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Thread: King Super 20 Serials

  1. #1

    Default King Super 20 Serials

    Hello!

    I've recently seen a King Super 20 Silversonic Alto for sale. The serial: 420XXX

    Can anybody tell me, from which serial the Super 20 horns were considered "lower quality"?

    Thanks,

    Flow25

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 warp x's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    It depends who you ask. Some people think the decline in quality happened at or near that number 420XXX when the company moved to Eastlake. There's others that insist the Eastlake horns are fine up to a certain serial. Personally I've played a 415XXX Cleveland for a long time, and a post-Eastlake for a short while before that. Both were great, but the Cleveland was much better. I have very limited experience with the Eastlake horns.

    In any case, chances are a 420XXX will be a great horn.

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    In my experience all Eastlakes are every good, but the ones marked USA are definitely made in a different way ( some have quoted people who worked at King's and reported that the body tubes of these horns were actually manufactured in Japan by Yamaha) and those are the ones that tend to be hard to sell and very cheap. I own one tenor 460xxx and it is a great horn (I also have owned a 466xxx) ......I then bought an alto in the 600xxx range (can't remember exactly) and it was a very tough horn to play in tune , the same happened when I once went to a shop and they had the most beautiful silversonic alto in that series (overslung) which I couldn't play in tune nor could the owner of the shop ( an expert baritone player).

    I personally would stay away from USA marked Super 20 and would definitely consider buying an Eastlake because they are cheaper than the Cleveland one but every bit as good.

  4. #4

    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    The one I'm talking about has an "underslung" mechanism but no double socket neck.

    Does this fact shorten the quality?

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 warp x's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    Simple answer: No.

    What does it say on the bell, Cleveland or Eastlake?

  6. #6
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    there are underslung necks among Cleveland, Eastlake & USA super 20.............

  7. #7

    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    I can see a USA engraving but also something else...I can't figure out exactly because the surface of the sax is not too good...

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    if it says USA is a USA late Super 20........the ones that I wouldn't personally buy.........
    I fonud this pic of a Super 20 bell on image shack
    that what it should look like saying either Cleveland or Eastlake -Ohio

  9. #9

    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    ok...the one that I am looking at is differnt to this...hmm...I think I'll search another one regarding the fact that it's a bit damaged too!

  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 warp x's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    Do you have a link to the pictures of the horn?
    As I said this could be a very good one.

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    if it says USA and no Cleveand or Eastlake, must be the last batch..........better left alone

  12. #12
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 warp x's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    if it says USA and no Cleveand or Eastlake, must be the last batch..........better left alone
    Yes, but he said the serial is 420XXX, so it can't be a USA.

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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    Our beloved SaxPics may be of some help: s/n 426xxx to appx. 540xxx are the 'series V' horns. "At 426xxx, the company was purchased by the Seeburg Corporation and moved to Eastlake, OH (you can note the engraving changes on the bell from "Cleveland" to "Eastlake")" Yours is a 420, so still a Cleveland model? Could it be that the USA engraving is in fact a US engraving? It is a military horn in that case. Don't be shy in picking up that one, in that case. That is, with the usual caveat: it is best to playtest the horn first.

    Reine

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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    Quote Originally Posted by warp x View Post
    Yes, but he said the serial is 420XXX, so it can't be a USA.
    good point, I overlooked that!

  15. #15
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    Quote Originally Posted by Flow25 View Post
    The one I'm talking about has an "underslung" mechanism but no double socket neck... Does this fact shorten the quality?
    Some players find the double socket necks to be an ill advised design and somewhat problematic in the long run (and I'm one of them). Years ago when I was in the market for one, I did months of research and took my time sifting through the various opinions and online factual resources before settling on a 454,XXX Silversonic tenor (a horn which I am very, very happy with). Though this is strictly opinion, if you want an arbitrary cut-off serial number, I'd say above 460,XXX I wouldn't take a gamble on one that I didn't play first; if you're going the Ebay route.

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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    I've owned several Clevelands and Eastlakes, and though early Eastlakes can be good players, I've found the Clevelands to be generally richer sounding horns. However, once you get up to the single-socket neck Clevelands (ca. 1961), to me they are not that much different from the Eastlakes in that both are cleaner sounding and not as rich as earlier Super 20's.

    Breaking down the Clevelands, basically the earliest Super 20s are the darkest and richest going up to around 340,xxx (though still relatively bright compared to other horns of the period). Then those from 340,xxx to the last ones with the DS-neck are still as rich but brighter sounding. Finally, you have the early '60s single-socket neck Clevelands, which are just as bright as those from the late '50s but as noted, a little cleaner sounding and not quite as rich as the 1950s DS-neck variety.

