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Discussion Starter #1
I'm considering adding key arm supports to my Mark VI alto. Maybe a double arm support on the low B like the Yanagisawas and/or the "helper bar" to ensure a tight close on the low B like I see on Yamaha Customs. Any thoughts? Is this a stupid idea? I would have one of the highly touted techs in the U.S. do it, so I don't think an incompetent tech would be a concern. I'm just wondering if you all think these mods help, or if it is just too dangerous for devaluation?
Thanks.
 

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vivace1 said:
..... or if it is just too dangerous for devaluation?
yes of course it is, besides looking for a good sounding instrument, most people who want to buy a Mark VI want an original instrument, anything added or subtracted will no doubt detract from its value.

Then a few questions. Why do you want to modify it? Do you have a problem at all ? Is this a problem which (if at all present) cannot be addressed with a good set up allowing you (like any other Mark VI owner) to play this instrument as it was meant to be played?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, first I haven't yet dropped 1000 on the overhaul it needs. That said, even after I've taken it to various techs for a fresh setup, the low notes aren't as solid as I've experienced on modern horns. For jazz, getting whisper soft attacks on low B and Bb aren't as necessary to me as they are when I'm playing classical. I don't hear many big classical players on these horns, and while I'm tempted to follow them and switch to a Yamaha/Series II/Yana, I love the sound of my VI and would like to get it up to the performance standards of these modern makes. Like intonation and key noise, is this just another one of the flaws you just have to live with when you're on a VI?


I guess the devaluation issue isn't huge for me since I never plan to sell. On the issue of whether or not it works at all though...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
One more thing, I know VI metal is softer than metals used today....this is why I'm thinking helper keys may be in order. I don't want to be constantly de-leaking my horn down there as I am now.
 

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Well, first I haven't yet dropped 1000 on the overhaul it needs.
You say it needs an overhaul? This might fix the problem.
That is a lot of money for an overhaul, does that include relacquering?

I'm just wondering if you all think these mods help, or if it is just too dangerous for devaluation?
The horn shoulden't need any mods.
 

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vivace1 said:
That said, even after I've taken it to various techs for a fresh setup, the low notes aren't as solid as I've experienced on modern horns. For jazz, getting whisper soft attacks on low B and Bb aren't as necessary to me as they are when I'm playing classical.
A soft low B is a tricky note on many Selmer altos. The VI alto bow had been modified during its run to address this very issue. If you've got a mouthpiece that doesn't push in relatively far, you're going to get a warble on a soft low B unless you compensate with your air stream or modify the bow (by dropping in a wine cork or afixing a permanent baffle to reduce its diameter). I don't think adding an extra arm is going to help, because when I had the problem with an old SBA, I'd have someone hold the pad shut tight to no avail. But you did say the horn needs an overhaul. Perhaps when any leaks are sealed, you may not have this problem. Should it remain though... well, there's a wealth of information on the subject; both here and elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks

Great suggestions all around. I now vaguely remember someone telling me about the cork down the bell trick. I'll give this a shot.

Grumps: you mentioned the bow being a problem in VIs. I've heard mention of later VIs having a "medium bow." Was this Selmer's attempt at fixing this problem?

Hornfixer: Price includes a killin' cherry red paint job, chrome key work, and busty women engraved all over :D . ...really, I'm just estimating the 800-900 quotes I see everywhere with Roo pads, delivery, insurance, etc..

Haduran: I think you're right that it's probably the excess play. This is definitely why I'm after the overhaul. The horn plays great, but all the clank from loose keys makes it virtually unusable for classical. I think the opinions here have convinced me that I just need to do the overhaul, and see what happens.

I've been talked out of this modification. I will get the overhaul without the modifications.
 

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vivace1 said:
Grumps: you mentioned the bow being a problem in VIs. I've heard mention of later VIs having a "medium bow." Was this Selmer's attempt at fixing this problem?
Some folks might tell you it was done for intonation issues, but I know a tech who learned of a Selmer factory bow fix during this time, and it was for low B. Basically, it means gluing/soldering a flat, 2" by 4" oval piece of brass longways to the bottom of the bow. Some folks might even be surprised to look inside their VI alto and see such a piece down there; especially those with low A altos.
 

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vivace1 said:
One more thing, I know VI metal is softer than metals used today...
Please tell me how you KNOW this. That is not my experience with Selmers of that vintage. If your keys have been repeatedly bent beyond that elastic limit by heavy handed techs that couldn't get it right on the first try, you might be correct. Else, the brass of the Mk VI mechanism is among the best.

Regarding classical on a Mk VI alto, the leader of my classical quartet is a "retired" professor of the saxophone. He plays the same Mk VI alto that he has been using for the last 40 years or so. The other alto player has a performance degree in saxophone and also uses the same Mk VI that she has had since her college days - about 30 years or so. Her alto was just overhauled by Randy Jones two years ago and he did a marvelous job.

Bottom line: You probably don't need the Goodson helper bars and extra low B stiffeners. You "just" need a competent tech to do a good overhaul.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Dr. G: "Please tell me how you KNOW this."

Hearsay ...or maybe it was a friend of a friend of a Rascher disciple.

Dr. G: "Bottom line: You probably don't need the Goodson helper bars and extra low B stiffeners. You "just" need a competent tech to do a good overhaul."

I've actually seen other techs use these mods, which is why I was wondering...thinking that maybe this practice was gaining in popularity.

And, I agree, "just" is glib for the profession. ;)
 

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"Bottom line: You probably don't need the Goodson helper bars and extra low B stiffeners. You "just" need a competent tech to do a good overhaul."

Hear, hear!
 

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vivace1 said:
Dr. G: "Please tell me how you KNOW this."

Hearsay ...or maybe it was a friend of a friend of a Rascher disciple.
;) That could make sense - since they dislike Selmers due to the party line.

It really isn't an issue with a Mk VI that hasn't been abused. Especially on an alto where the arms are shorter (and therefore more geometrically stiff).

vivace1 said:
I've actually seen other techs use these mods, which is why I was wondering...thinking that maybe this practice was gaining in popularity.
I remember when platform shoes were popular too. That doesn't make it right. ;)

As I said, what may make sense on a larger horn doesn't necessarily translate to the alto. I doubt that my Borgani NEEDS the additional support but I won't be sawing through them to prove my point. Of the many other horns I've had over the last 30+ years, stability of the low B cup has never been an issue. If you look at the mechanism, there is little reason to add the arms in an attempt to resist high amounts of torque - it just isn't there.
 

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There are plenty of factors that make the low B tricky, and adding more key arms won't resolve it and will only reduce the value (as well as looking ugly).

Make sure all the pads are seating well and the mechanism is well regulated, there's minimal lateral play in the main action, there's not too much wear in the long keys mounted between point screws, all pillars are secure, the bell to body joint is tight and well sealed, the crook is a good fit in the socket, the crook cork is well glued on and greased and your reed is sealing well on the mouthpiece.
 

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That sounds like a lot of work. Maybe adding another arm to the cup is easier - even if it doesn't make the low B any better. ;)
 

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The only "helper bar" that I would have added to my MarkVI would be the one welded on the F key to make sure the F# closes well. I've seen this done on a few horns including Brecker's tenor.
 
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