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Looking for a Mark VI tenor online,

Any tips about buying when you can't try the horn first?

Don't. (unless there is a cast iron no quibble return policy that doesn't involve you paying shipping, which is very unlikely). MKVIs range from being great horns to not so good worn out old bangers. I've played MKVIs I like and those that I don't.

Maybe buying from a reputable dealer would often be OK, but you'd be paying premium price of course.
 

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My tip would be to buy it on eBay as that way you can return under any circumstances including “a change of heart” “I don’t like it” or simply because you can.
If you need to ask on here for tips about buying online, then it’s really something you should avoid.
 

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Pete is pretty much on the money.

You can buy most saxophones online without any worries, but so inflated is the reputation of the Selmer Mark VI instruments, especially the tenor variety, that you would be laying yourself wide open to fraudsters if you tried buying one of these on eBay or Craig's List or similar websites where you have no real means of checking the worth of the seller.

If for whatever reasons you must buy a Mark VI online, you have really only two choices:

1. use a dedicated musicians' website such as this one, where you can carry out checks on the reliability of the sellers (to some extent, anyway) or

2. restrict yourself to reputable commercial companies specialising in secondhand saxophones, of which there are not really very many who deal regularly in Mark VIs. Some that spring to mind are Saxquest, PM Woodwinds and Roberto's. There are others, of course, but not that many.

If you deal with a commercial outfit, you have to pay the middle man's markup — but it's well worth it for the security !
 

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I like reputable shops best, but auction sites are ok if you do your homework. Also, beware shipping practices. Receiving a horn that was damaged in shipping is both sad, and stressful to correct. Make sure they really know how to package a horn for shipping, and make sure its not the new guy in the back.
 

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I like reputable shops best, but auction sites are ok if you do your homework. Also, beware shipping practices. Receiving a horn that was damaged in shipping is both sad, and stressful to correct. Make sure they really know how to package a horn for shipping, and make sure its not the new guy in the back.
How can you know whether someone at an auction site knows their stuff, or is even truly knowledgeable? With all the info on the ‘net these days, it is becoming easier and easier to fake it. I do buy occasionally from unknown sellers, but that sale price includes a large buffer for overhaul. I would NOT recommend the same practice to someone that doesn’t already know the ropes.

+1 for dealing with TenorMadness.com or PMWoodwind.com for Selmers. Gayle, at VintageSax.com, is great too, but she doesn’t deal so much in Selmers - vintage American horns are her bag. Aaron Barnard, BarnardRepair.com, is superb as well - I know him as the go-to guy for Kings, but if he has a Selmer that you like, I’d certainly trust him.
 

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My tip would be to buy it on eBay as that way you can return under any circumstances including “a change of heart” “I don’t like it” or simply because you can.
If you need to ask on here for tips about buying online, then it’s really something you should avoid.
You don't say how much you want to spend. It's going to depend on what serial number you want. The earlier ones go for much more money than the newer ones but I prefer them to the newer ones. You can get a pretty nice one and return it if you don't like it but you'll probably have to pay for the shipping and if you're willing to do that then go for it. I'd get a serial number between 73XXX and 165XXX. You'll be safe in that range. Phil Barone
 

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I’ve bought (and sold) Mark VI’s and other horns on eBay with no issues whatsoever. The great thing about buying on eBay (and the not-so-great thing about selling there) is that eBay is so buyer-biased in the implementation of its money back guaranty that you can pretty much use the “item not described” reason to return anything you buy that you don’t like and you’re almost automatically guaranteed to get your money back (I’ve only ever returned items for that reason when they were in fact not as described and I’ve never had anyone return any of my items based on that reason, but you can just google various discussions on the matter to confirm).

One downside is that you almost always have to spend a significant amount in addition to your purchase price to out the horn in playing condition. The counterbalance to that is that you will typically be able to buy a horn on eBay for thousands of dollars less than what you would pay for it from a dealer. So even with the cost of overhauling, you’d still be way ahead of where you’d be had you purchased from a dealer.

