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I have always been spoiled with horns , I don't recall what my grade school horn but I had a Martin Indiana in 7th grade and that was replaced by a Yamaha YAS21 in 9th grade when the school got new rental horns. When I got to High school I was lucky enough to get a very old, but barely maintained Selmer Mark VI. When I was to graduate I was looking at the Selmers available at that time, which were the Super Action 80s and used Mark VIs. My instructor found and arranged through a friend of his for me to try a Buffet S1 Alto. I Loved it and bought the horn and that is what I have played ever since. I used a crappy Tenor, in college when they needed me to play tenor and I had a bari that I was swear was used a battering ram at one time in its life. There were the only horns I have ever played, which I guess has given me a limited perspective of the world of saxophones.

My Buffet was wonderful and I have played it exactly as it was when it came out of the box so I don't know if anything was ever "setup" on it. I am still not sure at this point what exactly would or could be set up but that will be part of my question at the end of this all.

Years ago I was a better player. Playing sax put me through college and was one of my favorite things to do. Later when I moved into an apartment practicing became difficult and when I got married and had kids my horn ended up sleeping in my closet. I started playing again recently, practicing only for myself, about an hour a day for the past 6 months. I have been playing my old lesson books again and having an awesome time all the while wondering why I stopped playing for 10 to 15 years.

As a treat for my birthday I took a long drive to a vintage horn store to try some of the old classic horns to see what they were like since I have had very little experience with any horns other than the 3 altos I mentioned above. I was mostly curious about the conn 6M after reading the Stephen Howard review ( http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Alto/Conn_6M.htm ) of those horns. I got to try two of the the 6M naked ladies. The first thing I notice was they were much lighter than my Buffet and they felt smaller, almost toy like in my hands. The keys and touch points seemed small and strangely positions compared to what I was used to but that was to be expected considering this horn predated ergonomics. I wasn't expecting much.

Everything changed when I started to blow and play. The sound was amazing, I loved it but the thing that astounded me the most was the action of the keys. Stephen Howards review was dead on , the horn was really fast. One of the reasons I loved my Buffet is for the feel of the action and speed at which it works but this little 6M blew me away. I played for about an hour bouncing back and forth between the two horns becoming more and more comfortable with some of their key positioning. I swear I missed the g# half the time because the key was not where I would expect it but I think I could get used to that. I left the horn at the store as I have not saved up enough money yet ( diapers, college funds and the mortgage make saving for toys a slow business).

I have been thinking about this horn since I left because I want one and because I don't understand how why this 60 or 70 year old horn is so much faster feeling than my Buffet. I spoke to the tech who was there and he said he had set it up as more of a "closed horn". The key travel was very slight. My finger on the key had very little distance to travel to close it down. The second 6M had a bit more travel and therefore didn't feel quite as fast as the "closed horn".
Now for my questions:

Can my buffet be adjusted down so there is less key travel and thus making it faster? ( by a tech, not by me )

Should this kind of adjustment been done when I bought the horn new but wasn't because it was never "setup"?

Why aren't more people playing these horns?

The 26M , is it better then the 6m? should I try to find one of those to try?

What is better for a horn like this for a mouthpiece? Metal or HR? ( yes, i should go look at all the threads on this topic... )

How should I go about sneaking money to save for one of these? Anyone want to buy a kidney?


Sorry for the long post.
 

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Now for my questions:

Can my buffet be adjusted down so there is less key travel and thus making it faster? ( by a tech, not by me )
Absolutely. Most people don't talk about key height much, but it's not such a hard thing to change (though it does require replacing most of the corks). The thing is...you don't only adjust the speed of the action by setting the key height lower than it originally was. Key heights can affect intonation (see this... http://www.musicmedic.com/info/articles/num_48.html). And most feel that setting the height too low, while it does help to speed up the action (though it really doesn't speed up, you just have less distance to cover from the pad to the tone hole), it is at the cost of the horn sounding stuffy or not 'speaking' well.

Should this kind of adjustment been done when I bought the horn new but wasn't because it was never "setup"?
While some like their keys set low, some like them high, most like them somewhere in between. And generally there is an optimum place where the sax speaks well with respectable intonation...in many cases this is the height that a sax is setup with (which could very well be higher than what you would like).

Why aren't more people playing these horns?
6M's? I think there are quite a few people that play them (I have an early one myself!). Just like most vintage saxes...however incredible they may be, the following is not nearly as profound as with modern saxes.

The 26M , is it better then the 6m? should I try to find one of those to try?
Yes and no. A big difference between the two is that the 26M has adjustment screws for practically anything a tech could care to adjust. I've found that some people like working on them more than a 6M, and some don't. And there are other little things like silver keytouches, but they don't make it play any better :TGNCHK:.

Since they're rarer than 6M's, they tend to bring a little more money as well...so if you're already on a budget, they might not be worth the extra investment.

IMHO all things being equal, a 26M won't blow the keys off a 6M. Purely from a playing perspective, I don't consider the 26M to be superior. Different, very possibly...but not necessarily better.

What is better for a horn like this for a mouthpiece? Metal or HR? ( yes, i should go look at all the threads on this topic... )
The issue really isn't the material, it's what the inside of the mouthpiece looks like. A lot of this is just personal preference, but on most older alto's I go for something that has a rollover baffle and either a medium or large chamber.
 

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Nice horns the S1's quite unique IMO but the "Naked Ladies"? well they always win in the end--enjoy their elusive charms--possibly the ultimate Alto Saxophone.
 

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I have played mk 6's for 20 years. I have always looked for something better and have tried everything out there.
In fact, I bought Buffet S1 from Bopity Funk a few years ago (thanks mark)

I really liked it but went back to my Mk6, as usual.

6 months ago I bought a near mint silver plated conn 6m v111.

It is fantastic. I havent played my mk6 since.

good luck
 
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