Saxophone Forum


by spifster
(67 posts)
9 years ago

King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

I was searching through my school storage room and I found a King Zephyr Special tenor sax. I was wondering if this is a legitimate vintage horn and if I should spend the time, money, and energy into overhauling it into good playing condition. It looks very, very old.

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  1. by IndySax
    (4 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

    I've seen the silver neck alone, in average condition for a 60+ year old neck, sell for $500 on ebay. It's a great horn. I've heard it's every bit as great as the Super 20, but pre-WWII is even better because the rations of the big war forced instrument makers to switch to a lower quality & quantity of brass.

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    1. by IndySax
      (4 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

      Oh hey -- Here's a Zephyr project y'all HAVE TO SEE! (no, it's not mine).

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  2. by connsaxman_jim
    (2336 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

    Zephyrs are GREAT horns! I have a King Zephyr baritone. It's worth some money too, if it's in decent shape.

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    1. by spifster
      (67 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

      Sweet! I'll get on it then. Thanks much!

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      1. by martysax
        (148 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

        Does it have the side pearls and everything? Those are like old Super 20s, real nice.

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        1. by spifster
          (67 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          I'm not sure what you mean by side pearls, but if you mean white side key things, then yes.

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        2. by spifster
          (67 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          The neck is also very odd. Its silver while the horn is goldish and it has this double connector thing going on at where it connects to the body of the sax. It confused me the first time I tried it...

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        3. by spifster
          (67 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          I also ran a serial number search on it and found that it came from anywhere between 1935 and 1940 so it is in fact very old. My guess is about 1938 or 1939.

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        4. by definition
          (963 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          its called a double socket neck, and appears silver because it is actually sterling silver! I have a 51 Zephyr alto, these are GREAT horns!

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        5. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          There's not much difference between the Zephyr Special and the Super 20. They scream! It's a toss-up between the King Super 20/Zephyr and the Conn 10M when it comes to the best sounding tenor.

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        6. by Candyboy
          (75 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          I am looking for a King Zephyr tenor it must have the following: three ring stap hooks, double socket neck, topless bell key guards, square shaped pinky keys, and never had any lacquer. a nice patina and fancy engraving would be nice.

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        7. by definition
          (963 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          Thats a pretty tall order, good luck

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        8. by chiamac
          (586 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          'and never had any lacquer. a nice patina and fancy engraving would be nice.' that's not too hard to do... actually... someone "should" donate me a crap horn so I can put a reddish heat patina on it. Just take off all the keys, unlacquer it, and (hopefully) stick it in the oven that's turned up a bit. Then just watch as it gets to the color you want! It would also (maybe) anneal it a little... Then spray on some clear matte laquer and you're all set! that or get some liver of sulpher (sp), or black max, and have yourself a dark brown - black horn!

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        9. by Candyboy
          (75 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          I was thinking about leaving one on the roof for about a year to see what the sun and the rain could do. But the oven annealing thing sounds cool. I have an old colonial Conn stencil that we could use........

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        10. by spifster
          (67 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          That sounds like the one I'm on now, but you're not gonna take it from me. I just began playing it the other day, and it rocks my world. I wish I woulda discovered it before Jazz band got over though...

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        11. by Candyboy
          (75 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          Hey guys what if I put the stripped Zephyr in the oven and all the posts and solded joints fall off? That would be a waste...... No you try it first..

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        12. by Candyboy
          (75 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          I will have a Zephyr like I described, if I have to pay Bear at cybersax to build it for me.

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        13. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          Well, if you put your horn in the oven at it's highest temperature and a post fell off, it would mean that some yokel used glue to attach a post and it should be properly repaired anyhow.

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        14. by Candyboy
          (75 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          I have resoldered many posts and made them look good. It's no fun. I still say I want someone else to try it first and let us know if they come up with a good looking patina. Some pics would be great. Maybe even a step by step how to thing.

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        15. by Candyboy
          (75 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          Ok Guys just now I bought a King Zephyr alto on Ebay. I hope I don't get the third degree from someone here that owns a small shop. I have to admit I am not an alto player. My ears work best in C and to me everything else has to be transposed. Even my beloved tenor. I Just saw this little silver unloved thing and I had to have it. I'm sure that it will need some pads and springs and probably some dings pushed out. I was promised that it didn't have any dents or dings.(ehhh.. right) OK so it's not a special, but it is a real Zephyr serial# 209xxx with the topless bell keys and square pinky keys. If anyone is interested I'll drag you through the Ebay bought, Restore to good playing thing? Let you know my expenses maybe Email some pics, what do you guys think?