Just recently, I was able to buy a 72xxx alto on eBay for around $4,500. When it came to me, I took it to Manny at the Horn connection, who, unsurprisingly, determined that it needed a complete overhaul. Because the seller did not describe the item accurately (didn’t describe condition of pads, certain resolders, etc., I was able to get him to agree to pay for half of the cost of the overhaul. So all in all, it cost me about $5,000 (including my half of the overhaul). Even if I had ended up paying for the entire cost of the overhaul, my total cost would only have been around $5,500. Based on my research, similar horns within the same serial number range are being sold by dealers at around $7,500 and up.

The horn now plays like a dream and has become my main horn. Manny himself told me how much he liked it (if you know Manny, you’ll know that he’ll tell you straight up if he thinks your horn is a dog). My teacher also loves it and likes it even better than his own horn (also a 72xxx).

I’ve also been lucky on Craigslist (bought a 207xxx that plays fantastic for $4,000 and a great 96xxx for $4,900). Both horns only needed minor reconditioning (about $200 each). What I liked about buying on CL is that while I was still able to get great bargains, I was actually able to inspect and play test each before deciding to buy. Having said that, I've not seen any similar great deals on CL since I bought those 2 (about a year or 2 ago). However, again, because of eBay's money back guarantee, in the event you end up buying a dog of a horn on eBay, you'd at the very least be able to return it and get your money back (shipping will be charged to the seller as well).

I don’t think I’d ever buy from a dealer (or sell to them for that matter) because I'd almost certainly be short-changing myself a couple of thousand dollars by doing so (I once explored selling to dealers just to see what that's like and the best offer I got was about $1,500 less than the going rate on eBay; really understandable since dealers do need to make a profit).
 

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I’ve bought (and sold) Mark VI’s and other horns on eBay with no issues whatsoever. The great thing about buying on eBay (and the not-so-great thing about selling there) is that eBay is so buyer-biased in the implementation of its money back guaranty that you can pretty much use the “item not described” reason to return anything you buy that you don’t like and you’re almost automatically guaranteed to get your money back (I’ve only ever returned items for that reason when they were in fact not as described and I’ve never had anyone return any of my items based on that reason, but you can just google various discussions on the matter to confirm).

One downside is that you almost always have to spend a significant amount in addition to your purchase price to out the horn in playing condition. The counterbalance to that is that you will typically be able to buy a horn on eBay for thousands of dollars less than what you would pay for it from a dealer. So even with the cost of overhauling, you’d still be way ahead of where you’d be had you purchased from a dealer.

Just recently, I was able to buy a 72xxx alto on eBay for around $4,500. When it came to me, I took it to Manny at the Horn connection, who, unsurprisingly, determined that it needed a complete overhaul. Because the seller did not describe the item accurately (didn’t describe condition of pads, certain resolders, etc., I was able to get him to agree to pay for half of the cost of the overhaul. So all in all, it cost me about $5,000 (including my half of the overhaul).

The horn now plays like a dream and has become my main horn. Manny himself told me how much he liked it (if you know Manny, you’ll know that he’ll tell you straight up if he thinks your horn is a dog). My teacher also loves it and likes ignoring even better than his own horn (also a 72xxx).

Based on my research, similar horns within the same serial number range are being sold by dealers at around $7,500 and up.

I’ve also been lucky on Craigslist (bought a 207xxx that plays fantastic for $4,000 and a great 96xxx for $4,900). What I liked about buying on CL is that while I was still able to get great bargains, I was actually able to inspect and play test each before deciding to buy. Having said that, I've not seen any similar great deals on CL since I bought those 2 (about a year or 2 ago).

I don’t think I’d ever buy from a dealer (or sell to them for that matter) because I'd almost certainly be short-changing myself a couple of thousand dollars by doing so (I once explored selling to dealers just to see what that's like and the best offer I got was about $1,500 less than the going rate on eBay; really understandable since dealers do need to make a profit).
I agree with everything here. This is why I don't sell on Ebay. It will cost near $100 to ship a $4000 horn. I won't pay for that either, especially in the fickle MKVI buyer. I have two Mkvi for sale in the 4k range and the buyer can come to my house and try them. The guy that agreed to pay $500 of the overhaul was a fool. You are almost sure to encounter this in shipping expensive horns. People will try to hustle you for some sort of refund. I am not saying that was the case here, if it was grossly mis described. However shops are in the business of selling overhauls and their opinions are suspect. I encountered this countless times before I started doing the work myself. For these reasons, and the incredible number of ways to get scammed, I don't use Paypal on expensive horn sales. However if a person want to pay upfront, and shipping both ways in case of a return, I will do a long distance sale. In the rare event someone proves to me I didn't describe the item correctly thats a different matter. That has yet to happen.
 

