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Vintage horns.......

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
I like to keep half an eye on the vintage horn market. There is nothing quite as good as a vintage horn for me.
But before I move on I’d like to clarify......yes I do understand that sound comes mostly from the player, then the mouthpiece/reed set up then the neck and then the horn and its individual set up and condition. Something like that anyway!
Throw in styles of music, personal taste and suddenly the whole thing has become very subjective.

But what is going on with the market right now?
Very recently a couple of really pretty King super 20’s sold for incredible money.
One alto, one tenor, different sellers (can’t remember if one was a silver sonic or not and that hardly effects my question). The alto went for U.S. $28k and the tenor something like £10k.
As for the rest of the vintage horns out there, it seems to be a tough time. despite struggling for almost a couple of years now many hopeful sellers are still listing your average MKVI tenor for £5k and upwards, in fact way upwards in some cases but they sure are hanging around.
Established shops aside, who keep a stiff upper lip with their pricing and put up with expensive stock,
eventually it seems these horns are either substantially reduced to sell or get put back in the cupboard.

Granted, the financial situation for the masses is bleak but I don’t get the feeling this is the whole story.
Years ago (pre internet) it could take months just to find a MKVI tenor now of course there are plenty on show. Was it all about the catch?
However I think this mass availability actually pushed the prices up for a while as the one you had your eye on would get snapped up by someone thousands of miles from you and you wouldn’t let that happen again for the sake of £100.

For sure many new highly praised horns have arrived in recent years and again thanks to the internet, discovery of them and competitive prices come quickly.
How much influence is this having? I think endorsers of many of the newer horns are truly impressed by their new machine but how many of them really move on and never look back ? I suspect the reality is that many either keep experimenting or pull out that vintage horn again at some point.

Is it perhaps a little like the housing market where first time vintage buyers can’t get or justify a first foot on the ladder?
Will it last? Is it a blip?
Is there a downward shift in the market regarding vintage nostalgia and wanting to own something precious to an era?

It’s all a bit mixed up and I actually prefer prices to be low.
I don’t buy a sax as an investment even if that does turn out to be a nice side effect. I buy because I love the damn evil things, so the lower the price the better as far as i’m concerned.

My long term guess is that the average vintage horn that maintains an army of followers will level out somewhere around the price of brand new professional instruments from Selmer.

I’d also like to find a horn that makes me say “yep....this is better than any MKVI or King Super 20 that I’ve ever played”
However........22 years on I still haven’t been able to say that.
Is the best horn you’ve ever played one that just gets out of the way and lets your hard work shine through?


Now, what do you think?

(I know, I know you just want to blow it and thats fine......:rolleyes::rolleyes:)
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
A can of worms .... :w00t:

From my own point of view I prefer the tone of a Conn 6M “Naked Lady” to a Selmer MKVI. So I never really understood why so many folks lust after them even though most of my favourite saxophonists played one. That said I do wonder which horn they’d all pick now if they had the choice we've got today.

A custom SML Rev. D (like Rhys’s new horn), R&C Two Voices, Inderbinen, TJ Raw, …

However, if Birds Grafton was to come back up for auction again, I’d bid >:)
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
Indeed it is a can of worms,


And although I have singled out the MKVI as an example a few time in my 1st post, that was just conveient.
I am really referring to pro vintage horns in general.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I know but you do love MKVI Horns >:)

I do wonder if nostalgia has a lot to do with people loving vintage horns and nostalgia grows the longer you play?

Are newbie saxophonists under the impression that a vintage horns is only for pro's or experts or maybe too much can go wrong with an older horn. A misconception I've come across quite a few times.

Another though is that the sound people want today can be gotten from a modern horn. Espically those on Altos.
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
2,120
Hopefully buyers use their ears more than prestige factors. I've always been surprised that the VI could have such a good reputation when they are so variable. Inconsistency with some great and others ordinary isn't generally a good selling point. I'm playing an "off brand" tenor simply because it speaks so clearly and projects like a monster with very modern ergonomics. I could care less about whether it has brand recognition or if anyone "famous" has ever played one. If I ran across a vintage horn that sounded so good that I was willing to put up with the more difficult ergonomics then I'd play that.
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,932
I know but you do love MKVI Horns >:)
:happydance: :happydance:


I do wonder if nostalgia has a lot to do with people loving vintage horns and nostalgia grows the longer you play?

Are newbie saxophonists under the impression that a vintage horns is only for pro's or experts or maybe too much can go wrong with an older horn. A misconception I've come across quite a few times.

Another though is that the sound people want today can be gotten from a modern horn. Espically those on Altos.
Good points

Hopefully buyers use their ears more than prestige factors.
Yes agreed but definitely not always the case.
 

saxismyaxe

Honored SOTW Ambassador
Messages
556
Careful, vintage horns are addicting. Once you start sampling them, you can throw monogamy out of the window.;}
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
The price and the market of vintage horns is determined by the same laws and movements that rule the trade of any antique or collectable.

