Gallery - 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.

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.)

1928 CONN CHU-BERRY TENOR

K.T., a saxophonist in Japan, bought two very sonorous vintage Conns. The 220K- series tenor sold on eBay (transaction to "Bluefish77" in my eBay feedback); K.T. soon afterward bought a relacquered "pre-Chu"/"New Wonder" alto. The "NW" was a truly spectacular player; its tone was better than any alto I've ever played, save my own transitional Conn alto, following latter's overhaul.

"Thank you for E mail.I play conn chu [tenor] every day. I think this is really good. Practice with this is very enjoyable and comfortable. The sound of this conn chu is very different from 10M's. Whennever I have a lesson, my teacher says that he want to buy this. But? always say'Never'. This week he seemed to give up taking this away from me. Instead of saying so, he said to me that you are relaiable, so he want you to look for conn tenor 30M. Do you know about conn 30m? Can you get the good one? If you have a chance to get good one?please let me know." - K.T. 1/24/01

1925-26 CONN "NEW WONDER" ALTO

"I played saxophone. I think this [NW alto] is the great one as you said. Though this is relacquer,the sound is big and beatiful. I like this. The side key is small, so it is a little difficult to play. The shape is't so bad. It is good rather than I estimate [....] I hope I can discuss the saxophone with you from now on. Thank you very much. sincerly," - K.T. 2/24/01

1960s BUFFET-CRAMPON SUPERDYNACTION TENOR

This Buffet was a terrific player & went to a very good home in Canada, Where a budding saxophonist is putting it to good use. When I first spoke with R.R., his son was playing an Olds that was literally falling apart in his hands as he played. I'm very glad to have met R.R and L.R., and I'm expecting to hear some very cool sounds coming out of that Buffet some day.

"[W]e have received the Sax and L is very happy with it. L will be practicing with it and will use it at his solo. He just may win who knows. It's a great Sax and we are very proud to own it. [...] The sound of the Sax is great and much much better than the Olds. I'm impressed with the quality and feel of the horn and I know that L can feel the difference as he has already taken to the horn. He amazes me sometimes as he wants vintage (or as he puts it old horns) most kids want new things. [...] I would like to thank you for all your time and effort in keeping us up to date and informed i.e. mouth pieces etc. After all this dealing I feel I know you well." - R.R., letters of 3/26-3/27/01

1960s BUFFET-CRAMPON SUPERDYNACTION TENOR Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
         

1927 CONN CHU-BERRY SATIN SILVER ALTO

This bold-playing vintage alto went to a saxophone enthusiast in Germany, T.S., who found my eBay auction and "Bought It Now." Thank you for making the international transaction easy, T.S., and for letting me post your letter here. Thanks, too, for "internationalizing" my feedback -- I'm glad to see a language other than English there each time I check on my files. Jus.

"Absolut empfehlenswert,erstklassige Ware,Superverpackung,sehr engagiert!SUPER!!!" - eBay feedback from T.S.

"[T]he Chu has arrived in absolutly perfect condition. What a big package.I tried it immidiatly and now I know what is about this mistery"CONN SOUND">>>>>>marvelous. Okay I am glad that we could end our transaction so very well and I thank you very much for your engagement.Until our next deal. Best wishes," - T.S., 3/22/01

1927 CONN CHU-BERRY SATIN SILVER ALTO Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

KOHLERT-BIXLEY TENOR, circa 1960s

This Rock & Roll horn went to a "late bloomer," picking up the saxophone again after putting it down for many years. This buyer also got a very nice vintage Brilhart HR piece in the purchase. This purchase hit a bump when UPS bent the bell lip in transit (the reason I no longer use UPS), but with some cooperation, JD and I were able to fill the insurance claim. JD - please do drop me a line, if you ever decide to sell that piece, and happen to come across these pages.

