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Saxophones Opinions on King Super 20 Tenor Sax

John M

New Member
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4
Locality
Peoria, Illinois
Hey, everyone, I am in the market to buy a new tenor sax. My lesson teacher wants to sell me his King Super 20 Tenor Saxophone for $6,000, he has been playing professionally for 50+ years. Does anyone have any opinions on the King Super 20 Saxophone? Is this a good deal? Thanks.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
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2,702
Locality
Victoria BC Canada
Depends on what year, what condition, does it have full pearls and engraving.

Super 20's have a pretty distinctive sound and if you are playing in a section of Selmers, you will not be loved for having a Super 20. An iconic horn but there are some that are really sweet players and there are some that are harder to play well. The great ones are as good as it gets if they help you get the sound you want.

PITA if you are trying to play classical in an orchestra I suspect.
 

Justin Chune

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The Athens of The North
My worry would be that a sax played professionally for the last 50 years might be a tad worn out.
 

John M

New Member
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4
Locality
Peoria, Illinois
Depends on what year, what condition, does it have full pearls and engraving.

Super 20's have a pretty distinctive sound and if you are playing in a section of Selmer's, you will not be loved for having a Super 20. An iconic horn but there are some that are really sweet players and there are some that are harder to play well. The great ones are as good as it gets if they help you get the sound you want.

PITA if you are trying to play classical in an orchestra I suspect.

Thanks for the response. I am not planning on playing classical music with it, because I primarily play tenor in Jazz Band at my high school and with my gigging band. The sax is engraved and does have full pearls (I don't know what year). I might wait on buying it because all the saxs I play with all use Selmers. Thanks a lot![/QUOTE]
 

John M

New Member
Messages
4
Locality
Peoria, Illinois
My worry would be that a sax played professionally for the last 50 years might be a tad worn out.

That could be a problem. From my understanding (From what my lesson teacher told me) the pads have been replaced 2 months ago and everything is working. I will definitely check it out before buying it and make sure it is still all good.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
If it's had a proper overhaul, play in the keys taken up and so on, it should be good for a long time. Price seems a touch high, but with pearls, full overhaul... Maybe ok. For this money you can buy a new pro Selmer, yani, Yamaha etc. and get change.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,702
Locality
Victoria BC Canada
If its below serial number 350,000 as @kevgermany stated its on the high side but if fully overhauled springs pads key play removed its still up there but maybe worthwhile if it has the fancy engraving and the finish is original and in very good condition. I have seen a collectors quality low 300k serial Mk6 Tenor , no scratches original pads like new go for in excess of 9K but that is for one that is museum quality Case was original and in mint condition as well.
 

GJ77

Senior Member
Messages
793
Locality
Dunmow, Essex.
In my opinion, just because it's been played professionally, you don't necessarily have to be concerned about it being worn out...assuming that the pro in question has maintained it well, there's no reason to fear a sax wearing out.

I've only ever played two Super 20s, both of a similar vintage (early 50s) and one was great, while the intonation on the other was so wild it would've driven me nuts...and I play vintage horns a lot. They can be really good instruments. They're just not right for me.
 

nigeld

Too many mouthpieces
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Bristol, UK
I'm not a collector or an expert, but $6000 sounds to me like a lot of money for an alto saxophone, even for a very good vintage horn. If you are looking for a horn to play (rather than as a collector), then if this instrument, and no other sax you have tried, gives you the sound you are looking for, then maybe it is worth it to you, but if you are looking for a versatile pro-level sax, then, as @kevgermany says, you can get a top-class new horn for less than that, and a used one for considerably less.

Edit: Sorry - as @trimmy points out, it is a tenor. But $6k still seems a lot to me.
 
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Stephen Howard

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3,349
Locality
UK
I think it sounds a bit on the pricey side too.
If it's had a proper overhaul (and I mean a 'Proper' one...i.e.the whole shebang....pads, action work, springs...the whole nine yards) then it's still a bit pricey but probably worth it.

However, I wouldn't recommend even considering it unless you'd tried all of the other options available for the asking price. For that kind of cash you have to know you want the horn.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,785
Locality
Sweden
I have onwned 3 Super 20 tenor. The best one for me to play was a 67-68. Standard. The -52 ss with pearls was a looker but not so good for me to play. The last one S20 -82-83 was not behaving like a S20. Drawn toneholes! Neck joint problems.