    Keep in mind that the richness of sound of the late '40s and 1950s Super 20's doesn't have much if anything to do with the DS-neck. The neck is just a way to identify what I and many others consider to be the best Super 20's. And actually I'd say it has more to do with the construction of the sax body itself, such as possibly the quality and thickness of the brass. For example, when weighing a ca. 1950 King tenor against one from the late '50's, the earlier King was just a tad heavier.

    As far as the DS-neck being problematic, this is crazy as the most famous Super 20 players of all, such as Wilton Felder and Johnny Griffin, played (or in Felder's case--still play) S20's with the DS-neck. Ever hear Felder's solo on the Crusader's "Street Life?" He's playing that on a DS-neck Silver-Sonic tenor.

  17. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    Quote Originally Posted by drwhippet View Post
    As far as the DS-neck being problematic, this is crazy as the most famous Super 20 players of all, such as Wilton Felder and Johnny Griffin, played (or in Felder's case--still play) S20's with the DS-neck. Ever hear Felder's solo on the Crusader's "Street Life?" He's playing that on a DS-neck Silver-Sonic tenor.
    All fine and dandy, but it doesn't mean that there were any tangible advantages to such a design and many techs will attest to the problems that can develop with same, and the more difficulty involved in repairing them.

  18. #18

    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    Quote Originally Posted by Rennie View Post
    Our beloved SaxPics may be of some help: s/n 426xxx to appx. 540xxx are the 'series V' horns. "At 426xxx, the company was purchased by the Seeburg Corporation and moved to Eastlake, OH (you can note the engraving changes on the bell from "Cleveland" to "Eastlake")"

    Reine
    I have a 423xxx S20 tenor, it still has the "Cleveland" engraving, fitting Saxpics' account...
    Tenor: Selmer Mark VI, King S20, STM7, Berg 1

  19. #19
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    anyway, by several accounts given by ex-workers of the factory that you can find on line and that I have read in the past, apparently the two plants run alongside one another for some time and, although the horns were then engraved " Eastlake " they were , in fact, being assembled at Cleveland for some time from stock present at that plant which was not transferred to the new plant close by.

    I own a 1938 King Zephyr tenor with the double socket arrangement (and an early Conn Tranny alto) . Frankly speaking anyone can see how this would complicate manufacture and create potential problems while the hypothetical scenario in which the double socket would be better at preventing leaks hardly ever materialises or , in fact, should anything be damaged in the tenon or receiver of a double socket horn, could be much even much more difficult to fix or detect.

    In any case all the companies which had double socket fitting , at some time or other, saw that there was no need for this complicated and expensive feature. Of course, if one takes the mythical Mark VI as an example of a top quality saxophone, Selmer only ever used single socket and history has proven that they didn't do a bad job after all!

    Also another feature of the King saxophones (and other brands of saxophones) was brazed toneholes . Some people go wild about this feature (present also in the Eastlake series but lost on the USA series which, I am convinced now by accounts given on this forum by ex-King workers, had body tubes with drawn toneholes made in Japan by Yamaha) when, in fact, the most famous Selmer models never had anything else than drawn toneholes and didn't seem to suffer as a consequence of such a misguided feature (tongue firmly in cheek!) .

    There s a lot of mystique in SAXONIA and most of it is just propagation of legends and expulsion of hot air fried and re-fried by ad libitum repetition.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: King Super 20 Serials

    On SOTW you will often find that a lot of those who accuse other members of repeating stuff about horns that they read online will then turn around and post replies that do not appear to be backed up by much experience but by inductive reasoning and other assorted logical fallacies based on information acquired online! For example: "The Mark VI did not use silver-soldered tone holes and many consider it the best saxophone ever. Thus saxophones with silver-soldered tone holes are no better than those without them."

    With that in mind, my next question is, how many Cleveland-made Super 20's have the other folks contributing on here in the guise of being experts, played? And what were the approximate serial numbers?

    In contrast, my input is backed up by extensive experience with these horns across the full range of their production, having owned a couple of Cleveland-made tenors (a 400,xxx and a 354,xxx) (and having played about a half a dozen more Cleveland S20's across the various ranges I discussed above), as well as four early Eastlake tenors.

    But if you forget about the double-socket neck for a minute--which if you reread my earlier post it's clear that I do not attribute this to the difference in sound quality--my actual experience has led me to conclude that in terms of sound quality, early Eastlakes pale in comparison to 1950s era Super 20's. And once again (for emphasis ) I do not attribute this to the necks, but rather to the quality of the entire horns.

    But again, I do think the late Clevelands have a lot in common with the early Eastlakes sound-quality-wise. But from my experience the former are still a little richer sounding than the latter.

    But believe it or not, I do not hate Eastlakes! I love 'em! (I've owned four of them after all.)

    It's just hard to beat a great 1950s Cleveland-made Super 20.

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