Please note: this area is under construction, and is pasted from my original website under a different format — it will have to be reformatted to suit the new website platform. It’s included here, for the time being, as an archive for those seeking photos of vintage saxophones and other information on vintage saxophones.
References & Horns Past
This area exists only thanks to the folks who have been generous enough to allow me to reprint from letters, here – thanks, sincerely, to all. With apologies to those not using broadband this is necessarily, for the time being, a huge, sprawling document, but at some point I will try to get around to making it easier to access and navigate.
Update, 12.27.09 :
It’s been a while (years!) since I had time to update this page regularly. I will begin moving some photo albums and sound clips of saxophones past into this area, for visitors to peruse and enjoy.
There are references for Just Saxes around the web these days, so the role of this area in providing some clues to references has probably outlived its purpose.
I will make a new effort to archive saxes that have gone out into the world, to new homes, here and hopefully get around to making some commentary when I have more time to devote to the website. At this point, archiving pictorials of old work and vintage saxophones is probably the best purpose for this area, anyway. Happy saxsurfing to all!
REFERENCES & SOME HORNS GONE BY
(many photos are clickable thumbnails)
(Please note: names of references are protected in the interest of preserving customers’ privacy — direct references are available upon request, pending reconfirmed permission to share email adresses. Please be courteous when contacting any given referrer.)
|1960s BUFFET-CRAMPON SUPERDYNACTION TENOR Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|1927 CONN CHU-BERRY SATIN SILVER ALTO Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|KOHLERT-BIXLEY TENOR Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|“American Artist” Conn Stencil Alto Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|1960 MARTIN MAGNA TENOR Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|1930 SILVER-PLATED BUESCHER TRUE-TONE ALTO Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|“SHERWOOD MASTER” ALTO – ca. 40s-50s CONN STENCIL Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|KOHLERT (GERMANY) ALTO Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|1949 BUESCHER “BIG-B” ARISTOCRAT TENOR Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|2001 Selmer Reference 54 tenor saxophone Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|1932 Conn Transitional Tenor Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|1955 Buescher Aristocrat Tenor Saxophone Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|Conn 28M “Connstellation” Alto Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
SML Gold-Plated “Revision D” Tenor
I’ve recently begun accepting a limited amount of work for hire — primarily in the form of overhauls on vintage lines that I’m either collecting myself or am curious to know more about. G.P. had a truly spectacular gold-plated SML that amazed us both, when it was done. What particularly pleased me about this job was that G.P. was having some intonation problems in the bell tones, and we were able to address this through a combination of materials, adjustments and mouthpiece experimentation. G.P. was very kind in sending an update, later, from which I reprint at length below – with G.P.’s permissions, of course; it offers some interesting feedback on mouthpieces that other players may find useful. Mouthpieces always make a huge difference — if not in terms of what the audience hears, then in the work that it takes to achieve that sound/response. Results are often critically influenced by not just proper mouthpiece match but, as well, by setting up a horn to play well with a particular mouthpiece design. It’s extremely gratifying to be able to successfully address a problem with a horn — sometimes one that may be the difference between keeping a horn and being happy with it indefinitely.
Thanks for trusting me with your horn G., and for all your generous encouragement. Enjoy the horn in good health – it’s an incredible horn, one of the best players I’ve ever encountered!
“At long last, it’s here! I just finished clipping off all the plastic ties and it’s gorgeous. I also got 3 different mouthpieces from WW& BW (a bronze Lawton, a NY Link and the 2000 millennium Link) but alas, I didn’t bring a reed to blow it here at work so I’ll have to wait until I get home. The packing job was great and it looks like it got here without incident.
“When I took off the first tie, one key released. I then opened and closed it and heard the suction sound you told me about! The horn is really air tight! It almost echoes as I open and close pads with all the other pads closed. I’m definitely going to have to get a Lt hand thumb rest installed. I’ve gotten too used to my Selmer alto…”
“It feels like a new horn! The response is incredible, with the lower stack playing pp with ease. I’m glad I went with all your suggestions, Palo. You really know how to set up a horn. The horn is definitely brighter than when it left my house. I think it’s due to the fact that it’s not leaking as much so I’m not fighting the horn. I’m really glad you told me to stick with the flat slightly oversized resos too. The horn is plenty bright and the set up opened the horn just as I wanted it…perhaps even a bit more than I wanted, but I think that’s more of me needing to get used to the difference in sound (especially since I’ve been playing a friends Yamaha 875 with plastic resos for the past month). But for me, it’s easier to ‘darken’ my sound than it is to brighten it up.
“You were also spot on with the mouthpiece recommendations. The Link pieces really feel much better, both sonically and ‘feel’ wise. My Meyer feels more touchy…hard to describe, but it feels like if I blow to hard, the sound will break up or become unstable. It’s also thinner sounding. Which is really interesting because when I tried a metal Link before, I preferred the Meyer sound.
“All 3 mouthpieces sound quite nice. The Lawton is probably the most versatile. It has a higher, longer baffle. When pushed, it really gives my horn a more modern sound. But it’s easy to back off and get a darker sound too. I’m going to really have to play these different pieces and see what’s what….