$ 6000.00 is a lot of money! A "road horn"? I know some professionell players that were on S20's. When they were on tour they played Yamaha. One of theses guys did a world tour with just his mouthpieces. In every country he played there was a new "ready to play" Yamaha 23 tenor waiting for him. "Rocking All Over The World with a YTS-23"
 

jonf

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4,201
Locality
Betelgeuse
I think that's a ridiculous amount of money for a sax. Unless you really want to own it as an artifact, rather than to play, I would suggest you'd be far, far better picking from the wide array of top quality saxes available new for that price. I also find it a bit odd that a teacher is trying to sell his sax to one of his own pupils. It's a bit of a conflict of interest situation.
 

Jeanette

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Cheshire UK
I also find it a bit odd that a teacher is trying to sell his sax to one of his own pupils. It's a bit of a conflict of interest situation.

This concerned me a little, most teachers I am sure would be straight and honest with their pupils and not take advantage but I had one that proved not to be!

I don't know enough about the horn to comment on if it is a fair price. Buying from someone you know can often be a good option but so much depends on the person.

Jx
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,301
Locality
Austria
if you are playing in a section of Selmers, you will not be loved for having a Super 20.

I play lead Alto in a Bigband currently playing a show of modern Pop stuff and swing.
I've played with my Selmer Reference and my Super 20 (silver neck, serial around 362k).
The comments I got from my fellow musicians playing the Super 20 were that whereas sound is escaping away in a straight line from Selmer, it's more like a "bubble" with the King, so they can hear me better.
The guys play Mark VI, Mark VII and SBA.

Cheers, Guenne
 

sdt99

Member
Messages
177
I have two super 20 tenors (cheaper Eastlake models) so I am biased. They are iconic horns, and the full pearls are far and away the most collectible. For a mint condition, overhauled, full pearl Super 20 tenor $6000 sounds about right.

So here's why I wouldn't buy it:

$6000 is a lot of money for a tenor. At that price it should be a collectible / museum piece and you don't want to take a collectible/museum horn to high school or to play in bars. You want a horn that plays well, but if something bad happens to it you can easily replace or repair it. That's not a collectible Super 20. If you damage the neck on a super 20 you'll be out of action for several months. On a modern horn you go buy another neck and be back in business in a week.

My Eastlake era super 20s cost between $2000 and $2500 and play wonderfully. There are lots of horns in the $2000-$3000 range that will be more than you need, less of a worry and leave $3000 in your bank account (for mouthpieces, reeds, lessons, overhauls etc). Also if you are planning to be a music major in college you may make your life easier by buying a Yamaha / Yani / Selmer (and leave the exotic horns for after graduation).

Given your location if I were you I'd take a day trip to PMWoodwinds

PM Woodwind Repair: Saxophone Repair,Used Saxophones,Selmer,Mark VI,Paul Maslin,Conn,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Instruments,Soprano Saxophone,Bari Saxophone

or Tenor Madness

Tenor Saxophone Sales and Service by Tenor Madness and play as many tenors as possible and pick the one that best fits you and your budget. I wish I could go with you - that would be a fun day out. While you're there perhaps also try some mouthpieces.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,702
Locality
Victoria BC Canada
If you want that super 20 sound on a budget. The hot tip is a 280,xxx - 285,xxx Zephyr. One of the top King experts in the USA says they are identical in sound to a Series 1 S20 and a good one runs around $1500 USD tops.

I have a 283,xxx Zephyr tenor and it is a superb horn. The LH pinky table takes a strong left pinky but the action is slick and the intonation quirks are easily learned. Nothing way out.

It is a closet queen now as I prefer my SML's but I have tried to sell it and when push comes to shove I can't bring myself to part with it. Good luck in your search

@Guenne .... I have no experience on S20 altos and my comments wre only about tenors. You however have in my limited experience a wonderful set of section mates. Every time I have played in a section of Selmer people I get comments about not really fitting in soundwise,
 
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ellinas

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1,252
Locality
Athens, Greece
What is your current tenor? What do you like/deslike about it?
 

ellinas

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,252
Locality
Athens, Greece
For example I switched from a Yamaha YTS-23 to a Beaugnier Duke 38 because I like more the SBAish fatter sound of the Beaugnier. Other than that the 23 was and will always be in my heart a wonderful sax. I had my tech adjust it to fast soft action and it was insanely good. I even had a couple of extra necks for it, a G1 and a Ref54 one. Believe it or not I still miss it sometimes. Its "thin" Selmerish sound was really versatile. But thin.
I cant afford a super 20 but I test played one a couple of years ago. Roaring sound. Strange ergonomics.
The super 20 would cost 5500 USD, and my Beaugnier "outplayed" it for less than a grand. Go figure..... Some people have a monster sound on Kings. Mostly solo player. James Brown's Night Train tenor sax sound is a King Super 20. Insanely good, but not for me.
Try to chase what you want from a horn, not a label. And hopefully save some $$$$$. Practice will make you sound awesome. Not an iconic horn :)
 
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