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eBay's got quite a few rare US-made horns this week

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Updated a couple of the closed ads with final listing prices.

Oh. Folks posting clarinets and non-US stuff in this thread, please start your own threads. I see nothing wrong with someone noting a rare horn/category/whatever, but I just want to keep this thread US-made saxophones & close relatives. At the very least, I'd like this thread to give someone an idea of how much these things are worth.

Thanks!
 

TrueTone

College Student who likes wind instruments & music
Updated a couple of the closed ads with final listing prices.

Oh. Folks posting clarinets and non-US stuff in this thread, please start your own threads. I see nothing wrong with someone noting a rare horn/category/whatever, but I just want to keep this thread US-made saxophones & close relatives. At the very least, I'd like this thread to give someone an idea of how much these things are worth.

Thanks!
And this is a prime example of why I should actually read what category this thread is in.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Beautiful Buescher straight alto, photographed with a tipped bell soprano, just because he can (Dr. Rick). I wonder if this horn was from his set of a bunch of horns he was trying to sell for $100K+ a couple years back. $14,975. Looks like it needs new pads. Ad now says "no longer available."
It's been relisted at $12,500.

EDIT: Ad closed as "Instrument is no longer available."
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
PMWoodwind.com had a relacquer Conn-O-Sax that had some work done on it for $42K for awhile and eventually listed it on eBay for less (I'm thinking $30K, but I could be wrong). It did eventually sell, tho.
I was sitting with Paul Maslin when he took the call from the guy who wanted to sell that sax. IIRC, he said ask for $40k, but settle for mid to low 30's, unless the horn was in mint condition. That one looks nice, but I wouldn't call it mint. Although if Paul worked on it, that would add a lot of value in my book.
He's got a different one on eBay right now -- different serial number, but also lacquered later in its life -- that's currently at $20K. Reserve auction.

EDIT: Sold at $29,200.
 
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Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
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I quite like the horn. Obviously not as flashy as the silver-plated ones, but I quite like the fact that it's understated. I don't know if it will sell on eBay or not, but if I had that kind of money, and was a small horn player, I'd be tempted. BTW, it's listed on Paul's site for $42,000.
So maybe the reserve is $40K?
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Hmmm. Pay bills and eat for the year or get a Conn-O-Sax. Tempting.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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What am I ever going to do without one? How will I ever get the call to play that once-in-a-lifetime, F-pitched saxophone part? How will I survive? Oh no... :eek:

If only I didn't have to buy food... If only I didn't have to pay electricity... If only I didn't have to pay property taxes... :D

Seriously though, no one really needs one of these. As much fun as they might be to own and play on occasion, even as an investment ATM, IMO they aren't the wisest way to tie up one's cash. The prices of these exotic horns hasn't gone up much over the last few years.

For example--although not nearly in the same league as a Conn-O-Sax--when I bought my vintage bass in 1999, I paid around $5,000 US. The prices today aren't much different than they were then. Although they haven't decreased, they haven't increased by a whole lot either--they certainly haven't kept up with inflation. From a pure financial perspective, if I had taken that money and invested it in something, I'd be further ahead today.

Furthermore, having large chunks of money tied up in horns is always bad in the event you have a sudden need for a large amount of cash. We see it play itself on SOTW all the time. Guys drop their prices like crazy because they absolutely, positively, have to sell their horns for whatever reason.

Sure, there are always going to be those who have lots of money, and don't need to concern themselves with how they spend it. Whether or not those people play saxophone, that's the $42,000--or $100,000 ;) -- question.

That said, I've always said we as saxophone players are spoiled. Take a look at the prices of new bass clarinets... or bassoons... or English horns... Or stringed instruments that use bows. If you're a musician and need one of those to make your living, and you still have a student loan to pay for for, your kids will be lucky if they don't inherit your debt in your will.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I actually think it should be more along the lines of, "How much do you have to pay for an *decent* horn?" I'm sure I can find a hunk of junk bassoon for around $100, but I don't think $100 would get me a playable or decent horn. However, I also don't have to pay $40,000 to get a top-of-the-line Heckel. I could get a used Yamaha student model for around $1000ish. It's just that the price range for double reeds and stringed instruments is much higher than that of single-reeds. You can pay $20K for some alto saxophones and $10K for some Bb clarinets, but you can also find a used Yamaha alto for $500ish or a used Yamaha 34 clarinet for the $400ish range.

I'd bet that if there were $40K alto saxophones -- not owned by someone famous or some extreme rarity -- there'd be some buyers. We're inching higher and higher on those Mark VI prices, after all.

