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Charles Wray
03-14-2005, 03:33 AM
Hello, This is my very first posting so I hope I'm doing it correctly. I have a Paris-made Noblet tenor sax which also has Vito on the bell. It is serial number 16309, and I believe it was made in the fifties, but I'm not sure. It is a gorgeous instrument and I would like to know a few specifics about it, primarily its year of manufacture, and its value. It has no problems, has virtually 100% original lacquer, and has been in storage for most of its life. Any help is appreciated! Thanks, Charles

fballatore
03-14-2005, 12:38 PM
Charles -

Welcome to the forum! And you posted just fine!

I also have a Paris made Noblet tenor; I bought mine on eBay at what I think was a good price. It's in very good shape, but needs a little work. I haven't been able to find out very much at all about it, other than someone online somewhere told me "it's a good horn". I'm curious to see if you get any info on it.

Frank

Uwe Steinmetz
03-15-2005, 09:46 PM
Dear Charles, Dear Frank!

I am the proud owner of a very well playing Noblet Alto Sax and I am also desparately looking for more information on these fine instruments.

This is in short what I found out recently:

1. An ebay Posting from www.saxpics.com about the Vito / Noblet / Leblanc connection (excerpt):

"This early 1950?s vintage American-made Alto saxophone sings with a French accent! It is a VERY early Vito, serial number 1549A. That?s right, only the 1549th instrument ASSEMBLED in Kenosha, Wisconsin from parts shipped from the LeBlanc factory in Paris, France after WW II. So, you might think, ah, it?s a LeBlanc...well, no, actually, it?s a Noblet and not a bad one at that!

Vito Pascucci (the VITO whose name is on the bell of the saxophone)was the repair technician assigned to the Army Air Corps Band led by Glenn Miller. He and Glenn Miller formed a firm friendship and planned to start a chain of music stores across the US after the War. Vito went to newly liberated Paris ahead of the band to make contacts with the various French instrument makers for his proposed enterprise. While there he learned of the loss of Glenn Miller?s plane in the English Channel. Vito decided to keep his appointments with French firms and visited the Georges LeBlanc et Cie. workshops in Paris. He became fast friends with Leon LeBlanc. After he returned to the US, Leon contacted Vito and in 1947 a small workshop to assemble LeBlanc instruments was established in Kenosha, Wisconsin (hence the prominent Kenosha, Wisc on the bell). Originally only two technicians were employed, Mari Bilotti and Ralph Zumpano, Sr. This is one of the very early instruments assembled by the firm.

I said it was a Noblet, rather than a LeBlanc. Ets. de Noblet was established in 1750 in La Couture-Boussey. In 1904, with no heirs to carry on the instrument-making, the Noblet family passed the business on to Georges LeBlanc who continued to make instruments under the Noblet name based on Noblet designs and tooling but updated with the knowledge learned from the acoustic research laboratory LeBlanc ran in Paris. And it is the parts from the Noblet line that were first shipped to America for assembly under the VITO name. If you look on e-bay or on the internet at Noblet saxophones you will see that they are identical with this instrument.

Eventually, the demand for instruments in the US rose to a point where LeBlanc could no longer supply parts and meet their own commitments in Europe. So current VITO saxophones are really student grade Yamahas. They are very, very rugged but definitely band instruments. This VITO is different. The rods are brass, not steel. The keys are brass, not nickel. The posts are soldered to strips rather than directly to the instrument. There are adjustable corks so that the player can regulate the action. These are the marks of a quality saxophone, intermediate level or better."

2. Studying saxpics.com I found that my NOBLET looks more similar to Beaugnier Saxophones than to Leblanc - models which often had extra keys and left side Bell keys. Mine has right side bell keys and a wonderful engraving (which again looks more similar to Beaugnier than to Leblanc with its distinct style).

3. My sax has the unique Noblet feature of a locking key behing the G# which opens the G# pad when the C#, B and Bb keys are pressed, thus providing some alternative fingering options (I have seen this also on some early VITOS).

