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Saxophones Old vintage comparison.

Hi: I ask always this question and it´s seems like nobody can or want to answer. I know it´s a very subjective matter but who can help me to define the qualities in sound of the old vintage americans saxes. How do you feel are the differences in tone character of old Martins, Conns, Bueschers and so???
I ask this because in my place I can´t try every one of this saxes and it´s very helpul to a thousand of guys like me in my situation to have a small impression about this subject.
I think the answer is in the question, and you've answered it yourself.

It is very subjective, and liable to enormous change over time.
How many young players buy an instrument and keep to it exclusively for the rest of their lives? Very few.

I think the only solution is to find what suits you for now.

Over the years I have owned many saxophones, all of which had good and bad points.
I now have a stencil of a Martin Handcraft alto which will see me out, and I'm content with that.
However I recently bought a Chinese built Venus curved soprano which I'm happier with than any soprano I tried before.
vintage sax comparison

hi there fernando
i myself have two conns and a buescher aristocrat all tenors.
to me they just have that special timbre! and they don,t have the right hand top f button either which i.m happy to live without anyway i must admit the ergonomics on most of these new asian saxophones make them much comfortable to play ! so yer pays yer money and yer makes yer choice
I'll give my personal opinion of older American saxes. And keep in mind I like Rocksax which means for me; to play loud. A player that is into jazz- or classic-saxophone perhaps have other opinions.

Of course it’s you as a player and your mouthpice that does most to the sound. I have joined the group of saxplayers that thinks that the character/sound/tone is determined by the neck, tube/taper and the toneholes placement on the tube. Between the toneholes geometrics are established and that makes sound/tone of the saxes. The way the toneholes are made can also give the sax a differnt tone. The angle of a soldered tonehole (Martin) is different than a drawn tonehole. So thick wall – thin wall, plated – bare brass, rolled toneholes – straight toneholes …. . It doesn’t matter that much, or ... ??

Beuscher: Great players. Allround sax - load screaming Rocksax, sweet jazz balladas or classical pieces ... . The Aristocrat model (late 30' to early 50's) and a 400 is the best Beuschers. The Big B and a 400 with underslung octave keys are my favourites. Even Bueschers from the 20's are nice. The straight soprano model LP 122 True-Tone is a fine soprano. Beuscher also made a straight alto. Hard to find. Beuscher was bought by Selmer USA in 1963. Beusher made sopranino, C-soprano, B-soprano, Alto, C-tenor, Bb-tenor, baritone and bass saxes.

Conn: Overall a high quailty sax. The best Conns were made in the 30's or early 40's. A 6M, 10M or12M from the 30's are very good. Allround saxes. There is a big difference between a Conn from the 20's and one from the late 50's. Conn made sopranino, C-soprano, Bb-soprano, F mezzo soprano, F Conn-O-Sax, Alto, C-tenor, Bb-tenor, baritone and bass saxes. In the 60's Conn, more or less, concentrated their production to student saxes. But they kept a small production in Elkhart. The Conn bari to low A from 68-69 is a result of that.

King: The King Super 20 is one of the best saxes that has ever been made. The best Super 20 is from 45 to the early 60's (H.N White). The double socket neck is great. They made saxes with silver necks and silver bells. Loud saxes. Jazz saxophone but also fine in Rock 'n' Roll. The production of the "real" discontinued around -75. But Super 20s could be bought in the 80's as well. The late super 20's are not bad but they should be a lot cheaper than a Super 20 from the 50's. The Super 20 and Zephyr Special is roughly the same sax. Even the Zephyr model are fine saxes. King made. C-soprano, Bb-soprano, Alto, C-tenor, Bb-tenor, baritone.

