King Zephyr Saxophones
I once posted a review of two of my saxophones on Facebook before realizing that i could additionally share this analysis with the world. So, here are some screenshots of this post, which is an analysis of two saxophones made by the same company about a decade apart and the technological advances in saxophone making during that time in the 1930s and 1940s. The King Zephyrs of the late model are the precursor to the famous King Super 20 saxophones and can be found at about a fifth the price with an arguably similar sound.
Here is my analysis of the findings...
The zephyr and voll true II sound similar, like they are obviously in the same family, but, the Zephyr is...
1. Less stuffy
2. more easy blowing
3. more edge
4. more ergonomic
5. the high register really sings and the low register really booms.
6. Newer horn does not hiss
7. Not as pretty, but it's all about the sound
A display of the other two differences that allow you to see that my Zephyr is the most desirable vintage of the King line. The three-ring neckstrap holder is mostly cosmetic, but allows you to place the horn in the era easily. However, to me, the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE that easily allows you to see that this horn is "THE ONE" is the low C# tonehole. Notice that on the zephyr it is pushed out a bit, whereas on the older horn it is inside. Pretty much all pro horns these days have the tonehole in the zephyr position. To me, this was the determining factor that made me pick this horn because it shows that the bore is exactly the same as the King Super 20, arguably the greatest jazz horn of all time. Basically, my Zephyr IS the Super 20 without the fancy engraving, pearl inlays, "underslung octave mechanism" on the neck, and extra support on the low-C, all of which are mostly cosmetic. Other than this, all my research tells me that this is the exact same horn from the most desirable vintage of King tenor saxes for about 1/3 the price of a Super 20!!! SWEET! (note the zephyr and voll-true II are the same size, the picture just makes the zephr look bigger).
The '32 silver Vol True Tenor has a Fork-Eb configuration which allows you to play Eb by pressing down only your right index and ring fingers instead of index, middle, ring, and pinky. In actuality, i plug this option off because it gets out of adjustment often. The lacquered Zephyr doesn't have this option; i won't miss it.
The silver 1932 Vol True II has a G-sharp trill mechanism which allows you to easily trill a G-Sharp that is absent on the newer Zephyr. Trilling is not something done that often in my field, so it's not a major loss. Additionally, the older horn has an additional tonehole that opens when you play g-sharp that is in a weird position that you won't see in horns after that era.
The right-pinky cluster is a bit more awkward on the older silver horn; however, i got used to it over the years. The Zephyr allows the option to play the low Bb on either pushing the far end of the cluster (like the old horn), or the bottom of the cluster (the standard of most horns made from the 1940's on). I personally like the fact that it has both options and i'll probably stick to the "old" fingering cuz i'm used to it. Newer saxes don't even have the option of the old fingering. However, the zephyr just feels more comfortable and is easier to play in this regard, ergonomically.
So there you have it. In addition to me playing this version of the King Zephyr, I believe that Stuart D. Bogie of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra plays this model as well. Joe Woullard from Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears plays a similar vintage baritone saxophone as I do, but that's another blog. King Zephyrs are some great horns.
2/17/2017 04:19:34 pm
Nice review. I have been playing a series II King tenor from just before the Vol-Tru I changes. I love the old King from I think '26. The intonation problems of the older Kings is way overblown in my thinking. Now I bought a '47 Zephyr, shipped today, I'm stoaked! My new Zeph is like yours but has the Super 20 style neck brace on a brass neck I think. I'll see next week. I hope it's as good as advertized, I chose it over a Chu and a 10M. Thanks for sharing your views.
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