"I just had my first lesson with Dr. Jenn. Very interesting. You may find this hard to believe, but I had been playing the sax all those years in high school without ever using my tongue. [...] Anyway, the good Doctor has put me on the right path. He says, by the way, that I already play better than the 4th tenor in his big band, which is encouraging. [...] Also, he played my horn, so I now know unequivocally that the squeaks and honks that I am producing result solely from my poor technique and not leaking pads or any other equipment problems. He was able to make the sax play all the notes very nicely. Thanks for your help along the way, I'll check in once in a while to let you know how I'm doing." - J.D., 3/7/01

KOHLERT-BIXLEY TENOR Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

"American Artist" Conn Stencil Alto, circa 1950s

This was a very good player, with outstanding intonation, and a slightly brighter sound than the signature Conn horns (6M, and siblings). Perhaps not surprisingly, the timbre of the horn was actually fairly close to that of Conn's "Connstellation" model, of the mid-50s. R.F. bought this horn in order to take his playing to the next level, as a step-up horn from a Bundy. An excellent choice, in my opinion.

"Very helpful to a newbie (both sax & e-bay), Fast Shipping, Great Saxophone." - eBay feedback from R.F., 7/15/01

"First impressions: Both my girlfriend and I really like the tone of the AA. It's got a purity that the Bundy always lacked. The keys are much quicker and more positive than the Bundy (though the left hanf pinky table will require some work to master). The tone is a little more compact than I want, but I think some mouthpiece shopping might help in enhancing this. Most importantly, I am able to play certain songs easily on the AA that were always difficult or impossible on the Bundy. I am very happy with it overall." - R.F.'s letter of 7/7/01

"American Artist" Conn Stencil Alto Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

1960 MARTIN MAGNA TENOR

Very recent eBay sale to one of a select group of lawyers who, midstream in life, are taking up the saxophone. Don't ask me why, DK, but it seems there are a number of your colleagues taking up the horn as well. It was a pleasure doing business with you - I hope that it isn't long before you're coaxing some very good, old-school blues and R & B sounds from your new Magna.

"wonderful, honest, a real saxophone afficionado. You can't do better."
- eBay feedback from DK.

"I got the sax. I'm able to get good sounding sounds, but I'll hit the Teal book just to get a sense of where my fingers are suposed to go. Then the lessons will start . . . To my very uneducated ear, it seems to have a very nice sound. I'll keep in touch...." - DK, letter of 4/17/01

1960 MARTIN MAGNA TENOR Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

1930 SILVER-PLATED BUESCHER TRUE-TONE ALTO

This was a rare condition collector's piece, a very late series True-Tone that went to a vintage saxophone expert & collector, P.L., who had already acquired a very rare C-melody of a very close vintage. An absolute cream-puff of a T-T, I was very glad to see the horn go to someone who really knows & loves early Bueschers. The 'neck liner' P.L. refers to below is a sleeve that some T-T players & repairmen insert into the necks of the "*" or "1" design necks, to correct the intonation issue in the low G - B common to Buescher True-Tones.

"YOW!!!!! Everything you said is true. The horn, your workmanship, its sound and response are all fantastic. You had the key heights perfect for the intonation I wanted to get --just slipped my neck liner into the new neck and it was right. I love the tangy flavor this horn has when you push some air thru it -- especially on the bottom end, where it's usually hard to get much edge." P.L., 6/7/01

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1930 SILVER-PLATED BUESCHER TRUE-TONE ALTO Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

"SHERWOOD MASTER" ALTO - ca. 40s-50s CONN STENCIL

This was a very nice example of a fairly typical Conn stencil design - the 6M body-type with a mixture of "New Wonder" and "Chu" keywork - rare in that it was finished in silver plate, with gold-washed bell. It sold to S.T., a tenor player whose main tenor also happened to be a silver-plated Conn stencil. The horn was a terrific player, with very dead-on intonation.

"Yes, the horn arrived in great shape! The outer box had some of the usual 'dings' from shipping, but your layer of peanuts around the case worked very well.

"I have not actually played the horn yet, because upon looking around for my never-used alto mouthpiece, I found it had been misplaced when I moved recently! This accounts for most of the delay in getting back to you - sorry about keeping you in suspense.

"I have had a couple of friends play the horn with their MPs, and it sounds good! They liked it.

"Thanks again for your willingness to work with me on the payment arrangements; that really helped a lot!" - S.T., 5/28/01

"SHERWOOD MASTER" ALTO - ca. 40s-50s CONN STENCIL Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

KOHLERT (GERMANY) ALTO

This "sleeper" sold on eBay to E.E., a collector with a little bit of everything, Bundy to vintage American, and now Kohlerta & Sons. The teflon tape E.E. mentions is actually a special teflon material that helps to keep binding friction at an absolute minimum.

