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What's The Best Deal On A Horn You Ever Got?


Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
What's the best deal you ever got on a horn you bought?

Free doesn't count (so for me that rules out a number of my horns like my Martin Handcraft tenor and my Pierret alto), so of the ones I paid for, I'd have to say that the best deal would have been the Huttl alto, which turned out to be a rare Hammerschmidt, that I picked up at an antique show for $165 (or something like that) in Oct '04. I didn't know what it was, but it was made very well, and had a number of features that made me think that it was a bit "special". It would take 3.5 years to find out how special, but as it turns out, it was worth the wait.

How about you? What's the best deal you ever got? Find an old 5 digit VI at a flea market for 50 bucks 20 years ago? A bass used as a plant stand in a restaurant?
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I was first-on-scene at a robbery in east Hollywood years ago (something like 1972 or so). It was a secondhand/pawn shop on Fountain Avenue. After I put out a radio broadcast with the suspects' descriptions and calmed down the VERY upset clerk, I spotted a Conn curved soprano hanging on the wall by its octave-key neck-ring. It had a price tag of $45.00.

The next day, I returned to the store off-duty and negotiated a sale price for $25.00 with the store owner. The crime was not solved, to my knowledge.

I had an overhaul done on the horn and played it for several years. I ended up selling it to the head of Disney's music-editing department who played trad jazz in bands with me.

Why disregard "free" instruments? One night at my long-running gig, someone walked in to hear the band and gave me a metal clarinet. It was a Silver King. I still have it. It has been overhauled and is gorgeous (two tuning barrels at 440 and 443) and plays nicely. DAVE
My best deal on an instrument (I'm taking liberties with the topic) has been on a used Violin picked up at a pawn shop for $100 last year. It's worth about $1500 and plays a lot better than my wife's old violin. One of the rare times that I didn't get yelled at for buying a musical instrument (although she did start to complain and then played it which led to her being rather happy with it).
What's the best deal you ever got on a horn you bought?
Less than 500 Euros for my near-mint Marigaux Symphonie clarinet.
30$ for a Gemeinhardt M2S (solid silver) flute. (the seller managed to misspell the name and I was apparently the only one who grasped the real meaning...)
About half a year ago I found a Buffet SDA tenor in silverplate. Owned by a community band and always been played by the same person. It had been in the storageroom for several years. I think after it was knocked over or something. Needed a major overhaul, work to the body, posts, keyrods etc. Should be finished any day now so I can finally start playing it. Original - very heavy - case, mpc, lig etc. Paid $250 and even with the complete overhaul I consider it a steal.
Most of my horns have been "good buys". I've also had a couple given to me and those were decent.

* I paid $150 for a Bundy II alto in the early 1980's. Needed a bend taken out of the bell lip. New horn, damaged by someone that was testing it. Played great, just that one cosmetic flaw.

* I paid $500 each for new YAS-23s in the early 1990s. They listed in the $1200 range, IIRC.
* I paid $1800 for a new YBS-52 in the late 1980s. About $1000 off selling price.

(The store I bought the Yamahas from I gave a LOT of business to. I also bought several clarinets and a YTS-23 from them.)

* I paid $125-150 for a Conn New Wonder bare-brass tenor. Cost a good deal for an overhaul and I still didn't like it. So I dunno if I can include it in this list ....
* I paid $25 for a Pan American metal clarinet that played better than the wooden Noblet student horn I had at the time (1980's).

My ex-wife and I owned, at various times in our marriage, 50 or so cars. I looked at it as, "What's the maximum profit?" I bought a 1967-ish Beetle for $50 and sold it for $1500 in the mid-1990's. That's good profit. And the car was missing a fender + tailight (which I had) and was all in primer.

The nicest free horn given to me was probably that Selmer Centered-Tone clarinet, which was ... OK. On the sax side, I got a decent Conn New Wonder curved-neck C melody.
Silver Conn Connqueror alto--$800 Cdn--two years ago. I traded it for my Martin tenor and cash, so the tenor ended up costing me <$200, with a complete overhaul.

My best is the one in my avatar. A 1945 Conn 10M in silver plate. I picked it up at a yard sale. I had just handed the guy $5. for a broken Noblet 40 with a Otto link slant sig clarinet mpc. I asked him if he had anything else. He proceded to pull out from a huge pile in the garage, a Pedler clarinet in excellent shape. He then disappeared into the house and reappeared with the Conn. He wanted $20 for the Pedler, and $75 for the Conn. I happily paid for both, even though I didn't want the Pedler clarinet. So all told, $100. for everything. The best was his comment to his wife as I left. " I told you I'd make some money off of those old instruments." Makes you wonder how much he paid ! This is a regular local seller that I have ran into from time to time at the swap meet and local yard sales. The first thing I bought from him was a Kenosha Vito clarinet for $18.00 at the swap meet. What I really want to know, is where does he buy these instruments for so little ? I hit the same places as this guy. My best guess is his wife works for a thrift store or antique store some place.
My next best would be my brass horns. I picked up my Conn 10B New Era Bb trumpet in Gold plate with some beautiful engraving for $50 at the local swap meet. This is the same swap meet where I found my Martin Committee cornet for $30 . Both are my main brass horns at the moment. I've also found at this same swap meet a Malerne stencil tenor sax for $37.50, a Conn 81 Victor cornet outfit for $30.00, a Yamaha YTR 232 trumpet for $25.00, and a Linton 5K bassoon for $250.00 .

Not a bad little swap meet ! And all of these were found in the last two years !
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1963 Selmer Mark VI low A baritone sax, just overhauled with relacquer, $395.00 (back in 1973) in a pawn shop in while on the road with Wayne Cochran.
$118 for an R13 clarinet including an OBrien "special" crystal mpc (still have both)

$70 for a Buffer B12 in fantastic shape (still have)

a few free mpcs here and there including a clarinet Link (my selection from several diff types).

i've had a few clarinets given to me too like Malernes, Noblets, Normandys ....
I paid $300 for my Buesher TT soprano. Play very well, although it's not a real pretty horn. Is that a good deal?
RCNELSON: I think so, but much depends on when you paid that money (like 30 years ago?), horn's age and condition, straight or curved, etc.

I paid $600 for my 1928 TT straight silver-plated soprano in 1985. I still play it - one of the best sopranos I've ever played/owned. DAVE
And, I hate tenors...

So...what would be the appropriate treatment for those?

(In terms of range, saxes are unversatile instruments anyway. Sez me the clarinetist who's always astonished and mutters "WTF? No deeper?")
I helped a guy, who was moving, pull the furnace out of his garage and received a very nice metal clarinet. I swapped 2 pads and played it on a gig the next day. It's currently on the bench awaiting new pads after a full cleaning and and polishing.
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