Martin: This is my favourite sax! I don't say they're the best. They just fit me perfect. Jazz, R&B and Rock'n'Roll sax!. It was used in the classic world as well. The Handcraft (Comm I &II) and the The Martin .... (Committee III) are the best ones. Flexible horns that can work with most mouthpieces. The Committee II, and some Commettee I have solid silvernickel keys. Very durable. The RH thumbrest is adjustable. All Martins have thick walls with soft soldered toneholes. The soldered on toneholes are not only good. Read Stephen Howard's website! Martins have good intonation and The Martins neck is probably one of the best std necks that has ever been made. Martin developed their saxes and made them more contemporay to the bitter end. Martin alslo made, as far as I know, the first American low A. It was the Magna bari. The Magna model was the top model but I think the ordinary The Martin is nearly as good as the Magna. Martin made C-soprano, Bb-soprano, Alto, C-tenor, Bb-tenor and baritone.

Most manufacturors except Martin had underslung octave keys as an option (Super 20 Conn 10M and Beuscher 400 tenor). The had braces on some necks. A brace make the neck more stable/less fragile. Are the necks with underslung octave keys less durable?

As I wrote earlier, I'm not a real expert on saxes and I can be completely wrong!!

Well said Thomsax on giving those excellent discriptions based on your experiences!

I too over the years have owned many saxes, from modern day Selmers & Yani's to vintage Conn, Beuscher, Holton, King, Martin & others.

The one I fell in love with & still own & play is "The Martin" 1954 tenor. It's built like a sumo wrestler but performs like a graceful ballet dancer!

But saying that, it's not just the sax, I think seaching for the mouthpiece that suits you & the sax is an important factor too!
I've got a Martin Handcraft alto from '25. It's a real smooth ballad horn until you give it some throttle... and then it screams like a baby!

I also have a Yamaha YAS 62 (Purple Logo one). This is a completely different horn. Really pure, clean sound. Modern build quality, action etc. Top F key, no silly Eb trill like the Martin :p

I'm always torn between the two of them. I'd never sell either, they'll see me through my whole life, baring any accidents (Touchin' me noggin).

I basically only ever use the Yamaha though as simply, it's easier to play and therefore easier to express myself with.
Thanks to all of us!!!! Great reviews!!!! I expected something like: for me Conns are more spread and big sound, Martin are.....and so on, but very good!!!
I own a Conn Wonder circa 1916 with a GW slant sig copy mpc, and it´s sounds amazing, but I want to buy some others saxes and I wanted to know their personalities.

It's so hard to give words to tone/sounds. What's big for you can be fullbody for me, and full sonority to another. It's really hard.

Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen) answered as follow when he was asked about his big tone/sound: "It's your approach to your instrument, you're mastering the instrument instead of the instrument is mastering you. I look at the saxophone as an extension of myself and we kind of developed each other as we went along!"

The sax does what you want it to do, if it's an ok sax! It's more about the playablity when it comes to the sax.

This is a great thread.

As has been said it's all subjective.

My first sax was/is a naked lady Conn, 1935 silver 10m, I love this sax, it is Me.
I still seek a better mouthpeice/reed combination although the journey in being able to play better is largley not in the horn, but the individual!

IMHO. there is something special and indefinable about the older horns, they somehow seem to have persona, from the past.
Or am I rambling.

Having tried some very expensive modern horns in a shop, I preferred my old Conn, although would certainly welcome trialing others, old and new!

Having tried some very expensive modern horns in a shop, I preferred my old Conn, although would certainly welcome trialing others, old and new!

Well, I have to say it worked the other way for me. My old Conn could never match up to my shiny new Cannonball and I wonder still how I perservered with it for so long.

But the guy I sold the 10M to wrote and told me what an absolutely awesome sax it was and how delighted he was to have got a great vintage instrument for such a bargain price (he could have left the last bit out, thanks :()

So it's all subjective - what works for one player almost inevitably isn't going to work for another.......
Yet again what a great thread this is,I was thinking of starting a thread like this myself to find out what the people with a lot of experience think it is that makes the difference in sound that various saxes make. I loved your piece Thomsax and found it very educational and interesting. I've heard things about bore size and tone hole placement before and had my own thoughts on these things,its good to hear someone with a lot more knowledge than me expressing their thoughts on subjects like this.:welldone
My experience agrees substantially with Thomas's. few other thoughts:
Conns -- best in tenor and bari. 10M and Chus have great sounds but always feel clunky to me, and the scale isn't the best. Plenty of later, straight tone hole 10Ms play better than earlier ones, so you can pick up a bit of a bargain there. The altos always felt a bit restrictive to me compared to other American horns, and too old-fasioned sounding. The Conns are some of the best sounding baris ever made -- big and crisp.

