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Your SAXOPHONE Questions
(and Answers!)

On 8/15/2005 Nathan Chiang wrote:

Hi Lee,
I'm thinking about gold plating my delaquered Mark VI Alto. Is it worth it? And, how much would it cost to do it? Also, how will the sound change? And, I've heard you have to silver plate it first and then gold-plate it so the gold will stick. is that true?
-Thx, Nathan

Gold plating is the best finish you can give your sax. It is very sturdy. Gold does not tarnish easily and reacts less to the acids in your skin. Silver is plated first and then gold. This allows the plater to control the amount of gold. Brass is very porous and would soak up too much so the brass is first plated with silver. Acoustically it seems to enhance the sound and visually is very pleasing. The down side is the expense because your sax must be overhauled at this time. Just the gold plating for an alto runs about $1300 plus the cost of the overhaul puts you in the $2500 range. The other parameter is turnaround time which runs about three months. If its done properly you will never have to overhaul it again in your lifetime.

On 8/15/2005 Richard Fontana wrote:

Hi, I have a fairly new Selmer 64 Series III tenor. It's a pretty nice instrument except for one problem. When I press the octave key and play G or lower, there is an annoying clicking sound. I've isolated this -- I don't know the correct terminology, but there's a 'nipple'-like mechanism that is lifted out of a hole when the octave key is pressed for notes lower than A. The clicking is caused by this. I can eliminate the clicking by placing a small bit of paper between the hole and the nipple. Is there any way to permanently correct this problem?
Thanks, Richard

There are ways to correct this problem. A qualified technician knows how to shim this mechanism so the parts are quiet when they move together. Sometimes new oil on the hinge rod and in the hinge tube and grease on the bearing parts will quiet this mechanism. There should be a leather pad on the body octave key. This is the part that moves when you press G with the octave. You don't want oil on the pad or in the octave hole itself, just the mechanism! I hope you are enjoying your new Selmer.

On 8/8/2005 Gen. O'Neill wrote:

I was wondering what the difference between a student alto sax and a professional alto sax is (besides price). What’s the difference between a student clarinet and a professional clarinet?

Student instruments are mostly designed to produce a tone easily. Mechanisms are designed simpler and are not as precise. Student models have to be priced at a beginner level. Pro instruments are all about creating a beautiful tone and precise mechanisms that allow a player to play fast and accurately. More attention is paid to intonation. Also the appearance of the instrument is more important. There are some absolutely stunning pro instruments out there from many eras including the current one.

On 8/3/2005 Carrie wrote:

I have a Vito Bass Clarinet. I have had this instrument checked for leaks as well as doing it myself. All pads and corks are new. I cannot get upper register to play on my right hand (bottom section of the horn), the left hand is fine, any suggestions?

Most bass clarinets are difficult to play in that area especially student instruments. Pro bass clarinets have a more complex octave system designed to help in that part of the register. That given, if the pads are truly covering properly the only other possibilities are the octave is not adjusted properly or the right hand keys are not venting properly(not open enough). Can you get a more experienced player to try the clarinet for you? A good repairman could certainly help determine if its the player or the instrument.

On 8/2/2005 Patrick Peterson wrote:

I have a Selmer AS110 that I purchased used earlier this year. It plays well and seems to be in good condition, although I wondered about some green coloration a few inches down inside the bell. A similar green discoloration can be found in a few places on the outside of the instrument. Is this corrosion, or some residue from a botched cleaning job? What causes it? Can it be removed/repaired?
Patrick Peterson
Versailles, KY

Most saxophones are made from brass. Brass corrossion is green. When a sax is sprayed with lacquer the lacquer can only go so far into the bell. What you are seeing is raw brass where the lacquer stops. On the outside the lacquer must be worn or have some pitting to expose the brass. This can be removed with a chemical clean.

On 8/2/2005 Richard wrote:

Hi... What is the difference between a tenor and a low pitch sax? I recently purchased an old Martin sax. It has the words...."Martin"....then a serial # below that....then the words "Low Pitch" below the #.
thanks, Richard

The words "low pitch" stamped on vintage saxes was the first move in standardizing pitch at A-440 for woodwind instruments. Before then pitch was somewhat random but European makers were using a higher pitch to tune their creations. This would help make the tone a little more brilliant. American makers discovered new bore shapes and manufacturing techniques that would help an instrument project. Whether all this connects or not, A-440 became the standard in american musical instrument manufacture. Lee

On 8/1/2005 Dave Connell wrote:

My grandfathers old York sax Ser#108060 has a strong odor I am told it is from his saliva when he played it. is there any way to clean it with out damaging it? it is in perfect shape as far as I can tell; stored in its case, which is still in great shape as well. Do you know the approximate value of this sax and year manufactured? any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Your sax was manufactured in 1937. Because saxes get wet when played mildew can develop in all the soft parts of the sax and its case. Some have had success with placing the case open in the direct sun without the sax. This could help the sax also but the heat could damage the pad adjustments. The best way to get rid of that smell is to throw away the case and chemically clean the instrument. Unfortunately to clean the keys this way all the pads and soft parts should be replaced, a major job. It will help some to clean the body and wipe all the keys with something like lemon pledge furniture polish.
You will still need to do something about the case.

On 8/1/2005 Jim Grindrod wrote:

Have purchased an older Saxophone and have had the pads and cork replaced on it. It has a silver body with Carl Fischer National Deluxe on the bell. It has a serial number under the thumb guard is C 29552. Any info on this instrument you can supply would be greatly appreciated
Jim Grindrod

All of the Carl Fischer saxes I have seen were made by Buescher. I believe they were all made in the 1920's and 30's. No one seems to have Carl Fischer serial number lists to identify them more exacting. These are called "stencil horns" made specifically for Carl Fischer and were typically not as good a quality as the ones with Buescher's name.

On 7/31/2005 Jazz Fan wrote:

Hi, this is my first time asking a question here. Hope to hear your answer.
Basically, I have a wonderful Buescher Big-B that needs some new pads. However, I asked around and near by repairmen all quoted $400 up for re-pads. I see that ordering a set those snap-in pads costs something like $50-70 a set, and since they are snap-in, I am getting the idea of doing it myself. Is that a stupid thing to do? MUST I send it to the repairmen (they are not experts either, since they don't know about snap-in pads...). If I do it myself, what should I be aware of?

Unfortunately there is so much that goes into a proper repad or overhaul. The snap pads were an attempt to make emergency repairs easier. You rarely can remove one pad, snap in a new one and away you go. Old pads shrink and get adjusted that way. New pads are thicker. Replacing the pads on the keys that are sprung down and keys that operate by themselves is an easier task. You might consider trying a couple and seeing how it goes. Certainly you don't have to deal with an alcohol lamp and shellac but you have to get the pads to stay in the key cups ( snaps get fatigued and sometimes will not hold in the thicker pads). Each pad still has to seal properly on its tone hole and then key combinations must be regulated. This is done with cork and felt shims and also key bending which I don't recommend to a novice. Typically on an old sax like this I do a lot of realignment of the keys and posts and also leveling of key cups and tone holes. To get these snap pads to seal well it really helps to start with a level playing field. If you are lucky things are still pretty well aligned on your sax. Get a set of pads and see what you can do. Probably the worst that could happen is you will need to seek professional help and you will be out the time you put in and maybe a set of pads. Good luck.

On 7/28/2005 Mike H wrote:

I recently purchased a Selmer Reference 54 Alto to go into college with: I am a tenor player (mostly jazz), and to play test the horn I only had a RPC 95 mouthpiece (alto) with a wedge baffle. The horn sounded amazing and still does with that mouthpiece! However, the reason I really bought the horn is because I needed a classical horn and I know that it is an amazing classical horn because even with that wedge it sounds deep and very dark. Yet, the projection from that mouthpiece is horrible for symphonic band and smaller ensemble work. The stock Soloist D mouthpiece that came with it sounds amazing all the way to low D anything lower and the horn barks back at me and tends to "warble." I've heard of this problem happening in the Reference Altos and know that mine does not do it with the other mouthpiece. Do you know of any mouthpieces, classically oriented, that would alleviate this problem?
Thank you!
Mike H.

Mike, You may have a leak in the sax. If the G# and F# arm are not adjusted properly you will get these exact symptoms. Play any of the right hand notes and while you sustain the note press the G# key. If there is a difference in tone it is out of adjustment and the adjusting screw needs to be turned down a little. If there is a repair tech in your area they may be able to help. The other thing that occurs to me is the mouthpiece needs to swallow a lot of the neck cork to play properly. Have you used a tuner or checked the tuning another way? You've tried some good mouthpieces. They should work.

On 7/14/2005 Charlie wrote:

My wife has been playing her clarinet since about 1960 when her dad bought it for her used. It's an Evette & Schaeffer modele buffet- crampon, serial No. B 3418. It's still in good shape and sounds great. She would like to know: When was it made? And, what is it's current market value? I tried finding the answer but with the company out of business, I hit a dead end. I hope you can help.

Buffet is still around and making the best clarinets. The company has just been bought and sold a couple of times. They are now part of "The Music Group". Evette & Schaeffer owned Buffet in the very early 1900's but their name was also used later for Buffets' intermediate clarinet model. I believe this is what you have. Manufacture dates don't seem to exist anymore. They were not produced much past 1980. They were lovely playing clarinets similar to the pro model.
Thanks for writing.

On 6/20/2005 GHill wrote:

Bought an old King Zephyr Alto Sax in an intique store....it has a serial # 460-782 and on it is also written Kings Musical Instrument Fret Lake Ohio... It is badly tarnished...rust all over..seems like it was stored for a long time... Can you tell me it it's worth anything and if so how to restore the brass ?

According to the info you gave me this instrument was manufactured in 1970 at the new factory in Eastlake, Ohio. King was no longer making the high quality saxes they were known for in the 1940's and 50's. The Zephyr was an intermediate quality sax at that point. Typically these instruments were lacquered. To restore the finish one would have to strip the old lacquer, polish the horn and relacquer it. This is not an easy job and is costly. More than the sax is worth. Visit your local repair shop and get an opinion on what it takes to make the horn playable. What it looks like may not be so important.
Good luck.

On 6/20/2005 Fran wrote:

Can you tell me all you know about my saxophone? It is a Conn alto sax serial number K51365. There is the shooting stars on the bell. That's all I can tell about it. Is it an M model? What year is it? What is it worth? Thank you so much. I am perplexed.

According to the serial number, this was manufactured in 1967. The shooting stars indicates a student model. I would guess it is a lacquered body with nickel plated keys. This was one of the last Conns produced in Elkhart. By 1970 the factory had been moved to Texas where the quality plummeted. The M series you are referring to was a model designation. M stood for saxophone and was preceded by a number. 6-M for alto, 8-M for C melody, 10-M for tenor, 12-M baritone, 14-M bass, 26-M Conqueror alto, 30-M Conqueror tenor. These were made from 1920 up to the 1960's.
Have fun with your alto.

On 6/14/2005 Susan Lehmkuhl wrote:

I recently purchased a Vito LeBlanc Alto Sax for my daughter. It is obviously an older sax, but I'm not sure of anything else about it. The serial # is 2958 A. Would you be able to share anything with me regarding this instrument??
Thank you.
Susan Lehmkuhl
ps....Please respond either directly or on your board as I will be back there again.
I found it very useful.

Most manufacturers have their student instruments made in a different factory than their pro models. Vito was Leblancs student line. There was a period of time when these student horns were actually made in France. In the 1980's Leblanc had Yamaha make them. These were model YAS23's with a darker lacquer and Vito engraved on the bell. They say Japan by the serial number. I can't tell by the serial number what era this is that you have. An expert can tell by the key configuration among other things. I hope it plays well and someone is enjoying it.

On 6/14/2005 C Lane wrote:

My 10 yr old son wants to learn to play sax. We have found 2, but don't have any experience. What can you tell me about a Bundy, serial #485,415 and a Conn, serial #11,777 (can't find any "M" on it)? I am interested in their history and playablity for a beginner. Pads and corks appear to be ok and everything seems to work, tho finish isn't great. Thanks very much.

The Bundy was manufactured approximately 1969. This was a very good time for Bundys. They were built with the tooling from the Buescher factory so they look and play much like those respected instruments. This is a sturdy sax with a simple key design that is easy to work on. The Conn serial number is confusing to me. It suggests either a very old (1906) sax or a relatively modern one, maybe 1970? Were their any letters before the numbers? In 1970 the Elkhart, Conn factory closed and moved to Texas where woodwinds were manufactured up to 1986. Some of these instruments were also made in Mexico and you will see Mexico stamped on the back by the serial number. These were not good saxes so this whole era is suspect. If this alto is one of the last out of the Elkhart factory it may be a better sax than I'm imagining. If I could see it I would be able to identify the era it was made. Old Conn's have great respect, new ones not. Although to be fair Selmer has joined hands with Conn and current instruments are improving.
Good luck to your son. I hope he enjoys the sax.

On 6/14/2005 Jerry Jurkiewicz wrote:

I received a Yamaha Custom 82ZU alto as a gift. It has some serious intonation issues (very sharp starting near high G and worse with each note up). I have tried different mouthpieces, reeds but can't get this horn to be pulled into tune. It's so far off I can't pull it in with my embouchure. Neither can a stud pro sax player friend of mine. He notes the same issue. This seems very unusual given Yamaha's reputation. Have you seen this phenomenon? Can this be fixed? What fixes should be tried?

I'm constantly reminding people that saxes are very individual and you can't particularly judge them by their name. Saxes are also dependent on the player to play them in tune which requires a lot of listening. Yamahas are known for their good intonation and typically modern horns as a whole have been engineered better. Saxes do have a tendency to play sharper the higher you go but you describe the problem as being pretty extreme. If the key heights are set too high they will accent this problem. If you don't pull your mouthpiece out a little after it warms up it will tend to play sharp. Small movements of the mouthpiece effect the pitch on the high end much more than the bottom of the sax. The other possibility is a problem with the neck. I was told that Yamaha had a neck problem with one of the earlier versions of the Custom but have never experienced this myself. If the octave tube in the neck is drilled out too far it will make those notes you are talking about play extremely sharp. I've experienced this with Selmer Mk VII's. Replacing that octave tube with a correct one was the fix. You could try another Yamaha neck and see if that makes a difference. The Yamaha Custom line has been created to compete with Selmer. This means Yamaha has even borrowed more of their design from Selmer, specifically the Mark VI. The Selmer MkVI bore has a tendency to play sharper on top than some other makes but the tradeoff is a very rich sound full of overtones. Yamaha model 62's have a different bore and thusly a different intonation pattern. One that seems easier to control. Personally, I don't like the sound of the 62's. Always a tradeoff with saxophones.
If you are close enough to San Francisco I would be happy to check it out for you.
Let me know what you find out. Thanks.

