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Saxophones getting an upgrade (vintage conn)

welshboy1

New Member
Messages
3
ok so have been wanting an upgrade for my student saxophone for a while and have been looking out for vintage saxophones on all the usual sites (ebay etc). But as someone who knows only a little on what to look out for RE condition of older models, it is a bit of a struggle to spot a good investment. Anyway I hoped someone might be able to help me out a bit- I spotted a couple of old Conn 'chu berry' (which by most accounts are very good instruments) on Ebay and wanted thoughts on how they compare (how much work needs doing/ good buy?)
ww .ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Conn-Chu-Berry-Eb-Alto-Saxophone-WOW-plays-great-/221267075552?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33848ba1e0
ww .ebay.co.uk/itm/Conn-NW11-Chu-Berry-Alto-Sax-/111139753793?pt=UK_Woodwind_Instruments&hash=item19e0720f41
(just add an extra 'w' in the 'ww.' of the links!)
And on a tangent, if I am looking out for both the wrong type of instrument, and in the wrong place :confused:
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Oh and my budget is up to ~£600 for a nice alto (including any repairs needed!)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,927
Locality
Just north of Munich
Hi, would be great if you'd introduce yourself in the doorbell section.

First sax is in the US. lots of pitfalls there, especially customs duty. Second is described as needing a full repad. Good that the seller is honest, means you get a choice of pads when it's done, and you should have a top playing horn afterwards.

You'll get lots of 'modern is better' comments as well as positive comments about vintage sound. Older saxes tend to hav less friendly keywork and more challenging intonation. However as the owner of more than one vintage sax, I'm a big fan of them, I'd say don't pay too much attention to the detractors - if vintage is what you want and you go in with your eyes open.

Couple of things to look out for... High-low pitch - the sax must be low pitch, or it won't play in tune with current instruments.
Overall condition - old saxes may have seen a lot of use and need more than a repad - key fit for instance. Budget/price accordingly. Griff, a well respected repairer who posts here has a price list on his site, which you could use as a starting point. Make sure you have a good tech waiting to go over the sax when it arrives. Consider posting it straight off to someone like Griff, Stephen Howard if you don't have someone good and reliable local to you.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,479
Locality
Sweden
Personally I would search for an Conn Artist model c -35 - 41/42? IMO, that's the peak of Conn saxophone production.

When searching for "vintage" sax I think you should ask yourself:
- What kind of tone/sound you want.
- Moutpiece problem? To get a modern mouthpiece to work on a sax from the 20's can be tricky.
- A "vintage" sax is ready to play! Otherwise is not a "vintage" sax.

If you want a Chu Berry alto then I think you should buy one from a shop that is already overhauled. And play, or let someone else, test the sax before you buy. Here is a nice Chu Berry ready to play: http://www.tenormadness.com/product_detail.php?product_id=1433
 

Clivey

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,275
Locality
Edinburgh/Hot Rock off African Coast
Old Conns are great but you should really make sure that you are capable of ID`ing the Horn yourself as many sellers may attempt to call the horn something it aint. This is usually just down to a lack of knowledge but can sometimes be done deliberately to push up the price. Matt Storher has loads of videos on this matter, but this one.





is particularly useful as it explains the difference in the various New Wonder Saxophones and mentions Trannies and M series. (These were all manufactured during the 1930`s seen as being the glory years) but if you watch some of his videos you will be in a better position to assess any purchase.

Watch this One as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux-2ePVmoxg
 
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ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,069
Locality
Berkshire, UK
Hi Welshboy, vintage saxophones are like vintage cars, they go perfectly with a little TLC, regular grooming, cleaning and maintenance. Modern saxophones are like modern cars, little maintenance when new apart from oil and water, slick, fast an consistent. Loads of good advice on here. Be careful with eBay Chu Berrys from a guy in Rochester, Kent.

Good luck and listen to the advice from the members and you won't go far wrong.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,069
Locality
Berkshire, UK
Having bought and sold several saxophones have heard different reports regarding sales practices. Quality and condition have been questioned and ongoing disputes.
 

welshboy1

New Member
Messages
3
Hi, would be great if you'd introduce yourself in the doorbell section.

First sax is in the US. lots of pitfalls there, especially customs duty. Second is described as needing a full repad. Good that the seller is honest, means you get a choice of pads when it's done, and you should have a top playing horn afterwards.

You'll get lots of 'modern is better' comments as well as positive comments about vintage sound. Older saxes tend to hav less friendly keywork and more challenging intonation. However as the owner of more than one vintage sax, I'm a big fan of them, I'd say don't pay too much attention to the detractors - if vintage is what you want and you go in with your eyes open.

