Welcome to www.todayaq.com !!!

King Zephyr Alto or Super 20?

Question:
King Zephyr Alto or Super 20?
I am an Italian saxophone player, I play be-bop in the style of Charlie Parker. I play a 1965 Selmer Mark VI, a really good horn but I am attracted by King saxophones which are not so used in Europe. I love Bird's sound on his S 20, and Cannonball's too, so I want to try a King. I see that S 20s of good vintage are very expensive and I read on this forum that Zephyrs of the same vintage are basically the same horns.
I'd appreciate to read opionions from saxophonists who know well both horns' acoustic features.
Thanks a lot.

Answer:
Birdmaniac,
I've tried them both and ended using my Mark VI again.
I think the Zepyhr is a bit clumsy to play regarding fingerwork even when set up by an experienced tech. Also I saw quite a few posts where people complained about intonation problems with Zephyrs. I experienced the same.
The S20 I found far nicer to play with a more modern keywork and much better intonation. But still I had difficulties in switching over to the American style keywork that is not "balanced" as with Selmers. Also I had many problems with sticky pads on my S20, especially the notorious g#. At one time I ended up borrowing someone's Yamaha-23 because I could not get that g# working. It got stuck again every 5 minutes while I was playing on stage; nobody believed me when I tried to explain "Look here, it was the sticky pads, not me..." The problem is not just the pads I have the same pads on my Selmer where they work fine, it must have something to do with the construction of the S20.
So after 1 year of switching back and forth I can testify that I love the sound and the hippness of the Super 20. But when it comes to playing a horn I can rely on 356 days a year I much prefer a Mark VI, a Super 80 II or a Yana. Dunnow what it was like back in the 60s, could it be that pro King-players like Cannon had their personal saxtech going on tour with them? Anyone knows :?

Answer:
While I agree that S20s are a little finicky to set up and there are so many variations that each one is an adventure, once set up (assuming quality materials are used) I have found my S20 tenor (early Eastlake) and previous alto to be one of the solidest, most reliable horns in my arsenal. It's my bar horn, cause it can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. The nickel rods and heavy gage toneholes, key cups, etc are real solid (in fact, this makes it pretty hard to make fine adjustments by key bending). I parted with the alto in a moment of madness...selling it to a buddy. A local musician here in SF Bay area (Andrew Speight) plays a Silversonic alto that was once part of Cannonball's closet (personal connections) and speaks similarly about how solid it is, compared to a VI or a Yamaha, for example.

Answer:
Thats's an interesting point! Did Cannonball actually have a closet full of Super 20s so he regularly picked out one that worked well and sent the rest back to King for maintenance?
Also, shmueljosef, I can see you play a 992 Tenor. How does the 992 sound when compared to a Super 20? I am thinking of switching to 992 on alto but I have not managed to find one I can test play so far. Most shops I tried only had the 901/991 in stock.

Answer:
Birdmaniac,
I just changed from tenor MVI to a S20, and I must say I enjoy playing a lot more (still have the VI, though)! I really like my own sound now, which also has it effects on my playing as a whole.
Still, the technique of the horn takes some time of getting used to. It's a bit less subtle than on a modern horn, so I suppose I have to give up becoming the next Chris Potter or so ;-), but I have the feeling that in time it will be ok. It just takes a little more work to master difficult runs and such.
As to the sticky G#: I have the same problem. On my alto (MVI) my tech put in a teflon based (or some other plastic) pad on the G# only. It sort of looks funny because it's a all white pad with no razor, but it works terrific! I am going to ask him to do the same on the S20, maybe in combination with a slight adjustment in the spring tension. Check out with your tech about solutions like this!

Answer:
birdmaniac,
The big difference between the Super 20 and the Zephyr is that Super 20s tend to have much better intonation and better keywork. Zephyrs are still good horns, but you're going to find more inconsistencies among them than Super 20s. The funny thing about Bird's sound is that he always had that sound no matter what he was playing. Take a listen to the Massey Hall concert. Do you know that he was playing on a plastic saxophone? This is not to say that Super 20s are not great horns. I play one myself and would not give it up for anything. Try out some Super 20s before you trade in that VI (if that's your plan) and see how you like them. Super 20s tend to be quite a bit cheaper than Mark VI horns on average, so if you're planning on trading in your Mark VI, you shouldn't have too much extra to pay. You might even find somebody who's willing to make an even trade. Good luck, and let us know what happens.