On 6/13/2005 Willem wrote:





Yanagisawa makes some very beautiful horns these days. They've spent much research and development accomplishing this. Fortunately, todays horns are much better than those 1960's instruments which did show some promise. Some of those 60's Yani's had very nice tone and some had very good intonation. None ever came close to matching the Mark VI they were copying. The brass was too soft and the mechanisms very weak. Now most of them need various stages of rebuilding and dollars. There is a reason Selmer VI's sell for the prices they do. The Taiwanese are in the position now that Yanagisawa was then. For the price, they are building some very nice instruments but they have a lot to learn. As far as I can tell this is what saxophone.com is selling. For the price they can't possibly match the Super 80 II you were playing.

It's possible you don't have the original neck or it could be damaged. Usually the original matches better than aftermarket especially when speaking of vintage saxes. I think it will be a very difficult task to find another Yani A5 neck.
Good luck.

On 6/10/2005 Phillip Miller wrote:

Hi Lee! Have a few questions. I'm looking at a couple of alto saxes, first one is a buescher true-tone low pitch s/n 156962, says its a 1924 model. It also has a black lacquer finish on it. He sayes he doesn't know if it is orginal or has been professionally done. Did any come with a black lacquer? Does have new pads though. Whats the difference between low pitch and regular Eb alto as far as sound? Possibly get for around 350.00 to 400.00. The other is a buescher aristocrat s/n 679666, year looks like around 1975 to 1980. Looks to be in very good condition also. Possibly get for about 400.00. In your personal opinion, which do you think would be the better buy? Could you reply as quickly as possible please. Phillip

This is a difficult evaluation online. Saxes have to be played. They are very different from each other. It also helps to be analyzed by a repair technician to confirm the playing condition. You are looking at two very different instruments. The 1924 alto has a good reputation but it is 80 years old and has been relacquered or nickel plated. In 1924 they used silver, gold, and nickel plating and were also lacquering saxes. Black lacquer was a new phenomenon in the 1980's except for some home spray paint jobs in the creative 60's. The other alto was manufactured after Selmer bought the Buescher factory in 1963. Some of these play better than others. The closer to 1963 the horn was made the more they look like the older Bueschers and the better the instruments. Selmer sells the later ones as intermediate saxes. If you can play them both side to side choose the one that feels and plays the best.

At $400 the price is too good and may indicate there are other issues with these saxes.
Beware buying online. I hope this helps.

On 5/21/2005 Patrick Vanterpool wrote:

I am about to purchase a Yamaha yas82z alto sax but cannot make up my mind whether I should purchase the nonlacquer finish or the gold lacquer finish. Can you give any advice Thanks

I may be too late with this advice. I know some manufacturers are selling them this way but acousticians feel that the lacquer has no effect on the sound . Either its a good playing sax or not. You should try out as many as you can get your hands on. Lacquer and silver or gold plating are very good at protecting the brass that these saxes are made from. Without a finish the brass will begin to deteriorate the moment you touch it. After a year or so of regular playing the surface will be very dull and dark and for some people very green.

For the longevity of your horn I recommend some type of finish. In 30 years of experience I have never found the removal of lacquer to help a sax play better.
I hope you find a sax to fall in love with.

On 5/10/2005 Bancroft wrote:

Who invented the bari sax and when?

Adolphe Sax was the inventor of the whole family. 1842 was when he first demonstrated his alto.
1870 is the first date I find for his bari.
This man had no idea of the impact of his creations. If he could see the world now!
I hope you play. Good luck.

On 4/26/2005 Grant wrote:

Please outline a pro's view of the Selmer Paris vs Yanagisawa sax range, I would be interested to know from a sound, playability and construction viewpoint ?
thanks, Grant (Australia)

A very high percentage of professionals play Selmer saxophones. Yanagisawa copied Selmer, Yamaha copied Selmer, Guardala copied Selmer, most of the sax world copied Selmer. Keilworth copied some of the mechanisms, they are the most different. The Selmer MkVI model was extremely revolutionary in construction and tone quality and worthy of being copied. The one thing that these other co's. have had trouble with is replicating the tone quality. Now this is a pretty simplistic analysis because all of the above companies do make some very nice instruments and in shopping for a sax are worthy of trying out. In fact the more saxes you try the more you will understand what kind of an instrument you are looking for. They are very individual. Some are bright playing, some are dark, some play quietly, some the sound will leap out of the horn. One should be attracted enough to your instrument that you are encouraged to play it. A top pro looks for subtleties that mostly escape us amateurs, we need encouragement. So find something that fits your budget and encourages you to play. In direct answer to your question Selmer is still the king! Thanks for writing.

On 4/04/2005 bascapital wrote:

Using a 1955 Conn 10M as a basis of comparison, how many years prior would you have to go back in years to get a 10M of demonstrably better sound quality,assuming both horns were re-padded,overhauled, etc., by a top notch repair person?

Most people consider the pre WWII Conn's as the better players. This would be before 1941 and under #300xxx. According to one historical reference Conn started using the M designation for saxophones in 1919. This would be serial number M 50xxx. I have a #M 230xxx Conn tenor with all the features of the 10M including the rolled tone holes and the machine engraved lady on the bell. This is a beautifully playing tenor and represents the end of the "Chu Berry" era. Another source I have starts the M series at #240xxx or approximately 1930. This is probably when the 10M designation began. The premium ones have hand engraving and gold plating and sell for the most money. Good luck finding a good horn. There are lots out there. (well not the gold plated ones!)

On 3/28/2005 R Parman wrote:

Hi, I have just purchased a gold plated Conn tenor sax serial number 228086. It has a engraving of a cabin and a lake or sea shore with pine trees and seagulls flying, plus a lot of flowers. I was just wondering if this was a Chu Berry. Thanks

Leon "Chu" Berry was a famous player in the 1930's. He played on a Conn tenor from the twenties. Players nick named his model the Chu Berry. My understanding is that it did not have spectacular engraving like your gorgeous model, just a spectacular sound. Enjoy your beauty.

On 3/16/2005 Lloyd wrote:

Hi, great site. I just purchased a conn shooting star tenor sax. Bflat. Serial number N94849. I started playing sax in June 04 with and alto selmer bundyII. This one says made in Mexico. From the info on the site its evidently not an expensive pro model, but it sounds great. (if I do say so myself, even with me playing it.) My question is. Whats the difference in the 10M and all the other M's? What is this one considered? thanks.

The original Conn Co used the M's as model indications for their pro saxes. Yours is considered a Mexican Conn because that's where it was made. Unfortunately the craftsmanship went downhill even though some of them play pretty well. The Conn company at this point had become nothing of its old respected self and pro models were not being manufactured. Just lately Conn-Selmer joined hands and there is talk of reviving some older Conn models.
Stay tuned.

On 3/1/2005 Darrin wrote:

I have a Bundy Selmer USA serial number 695761, can you tell me how old this is?
thanks Darrin McInerney p.s this is not a BundyII

This Bundy was manufactured approximately 1977. This would make it modeled after the Buescher line and probably a very nice blowing sax. I like this model a lot. They changed the mechanism design for the Bundy II and I'm not convinced for the better.
Thanks for writing.

On 2/24/2005 Kevin wrote:

Dear Lee, Hi! MY name is Kevin, from Adelaide, South Australia. I had a dream 2 years ago to play the sax. I then went and hired a Alto for 3 months, then got and still getting weekly lessons. I then hired a Tenor (WOW)!!!!! I fell in love straight away, I saved up and bought a Yamaha YTS275 brand new. (EVEN BETTER). I got my hands on a Buescher Aristocrat 200, it was in real bad condition. I fixed it up knocked all the dents out cleaned the pads, looks and plays real good now maybe a final fine tune up. I have bought a couple more Altos that are in need of repair, I would really like your advice on everything to do with repairing saxs. I have found the repair book for woodwind and couple of cd's that will hopefully help me as well. At the end of the long long long day I would like to open a small workshop. There is only 3 repairers here in Adelaide and they are all 30 miles away and can't do any thing for months and months. I am 42 years old and have a sound mechanical mind and a good ear and will try anything once. I had so much fun pulling it apart and putting it back together, i want to try more. I have downloaded 40 pages of your Q&A's, wow what wealth of info. I have learnt heaps in what I have got from you -- Thank You...... I hope you can help me to become a fine sax rebuilder, so I can get more music down under. Best Regards, Kevin.......

Kevin, thanks for writing, good to hear from you!

On 2/16/2005 David wrote:

I appreciate the info on your web site.
What's your opinion of selling instruments on eBay? I'm not playing this instrument and it deserves to be used by someone who'll enjoy it.

Buyers are looking for great deals on ebay so if you are willing to sell low it may be the place for you. Mostly, I think people should try a sax before they buy it. There is much miscommunication online because your average person cannot adequately ascertain the condition of the horn they are selling and the buyer gets this picture based on buzz words and his imagination. Many people come to me with saxes they think were misrepresented when it seems to me much ignorance was involved. Check out your local stores. They may sell your sax for you on consignment basis.
Good luck.

On 2/16/2005 Jim wrote:

I bought a Steuben Soprano sax for my son on Ebay. It looks good but has intonation problems. Can this be fixed or is it not worth the effort. I took it to a repairman and he said he could do nothing.
Thanks, Jim

I do not know this make. I would have to see it myself to fully answer your question. There are many Taiwanese instruments on the market of greatly varying quality. Mainland China has also entered the market but they are far behind in developement. These companies will put whatever name you want on the instrument which makes them very hard to identify by name.
Good luck.

On 2/14/2005 Leonard wrote:

Lee, thanks for having a Q&A service like this.

Key issue: very flat G#, also side B-flat(both octaves); lowest notes sharpish, limiting my tuning adjustment. Tried lots of mouthpieces. Intonation was negatively commented on by at least one music professor in college. Not having these problems in Buescher TT alto.

Horn: Mark VI, late '50s. My Dad got some kind of good deal on it back in the '70s. It was well-worn. Had it re- laquered in New York before I knew better, but they seem to have gone easy on the metal. The engraving looks and feels sharper than on some original later model sixes I've compared it to. I've had it ever since. D is not too stuffy or out of tune. Horn sounds fine in general.

DISCUSSION: My main horn is a Mk VI tenor from the late '50s, from looking at the serial numbers on-line. I have been playing again for a couple years after leaving off for a long time. Finally getting my embouchure and breath support back. Playing in a symphonic band and a casual sax quartet. Band leader has perfect pitch, even absolute.

There weren't electronic tuners before, but now I have one on all the time, to train myself to play in tune. The horn plays very flat on G#. About 10 pts with no "lipping up". About 5 pts flat on side B-flat. Conversely the horn plays increasingly sharp from low D on down, needing extreme jaw- drop. If I tune for the bottom, like low B, I need to lip the high notes up, and G# is impossible. It's almost like it wants to tune at something higher than A=440. (Naw, can't be high pitch, can it? It measures correctly from the data I've seen on-line, and fits a regular Selmer Tri-Pack case).

I had been thinking this is just what people have to deal with, but recently I picked up a '20s Buescher T/T and had it worked on. It's a breeze to play in tune. I simply adjust the mouthpiece for the lowest notes, and the rest fall into place; works for any of three mouthpieces that I've tried. It is so easy to play every note in-tune that I now am concerned about the MK VI. I know they are highly variable in playing characteristics.

Any magic for that G#? Seems un-tweakable: That pad height is controlled by the lower stack, can't raise it any more and still have it close. G and lower currently play in tune. Everything is at the right height.
Thanks for any suggestions,
Len Bates, Houston

Dear Len, Some horns play better in tune than others. From manufacterer to manufacterer the intonation pattern is different. What I often find with Selmer tenors is the neck has been bent down making the neck tube oval in the middle. This will accentuate sharpness at the top of the horn. Some modern mouthpieces especially metal will also tend to do this because they are smaller inside. If the upper stack keys are too open it will accent sharpness on top. I'm almost certain your side Bflat is not opening enough. There should be a cork or felt bumper that could be sanded or cut smaller. I also think this is your G# problem, however, the solution is more difficult. If the right hand stack keys are not opening 10mm they should be raised. T he F# key has a bar with adjusting screws and a slot that allows it to be moved back and forth. It needs to be moved towards you (away from the pivot point) as far as it will go. This will also allow the G# to open more.

Worst case scenario, one must expand the G# tone hole. I've never had to do this. I've expanded side tone holes and palm key tone holes. MkVI tenors rarely need such extreme work. Have you asked your repair person about the intonation specifically? Of course, the final resort may be to trade in this tenor for one that plays better for you. Hope this helps.

On 2/2/2005 Steve wrote:

Good Morning Lee! I am a band Director and sax player in Pittsburgh, PA.

While reading some of the answers to questions on your site, I realized that I may have some valuable information for Peter Hulst – e-mail below. Feel free to post it or forward it to him. It may be too late for Peter, but someone else may find it helpful.

Peter is searching for exactly what I was a few years ago….I play all Yamaha 62 model saxes, but was looking I was thinking about finding a vintage King Super 20 Tenor in 2002, but had I really liked my Yamaha Tenor. Through some research I found a guy named Greg Vail out on the west coast that was using a Silver F1 Yamaha Custom neck with his Yamaha Tenor. I believe that he was using the neck with a black Yamaha Custom. In any case I ordered the neck, added a nylon extender to the octave key and WOW what a change. I have played Selmer Mk VI’s and King Super 20’s, but my Yamaha with this neck is everything I was looking for. If I remember correctly, the neck set me back about $300.00 or so, which is a fraction of what you might spend on a vintage horn that can produce this kind of sound. I highly recommend staying with the Yamaha and looking into switching the neck to get the sound you want.

Also, a question for you… I have not been able to get an answer to my question about the bore sizes on the Yamaha necks. Do you know what the differences are between the F1, G1 & M1 Yamaha necks? Any help would be appreciated as I am considering adding a silver neck to my alto set-up.
Steve Kraus

You may have been a little bit lucky that the new neck matched up so well. Not everyone has such dramatic results and necks vary from one to the other. I f you had access to more than one Custom neck you would understand. I do not know the bore sizes of the Yamaha's so make sure you have return privileges. Since you liked the style of tenor neck that you got, I would start there with alto. Thanks for the info.

On 1/31/2005 Janice wrote:

I have been watching Ebay. Is there a place were I can check serial numbers to see if they were stolen?

Janice, there is no place to check for stolen horns except your local police and even that depends on how organized your police department is. Pawn shops are supposed to register serial numbers. Mostly, ebay is buyer beware.
Good luck.

On 1/21/2005 Harley wrote:

Hi. I wanted to let you know that I've seen a bari #261031 and on the horn it is marked MARK VI. That doesn't seem to jive with your Selmer serial number list. I've seen another list, and it is in accord with yours. Would you know what might explain this phenomena? thank you.