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Don't. (unless there is a cast iron no quibble return policy that doesn't involve you paying shipping, which is very unlikely). MKVIs range from being great horns to not so good worn out old bangers. I've played MKVIs I like and those that I don't.

Maybe buying from a reputable dealer would often be OK, but you'd be paying premium price of course.
+1 - another thing I've noticed is that most of us would likely agree on the "old bangers" and often the really really good playing horns but most of the VIs I've tried (probably 20 or so) I would categorize in between. I've played Selmers owned by folks who are completely infatuated with them and come away just feeling meh.... it's an okay horn but nothing really special. Which horns feel right to any particular player and why is a bit of a mystery and for me there would too much money involved to buy a vintage Selmer untested. Of course, if you aren't planning to play the horn much and just want to own a Mark VI so you're part of the club you could just get the nicest 5-digit you can afford. If you want one you're going to really love playing (and likely pay $6000+ for) you owe yourself a road trip to a shop that has several to try.
 

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I agree with everything here. This is why I don't sell on Ebay. It will cost near $100 to ship a $4000 horn. I won't pay for that either, especially in the fickle MKVI buyer. I have two Mkvi for sale in the 4k range and the buyer can come to my house and try them. The guy that agreed to pay $500 of the overhaul was a fool. You are almost sure to encounter this in shipping expensive horns. People will try to hustle you for some sort of refund. I am not saying that was the case here, if it was grossly mis described. However shops are in the business of selling overhauls and their opinions are suspect. I encountered this countless times before I started doing the work myself. For these reasons, and the incredible number of ways to get scammed, I don't use Paypal on expensive horn sales. However if a person want to pay upfront, and shipping both ways in case of a return, I will do a long distance sale. In the rare event someone proves to me I didn't describe the item correctly thats a different matter. That has yet to happen.
The seller was not a player. The horn belonged to his son, who stopped playing it 20 or so years ago. I told him I understood that he tried his best to describe the horn, but he should have at least taken it to a tech to either get it fixed or to tell him what he needed to disclose in his listing. I also sent him the Yelp link for the Horn Connection so he could contact Manny himself. I offered him the option of accepting a return so he could take it to his own tech and relist with an accurate description or paying for half of the overhaul and asked him if he had other suggestions for a resolution as well. He didn't want to be bothered dealing with a return, going to the tech and relisting, so he agreed to shoulder half.

He was certainly not a fool. He was a good guy who wanted to do things the right way and just didn't want to deal with the extra hassle. I am also not a hustler by any means. I'm sure you have your reasons, probably based on your own experiences, for being so jaded and assuming everyone is out there to hustle everyone else. But there are in fact a lot of decent people in this world.

I've sold a couple of horns and various mouthpieces, preamps, mics and other gear on eBay. I've never had to deal with a return, but I make it a point to describe all my listings very thoroughly. I've recently agreed to pay half of the cost of repairing a preamp that got damaged in shipping, not because I'm a fool, but because I like to do things the right way as well, and the general rule is that anything that happens during shipping is still the responsibility of the seller (that's why you insure the stuff you ship out). In this case, I'm only paying for half (and not the entire cost) because the buyer waited 3 weeks before testing the item and getting back to me and they had already left me a positive feedback (there were other details as to why it took them so long and why they'd left me a positive feedback I won't get into here). Technically, I could have just told him to take a hike for taking so long and because I already had his positive feedback, but I wanted to do the right thing (in this case a compromise).

It's really a pick your poison type of deal. You can sell on eBay, where you are likely to get the highest price you can get for what you're selling but have to deal with the risk of getting "scammed," or you sell on other places like CL or even here, where the risk is minimized (scams still happen, even here from certain threads I've come across) but where you would almost certainly have to settle for significantly less than what you'd otherwise get for your item (I've also seen the threads here where the seller sadly keeps walking down the price of the item being sold after weeks and months of not getting any action). Or you can try to sell to dealers, who will automatically slash at least 1/3 from your asking price. It just depends on your risk appetite, how you assess the trade-offs and your own previous experience.
 