"Excellent Workmanship and Very Pleasant Emails! Trust him! Thanks!" - eBay feedback from E.E., 6/2/01

"Man what an EXCELLENT job packing you did! Everything is intact! I really think the Teflon tape you used is the neatest! Your repadding is absolutely one of the best jobs I've seen!" S.T., 6/2/01

KOHLERT (GERMANY) ALTO Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

1949 BUESCHER "BIG-B" ARISTOCRAT TENOR

This Big B was a very lush player, with phenomenal subtone & altiss response. It sold on eBay, and became GD's graduation gift to his son - very glad to hear that you like the horn, B.

"Tenor sax arrived in excellent condition. Even adjusted 'feel'. Plays grt! Thx!" - eBay feedback from G.D., 6/14/01

"Sax arrived today in excellent condition. Plays like a dream! [B] absolutely *loves* it! Many thanks! Will definitely keep you in mind for our next one -- [B's] little brother [P] plays tenor, too! Probably will need one in a couple of years. Please keep in touch should you change your email so we can call on you again. Thanks again!" - from G.D.'s letter of 6/14/01

1949 BUESCHER "BIG-B" ARISTOCRAT TENOR Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
     

1952 Conn 28M "Connstellation" Alto

Any Conn enthusiast that hasn't yet played a 28M is missing an entire spectrum of color in Conn design and Manufacturing. Conn's last truly professional-line model, the 28M incorporated a wholly new key design and layout, with numerous adventurous design innovations, and it plays unlike any other preceding incarnation in the Conn line. This particular 28M went to a professional player and collector/dealer in Thailand. Mssr. O.: it's been my sincere pleasure working with you - thank you.

"Just finished playing the 28M now...! The horn looks far better than it shows in the pictures (terrific).... The sax plays easily from the bottom to altissimo, but has just a'bit more resistant from middle G downward. Well, pads installation is the most difficult job ever.... Actually, your job is far better than one of the U.S. reputable repairpersons that I recently dealt with. Did you know? I had to bring my Chu that I bought from this person to my repairman to fix it again. By the way, this sax starts singing beautifully after an hour of playing. Yeah, we need time to know each other. ;-)

"...I think the 28Ms are real serious saxes for real serious players. I wonder why do not so many pro-players use them. The keys are very comfortable to play even when compare to the MKVI. It might be not as easy to play as the new french style keys, but it is very very close. Furthermore, this horn has a characteristic sound which could not be found on any brand new modern horn. I think Mr. Santy Runyon is a real bloodly genius!!!" - P.O., letter of 8/14/01

Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

2001 Selmer Reference 54 tenor saxophone

The new Reference 54s are some of (if not the) finest saxophones in current production. This one played very much like a very good Mark VI, with a slightly heavier tonal core. My own main horn for about 6 months, this 54 was a terrific horn, overhauled with gigantic Pisoni domed metal Resonators that really enhanced the inherent "ring" of the horn. It went to S.J. a professional level player in Illinois. It was a pleasure doing business with you, S.J.

"I received the ref 54 today, played it, and had difficulty stopping playing. Man what resonance! It has such a big resonant fat yet focused sound. The more I practice on it the more I can get it to ring. It also has an extremely even timbre throughout the entire range. D3 through F3 are outstanding. What fun! I'm sure I will remain very happy with this horn.... I like what you added but I would prefer even more. I'll get used to it I'm sure in a short time though...this horn really sings.... Thank you for making this unique instrument available."
- S.J.'s letter of 8/23/01

2001 Selmer Reference 54 tenor saxophone Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

1932 Conn Transitional Tenor

One of the finest tenors ever listed here, this tranny went to M.G., a brass player taking up the tenor in earnest. M.G. bought from Just Saxes with the advisement of W., clinician with a major current production saxophone manufacturer, and M.G.'s future teacher.

You've got a huge head start on the horn even before picking it up, M.G. - here's wishing you the best & widest array of experiences, start to finish, on your new journey. Thank you, too, to W. for the vote of confidence that led M.G. to Just Saxes.