All serial number list are generalizations because they are tied to specific instruments and then the model years are sketched in. To be absolutely accurate one would have to submit a serial number to Selmer Paris and they would need to reference the factory log which indicates what day the instrument was completed and who the craftsman was. Your question about Selmer bari saxes is a little different. When Selmer starts a new model they begin with one instrument,for example, alto sax. Then a year later they make the tenors in that model. You are referring to the Mark VII model which was not much of a success so they only made alto and tenor MkVII's. They did not redesign the baritone or the soprano until the Super 80 models came out. You will find MkVI baritones all the way into the 300,000 serial numbers. Your #261,000 was manufactured in 1977 or 78 and is indeed a MkVI.

On 1/11/2005 Mark wrote:

I have just purchased a silver clarinet and have been looking online for any info I could get on this beautiful horn. Could you please help? It has no markings on it eccept for the serial number which is d3522. There is no name at all anywhere on the horn. I have looked at almost every website that has serial numbers but I found nothing. Then, I found your site. The only thing you have that comes close to the number is in the Martin Band section, and I just have no idea. Could you help?
Thanks, Mark Richard

You have a metal clarinet made of brass and silverplated. These instruments are worth very little. They were made in the early 1900's. There were some specially made ones, however, the makers names would be on them. Yours could be a Martin or any of the American musical instrument companies, because they all made them. The plastic student clarinets of today are so superior the have made the metal clarinets obsolete. That given, some do play well. This is their greatest value.

On 12/17/2004 DEYSSLER wrote:

I have recently found that we own a Saxophone Martin # 06803897 made in Japan. It has another #: 880. Somebody told me that isn't a good sax for my 10 year old to take to school because it is worth some money. Do you have an idea of how much? Pads and everything are in terrific condition and it has been serviced about 1 year ago by a professional.

The G. Leblanc Corp purchased the Martin Co in 1971. Leblanc owns and imports Yanagisawa products. In the late 70's/early 8o's they produced Martin saxophones out of the Yanagisawa factory. My understanding was that they were intermediate instruments. Tthey were available at a much better price than the pro model with Yanagisawa's name on it. Some of the Martins played played very well and appeared similar to the pro model. There was an 800 model series in the 1980's. So you probably have a very fine sax, however, the difficulty is in putting a value on it. In excellent condition with the Yanagisawa name on it, a 20 yr old horn is probably worth around $2500. With the Martin name more like $1500. I'm very much in favor of students learning on good quality instruments. If you are worried, have someone do a written appraisal of your sax and get it insured.
Good luck.

On 12/10/2004 Ariel wrote:

Hi! I have been playing an alto saxophone for 5 years. I am now in 9th grade and I play it in my high school band. I have been noticing that it has been really starting to smell. I use a cloth thing to clean it out after every use but it still smells. Would it be ok if I just washed it with soap and water or is that bad for it? Is there any type of spray or special cleaner that may take the odor away and possibly clean it. I don't want anything that I use to make the saxophone rust at all because it is already starting to rust a little bit.
Please help me
Thanx, Ariel

Dear Ariel,
When a saxophone is played moisture condenses inside the horn and sometimes runs outside the sax. If this sax is then stored in a closed case it can mildew pretty badly. I'm guessing that this is the problem and there is no great solution. The case must smell badly also. You can leave the empty case open in the sun and or spray it with carpet deoderizers. This will mitigate the problem a little bit, however, most people are forced to get a new case. The sax also needs a good chemical cleaning by a pro who can remove the mechanisms. Unfortunately to totally eliminate the smell all soft parts should be replaced which means an expensive overhaul. A thorough cleaning will often reduce the smell enough to be bearable.
Good luck! Hope this helps.

On 12/3/2004 BURLEY wrote:

I have an old saxophone I would like to identify. I can only find the following info on it: PATD DEC 8, 1914 1119954 A 115722 L. It is silvery in tone (not gold or brassy). It is heavy and there is some butterflylike engraving on the big end part of it. I have not found any other names or markings. Can you help me please? (It is in poor mechanical shape as it has been buried for a few years.) All the pearl tips are there and the mouth piece is gone. It may be worth refurbishing but only if it is of value to the right person. Thank you for any help you can be.

You have found an old silver-plated Conn alto sax manufactured in 1923 in Elkhart, IN. The number 1119954 is the patent number for the process of rolling over the top edge of the tone hole. The A is for alto and the L is for low pitch (A 440) which became the standard pitch. The 115722 is the serial number which indicates manufacter date. In your picture I can see it has a tuneable mechanism on the neck which corroborates all this other info. I can also tell from your pictures that the finish is silver plate which many of them were. It would take quite a lot to restore this sax but these old Conn altos are great players.
Thanks for writing.

On 12/1/2004 JOHN wrote:

Hi Lee,
I was just reading all the good answers you were giving other people so I have a question of my own. I just purchased a Buescher Aristocrat Tenor Serial # XX5706. The first two numbers are worn off either accidently or intently, unknown. I purchased this off of Ebay for $250. A few dings, could use some new pads but otherwise okay. Is there anyway to find the first two serial numbers? Is this a vintage horn? Also, the is a Lyre holder close to the neck, is this a student model?

Dear John,
You can almost bet you have a sax that was stolen and altered at some time in it's history. I don't think one can inadvertantly erase the first part of a serial number because they are stamped pretty deep. Possibly with sophisticated magnification one could find enough traces. Selmer put the serial number in multiple places on some of their earlier saxes. I don't know of such a procedure on Bueschers, but you could search around on the neck and body. An Artistocrat is a vintage horn. I think you can figure it is at least 50 yrs old. Without the number you can never date exactly the manufacter of this particular one. An expert can sometimes determine the era by looking at the horn. My understanding is that the Aristocrats were all pro saxes. You should have a wonderful playing sax if it is put in good condition.
Have fun with the music.
OH, P.S. Part 2: Traditionally all saxes come with lyre holders, students and pro alike. With some pro horns it is not so obvious that it is there. Selmers are cleverly diguised but that's why there are two "neck screws".

On 11/17/2004 Dale Christensen wrote:

Hello, I hope you can help me. This is my first time communicating with you. I am somewhat new to saxophone repair and have a fairly clear issue (I think) and I'm hoping you can give me some direction.

I have a sax that has problems with octave jumping. After a fair amount of troubleshooting, I see that the octave tube has been broken off inside the instrument (the original problem was that the sax had been dropped and got dented). First, would the missing octave tube cause this behavior? We have experimented with the pad but I suspect it is leaking at the sax body rather than the pad. Second, if this is likely the problem, can the octave mechanism work OK without the tube? I was considering soldering the suspected leaky area and leaving the tube out. Or, is there an easy way to remove the broken octave tube and install a replacement. Lastly, if replacing the octave tube is possible, are they relatively interchangeable? I can get Yamaha parts from Yamaha but not sure if they will fit the Ameriwind Chinese instrument I'm trying to fix.

Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to provide.
Dale Christensen
Music Go Round - Almaden
San Jose, California

Dear Dale, It seems like the biggest issue here is what was the original horn like before the damage was done. Typically, body octave tubes are one piece soft soldered into the body. We are talking about the body octave, right? Mostly, the same applies for the neck, although some neck octaves are hard soldered. Octave tubes are somewhat interchangeable but dimensions can be different from one make to the next. Many Chinese saxes are copies of Selmer Super 80's. Yamaha has tried to copy and improve on Selmer designs, mostly the Mark VI model. It's best to work with original parts unless they are damaged beyond repair. I've never seen a body octave sheered off inside the horn and it seems quite unlikely. Manufacturers have used many different lengths for this part. Old Selmers have hardly a visible tube inside and some acousticians believe this is the most responsive design, however, moisture collects easier inside a very short tube and can cause its own problems. Mark VI altos have quite a long tube that a traditional leak light bulb barely clears. Most modern altos are this way. It sounds like you have a short tube that might need soldering. Stick an awl or something in the part and see if it wiggles around at all. You could remove it , clean it, and resolder it just to make sure. Given that it is a Chinese sax there is always the question of whether it was built right in the first place. If it played correctly before it was damaged, you have your answer. If you can't answer that question you have to experiment. Yamaha parts would be as good as any. Another angle to look for is how well all the pads are seating on the top of the sax. A leaky pad will act like an open body octave and cause the octaves to jump.

Hope this helps, let me know.
Lee's Sax Worx

On 11/7/2004 LAURA wrote:

Hi Lee,
My daughter has a Vito Alto Sax and I can't find the model info on it. I did find the Vito logo and the serial numer 532847 Japan. Any ideas of where the model info is located??? I'm a single parent on a limited income and I would like to sell the Vito and get her a professional model (lower price rage), so I want to find the model number to help determine the resale value. She's played this sax for 5 years now and has taken good care of it; which shows in the overall good condition. I don't know anything about saxophones, except that they need to be serviced and cleaned, occasionally. Any suggestions on good, lower-priced alto saxophones, that lean on the professional side?? I found online sites that have payment plans, but I want to stay in the $1,500 range. I know that's not much, but it's all I could work with to keep the payments affordable.
Many thanks, Laura

Vito is the model name. This was the Leblanc Corp. student model. There was a period of time when Yamaha was making the Vito alto sax. This is the one you have and is equivalent to the Yamaha model YAS23. Depending on the condition of the pads this sax is probably worth $500-800. If it has never been serviced since you've had it, probably the lower number. Selmer is the biggest name in saxophones. The MkVI model is the most prized but out of your price range. There are other models of Selmers that can be picked up used for close to your price. The Selmer Super 80 series has been manufactured since the 1980's. I would recommend the Super 80 Series II. The Mk VII model was made in the 1970's and was not very popular but some of them are great playing altos and available at a reasonable price. Yamaha's model 62, used, should also fall into your price range. Yamaha's Custom model( I think the number is #875 ) would be another choice. Another professional horn from the 1980's is the Couf made by Keilworth of West Germany and imported by the Armstrong Corp. Some of these are excellent buys. I'm selling one like new for $1800. These are all pro saxes but you should keep in mind that the condition can vary a lot with used instruments.

Your daughter should play them and a knowledgeable person should check the condition for you. In my opinion you will not find anything new for $1500 that will equal these models. I wish your daughter continued success with her playing and you much luck with your shopping.

On 11/2/2004 LESLIE wrote:

Hello! I am trying to help my mother identify when her clarinet was manufactured. It is a wood Buffet, Evette-Shaeffer, ME-13, Serial Number K17545E. I can't seem to find a model number that matches up with the serial number? Any help you can give is greatly appreciated!!! Thank you, Leslie

Evette & Schaeffer purchased the Buffet Co. in the 1880's. They made instruments under their names and Buffet's name into the 1900's. I'm not certain if they made clarinets under their names. Sometime after the 1930's the Buffet name was used exclusively , however, at some point, Evette-Schaeffer became a model name for Buffet's intermediate line of instruments. The Buffet Evette-Schaeffer clarinets I've seen were very high quality. After the 1970's this model disappears and the Evette name is used by Buffet. I can find no source for these serial number dates. I hope this helps.


On 10/28/2004 DRAKE AKROYD wrote:

My friend bought a Mark VI, alto, with the serial number 238982. According to Selmers "Serial Number Chart" that's second year of Mark VII production. My friend also told me that the band where the bell meets the body is engraved with Mark VI on it. My instrument repair guy knows the person who is selling the horn has worked on this guy's horn for years and swears that it is a Mark VI.
I would like to help my friend get to the bottom of this - can you shed any light on this?
Drake Akroyd
Portsmouth, Virginia

Dear Drake,
Selmer's serial number list is just a general guide. There is much overlap between model years because Selmer does not change the whole family of instruments at the same time. They start with the one they think they can market the best. To get the true manufacture date you need to see the factory list. It's rumored that if submit your serial number to the right person in the Paris, Selmer factory they will print the page that lists the actual day and craftsman for your horn.

On my website you will find a serial number list that indicates individual Selmer saxes. There is a MkVI at #231000 and a MkVII at #243000. Your friend's sax fits right in there. MkVI's are very obvious models that a knowledgeable person cannot mistake. If it is stamped MkVI on it, you have your answer. I would believe the technician who has been working on it. Selmer never made Mk VII sopranos or baritones. They continued to produce the older model so you see MkVI serial nembers into the #300,000 range.
I hope your friend makes beautiful music with his great vintage sax.
Thanks for writing.

On 9/27/2004 TPAUMARTIN wrote:

I have a Yanagisawa S-901straight soprano saxophone and an SC-991 curved. Do you recommend me oiling the sax? Will that not mess up the teflon?

An amateur can do a little oiling from the outside. However, to do it properly, all the mechanisms should be removed, pipe cleaners run through the hinge tubes, corrosion removed from the hinge rods, new oil introduced. Most people who oil their instruments from the outside use too much oil and it splashes all over the body, soaking into the adjustment corks and felts. So if you are ready to attempt this, exercise caution.

On 9/27/2004 Larry wrote:

I am about to be the proud owner of a Selmer Alto sax with Serial number 220846. My question is....is this horn a Mark VI or Mark VII? I haven't had a chance to really check and see if Mk VI is engraved anywhere and according to your list it's a VI and I want to believe your list for sure! But I've looked around and Selmer's list says production of the Mk VI stopped at SN 220800, and Mk VII picked up at 220846.....I'm so confused and just need some reassurance. Please tell me your list is 100% correct and I'm going to actually own a Mk VI!!! Also, except for some minor problems like the low C pad is leaking and the side keys are clanky.... the horn plays great and sounds great too, is there anything I should be especially wary of. The lacquer looks like the original as the horn doesn't look brand new or anywhere close.
Thanks for your help.
Sincerely, Larry

Dear Larry,
I'm sitting here looking at a MkVI tenor with the serial number 229000. For some reason, Selmers own number list is not totally accurate, so there is confusion when a serial number falls at the model break. Mark VII bari's and sopranos were never made. They continued to make the VI model until the Super 80 series. There are big differences between the MkVI and MkVII. The Mk VII's that I've seen have the following features different from the VI: M7 is stamped on the triangular plate on the back of the neck, the circular brace from the bell to the body is flat stock (not round) and fastens to the body with two screws, the low Eb and C keys are strung on four posts rather than two and the part you put your finger on are shaped like butterfly wings, low Bb lever is a huge triangular shape, MARK VII is stamped on the front of the bell on the ring where the bell joins the bell bow.
A knowledgeable person can identify a Mark VII quickly. I hope this helps you identify your horn.
Keep playing!

