I’ve mentioned in a few places that the reasons why I never paid much attention to Holton were because not a lot of folks had the horns and not a lot of folks considered them to be good horns: as an example, Rudy Wiedoeft famously didn’t play the Holton Rudy Wiedoeft model. On this blog, though, I’m not terribly worried about playability: I just want to see some really pretty horns and Holton did have several.
This striking instrument has a copper body with a nickel-plated brass bell, neck and keywork — and it may be the first and only saxophone ever offered in that configuration.
One of the really nice things about YouTube is that you can listen to and see some of the stuff that Rudy Wiedoeft did, like this clip from 1932 (check the Roman numerals at the start of the clip). Note that the horn Mr. Wiedoeft is playing is obviously not a Holton. It’s the rare Selmer Super Series C melody tenor.
I’m cheating, a little: EA Couturier originally made this horn for Lyon & Healy, but Couturier did make horns for Holton and seems to have gotten absorbed by Holton. Additionally, Holton tried to improve the design of this horn — and failed as badly as Couturier did, so I’m not cheating … much. In any event, if you want to see the Holton-made version of this horn, please check out this black and white photo. (Note that many folks — including me — had considered these horns made by Martin, until LaPorte’s work on SOTW regarding Couturier.)
Gretsch never made their own horns; they contracted with other companies. I’ve seen Gretsch horns made by at least a half-dozen other companies in the US and Europe. In any event, this is an extremely pretty horn and, according to several folks, it’s probably the best-playing Holton-made horn ever produced.
For me, this horn is all about the wires: beautifully simplistic around the bell keys and the bell-to-body brace that looks like an Allen key — which it might actually be. For even more fun, Get-A-Sax has another one of these in their museum, only with nickel-plated keyguards. Also, you might want to take a look at a Holton Model 232 at DoctorSax.biz for comparison.
I’ll leave you with this horn, the Model 204 Resotone. This horn is all about the funky keyguards. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a better looking horn, but I’m hoping to compensate with all the info in the link. (I should also mention that the horn is called “Resotone” either because of the pads the horn originally shipped with or because of the “Resotone” ring around the underside of the bell lip, similar to Buescher’s 400 and Super 400 horns.)