Dating selmer saxophones
While Selmer Paris has kept the design of the neck tube itself the same since the Reference 54 alto release in , there have been now 2 significant changes to the design of the neck overall that affect the performance. The 3rd Generation neck provides the most response and tonal character. Will it work on a Mark VI? Obviously Reference 54 alto sax neck works with the Reference 54 but it is also a very good fit for Mark VI alto saxes.
I love vintage saxophones that have been lovingly restored to playability, if not to their original patina. Nearly all American, European, and even Japanese saxophones made before are more solid than the average saxophone coming out of China today. Frankly they made things better in those days. And many surviving recordings of swing, jazz, rock, and even orchestral saxophones recorded before were made with those same horns.
To start there, please jump to our Evaluating Used Saxophones article. Learning to play saxophone is one thing. Acquiring a vintage sax is another. Admittedly, those dates are a little arbitrary. Those horns are compatible with modern bands, orchestras, and pianos. Also, because the horns needed to be reengineered anyway, many lines also offered other improvements, such as larger bores to provide a richer or fuller sound.
In fact, those designs were so successful that student-line saxophones based on them continued to be made long after newer designs appeared to serve the professional market. Buescher went on to develop the Aristocrat and the All things being equal, the later Conn and Buescher horns are more desirable than the early ones. Most of the earliest horns were silverplated. Beginning in the s, lacquered sax became more common.
By , nearly every sax made was lacquered. In some cases, like the Buescher Aristocrat, both silver pre-war and lacquered post-war versions were made. In other cases, like the prewar Buescher True-Tone and postwar Elkhart, the horn was modified and repositioned as a student model when it went from silver to a lacquered version. Our article Stencil Saxophone List provides a list of reported stencil brand names and the factories that may have made them.
In response, Selmer US quickly scrambled to reengineer their student line horns to include the same features, and the Bundy II was built. Soon, all major saxophone manufacturers standardized on Selmer Paris-inspired designs. Unfortunately the factors that had heretofore differentiated distinctive topline horns like the Conn 10M and 30M, the King Super 20, the Buffet Super Dynaction, and the Buescher actually discontinued in the s disappeared.
From about on, all major saxophone brands have been largely copies of the Selmer Mark VI, the horn that Yamaha copied most closely. Some have been very good copies. Some have been very bad copies. But the market became so glutted with homogenous offerings that the only way most companies could compete was to move manufacturing to Asia and compete on price. Some companies survived in name only - the current Asian offerings with their brands stamped on the bell have no real relationship to the century-old history of the brand itself.
Because most horns made between and are nearly interchangeable except for quality control and subtle engineering differences. Some folks will tell you that this means that horns made before are too hard for kids to start on, or that if a kid starts on a s-era horn he or she will have trouble adjusting to a modern horn later. But this is a marketing lie.
Only the shape and relative position of certain keys has changed. Players who have learned on the old designs have no problem adjusting to the new, and adults have no problem going the other way. That said, for smaller kids, the new ergonomics may make modern saxophones easier to play. And that varied from model to model. So most vintage sax hunters look for one or more of the following: Restored, and fitted with a professional mouthpiece they have a lot to offer.
Regarding restoration, some horns need more restoration than others. And some folks who claim to do restoration do a better job than others see below. Moreover, the costs and outcomes vary wildly. This is where having a real sax player on your side is critical. The advice on this page also depends on you having access to an honest woodwind repair person.
Often mom-and-pop stores run by instrument repair people will be the most helpful and honest. Pay the most attention to ads with good photos and specific information. Get the serial number of you can, that will help you assign a date. Or you have a heavily-photographed, believably documented, reasonably priced possibility on eBay. Here are some things to look for: Silverplate finishes are the most common on pre horns, and occur on several until the late s.
Most horns have a satin finish on the body and a shiny finish on the keys and bell. Most tarnish can be removed with a good silver polish and a little elbowgrease. This is one place where having hands on is important. And or clear photos from every conceivable angle. Gold plate is extremely rare. Usually better quality control and a couple more keys were the main difference. Most horns that were originally gold-plated have lost much of the gold.