"The horn is awesome. I can't believe the condition it is in. The photos really did understate the finish. When I opened the case, I couldn't believe it. The 'look' to the horn is immaculately exactly what I pictured I would want. As far as the sound, I haven't heard it yet. [W.] did not have time to play it for me and because I don't play I haven't heard it. Although, he says it's awesome. He said that he could play certain notes on it that new horns can't realy play too well. He is a [snipped] sponsored player. My mom also heard it and said it is beautiful. She has a really good ear. The funny thing was that he said he couldn't get over the keywork of the palm keys. Said it was kinda bizarre but since I don't know any better, it will be fine. He basically told me "to show it off" because it is rare and in awesome condition. The engraving is sweet too. Even the piano player for the North Carolina Jazz reperatory orchestra, who is on faculty at UNC, saw the engraving and it caught his eye from far. I think it's one of the coolest saxophones I have ever seen!!"
- M.G's letter of 10/23/01

1932 Conn Transitional Tenor Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
   

1955 Buescher Aristocrat Tenor Saxophone

This tenor was an outstanding player that went to baritone player, R.T.L. (hey R), his first tenorand, I hope, the cornerstone to a new path toward positive and rewarding uses for an obvious abundancy of energy. Many thanks for your purchase, R, and best wishes on your journey toward "one man band" (with hopes that "one man band, and band" is more the shape of things to come).

"Palo, my lip hurts. I got the '55 today from the mailman. Even he was happy for me....After spending about 45 minutes getting rid of all your various packing materials, I cut the nylon tiedowns carefully with some nippers and took off the key brace and then just 'took off'!!!!!! I had just played with the alto a bit before the mail came so I was ready for the '55. I LOVE the low notes especially. I haven't even gotten to the palm or side keys yet. Gotta let the swelling go down in my lower lip. Just thought I'd let you know that she got here in fine shape and that the case is staying inside tonight - nopossum deordorizer needed there. Thanks a lot for the fine horn!"
- R's letter of 10/15/01

1955 Buescher Aristocrat Tenor Saxophone Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

Conn 28M "Connstellation" Alto

R.S., picking up the horn again after a hiatus, purchased this very pretty, excellent-playing example of the rare & very collectible Connstellation. It was a pleasure start to finish, R.S., thank you. Here's to torn lips and Blistex!

"Just a short note. I got the horn this evening. Everything is just as you said it would be. I played the horn for about 1/2 hour and could not continue as my lower lip feels like it is going to fall off! Thanks for a great experience.

"I will be sending a follow up email to this in about a week with all of my thoughts on the horn. I do not think I can do it justice until I play it a bit more." - R.S.'s letter of 11/7/01

Conn 28M "Connstellation" Alto Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

(Overhaul)

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..."
-- G.P.'s letter of 11/16/01

Update:

"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!"
- G.P.'s letter of 11/17/01

Nickel-Plated Conn "Chu Berry" Tenor

T.H. originally traded for a spectacular (201,xxx) nickel "Chu," and later purchased one very unattractive, but very very nice playing 5-digit Mark VI. At this writing, his VI is on my bench, undergoing the full treatment, with huge Pisoni domed resos and Lucien-Deluxe pads. Even before the overhaul, T. liked his new VI so much that he mentioned possibly selling the Conn. I was very happy to get the letter, below, putting that idea aside for the time being. It's been my pleasure & honor to do business with you, T. -- thank you, sincerely. And congratulations on your SML buy. Will look forward to checking it out!

"Thanks again for the deal on that VI. I think it will be a truly exceptional horn once the overhaul is complete. I received those Superial reeds in the mail today, and you were correct about those as well. They are great reeds, and work really well with the Ackerman mouthpiece and the nickel Chu I bought from you. Just got finished playing it, and MAN!! What an awesome horn!!! Forget our earlier discussion. I am never going to sell this thing. Some things just can't be replaced, and should never be parted with [...]. It's been a pleasure doing business with you, and look forward to further transactions (I have a feeling I will be getting an SML sooner than is good for me)."
- T.H.'s letter of 12/3/01

Nickel-Plated Conn "Chu Berry" Tenor Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

Martin Handcraft "Standard" Alto

One of the most undervalued of the Martin Handcraft line, these "Standard" models are sometimes confused with a later Martin edition that featured a smaller, 'coat-of-arms,' style of engraving. These earlier models still featured a forked Eb, placed in a very unusual spot, and this example had an absolutely phenomenal voice. I was very fortunate to do business with R.F.W. on this horn, through eBay who also bought a Bay NW alto mouthpiece -- an extremely good match, I felt. The combination was, to me, outstanding. A Handcraft with the right mouthpiece is a very rich voice instrument, with outstanding intonation. It was my privilege, R.F.W., from start to finish: thank you. Thanks, too, for taking the time to update me on your progress -- it's instructive to me, as well, and much appreciated.

