. The Rudys...they were considered top-line horns, weren't they (back in the day) ?

Basically, if we can put the 214's & 241's, & Revelations in the pro column ( I think we can), and the Collegiates in the "band" column....where are the Rudy's ? And what are the Rudy-like-but-post-Rudy's ? I have my guess, but again I don't know about 'em....
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
6,831 Posts
My 3rd digression bud here it is ;) : http://www.hnwhite.com/Saxophone Page.htm#Baritone

I know Zephyrs were pro horns for a very long time. This ad even reflects that, but after the move to Eastlake, they were 3 distinct lines in their marketing (though no less in their playing abilities). I had a Zephyr (Eastlake) and it was every bit as professional as its Super 20 counter part, but without the latest modern keyboard features the Super 20 had.

Towards the end of the Zephyr reign as a top-notch pro horn, sometime when the Cleveland model was introduced, the Cleveland would have been an Intermediate level horn. The Super 20 was inching its way past the Zephyr as the pro line (Zephyrs and Super 20 were both pro horns run side-by-side, much like Selmers SA80II and SA80III is today) for quite some time before they all were "cheapened", going back to my original statement.

I wish I had exact dates on when all this occurred, but I don't, so I just generalize a decade.

The ad is 1963 BTW.

Hijack over.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
6,831 Posts
To my limited knowledge of Holtons, Rudys would be the "Artist" model. The cream of the crop. Top of the line pro horn. That's just from ads I've seen, and what has been pointed out on this forum (I love learning about the lesser known, and under dog brands).
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
400 Posts
Georgie Auld, the great tenor player played a Zephyr at least into the late 1960s and perhaps later. I have several 1960s albums with him photographed playing a Zephyr. My friend bought a King Voll-Tru III model, which is essentially a Zephyr from around 1935. It has seen very little use, has original lacquer, and the most ornate engraving on a stock horn I have ever seen. It is a great player and ranks with the best tenors I have ever honked on. He bought it for $350 locally. Kings (except the super 20s) are very undervalued, like Holtons. Perhaps the great sound is due to the special electrons they bought fron Nazi Germany. HAH!
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top