I just got this amazingly rare and special piece, an otto Link 4-ring transitional piece from Tonemaster to ‘Super’ Tonemaster; this is the first Super Tonemaster before the ‘Double Ring”. It is a NY production piece from the Otto Link (not Florida, Ben Harrod). This has the first super tonemaster body and from my feeling a slightly different chamber from Tonemaster as well, but not exactly the same as double ring. Of course the double rings models vary plenty amongst themselves but this still feels a bit different to me.
This type of piece was immortalized in photos of John Coltrane, specifically this set by Charles Stewart taken in 1964. He was always switching mouthpieces of course but it is interesting that this is somewhere near the ‘Love Supreme” recording time period.
I always wondered exactly what piece that was. In this case I think the one he was using might still have been marked “Tonemaster” but the body (and chamber?) were also different. I cannot be sure here but that may be the case.
Anyhow I have never seen one of these before and it only took me almost 30 years to find one. This one has no patent markings, no NY manufacture info and no “serial no.” markings though it does have a serial number. It was lightly worked on when I received it, with a small shelf baffle and a rather imprecise tip rail with some dents etc. The facing was slightly slanted and it needed a cleanup, which I did. I leveled the tip, re-cut the tip rail, leveled the facing and gave the table a gentle polish.
Upon close examination it is clear to me that this piece has original gold plating, Otto Link style, and the missing markings were never present on this piece. The gold plating also shows the original machining marks underneath, and if a piece is buffed and replated (they must be buffed to be replated) these milling marks are no longer visible. It looks likely that it never even had a table facing stamp because the work done to it was so light and the tip metal is still so thick along with barely widened rails it is simply not possible it was opened much at all. This means that there is no reason for the table to have been taken DOWN, and still arrive at the 0.097 or so it was at.
After cleanup it is still just around 0.097+, and surprisingly it plays greatly. It is more crisp than I thought it would be and it is also just a pleasure to blow. You can hear it on first a 38xxx SBA, then the “Count ‘Red’ Hastings 70k MK VI, and then my standby 100k mK VI.
I will never see another one of these fur sure and it is dumb luck I got this one. There are no plans for it (yet) some study is required.