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King Super 20 Alto Full Pearls 1952 Fresh Overhaul 328xxx Outstanding$ 5,150
King altos are the best altos ever, full stop.
This one has original lacquer and looks good in a played in way, with the only past repair being a resoldered low C key guard. It just got a full, fresh, high-end overhaul, done by the highly-skilled Jan Olsen (Norway). This means it got about 30 hours of painstaking labor done to make the mechanism all factory fresh, and to replace everything that can be replaced so that it is back to new playing condition and pad wise. It now performs great and will be ready to go for many many years to come with only regular maintenance needed.
This King Super 20 alto is from just about the most desirable year, 1952, which is the same version and serial of Super 20 that Cannonball Adderley played on Kind of Blue and Somethin’ Else. It is in great shape, with no serious past repairs at all. This is the ‘Series II’ which has the best combination of beauty, features, and key work of all of the Super 20 altos. You really can get the Cannonball Adderley vibe going on one of these (with lots of practice) better than almost anything else. Cannonball played almost exactly this serial alto on Kind of Blue. This plus a Meyer 5 or Ted Klum NY Model plus a soft reed and lots of guts is what you need for what I consider to be the benchmark for good alto sound.
Why do I say that Super 20’s like this are the best altos ever? The overall combination of tone, beauty, and ergonomics. For me, great tone that you get from these full pearls Super 20’s is pretty hard to beat. It’s warm, full, rich, and projecting, but without any hint of shrillness or thinness. Cannonball’s tone, I always think of as a tenor saxophone reincarnated in the body of an alto, and that’s pretty much what a Super 20 alto like this allows. It feels like the tone is coming from a bigger, deeper instrument, but in the alto register, which is really remarkable. You can of course do a million other things with it. Check Francois Carrier’s music for another take on Super 20 tone (also same serial as this). The Super 20 is going to keep getting more and more desirable, and harder and harder to find. They’re just fantastic, and they are way rarer than Mark VI’s or any other top notch vintage or modern alto.
This horn is priced to MOVE. Once you figure in the overhaul, it’s absurdly cheap. Particularly for the tone you get. Someone should grab it now and not look back. You never need to ‘upgrade’ from this. If you don’t love it, send it back. I take returns.
Just for fun, here’s Cannonball on his Series II Super 20 playing one of his classic ballads, Dancin’ in the Dark.
King Super 20 Alto Saxophone 1953 Full Pearls Original Lacquer$ 6,350
Cannonball Adderley vintage of King Super 20 alto that now comes with a complete, high-end overhaul done right! This is exactly the same as my personal alto. It’s cosmetically a little nicer than mine in fact! Really clean original lacquer, great condition. Full pearls, solid silver double socket neck, the more comfortable left hand pinky keys – this is the Super 20 you want. The ‘full pearls’ means that it has all the bells and whistles that people look for in a King alto. Extra pearls on G#, palm keys and side keys/F#. The bell keys are engraved; the double socket neck seals beautifully. The solid silver is in great shape. The serial numbers on horn and neck match. Cannonball Adderley played an alto just like this on Kind of Blue and Somethin’ Else. To me, you can’t really beat this among alto saxophones for jazz or all purpose playing. The best mouthpiece to pair with it is the Ted Klum New York model or the GS Special version of that mouthpiece. It’s a 10/10 combination. Kings like this are at least 10x rarer than 5-digit Selmer Mark VI’s, and they have strong potential to go up in value over time. That makes this a smart purchase as well as an extremely fun alto to play.
King Super 20 Tenor Saxophone 1957 Near Mint Original Lacquer Overhauled!$ 5,950
Holy cow! This is one of the nicest examples of a King Super 20 that I have had the pleasure of selling. It just got a complete overhaul! It was original pads 63 years old, when I got it, and now it’s totally fresh, clean, and completely restored. It’s awesome!
The tone of these horns is just to die for. Powerful, resonant, very loud when pushed (it goes to 11). The solid silver double socket neck gives you extra focus, and a dark core with lots of overtones. The horn overall is bright and projecting, but in a way that stays fat, like only American saxophones can. Ideal for either cutting through a band, or playing the most gorgeous ballads, this is one of my favorite saxophonse of all time.
This tenor has no damage, no dents or dings, and almost all its original lacquer. The solid silver neck even looks odd to King fanatics like me because it still has its original gold lacquer over the silver, which you hardly ever see. There’s some scratching on the back of the body tube from normal use, and a couple of tiny, nearly invisible dings I got removed from the bow, but you’d never notice anyway. It’s as nice as you will ever find. And priced to sell!
The best demo of a “Series III” Super 20 that I know of can be found here. It’s one of the only cases that I have found where I heard a demo and what I consider the essence of the tone of the horn itself is front and center on display (as opposed to the mouthpiece, the player, or a bunch of other distracting noise. Listen and enjoy! This is the same horn as in the demo, just made a year or two later. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBoeWeRyy-o
Powell Silver Eagle SE10 Alto One of 18 Made – all options solid silver +Matt Stohrer Overhau$ 12,000
For your viewing pleasure, this is one of the 18 Powell Silver Eagle saxophones made. Powell conceived of an ambitious project to bring back an American-made saxophone of the highest quality. Inspired by the Super 20 SilverSonic, the Silver Eagle reproduces the bore while adding solid silver soldered tone holes and modern keywork. Powell sadly ended their project after making only 18 saxophones, despite high demand, due to the high cost of production. This horn plays like a good super 20 but a little more evenly, and has been completely overhauled by Matt Stohrer. This is the ultimate collectible among modern saxophones, and it is also a burning player. Asking price is just what these cost new, plus a little extra since it got a $1500 overhaul on top of that! It’s not even inflated for the collectibility value, which is probably not smart of me, but there it is. If you want to discuss all the details of this project, I can put you in touch with the people who built it. These were most definitely a new saxophone bore and neck design, inspired by the best King Super 20 SilverSonic altos, both according to them and according to the folks who bought the tooling and mandrels when the project ended. The keywork is modified from tooling bought from B&S, which accounts for the pinky table that sticks out farther than it would on something like a Yamaha.
There is most certainly only one available. This one has all the possible factory options, which only a subset of Powell Silver Eagles had – including the solid silver tone holes and even cryo treatment. Of the 18 saxophones built, I know at least a couple of them were brass bell, and some others lacked other of these features. This is one of the ones with everything, which makes it even more collectible. Includes the original accessories, case, and paperwork.
Just for fun, here’s Matt Stohrer’s repairman’s overview from when he overhauled it.