Not a problem unless the horn shows signs of damage. Lacquer finishes started becoming common in the s and were pretty much universal in post-war horns. So a lacquer horn that was handled carefully was very low maintenance. However the lacquer finish could scratch and let moisture through, which WOULD cause the brass to corrode. Sometimes folks try to refurbish valuable lacquered horns by removing the damaged lacquer, polishing the brass smooth again, and relacquering the horn.
But in most cases, the new lacquer is not to factory specs, to put it nicely. It still happens, in fact. As an example, I own a s Selmer New York Buesher stencil to which this happened within the last few years. Does Relacquering Matter? To some folks, relacquering a vintage horn diminishes its value, because it supposedly changes the tone of the horn. To me, the bigger issues relacquering could present for vintage horn buyers are that: Most relacquering is obvious if you get your hands on the horn.
For one thing, the etching will have softer edges and obscured details. Uneven coverage is another clue. For another opinion on the subject, check out ThisOldHorn. But signs of careless handling or apparent abuse might indicated hidden problems as well. The bell is the part that most folks think the sound comes out of. If the bell is bent out of shape in any way, you should probably write the horn off period.
Yes, it can be fixed, for a price, but it is almost impossible to damage the bell of a saxophone with normal handling. The bow is the U-shaped part that connects the bell to the body. The most common ding on saxophones is a dent from banging the bow into something or maybe dropping the horn on the bow. Professional horns have a guard that protects the bow. Student horns generally have some reinforcement that may not quite do the job. If there are a lot of dings on the bow, it was probably a school-owned horn and has probably been abused in other ways.
Up at the other end, the neck is the part that connects the mouthpiece to the body of the horn. The cork on the neck should not have big holes - this is an inexpensive fix but indicates that other things might need fixed as well. A bigger problem is if you see any sign that the the neck has ever been bent at all, such as bulging or cracks in the lacquer. Run - do not walk - away. Also look for signs that the part that goes down into the saxophone has ever been resoldered to the neck - that may be a sign of an innocent accident or a symptom of a pattern of abuse.
The keys are levers that make the pads open or shut on the horn. The rest are connected to the pads by long levers and sometimes by a series of levers. Look the horn over and make certain nothing seems to be missing. Everywhere there is a post the chess-pawn shaped supports , there should be something attached to it, a key or a rod or something. The motion should be smooth and precise, not sloppy or sluggish.
Wear patterns on the keys that are not buttons do not disqualify the horn. For example, there are several lever-shaped keys that are arranged to so a player can hit them with the palm of his or her hand. Below the normal right and left hand position are other keys that the player is supposed to hit with his pinky. The posts are the pieces that support the keys and the rods. They are shaped like tiny stanchions or chess-piece pawns. Look at the posts, especially those that are most exposed, for signs that: All three cases could be a sign of abuse, especially if the horn has other problems.
However, the first case could be a symptom of an isolated accident. If the resoldering job looks professional, chances are it was done by a repair person who made certain everything was fixed when he or she did the work. The second case means that the horn needs real work. The third case may mean that the horn is irreparable.
*date/serial number relationships during WW II production and immediate post- production are based on our data collected from Aristocrat - series IV "Selmer" . Features an active saxophone forum, buy sell trade your sax, saxophone museum, sax teachers and more. SELMER Models. H. Selmer Signature stencil.
Fee does NOT apply to P. We will ship to those locations via USPS, at customers expense. This applies to International orders beyond Canada as well. Once you make payment, please allow hour for your order to be processed, and weeks for delivery. All business is in US dollars.
To submit your vote please sign in or sign up , it is free and takes a few seconds. Selmer Paris has done a sloppy job with its published serial number charts.
I love vintage saxophones that have been lovingly restored to playability, if not to their original patina. Nearly all American, European, and even Japanese saxophones made before are more solid than the average saxophone coming out of China today. Frankly they made things better in those days.