On 9/25/2004 Rich wrote:

I currently have a YAS-52 and recently went to play pro-level horns, with the hope of finding something with a darker, possibly more compact sound. I tried a number of great horns (Series III, Ref. 54, pro-level Yamaha, several MkVI's and a super balanced action and found several of them to be a bit more to my liking, but only marginally. Anyway, I noticed a vintage Martin Soprano and played it. It had such a great sound that I had to buy it. Now I'm thinking that I might get more the sound I like if I were to get a comparable vintage alto (and might be able to match the cool silver-plated look of the sop). The sop has an sn in the 192xxx area. Do I need to find a comparable vintage Martin alto, or would other comparable vintage horns have a similar sound. Any thoughts?
Thanks Much,

Some Yamaha 52's play really well. They have some weak mechanism designs which can be the problem with vintage horns. Martin saxes with their soldered tone holes definately get a superior sound. The sopranos rate very high. The larger the instrument the more you will notice the mechanism issue. Some people can deal with this better than others. I do urge you to check them out. You should also realize that instruments are very individual and two horns of the same model can play very differently. There are some real gems out there.
Good luck. Lee

On 9/25/2004 Sarah Chandler wrote:

I've got a selmer series II alto sax. Whenever I play G# with the octave key on it comes out an octave lower. This only happens after I've been playing for about 15mins. I've had it looked at and everyone says its fine. I've been playing sax 16yrs and I never had a problem with my old student Yamaha. My lecturer told me its my embouchure adapting to the new C* mouthpiece however, I put my old mouthpiece back on and its still happening. I can't work out what it is but surely if it is my embouchure then it would happen on other notes. I cannot work out why it happens on the octave G# and sometimes D as mechanically the G# wouldn't make sense would it?
Please help me -- I'm getting really annoyed and am finding myself turning down gigs coz of it.
Looking forward to hearing from you
Sarah Chandler

Sarah, It sounds like you have either a mechanical problem or an acoustical one. The G# pad could be sticking to the tone hole. You need to watch and make sure the pad is coming up right away. Another problem, (since you mention the D), also could be the body octave tube is plugged or the body octave pad is sticking to its tone hole. Also, some newer Selmers need the body octave tube opened up for better response in the area you are talking about. Did your teacher play it? He should be able to help you judge if it is mechanically sound.
If you live close to San Francisco I would be glad to check it out.

On 9/21/2004 Kathy Johnson wrote:

I bought a new Conn 26M alto sax 2 years ago for my daughter. Want to sell this sax w/case but need to know more info on it. I can find info on almost every other Conn sax but this, how come??
Would appreciate any help you could give so I may get a fair price on a sax in beautiful condition.
Kathy Johnson

Mostly when people talk about Conn saxophones they refer to the ones made before WWII. The Conn Co. was in steady decline after that point being sold in 1969 to a group owning most of the old instrument co's. These later instruments were all student quality for a while being made in Mexico. The craftsmanship varied radically.

If you purchased this new two years ago the quality should be better than the Mexican Conns which did say Mexico under the serial number. A general rule of thumb is the value of a used instrument is approximately half of new cost. What it looks like and the condition of the pads also comes into play here.
I hope I've helped.

On 9/4/2004 Judy wrote:

I just purchased a clarinet with no maker's mark. The serial number is I09839. Looks to be in good shape. I believe it is plastic. Anyway, it came with a Noblet mouthpiece, and a LeBlanc case. Any ideas why it wouldn't have a mark?

Some plastic clarinets had a decal for the name which over time can wear off. That's my guess, given that there is a serial number. I've encountered clarinets with no name or serial number which were most likely marketed differently than the manufacturers standard instruments. These are called "stencil" instruments.

A knowledgeable person could look at your clarinet and ascertain the maker. Given that it has a Noblet mouthpiece and a Leblanc case my blind guess would be that it is a Vito. Leblanc clarinets have a definitive key design so someone will know.

On 9/6/2004 Walt wrote:

Hello Lee,
I have and play on old MVI 6xxxx, it's a tenor sax. It's in fair to good condition for it's age, not a show piece, but no dents, never relaquered, neck serial matches body, maybe 65-75% laquer, original case. I love the horn, but I recently had this (misguided?) notion of trying to trade it for a 1960's 6 digit tenor in better shape than mine and making some cash. I have had a lot of interest from various dealers, but I dont think I'm getting the straight story. I'm writing to you because you could possibly give an objective reply. Are the mid 1960's horns, up to and not beyond a 1965 MKVI, comparable in sound to the 50's horns? Is it wise to trade an older 50's era horn for a 65 that's clean, pretty? (and about $600 incash).
Thanks for your Reply, Walt.

Dear Walt,
Since you have a tenor that you love to play it would be very misguided to get rid of it unless you find another that plays as well or better. Or if you really need the money or you need a shiny horn for a job.

There are very good playing saxes in all eras but there is a reason people are interested in your "old" horn. Find one that you really like first because over time $600 will mean nothing and your vintage horn will only appreciate.
Keep playing.

On 9/3/2004 Norma wrote:

The Martin tenor:
Any suggestions on improving the intonation of this horn? Very good condition otherwise. It's from 1948 with a great tone and feel. Just wondered if there is a particular combination of adjustments or pad heights. Are Martins more sensitive to pad heights and tone boosters, mouthpiece placement, etc?

I would need to play it to answer your questions. Some Martins play very well in tune others don't. The gold plated ones I've played were the best players but they all have a great tone quality. There were many models made and good horns in all models. I have a Martin bari that has this incredible powerful tone but plays very sharp. I believe I need to lengthen the neck.

One of the things we all have to keep in mind is that the mouthpieces and reeds that were available back in the early 1900's were very different and styles of playing were very different. Modern mouthpieces that are really big and open or high baffled will wreak havoc on the intonation of a vintage sax. In my experience however, Martins do not have more of these problems than other makers. You should have an experienced technician check it out for you. Old horns can often be damaged or have questionable repair work done to them which could be creating your problems.
Good luck. Lee

On 8/24/2004 Fred M. wrote:

Hi Lee,
Great site, many of the Q&A discussions have helped me mucho!
I've owned a 56'MKV11 alto for 15 years. I haven't played it for quite sometime but pull it out every once in a while.

I have been playing tenor. I was never wild about the sound, I like a brasher, ballsier sound which the alto didn't provide. It has been said to be "dark", "mellow" sounding by others who have played/heard it.

I went to clean some tarnish that had been developing on the bell by the logo/engravings and low and behold I found it to be silver under the tarnish. I also noticed that one of the long hinge rods was a gray color where the lacquer had worn off. I used some brasso and sure enough it shone to a silver color.

I'm thinking that the horn was lacquered with a gold-toned lacquer over silver. Would this be possible and would they do this from the factory?

My other dilemma is that I would definitely like to return this horn to it's original state of silver plate, but when polishing the neck where the lacquer had worn away I found it to be brass, not silver.

I thought of getting the neck plated or buying after market. I'm hoping that by getting rid of the extra coat of lacquer on the silver plate this horn will "brighten-up."

What would you suggest?

Thanks Fred M.

Fred, I would have to see this horn to verify what you are telling me.

Selmer would not have lacquered over silver plate. There are some misinformed people that would however. I had a Conn soprano in my shop where someone had lacquered over beautiful gold plating. Long keys on Selmer saxes are often made with nickel silver which is what you are seeing. Brass when it is first polished does not look very yellow. I'm just guessing. Good luck.


On 7/26/2004 Mike wrote:

Just purchased a silver 1920 Buescher "TrueTone Low Pitch" Bari Sax. After checking out prices on E-Bay, I decided that $200 was a fair price. It cleaned up nice with Wright's Cream Silver polish. I do not think it has a lacquer finish. I think it is silver-plated (worn off in places). It plays well except for an occasional "warbling". SN is 55064

Can you give me some historical info??

Any ideas about the "Warbling" sound and does the serial # = 1920??

Great web site!!
Thanks, Mike

Sounds like a great deal to me. Pad work is pretty expensive however you paid nothing for this horn. Some of these Buescher baris have an acoustical problem and I've spent much time chasing this down. The low E warbles if you don't play it just right. Any other warbles could be the result of leaks. Find a good repair person to check it out for you. Have fun playing it!

On 7/21/2004 Kevin wrote:

Dear Lee,
I recently bought an old Conn. It is in pretty good condition with a few dings, and has a serial # 76081.
Do you know what model this is?
Sincerely, Kevin

Mostly, I would need to see it for accuracy of information, however, this serial number was manufactured in 1920 when Conn was making some major changes. There should be a long patent number for rolled tone holes as well as A for alto and L for low pitch and possibly a model number 6M. There are transition models which sport some of the new features. A knowledgeable person can look at the sax and identify it pretty readily.
Thanks for writing.

On 7/07/2004 Mike wrote:

Hi Lee. I've been out of playing for 15 years, and want to get back into it. I would like to buy a pro horn as I have a 1978 Yanagisawa alto that has served me well but has a somewhat thin tone. I have considered a Yamaha 82z, but it seems everyone I ask is into Selmer, for the tone aspect. I have looked at the Selmer america AS100/110 and would like to ask for your opinion as to which of those two are superior, and if it is worth the substantial price jump to a Paris model. Which current Paris model would you recommend?
Thanks, Mike.

Dear Mike,
You need to play some different altos and discover this yourself. The Yamaha Custom Z series are very nice pro saxes and the craftmanship is much better than the USA Selmers which are not sold as professional horns. Paris Selmers generally have the best tone quality however there are so many models to choose from and each individual horn can sound different than the one next to it. Mark VI's are the most sought after model, however, there are some very good Super 80 Series I,II,and III's at lesser prices. I emphasize you must play them. You will discover great horns from almost every manufacturer if you try very many. There are also many not so good horns by every manufacturer. Ordering blindly through the mail will just give you luck of the draw. Compare everything to what you've been playing to find something better. There are big sounding Yanagisawas out there. Also there is the possibility that your sax is leaking causing it to play thinly. A teacher can also be a good resource for finding a great sax.
Good luck.

On 6/30/2004 Sam wrote:

Dear Lee, I have a Tenor King saxophone with a double socket neck like a King Super 20 but the bell doesn't have any engravings of a Super 20 nor a Zephyr, just a King, (very nice engraving), and below it is the company name. Serial # 266572 of the body has same serial # on the neck. The overall finished is gold, including the neck. It has a brilliant sound too and in very good condition. Anyone can help me figure this out what kind of model this is ? I'm interested also the value of this sax in case I want to sell ?
Regards, Sam

I'm very surprised there is not a model name somewhere.
Does it have an underslung octave on the neck?
According to the serial number your sax was manufactured in 1945. This is about the time the Super 20 was introduced. The underslung octave was a new feature with this model.
Currently older American horns seem to be selling for $1000 or less which I think is ridiculous.
Probably you need an expert to see the horn for further determination.
Kings do get a great sound. I hope you enjoy playing it.

On 6/29/2004 Joyce wrote:

I just bought an alto sax with the elk on the bell. The serial number is 57879 LP. The elk is in a heart I believe. It was made in Elkhart, Indiania. Can you tell me the approximate age? It has a real sweet sound even though it needs several pads. Is there a web site where I can get additional information on these saxes?

This is a student quality horn built by Buescher in Elkhart, Ind. I don't have the serial number list for these models. My understanding is these horns were built in the twenties and early thirties.

On 6/22/2004 "scaruso" wrote:

I have an old Pan American that is over 75 years old. The numbers on it are 84n8282L( the second 8 could be a B) and 12312C.
I just had it overhauled. I have owned it since 1937and have not played it since 1945. It is solid ebony and the company that serviced it told me that the the keys and trim are all silver. I would like some history on it, and plan to try and learn how to play it again, if I can.

Did you buy it new? The Pan-American Band Instrument and Case Co. was a division of C.G.Conn prior to 1939 making Pan-American and Cavalier instruments. I have no serial number dates. Mostly these were thought of as inferior to the C.G.Conn instruments.
I hope you are having fun playing it!

On 6/22/2004 Peter Hulst wrote:

Hi Lee,
I purchased a Yamaha YTS-62 a little while ago. The horn is about 9 years old but in perfect condition with only a couple of minor scratches. I paid $1000 for it and believe I got a good deal on this - in general I believe Yamaha saxes are great value.
However, even though I can't complain about my sax, I'd love to own a vintage horn with a big sound, comparable to that of King Curtis. I'm playing mostly rock/funk/reggae/ska ...
Right now the King Super 20 tops my wish list. What do you think? I know the Mark VI is a great allround instrument but I think they're way overpriced.
- Super 20s seem hard to get by, I'd want to get one with the silver neck. Do you know where I could find one?
- Are there any other brands/models out there you can recommend (possibly even over the Super 20)? (think big sound & bright - a horn that can compete with electronic instruments)
- I play an otto link NY 7 mouthpiece. I know very little about mouthpieces and basically just ordered online and went with a popular model. It plays well, but are there any other mouthpieces I could consider to get that bright Curtis sound?
Peter Hulst

You are on the right track with a King Super 20.
The Zephyr model preceded the Super 20 and has many of the same attributes including silver necks.
Not all of these models have silver necks and bells, there are various combos. H.N.White is the parent co. and also produced a model Cleveland before the King name was used. These can be awesome horns.
A Buescher 400 may also be something to check out. In terms of mouthpieces its probably best to find the horn first so you can match the mouthpiece to it.
Dave Guardala made a King Curtis model mouthpiece you might check out.
Have fun!

On 6/22/2004 Jerry Cadwell wrote:

I have retreived my old c melody Busher elkhart silver plated(?) with gold in the bell. What is the cost of a complete overhaul? I used to play oboe professionally. I would like to play this c melody along with the piano, however the serial number says "Low Pitch". Just how much lower than A 440 would you expect it to be? Just clean the horn -- no replating required.
Thanks, Jerry Cadwell

Unfortunately it takes the same amount of time to overhaul a C melody as an alto or tenor. Estimates start at $1000. If you can get away with a repad only maybe $850. Low Pitch means A 440. At the time, there was no standard and many horns were pitched higher. Let me know if you want work done so I can get it on my calendar.
Thanks. Lee

On 6/7/2004 "Bryan" wrote:

Hey, my name is Bryan.
I have played tenor sax for 8 yrs and last year I picked up an alto from my school band teacher -- she has no idea where it came from. I opened up the case and its missing the neck so I have no idea how it plays. It has Armstrong written on the right side under the bell then under that it has ELKHART-IND U.S.A. The only other engraving on the sax is some numbers on the back of the sax close to the bottom which are 29 40394.
Now I just have a few questions:
-- I would love to play this sax but I can't find a neck
-- how do I go about finding a neck for it?
(And, could you maybe tell me a little about this sax?)
Thank you for your time

Most Armstrong saxophones are not built very well and have playing problems. However Armstrong did have a relationship with the Keilworth factory in West Germany and imported a sax designed by Herbert Couf. Most of these horns were labeled H. Couf. Since yours says Elkhart Ind. its most likely the former. I would have to see it to verify what you have. Armstrong instruments are owned by United Musical Instruments (UMI). You would need to contact them to get a new neck. Check with your nearest music stores, they may be UMI dealers.
Good luck.

