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Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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7,752 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I see that the rumors have won the war with anyone looking for a Level Air specifying 'original pre-Selmer' as if the post-Selmer ones were dog meat. They're not at all. Thinking back on it, I started buying them in 1963, so I guess my first one could have been a pre-Selmer. It was a 5* and at that time I would not have known whether it was good or bad, except even then I gravitated toward mouthpieces that played a certain way for me, and everybody always pestered me to buy my used ones so I guess maybe I did pick out good playable mouthpieces. But all the rest of them I had were what some are calling 'Gen 2' - same as the original except made by a contractor (Runyon, I think) for Selmer. I played a 9* on tenor for 23 years that I bought in '66. During that time I also used a 7* on alto and a 9* on baritone. All of them were good mouthpieces. I recently got another 9* for baritone which was made in '75, and it turned out to be just what I was looking for and the best one I have had on bari. The late ones had a higher polish than the early ones and the beak inserts were some kind of plastic rather than hard rubber, but every one I have been associated with played great.
The reason I think Runyon made the Selmer ones is they came out with a very similar design for their 'Quantum' series, and I know Runyon went on to make the ill-fated Gen 3 'Level Air' for Selmer that wasn't a Level Air at all but a re-labeled Runyon of some kind. If it wasn't Runyon for the Gen 2 it would have to be Babbitt, because they were making the non-metal Brilharts for Selmer.
Anyway, Level Air players shouldn't automatically ignore the Gen 2 examples because there are jewels among them. Plus, if its in great condition but doesn't play as well as you think it should, it might be a good idea to spend a little more and get it dialed in. BTW, anybody playing a Level Air, try a Rovner ligature - its a great combo.

Generation 2 Brilhart Level Air sold by Selmer, made in 1975:
 
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