Posts by: admin

Grafton Acrylic Alto

Grafton Acrylic Alto. This pic from SaxophoneSound.com.

Grafton Acrylic Alto. This pic from SaxophoneSound.com.


Inventor: Hector (Ettore) Sommaruga (1904 – 1986)
Introduced: 1949
Discontinued: 1962 (production line closed in 1959; appx. 3500 horns sold)
Highest Serial Number: appx. s/n 14xxx
Original Advertised Price: 55 Guineas ($108 US; about $1029, in 2012 dollars)
Current Value: appx. $3000 US
Grafton Info. on Saxpics.com   The original article I wrote on saxpics.com several years ago.
Stephen Howard Woodwinds   A review of the Grafton from a repairman’s perspective. Lots of great pics.
Stephen Howard Woodwinds: The Naked Grafton   A longer article introduced on SOTW by Pete Thomas.
Saxgourmet   Another breezy overview of the Grafton.
Wikipedia.   Of course there’s a Wikipedia article. This one is a bit light, though.
The Sax and Brass Book   There is a bit of incorrect information in The Sax and Brass Book, but it’s nice that a portion of the book is online.
Dave Gelly Article   As mentioned in the below article. Word doc.
The Woodwind Course, Newark (UK) College   Another brief history. Word doc.
Chromat-tic   A breezy overview with some nice pics.
Wally Horwood Article   As mentioned in this article’s text.
Bassic Sax Pix   Helen’s picture gallery.
Saxophone.org Gallery   Some horns that were formerly on Saxquest’s website.
TheSax.Info Gallery   My small gallery.
The Vintage Saxophone Gallery   This is the direct link to the Grafton section of Saxpics.com’s Gallery.
Willem Alink’s Custom Graftons.   Nice work.
Peter King & Parker’s Grafton   Play one of the world’s priciest, most fragile saxes, that was owned by one of the greatest players ever? No pressure!
Grafton Repair   Part I of a two-part video from Mark Farmer of BAC Horn Doctor.
Restauración saxo alto GRAFTON   Mostly static images, but a nice tear-down.
SOTW Grafton Forum   Sax-on-the-Web. I occasionally write columns for them.
The Woodwind Forum   Which has the genesis of this page. I’m also an admin there.
… and They’re All Around $1000

… and They’re All Around $1000

For years, I’ve said that students shouldn’t get a vintage horn. There’s just too much that can go wrong with vintage. However, when you’re ready to graduate to a better instrument, you’ll see that the cheapest horn on the market marketed as “pro” is a Taiwanese-made Cannonball for around $1500 and “intermediate” horns aren’t much cheaper. I was pretty sure I could take $1000 or so and get a really good vintage pro horn, throw $400 at it to get it close to good mechanical shape and end up with a horn any pro would love to have. The below horns are the results of my experiment.

Antoine-Joseph Sax

I’m doing a little experiment, of sorts, with this post. Yes, you’re going to get a lot of great pics. In addition to that, though, I’m doing a collaboration with Helen from Bassic-Sax.info regarding collecting the saxophone. I thought this would be a good place to start!

Adolphe Sax patent drawing from French patent #3226 (March 21, 1846). This picture taken from Selmer.fr.

Adolphe Sax patent drawing from French patent #3226 (March 21, 1846).
This picture taken from Selmer.fr.

A Martin Retrospective

How many models did Martin make? Way too many. However, that’s good for those of us that really appreciate the elaborate engraving on these horns.