“I have to admit I had some anxiety when I first slapped on the mouthpiece…what if I didn’t sound right? What if I can’t tell the difference? What if it’s worse?? I almost felt that you built up my expectations too high!
“But all I can say, is it’s better than I expected. It is more responsive and gets me closer to the sound I’m looking for. Thanks a million. Off to playing more music!”
|Nickel-Plated Conn “Chu Berry” Tenor Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|Martin Handcraft “Standard” Alto Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|SML “Gold Medal” Alto Saxophone Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
Buffet SuperDynaction Alto
This was one of those rare horns that comes in and does not really need an overhaul; I was able to make J.R. a nice price, because he got in contact with me almost the instant the horn came in, and we made the deal quickly. Very happy, J.R., that you’re pleased.
(sorry, no pics avail, on this one)
“The horn arrived – it’s great – good-looking, and extremely easy to play. My Runyon MP and V-16 reed seem to work fine. I shined up the case & took those labels off. Tonight, I’ll clean out the inside of it. This horn is a good find. Too bad you have to sell them to make a living! Thanks.
Just Saxes “Chu” Mouthpiece (“Bronzite”)
Thought at least one testimonial on the new “Just Saxes ‘Chu'” mouthpiece was in order. I was especially pleased to be able to please R.B., one of the better known players on the web, and someone who can flat-out PLAY! He is also well known on the web as passionately inquisitive, and savvy, about equipment, so I was especially keen to have him test drive the “Chu.” I could not be happier about the results.
I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to do business with you, R.B. — truly, it’s been and continues to be an honor. Many many thanks for sharing your impressions and thoughts with me.
“The sounds or variety of tonal colours that I can get from this mpc on the Chu is huge, it will whisper nicely or scream and roar. It plays like a metal mpc and I am really impressed with the finishing of these pieces. This is what I require from a mpc, I am not a one sound player for I need a different sound for different gigs. This needing of different sounds is what first led me down the path of different mpcs and horns. Please feel assured that if I keep a mpc, it has passed many of my personal tests on sounds. I love this mpc, I was playing it yesterday and have already told several others about it.”
|Conn “Chu Berry” Alto, in Silverplate Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|132K Selmer Mark VI Tenor Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|H.A. Selmer “Bundy Special” Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|1950s Strasser Marigaux Lemaire (SML) Tenor Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
Selmer Mark VI Alto
serial #99,xxx (circa 1962), with high F# (original to this example).
(more to be posted as time permits)
|Selmer Mark VI Alto Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
Serial #334,xxx – circa 1949-1950
– true double socket neck –
Early straight tonehole model, newly overhauled, complete ground-up restoration, including no-buff hand refinishing and complete mechanical restoration. With very little wear to the pearls and keywork, this feels and plays like a new saxophone.
As well, if you ever wondered what a Conn Ladyface engraving is supposed to look like on an original finish, late ’40s alto, this one will answer that question.
This 6M has gotten the whole 9 yards — every imperfect pivot screw has been replaced with an undamaged one (I have plenty of 6M pivot screws), every rod is dead straight, every spring is new, and there is not a bit of play in the keyboard, anywhere. Even most of the set-screws (the tiny screws that secure the pivot screws in place on vintage Conns) are new. Mechanically, it is in better than new condition — I promise you there will not be a new/retail saxophone sold in the world this year, or next, that is mechanically tighter or more sound (unless by a saxophone specialist, at the retail level, like myself, who has tightened up the factory’s work).
A GREAT, accurate player, this alto has a very fast, lively keyboard and unusually solid balance (the horn hangs exactly centered, where you want your hands to be when playing it — a very rare thing). I have seen players comment over the years that the advantage of a Mark VI is that it is inherently faster than all the other vintage makes; that claim is simply untrue. A properly set-up 6M has a light, lightning-fast action that begs to be played fast.
In a way, this 6M’s restoration was a gift from me to myself, in terms of work. It was a saxophone I received in trade from a medical doctor a year or two before the storm, and that had been in storage ever since the storm. Rebuilding this saxophone I left no stone unturned — it has probably the most airtight, perfectly fitted double socket neck you will ever find, refitted the exactly correct way. This is an aspect of service that is rarely, if indeed ever done correctly on most double socket necks. Even the tuning barrel is dead steady, without a bit of play or extraneous motion.
I did a country ton of work on this one, because I got it in my head that it would be a nice way to celebrate being done with the storm. This is a great saxophone. They don’t make them like this any more, and probably never will again.
Click here for .mp3 sample of this 6M being played with a Johannes Gerber custom Meyer (2 track recording in mono, no effects, with stereo in background recorded via microphone in room; range played is low Bb to G3)
thank you, M!
|Conn 6M Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
Buescher True-Tone Sop
|Buescher True-Tone SopGallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
Custom Selmer Mark VII Tenor Saxophone Neck
– Silverplated (Just Saxes restoration), chamfered tip opening, enlarged octave pip –
|Custom Selmer Mark VII Tenor Saxophone Neck Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|Silver-plated Courtois Alto Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
Buescher 400 Top Hat & Cane Model
This is the real thing. This very early Buescher TH&C came to me in rough shape, mechanically, but Big Bad Billy is sweet William now. You may find a better looking one that has seen less action, but you will be hard-pressed to find a better playing one. I love this alto.