"I picked up the saxophone at the P.O. this morning. I unpacked it at the office, but was embarrassed to test play it, so I brought it home for lunch. All I can say is WOW! Even with my daughter's plastic Yamaha mpc. it sounds just great! Better than I expected and probably better than you could write on ebay without sounding self-serving. Thank you Thank you. I'm going out now, and still haven't had much time to play it, but it should improve my practice time immensely and immediately. I'll write when I receive the Bay mpc. and give you a more extensive review."
- R.F.W.'s letter of 1/11/02

Martin Handcraft "Standard" Alto Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
     

SML "Gold Medal" Alto Saxophone

An extremely beautiful, well-preserved example. JJ and I transacted this purchase in person, on the phone, and through email. JJ also later bought one of the finest saxophones ever to come through my shop; a gold-plated "Rev D" that has broken several hearts in New Orleans alone. Though he generously shared his thoughts on the horn over the phone, I can't find a written review in my emails. I'm including a few pics of the horn here because it was such a nice example -- and a terrific player! -- and the gallery would be incomplete without posting a few here. Thank you for doing business with me, J, and thank you twice over for being generous with your friendship & trust. While it was a great pleasure and honor to do business with you, your friendship has of course been a blessing of an entirely different, and much more valuable kind.

J.L., if you're out here, thank you, too, for making the "Revision D" alto available to me. I took your request very seriously, and JJ is exactly the kind of owner, and person, you'd hoped would eventually give the horn a home.

SML "Gold Medal" Alto Saxophone Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
   

SML (early-) "Revision D" Tenor

This was my own main tenor for about half a year, and had an overabundance of character. A really terrific horn, with phenomenally good intonation and probably the richest lower end of any tenor that has ever come through Just Saxes. One of the finer playing SML tenors I've come across. Thank you, G.H., for keeping me apprised of your progress as you and the SML got to know each other. It was a pleasure to do business with you, and doubly so to hear about the first leg of your journey with the SML.

Many many thanks, G.H., for your kind words -- nothing is a greater reward for the work and effort than to receive letters such as yours. Many happy returns to you as well!

"I was out pretty much all day and all evening yesterday, so am only getting to write to you now. Anyway, the horn came with the postal delivery yesterday - that was so fast! The outside containers showed no ripping/denting damage. Best of all, our carrier had left a note that the Post Office had it, had moved away some distance before she saw my wife come back to the house, then doubled back so she could deliver it and we would not have to go to their office to fetch it. The carrier even helped [name withheld] get it situated in the house. I would say you are a good way ahead using them now rather than [withheld] - those guys have seemed pretty cavalier with big items in my recent experience.

"Unpacked it late this morning. Thank you for telling me how to get the ties off the keys - I don't think I hurt any of the spring attachments and using wire cutters is definitely the way to go. Seems to me that you are more sure that things will hold down with the ties than with the cork wedging that some people do.

"You have been very accurate in your physical description of the horn and you have my thanks for that. One would hardly notice the little indentation that is still in the bow brace. I really like the "built to last" quality of the keywork and the way you have the action set up. Guess I like to see substantial metalwork on saxes - probably why I have such difficulty with the "tinny" feel of some of the modern stuff.

"Don't know when I will get a chance to play - I hope within the next two or three days as I am dying to try it. Will write you about that.

"Thanks so much, Palo. It's obvious that you really care about what you are doing and I'm certainly glad to have found you."
- G.H's letter of 3/3/02

(update:)

"Sorry that this has taken a few days. What I wouldn't give to have more time! (I suppose somebody else has already said that.)

"The SML is just a wonderful player - not really like anything I have tried so far. How do they not only get middle D to be spot on pitch, but have so little sensation of stuffiness or significant tonal change as you come up through the register break? Will even good present day horns do that? Must be some real magic in where they put their octave pips, but I'm sure that's not all of it. And the overall character of the sound - not just rich and dark, but with a burnished, really refined quality to it that is pretty well unchanging from top to bottom. Quite something. And what a low end.