I also wonder if a $40K Heckel bassoon is, in some way, objectively 40x better than a Yamaha bassoon.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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I also wonder if a $40K Heckel bassoon is, in some way, objectively 40x better than a Yamaha bassoon.
My tech, who is actually a woodwind instrument maker, could answer that question. He also happens to be an English horn player.

I don't know if you've been following the evolution of Backun clarinets, but they are a local company here in Vancouver. I've known Morey, the owner, forever. His family used to own Vancouver's largest, and well-respected independent music store. That's where I got my then-gently-used Mark VI's back when I was in HS and university in the 80s.

Backun clarinets have developed a loyal following, and have have quite a number of famous artists using their products. Note their prices.

Bottom line, instruments made of real wood have gone up, A LOT. Just as our grocery prices (and inflation in general) have risen exponentially over the past while, so have musical instruments--especially high end ones.

Are they really "better", I'm not sure if an accurate comparison would be a Series III bari vs. a Mark VI, but the price differences are similar. Being familiar with both, I would say that the Series III is not necessarily better, but it is different. Players will argue amongst themselves which is "better", but at the end of the day it is a personal choice that players can make, in part based on their ability to pay.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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re: Backun, I've heard of them since their association with Leblanc. I've liked the look of their barrels and bells since first seeing them -- no idea about what they do for your sound; I just find them aesthetically pleasing. Regarding the prices, I'd never buy a new instrument unless forced to. The used market has so much more variety with much better pricing. However, with my above examples, used Heckel bassoon can sell for a higher price than the new ones ... which is about the same for Mark VIs vs. new Selmer saxophones, even if you adjust for inflation. Mind you, if I got a new Yani alto with gold plate and sterling body, I could easily get into the same price range.

The point I was sorta trying to make is that, even though there may exist a $40K instrument out there, there's no special reason to buy one if you can do everything you want to do with a $1K one -- unless there's something that proves that the $40K one is 40x better. I would assume that the $40K one is better in some way, but not necessarily 40x better. There's also nothing that says that if you're a pro you have to get something that's, well, overpriced.

In a sense, I like saxophones as an example for all of this because you have to have basically the same cone shape or it's either no longer a saxophone (which is the argument about the Tubax) or it just won't work. Obviously some designs are better than others, but it's a lot more difficult to objectively say that a Mark VI is better than, say, a Reference 54.

I dunno. I could easily argue it the other way, too: the reason why a used Heckel bassoon is $40K is because people think they're the best bassoons available, which justifies the price and this also means that the horn is 40x better than an average one.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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I agree with with you with about new horns, I too would never buy one. I sort of see them like buying a new car... The moment you walk out the shop with them they've depreciated in value, so I like to let someone else take the financial hit.

Re: the Tubax, I had a couple interesting emails back and forth with Benedikt Eppelsheim a couple of years ago discussing the controversy about the is it/is it not a a true saxophone. Benedikt sent me some CAD diagrams that clearly showed the Tubax meets the definition of a saxophone. The explanations of the bore/cone design clearly place it in the saxophone family, not in a family of its own. I'm not sure now if the explanations are in German or not, it's been a while since I looked at the stuff I received from him. I can't remember now what language we corresponded in.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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The only reason I've bought new, well, lots of things, is when new offered extreme value over old in some way. Hey, I just bought a Yamaha WX5. Used. I bought a new Nissan Sentra a couple years ago ... because the used ones were very slightly cheaper with a much worse warranty. I bought my YBS-52 and a couple other Yamaha horns new because I couldn't get used back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, not that they cost that much then, either.

Regarding Gandalfe's new old stock, I remember that the older Yani 9xxx altos and tenors were being blown out when the W01/W10 horns came out. Are the W01/W10 horns better? Arguably, but not by much. The B&S horns went really cheap, really fast when B&S stopped sax production, too. Hey, I also waited until I heard that Apple was going to release a new tablet before buying mine. Instant $200 price cut. I still may buy an older Ipad Air, too. One of these days :).

Well, I don't buy used reeds, at least ....
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
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Administrator

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
So, more fun stuff again. A couple of the horns listed above have been re-listed.

Beautiful Buescher straight alto, photographed with a tipped bell soprano, just because he can (Dr. Rick). I wonder if this horn was from his set of a bunch of horns he was trying to sell for $100K+ a couple years back. $14,975. Looks like it needs new pads. Ad now says "no longer available."
$10,500, now.
 
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