4. At least the question of playability etc. can be answered from my side: My Noblet alto is a professional sax with great sound and intonation, rock solid built with a comfortable key action.

I would be pleased to stay in touch and let´s exchange all the information and pictures we find!

peace,
Uwe.

Uwe Steinmetz
03-15-2005, 09:50 PM
Hi Charles!

is your sax similar to this one???

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=16234&item=7308226186&rd=1

Again, following my thesis, this should be similar to Leblanc saxophones rather than Beaugnier models.

Uwe.

Uwe Steinmetz
03-15-2005, 10:12 PM
Another interesting link:

http://www.saxpics.com/SOTW_Archive/sml/sml/boardset-saxweb-boardid-SML-thread-98-spec-4574660.html

Uwe Steinmetz
03-15-2005, 10:48 PM
Hi again!

I did find a german website whith great pictures of one of the rare C-Melody Vito models. This sax looks nearly identical to my alto - except mine has nickel-silver plated keywork and it says "Noblet" in the engraving. Please nejoy this wonderful pictures!!!

http://www.simplysax.mynetcologne.de/Vito.htm

The owner of the sax states that "this sax was built by Beaugnier ... one of the best companies in france that can be compared to SML or Selmer in quality (in fact according to some posts there are rumors that Beaugnier manufactured oarts for SML)... the leblanc company had to close the Beaugnier factory because their instruments where too expensive to sell in the post war depression."

peace,
Uwe.

daveb819
04-11-2006, 03:15 AM
Hi Charles. I bought one of the Noblet tenors mentioned in another posting last year, SN 14341. Vito doesn't appear on mine. A tech who worked on it thought it was probably made by SML because of the similar construction; another tech told me it was probably made in the mid to late 50's.
I bought a used wood Noblet clarinet a few years ago that I've been really happy with and was hoping their saxes were as good - I haven't been disappointed! I play it in a concert band, swing band, and in church. With different mouthpieces she's equally at home playing jazz (Brillhart LevelAir) or legit (Selmer C*). I'm extremely happy with this horn but I would like to try it with a different neck - the original restricts the air alot. Another tech I talked to who is familiar with these horns told me he switched necks on one and it really opened it up. Best wishes,
Dave Bradley

carefree2003
02-28-2008, 01:33 AM
My question resemble to "how much an automobile cost"; however, I'd love to get a "range" min to max value for Vito sax. Someone is about to sale me one for $700 in a very good condition. He is a good friend of a friend but I have no model information yet. I'd like to go to the purchase meeting knowing something regarding the value.
can anyone give me a clue :)
C/F

Saxpuppy
06-02-2008, 03:56 PM
I also have a Vito Noblet (Paris) Alto. Autographed by Boots Randolph. It's MINT condition, and plays as well as any other French sax. They are greatly under-appreciated, as they haven't been re-discovered...... ask anyone who owns one. Well made, and sounds great!

Tharruff
06-02-2008, 05:55 PM
I have a Noblet Alto that I bought from another forum member several years ago, SN 69XX. Conincidentally, it is headed to the shop on Wednesday of this week for a look-see to put it into good playing condition. I guess that I will be able to form an opinion on it within the next month or so.

6212

backer
06-02-2008, 06:16 PM
I have a Noblet Alto that I bought from another forum member several years ago, SN 69XX. Conincidentally, it is headed to the shop on Wednesday of this week for a look-see to put it into good playing condition. I guess that I will be able to form an opinion on it within the next month or so.

6212

That's a great looking horn! It looks like it was played a lot - a good sign in my book. :D

I still need to get my Vito 35 "system" alto overhauled. If it sounds as good as it does with a loose neck and half the pads trashed/falling out, I can't imagine what it would sound like all fresh and tight as a drum...

backer
06-02-2008, 06:35 PM
It looks like Kim Slava just posted a comparison of two gorgeous Noblet altos...

http://doctorsax.biz/noblet_compare.htm

Check out the side F# key guard and movable thumb rest. They are also ribbed like the "system" horns.