Mark Vi’s are not such a valuable object because they are a particularly scarce commodity ( nearly 200.000 sopranino, soprano, tenor alto and baritones were made.........there are many models of saxophones way scarcer than these which don’t fetch anywhere near the same prices!) but because they are way more desirable than other horns (and relatively scarce........but only in comparison to the number of their potential buyers) and that has not only to do with how good they are (or not).

I occasionally buy and sell saxophones to finance my saxophone addiction >:) so, I do eagerly follow the market , mainly locally in the Netherlands but also abroad.

True that some Super 20 (My horn of choice by the way) have reached crazy prices BUT they were very special and unique horns (there were very few full pearls SILVERSONICS ever made! If a collector wants then has to battle out other collectors and that can only push up the price) while the middle of the road Super 20 in not gone up in price.

As the owner of 2 Selmer Mark VI alto both for sale, I know that their price has generally come down (mine are in the 200xxx and 220xxx range although with almost perfect original lacquer) due to more horns being thrown onto the market to make a few bucks in this crisis. At the same time there are clearly less buyers for these things that there were a few years ago.



Nevertheless the VI’s are still highly priced, maybe even above and beyond their intrinsic value but, as I said , the value is established by the buyers who covet these horns more than others.

Which means that, as trends come and go in the antique and collectables market, their value is determined by how highly they are considered among the people with sufficient disposable income.

So, who are the buyers?

Traditionally these are the people between 30 and 60 yeas old (which at any time, is the generation with more or less large disposable income) . At the moment there are enough of them around to keep prices high BUT those who are 30 now were born in the ’80 (not a saxophone era) while those in their 60ties were born in the ’50 (the time in which most of the legends were around).

So the generation who grew up with the artists who were playing BA, SBA, Mark VI horns is thinning out and rapidly doing so.

Soon other people will reach their prime economic time , people who don’t have the saxophone as their object of desire but rather more the guitar.

Now, that is a market to be reckoned with! Have you seen THOSE prices? If you do you know that they are way higher than saxophones are and not by a bit but quite a lot. But even these have fallen pray of the recession and their price has plummeted in the last 10 years (so there is an influence on prices imparted by the crises)


So a combination in changing in demographics and money shortage determines the saxophone price at this moment in time.

One world of advice , if you have lots of precious saxophones don’t keep them in a vault! Play them because their price might not stay the same the next 20 or so year, believe me! Investing in something like antiques or collectibles is only sensible if you enjoy owning them and don’t mind the possibility that their price will rapidly change due to factors that are not always within easy comprehension.

Ask any antiques dealer about items that have now much lower price they had in the decades past and they will have a very , very long list for you! How much were collectable wristwatches or vintage cars in the ’80? MOst of the same premium items are still expensive now but the cheaper end had been almost wiped out from the market.

It will happen to saxophones too. It is fatal!
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,793
I’m listening to lots of guys who are/were playing on ”non-vintage” saxes! So why chasing a ”pro-vintage” sax when you can buy a nice ”piece of junk” for nearly no money at all? The players I listen to, are struggling with ”impossible saxes” according to most members of this forum. Still they tell great stories through thier saxes! Can you imagine how good they should sound if they were blowing a MkVI?

But with the Martin saxes - I Found A Love (also great song by W, Pickett, W, Schofield, R. West)!

Thomas
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
probably not so much better than they are with any other sax........ if you are good you are good, if you are not you are not.

I am in the second category and the horns I own are better than I will ever be
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,793
........ if you are good you are good, if you are not you are not.

I am in the second category and the horns I own are better than I will ever be
The same goes for me!

But a vintage sax for me can also be a Dörfler&Jörka stencil from the early 60's!

Thoimas
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
Definitely! In my book the definition of a “ vintage item “ is an object older than 25 years and no longer in production. There is much speculation about what this term mean and in fact there is no agreement on it.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
I’d also like to find a horn that makes me say “yep....this is better than any MKVI or King Super 20 that I’ve ever played”
However........22 years on I still haven’t been able to say that.
Is the best horn you’ve ever played one that just gets out of the way and lets your hard work shine through?
It happened recently with a SML Gold metal alto that plays better than any other alto I tried in my 32 years of blowing (cigar cutter, mk VI, SA80, Conn... no King though).
I cannot say the same about a tenor. Maybe a super 20 I missed recently.

But:

I am not an alto player, and on my MKVI tenor I've spent the best years of my life practicing many hours a day, plus gigging. I think I've owned it for some 18 years.
I think that really makes the difference.
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
So a combination in changing in demographics and money shortage determines the saxophone price at this moment in time.
Interesting analysis!
But as a rational buyer, as long as a MKVI is costing me the same money as a new professional horn, I will buy a MkVI, since it will probably keep its value.

I do not really understand the prices of most of new instruments available.
 
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