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Saxophones I want to get a new alto..

david_wood

New Member
Messages
4
I'm currently playing on a Selmer AS300, but I really want to "graduate" to a professional model. I'm about to graduate highschool and I really want to do something with it in college, and I'm sure my trusty old AS300 would work but I feel like its time to move on.

Here lie the issues: 1. I REALLY want to buy an older, well way older alto and restore it if it needs it. I feel like it would mean a lot more to me if I did that. 2. I'm no expert in the field of old beat up instruments by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't want to simply replace my current alto with just an old version of what I have.


I'm considering an old CG Conn (pre 1960, when they moved to Mexico right?) Here is what I've found, please let me know what you think about these three:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-C-G...233?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27c4184451

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Conn-Wonder...650?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a715d8d82

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1941-CG-CON...422?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item256dc63db6

Sorry about the long post by the way, and thanks in advance!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Hi & Welcome.

Lots of good stuff about overhauling old saxes on cybersax.com, and also some useful articles on musicmedic.com
But first recommendation would be Stephen Howard's "Haynes Saxophone Manual". Amazon have it.
Lots of good hints on Stephen Howard's site as well. (shwoodwinds), not only the hints, but also his hilarious articles.

You'll need some special tools, as well as parts. In the US Musicmedic and Ferees tools are good sources.

It's a lot of fun to do, but don't underestimate the work involved.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Trouble with these is you don't really know what you're getting until it arrives and you can assess the work.
No idea on US prices.

Needs keyguards.... Don't touch

Could be OK, not playing below a specific note is probably just a pad needs doing, or a missing spring. My guess is this is the easiest to get working. Price may be a bit high, not sure. Silver/Goldwash finish is lovely. But this needs a better polish/clean.

Probably the most popular model. Take a very close look at those photos. They're not good and it's difficult to see if there's something nasty lurking there. You should be able to find good shots of a similar one on saxpics.com.
 

Pete C

Member
Messages
344
My advice would be to spend the perhaps considerable number of hours you plan to spend on restoring one of these old buses (with unknown final results) doing a part time job or something to save some money and then buy a good sax, vintage or modern, in good playing order and which you really enjoy the sound of.

Pete
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,005
I don't want to "rain on your parade", but restoring vintage instruments to like new condition takes far more than cleaning and polishing and installing new pads. Virtually every vintage sax I have worked on has had worn keys and posts and very uneven toneholes. These things are fixable, but require the correct tools which can be quite expensive. Oftentimes there are rusted springs and springs that are loose in the posts as well, not to mention bent keys and rods. This is not meant to discourage you, but to let you know what you may be in for buying and restoring an instrument that is 70 - 90 years old.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
Here lie the issues: 1. I REALLY want to buy an older, well way older alto and restore it if it needs it. I feel like it would mean a lot more to me if I did that. 2. I'm no expert in the field of old beat up instruments by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't want to simply replace my current alto with just an old version of what I have.

I'm considering an old CG Conn (pre 1960, when they moved to Mexico right?) Here is what I've found, please let me know what you think about these three:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-C-G...233?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27c4184451

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Conn-Wonder...650?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a715d8d82

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1941-CG-CON...422?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item256dc63db6

Sorry about the long post by the way, and thanks in advance!
In which country are you based? If you are not in the States be aware of import charges.
 

Juju

Senior Member
Messages
280
Those Conn Altos (6M, New Wonder, 26M) are great sounding horns, but they can be very awkward tuning-wise. I'd rather buy one that's in good shape and try it before buying it. Try a shop like Woodwind Exchange in Bradford.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
A few points to consider regarding vintage saxes -

If you're going on to study music at college, your tutors may not be too impressed by a vintage Conn

Ergonomics and keywork - obviously old saxes have no top F sharp - before 1928 and you'd be lucky to find a front F - and the keywork is going to be a little different to modern saxes. Some people who've learnt to play on modern horns don't like the old fashioned ergonomics of vintage saxes. You really have to try a few out, compare them with the modern instruments and see if you get on with them. If you fall in love and lie awake at night dreaming of vintage Conn's, then proceed.. with caution..

Intonation - I think in the old days it was assumed that this was the players responsibility, some vintage saxes have great intonation, but it's not guaranteed

Spare parts - difficult to find and expensive if you do find them. This is the main advantage of Yamahas - they've got dealers everywhere and all repairmen know how to fix them

Rolled tone holes serve no useful purpose, they just make the pads stick, likewise, the microtuner isn't worth bothering with
I've got both of these features on my mid 30's Conn, but I'd be just as happy without them