I'm a little confused about the history of these horns. Kim's page suggests they were made in the Noblet "atelier"... Was this before Leblanc took over?

bfoster64
06-02-2008, 08:46 PM
Not too long ago I played a Noblet tenor that looked a lot like the altos in the "Noblet comparison" link. It was in a similar serial number range and had the same face in profile on the bell to body brace. It had a lovely, focused, French tone very much like a Selmer and not like the Buffets and SMLs I've played. The keywork was slightly less refined than on those horns. The intonation was a bit quirky but I didn't have a chance to try different mouthpieces on it to get the best tuning.

I'd give it an A for sound quality, B for keywork, and B- for intonation.

bfoster64
06-02-2008, 08:49 PM
I should add that some of the figures engraved on the Noblet tenor I played were identical to figures appearing on my Buffet SDA tenor. It is possible that the same engraver worked on both horns!

backer
06-02-2008, 09:07 PM
Not too long ago I played a Noblet tenor that looked a lot like the altos in the "Noblet comparison" link. It was in a similar serial number range and had the same face in profile on the bell to body brace. It had a lovely, focused, French tone very much like a Selmer and not like the Buffets and SMLs I've played. The keywork was slightly less refined than on those horns. The intonation was a bit quirky but I didn't have a chance to try different mouthpieces on it to get the best tuning.

I'd give it an A for sound quality, B for keywork, and B- for intonation.


Did it look like this one, with the modern, Selmer-style bell keys and LH pinky table?

http://usahorn.com/instView.usa?id=176&inst=Vito+%2F+Beaugnier+++Tenor+Sax+Lacquer

(It's marked Vito, but has the Noblet-style "face" bell brace, key guards, etc...)

Tharruff
06-02-2008, 09:15 PM
I just looked at my Alto and it does NOT have 'the face'.

Also just a general comment that after 30 yers of playing a Mark VI Alto, the pinky keys on the Noblet seem oddly placed. Especially, the low Bb key. When I reach for it my left hand ring finger seems to want to hit the G# key.

The low C key seems very far away for my right hand pinky to reach. Maybe I just have a short pinky ?

I could 'probably' get used to it...

bfoster64
06-03-2008, 01:27 AM
The tenor I played had engraving like the SN 8967 horn from the comparison page. However, it had the BA-style bell key guards (i.e., two guards instead of one), like the tenor FS at USA horn. I recall the serial number was in the 9xxx range so I'm starting to see a continuum here.

One thing that bugs me in the USA horn ad is the representation that the tenor was made by Beaugnier. My research leads me to question that. I've seen a lot of French Vito horns with SNs above ~12xxx that are thought to have been made by Beaugnier and they look very different than the earlier horns, such as the 6xxx alto and 8xxx "face profile" horns discussed in this thread. I think these earlier Noblet horns are nicer than the later Beaugnier stencils.

To illustrate, there's a Beaugnier stencil Noblet alto on Ebay right now and it has the bell keys on the left and a Conn-style spatula cluster. The earlier Noblets have bell keys on the right and an SBA style spatula cluster. It wouldn't make sense for Beaugnier to reverse the evolution of their designs. I think the better explanation is that the earlier Noblets were not made by Beaugnier.

kimslava
06-07-2008, 05:13 PM
It looks like Kim Slava just posted a comparison of two gorgeous Noblet altos...

http://doctorsax.biz/noblet_compare.htm

I'm a little confused about the history of these horns. Kim's page suggests they were made in the Noblet "atelier"... Was this before Leblanc took over?

At that particular point in time, I was wondering if Beaugnier wasn't, say, making the bodies and necks and jobbing the horns out to small 'sub-contracters' or something like that, for assembly. But I was just conjecturing.

The Noblet "Serie Maville" and "Standard" seem a lot more in the Beaugnier style than these "Face" Noblets.