On 6/3/2004 "Bad Repair" wrote:

Hi Lee,
I bought my son a used Selmer SA80 Serie II Alto Sax. It needed a new cork (no big deal) and the Selmer symbol on the neck was missing a lot of the color so I took it to a repair shop and they replaced the cork (again no big deal) and said they could redo the paint on the “S” symbol. When I picked it up I almost cried! It looks like they tool nail polish that was the wrong color and painted it. They used a Navy blue instead of the pale blue Selmer color. Now I don’t know if I should try to remove what they did or just try to find a used Neck replacement. Any suggestions? If I leave it alone, the value of the Sax has dropped dramatically right?
Thanks for your input.
Bad Repair

I've been told that you can tell what market a Selmer MkVI was made for by the color of the logo or by the type of engraving or the color of the lacquer. These can be identifying clues however the condition of the sax and the playing quality have much more to do with the actual value. The color on the octave mechanism of your sons S80 will not affect the value. The original neck has been fit to the horn already and unless there is some playing problem there is no good reason to replace it. You can buy what are referred to as after market necks from the major instrument makers and also custom makers. These are made from different materials such as copper or sterling silver and will produce a different type of sound, not always desireable or even better than the original. Mostly people want the original neck when they purchase a horn.
Good luck to your son. Thanks for writing.

On 5/19/2004 Andrew Beer wrote:

I was looking through your web site trying to check the serial numbers for age and find approximate values of my saxes and hope you can help me out:
1) I have an alto sax - the bell reads GEO. M. BUNDY sponsored by Selmer the back reads 42M A 54125 L
It looks and feels more like a pro horn then the typical student model Slemer Bundy. I have never seen another one like it listed anywhere. Have you come across one like this before?

2) I have a Selmer Paris Low A Baritone SN M. 262229. I was told it's Mark VI. It does not say it anywhere on the horn which I understand is typical of a Mark VI, but when I check the Selmer SN chart it is in the year of a Mark VII. I am under the impression that there was no Bari Mark VII made and it would say on the horn if it was. Can you clear up the confusion?

3) I have a COUF SUBERBA 1 Tenor (High F#) SN 67505.
I just can't find a listing of Couf SNs anywhere.

All 3 are in PC with orig lacquer in real good shape.
Any information, history and aprox value of these horns would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Andrew Beer

You do have an unusual alto sax that an expert would need to see to help make any determination. The serial number configuration suggests a Conn from the 1920's which is when Selmer started to have a presence in the US. George Bundy was the Selmer distributer and dealer of US made instruments.
I've seen Buescher-made Selmers but not Conns.
Conn did use model numbers but the altos were 6M and 26M.
In regards to your baritone, Selmer never made a Mark VII bari so you will see MkVI's well into the #300,000's. The key mechanisms are usually a big clue for all the Selmer models.

On 5/28/2004 Phil wrote:

I am considering buying a 1965 Mark IV for my son. The neck does not have any serial numbers but the seller states it is definately original to the horn. Can this be true ? Also, he states it is a european model. Is there any benefit or downside to this ?
I thank you in advance !

Phil, Serial numbers on the neck started to disappear in the early 1960's.
All Selmer Mark VI's were made in Paris. Some were made for specific markets so the engraving is different on Selmers sold in the US. Silver plated horns seem to have been made mostly for the European market and were special order in the US. You will find great horns through the whole Selmer serial number list regardless of what market they were made for. Your son should play this sax and like how it plays and be inspired.
He's very fortunate you are trying to find him a good sax.

On 5/31/2004 Doug wrote:

I have an old sax (several from my grand father).. this one is a conn pat 1119954 S, M196282 L. Original case accessrories. even reed. :-) Anyway, my 7 yr old is interested in playing. Should I fix this up for him to use or is it worth too much to have him bang around? It is silver, with no dents.
Thanks for your comments.
Best regards / Doug

You have a 1927 saxophone built when Conn was at its peak. It probably has some very nice engraving on the bell. These horns can be great players and I think are worth more than people seem willing to pay for them today. Often times they are not worth much more than the cost of putting them in good playing shape. The whole package (horn,case, accessories, and literature)would need to be in very pristine shape to interest a collector and give it any extra value.

I believe in instruments being played so am in great favor of fixing it for your son. He should have some respect for a 77 year old instrument and not bang it around. All saxophones are soft and bend easily, even new ones.
Good luck to you and your son.

On 6/7/2004 Doug REPLIED:

Hi Lee,
Thanks for the information and your time. He sure likes the way it looks and sounds and says he really wants to play it too. He has been taking violin lessons for several months and loving that, then happened to see some of our old instruments and now wants to learn those as well.
Best regards / Doug

On 5/18/2004 Josh Thompson wrote:

I bought a Mark VI Tenor in Mint Condition for $3500 9 years ago, Serial #235,000. It's got a great sound, but down low it warbles, as if there is a leak. I had a top level repairmen blow smoke through it and was unable to find any leak. Any ideas on why this might be? Some have suggested its the neck, others to leave the mouthpiece cap in the bell. What can I do, or do you think its just not a great horn?
Josh Thompson, Cary, IL

Dear Josh,
I grew up in Woodstock, Il. So nice to hear from that part of the world! It's possible your G# is not adjusted correctly. The F# key has an arm that is supposed to hold the G# pad down when playing low B, Bb, C#. Have someone hold the G# pad down while you play the low notes that warble. The other test is to sustain a low F (first finger right hand) and depress the G# key. If the tone changes the G# is popping open. A slight turn of the G# adjusting screw will remedy this. Some horns have too large of a bell bow which creates extra turbulence. Dropping a wine cork down in the bell takes up some of that space and does correct this problem on some horns, mostly vintage instruments. Your sax seems too new for this problem however, I did encounter one Mk VI tenor in the #200,000 range with this issue.

It's hard for me to hold my tongue about this smoke test. In my opinion, blowing smoke into your horn is an antiquated test that leaves smoke residue in the bore and on your pads making them stick worse than they may already. There are so many other methods to check for leaks.
Good luck. I hope this clears up your low notes. Keep playing!

On 5/16/2004 Bob Cesario wrote:

We have a person wanting to sell us a Selmer USA Alto Sax, #828698. He says he bought it in 1996 for $2900.00 from Brook Mays or H & H Music. I think it may be an AS200 or 210, but I am not sure. Do you have a way of finding the model from the serial number and the current value of the instrument? We have a student who will probably buy it if the price is right.
Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.
Bob Cesario
Dr. Robert J. Cesario
Director of Bands
Huntsville High School, Huntsville, Texas

Dear Bob,
I cannot tell the model from the serial number. I have Bundy numbers into the 1980's at 875000. You can tell by the key mechanisms and engraving. The early AS100 were made with Mark VI tooling so the horn looks like a Mark VI. They usually had engraving on the bell, many with engraving all the way up the body. This was initially advertised as a pro model saxophone and might have sold for $2900. As I understand it, the model AS200 is a lesser model and would appear quite different, no ribbed construction ,and no engraving. Posts soldered directly to the body or nickel plated keys are also student model features. A knowledgeable person can look at the horn and make this determination. The manufacturers seem to be purposely confusing us with model numbers. At one time student models had a name(Bundy) intermediate models(Signet) and pro models were the only ones with the Selmer name engraved on the bell. All manufacturers followed this concept, not to pick on just Selmer. Many of my clients seem to know the current model numbers of individual instruments better than I because there are so many to remember. Generally the mechanisms and construction tell the true story. Sorry for the rant. I hope this helps.

On 4/3/2004 Attyjkenny wrote:

I have been having a debate with R. Yadzinski of SUNY and Miles Osland the pro at Selmer with respect to refinishing a saxophone. Professor Yadzinski believes "wolfs" or bobbles or grigles after refinishing in the low register is caused by parasitic vibrations of the bow. The professor claims that buffing the bow makes it so thin that it will vibrate with the air column. Yadzinski claims as proof of this that Marcel Mule would put a mouthpiece cap in his Selmer to prevent girgles or bobbles.

Osland, on the other hand, claims that on some horns the sound waives cannot get around the bow and bounce back and forth creating the gurgle. His fix that he claims he obtained from a repairman was to put a cork in the bow to break up the offending sound waives.

I have asked both the Professor and Osland how thick a sax is at the bow and other places. Both claim that they did not know. I really have a problem with a claim that a sax can be buffed so thin as to cause the bow to vibrate. Could a human produce enough air pressure to make a piece of brass vibrate???

What is your view on refinishing???? Can buffing cause a wolf?

Refinishing will not itself cause this gurgle. Poor buffing can remove metal where you don't want it removed. This could make it more difficult to get the pads to seat and leaks can cause a gurgle at the bottom.

The bell bow problem most people refer to relates to older horns where the bow was manufactured too large, creating an acoustical aberration which is corrected when something like a wine cork is dropped in the bell.

If major dent work has been done to the bow it could have been overstretched also, making it too large.

In regards to metal vibrating, it all does when sound waves are introduced. With some horns you can feel the brass vibrating in your hands while you are playing. Loose screws or metal on metal can make an awful racket on a saxophone. Key rollers will rattle, even metal things in the room can vibrate when you play. The thickness of the metal relates to the type of sound and response. A thin wall flute headjoint or sax neck will respond easier and play brighter, more higher overtones. Thinning the body would have a similar result but would not create a gurgle. Selmer removed a lot of metal from their Super 80 Series III saxes to make them more responsive.
Keep the discussions going!

On 4/2/2004 Fred Cogger wrote:

I've just acquired an aristrocrat tenor S No 457187 with the simple engraving in blue and white so I guess it's around 1967. Some commentators suggest that these are"student" horns and not as good as the genuine Bueschers but this seems to be extremely well engineered - nice brace under the neck, solid pad guard over the lower pads etc. and it blows great! When Selmers first took over, did they continue to make the then Aristrocrat using existing parts and workforce and then downgrade the Aristocrats gradually over a period of time? Will this model have snap on pads and Norton springs and if so how will I know?

Great site
Thanks, Fred Cogger

I own a Buescher 400 alto from this period which does have snap pads and Norton springs. The Aristocrats with the blue decal I'm pretty sure do not, however it could still be a good playing horn. Norton springs are goldplated and have a thread that screws them into the post. Snap pads have a highly domed snap that sits in the middle of the pad and also acts as a resonator. If you wedge something under the snap it will pop out and you can remove the pad, providing someone hasn't shellacked it all together. Repair people do all sorts of things with these old horns.
Good luck. Have fun playing it!

On 4/2/2004 D. Harajda wrote:

I just rebuilt a Buscher Soprano sax., True Tone, Low Pitch, SN 192711. One of the pads (G#) is not seating properly. What is the best way to seat a pad? It was suggested to me I should wet it and clamp it for a while. Please help.

Also, I'm now in the process of rebuilding a Buscher C Saxophone. It's in awful shape and I intend to replace all springs. Where can I order an assortment of needle springs and flat springs? Also, one of the key shafts (I don't know the proper terminology - threaded rod maybe ?) needs to be replaced. It's a short one, 3/4". Where can I buy this ?
Thanks, Regards

Dan, I'm wondering how you seated the rest of the pads. The correct way is to float a pad on a layer of shellac, heat the key cup and adjust the pad with a pad slick while using a leak light to see what you are doing. Many Bueschers have snap pads (a metal snap holds the pad in) which require bending tools to get them to seat and do not require heat or shellac, just experience. Old parts like hinge rods need to be fabricated. These parts have long been out of production.
Good luck. It sounds like you are having fun.

On 4/14/2004 Katelyn wrote:

Thank you for offering a sax question answer web site! I've had an interest in learning sax for years, but never seemed to look in what was all involved, until I found what looks to be an old alto sax left in a dumpster area where I live. Almost complete -- case, neck, swab cloth reeds, bags to carry accessories in etc. except no mouth piece! It has an evett shauffer brand inscribed into it, faded. Don't know if gold plate?brass? It looks like rusting, scratches and even a few little dents. Fancy swirling design on it and pearl keys w/copper color pads. I think, through the rust, the serial # is 34502. If I would've found a mouth piece there, I would have tried to play it! Could you please tell me what you can? How old or year it is? Material it is made out of? Anything? Since that sax showed up, I've been cruising web sites learning all I can towards me starting the sax. The sax that showed up sits in my home because I can't bear to put it back for trash.
Thanks, Katelyn

Dear Katelyn,
This is great that you rescued a sax from the dumpster!

If this is truly an Evette Schaeffer you have a very old instrument, 1930's or earlier. I do not have serial number info for these saxes.

I recommend you find a sax teacher to help you evaluate the instrument and get you started. They may send you off to a music store/repair dept, or you may need to start there to find a teacher.

You can get a new student alto sax mouthpiece for around $30. Do not put it back in the dumpster! Donate it to a school or give it to a music store or send it to me. The cost of repairs may be more than its worth to you but someone will probably have some interest.
Thanks for writing.

On 3/14/2004 Gil wrote:

We have a tenor sax that my brother bought secondhand at Boosey and Hawkes in London probably about 40 years ago, my daughter has just started playing it and we were wondering about it’s history and value. It has ‘Cavalier, a picture of a horse and Elkhart.Ind under it. On the back is patd(I think) Sept 14 1915, under this 1150409, under this T then 02666 then L.

Thank you,
Gill Rhodes

Dear Gill,
You do have an old saxophone. How old will be hard to evaluate exactly. I need to see the horn to corroborate this info, however the markings you give are from an american made sax. You are right about the first number being the patent number. The T stands for tenor. The next number between the T and L should be the serial number. The L stands for low pitch which meant A440 at the time(standard pitch had been a bit higher). If I'm remembering correctly Cavalier was a stencil name for King saxophones sold by other companies. If I could see the horn I can usually tell the maker. Serial numbers for stencil horns have not been documented, but saxes with those markings were usually built around 1930. This horn would have limited monetary value but if it is in playing shape probably plays very well. I love the sound of vintage King saxes.

Good luck.

On 2/9/2004 Sam wrote:

Dear Lee,
I have a Conn Baritone Saxophone entrusted by my father to my care, now that he is no longer an active member of their orchestra. I was also a member of our school band before, and the last time I played saxophone I believe dates back to thirteen years. I was once a player of an alto sax during my high school days but it doesn't play that easy like this Baritone sax does. I'm not a good sax player but I can tell that this Conn baritone sax plays well from the very high to the lowest keys. I am now addicted in playing this baritone sax because of its great performance everytime I play with it, incomparable to my first owned alto sax instrument.

I have some concerns to ask about my baritone sax because I'm confused with the date the instrument was actually made. Please help me figure this out.

Engraved in front of the bell is "MADE-BY ELKHART-IND. C.G. CONN LTD. U.S.A. w/ a NAKED LADY" engraved. At the lower back of the sax where I believe is the location of the serial number, which has an engraved in the first layer "PATD. DEC. 3, 1914", second layer "1119954", third layer "B", fourth layer "M265572", fifth layer "L".