Martin

Handcraft through Magna -- and some other gems

[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-handcraft-artist-gold-tenor.jpg]13782Handcraft Artist Bb Tenor, s/n 20148 (1921). From Saxophone.org. Click here for the full album.
The "Artist" finish was Conn's designation for a horn with heavy gold plate and a non-custom, but more elaborate than standard, engraving. All US manufacturers produced horns in a similar style, but they're a lot less common than the Conn examples.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-handcraft.jpg]5580Handcraft Eb Alto, s/n 69507 (1926). From DoctorSax.biz. Click here for the full album.
The Handcraft was the first Martin-made saxophone -- they imported stencils before this -- and I think they're quite pretty. My experience has been that the intonation was a bit iffy, but the tone was very nice.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_15143_1200_900.jpg]4722Master Martin Handcraft Eb Alto, s/n 79359 (1927). From Saxophone.org. Click here for the full album.
This is another of the very elaborate finishes that was available in the 1920s. This particular variant is exceptionally rare.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_13904_1200_900.jpg]4550Master Model ("Typewriter") Eb Alto, s/n 94086 (1930). From Saxophone.org. Click here for the full album.
I've actually played a few Martins, including one of these. It's a nice look, but it is a bit uncomfortable to play. It's a very nice look on the baritone.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-handcraft-special-eb-alto.jpg]4690Handcraft "Special" Eb Alto, s/n 109726 (1935). From Saxpics.com.
The serial number is a bit too high for a Handcraft and the neck looks like a Martin Master or later. The engraving looks a lot like a Handcraft Standard, and I had initially categorized it as such. It's also not a "one off." There was one of these for sale on eBay, recently.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-handcraft-imperial-alto.jpg]4850Handcraft Imperial Eb Alto, s/n 111921 (1935). From DoctorSax.biz. Click here for the full album.
This model has been called the rarest Martin model -- not just an interesting finish, but model. In my searches, though, I tend to think that the Centennial deserves the honor of being called the rarest.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-handcraft-standard-alto.jpg]3661Handcraft Standard Eb Alto, s/n 112511 (1936). From Saxquest.com. Click here for the full album.
There are at least two variants of this horn, with the interestingly placed forked Eb vent (it's offset from the D tonehole) and one without. There's some debate over whether there was one stamped "Special."
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-handcraft-troubador-alto.jpg]3621Handcraft Troubador Eb Alto, s/n 120xxx (1938). From Saxophone.org. Click here for the full album.
The big innovation on these horns is the lack of a altissimo E/F side key. The function is taken up by the chromatic (side) C key and a few strategically placed springs.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-handcraft-committee.jpg]3560Handcraft Committee Eb Alto, s/n 124xxx (1938). From Saxpics.com.
Gold plating became fairly rare after 1929. That's a shame because the finish really does look great on horns that have a lot of engraving, like this one.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin_handcraft_committee_1.jpg]3630Handcraft Committee I Bb Tenor, s/n 1298xx (1939). From Saxpics.com.
This is an interesting variant of the Handcraft Committee: you can see that it's clearly engraved "Comm. I." That would of course, mean that the Handcraft Committee II was on its way. That's an insanely risky business move: why buy the I when the II is coming out?
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martintenor143xxx-10.jpg]32710Handcraft Committee II Bb Tenor, s/n 143126 (1942). From GetASax.com. Click here for the full album.
Speaking of "Committee," these horns were supposed to have been designed by a committee of about a half-dozen respected players and designers. I also found that there was another committee for brasswinds, so there probably was another for other instrument families, too.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-centennial-eb-alto.jpg]3130Centennial Eb Alto 141xxx (1943). From cymru97 @ SOTW. Click here for the full album.
This horn was produced in celebration of the 100th anniversary of one of Adolphe Sax's patents. This exceptionally rare model is obviously the model for the next Martin model, the Committee "III."
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_mart206k.jpg]3452Committee "III" Bb Tenor, s/n 195xxx (1956). From WorldWideSax.com. Click here for the full album.
This is a wonderfully restored horn from Steve "Sarge" Stransky over at WorldWideSax.com from several years ago. The horn was replated by Anderson Silver Plating.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-committee-iii-music-man.jpg]3640Committeee "III" Official Music Man Model Bb Tenor, s/n 202801 (1958). From GetASax.com.com. Click here for the full album.
The lacquer used on Martin instruments tended to disintegrate extremely quickly and even faster when you had a lot of engraving, so finding a lacquer horn in this good of shape is outstanding. I was fortunate enough to play an almost mint one of these in the late 1980s. Wonderful tone, "OK" to "meh" intonation.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_martin-magna-baritone-low-a.jpg]3350Magna Eb Baritone w/Low A, s/n 215xxx (1963). From ehopper1 via Saxpics.com. Click here for the full album.
The Magna baritone was offered in both a low Bb and low A ... but no chromatic F# key. The Magna had an optional silver neck to go with the standard silver touches on the keys and the "stars" on both the bell and neck.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_i.jpg]3726Dick Stabile Eb Alto, ca. 1941. From reeder31788 on eBay. Click here for the full album.
Martin stencils are always a bit odd. I've had this horn described to me as "the Holy Grail" of Martin stencils and as a horn cobbled together out of old Martin pro and student parts. I've never heard it described as "bad," though.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_olds-super-alto.jpg]3660Olds Super Eb Alto, ca. 1941. Click here for the full album.
The Olds Super is supposed to have been made by former Martin designers; the much later Reynolds Contempora -- which appears on the next page -- has the same octave key mechanism, supporting that argument. In any event, the design is striking.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/martin/thumbs/thumbs_contempora-visser.jpg]3140Reynolds Contempora Eb Alto and Bb Tenor, ca. 1962. Thanks to AH Visser.
(This is a sample pic from the calendar I did in 2008.) The Reynolds Contempora is mostly a Martin Committee "III" with some keywork changes, but the octave key mechanism is quite different. Note that there is an SML-made Contempora and a Reynolds Contempora Medalist intermediate horn.

