Zephyr and Zephyr Special
[Later Zephyrs and] the Zephyr Special are completely redesigned instruments and the direct predecessors of the famous Super 20. The key design, previously the "Modernistic Style" that was ungrateful to the fingers, was contoured to a more comfortable arrangement. The mechanism was altered to eliminate the G# trill key and the alternate Eb fingering [i.e. the "fork" Eb]. The bell tone holes were repositioned to accomodate a faster, lighter action. The beauty of the instrument was enhanced by the addition of distinctive mother of pearl inlay on all the keys, including the palm, side and small finger areas (1).
Zephyr Plating Choices (1940 Catalog)
Note that the "King De Luxe" finish (burnished gold with additional pearl keytouches) has disappeared and was "replaced" with the Zephyr Special.
There are several models of Zephyr -- and I'll talk about the Zephyr Special and military models in due course:
from about s/n 170xxx to 180xxx were virtually identical to the Voll True
from about s/n 180xxx and 237xxx have the 3-ring straphook and the double-socket
At approximately s/n 200xxx, the Zephyr Special was introduced: a horn with redesigned keywork (more rounded), additional mother-of-pearl inlay and probably a tweaked bore design. There are tons of reports that the Zephyr Special bore is the exact same one as the Super 20, HOWEVER, I've also had folks note that the bell on the ZS is much slimmer and, of course, the neck design is completely different. This tends to indicate that there are some bore differences between the S20 and ZS -- and Dr. Cohen writes that there are (see above). However, I've never heard anyone report that the ZS bore is different from the regular Z bore and I think they were.
Here's some fun for y'all: measure the bore of the Zephyr Special and compare it with the Zephyr produced between 240xxx and 305xxx and the Super 20. If all the measurements are identical, which I doubt, buy a Zephyr instead of an S20 or ZS. You'll save a lot of bucks, if you're not interested in the fancy pearls or engraving. (Do note that I've seen at least one Zephyr done-up with the additional pearl inlay, but no "Special" engraving. Some Zephyrs appeared in odd "high end" configurations, such as with sterling silver necks and/or bells, so that may furrther support the assertion that there were two Zephyr bores.)
The final oddment is that the Zephyr Special was around until probably s/n 280xxx -- my latest examples are in the 276xxx range -- and that's during the first years of Super 20 production.
UPDATE from SOTW Forum poster shmuelyosef:
I did do
one verification that the silver neck on my non-Special tenor (281K) swapped
with a 278K S20 that a local guy had ...
from about s/n 237xxx and 305xxx have the rounded keywork found on the
I could also put a "3a" in this mix: around the time that the Super 20 was introduced (s/n 272xxx), the wire leg guard was changed to the removable triangular guard found on the S20 and the bell-to-body brace was modified.
[from SOTW Forum member shmuelyosef]: From 275K till about 305K the Zephyrs (IMHO) are the same horn as the S20 except for the keyguards, the neck brace and octave key, and the cosmetics (pearls and key engraving). I have determined that the necks are interchangable and play well back and forth and all the keywork is identical as far as I can tell. I have played a 278K S20 vs. my 281K Zephyr w/silver neck and both I, several spectators and the owner of the S20 could not hear or feel a difference...needless to say, he paid more for his horn; we both acquired these within the past two years.
4. Horns from
about s/n 305xxx and 423xxx have one major subtraction: the three-ring
straphook. They gain "eyebrow" keyguards, but the double-socket
neck is probably eliminated around 383xxx.
5. Horns from about s/n 423xxx and 540xxx have redesigned keywork
and no double-socket neck.
It seems pretty obvious that there are significant
changes to the Zephyr bari between 365xxx and 379xxx:
* There were quite a few Zephyrs labeled "US" or "USN" or some variation thereof and these are dubbed "military models". They don't seem to follow any "standard", so any given military horn might not have all these features, but here's some generalizations:
Tying this all together, the best Zephyrs are Zephyr Specials and the horns produced between 240xxx and 305xxx that have the rounded keywork, double-socket neck and three-ring-straphook. I've seen some outrageously priced very, very early Zephyrs. These horns have very similar intonation tendencies to the Voll True II (i.e. not good) and should be valued slightly more than that model. I can also assume that the horns produced after 383xxx should be considered intermediate quality horns and valued as such, due to all the changes from the "pro" model Zephyr. However, it also seems likely that the Zephyrs produced between 305xxx and the time that the double-socket neck was discontinued (about 383xxx) have the same bore as the "good" Zephyrs, but may be more machine-made, lack some features and/or have a slightly different body composition -- so, a good buy for the more budget-minded.
Do note that several posters on the SOTW Forum do contradict my statements about the decline in playability/tone of the later horns, but there are also significant amounts of posts from other owners confirming the cheapening of the Zephyr in parallel to the cheapening of the Super 20 and Silver-Sonic. NO ONE has contradicted my statements about the early Zephyrs, though.
As always, my additions are in BLACK text or in brackets. The BLUE text represents quotations from the thread I started on the SOTW Forum to research the Zephyr chages, called "A Zephyr Recap"
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