As has been noted above, saxophone repair is a specialised job carried out by skilled technicians who've studied the subject.
I'd have to be stranded on a desert island or penniless before I tried fixing a sax myself rather than paying an expert to do it.
The mechanism baffles me...
If you've never done it before, restoring a vintage sax could take months and a lot of money spent on tools etc and you could still end up with a pile of bits and a puzzled expression
Of course if that's what you really want to do, then you'll end up doing it anyway and sometimes learning the hard way is the only way to learn.
Stephen Howard's book is excellent, but there's no substitute for years of experience.
you've probably already read his review of the Conn 6M, but here it is just in case - http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Alto/Conn_6M.htm

Best advice is to find a dealer who's got some vintage saxes in stock and try them out, get to know what you want and what to avoid. I've tried a lot of old saxes in my local shop and many of them have been too worn out to be worth bothering with, but the occasional gem crops up. Buying a used sax that you've not played off ebay could lead to disappointment and bargains are harder to find nowadays - everyone thinks they've got a vintage gem, even if it's knackered

If you have to have a Conn then shop around and get the best one you can afford.
I was lucky, I got my 6M from a friend who'd had it fully overhauled and expertly set up. But it wasn't cheap and it takes some effort to get the best out of it, not like these modern saxes. But I wouldn't swap it for anything

Good luck with your quest, hopefully you'll find what you're looking for or decide that you're better off with a Yanagisawa - if I had any sense I'd go for the latter and make life easier for myself, but I think I'm beyond redemption
 

david_wood

New Member
Messages
4
So the replies have helped so much! Thanks to everyone for their input. I wasn't really thinking about not playing it first when I posted this, but then it was brought up and yes thats deinitely a must. About the uneven key holes and things such as that, thats pretty much thrown buying one off of ebay out the window. I wasn't dead set on the Conns but I play my director's B-flat soprano and its a Conn from I wanna say 1924, so I guess thats where the idea of a Conn came in. So as it stands after reading all of these replies I'll probably get a new one, unless I see one in a shop, where I can play it and only if its in good condition and by the way I'm sorry if I let on that I planned on restoring it myself. Theres no way in the world that I would try that. That would be a terrible idea. Once again thank you for all of the information you guys gave me, I really appreciate it! Maybe one day when I'm not about to be a broke college kid I'll embark on the journey of restoring a sax.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Don't let yourself be put off - with reasonable handcraft skills and patience, changing pads, springs and adjusting the regualtion isn't beyond people. If I'd let myself be put off by the don't touch it brigade, I'd be a lot poorer. But I'd probably have spent more time playing...
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
Maybe one day when I'm not about to be a broke college kid I'll embark on the journey of restoring a sax.
As a poor adult that sometimes buys things from ebay, I can tell you that there are repairs you can do yourself, repairs you can not.

I know my limits, but I have two repairers (and I had a mechanic when I was a biker) that accept to do the hard work (i.e. straighten a tube of remove a dent) leaving something to do to the broke customer.

I actually started repairing clarinets (if no woodwork is involved). If there is a screw missing, you end up in a nightmare. A set of taps and dies is going to cost you a fortune. Ad you might need a lathe at some point.

On the other hand, if you know such a repairer, you can go there with a horn asking to have it in "playing conditions" saving as much money you can. If eventually it is a killer invest in an overhaul.

My "new" alto is a SML gold medal bought from a repairer, needs an overhaul but is in good playing conditions, dents around, and is one one of the best altos I ever played. It costed less than two expensive mouthpieces.

The part of the planet you are in really makes a difference. Let us know.
 

david_wood

New Member
Messages
4
Sorry about not letting you guys know where I'm from, I live in North Carolina. I haven't totally written off the idea of restoring a vintage sax but my previous method of doing so has been pretty much thrown out the window. I'm sure I can repad a sax or adjust some screws here and there but I definitely wouldn't be comfortable doing any major adjustments even if I did have access to the tools. The bottom line is I don't want to get in over my head and end up throwing in the towel half way finished because of finances, that would really really suck. I'll probably just look around in some music shops and ask the owners to let me know if they get anything that I could maybe work from.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
I'll probably just look around in some music shops and ask the owners to let me know if they get anything that I could maybe work from.
Some American ebay sellers are really serious, and you don't have to pay import taxes....
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,802
I love older saxes. IMO these saxes sounds better. Differnt overtones. Play and/or inspect an older sax carefully before you buy. If it's not playable then it should be very cheap.

If you are going to buy an older sax you should consider:
Buy a good one! No stencil or secondline sax. Go for the real thing.
Setup: Try to setup the sax as factory setup.
Mouthpieces: You may have difficulties in finding a mouthpiece that works on an older sax from the 20's.
Cases: When your "vintage" sax is restored you need a new good case. And if you're into a sax with leftside bellkeys or split bellkeys there are just a few cases that's works.

Or you can buy an older sax that's been rebuilt from a good repairshop/dealer. My main sax is a 38-39 Martin HC (Comm I) that I bought in USA. Slighty rebuilt and setup at a welknown repairshop.

Thomas
 
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