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        16. by KingZephyr7
          (1 post)

          2 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          I got one.  Just put it on CL, but I know nobody there is gonna know what they're looking at.

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      2. by DG
        (6 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

        Spifster, If it has a silver neck, this is one awesome horn. I recently picked up a Zephyr Special Alto and it is amazing. btw, a few months ago I played in a band (bari), and the lead alto player had a silver sonic. he had the non-silver parts (neck and bell are silver) gold-plated. what an amazing looking and sounding horn. there is nothing quite like the super 20 and zephyr special kings in my opinion. I have a zephyr tenor with the triple strap ring and socket neck. it rocks, but not quite up to the zephyr special standard. get it playing!! you will be amazed. DG

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        1. by spifster
          (67 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

          Yeah so I just got it back from the repair shop, but there are still two problems with it. One I'm going to fix anyways (not enough cork left), but the other I may need some help with. Of course, the trade-off with vintage horns seems to be a better sound, but sometimes some crappy intonation. My zephyr definately has both, but the intonation is so horrible in the upper range I can't drop my jaw enough to get in tune. Anything below a middle d is perfect, dead on pitch, but after that, I run nearly a half pitch sharp. For a while I was thinking of just pushing in a tad more and playing everything half a step low on every note, but that would be ridiculous, so now I'm trying about everything. I can't pull out anymore on the mouthpiece or it'll fall off the horn, and my neck is about half a centimeter out of the body, and I'm still almost forty cents sharp. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this degree of intonation problems, and I really need help with this!

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          1. by IndySax
            (4 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

            I don't know if this is related, but I had intonation problems with my soprano sax (YSS675). I know sopranos are typically hard to keep in tune, but the problem on this horn was solved by switching from a rubber mouthpiece to a metal one. In fact, I tried 6 different rubber mouthpieces and all of them played anything below the low D 1/4 to 1/2 step sharp. On the metal mouthpiece (Rovner 7) it's right on pitch from high F# to low B-flat. Have you tried your Zephyr with different mouthpieces? I bought my Zephyr Special at a garage sale price because it was so rough. Definitely spent some years in the marching band. Since it needs an overhaul I can't tell how well in tune it will be. This beast does have a sound that could make a proud foghorn feel humble. I just hope an overhaul would turn out to be money well spent. Hmmm... its' a wicked horn... just gotta raid the piggy bank!

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          2. by connsaxman_jim
            (2336 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

            What mouthpiece are you using? Please tell me you're not trying to use one of those damn Selmer S80's on that beautiful vintage King! That may very well be your intonation problem. You need an open mouthpiece, like an Otto Link Tone Edge.

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            1. by sme135
              (1 post)

              9 years ago

              Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

              I just wanted to let you all know that I dropped my King Zephyr Special alto off at a company that sells items on EBay--if anyone is interested in it. It needs some resoration-the finish has come off a large part of the bell and the top bit that attaches to the horn and mouthpiece is not original, and it has some dings, but I it played great when I had it and I want it to go to someone who will take good care of it!!!

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            2. by spifster
              (67 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

              I'm using a rico royal graftonite c-7. I wouldn't be caught dead with an s80.

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            3. by connsaxman_jim
              (2336 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

              Good man! The Selmer S-80's suck donkey balls! The Rico should have a large enough chamber to accomodate the King. If it's playing really sharp in the upper register, I think most likely you have a key height problem, or an alignment problem. You may have one key that wants to open partially when another key is pressed; just enough to throw your intonation off. I would have a tech check out the action and maybe make a few adjustments. Jim

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            4. by quotarie
              (4 posts)

              9 years ago

              Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

              Hallo all, The King should sound great with all mouthpieces, and even better with a metal one. I'm playing my King Zephyr (1936/37) through a Ponsol (metal)mouthpiece and it sounds great all the way. Please have your sax checked by a specialist to get the best out of it. They are very special in sound and volume. Kind regards, Arie Bottinga (Holland)

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          3. by kidduck
            (1 post)

            7 years ago

            Re: King Zephyr Special: Is it a good vintage horn?

            A few years ago I bought a King Zephyr Special tenor from Ebay. It is serial number 216794. The entire sax, including the bell is silver. Of course the silver neck is the double octave one. Mother of Pearl keys. This is one sweet horn- the sound is rich with a wide tonal range. You can get some sharp brightness than adds punch to any genre. No doubt one of the best purchases of my life.

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