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I love the dark special tone that many people can get on a good SBA but of course the prices have gone nuts. Any opinions about excellent quality horns (vintage or modern) which can come close (and of course are more affordable)?
Dowshu
 

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I don’t find that SBAs or BAs are dark. My BA is brighter than my Mark VI.
I’m of the opinion that with each model Selmer produced the classical guys got more involved in the design.
 

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Any discussion of complex, luscious tone in an affordable horn with excellent build quality has to include the Martin Committee III, especially the early ones. As far as how close it is to an SBA tone would be for you only to decide.
 

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I agree with claxton regarding Martins. But a little anecdote - I had a 1950 SBA tenor along with my 105xxx Mark 6. When swapping the necks around, it was obvious that the sound went with the neck.

As I recall, Rich Maraday/Viking was selling aftermarket necks with that Selmer vibe. You may be looking for the right neck rather than the right horn.
 

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Any discussion of complex, luscious tone in an affordable horn with excellent build quality has to include the Martin Committee III, especially the early ones. As far as how close it is to an SBA tone would be for you only to decide.
If only my Martin III had Selmer keywork
 

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Try out the JL Woodwinds tenor. I have played several of them alongside my SBA. They sound every bit as good, and if anything, they project better. John Leadbetter has designed them with the SBA bore geometry, but with Mark VI-style keywork. I have a thread in the Miscellaneous Manufacturers section that provides both pictures and more information.
 

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Try out the JL Woodwinds tenor. I have played several of them alongside my SBA. They sound every bit as good, and if anything, they project better. John Leadbetter has designed them with the SBA bore geometry, but with Mark VI-style keywork. I have a thread in the Miscellaneous Manufacturers section that provides both pictures and more information.
Here’s one: https://www.jlwoodwindrepair.com/shop/name/jl-custom-unlacquered-rose-brass-tenor-saxophone

I’ve become sufficiently conditioned by the price of new horns from the Big Four (whomever they are anymore) that this seems a decent price ($3700).
 

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I love the dark special tone that many people can get on a good SBA but of course the prices have gone nuts. Any opinions about excellent quality horns (vintage or modern) which can come close (and of course are more affordable)?
Dowshu
In my view, Yes, there are some saxes which will get you close, but nothing which replicates.
A Yamaha 23, for example, will be “close”.

Lots of saxes have nice sounds, but nothing replicates a vintage Selmer. Which is one factor in why their price is so high. Alongside history, marketing ploys etc etc

I would tend to ignore the modern sales pitch of modern sax manufacturers who try to line their saxes up next to highly desireable vintage Selmers. SBAs or 5 digit Mark 6s , for example.

It is a sales ploy, designed to sell saxes. Nothing more.

They are using generic sax parts from manufacturers in the Far East, and cobbing together a sax, then saying it is based on this or that or the other.

It is a sales ploy.

Ive played an Ishimori. It was very nice, and one of the better modern saxes that I’ve played. But for me, not as good as a vintage Selmer
Ive played other modern “based on Selmer “ saxes which were less nice. Not even close to a Vintage Selmer, and I found it laughable that they were making such claims. I understand why they do it, but it is less than honest.

For me, I would suggest a vintage American sax, well set up, would be a better route than buying new a modern sax made in the far east. Or even assembled in the west, with parts from the far east.

Good luck
 

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Well, you know the old saying

"The only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3". Same with the Balanced Action Selmer?

Although I have played Selmer Super/Cigar Cutter/Radio Improved/New Large Bore saxes and have been mightily impressed - to my taste these sound and respond better than the BA/Mark 6 type.

I'm a lifelong Conn artist, though, so take whatever I say about Selmers with a block of salt.
 

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I've never played an SBA (or a Martin), but I do like a darker-sounding horn. The ones that hit that best for me were a Keilwerth New King and a Conn 10M, closely followed by a Dolnet Bel Air. The farthest away from it was a Yamaha YTS-21.
 
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