Where are Winston (not e.m. Winston) and Jean Pauls made?
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Author:  paulrace [ Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:33 am ]
Post subject:  Where are Winston (not e.m. Winston) and Jean Pauls made?

A reader writes:

I collect clarinets and saxophones, restore and or repair them as a hobby. I loved your page on stencil saxophones; it has helped me identify several early saxophones.

I picked up a "Winston" tenor sax. On eBay it was described as an E. M. Winston tenor sax. When it arrived I discovered that it was not an EM Winston but a plain Winston sax. On the neck next to the tightening clamp is a serial number, 98110002, and below that is a logo; a long herald horn that has a draped banner over it. In the center of the banner is a name that is hard to read. I believe it begins with a W and ends with an L. I tried goggling Winston saxophones, but couldn't find any information as to who built it. Looking at pictures of different Saxes, I came across a brand called Lauren. The key works, their location on the sax and cover guards are identical to mine. The only difference is the brace that connects the bell to the main frame. My brace is a bent piece of metal that;s bent into a short U with the top straight and not curved. This brace connects into two posts. The Lauren's brace has a circle in the center of the brace. I goggled the name Lauren, and found several vague references to either a French, Belgian or various Chinese manufactures.

Today I chanced upon a new saxophone called, Jean Paul, USA tenor TS-400 saxophone. It also is identical (with the exception of the holding brace) to my Winston and looks identical to the Laurens. Jean Paul has an office in FL and no info as to who made their instruments. Do you know of a Jean Paul manufacturing plant in FL? Or who might have made my Winston?


Our Reply:
I'm afraid when you get later than, say, 1970, my knowledge of sax history gets a little dim. Do any of the saxes in question have country of origin indicated? Even though the EM Winston horns I was first acquainted with came from a factory in Italy, I suspect that all of their products are made in China now. I don't know a brand that is JUST "Winston."

I assume that all of the horns you're describing follow Yamaha's Balanced-Action-Inspired YAS/YTS 61, 31, or 21 engineering. If that's the case, it's most likely that they "manufacturers" are just importers having copycat horns built wherever they are cheapest to build. That doesn't mean they're valueless, some of the copycats were made with good materials and quality control.

As manufacturers of student saxes moved their operations from the US and Europe to Japan, Korea, and eventually China, there came an era - which still exists - in which anyone who wants to negotiate with Chinese factories can get their own name put on a line of products. Even if the three horns you're comparing came from three different countries, it's entirely possible that they came from the same molds. Or clones of the same molds sold to other companies as a side business - theft of design was a common practice in 1980s and 1990s Japanese contract factories. And it's almost universal in China today.

Unless you determine that the horns are superior to the average name-brand student horn coming out of Asia today, they might not have any particular value or even be traceable.

Sorry that's not an answer. The 1920s and 1930s-era stencils are easier to identify since there were only a handful of factories capable of producing playable horns. Nowadays with automation, "borrowed" designs and tooling, and cheap labor, it's possible to set up up a saxophone factory just about anywhere there is electricity and running water.

BTW, my current soprano is a Sears-contracted 1990s Japanese "Lafayette" with no particular pedigree. But it plays as well as any of the name brand student horns I can afford. So I'm not saying the Italian and Asian knockoffs are all bad. Just that they might not exactly be collectible.

Sorry, that's a lot of work to confess my ignorance of the brands you describe, except to say that their resemblance may have more to do with "borrowed" designs and tooling than with a "single source."

Oh, and don't assume that ANYBODY's saxophones are built on this side of the Pacific, either, even if they say US in the brand name. Several "US" factories order their saxes prebuilt or mostly built in China then tweak or finish assembly here. Some of them are nice enough, so I'm not criticizing their business model or even their horns, just their implication that because an American technician had his or her hands on it at some point in the process it was "made in America." I'll believe it when I see American citizens turning those bells and pulling those tone-holes.

Best of luck,

Paul Race

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