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J.W. York & Sons
Tenor Saxophone
Made in Grand Rapids Michigan

Serial number 63495 - Probably made in mid-to-early 1920's


This is a really sharp-looking tenor. I am guessing that the silver-plate was stripped from the keys while the body was left silver-plated, giving it a lovely two-tone appearance.
The brass keys look like they were "bright dipped" to me. They have that galvanic look, like galvinized steel.

I did some work on this York to get it into better playing condition.
But it could use some more work.
The pads are quite new...you can tell it has been repadded recently with pads with brown plastic resonators.

The horn is not without issues.
The main problem is "keyfitting". Some of the keys are sort of sloppy...endplay, lateral play etc.
It is, however, playable as is.

There is a good-sized dent on the bow.
The neck has some pull-down.

While there were York stencils made by other companies, this one was made by York in Michigan.
There's a little information at THESAX.INFO

The most notable thing about the construction of this York sax is how the tone holes were made.
They were not 'drawn' from the body material like most tone holes.
Some of the toneholes were soldered (or brazed on). If you look at the pictures you will see that tonehole chimneys for the bell keys (low Bb, B and C#) and the bow keys (low C and D#), as well as the left-hand palm keys (high D, D# and F) were soldered on. They are different from Martin toneholes. The York tonehole chimeys have a flange at the bottom that possibly made them easier to put into place and solder, and gave a larger surface area to solder. Martin tonehole solders have been known to fail. These would quite possibly fare better.
The main body toneholes (stack keys) are also noteable. It looks to me like the toneholes were first punched into the body and then a large plate, which had the tonehole chimneys draw in it, was soldered to the body. This plate extends from way above the C key at the top of the upper stack down to the low D at the bottom of the lower stack. This large, single-piece plate, in addition to having the tone hole chimneys has posts on it as well. In this respect it is a precursor of keypost mounted on 'ribs'.

The other thing that was notably unique was the forked Eb. The tone hole is located on the opposite side of the horn like many (most?) others of that vintage, but it works differently. Instead of lifting the right hand ring finger to activate it, you press down with your pinkie.
Looking at THIS PICTURE, you see five pearls. Your first and second fingers are positioned normally, with the G# trill key inbetween them. Your third finger (ring finger) is on the fourth pearl down (counting the G# trill pearl). The fifth and final pearl, the lowest one, can be pressed by your pinkie to open the little Eb trill key on the other side of the horn.
Whaddya think of that.

A long-time client replied to my suppositions about the "forked Eb". He said:
"On this one I figure you shift the ring finger to activate it and use the middle finger one down as well (note the arm to depress the E cup from the D touch). If you’re going to use your pinky you’d use the conventional Eb touch. The whole point (I figure) is to allow the fast C (or bell key notes) to Eb and back trill without taxing the RH pinky unduly. For the conventional (IE Conn/ Buescher et al) system you lift the middle finger to activate it. The Conn system requires a lot less fingering gymnastics. I note that is also has the arm so that the D touch also depresses the E cup. The difference is in the clever but frequently out of whack dual purpose E touch with its “close the E cup AND close the back Eb cup” synching issues.
Of course I could be, and frequently am, completely wrong…"

I definitely see what he is saying. But if you keep your index finger on the first pearl and shift down the middle and ring fingers, it is such a stretch that it is ergonomically not very playable.
What do YOU think?

The horn comes with a vintage Martin case that is in fair condition. (Fair, no good, not very good, not excellent, etc.)
I can take photos if you wish.

JW York Tenor Sax


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