Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / Series III VS Mark VI

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User ID: 7322373
Jun 9th 11:10 AM
Who have SIII & Mark VI? How you compare these 2 horn (doesn't matter alto or tenor)? Any big difference of the sound & keywork?

I don't understand why many people still looking for a vintage Mark VI. It is so expensive & look very old even condition are good. We need to accept one thing is the price for this horn are so expensive are mostly because of too many people just thinking Mark VI, must be imagine....

I can't believe today's technology can't made a horn better than Mark VI?
User ID: 0952054
Jun 9th 2:00 PM
Alto, on tenor, I recently had a Series III here, handpicked from the factory, and my own 132K MKVI for A/B. The III was not close in any of these areas:

- character (subjective)
- ease of articulation
- flexibility in pitch center
- evenness of tone across registers (biggest irregularity, on III, appeared in B3 & up)
- intonation

Of course, these are findings predicated on my being the playtester, and though I rarely play/played the VI, I was certainly on friendly terms with it. The III was also not tip-top. It was owned by a professional player, and merely here for servicing.

I'm pretty sure, FWIW, that the III player would not have wanted to trade for my VI, even if he agreed with what I write above. It isn't what you play, of course, it's how much you play it.
Brice B.
User ID: 1314254
Jun 10th 6:35 AM
I'm a big Mk VI fan, but I'd rather play aeries III now. They are a lot easier to play, and feel really good in the hands. And for probably a thousand less than what you'll get a VI for, it's a lot better choice.
User ID: 1543764
Jun 10th 8:44 AM
I do not like the tone of Serie III, so we do not own one.
I like the tone of the three Mark VIs we do own.
In saxes, newest is not always bestest.
User ID: 0255034
Jun 10th 4:46 PM
i played a brand new black laq. ser3 the other day and was not impressed at all. the horn was souless . give me a mk6 any day
User ID: 2198314
Jun 11th 12:42 AM
How to get a good condition Mark VI today???? All depends on luck.

I hope the Ref 54 (alto) can compare with Mark VI like their tenor ref 54. The alto ref 54 should be available next year. Many people said it's same quality with Mark VI (tenor only, alto still a ?).
Brice B.
User ID: 0366544
Jun 11th 6:49 AM
I've heard that the Series III flat matte has a similar voice to a VI. I'm on a waiting list to get one, so I'll let you know what I find.
User ID: 8868883
Jun 11th 7:39 AM
I've got a flat matte III alto. It has a similar kind of voice to my Ref 54 tenor. It is the fastest horn I have tried, and I have tried all current model pro horns as well as a mint Buffet S1.

I haven't had the chance to compare it to a VI side by side, though. Personally, I prefer new horns, at least I like the clean slick feel and lack of wobbles in the keywork usually found in a well-used horn.
User ID: 0429484
Jun 17th 1:58 PM
I owned a 69k mVI, and now own a III (millennium). I was very impressed with the VI, but the III just blew me away! Nothing that I've ever played comes even close in intonation, tone quality, ease of articulation, etc, etc, etc of my III. My personal choice is very easy. III all the way!
User ID: 0352454
Jun 17th 11:51 PM
I own a MK VI tenor, and though this particular example is brighter than I would like (about to be rectified soon...) it outplays ANY series III I have ever tried. This applies to the ones I played when they first came out to the ones that just came out.

The MK VI has a bigger sound, less complicated mechanism (quick repairs!), more character, and can be easilly bent to your will moreso than any new horn. Normally I am of the opinion that MK VIs have a small sound, but this one in particular does not...and could rival a Conn 10M in power.

The series III is brighter, and had a boring tone to me. The middle registers, especially D2,D#2,E2 all have a strangeness to their attack that I can't explain.

In fact, I think all the SA80s have this problem...I was listening to a recording of tungp on a series III and then I heard it. I also heard it from Johnny Griffin(series III) and Stanley Turrentine(Series II). hard to explain...but strange indeed...

Of course, I again give the disclaimer that I only play tenors mostly. Also, given the same budget I had before, if the horn I found was sold to someone else, I would've bought a Keilwerth! That's perhaps the only new horn I would buy, except perhaps a Yani soprano.
User ID: 0512724
Jun 22nd 12:09 PM
I think that not all the horns of the same type sound the same. Many MkVI's sound better than others.

Even with line production, there is always a difference.

I think that if you are going to get any horn, you should try a couple or even three of the same kind before you buy them.

One of my MKVI's is easier for altissimo than the other, and believe me, both are balanced and in perfect shape.

Each horn has its tone. No water drops are identical.