Friend of GetASax. With permission, we have printed the results of his research below. The existing Selmer Serial Number Chart has been available on the internet for years. Many saxophonists use it as the authority for determining when an instrument was made. But there are problems with the existing chart, such as the timing of the introduction of the different models.
The story of the Selmer Company dates back to the 's with brothers Alexandre and Henri Selmer's graduation from the Conservatoire de Paris. In , Henri began making reeds, mouthpieces, and clarinets in Paris. Alexandre Selmer moved to the United States performing as the principal clarinetist for the Boston Symphony. The Selmer clarinets grew quite a following and in , even received a gold medal at the World's Fair in St Louis. Alongside his performances, he opened a Selmer retail store in downtown New York with teaching and repair facilities. George Bundy began working in the store under the guidance of Alexandre Selmer. In , Alexandre returned to Paris to assist the family business, leaving his US interests in the hands of George Bundy. Bundy expanded the business to incorporate selling and distributing instruments from other companies such as Vincent Bach, Martin, Ludwig, and Musser.
The Selmer Mark VI is a saxophone produced from to Production shifted to the Mark VII for the tenor and alto in the mids see discussion of serial numbers below , and to the Super Action 80 for the soprano and baritone saxophones in
Browse any saxophone forum and sooner or later you'll come across a discussion about why Selmer discontinued the MKVI, and why everyone thinks it'd be a good idea if they started making them again. I can see their point, but at the same time I can also see Selmer's point - which is that they didn't stop making it, they simply improved it. Let's be clear - the MKVI was a flawed horn, and throughout its production life it was tweaked and fiddled with. So it made sense to draw a line under it and bring out a new horn, utilising all the experience and long-term testing that went into the previous model.
The family of eight saxophones invented by Adolphe Sax and patented on March 21, 1 4 is today focused on seven instruments, offered either in Eb or Bb. Right from the beginning, the alto and tenor saxophones have been the models most in demand amongst composers. Other members of the family, although less commonly used, have appeared progressively throughout the evolution of the classical repertoire. It has acquired a thoroughly well deserved and hard-earned reputation with musicians across the world: It knows an ever-renewed success thanks to the improvements regularly brought to it. It integrates the latest advances in Selmer Paris' techniques of manufacturing and musical design. Created in the same spirit of versatility of use, it holds equal appeal for musicians from different terrains. It is an instrument of exceptional homogeneity of accuracy, timbre and emission. To date the soprano, alto, tenor and baritone models are available in this series. The "Reference" design integrates acoustic and mechanical characteristics from the most celebrated Selmer Paris models, in instruments which benefit from today's manufacturing techniques.
Selmer Paris 3rd Generation Reference 54 Alto Sax Neck
These were the most eloborate Conn saxophones ever made with extravagant engraving and full pearl touches. Conn Connquerer was only made as alto and tenor saxes and is most related in design to the early 6M and 10M. Despite purchasing all of the assets of the Adolphe Sax Company in , Selmer did not start selling saxophones bearing the Adolphe Sax name until The last Adolphe Sax saxophone recorded in the Selmer Paris archives was sold in Any Adolphe Sax instrument sold after this date was most likely already made or assemble from pre-existing parts. For example, the record shows that all of the recorded Adolphe Sax instrument sales between were from instruments already manufactued between
The main thing you learn from serial numbers is the age of the instrument of course. Although the dates in these charts are reasonably accurate, there may be some discrepancies for various reasons. Here are a few things to bear in mind:. When advertising an instrument for sale, you will often see the serial number referred to as 36xxxx. It is rumoured that there is a scam, by which somebody who acquires your serial number can then claim the instrument is theirs.
Thomann is the largest online and mail order retailer for musical instruments, light and sound equipment worldwide, having about 10m customers in countries and 80, products on offer. We are musicians ourselves and share your passion for making it. As a company, we have a single objective: We have a wide variety of pages giving information and enabling you to contact us before and after your purchase. Alternatively, please feel free to use our accounts on social media such as Facebook or Twitter to get in touch.
.Selmer Paris Reference 54 unboxing and first thoughts