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Saxophones the story behing your horn


So i am currently playing on a Mark VI alto that my high school randomly has. Its serial number begins with 101 so it was made circa 1962. It is missing about 70 percent of the laquor on the bell. Its got some dents and scratches but it plays beautifully. The instrument definitly has soul. Anyways, I have been thinking a lot about the story behind this instrument. I really want to know who played it, what they played on it, how it got to my high school, and basically its life story. I know that it is impossible to figure any of that information out, but I was wondering if anyone else who has a vintage horn ever thinks about that. It is fascinating to to think that this horn was made just about two years after giant steps was released. Man.....
You're carrying the weight of a lot of responsibility here, Jake! Like you mentioned, that horn has been around since the days of Trane, and was made in the hey-day (in my opinion) of the Mark VI's. You have to step up to the plate and add to its story by pouring your heart and soul into this instrument. You're carrying the torch, so to speak, my young friend.

I play a Mark VI tenor, and have for over 35 years, that is almost as old as the one you're playing. It had a gorgeous coating of dark gold lacquer on it when I got it - after all, it had been largely sitting in a closet for the first 10 years of its life. Thirty-five years later there's barely any lacquer left, a lot of metal and pearl have been worn away, it's been once stolen and made its way back to me, has shared all of my dreams and aspirations, and holds a place in my heart that is second only to the places held by my family members.

Play that baby.

Lessons page: Improv Lessons.htm
My tenor's about the same age, I've no idea of it's history, but most of the silver is there....

My alto's a lot older, was made in what is now the Czech republic in 1935, before Germany annexed it. But somehow it has German inscriptions which would date it a few years later. I wonder about that as well.

I've another alto from the same area, but much older - pre first world war, and possible pre-1900. 2 octave keys, soldered tone holes, white pads, fewer keys, no pearls, no rollers, no lacquer, no serial number and an unheard-of maker. Being restored at the moment, and I'll be building a nice case for it. Am trying to find out more, but again the history is more question marks than anything else. It's going to be fun finding a mouthpiece, I think it needs to be wood and have the reed fitted with a cord.

I love older things. modern stuff has no soul.
Walstein, Mauriat and Rampone owners form an orderly queue here.

Official CaSLM laser-guided brickbats available for the well deserved retribution and please do your duty and vote for a new moderator.

On behalf of the Hanson club, the CaSLM catapult was aimed at Kev but at my age, cannot stretch the elastic. :ashamed
What an interesting idea! we have two Mark VI altos; the first I bought from Italy via eBay and it is about a 1968 vintage and came in the original case and Soloist and metal Classic mouthpieces along with stacks of old reeds and other accessories. I reckon the person I bought it from must have inherited it as he had no idea about it but obviously it has some serious playing on the clock. My daughter uses that one and it got her through her RNCM audition. The other one I got more recently from Germany and that one is about 1965. Again, it has been well-played but not abused, obviously done a lot of gig though. My Mark VI tenor is 1969 and could pass as a new horn although the shop I got it from said it had been owned by a pro since new. My Mark VI sop is about 1980 and came from a player in Scotland though I have no idea of its history. My bari is a Yani B901, bought new by me about 10 years ago, so I know exactly what it has been doing and as it has faithfully delivered the goods in big band, quartet, sax choir and funk bands, I see no reason the change it.
I suppose I'm lucky in that I know the history of my 1939 Buescher Aristocrat. I bought it five years ago from a retired pro who had used it through his entire carreer. He bought it new in 1941, from a dealer in Blackpool, as he graduated from music college. A few years later he became the youngest resident major dance hall band leader in the country. My wife and I saw and heard him many times, never thinking that one day I would be playing his horn. The big bands often did one-nighters there and on one occasion the Aristo was played by J.Dankworth, and on another night by someone in the Ted Heath Orch. but he couldn't remember who it was.
When the 1960's brought the end of the resident bands he carried on playing and teaching until he was about 80. When I saw him to buy the sax from him he was full of stories about people he had played with and had obviously had a very happy life in music.
The sax still plays beautifully, I use the Selmer Soloist on it that he had used, having tried several other pieces it is still the one which works the best.
I had the sax repadded and overhauled about three years ago at woodwind workshop in Manchester, and as I arrived there to collect it Johnny Roadhouse came in and tried it out. His verdict was " that's a sax for life."
I haven't mentioned any place or name as he is still around at about 92 now and he is not too keen on publicity.
Regards to all,
I have often wondered about the history of my saxes, i have a Dearman President tenor that i found in a local second hand shop.
the case that it came in contained all the things you would normally find in a working muso's case a selection of reeds, reed cutter and sand paper of varying grades. and the shop owner told me that it had originally been sold to him with a lawton mouthpiece.
unfortunately he did not Know anything about the previous owner so i have never been able to trace its history.
similarly, my alto is a 1932 Selmer Cigar Cutter which my teacher ordered for me from Boosey and Hawkes (he had an arrangement with them) .
I have often imagined that it had probably been used by a London sax player possibly in one of the wartime big bands. i would love to know its past history.
I love older things. modern stuff has no soul.

I love modern things. Older stuff just doesn't work as well.:)))

Only joking, Kev.