"The intonation constancy is reassuring; I do like Martins, but they certainly don't come into the same class in that regard. The solidity of the whole horn is terrific, and the spacious feel to the keyboard that you mentioned a while ago provides a good comfort level. I have pretty wide hands with shortish fingers, and it really feels good to me. I am anxious to spend more time with the horn.

"I am very happy to have this horn that you have enjoyed so much. It is really like taking the best performance and build traits of a number of good horns and combining them into something a bit transcendant.

"Let me say again what a pleasure it has been to go through this purchase with you. You have advised me well, been exceptionally forthright and forthcoming, and have shown a great deal of honesty and integrity throughout. The vintage horn field could use a lot more people like you. Best of luck in your future endeavors."
- G.H.'s letter of 3/6/02

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.
- J. Raucci's letter of 4/19/02

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."
- R.Booth's letter of 4/25/02

Conn "Chu Berry" Alto, in Silverplate

T.R. bought this killin' Conn Chu through an eBay auction, and was -- as is almost always the case with buyers purchasing from abroad -- an extremely conscientious and thoughtful buyer.

I'm very pleased to have been able to send a horn across to you that makes you happy, T.R. Best wishes, most sincerely to both you and your students!

"Hi Palo,the horn arrived today safely,looks fine and i played for only 5 minutes on it to find out that it is very nice!!!"
- T.R.'s letter of 4/29/02

"after some days of playing,i call this horn a REAL BAD MOTHER!it is the best chu i´ve ever had even better than my 6m of 1940 with VIII engraved!!!the tones are very close to each other, not clunky at all,i can really sing and slur and slide on it.intonation is no problem as long as you don´t play bach with it! tks"
- T.R.'s update of 5/2/02

Conn "Chu Berry" Alto, in Silverplate Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

132K Selmer Mark VI Tenor

This is one I still regret, from time to time. I was choosing between a 10M, Super 20, and this 132K at the time, and probably sounded better on this MKVI than on either of the others. I like the struggle of playing on a horn with a slightly more flexible pitch center, though, and this horn could not have gone to a better home, in my mind.

This one sold on eBay, and T. Monty and I reviewed the transaction by phone, so there is no correspondence (or I can't find any now, as I review emails, months later), but photos of this one belong here, if only for self-indulgent reasons on my own part. This one was a big job -- though it was original lacquer, I chemstripped and overhauled to my own taste, originally planning to keep this one for myself; it was near & dear to me. May it serve you well for years to come, T.!

"Noboby better to deal with than PT. The very best there is. Thank you."
- T. Monty's eBay feedback of 6/23/02

132K Selmer Mark VI Tenor Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

Charles Bay 7A (alto mpc)

June, 2002, was the month of The Great Mouthpiece Exodus. This is one of the pieces that left, from a batch of great Bay pieces sold to me by a friend.

Quite often, what seems like a problem with a horn is a problem of mouthpiece-to-horn match. Very gratified to hear we were able to solve that type of problem for you, R. -- thank you for the opportunity.

"thanks for the great piece!!! really opens the horn up, very fat centered sound with incredible projection and nice new overtones--allows the horn's solid silver bell to stepup--clean clear yet very mellow--exactly what I was looking for. it transformed a excellent horn into a great horn!! again THANK YOU !!"
- R. Brown's letter of 7/2/02

H.A. Selmer "Bundy Special"

(made by Keilwerth, vintage 1960s)

I've been on a Keilwerth stencil-buying kick, of late, and this JK-made "Bundy Special" was a seriously impressive (and underrated) little alto. It was a privilege to have been introduced to N.B. through his friend M.R. (thank you, M.R.), and a sincere pleasure to find out that this innocuous looking horn displaced a 6M, in N.B.'s arsenal. It was of course an honor & point of pride to have been able to please a long-time professional with a relatively unknown, and unheralded "sleeper."
Many thanks, N.B.!

"...I received the JK Bundy this afternoon. I'll be damned if it doesn't just play GREAT. I've played it for about an hour now and am very impressed. So far I believe it exactly what I was looking for. The sound is wonderful. Big, very vibrant, easy and crisp articulation, lots of overtones and easy to play. Pretty much what I couldn't get out of my SA 80 II. Keywork is also very playable and the intonation/scale seems very good. Palo, you did a great job of setting it up, thanks.

