I get asked this question practically every day. True enough, at a point in the past our company did in fact drink the Kool Aid and sold vintage horns, and true enough, when I was an active professional player, I also drank the Kool Aid and used them, thinking they were somehow superior. In addition, I also drank the Kool Aid and believed the price of old horns would go up- forever, and invested substantial sums in horns I felt sure would appreciate. I studied and studied in order to understand every nuance of rolled tone hole, artillery shell brass, and solder chimney mythology, seeking that perfect combination of secret wisdom that would elevate me to the status previously obtained by the Elder Gods of the Saxophone. What a load of crap!
It is my most sincere and heartfelt belief that the current purchasers of vintage horns (at least the ones who are not buying them to collect and admire rather than play) must not own a tuner and apparently lack much sense of pitch discrimination. The simple fact of the matter is that older horns simply do not play in tune nearly as well as horns currently manufactured and available. Bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbut, you say, what about Trane, Bird, Jug, Prez, and all those other countless guys with funny names from the past who sounded great playing old horns? Come on, you know the answer. Those were the only horns available at the time. I think you can bet your sweet ass that if John Coltrane were alive today, he would be playing the most modern, up to date, easiest to play, and in tune horn he could buy. Why make playing any more difficult than it has to be?
This is, needless to say, not mentioning the very questionable ergonomics of older horns, and the simple fact that in most cases, “vintage” saxophones have proved to be a real stinkeroo of an investment. And you wonder why we got out of the old horn business?