Answer:
Thanks for answering to you all,
I agree with Jaybird about Bird's sound, I think we have the feeling of sounding different on different horns but the listener doesn't really hear much difference. But that feeling maybe is important for us. I can't play some moderns horns (recently I tried an Hummigbird Selmer), they are not so free blowing like the best vintage horns.
I'm telling to Heinz that I surely won't sell nor trade my VI, but I hardly can even find a Super 20 here in Italy, so I'd risk to buy one on eBay without knowing how it plays, that is like winning a lottery
Thanks you all, i'll keep you updated. Originally Posted by Jaybird birdmaniac,
The big difference between the Super 20 and the Zephyr is that Super 20s tend to have much better intonation and better keywork. Zephyrs are still good horns, but you're going to find more inconsistencies among them than Super 20s. The funny thing about Bird's sound is that he always had that sound no matter what he was playing. Take a listen to the Massey Hall concert. Do you know that he was playing on a plastic saxophone? This is not to say that Super 20s are not great horns. I play one myself and would not give it up for anything. Try out some Super 20s before you trade in that VI (if that's your plan) and see how you like them. Super 20s tend to be quite a bit cheaper than Mark VI horns on average, so if you're planning on trading in your Mark VI, you shouldn't have too much extra to pay. You might even find somebody who's willing to make an even trade. Good luck, and let us know what happens.

Answer:
Schmuel,
I had a chance to hear Andrew Speight at the Stanford Jazz Workshop last summer. Man that cat can play! On the last night they had a faculty jam with Eric Alexander, Lew Tabakin, Charles McPhearson and Andrew. He more then held his own. A nice guy too.
I'm not sure what horn he was using, but it sounded great.

Answer:
I was at that show as well. I generally either attend the residency, or hang out and help with some of the admin, volunteer stuff. Both my kids worked as runners when they were younger. It's an awesome scene. Andrew plays a Silversonic alto 32x,xxx that actually DID belong to Cannonball at one time...he played with Nat Adderley's band back in the 80s in Australia. He sounds so much like Cannonball and Bird because of his awesome bepop phrasing and emphasis, though, not because of the horn he plays...

Answer:
[quote=heinz]Thats's an interesting point! Did Cannonball actually have a closet full of Super 20s so he regularly picked out one that worked well and sent the rest back to King for maintenance?
[/quote
Yes, I have also heard that he had over a dozen Silversonics
Originally Posted by heinz Also, shmueljosef, I can see you play a 992 Tenor. How does the 992 sound when compared to a Super 20? I am thinking of switching to 992 on alto but I have not managed to find one I can test play so far. Most shops I tried only had the 901/991 in stock. This is hard to say, because I sound like me on whatever. They are different, though. Both horns are very free-blowing...my S20 is set up much lighter (recently got the T992 and haven't done any custom setup on it yet, but I've had the S20 a long time) and faster. The T992 is much more like a Keilwerth in that it doesn't show it's strength until you get into a big room. It really is a room-filling horn, but not that intense in a practice space. The King just penetrates...I have electric guitarists often comment when I 'aim' it at them. The T992 and JK are somehow harder to compete with electric guitars, even when miked. The King also mikes very well, for some reason seems easier to get 'my sound' out there than with the fuller sounding horns. So for jazz settings in small clubs or big band, I like the Yani or JK, but the King is the thing for electric bands!

Answer:
Thanks, Schmuel and Makemyday for info on the 992 and the Teflon Pads. Will contact my saxtech and ask if he can get that fancy g# pad... maybe it helps to get that Super 20 out of the closet again. (No I am not planning to sell!!!)
[/quote Yes, I have also heard that he had over a dozen Silversonics
Really impressed:!: Seems he had had a deal with King, endorsing Super 20s...?

Answer:
I got a Zephyr alto at a great price off of Ebay and am thinking of having Gloger make me a Super 20 style neck to go with it. If I do this, it will be essentially the same horn. Even with the cost of the neck, I will have beaten the cost of a good Super 20 by at least $1000!!

Answer:
Originally Posted by baribassdan I got a Zephyr alto at a great price off of Ebay and am thinking of having Gloger make me a Super 20 style neck to go with it. If I do this, it will be essentially the same horn. Even with the cost of the neck, I will have beaten the cost of a good Super 20 by at least $1000!! This is exactly what I've just done with my 295K Zephyr alto, ordered the silver underslung Gloger neck. I'll let you know what my thoughts are as soon as it arrives from MusicMedic. Trouble is, my "poor man's Super 20" is rapidly leaving the poor man's realm. Still will only have around $1,500 into it, though, which remains a bargain compared to what a nice S20 of that same (Parker) vintage would run.

Answer:
Super 20 vs Zephyr alto
Hello everybody,
I finally bought both a S 20 (346xxx) and a Zephyr (269xxx): they're both great horns, the S20 has a more balanced sound and slightly better intonation and keywork, besides being aesthetically more attractive, but the Z. really screams!!
So, I confirm what I read on "Vintage saxophones gallery": if you don't want to spend a lot of money on a S 20, buy a Zephyr (probably better in 240xxx-305xxx range). I payed my S 20 double (and I've been rather lucky) than my Zephyr.
P.S.: I left my 1965 Mark VI in the case, and I'm not going to play it at the moment. To play be-bop Kings are better, IMHO .
Copyright © 2007 - 2013 www.todayaq.com