Kings -- Love the Zephyr and Super20 Altos and tenors. Great round alto sound. After playing one you can realy hear a King thing in Cannonball's sound. Tenors are great for screaming rock and roll but a bit unsubtle for other things. Great ergonomics. Unfortunate scale -- the intonation is the worst of all the good horns. If you do a lot of section playing or any pit playing, leave the King at home.

Bueschers -- good big husky, centered sound on tenor. Great intonation. reasonbly comfortable ergonomics. Don't have enough experience with the other sizes to comment.

Martins -- The Martins have a smoother sound than the Bueschers but similar. Great all around horn, with great intonation, and easy altissimo. Very fast action, but the small thumbrest and inline keys some find pretty uncomfortable, and the octave key hinges the other way, encouraging the left hand into a more clarinet like position.
The King Super 20s I have owned was more or less flat on D2, Eb2 and E2. I had to learned to play these tones with the palm keys D, Eb and E without octave keys.

I also found that Beushers had more dings comparing to the a Martin. Can it be the thin wall construction on Beuschers? A Beuscher bari can be very beaten up!

As I ealier wrote, I'm not an expert on saxes. In fact I'm pretty primitive when it comes to play sax. If the sax and the tone makes me feel good and I want to play more, it's the right sax for me. The Martin saxes makes me happy!!

Today I'm going to buy a Klingsor (Hammerschmidt) tenor. If the sax sounds good and I get the right feeling.

Today I'm going to buy a Klingsor (Hammerschmidt) tenor. If the sax sounds good and I get the right feeling.


Thomas - I think it's a Klingson. I have a Karl Hammerschmidt Klingson flute that's about 50 years old. Beautiful instrument but not the easiest to play, and in this country, very, very rare. If the sax works out, do post some photos and tell us about it - I'd be very interested.
Thomas - I think it's a Klingson. I have a Karl Hammerschmidt Klingson flute that's about 50 years old. Beautiful instrument but not the easiest to play, and in this country, very, very rare. If the sax works out, do post some photos and tell us about it - I'd be very interested.

I bought the sax. It's a Klingsor by Hammerschmmidt, Burgau (I think it's near Munich). The company is still excisting but they are nowadays in Austria. The sells saxes under the name Klingson. The saxes are built in Tawain or China.

I bouhgt the sax for c £ 250.00. Very nice. I'll post photos tomrrow.

I played a Klingsor for some years ago and since then I've been looking for one. I think Roo-pads can be fine on this sax.

Hi guys I`m new here so excuse any mistakes.

Re the vintage horns I have 2 and love them better than my new ones.I know that they sound more genuine to my ears, although I would say that the ergonomics are bad. My hands often hurt a lot after playing compared to the 2 newer sax`s.

I don`t think anyone has touched on the investment factor yet. Now I know I tend to see everything in life as a product but unfortunately everything has to have a value, which brings me to the question of perceived value.

Old Top brand Instruments rightly or wrongly appreciate in value and Newer ones tend to depreciate. perhaps when some new Chinese brand becomes the weapon of choice for the next ultra -genre breaking genius then this will affect the perceived value.

You can kind of see this already happening slowly to the "Walstein" brand it has already started to increase in price quite significantly. I saw a used one go on ebay last week for the price it would have been new 2 years ago
I'm not who I was 10/20/30 years ago.
My taste in music, and ability has evolved in that time too.

So, we are attracted to an instrument that suits at that time, but it is us that changes.

It is just so personal. I've had Buescher Tru-tone, Yas-62, MkVII, MkVI, but I'm now so content with my Martin Handcraft stencil that I prefer it to them all.
It is not as slick or fast in operation (I never was going to be a Coltrane) but has a great sound that I'm happy with. Now.

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