This 400 is all original — including goldplated Norton springs — except for 2 snap ins, which were missing but which I have restored, re-milling snap-in mountings, and reinstalling original Buescher snap-ins from a True-Tone I salvaged previously for just such an occasion. The Bis is one of these, the other eludes me at the moment.
The 400 can scream and moan in a bar band (I’m talkin old school juke joint bar band, not Johnny and the Mid-Nites at TGI Fridays), or croon sweetly in a big band (like Johnny Hodges, who used to play a 400). It can do it all, with unique power and finesse.
The 400 Top Hat line, alto and tenor both, are probably the most powerful saxophones every made that could also pull duty in a classical or bebop-acoustic setting. They are versatile, and the subtlety of their sweetest sound, the depth of their rawest sound, the accuracy of their intonation — these are combined in a 400 TH&C as in no other make, ever.
They don’t make them like this any more, and chances are they never wil again.
|Buescher 400 Top Hat & Cane Model Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
Silver-Plated Martin Handcraft Alto
Serial#89,xxx (has front F, original design)
Exceptionally good intonation for a Handcraft alto — better than a much coveted gold plated collector’s item I had some years ago. This horn got everyday play at some time in its past — tiny scratches & everyday use type dings say so — but very nicely preserved mechanically, tightened up now to better than new.
This one was about as good as a Handcraft alto gets — all the sweetness but with trademark Martin power and edge if you want it.
Does have front F; set up with medium large (oversized, but with balance between mellow result and best response in mind) nickel plated Pisoni resonators to please the taste of vintage alto lovers. Art Pepper would blow a gasket over how beautifully this Handcraft plays. I actually set this up with his sound and approach in mind — this alto’s ideal owner is someone who appreciates that Martin thing in Art Pepper’s sound, but likes a horn that can be pushed to an edge as well.
A rugged vintage American saxophone that can compete with any alto, anywhere, on finesse as well as power. This saxophone plays.
|Silver-Plated Martin Handcraft Alto Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
King Super 20 Silversonic alto
thank you JP!
|King Super 20 Silversonic alto Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
Silver Conn 10M (Navy Issue)
~ circa 1942-1943 ~
Rolled tone holes, large bore design. Very clean. Original silverplate when purchased, since replated. Custom resonators. – Rebuilt and restored from the inside-out, including all new pivot, rod & set screws –
Replated in 2002, this Navy-issue 10M initially sat around waiting for an overhaul that I could not manage to get around to, and then went into storage following Katrina. It is a very, very pretty tenor. After taking it out of storage, earlier this year, and giving it the first run through the silver cleaning process, every person that came into the shop would secretly eye its stripped down body, eventually and without fail ending up in front of it, mesmerized, asking what it was.
Post-overhaul, now, it turned out to be a perfect, quintessential 10M. If there was a musical museum where players could play definitive examples of vintage American saxophones, this could easily be the status quo for 10M’s. It is a special, special instrument. True story: if silverplate fared better in New Orleans’ sulphur heavy air, I would have kept this for myself.
This 10M received my full attention. Every resonator (very large) is custom made, screw-in (re-usable, so you never have to worry about whether your tech will have the right resonators), and matched to its individual tonehole. Every pivot screw is new. Every set screw is new. Every blued-needle spring and every flatspring is new. Nearly all of the rod screws are new (replacements are .0005″ larger than original, which makes for a smoother, tighter, quieter action); only the lower stack and palm key screws have not been replaced (they are ramrod straight, true, and were already nice and snug to the keytubes). Mechanically, this feels and effectively is a new horn; there is no lost motion anywhere on the instrument and the only person to play it since I began to restore it is me (this will change, soon, as I will see about getting some local friends to playtest, so that I can feature some sound samples by people who can actually play).
I also added an F-to-F# stabilizing linkage arm to this one — a common modification to help the G# linkage do its work while reducing the F# pad’s tendency to twist torsionally, which when unaddressed tends to compromise the F# pad’s airseal. This is a modification that can help any vintage American saxophone to be just a little more mechanically dependable, and firm under the hands.
A relatively early 10M, this example feels like it is actually larger than later examples — it still has the forked Eb (see photos to come) in its design, and the bell looks and feels larger than on other later 10Ms. The keyboard actually has a transitional feel to it, as it is not as close together as later 10M’s. Perhaps some of this difference is related to this 10M’s being a Navy issue (U.S.N. engraving, with serial number inside the “Ladyface” pentagon), I’m not sure.
thank you, PG!
|Silver Conn 10M (Navy Issue) Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|
|Gallery – Click thumbnail to view full-size photo|