Could it be possible that the date Dec. 3, 1914 was the date when the sax was first made? In my research this sax was made around 1969, is this true? I also want to know the approximate value of this conn bari sax. It is in mint condition with normal scratches and no dents but very very tiny dings, recently repadded/service, does not need any adjustment and very good playing condition with a pretty new soft case.
Thanks, Sam

Dear Sam,
1914 is the patent date. 1119954 is the patent number for rolled tone holes. B is for baritone. M265572 is the serial number, meaning your horn was built in 1935. L stands for low pitch meaning A440 which is our modern tuning. These are great playing saxes and generally sell for $2000 - $3000 in good condition. I'm glad to hear you're having such a good time with it. Thanks for writing.

On 2/9/2004 Andrew wrote:

Bought an old clarinet the other day -- a boosey and co. of london serial number 23870. Just wondered how old it was. Its in an old black case that straps up, not like the new cases. If you can help I would be very grateful.
Cheers, Andy

Dear Andrew,
Boosey and Co. was formed in 1816 and became Boosey and Hawkes in 1930. Boosey and Co. started as a music lending library and started making woodwind and brass instruments in the 1850's. This places your clarinet between 1850 and 1930. These were London co.'s so your search may start close to home. Thanks for writing.

On 1/28/2004 4music wrote:

Thank you so kindly for your info. This horn was sold by Carl Fisher out of New York. I've looked it up on the web and horns that have that name on it seem to be old ones. On the side of the horn it says, "Mr and Mrs Buffet Crampon and Co."

This horn seems old, and the case shows for that. It also has Yvette and Shaeffer inscribed on it.

Well, if this info could make you think it is older, that would be great. There is a text from a web page that mentions these details.

Have a great day and again, thank you.


Dear Jenny,
Evette & Schaeffer is a very important piece of information. Even though it says Buffet Crampon on it, it doesn't follow the Buffet serial number list. I own an Evette & Schaeffer tenor sax #22886 which I've been having trouble dating. The number of your horn is very close. meaning it is approximately the same age as mine. Your article helps me narrow the search. They are referring to models without the low Bb key manufactured at a higher pitch. These models were made before 1917. I believe mine is somewhere between 1917 and 1930. My horn does not have an importers name engraved on it but has everything else including an LP engraved by the serial number. This stands for low pitch which didn't appear on horns before 1917. My horn has brass finger buttons, by 1930 pearl buttons were standard. I have many of the Apogee system mechanisms on my horn. So, you definitely seem to have an older horn than we first talked about. Thanks for the extra info. It would be fun to see these two saxes side by side since yours was made for an import co. and mine was made for the European market. Thanks again.

Best wishes, Lee

On 1/27/2004 RodSax wrote:

my question is:
IS there a Merk VI with F# key?

My sax has I (number of series) 138872, and the tables of numbers of series says that it is of 1966. It has silver keys and fulfills all the specifications of a Mark VI, but has key of F#. Why????

Hi, Thanks for writing. You have an unusual Mark VI.

High F# keys were not standard on earlier models however apparently were special ordered. I personally installed one on a tenor sax so I know there are some after market custom jobs. Later VI's, after 200,000, seem to have them.

Not everyone thinks an extra tone hole at the top is a good idea but try to buy a new sax these days without one. Sopranos now have high G keys! Yeow! Keep playing.


On 1/2/2004 Larry wrote:

Can anyone help me identify the history of my bari sax? The serial number is 9362. The bell is engraved with the Words "The Elkhart". Below that in a geometic design is "Elkhart Ind USA". I bought the horn twenty years ago in non playing condition. I had it repadded and it plays with big golden tone. It has the cigar butt appearance. Any information about history or value would be greatly appreciated. The person I bought it from in Aurora Illinois said it was made in 1906.

Dear Larry,
Thanks for writing. 1906 is very plausible as a manufacture date. The Elkhart line was Buescher's student line of saxes. Some of them play very well as you have discovered. The Elkhart serial numbers do not follow Bueschers numbers so someone is guessing. Buescher horns were produced starting in 1888 and Selmer bought the company in 1963. Mostly the "best" ones were produced in the 1930's and 40's. I'm glad you like your horn. Keep playing.

Domenic wrote:

I have a c-Melody saxophone and I am wondering how much one is worth. Is it worth more than the regular sax?

It seems to have been made some time around 1914 because it has PATD. DEC. 8. 1914 on the bottom of the body of the sax. I have played it recently and it sounds pretty good. I can’t tell the brand name of it, though. The look of the sax is old and really needs to be dipped in some kind of brass/gold dip to replenish the color. So, I am just wondering how much it would be worth, if anything.

Thank you, Domenic

Dear Domenic,
C-Melodies are not worth as much as a standard Bb or Eb saxophone because of their limited applications and small sound. Players are using modern mouthpieces and even tenor mouthpieces to boost the sound. I have clients who have paid to overhaul these old saxes but they invest more than they could ever sell them for. If they ever become faddish this could change. They are worth the most as a player so keep at it.
Thanks for writing.

On 12/21/2003 Kathryn Behlert wrote:

My Saxophone is a Silver Alto True Tone Buescher patent 1914 low pitch serial #193777. My Dad purchased it used for my sister to play in the 50's. I had it refurbished for my son in the 80's. It is still in good condition - not used since 1988 - the original case shows wear. Do you have any idea what it's worth may be? Secondly - where would I find someone that might be interested in such a saxophone?
Thanks, Kathy

Dear Kathy,
I can't give you a very accurate analysis without seeing this particular Buescher, however in good condition they can be great players. The mechanisms can feel a little clunky compared to modern horns but the tone will be superior. In good condition I would value a Buescher True Tone at $800 to $1000. As a private seller you may not be able to get that much. Musical instruments do deteriorate just sitting. At minimum it probably needs a good cleaning and oiling. I charge $100 for this service. Any pad work would be on top of that. How the instrument was stored can greatly effect its value. If it was put away wet it could be mildewed which would require up to an overhaul to remove the smell.

There must be a young player in your area that would benefit from this saxophone.
Its greatest value would be realized if someone starts playing it.

Good luck.

On 12/24/2003 Jesse wrote:

Hey Lee,
I have been playing alto sax for some time now. I just got an Accent soprano sax and I am having problems with the intonation. From low C# down the notes are almost a half step from their octaves. As a matter of fact low C and middle C# sound almost the same. Also, with the mouthpiece as far in as I can get it, the horn is still extremely flat, except for those very low notes. This may just be a problem with me, but I can't seem to correct it. Please help if you can!

Dear Jesse,
I would return it to the seller and have them check it out. There are many new Taiwanese saxes on the market. Some have been developed more than others. Some do play poorly in tune, however you should realize that sopranos play much differently than altos. The notes bend easier and require a little more concentration on pitch while you are playing. If you are close to me I will check it out for you.
Good luck,

On 12/27/2003 William Collins wrote:

I have an Olds sax circa 1958. I am interested in a value. Am I out to lunch in thinking I should have it fixed up?
Thanks, Billy Bob

I would need to see your sax to know what model it is and to ascertain condition. Other manufacturers make Old's saxes. My guess is the Buffet company made yours given the date 1958. The ones I've seen were all student quality. Depending on the condition, repair work can exceed the value. Are you close to me or another qualified repair person?
Good luck.

On 11/16/2003 Angela Kitchens wrote:

Hi Lee,
I was told that you were a good resource for learning more about metal clarinets. I want to know why they were invented, what they were used for, and what their benefits/drawbacks are.

I have acquired a Regent (I believe Boosey & Hawkes made it??) metal clarinet. I'm a music teacher, and would really like to have some history to pass on to my students when I show it to them.
Thanks for any help you can provide,

Dear Angela,
Much of this I cannot corroborate as it is information passed on over my years in the business. I was told they were made for the military, for marching bands. Wood clarinets do not hold up well to outdoor weather conditions and this was the first attempt at an alternative body. Most were cheaply made however there are differences in quality. I own a beautiful Conn clarinet with a tuneable barrel and beautifully crafted keys, all silverplated but it has a broken key and wouldn't you know it they made the keys from pot metal. They melt when you put a torch near them. This has made the clarinet useless unless I can find a new key.

Mostly there are issues like this. They have been beat up by age. You find them at flea markets and in school band rooms. A local teacher uses them for beginners or practicing at home if they don't have their own. Probably the biggest reason they have lost favor is the advent of plastic body clarinets which have been better designed and imitate the pro clars. much closer.

I don't have any info on manufacturing dates however it seems like all the instrument manufacturers sold them. This is the most I can give you. There must be some clarinet sites that could be more specific about your particular clarinet.
Good luck. Thanks for writing.

On 11/15/2003 Charles Tomlinson wrote:

Hi, Lee,
I have a Buescher 400 Baritone Sax. Serial # 485212, which should put the circa around 1969. Would this instrument have been made by Selmer or Buescher. It looks nothing like a Selmer. It's a great blower, but looks rather like a poor man's Top Hat and Cane. Your opinion would be appreciated as to the possible manufacturer.

You are right. This Buescher bari sax would have been produced in Selmers USA factory using the Buescher tooling and design. It should be very similar to the Bundy bari sax produced in the same factory. The big secret about early Bundy saxes is that they are essentially Buescher horns and many of them play very well. In my opinion Selmer would have been better off sticking with this design for there student line. You do have essentially a poor mans Aristocrat, as you put it. I hope it plays well and you make beatiful music with it.
Thanks for writing.

On 11/8/2003 Bob wrote:

Found in the attic of our deceased parents home a silver plate (?) engraved "H N White Co., Cleveland, Ohio", "The Gladiator". In good condition with a small bend in the rim on the end of horn, appear have all it parts including case. Does it have any value and how old is it?

Gladiator models were introduced in the 1920's and 30's. The serial number, usually by the bell, can date it pretty close. These are student models and are worth the most as a playing instrument. Metal clarinets have been made obsolete by the advent of plastic body clarinets which can imitate pro horns much closer.
Good luck. Thanks for writing.

On 11/1/2003 Roger Leonard wrote:

Hello Lee: I have a Buescher 400 Special wooden clarinet, serial # 152029. It is in very good condition: new pads and cork, keys all functioning properly. Two very, very small chips on the wood at points of joining. No original case. I've been told that the serial number represents manufacture date of circa 1924. (See here: http://www.musictrader.com/buescher.html)
Is there a way to be sure about the date? What do you think it's worth? If you do not know, who would?
Valdosta, Georgia

Roger, I'm a little confused by this clarinet. Buescher was not known for making clarinets. The Buescher 400 model was not manufactured until the 1940's. Selmer bought out the Buescher Co. in the 1960's and used the name for a brief period. My guess is that Selmer made this clarinet and it is much newer than you are thinking. The serial number you gave me doesn't seem to follow Buescher's line of manufacture. Thanks for writing.
Good luck.


On 10/30/2003 Jason wrote:

Hi, my name is Jason and I just bought a caviler saxophone that was made in 1915. Someone's grandmother had it in her attic for the last 40 years and it's in pretty rough shape. I used a little brass cleaner and it looks like it is silver color underneath. Did they make silver saxophones in that time period -- it is either 1158489 or 0847. My question is that it takes a long time to even get a silver color back -- what is the easiest way to clean all the years of corrosion off of it?

--- Denise Olivier for Jason

Dear Jason,
Unfortunately without seeing the horn in person I cannot advise you adequately. They did silver and gold plate instruments back then. Someone may have lacquered over the silver since then or it may be gold plated. When they gold plate brass they usually silver plate it first. You should show this to someone knowledgeable before you do more harm to the finish. Removing corrosion often means removing all the keys. In the woodwind business we have many different cleaners depending on the individual needs of the saxophone.
Good luck.

On 09/9/2003 Carol Herbin wrote:

Eb alto: purchased in 1957, serial # 86911, cleaning it up, but it's in slightly rough shape, having had a lot of use.

Can you tell me best cleaning method, please and if there's any range of value.

Thanks a lot.

Dear Carol, Some of these older Bundy's are wonderful saxes based on the Buescher tooling. The best way to clean a saxophone is to remove the keys which is not practical for most people. If it is gold colored it probably is a lacquered horn. To clean the lacquer I use Lemon Pledge furniture polish sprayed on a flannel rag. The keys are usually silver colored (nickel plated). These can be cleaned up with #0000 finishing steel wool. Of course the mechanisms need oiling and the pads checked and adjusted or replaced. A qualified woodwind tech can help with all these things.

On your own you need a little different approach. Some people are good with Q-tips and pipe cleaners to get under the mechanisms, however, you might inadvertantly unhook a spring or knock off a bumper or adjustment shim. So procede cautiously.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy playing it.

On 07/25/2003 Kelly wrote:

My friend bought a used Noblet metal clarinet at a garage sale. The only serial number I could locate on it was 7539. It is in very good condition. Do you have any idea of it's worth? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Kelly

Dear Kelly, I can't help you with Noblet serial numbers. They were made by the Leblanc Co. but Leblanc often contracted out their lesser models. Today the Noblet model represents an intermediate,wood body clarinet. You still have a metal clarinet that may be good by metal clarinet standards but has relatively little value . Play it. That's how you will get the most from it.
Good luck. Thanks for writing.

On 07/18/2003 F W Powers wrote:

I recently bought a Conn (mexican) student horn just out of curiosity ( I play some clarinet, maybe intermediate level) and am having a VERY hard time getting low B and C. Local repair man says it does seem hard to get, but cannot find anything wrong. Maybe it's me, but - is there anything I can check on my own? and - the mouthpiece is not marked with a brand, is it possible some specific brand and model would help? Thanks.

Unfortunately I need to see the horn to know what condition its in. In correct repair iit should blow easily. Common low end problems can be corrected by making sure the G# key is being held down by the right hand keys when you play the low Bb,B,C# keys. Press the right hand keys down. Then depress the G# left hand pinkie key. Watch the G# pad cup for movement. There shouldn,t be any.Use pieces of masking tape as shims or see your local guy and point out the problem.Otherwise a loose neck can leak. Does it wobble with the neckscrew loose? It shouldn't. Leaking pads can also have this symptom but this requires a competent repair person.
Good luck to you.

On 06/15/2003 Bryan Diebels wrote:

Hello, my name is Bryan. I bought a Selmer Serie III alto about a year and a half ago, and I noticed that the G# in particular had a tendency to want to drop octaves. Now I figured this was just me adjusting to the horn, because I'm just a high school student and that the problem might go away but it didn't. I talked with a professor who also has a Series III and he told me that he had his octave key vent drilled or something along those lines, and that seemed to help the problem. Do you know about this procedure, and if so, the specifications for it?

Thanks a lot,

Dear Bryan, drilling out the body octave will help with this problem. I have done this for a few horns. One of my professional clients noticed an adverse effect with intonation in the right hand so we reversed the procedure. Everyone else has been very happy with the results. .Do you live close to San Francisco? Let me know if I can help.