"I've been playing a Barone cont. in the show, so I put that on and it just screams, like you would expect, but quite a bit brighter than I could get on the SA 80. I also tried a Meyer 6MS on it and immediately got a wonderful, big, full, jazz sound, once again, that I couldn't get on the SA 80.

"It does fit, (though a bit too snugly), in my Walt Johnson case, so I think the Hiscox should be fine. For the time being, it also fits in the contoured Pro Tec case I had for my 6M.

"Well, I'll stop for now, but I will be playing the Bundy in the show tonight!"
- N.B.'s letter of 7/13/02

"I wanted to write and thank you for the Bundy Special, (Keilwerth) alto I recently bought. The repad and setup you did on it is very good and the horn plays wonderfully! I played it on the gig last night and really enjoyed it. It certainly has a great sound. The horn was packed great and arrived just fine! It really was a pleasure dealing with you. It's obvious to me that you care that the customer is completely satisfied, and I am! Thanks for your time, concern, and knowledge of the saxophone."
- N.B.'s letter of 7/14/02

H.A. Selmer "Bundy Special" Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

(Radical) Overhaul: Yamaha 875 "Custom" Tenor .

This one was a thrill to do, for alot of reasons - foremost among them that it was a top-to-bottom, from-under-the-skin OH on a horn for friend. That he happens to be a celebrated player and activist for musicians in his area only makes the final result that much more satisfying. We changed just about everything that could be changed on this horn, short of major surgery. The job was also, to an extent, a leap into the unknown, as I had not yet done a radical OH on a black-lacquered Yamaha 875, and both W.W. and I had great expectations for the job results. This was W.W.'s "road warrior" for many years, and had been overhauled over the years by the single, best-reputed name in the OH biz, as well as another well-known repairer with a top reputation with players; it was a special privilege to be able to test myself on the horn.

How much the chem-strip, or extraneous hardware removal, or tenon fitting, or other OH factor had to do with the change is impossible to know -- the change in a horn through an OH is a product of a few major factors, and a thousand miniscule ones. That the Custom came through the "out" door playing like a completely different, and much superior horn -- with the soul of the old one but the personality of something entirely different -- was a great pleasure for me to discover as well. I really like that horn, W.W., in its new clothes. It changed my tune about Yamahas' voices completely.

W.W. very generously penned a formal letter of reference, but also forwarded to me a letter sent to another player who wrote to him asking his impressions of the work. I got a special kick out of "overhearing" W.W.'s review to another player, and while deeply appreciative of W's trouble & kindness in taking time to pen a formal letter, include the forwarded review below.

Thank you, W.W.! It's my pleasure and privilege to have worked on Mssr. Yammy, but more importantly simply to have made yr acquaintance.

[The photo (above) is the only one I have of the horn, sent to WW mid-overhaul; Mr. W doesn't scare easily, unfortunately >haha<.]

"Thanks for the email! I cannot be happier with Palo and his work. My horn is playing better than it ever has. Having seen his work on other horns (through horn sales he had to two of my students) I knew I was in for a treat. I've had some great work done in the past by some well-know repairmen ([names excised]), but they are second in line to Palo's first rate work. It's quite refreshing to find someone who is as concerned with your horn's well-being as you are! And the comment you made about him being obsessive with perfection - I whole-heartedly agree. I've told Palo that he has a gift, and should utilize it to it's maximum! If there were a downside to my relationship with Palo, it would have to be the distance between us. However, I look forward to visiting NO in the future and hangin' hard with you and he. I hope to visit sometime in 2003."
- W. West's forwarding of 8/5/02

1950s Strasser Marigaux Lemaire (SML) Tenor

M.W. purchased this one before I had time to overhaul it, and decided to have me give it the full nine yards, though it was OK to play "as-is." We went for max-sized resos, and Pisoni L-D pads, and the results were spectacular. One of the finest playing tenors that has ever come through JS; probably, had I time to overhaul before M.W. found its listing, it would still be here.

It's been my pleasure to do business with, and to correspond with, you MW. It's gratifying to me to know that you and the SML get along so well, and that I had a part in helping to put a search-ending horn in your hands. The "Lili" that MW refers to is, of course, Hurricane Lili, which passed through New Orleans just 8 days after "Isadore," the latter of which landed in N.O. not two hours after this SML shipped. Not two hours after getting this horn off to Mssr. W, and parking the car on high ground, I took this polaroid (right). The white shadow, in the picture's foreground, a 1ft high curb.
~ Best to you, M, and many many thanks, sincerely ~

"I'm sorry I didn't get this typed up sooner, but I guess it'll be waiting for you when you get back online.