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Yeah, I got bullied on a sale recently - PayPal, buyer whining, I get stung... Never again.
 

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In case this is helpful, here's what I do whenever I sell high value items on eBay (or anywhere else for that matter):

1) On the day I ship out the item (I preface each video by stating the date and time), I first take a video of me testing it out to confirm that it's working as it should. I also take a video of the item from all angles and focus on any flaws (which I would have already described and shown photos of in the listing) and other distinguishing marks (serial numbers, unusual marks, scratches, etc.).

2) I take a video of the entire process during which I (or the packing service) pack(s) the item, capturing each step of the process until the box has been sealed and the label has been affixed. I then capture each angle of the package, focusing particularly on any distinguishing marks and the way the package has been taped up, and especially on the shipping label.

3) When I drop off the package, I take a video of me putting it in the drop-off bin or handing it to the shipping agent. Again, I make sure I capture all angles and all distinguishing marks (for purposes of confirming that the package dropped off was exactly the package that was packed up, if necessary).

So far, I've never had to use any of my videos related to a dispute (never really had a dispute so far aside from the one I described above). However, in the event a buyer decides to get cute and try to scam me (e.g., some people claim that the buyer puts a rock/older/damaged item inside the package and claims that was what they received), I can readily send the videos to whoever is adjudicating the dispute.

It's a pain in the behind to have to do all that, but it gives me good protection against getting scammed, so it's totally worth all the extra effort. Obviously, the level of thoroughness I implement when taking the videos will depend on the value of the item.
 

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Administrator note:

I had to delete a post soliciting a new member who does not yet qualify for access to the Marketplace, and cannot therefor buy/sell/trade. At the very top of this sub forum is posted this crystal clear warning:

This Sub Forum is for the discussion of valuation only. Any attempt to circumvent the Buy/Sell/Trade rules of the Marketplace (The only place such transactions belong) will result in removal of the offenders from the forum.
We aren't going to chase around those who continue to ignore and breach the rules. If we have to entirely remove the Marketplace and all private transactions we will.
 

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I'll say that buying a MK VI on line, even from a known dealer, you are likely to be unhappy with the deal. I bought my latest one (#3) in 1998 from a very respectable place in Utah and it was listed as 'mint'. When I got it, it did have a very high percentage of lacquer and was a nice horn, but the more I looked, the more I saw. Without taking it out of the house, I had to tear it all down and correct a set-up that appeared to have been done as a spoof or maybe to demonstrate what not to do. Like, felts glued to the body instead of under the key, the needle tip cut off of every spring (severely limits re-tensioning springs because they are now too short to take any more bending) and corks glued in strange places, like the big post that supports the table keys that is relieved for the A key. You probably have never seen the relief cut on the lower half of this post if you've never taken a sax apart, but some idiot glued a thin piece of cork in that cut - the key never touches the post and there's no sense in that whatsoever. But you can imagine, if they did all this, what else did they do?
Then I realized that the sax had been involved in some kind of incident, and the bell and neck had been reshaped. There are still 'ridges' on the side of the bell that you can feel, and the neck doesn't quite have enough 'upturn' on the mouthpiece end. Still, I've been playing it for 20 years and it has been a great one. Its now getting to be time for a mechanical restoration on it and the issues will be addressed then.

I feel like those who never had a MK VI before really should just buy a new premium instrument after trying many of all makes and models. The MK VI is mostly valued by those of us who have been using them for many years. We bought them because of all the artists who were using them. I just don't see any reason for younger players to now spend as much on a used/abused MK VI as they would on a brand new Selmer Paris or other premium sax, ESPECIALLY without playing it and having your tech look it over.

MK VI 'dogs': they are out there but remember one thing - none of them left the factory that way. If a sax didn't play to minimum standards, it would be repaired/fixed or removed from the system. They might send it to France to see what was wrong or simply scrap it. Obviously there were various 'grades' of MK VIs, and they did play and evaluate every one (for USA distribution) at Elkhart. Exceptional ones (A grade) were reserved for Selmer artists and other high-profile uses. The B-grade was for Selmer-preferred outlets such as New York and LA for example. Your local music store received Cs and a few Bs. Now keep in mind that a 'C' was not a 'dog' - most of us might never know the difference and part of it may have been in workmanship and appearance rather than sound/tone/intonation - again, not 'defects' that anybody could see, but things like thin lacquer here and there for example.