On 06/11/2003 Robert B Harnek wrote:

Good morning! My name is Robert. A coworker of mine has a saxophone manufactured by H.N.White - King of Cleveland Ohio, Super 20 serial # 880863. My daughter has been playing flute in middle school and high school. She's very good. This past year we purchased her an Oboe made by Selmer, Model 110. It too was used at the music store. I would like to purchase the saxophone from my coworker for my self and my daughter. I would like to know the estimated value of the saxophone. Is it tenor, bass, or soprano? His grandmother died two years ago and it was in her storage facility. He knows nothing of the instrument . I would say it is in good condition. There are some scratches and wear on the instrument. Could you help my coworker and I? Thank You!

Robert B Harnek

I would have to see the horn to give you any of the info you want. Repairing a saxophone can be very expensive. Overhauls run around $1000. Pad work can amount to anything up to that. Thanks for your interest. Good luck,


On 06/04/2003 Stephen Ryan wrote:

The only problem I'm having with this instrument is an upper register "A" overtone on D2. Do you think it's more likely a leak or my embouchure?

Steve Ryan

Steve, If I'm understanding you, the middle D is the problem note. This is an unstable note with many overtones because you're closing the whole bore yet playing it up an octave. Often I find that the low C is not venting enough (needs to be more open) but it could be a leak, poor breath support. Have your teacher play it and or see a saxophone tech. Good luck. Keep playing.


On 04/29/2003 Peter Czamy wrote:

I have a tenor Selmer Mark VI. The neck's serial number is different than the body's serial number. I don't have the serial numbers with me but I think the body vintage is approx. 1962. Apparently the neck is younger than the body. Is this a problem? Can it be a problem?
Thank you.

Peter Czarny

Peter, this does decrease the value a little bit, however what is most important is how it plays. Many people are using what are called after market necks on their horn. After a certain vintage Selmer stopped stamping the number on the neck so one would never know if it was original or not. What's most important is if the horn plays in tune and has a good sound.
Good luck!

On 04/23/2003 Maurice LeFlore wrote:

I've got a Conn 10M 266xxx. I've read some of the other questions on the site and my problem may best be described as a "slow motorboat". This happens on each note between low register F-sharp and low D. I don't think there's a leak; however, that key at the back of the instrument (near the B and B-flat pads) appears not to close entirely. I've also heard that the key in question really doesn't serve a purpose. I just don't know.... I use a Rascher mouthpiece, Vandoren 3 reed. I've studied extensively, so I don't believe I'm experiencing novice difficulties. Thanks.

Assistant Professor

Hi, there is a good chance that the low C key is not venting enough. The felt may be too large or the guard may be dented. I would try opening this some more. It could also be a leak but I suspect the low C. Let me know if I can help anymore.

On 04/17/2003 Pat Staples wrote:

I have a Pedler bass clarinet- in a tan case with a Pedler emblem on the case. On the barrel of the clarinet is “The Pedler of Elkhart Indiana” and “W8273”. The bell is silver and has “Custom Built” on it. Any ideas how old? What is it worth? Is there anywhere I can find out more on it?

Pat Staples

I have no detailed info on Pedler instruments. Some are very good players but they are known for their pot metal keys which cannot be repaired if broken. When heat is applied to pot metal it melts into a useless blob. Does it play? Bass clarinets can be very enjoyable. Good luck.

On 04/16/2003 Michael Denning wrote:

My mother has an e-flat alto sax, serial # 66150, it has King, H.N. White, and Cleveland Ohio inscripted. I believe it is called the "naked lady". It has the mother of pearl keys, and is silver plated. The detailed scrolling is of nude women, and has other scrolled designs throughout. Do you have an approx. date of manufacture, and maybe the value. It is in immaculate condition, and was recently refurbished. Any info would be helpful. Thank you

Mike Denning

Dear Mike,
It sounds like you have an interesting horn from an art perspective. I wish you lived closer to San Francisco. I love old horns because some of them have beautiful engraving. I would love to see it. Can you take pictures? The moniker "naked lady" refers to some models of Conn saxophones not King. It is hard to place a value on this horn without actually seeing it and or playing it. For saxophones the value is mostly in the playability. They are not old enough for antique value. Are you interested in selling it or just evaluation? Thanks for writing.

On 01/18/2003 Dean Brennan wrote:

Hi - maybe you can help me out. What year ( or serial #) did Selmer stop stamping serial #'s on the Mark VI tenor necks?
Thanks for your great web site. Super information.


Dean, I have not been able to discern a definite time line however I don't think you will find any serial numbers after 1968 or #135000. It's a mixed bag right before this time.
Certainly all horns with matching serial numbers on the neck are desirable instruments but I find gorgeous saxes of all vintages.


On 11/08/2002 Brett Penza wrote:

I've got a brand new Alto from Saxophone.Com. It plays great. However, I'm having an inconsistent problem with the low B &Bb keys. When I play them, I get a sort of "machine gun type" sound. The note plays but keeps cutting out back and forth. The rest of the notes play fine (though the C with the octave key is giving me a "stuffy" sound). The pads look like they are seating properly. I don't have any repair experts around to check it. I guess I'm just wondering if this could be caused by the reeds or the mouthpiece. Also, being a resonable novice player, I ask, How often are these notes even used on the Alto ? I'm using a jody jazz # 8 with Rico 3 or Vandoreen 3. Any comments welcome, thanks.

- Brett Penza
Promising Sax Artist.

Dear Brett,
One possibility is you are not pushing the mouthpiece down far enough on the neck cork. This will cause a saxophone to motorboat on the low end. With most altos the mouthpiece should be covering most of the cork. The other possibility may require a repairman. If the G# is not held down properly by the right hand you can get that same effect. To test, play a low register F, 1st finger right hand. As you are playing that note press the G# key trigger, left hand pinkie finger. If there is a difference in sound you have a leak there. I hope this helps. Let me know.
Thanks for writing.

On 11/01/2002 Martin Menzies of Canada wrote:

Just ran into your site looking for a plater to do a sax.

Thai has a strange font but my girlfriend and I manage to get by using what is called Transliteration which is sort of like phonetic spelling of the words..

Sax, please = sek-soo-foon, tam-hi-poo-jai
music = don-dtrii
repair = rak-saa
appraisal = gann-dtii-raa-kaa
overhaul = ????? ($20 bill and a shrug will probably get it done)

THANKS, LEE! = koop-kun LEE!!

Dear Martin,
Thanks for responding to my website. This is very valuable information. The best plater for saxophones is Anderson Silver Plating in Elkhart, Indiana, USA.

On 9/25/2002 Ken Baker wrote:


I have a vintage alto sax for which I'm having trouble finding a rough date of manufacture. It appears to be from the "Elk Hart" student line by Buescher. The engraving below the bell has an image of an elk and the words, "Elk Hart built by Buescher". The serial number, located near the thumb hook, is 77740. There is also a 20A about 1/4" underneath the 77740.

Based on Buescher's serial numbers, the horn may have been built sometime between 1920 and 1925, but that seems a little early for the "Elk Hart" line. Did they run another line of serial numbers for these horns?

Any info you can provide - or a place to look myself - would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Ken,
The saxes that say "Built by Buescher" all seem to be of lesser quality than the ones with just the Buescher name.
As you have noticed, the serial numbers do not coincide with the Buescher numbers.
Selmer bought the remains of the Buescher factory in the 1960's so they would have any records that exist.
Good luck. Thanks.

On 7/28/2002 Ian Jamieson wrote:

My name is Iain and I am Scottish.

I am just going in to my first year of high school and am going to learn the sax.

I love Jazz and the blues but I also like big band such as Louis Armstrong .

I am 11.

if you read this thank you because I know you are probably a very busy man.

yours sincerely,
Iain Lamberton Jamieson.

Dear Iain,
Great to hear from you. You are embarking on a great adventure.
The saxophone can open a great new world for you.
Follow your heart and have fun!


On 5/17/2002 Joe Moreno wrote:

Hello Lee,
I was referred to you by someone on the SOTW forum. I have a SBA tenor serial #39731. This horn wails! But it needs pad work. Do you do complete re-builds? I'm a little nervous about this whole process. Can you help?

Dear Joe,
I do complete mechanical rebuilds of saxophones in my shop. Finish work, lacquering or plating, I send to Elkhart. Anderson Silver Plating and Pettifores both do excellent finish work. The base price for an overhaul is $850. This includes cleaning the horn, realigning all parts, leveling key cups and tone holes, tightening mechanisms, oiling and greasing mechanisms, refitting the neck, replacing all pads. corks, and felts, balancing and adjusting the action. Any rebuilding of keys, major dent work, complete spring set replacement, other parts replacement, or refinishing work is on top of the $850. Currently turnaround time for the $850 job is six to eight weeks. I take advance appointments so you do not need to leave the sax for the full time. The actual job is approximately two weeks. I've been repairing saxophones for approximately 27 years and service most SanFrancisco bay area professional players.

For more specific information call my shop 415-759-6001.
Thanks very much for writing.
Lee Kramka, Lee's Sax Worx

On 10/12/2001 Connie Morton wrote:

I have a very old clarinet, with case...it's silver, and all one piece (Except for the mouthpiece). I've had it for over 25 years, but I know it goes way back. It looks like it might be a military issue, perhaps Army. It's been awhile since I've had the pads redone, but it is playable. I think it plays in the key of B natural. It was made in Boston, and the name of the company is either C&B Company or CB Bettoney.

Please let me know if you know where I can find out more about this incredible instrument.

Thank you.
Connie Morton

Dear Connie, Thanks for the note. You are right about it being made for the military and Bettoney did make some. They are standard Bb clarinets but they are mostly old and worn. It costs the same to rebuild them as any clarinet and wood clarinets are preferred. Plastic clarinets are made so well and inexpensively that they have taken over the student market. If yours is still in good condition it could be a fine playing instrument but it will have little value. Keep playing and good luck.

On 10/02/2001 M.J. Young wrote:

I've got an old tenor saxophone, silver; I've been playing it since I was in grade school in the 60's, and my father played it in a dance band in college probably in the 40's. It's clearly marked "Cavalier" on the bell, and says it's from "Elkhart". It's in good working condition (my son just took his first lesson on it), although I'm about to replace the pads (again) and my wife is trying to polish in all the cracks and crevices to make it shine. I'm wondering whether there's anything worth knowing about it, whether it's a particularly good (or poor) instrument, whether it's worth anything--whether this is something of which to be particularly proud as a family heirloom, or just an old student instrument that happens to have weathered the years reasonably well.

There was a matching silver clarinet, but I don't think it ever played very well and don't know where it is now, so I can't say whether it is the same brand or something else.

Thanks for your time.
--M. J. Young

Dear M.J. Young, It is so wonderful that you have such a long history with this saxophone. There were several musical instrument manufacturing cos. in Elkhart that produced "stencil horns", horns with another name that they then sold at a reduced price. Some were identical copies and some have alterations. Conn used the name Pan Am. Without seeing it I'm guessing King, however Buescher and Martin also produced stencil horns. Many of these are fine playing saxes. Much luck and good wishes to your son, you've passed on a wonderful gift.

On 8/23/2001 Joe Schuster wrote:

Hi Lee,
Best regards from warm and sunny Germany. I have bought a 1983 Selmer Signet Tenor sax. They say it's just a intermediate horn, but I like it's sound. My teacher, he is playing a Selmer SA 80 III was also surprised about the big, warm sound of the horn that I got for a low price. Unfortunately the laquer of the horn is not in the best condition, there are dark spots at the keys and the laquer of the key guards is gone. At some places the brass has started to tarnish to a red/brown colour. Is there a way to get this tarnishing away and to protect the brass from further corrosion?

Dear Joe,
This vintage Selmer sax was based on the old Buescher saxophone and some of them play great as you are discovering. The tarnish is somewhat superficial and generally to remove it would come at some cost. A qualified repair shop could give it a chemical dip that would remove some of it. Sometimes it just has to be polished out and may not be worth the expense.
Good luck.

On 8/9/2001 Chris Erskine wrote:

Hi Lee,
I recently bought an old Conn 6M alto saxophone. A lot of the set screws that hold the pivot screws in place are missing. I was wondering if you know where to get some replacements. I'm also looking for mother-of-pearl key rollers for that instrument.
Chris Erskine

Dear Chris,
Congrats on your new horn. Conn's are wonderful. There is a company that sells to the general public, Ferrees Tools, 616-965-0511, or ferreestools@aol.com. Request a catalog. They will have the set screws. Pearl rollers are pretty impossible to find. Replacements are generally in plastic. I hope that helps.

On 8/9/2001 Al Harris wrote:

Dear Lee,
I have this Buescher alto (# 180168, from c. 1925). I've had it since 1946, without putting any real money into it ... a pad here, a spring there, some cork. It plays fine, as far as I can tell .. i.e. no leaks/problems I've noticed. The lacquer is maybe 60% gone and spotty.

I'm thinking of getting it overhauled .. including improving its appearance to whatever extent will not jeopardize it from the sound/playing standpoint. Could you tell me what service you think would make sense, and approximately what you would charge for it?
Al Harris

Thanks for the inquiry.
There seems to be some controversy over the relacquering of saxophones. I've heard claims of "My horn did not play the same ." Usually when someone is considering relacquer their horn is not in the best playing condition, so it should play differently when it is in precise shape. This is major work and needs to be done by someone qualified. I've seen many bad overhauls that do not meet playing condition standards. I believe it is this and not the relacquering that is the issue.

Cost is often the motivating factor. It can be exhilarating to see your old horn in "new" condition. My overhauls start at $800 and go up from there, I quote on an individual basis. A horn like yours relacquered would probably run $1500 with turnaround time approximately 2 - 3 months.

I would really have to see it to advise you exactly since you claim it still plays well. Sometimes a good cleaning and minor overhaul (good playing condition) are all that's necessary. I hope I've been of help. Thanks again.

On 7/29/2001 W.L. Collins wrote:

I have an old Selmer Eb Alto Sax I used many years ago and would like to know what you could tell be about this model. The Serial number is below the Pat number . It is 21338. I havn't played for many years but from what I recall it was a nice playing instrument. It was fitted with a Jimmy Dorsey Mouthpiece (4). Any info would be of interest.

W.L. Collins

Dear W.L. Collins,
Thanks for the note. You have quite a piece of history in your hands. Based on the serial number you have a 1936 "balanced action" model. Most of these are wonderful players. It must have beautiful engraving on the bell, possibly a house on a lake with sailboat? You are lucky!

On 06/01/01 Ra Byn James wrote:

I have a Cavalier, Elkhart, IND metal clarinet but no mouth piece. DO you know what will work or if there is a place to hunt an old one down. I have the main part of the horn only.

Thanks in advance,
ra byn james

It is not clear to me how much of the clarinet you have. Metal clars. use the same mouthpieces as standard clars. You may be missing the barrel which goes on top before the mouthpiece. This part is difficult to find. I don't have any or a source.
Thank for your letter. Good luck!


On 03/17/01 Charles Coleman wrote:

Just used your list to date my King Vol-True tenor, SN 125xxx. Thanks for the use of your list.
Charlie Coleman

Charlie, glad to be of assistance. I hope you're enjoying your saxophone.


