I do love vintage lacquer

So there I was, wondering what had happened to January and most of February ?  I’ve now got so many things on my mental 2009 ‘to-do’ list that my brain has overflowed, so I guess I’d better hustle before March goes the same way…

First essential, thanks to rapidly diminishing returns on savings, and horrendously battered private pension fund, courtesy of the world’s relentlessly spiraling financial markets, is to raise some dosh pretty sharpish. (never thought I’d be glad that my 65’th birthday – and therefore state pension – is only three and a bit years away…)

So, the last week has been spent looking at what instruments I can sell, whilst still obviously retaining more than enough to keep me happy, and taking a few pictures to update the saxes-for-sale page – and of course for the unavoidable eBay listings.   In the course of these feverish activities I came across a lacquered King C-Melody that I’d bought because I really liked the look of it.  Click on the picture (on the right) for loads more pictures !

I’ve always been a sucker for dark vintage lacquer, but this particular horn has such a mix of colours, rubbed (as it is) to bare brass on the neck and most of the key faces.  Very unlike the quite uniform dark bronze of my favourite Martin C-Melody, which obviously isn’t going.  The updating is far from finished, probably never will be, but the lacquer King is one saxophone that I sincerely hope no-one will ever be interested in buying.  If it plays as great as it looks – well…


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15 Responses to I do love vintage lacquer

  1. lewis Pelham says:

    How pleasant to type in “Rampone” as the anti spam word.
    Alan. That King is truly gorgeous, and, as an engineer, & as I have said many times before, The King of that period is the best engineered horn of all time…by a considerable margin.

  2. alan says:

    Lewis – The anti-spam program allow the use of custom dictionaries, so naturally I had to set up one that we’d all enjoy…   I sincerely hope that that King stays.

    Extreme happiness would be to retain my Martin, the bare-brass Aquilasax and that King !    Of course I’d love to keep them all, but in reality, three would be fine.  A happy compromise !

    Funny, but even the gold-plated Conn doesn’t quite have the same pull on my emotions as those three…

  3. ukebert says:

    I much prefer having relevant spam words, rather than the usual blurred “C2H5OH”, with the added problem of working out whether the C is a C or a G…

    I’ve never held a King. I’d love to get my hands on one and see what Lewis keeps raving about 🙂

  4. lewis Pelham says:

    As with most superbly engineered products, you would have to take the saxophone, apart completely, & closely examine the details which are built in, & hidden from view. That, to me is the indication of clever thinking…nothing brash,  obvious or “look how clever I have been”.
    As an example of this type of engineering I site the 1934 S Type Invictor; whereas most cars of the period, even Rolls Royce, used wrought iron bars as mudguard supports, hammered flat to form a flange where they were bolted to the chassis frame. Invictor however used cast aluminium support bars, about 6″ apart, with the strengthening fillet between them comprising the word INVICTOR in cast aluminium filligree.
    The only way they would be seen would be to be run over by one!
    Lovely, modest, engineering.

  5. Helen says:

    One of the things that I’ve always loved about the Kings was there domed keys. There was just something very elegant about them. In my mind, the King saxophones were years ahead of their time in many regards. 
    I still regret having to sell my Super 20, but at the time, it was not welcomed at university. My profs required a Selmer. I still have my Selmer, but often wonder what happened to my old friend. 
    I hope you manage to hang on to your King, Alan. It looks like a very special horn.

  6. lewis Pelham says:

    Helen, I am aghast…what unbelievable pomposity on the part of the prof.
    This is presumably in “The Land of the Free”!
    Did he also dictate the style of your underwear!   👿

  7. Ross says:


    Profs at conservatoria seem to delight in dictating  to students.
    What brand, which mouthpiece, what reed are all dictated by the faculty.
    Clarinet students dare not take a Buffet into a LeBlanc or Selmer-centic
    A very fine young classical player I mentored (her reading and technique left
    me at the starting gate) entered a con with a pro Yanagisawa alto.
    Barbed comments from fellow students about the percussive quality of the
    Yani’s keywork forced her, too, to go Selmer.
    Serious tuba players have an even harder time. Bb or C, bore size and the number of valves or crooks are all dictated.
    No place for the student with a vintage horn with character!

  8. Mal-2 says:

    My instructor wanted me to play a Selmer — so the school lent me one. I didn’t see a problem with that, especially when it was an S80 bari or a Mk6 or Mk7 alto. The only thing I didn’t get to take for a spin was the ‘nino still in plastic with the wedge corks. I don’t know if it was because he wanted to keep it mint, or because he didn’t want to hear anyone attempt to play a ‘nino, considering how badly we played soprano. Probably the former though, since he didn’t even attempt it himself.

    We had some vintage horns and lots of variety in the brasses — I got to check out a nice Holton screw-bell double horn, but all the other horns were Olds, Conn, King, etc.

  9. ukebert says:

    Shocking lack of diversity in conservatoires then.

  10. lewis Pelham says:

    Enlightening stuff chaps….I am still shuddering.
    Surely at professorial level they realise that 85% of the sound comes from the player/mouthpiece combination.

  11. ukebert says:

    Equally though that 15% is important and Selmers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. If every horn made the same sound there might be some logic in standardisation for ease of teaching, but when the sound is a personal choice I see little justification for imposing a set of constructed constraints on musical performers.

  12. alan says:

    I can (sort of) understand the logic – whilst not agreeing with it.  Selmer has had a great ‘legit’ credibility ( due no doubt to it’s classic European origins  🙄  ) whilst those brash upstart American ‘jazz’ horns, well…  Not the sort of thing wanted in a Conservatoire, the word itself having French origins.
    Just think that all those students, years back, got a chance to buy MkVI’s at the ‘then’ reasonable prices, only to find that they now have a great investment !  Sadly either they’d now probably not sell, or are desperately looking for suitable replacements for their ‘clapped out’ VI’s.
    Just trying to imagine a very loud King Silversonic trying to subtly blend in with a section of gentle and mellow VI’s  😆

  13. lewis Pelham says:

    Surely you will agree Alan that the volume or brashness of a horn depends, almost entirely on the set up.
    I feel sure that a C* on a Silversonic would blend with the most “legit” (whatever that means ) conservatoire.
    I would also point out also that Clarence Clemmens and the chap from Madness played “gentle and mellow” Mk 6s  😀
    I believe that I would tell any Obersturmbannfuhrer of a Professor, precisely where to stick his Mk6, with or without high F#.

    Returning, if I may, to the original topic. I bought my really old R&C almost entirely due to the colour of the lacquer.

  14. Alan says:

    Lewis – I was only having a gentle stir – a lot of good jazz-funk players (including Mike Brecker) played VI’s, but I’ll bet very few of them used a (probably) obligatory Conservatoire style Selmer Soloist C* mouthpiece on tenor…
    (although Lenny Pickett and Jay Beckenstein use them on soprano)
    Probably like you, I find aged/mellow lacquer to be one of the most warm and desirable finishes.

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