"Last night's gig was just so fun! This is just an incredibly fun tenor to play!

"I've been playing with these guys for over ten years, so they know my sound pretty well. They noticed the difference immediately and they *really* liked what they heard. The drummer also commented on my double-time and how clean it sounded.

"It's true - she likes to play fast! But not always - it's also great to just milk that sound for all it's worth with long slow phrases. (and everything in between - it doesn't take much to get that great swing accent thing going either...)

"It's also so effortless to play softly - all the way down to Bb. That's probably more your setup than the horn itself (as well as how effortless it is to make large interval leaps and register changes), but either way, it's great!

"It goes without saying that it's easy to really blow the walls down too, but this was a "quiet" gig, so I didn't get to do that as much as I would have liked.

"...So - in short, while I felt a little sheepish about buying a horn that I'd never played before from an online dealer I've never worked with before, it just couldn't have worked out any better! This is by far one of (if not THE) very best tenors I've ever played! I've found that last bit of character that I couldn't coax out of my modern horn. I'm done looking - I've found my dream horn! Thank you SO much! Good luck with Lili!"
- M. Wendt's letter of 10/2/02

(more to be posted as time permits)

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
         

Conn 6M

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
     

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Silver-plated Courtois Alto

Very nice cosmetic condition -- newly finished OH -- this horn is the bomb, and for an alto player whose loves the darker, sweeter approach of Art Pepper and Paul Desmond, it is the stuff dreams are made of. Jazz and modern players who are after a bright, cutting sound are probably not ideally suited to this horn; classical players and players who are more into something like the bossa nova sound are its intended pairing. Actually, that was my friend Stackman's immediate comment at first blow -- I think you might hear him say so in the recording if you listen to the background commentary.

I have put a couple of sound samples up here:
.mp3 sample, post-overhaul playtest by me
.mp3 sample, (brief) post-OH playtest by Stack

Engraving comparison, Courtois & Selmer Mark VI (Mark VI is vintage 136K or 138K):

Top rung craftsmanship and design, elegant finishing work, very solidly built.

Very classical, lush, dark, vintage voice, and subtle, sensitive response.

This is one of the models that has the bell slightly offset (over to the left, player's orientation), possibly related to being designed to be played sitting down (suggested to me by a very old school professional player).

It is a spectacular saxophone. I have to think that the only reason there is not a greater market for these is that so very few were made. Possibly the tenor is not as good as the alto, I just don't know. This alto is very, very good.

Update 11.11.09:

After playing this saxophone a bit, I decided to add a (fully removable) custom modification to it (left).

The brass linkage bar in the center of the frame is a low-B-to-low-C# linkage, which holds the C# closed when the low B and low Bb are played. This enables the spring tension on the C# to be made much lighter, so that the C#'s actions is lighter.

On older, pre-rocker Bb "Balanced Action" style spatulas, where the G# is articulated (i.e. activated by the C# and low B), the pinky finger works against both the G# and C# springs when C# is pressed. The leverage design on most older C# keys makes the action even more stiff. For the low C, however, the C# cup doesn't need that much downward tension, especially if the cup is moderately heavy in weight. Thus, one can lighten the C# spring's tension, lightening the overall action of that key, if one can just ensure that the C# won't rattle open when low B and low Bb are played and the horn is vibrating. This is a simple, effective modification that can be made in different ways to virtually any saxophone with a stiff C#.

Please note: I have not cleaned up the solder (it is a lead-free solder) around the foot of the added linkage -- there is a very good reason for this. The finish is silverplate, and if I clean up the solder there is a chance of damaging the plating. To avoid this, I left the solder because it can be wiped away when (or if) the modification is ever removed. When the keycup is hot, and the solder is at "flow temperature," the solder can be wiped away like water.
~ Sold Dec '09 - Thank you, M.E. ~

Silver-plated Courtois Alto Gallery - Click thumbnail to view full-size photo
       

Buescher 400 Top Hat & Cane Model

Serial #297,xxx

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.

(Just Saxes restored snap-in mounting - right)

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.
sold - thank you, DRP!

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
     

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