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Holton Saxophones
Q. Hi there. I have a simple question for you?  I am looking for some information on a Alto Saxophone I have? Alto with a gold bell, Collegiate by Holton Elkhorn, Wis U.S.A., Ser# 566 (251xxx). Please, if you know of some information on this Alto Saxophone  I would appreciate the your time.     THANK YOU, Chris ….

A. Holton made a lot of very good brass instruments (trumpets, trombones, etc.). Perhaps the best Holton instruments were their nickel-silver French Horns. Holton saxes were not as highly regarded as these brass instruments. In fact, their acceptance in the sax community is rather lacking. For this reason Holton saxes are not of premium value as vintage instruments. In the early days (post W.W.I thru the 1920′s), Holton saxes often tried to make up for low acceptance with exotic (and esoteric) special keywork. One such item seen on early Holtons is a high C/D trill key. Not just (almost) useless, the high C/D trill key also complicates the mechanism to where these instruments are more difficult to service. In the Early 1930′s Holton introduced a ‘Rudy Weidoeft’ model, named after a famous saxophonist of the time, that carried the esoteric keywork to the ridiculous. There are double pad cups on several keys, including the low C. These RW Holtons have complicated mechanics which are all but impossible to keep in play adjustment (having restored a gold plated RW alto, I know first hand). The Weidoeft models also had the high C/D trill key, and in short, they are a technician’s nightmare. This is all background about why Holton saxes are not of high reputation. Now the good news: into the 1930′s Holton started to copy Conn body design and keywork as Conn patents expired. Although still not widely accepted — and clearly of little value — these later Holton ‘Conn’ copies play very well. In fact, we have (the horn has now been purchased) a silver stencil Holton tenor from later in the 1930′s that truly wails. Your Holton Collegiate is a later model, but it’s also a student edition. Still, some of them have a great big fat sound and play very well. The keywork is good, except perhaps for the left pinky spatula….flimsy and hard to keep in adjustment. If you have a Holton you like, by all means keep it and enjoy playing it. It will be worth more to you than to anyone else …. :-)
Additional Comments
Mr. Weidoeft is credited with the first commercial recording of the saxophone, a tune named “Saxophobia”, the score to which is available and often appears on eBay.



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