User ID: 8966303
Jun 26th 10:58 AM
Another thing comes now. For Mark VI, I think I will not buy it because I'm not really a big fan of Mark VI. I have 3 choice of a new alto:

1) Selmer Series III
2) Yamaha Custom YAS-876 (Rose gold plate)
3) Yana A-992 (Bronze)

Please don't suggest a YAS-875 Silver plated horn, I don't like silver, work very hard to clean it & too bright.

I try 3 horn, actually all are good. Especially Yana, their keywork just excellent. Unfortunately, the sound is a bit dull & dark. Not suitable to play today's modern music like smooth Jazz or Fusion. What's your choice?

Dr G
User ID: 0916684
Jun 27th 10:33 AM
Serie II (yes, TWO).
User ID: 0638514
Jun 27th 10:46 AM
serie II Alto also- the C# mechanism isnt perfected yet on the III
User ID: 7517303
Jun 27th 12:19 PM
You know I have always wondered why someone can't make a MKVI new that sounds like the real thing, but I have never found one yet. That's why I play a MKVI tenor. I waited for 10 years to buy the MK and it was worth it IMHO.Now on the other hand I play tenor much more than alto so I could not justify another MKVI. I am married you know! I bought an early MKVII alto in silver and I love it.I would not say that it is a bright horn. My YAS-62 was a brighter horn and it was not silver.I tried a Custom, Serie III, and the 992 they all were nice,too nice.No character at all, just clean sound, not what I wanted. I wanted rough buzzy harmonic fuzzy cool sound. None of those could deliver that.Good luck on your search.
User ID: 1878484
Jun 27th 8:22 PM
I think this is the gripe with new horns...they all sound too manufactured. It feels as if the pitch is being controlled by the horn and it's TOO perfect!
Dennis D.
User ID: 9997253
Jun 28th 10:38 PM
Is it possible that in 40 years the Series III will have "the sound"? Will aging the sax help diminish the manufactured sound.
David Apolloni
User ID: 1069864
Jun 29th 7:29 AM
Well, there is a lot you CAN do with a "too perfect" sound: mouthpieces, reeds, and the player are supposed to provide character as well. Today's manufacturers--particularly Selmer-- are trying to produce instruments that will perform and blend well in classical settings. Players come more from colleges and universities than they did years ago, and there they are exposed to this. So horns are expected to do many more things nowadays.

Also, popular music is brighter and louder these days, and those of us who like the sounds of 50s-60s jazz (most of the people on SOTW, I suspect) are in a very small minority. Most people forget this when they make pronouncements about today's horns: they speak as if THEIR music is the one and only.

On the other hand, I think the Mark VIs were and are marvelous horns. All it takes is to hear or play a really good one sometime. They are pretty hard to beat. The downside is the price. There are other horns out there which will come reasonably close to that sound or any other sound you want. And of course there are vintage horns: one of my teachers hated all Selmers, including Mark VIs, insisting that the reason players moved to them in the 50s was because they were lazy and didn't want to work as hard as they would on the Conns. And he complained about a loss of sound similar to what others are complaining about now with the new horns with respect to the Mark VI.

My personal solution for now is a Serie II with a Serie III copper neck. The neck adds a lot of color and character, it makes the sound much more flexible and opens up the horn, giving it more of a jazz feel.
User ID: 2442714
Jul 5th 11:40 PM
I love telling and re-telling this story:

Took a Mark VI alto I was interested in to the Big music store in town. Tried it against silver, black, and regular lacquer Series III. Also tried the Yanagisawa 992 bronze, Yamaha Custom silver and regular lacquer.

The Mark VI beat 'em all for sound and key comfort. The Silver Yamaha was the most appealing of the new horns. I even came back a SECOND time to play the VI against just the silver 875. Again, the VI held up.

The VI can be played sweet, fat, bright, dark, whispered, brassy.... I know the VI has its detractors, and some love the horn but hate the pricetag. But when you play a storeful of horns and the VI comes out the favorite, it SAYS something.

Self fulfilling prophesy? No way. The store was going to give me a GREAT deal on any horn I might have chosen. I WANTED to find a better horn than the VI. Didn't happen.

Bought the VI. Can't complain! :-)

The Series III had a really nice, big, open palm key register. Other than that, I just could not really get excited.
User ID: 9642053
Jul 6th 1:37 PM
Steve S: Mark VI are fine horns. I'm glad you bought one that you liked. But someone had to sell that horn initially in order for you to get it. I know of fine players who sold their Mark VI gladly for other horns, including the ones you turned down.

Which goes to prove that there are differences in taste.
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