PC/Mac Navigation Help:
Click the “FS” button for BIG images (heartily recommended).
Click the “SL” link for an automatic slide show.
Click the “Info” button for info on the pic, a link to the full gallery and my witty banter.
Click the left/right arrows or thumbnails to navigate through the pics.
Click the “thumbs up” button if you liked the pic or my commentary — or both :).

Apple iDevice: click on the “A Martin Retrospective” title, then click on a pic.
You might have to do it a couple times.

Leblanc Saxophones

The Leblanc family of pro saxophones, from the Le Rationnel to the Leblanc System. I’m also testing some new gallery software, so enjoy the show!

Leblanc

G. Leblanc Le Rationnel, Semi-Rationnel and Leblanc System Saxophones

[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblanc-le_rationnel-alto.jpg]10860Leblanc Le Rationnale Eb Alto, s/n 33 (1930?). Click here for the full gallery.
I initially saw a small picture of this specific horn on <a href="http://sax.nl" target="_blank">www.sax.nl</a>. Years later, I found out someone had bought it and posted some great pics.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblanc-semi-rationnel_srb_prototype.jpg]4460Leblanc Semi-Rationnel (SRB) Eb Alto Prototype, s/n 34 (1939). Click here for the full gallery.
A few years back, Leblanc decided to sell their private collection. This horn was part of that collection and was shown at a World's Fair/Exhibition in 1939.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblanc-semi-rationnel_srb.jpg]4180Leblanc Semi-Rationnel (SRB) Eb Alto, s/n 9 (1931). Click here for the full gallery.
If you've gotten this far in this slide show, you've noticed that a) Leblanc serial numbers are moderately confusing and b) some prototypes came after the production models. In the former case, I believe Leblanc used a series of serial numbers for each model. In the latter case, their SRB prototype and Leblanc System prototype were probably put out there for the public to make a choice as to which was better.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblancsystemprototype.jpg]4300Leblanc System Eb Alto Prototype, s/n ? (1939). Click here for the full gallery.
The Leblanc System horns -- generally incorrectly identified as "Rationale" or "Semi-Rationale" horns -- were the most enduring horns made by Leblanc. They were probably introduced right after WWII and I remember seeing advertisements for them up until the 1980s.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblanc_system.jpg]4560Leblanc System Bb Tenor, s/n 542 (ca. 1950). Click here for the full gallery.
The mechanics on the Leblanc System saxophones were so complex that Leblanc had a specific repair manual for them. Some models had additional keywork, just to add to the fun.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_vito-leblanc-system-model-35.jpg]4390Vito Leblanc System Model 35 Eb Alto, s/n ? (ca. 1970). Click here for the full gallery.
A lot of folks don't realize that Vitos stamped "Made in France" were actually just the full professional model made for a different market and not a student model. That "Made in France" stamp makes a big difference.
[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_vito-leblanc-system-model-135-johnny-hodges.jpg]3790Vito Leblanc System Model 135 "Johnny Hodges" Eb Alto, s/n 2551A (ca. 1967). Click here for the full gallery.
This is one of the few Vitos I've seen in person. The engraving really is that pretty. This is the least common: it was made for all of three years and Leblanc probably made only about 2500 Leblanc System horns total. Johnny Hodges really did play this model.

Click here to check out my original blog article and to get links to more pics

PC/Mac Navigation Help:
Click the “FS” button for BIG images (heartily recommended).
Click the “SL” link for an automatic slide show.
Click the “Info” button for info on the pic, a link to the full gallery and my witty banter.
Click the left/right arrows or thumbnails to navigate through the pics.
Click the “thumbs up” button if you liked the pic or my commentary — or both :).

Apple iDevice: click on the “Leblanc Saxophones” title, then click on a pic.
You might have to do it a couple times.

Holton Musing

Holton Musing

I’ve mentioned in a few places that the reasons why I never paid much attention to Holton were because not a lot of folks had the horns and not a lot of folks considered them to be good horns: as an example, Rudy Wiedoeft famously didn’t play the Holton Rudy Wiedoeft model. On this blog, though, I’m not terribly worried about playability: I just want to see some really pretty horns and Holton did have several.

Conn New Wonder “Series II” Silver Family

Join me for a look at possibly the most popular make and model of saxophones made in the US, the Conn New Wonder. In particular, I want to look at the so-called “Series II” or “Chu Berry” version of the New Wonder, which was produced between approximately 1924 and 1930.

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