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Wondering about vintage altos...

2003 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Rick's Mark VI
As one of my other threads will tell you, I'm looking at a vintage Selmer Cigar Cutter from 1931, and it's definitely a beauty. But it looks like, were I to buy it, I'd be paying close to $2000 after all. Now, I know it's a pro horn and everything, but...with all the Conns and Bueschers going for under a thousand and stuff...aren't the Selmers a bit overpriced? I don't want to jump at a deal when I could get something better for the same amount or less. Just how far could $2000 go with vintage instruments, anyways? Currently I'm using a 1957 King Zephyr that blows me away, even though it's an intermediate version!
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I thought King Zephyrs were professional level horns.
Carbs, Ive never heard of the Zypher

The Zephyr is a pro horn, there is no such thing as an intermediate Zephyr

The Cigar Cutter IMO isnt gonna be worth your 2K unless you're trying to be a collector.

You haven't told us your reasons for wanting a vintage alto. Investment? A new horn to play? Other?

You say you might get "something better," if you look around. Better in what way???
Thanks Martin,
I didn't notice my misspelled words 'till it was to late, I'll fix it. To late being (that you told me :)).

You have a great saxophone, why you looking at another Alto? If you are set on buying a new saxophone expand buy a Tenor. Buy a Zephyr Tenor, then you'll have a matching set. A pro. horn is a pro. horn. It doesn't get any better unless you get it custom made. Can you get a custom made sax?

I paid $2500 for my gold-plated Cigar Cutter alto several years ago. Probably too much but I ain't gonna sell it, so now I have it and someone else doesn't. DAVE
The CG is a nice horn and should hold its value BUT for a players' horn, you can buy a really nice Buescher TT, Martin HC AND Conn with good pads and at least a 95% finish and still have some money left over for a nice mouthpiece. Any one of those horns can be bought for less than $700 needing no work. The downside is you just keep buying more and more and...
I think I have over 20 Altos right now. If you really like the CG and it looks good needing no work, go for it.
You stated in your post that your current Zephyr already blows you away. And the only reason you put for wanting a new horn was because it's a 'pro horn'. If your current one already plays beautifully, (and it is a pro horn, btw) I don't see the whole point of getting a new one just because your current horn is an "intermediate version".

Lots of pros gig on YAS-23s. Those are "beginner horns" by description, but honestly, does it stop them? No.
Martin Williams said:
The Zephyr is a pro horn, there is no such thing as an intermediate Zephyr
Once the Super 20 line was established, the Zephyrs were cheapened considerably, and most consider the later ones intermediate and/or student models. Not that they wouldn't blow the doors off of anything made today...

But yeah, pre Balanced Action Selmers are way overpriced, and are really only valued so high due to their collectibility. Gotta remember, Selmer didn't really hit their stride until the Super Balanced Actions. For $2K you could pretty much have your pick of vintage altos (but for VI's). I'm rather partial to Buescher.
Dave Dolson said:
I paid $2500 for my gold-plated Cigar Cutter alto several years ago. Probably too much but I ain't gonna sell it, so now I have it and someone else doesn't. DAVE
I have a LOT of horns that fit that description! :D
Ah, yes, I should have told you my reasons for looking at a new horn. And so I shall refer you here:

In any case, that's a list of problems that my Zephyr possesses, and I was looking for something a little more upscale without as many of those troubles. It's mainly the clunky keywork, sticky keys, and slightly bent neck on my Zephyr that are making me look around a bit more for something else...however...I definitely want to go vintage (I don't want to go modern at the moment). That's just the way I've always gone, and I prefer the vintage "character" to modern horns.

I was under the impression that any Zephyr made after the mid 50's is generally considered intermediate, and then sometime later reduced to student models (70's??).

Well, the CC in question does need a bit of work. For that story, I suggest here:

As far as buying other vintage saxes, the only problem is that I live in a small city where there really isn't a source to find and play them, and I don't want to buy something without trying it first. The CC I'm looking at is my tech's, but other than a friend's 1940's-odd King Zephyr tenor, you'd be hard pressed to find many other vintage saxes in my area. So...I don't know whether I should grab the CC because it's there, and I do like it, or what, because an opportunity for a similar vintage horn will not likely occur in the near future. Any ideas on that? I would love to playtest a Martin, or Conn, or Buescher, but...there's just no place I can find them around here :?
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I was watching a silver SBA tenor on went for over $10K...I guess I'm gonna afta start saving my pennies...
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