This is a wonderful old player’s horn made in 1948. The serial number is 35xxx and it is a very interesting one in that it is a transitional or experimental design model. This is a true SBA as indicated by the improved bow to body band that has screws and is removable for better ease of bow repair. However, early SBA’s usually have the lower foot of the low B guard attached to the bow to bell ring, as they had a slightly shorter bell than the later design starting at usually around 38xxx. This long bell version starting around 38xxx was the model played by Coltrane, somewhere around 40xxx and has superior intonation to the early SBA models, resolving a slightly sharp set of bell notes.
Interesting here is that this is clearly an experimental or transitional model that would be replicated consistently in the later SBA models. This early 35xxx has the long bell of the later 38xxx as can be seen by the position of the low B guard foot. This means some intonation issues will be better and also the tone may be altered. I would love to know myself but I don’t have time to overhaul this horn to get a clear idea of it’s character. What I do know for sure is that early SBA’s have the most excellent tone in general and can be even more vocal, warm and organic sounding than the post 38xxx models. The tone is just very poetic.
This example is European engraved and lacquered. It has been played well in its long life and has been refinished at some point many years back most likely. The French engraving, which is generally quite light and delicate compared to the US style, is still clearly visible. This was not a terribly aggressive relacquer and is really going to be a great horn to set up and gig with.
The neck appears to be in excellent condition and is the original (French models do not have a serial number stamp on the neck). The horn has some minor resolders and ping and dings, it has definitely lived. The pads don’t even look that old, but it has been sitting and someone tried to clean it and left some residue that meeds to be cleaned. The horn really needs a cleaning and then a general setup. You could get away with just that or do a full on repad and it would be amazing, but those pads don’t look bad to me, just not really sealing well at the moment.
This is such a wonderful old one, going to have the most beautiful tone and excellent closely paid out key action. These are just amazing models. It is not a museum piece, it is a player, not the most perfect of pretty but for a player and real music this is IT.