As well as my modern tenor, which I've had since new (and which is undoubtedly the finest musical instrument I've ever played) I also have three saxes from the 1920s. I sometimes wonder what their life story is. I have a Buescher True Tone straight sop, in brass, which has a few knocks and has had the normal sort of maintenance you'd expect - pad changes, and the like. Looks like it has had a normal level of use, by a caring owner over a long period of time. I also have a True Tone alto, in silver, which has more of it's original features, and looks as if it's had a pampered life. Then I also have a Conn silver C mel, which is in fine fettle. The basic sax is in great shape, and it's also had a comprehensive overhaul - all pads, springs, felts, bumbers, micro-tuner serviced, pretty much everything. It's cost somone a lot of money at some point, or at least somone's put a lot of care and effort into it. I wonder who has invested so much in a C mel, a sax with at best limited appeal.

I've also got a Yanagisawa A6 alto. When I got it, it had no neck, a key guard missing and it has a slight bend to the body (still there). Leaks all over as well. It was basically knackered, and sold to me as a 'project' for eighty quid. It's all better now, and a great player (thanks Griff) but I wonder who had so badly neglected such a fine horn.
My alto is a King, made my JN White in Ohio c.1921, silver plated and all original save for an articulated G# I had made, and a repair at the crook receiver. My dad gave it to me after it was sold to him by a great technician from Nottingham (in about 1990 I think) but the intervening seventy years are a mystery...

My tenor's a Mauriat and I know all about the provenance of that...!

MY first sax was a Selmer (Paris) tenor, that I bought used from the original owner in 1959. Not knowing any better at the time, I took it to Megan and Baldwin Music Store in Baltimore, and had them send it back to the Selmer factory in Paris for an overhaul and relacquer. I just recently (through searching this forum, and some carefu reasearch on other sax websites) that this instrument is a little unusual. The serial number is 10490X, and it shares many features with the Radio Improved models, but the bell is stamped with just the triple S, and not with the Radio Improved stamp. The fellow I bought it from purchased it new, in PAris, and used it all through WW II, polaying with the US 1st Army Band.

Now, here's where it gets really interesting. In 1993, I took over leadership of the Carl Hamilton Orchestra, a big band that was formed in 1938. I fronted that band from the fourth tenor chair until we played our last gig, on New Years Eve, 1998. Recently, I was going through some old playlists and papers that I got along with the book, and discovered this fellow's name as the fourth tenor player. There was a little bio of the musicians, which said he had been playing with the band since his release from active duty in 1946. The bio was dated 1958. So after the war, that horn saw a lot of service with the same big band.

I am still playing on it regularly, and it is a superb instrument. I hvae it mated with a late 1970's metal Otto Link 6* New York chamber mouthpiece, and am using La Voz soft reeds, which I sand down on 30 micron paper to close the pores, and make the reeds a little softer. I am told I sound like a cross between Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster which, to my way of thinking, is not a bad thing. Typically, my tenor reeds last me about two or three years, but I dry them carefully between uses. Also I make it a rule never to put any food more solid than whiskey in my instrument. :)
Here is the story how I became a lucky owner to a The Martin Magna Tenor – 59.

My wife took classes in photography and she took some pictures of my saxes. Her teacher, who was a saxplayer as well, asked her if she thought if I would be intersted in buying a saxophone for 1800 :-/£ 180.00 with mouthpieces or 1500 :-/£150.00 without mpc. He didn’t say what brand it was. When I heard about it I had my doubts. What kind of sax would that be? I was looking for a new tenor because the King Super 20 I played at that time was not good (a late UMI King) . So I dedided to have a look. In the two-tone case was a ”The Martin Magna Tenor” with two Berg Larsen ss mouthpieces! For 1800 :- ! It was in good shape except for the lacquer. I asked the seller if he knew what he was selling. He knew, and he just wanted his money back. So that’s how I got my first Martin tenor. I still have the sax and I use it a lot. It’s a 208 XXX horn, so it’s made c -59. My sax is finsh 1. You could order the Magna with a sterling silver neck as well. I’ve been looking for one, but they seems to be hard to find.

The Martin Tenor and Magna have the same neck, bore and taper. This is what the The Martin Band Instrumnet Company wrote about The Magna in thier sales brochure:

View attachment 796

Its got some dents and scratches but it plays beautifully. The instrument definitly has soul. Anyways, I have been thinking a lot about the story behind this instrument. I really want to know who played it, what they played on it, how it got to my high school, and basically its life story. I know that it is impossible to figure any of that information out, but I was wondering if anyone else who has a vintage horn ever thinks about that.

I bet a lot of players have been asking themselves the same thing. Who has been playing this sax before me? What travels has it made during his life?

It is an ambitious initiative to get a site at the web where people can give their knowings about their specific instruments. Propably there will be lots of gaps over the years.

But yes you are not the only one wondering about the history of your sax. I'm the owner of a nice Martin Typewriter alto from 1928. I like it a lot. It sounds still very well after all those years. I know it is a peculiar sax, but I like it. What travels has that sax made already in his life? The things I know is that the former owner bought it from an older man out of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. That's all I know so far. Maybe it was a sailor who took it with him from a journey?
I play a 121K (1964) mark VI tenor. I've known Pete Myatt (the son of John Myatt - John Myatt woodwinds) for many years. I mentioned to their repair guy last year that I was looking to buy a tenor, about two weeks later Pete rang me and told me that a woman had been in during the week and asked the shop to sell her sax. She had bought it 15 years before from an old chap in Ipswich, who had owned it from new, so I'm the 3rd owner. I contacted her to ask the name of the chap she bought it from as I was interested to know where he had played, but never got a reply.

I play it (after some searching) with an EB STM Link, which I can trace back through various owners to when it left the Link factory. I know it's refacing history as well.

So I know the history of my horn and the mouthpiece which is kind of nice - as they're a great match.

Similar threads... or are they? Maybe not but they could be worth reading anyway 😀

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