On 11/20/00 John wrote:

Hi Lee,
How much does an appraisal cost? I have several saxophones and clarinets I'm in the process of insuring and need value as well replacement cost (which I'm quickly learning isn't necessarily the same number). Can you handle both?


Dear Adam, I charge $40 for the first instrument, which sets up your account, then $20 for each instrument after that. For insurance purposes I appraise at replacement value. I do need to see the instruments to do this. Do you live close to San Francisco? Thanks for your letter.

Lee Kramka
                        see the sample appraisal

On 11/18/00 Kyle writes:

I just bought a Metal Clarinet at a Antique show and I was wondering if it was a good bargain. I bought it for $30.00. The person I bought it from said that it was almost 60 years old and that it was played in the Marlett Chiefs Marching Band and that it still played. Althought it was missing a liguture and I still need to get some reeds, I personally think it was a good deal. Some things that I do know about it is that it was made by a Company named Viking. I can't really tell whether it's a regular clarinet or a soprano. I was wondering if you could help me. Send back anything that your can.

Kyle Isbell

Dear Kyle,
Thanks for your letter. I have worked on many metal clarinets. Some played better than others, however they do sound like your standard clarinet and have all the same mechanisms. I have only seen Bb sopranos and am not aware of any other sizes. They are perfect for marching because they will take more abuse than a wooden clarinet . Today, they have been replaced by plastic clarinets which are easier to make and feel more like a professional instrument. As you discovered this makes metal clarinets very inexpensive to purchase. The one problem , labor is the same to repair a metal clarinet as a modern one . That said, I hope yours is in good condition and you have some fun with it!

Subj: Buescher rollers
On 11/17/00 Chuck writes:

Hi Lee,
I was wondering if it's possible to get some of the brown/orange rollers that came original on the "Big B" aristocrats. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Best regards,

One of the joys of vintage instruments is trying to obtain parts. You would be extremely lucky to find those original rollers. I believe they were made from pearl and then gold lacquered. Bundy rollers are usually the replacement however they won't quite have the look or feel. I'll keep your letter on file in case I run into such a thing. Thanks for your letter.

Lee Kramka

On 08/09/2000 JCKIM asks:

I have two antique clarinets that I could possibly purchase for a blind friend of mine. Please let me know if whether they are being sold at a fair price. Thank you.

They are from the early 1900's Cavalier silver Clarinets made in Elkhart, Indiana. The serial numbers are 24891 and 36279. There is only one mouthpiece collar and no mouthpiece for either clarinet. Both together are being sold for $115. Some repair work is also needed.

Please let me know if this is a fair price.

Metal clarinets don't have a lot of value to them. However, they can be played just as easily as a plastic or composite body clarinet. The big issue for you is the condition because labor to make it play may be cost prohibitive. The collar you refer to is called the barrel. It is very difficult to find barrels for these old clarinets so you only have one complete clarinet. Does it play? Replacing the pads could run you up to $300, depending on the condition. You must also buy a mouthpiece. The clarinets are not worth that. I hear of people picking these up for $25 - $50 at flea markets, sometimes in good condition.

If the player has played before he may not be satisfied with this quality instrument. You probably would have to spend $200 - $300 to get a good student quality instrument for this person but it would most likely have the barrel and the mouthpiece. By the time you get done putting one of those metal clarinets into playing condition you will have spent almost that much if not more.

Good luck!

Lee's Sax Worx

On 07/13/2000 JohnnyPro asks:

I recently bought a Conn 16M tenor off an online auction, and it came with 2 Necks!!! Unfortunately neither one is the right one. I was wondering if you would have a 16M neck there, or another neck that would fit. Both of the necks that came with it are way too small in dia (approx 1/64th"). I borrowed the neck off my buddy's Buescher 400 tenor, and it fit fine, but the octave mechanism doesn't work, (and he might want it back someday anyway!!!). Would you have anything kicking around? My local sax guy says the necks are to small to be "stretched", and he has no spares. The horn played surprisingly well with the Buescher Neck on it. It's in VG shape, otherwise.

Thanx in advance for your time and help.

Dear Johnny,
It's nice to hear from you. I'm sorry to hear of your misfortune.

You have a little larger neck receiver than a majority of other makes, so it will be difficult to transfer necks. The last owner must have been trying to solve this problem. It is very odd that you have two necks, neither of which fits. Any story from the seller? I don't have a neck for you. You will need to do a little search. There is a fellow , Peter Ponzol, who makes necks. He might be able to help you if you can't find an original neck. Good luck.

Yours sincerely,
Lee's Sax Worx

On 05/21/2000 Travis M. Moore wrote:

I checked your serial # listing out -- I own a Conn Alto Sax, Model 20-M, Serial # N229XXX. I was wondering what further info you could tell me about the model..... I picked it up in a low-budget music store/second-hand shop for next to nothing. Neck cork was destroyed, pad on "E" rh key appeadred to be chewed by mouse...... got for $125. Hope I got a deal.... It plays pretty good, both needs adjustment..... I play regularly, just to keep my chops in shape, and for the price it does fine.

Thanks for any feedback you may have.

You got a fine deal. Conn saxes are wonderful players. You have a special model that is loaded with adjusting screws. This can be disconcerting to a lot of repairmen but once in adjustment will play beautifully.

For the right serial number date you should consult the Conn Woodwind list. This includes saxophones. I know the UMI / Conn saxophone list probably threw you. I've gathered these lists from various places.

Thanks for the visit. Hope I've helped.

Lee's Sax Worx

On 01/13/2000 Michael A. Wilson

Question -- Mk VI Bari tuneup - bracing

Dear Mike, Thanks for your e-mail. I am opened some Saturday
mornings if that works for you. Iwould be glad to look at
your saxophone however I couldn't work on it for a couple of
weeks or so. We could schedule a time for you to bring it
in. You may have to leave it for a week or so depending on
the condition. Who overhauled it? Mark VI's are pretty
sturdy instruments and I rarely see these extra braces in
adjustment. However, they could be installed if you were
convinced that you wanted them. The biggest secret to
keeping some of these mechanisms in adjustment is to have
the pads seated properly in the first place. Then the
combinations can be adjusted more precisely. After a horn is
overhauled bumpers can compress as well as pads so you may
be experiencing normal wear and tear. I'm at 415-759-6001 or
let me know when you can come in and we'll schedule some
time. Thanks.
Lee's Sax Worx


On 12/14/1999 Terry Rooker writes,

Question -- Please evaluate the Unison brand !

Dear Terry,
Unison saxophones are some of the better horns coming out of Taiwan. However they are still more of a student to intermediate line horn with professional style mechanisms. They have copied the Selmer Super 80 in overall design using rib construction and Selmer style keywork. They come in a few finishes with lacquer and gold-plate playing the best acoustically. The gold horns are quite handsome although more pricey. Like most new horns they do need some work when they are new to set them up properly(leaks, key heights, spring tensions)so factor that cost in unless the seller provides such service.

Good luck finding horns. If you live close to a trusting repair technician they can be quite helpful in your search. Let me know if I can be of more help.

Lee's Sax Worx

On Tuesday, 25 Aug 1999, Jay Witt wrote:

Congratulations on the Web site. Found it from Mel Martin's fabulous site.

I'm still looking for a used soprano sax. I had the chance last month to try the Selmer Series III soprano for an hour. If I knew last year what I know now, I would have gobbled up Wendy's soprano in your shop. But you gave me the chance, so my thanks as always go to you for being such a great technician, resource and an overall good guy.
See you next time.
Jay Witt

Jay, Great to hear from you. Thanks for the compliments. I will keep my eye out for you. Of course, you know a used Series III will be extremely rare. I may be getting in a Mk VI soprano sometime this fall. Do you have a price range? Keep playing!

On Thu, 18 Feb 1999, Nelson Perez wrote:

Just wondering if you have any vintage Selmers for sale. I'm looking for either a Mark VI Tenor or Super Balance Action Tenor. Lacquer state, not a problem. So long as there are no dents or dings and the horn is mechanicially sound, (playable).

I don't have any vintage Selmers for sale, I'm sorry to say. They are much in demand. I do hear of people finding them on the internet. I wish you luck in your search and will keep your letter on file. Thanks for writing.

Lee's Sax Worx

Steve Munger wrote:

Very nice site! I love the pictures of those wonderful saxophone ancestors! I have a question you may be able to help with - I recently bought a C melody sax and I'm interested in trying to figure out when it was made. It's hard to read the maker's inscription but it looks like "Frank" somebody in Elkart.



Dear Steve: It's just a guess but probably Frank Holton. If the instrument is silver-plated, cleaning around the engraving may help you to read it. Besides the name, what will really determine the date is the serial number. This should be found on the back of the bore down by the low e-flat tone hole. I believe I have a Holton serial number list. Let me know if you find the number and I'll look it up. Glad you enjoyed my site.

Lee's Sax Worx

Glenn Spiegel wrote:

I'm overhauling an old horn as a learning project and need to remove the stub of a broken-off needle spring. It has no set screw and is undoubtedly rusty. How is this generally done? A very thin punch? Heating the post?

Any help would be appreciated.


Glenn: You are tackling what could be a difficult project. You are correct in trying to find something thin to help remove it. A thin punch may be helpful. The important part is that you knock the stub out in the right direction. The springs are flattened on the end and pressed into the post so you have to remove it in the opposite direction. This would mean tapping on the broken end of the spring. What I often use is an older larger needle spring (because you need something as hard as the steel stub you are trying to remove) and a jeweler's hammer. If you manage to hit the stub right in the center it will pop right out. However, sometimes the initial hit only moves it a millimeter and you still need something longer to poke the rest of it out.

Good luck. Let me know how it turns out, and thanks for writing.

Lee's Sax Worx

Which model is the "antique Selmer" alto in your pictures page? Is it for sale?

Thanks, Howard.

Dear Howard - This picture is from www.saxophone.org. It appears to be a balanced action. The serial number is the determining factor.

Sorry, it's not mine to sell.


Lee's Sax Worx

My neck on my alto MK VI is a little loose. It isn't 'flinging-wildly-loose' but it does change its angle slightly after awhile of play. When I jerk it up and down, there is a clicking sound suggesting that it doesn't fit as snugly as it should. What simple remedy can you suggest to solve this problem?

Thanks a million.


Dear Raymond - There is a possibility that the clicking sound is actually coming from the tenon being partially unsoldered. I'm going to assume that that's not the case. You are the one that would have to judge that.

If the tenon is loose in the receiver, parts either need to be refit or replaced. Refitting usually takes care of the problem and is relatively easy to accomplish and also, can make a huge difference in how your horn plays. On older horns, parts can get worn enough that the only solution is to replace them.

Lee's Sax Worx

Hello from Tokyo. Our son plays sax in the high school band and we're looking for a decent quality and decent priced sax.

The Olsons.

Hello to the Olsons. There are many levels of instruments. I don't know how advanced a player your son is. One of the best saxophones a person can buy is a Selmer MARK VI model. These are mosly traded amongst private individuals. However, I understand that many of them are being shipped to Japan. They may go for premium prices there.

It is important for a player to try an instrument before he buys it so you should visit all your local music stores and see what your son likes.


Lee's Sax Worx


I just bought a very nice '60's Buffet alto. It sounds great and seems to play OK except for a bit of difficulty hitting low B and Bb sometimes (but that could just be me - I haven't played for many years).

I want it to be its best and last a long time, so what type of service do you recommend? Total overhaul or check it out and fix/adjust just what it needs at the time?


Of course, without seeing it, it's really hard to tell. Buffet altos usually play easily to the bottom. So, most likely there is something wrong. Whether you need as much work as an overhaul can only be determined by seeing the instrument.

Do you live in the Bay Area?


Lee's Sax Worx

Wow! Thanks for the quick response. I guess my question is really about a general approach to taking care of my horn. Is an overhaul necessary occasionally, or will just taking care of specific problems when they show up keep it at its best.

There may not be anything wrong with my Buffet right now, the slight trouble I'm having right now is more likely due to having my first horn in over 30 years.

I am well out of the bay area (Portland) and would like to find good sax repair locally. If that proves difficult, I'll contact you about shipping my horn to you.

Thanks, David

Congratulations on getting back to the saxophone after 30 years. It really can be a relaxing diversion.

In terms of your saxophone's condition, a good overhaul can last a person for many years with periodic touchup. So if your horn was in good shape when you acquired it, it may be just fine to have minor adjustments done to it. There is a certain point where corks and felts need to be replaced and key mechanisms need to be tightened up. Most of this kind of work is done with an overhaul.

After I complete an overhaul, I recommend that a person come back once a year for adjustments. There are so many moveable parts in a saxophone that something always goes out of adjustment, even if a player does not always recognize it.

Good luck.

Lee's Sax Worx

Hi. I am a saxophone player from Singapore in Southeast Asia and I was wondering how much you'd charge if I sent you my MK VI for an overhaul, ie, pad change, key height adjustments, felt and cork replacement and sizing, etc.....

The problem is there is no REAL qualified repairman here in Singapore and I would hardly trust them with my horn, you know? Let me know your charges, ok? Btw, its an alto #21K.


Dear Raymond - MARK VI saxophones range in serial number from approximately #55000 to 230000 so I am confused at what model Selmer you have. Overhauls run approximately USD 700 including pad, cork and felt replacement, swedging and tightening of all mechanisms, complete alignment and neck refitting, key height adjustment and balancing and a thorough cleaning. If a lot of parts need replacing or keys are very loose, this may fall more into a rebuild situation and estimate is subject to my inspection of the instrument.

I don't know what shipping would cost and you would be taking a risk of the horn being lost or damaged. (MARX VI's are getting harder and harder to come by!)

At the moment, I have an eight week backlog for overhauls but would be happy to continue discussions.

Lee's Sax Worx

Since you are the sax repair expert, maybe you could help me with this one. I have a silver Conn 10M (1945).

The G and G# in the middle octave are unstable, they want to overblow to a D or D# above if I tighten up too much. It is difficult to slur from a high D down to the middle G. It wants to stay on the D. Since these notes are the highest notes to use the lower octave vent, I assume that this is a result the design compromise to use only two octave vents.

I have read on the newsgroups that some horns (Selmers were mentioned) can be improved by drilling out the octave vent or shortening the vent tube. Is there a "right" bore and length for the octave vents or should these be adjusted for the individual horn? How would you handle this problem?


Darryl C. Olivier

Dear Darryl:

My experience with Conn alto saxophones is that they play quite well through that break. Usually the register tube is open already unless somebody modified it before you acquired it. There is a possibility you are experiencing some mechanical difficulty with the neck fit or pad seal in the upper part of the horn. You are correct about the design compromise of the single key octave mechanism that we see in most horns. This does make a horn a little more unstable in that area; however, older Conn's are usually fairly easy instruments to play.

I would have to see the horn to eliminate some of the variables.

Good luck,

Lee's Sax Worx

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Last Update September 2007