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Thread: york grand rapids michigan soprano

  1. #1

    Default york grand rapids michigan soprano

    Hi Sax on the web members,

    I have a york grand rapids michigan soprano. Model number 93784.
    I cannot seem to find anything on the web about this model, would you be able to help me find out what year this sax was made and an approximate value.
    It is in excellent condition, complete with the oringinal case (useable but not in very good condition) so i have a pro tec soprano bag for it.
    The sax has had just 2 pads replaced, all the others are the originals and are all working perfectly. Comes with the original mouthpiece and a Super session 'g'.


    Cheers,
    Hammy

  2. #2

    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    I had an old York tenor, when I was 15. It was similar to a Chu Berry Conn, but a bit more primitive & the intonation, in a word, SUCKED.

    I believe that they were a Grade B, knockoff of Conn, instrument company, that had some defense contracts & made some horns for the military and schools. They made alot of Marching Brass & baritones, tuba's and such for those markets.
    Saxophones were, perhaps, an after thought to them & not their main market as all I've seen have been not-so-hot.
    I don't think they ever made a serious saxophone for the "pro" market. (or whatever it was called, back then)

    Their factory was bought by YAMAHA, in the 70s, I believe & was used to assemble horns from Japan & as their USA headquarters. I think its still in use, today, not sure.

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW member/Official SOTW Sister bandmommy's Avatar
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    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    York saxophones made in Grand Rapids, Michigan were not B Grade Conn knockoffs. They were an independant company that manufactured instruments under their own name.
    They are of as good quality as any other comparable sax produced at that time.
    As far as producing for the "Pro" market, that's a modern term. How many players back in the '20s' and 30's owned what we would call a "Pro" horn today.
    They played the best horn they could afford. Don't forget that there are "Pros" today that gig on YAS and YTS 23's or older.
    As with any other brand of instrument there are some real gems, and some clunkers.

    The building that mighthave housed the original York factory may have been purchased by Yamaha, but the company was not.
    Yamaha no longer has a factory in Grand Rapids. It was closed several years ago.
    Old reed players are like fine wine. They only get better with age. Tom Hagen

    Play the Music, not the instrument.

  4. #4

    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    Thanks for the replies.
    Do you know where i could find out what year it was made? I think it was a 1929 but im not too sure. If so, would you know a rough value?
    Thanks

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the Holton geauxsax's Avatar
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    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    Hammy,
    Welcome, and you may want to post your horn's info with pictures here:

    http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthr...umber-registry

  6. #6

    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    Like I said, Bandmommy, York was primarily a BRASS & marching brass company. They made more tubas, coronets & baritones & bugles that saxophones. The saxophones may not have been made by Conn, but the one I had was clearly a copy & a not-so-good one.

    Lets go to wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Warren_York

  7. #7
    Walter Webb's Avatar
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    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    Quote Originally Posted by Black Obelisk View Post
    York was primarily a BRASS & marching brass company. They made more tubas, coronets & baritones & bugles than saxophones. The saxophones may not have been made by Conn, but the one I had was clearly a copy & a not-so-good one.
    Saxes from the 20s are remarkably similar, but I can distinguish a York from a Conn in two seconds. No Conn ever had those plate-mounted key holes, or "spats" on the single chimneys. I think that York, like Holton, made a great effort to make a full line of band instruments in the 20s, and they tried very hard to stand out from the crowd. The saxophone field was already dominated by Conn and Beuscher, et al., and they had a hard uphill battle to succeed in the market, but I am not convinced that their saxes were "not-so-good." Many ignorant people say that Holtons suck, too, and you can find many examples of so-called experts spouting their prejudice on the 'net. Same for York. Have you actually played one in good repair? Players with no preconceived notion say that Yorks are at least as good as anything else from that era. I hope to own one someday.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    I have a York tenor, serial no. 92xxx, which was bought new in 1928 in London by the first owner - I have a copy of the insurance policy he took out on purchase. Regarding quality, and who made them, it appears that some were stencils of Conn. Buescher, and probably Holton, but mine isn't. I have seen Yorks with the tone hole chimneys mounted on a plate attached over the body, and the only one I playeed was horribly out of tune. Mine has soldered tone holes (straight not bevelled) a la Holton, and is a beaytifully built instrument, with a very interesting "extra" octave pip operated by the low D key in higher register. This was apparently to clear the "stuffy" D you can get sometimes on vintage saxes. Intonation on this sax is fine, MUCH better than the Conn Chu I had, and it is a pleasure to play.

    More generally on the subject of intonation, I find that young, and even middle aged, players nowadays seem to have been taught to play with a rigid embouchure, like on clarinet, and to play the instrument without regard to its intonation. This may be acceptable on a modern high-quality Jap job (although I hear some terribly out of tune playing from quite accomplished players that seem to believe that their instrument is infallible) but it just doesn't work on vintage saxes - in fact it won't work on a MkVI either, and I've had several in my time. There is no such thing as an in-tune saxophone, because of its conical bore. You have to learn to play it in tune, using your ear and embouchure. It shouldn't take longer than a lifetime!

  9. #9
    Content Expert/Distinguished SOTW Member LaPorte's Avatar
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    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    Exciting new contributions in the new York subforum! I will add some info soon.

  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW member/Official SOTW Sister bandmommy's Avatar
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    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    Walter,
    There is a gentleman in my community band that plays a silver York alto. He's in his mid eighties and has had the sax for over 70 years.
    It's a GENUINE York, made in Grand Rapids, MI. It plays very well, and 'in tune'. From what I could see, it is a very well made instrument.
    If he ever offered it to me I'd take it in a heartbeat.

    Mr.Obelisk,
    If you look at any sax you can say that they are 'clearly a copy' of just about any other sax.
    They all have similarities in either keywork, tone hole construction, key guards....
    I'll almost bet that the horn you play right now to the untrained eye looks 'just lilke' the sax played by some guy in the next town.

    As with any instrument, there are great ones, and there are lemons.
    Old reed players are like fine wine. They only get better with age. Tom Hagen

    Play the Music, not the instrument.

  11. #11

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    Default Re: york grand rapids michigan soprano

    I know this reply is a couple years late, but here is my story....My main sax is a Keilworth EX90 which I have been spending money and time 'dialing it in' to my desired sound. Recently there was a Selmer Mark VI 159xxx for sale for $6500 in a local store. I can't afford that at the moment, but I took it for a 'test drive' for a half hour. Real nice! Fifteen years ago I was in an antique store in Edmonds, Washington and found a silver York alto saxophone with great condition pads for $100. I bought it. Later on I bought a mouthpiece and new case that were each more than the sax. Recently I did some research on it and found that its serial number 99,xxx indicated that it was made in 1929! So I pulled it out and played it in church the other day. I got quite a reaction! One person told me that they liked the sound of it more than my Keilworth!!! I have to admit, I enjoyed playing it almost as much as playing the Selmer Mark VI!

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