Couple of things to look out for... High-low pitch - the sax must be low pitch, or it won't play in tune with current instruments.
Overall condition - old saxes may have seen a lot of use and need more than a repad - key fit for instance. Budget/price accordingly. Griff, a well respected repairer who posts here has a price list on his site, which you could use as a starting point. Make sure you have a good tech waiting to go over the sax when it arrives. Consider posting it straight off to someone like Griff, Stephen Howard if you don't have someone good and reliable local to you.
Thanks for the responses- they have been very helpful. ^ Yes, Sorry should have introduced myself there first- will be sure to do so!
As for what I'm looking for (and where) most of my knowledge is taken from googling the model of a saxophone I see and reading posts/articles on it!, which is probably not the best plan.
Is the general consensus to buy within the UK from a local dealer, rather than buying online, having not played or closely inspected the instrument?
Oh, and is £600 a realistic budget in which to buy (and perhaps pay for a refurbish) a good intermediate vintage instrument? ....sorry for overload of questions!
 
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ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,069
Locality
Berkshire, UK
Pot luck is what happens when buying vintage horns online! Caveat emptor! There are a number of charlatans out there! I have been fortunate with the majority of vintage horns I have bought online.

Typical budget I set aside is £250 - £300 for the horn and £250 - £300 for restoration, re-pad, service. And that is cheap for for those services.

My suggestion would be spend £400ish on one that has good pads and has been renovated, then get the sax serviced and set up by your techie.
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
Messages
533
Locality
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
Having bought and sold several saxophones have heard different reports regarding sales practices. Quality and condition have been questioned and ongoing disputes.

PM'd you Prof
 

majordennis

Senior Member
Messages
485
Locality
Gone West
By far the best way is to take your favourite mouthpiece set up to a shop and play as many different horns as you can, next best have a word with repair guys who post on here, they occasionally have some for sale.

There are also several US members who post here who would be able to tell you what prices are like over there but ensure you do the import maths.

Buying unseen is a big risk, I can do pads, springs, cleaning and setup myself but larger repair jobs are tricky and can be expensive.

Just to add a professional Conn (6M Alto) can be got for your budget if you go for the later ones, not as flash but made in Elkhart and highly regarded.

Edit: forgot to add that I have an old New Wonder stencil that plays ok when I want to do any alto stuff.
 
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welshboy1

New Member
Messages
3
By far the best way is to take your favourite mouthpiece set up to a shop and play as many different horns as you can, next best have a word with repair guys who post on here, they occasionally have some for sale.

There are also several US members who post here who would be able to tell you what prices are like over there but ensure you do the import maths.

Buying unseen is a big risk, I can do pads, springs, cleaning and setup myself but larger repair jobs are tricky and can be expensive.

Just to add a professional Conn (6M Alto) can be got for your budget if you go for the later ones, not as flash but made in Elkhart and highly regarded.

Edit: forgot to add that I have an old New Wonder stencil that plays ok when I want to do any alto stuff.

Thanks, that sounds like very good advice. I have seen a few later conns floating about on ebay- but many go for very inflated prices in the UK (mostly from the USA)earlier conns (new wonders) seem to be more common and much less expensive from what i've seen so far :/, I guess it's just a waiting game. Trouble is I tend to be a bit of an impulsive buyer and buy the first item I see!

I know this is on a tangent now- but what are your thoughts on buying second hand professional model saxophones from the last 20 or so years- how would they compare both sound wise and with regard to cost/amount of maintenance needed, compared to a vintage 20's-60's instrument?
(ww .ebay.co.uk/itm/TREVOR-JAMES-SIGNATURE-CUSTOM-Unlacquered-ALTO-SAXOPHONE-NEW-/321186395925?pt=UK_Woodwind_Instruments&hash=item4ac8337715 ....I know it's naughty of me, but am a little tempted!)
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
There are lots of good used saxes out there, so you could find all sorts of good stuff at good prices, and not just on eBay - just do an internet search and see what is out there! If you are a welsh boy living in Wales you might like to be aware of South Wales Woodwind and Dick Hamer, the owner who repairs saxes and knows his stuff across the board. Otherwise feel free to discuss any [possibilities with folks here, who tend to know their stuff very well!

Kind regards
Tom
 
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alto andy

Member
Messages
235
Locality
Southend on sea
I got my king cleveland alto it is a great player in my opinion and cost £400 at first I did have trouble with the mouthpiece which was a yamaha 4 c I changed it to a meyer and I now love it .
 

alto andy

Member
Messages
235
Locality
Southend on sea
just had a look on there website and they have got some available at chimes of ealing .
 

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