Another thing they did during final prep was to swap necks around to see if they could improve saxes. This was the main reason they stopped numbering them in 1967. Anyway, they did create great matches, but that probably left some saxes with not-so-great combinations which would become the 'C' grades. My VI tenor has the neck it left Elkhart with but its not the neck that came from Paris with it. Certain parts of the sax will have the last 3 digits of the serial number electro-penciled on the underside. On the neck, it is under the rocker - mine is close but off a few digits.

So try not to get 'MK VI fever' - you really do not know what the heck you are getting, not without a forensic examination, and there are lots of very good new horns out there.
 

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In case this is helpful, here's what I do whenever I sell high value items on eBay (or anywhere else for that matter):

1) On the day I ship out the item (I preface each video by stating the date and time), I first take a video of me testing it out to confirm that it's working as it should. I also take a video of the item from all angles and focus on any flaws (which I would have already described and shown photos of in the listing) and other distinguishing marks (serial numbers, unusual marks, scratches, etc.).

2) I take a video of the entire process during which I (or the packing service) pack(s) the item, capturing each step of the process until the box has been sealed and the label has been affixed. I then capture each angle of the package, focusing particularly on any distinguishing marks and the way the package has been taped up, and especially on the shipping label.

3) When I drop off the package, I take a video of me putting it in the drop-off bin or handing it to the shipping agent. Again, I make sure I capture all angles and all distinguishing marks (for purposes of confirming that the package dropped off was exactly the package that was packed up, if necessary).

So far, I've never had to use any of my videos related to a dispute (never really had a dispute so far aside from the one I described above). However, in the event a buyer decides to get cute and try to scam me (e.g., some people claim that the buyer puts a rock/older/damaged item inside the package and claims that was what they received), I can readily send the videos to whoever is adjudicating the dispute.

It's a pain in the behind to have to do all that, but it gives me good protection against getting scammed, so it's totally worth all the extra effort. Obviously, the level of thoroughness I implement when taking the videos will depend on the value of the item.
This is exactly what I do as well. I was in no way saying you were a hustler. However you bought a horn for $4500 and it didn't have pictures so you could see the resolders? I suspect you thought the price under market and the guy probably had poor pictures and a poor description. I have done this countless times and I accept the risk. If the seller said it was a great playing horn without any repairs then he should either take it back or make a deal that is agreeable to both parties. Just yesterday I received a Zephyr special alto. It needs significant work, which I will do myself. However I got it at a good price because the guy didn't even have the neck in the listing. I could have asked for some compensation. I can get a good idea of a persons intent and thats what I go by.
 

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This is exactly what I do as well. I was in no way saying you were a hustler. However you bought a horn for $4500 and it didn't have pictures so you could see the resolders? I suspect you thought the price under market and the guy probably had poor pictures and a poor description. I have done this countless times and I accept the risk. If the seller said it was a great playing horn without any repairs then he should either take it back or make a deal that is agreeable to both parties. Just yesterday I received a Zephyr special alto. It needs significant work, which I will do myself. However I got it at a good price because the guy didn't even have the neck in the listing. I could have asked for some compensation. I can get a good idea of a persons intent and thats what I go by.
Nope, there were no pictures of the resolders or descriptions thereof. Not only were there resolders, they were poorly done (crooked). I'm not a pro, so even I didn't know of the resolders until I took the horn to the tech and he told me about them. There were also dents on the bottom of the bell that are not visible, but if you feel the bell, you'll know that they're there. I didn't know about those either based on my own inspection and only found out about them when the tech told me. Oh, and another thing is that he described it as original lacquer. Took the tech 2 seconds to determine it was a relacquer. I didn't mention that earlier because I don't really care about whether a horn has its original lacquer or is a relacquered one. I care about how it plays.

I know that $4,500 is a good price. However, it's also true that I placed a bid on the item based on a total price/cost (including the expected repairs) based on the description and photos. I likely would not have placed a bid if I knew it was going to cost me $5,500 - $5,700 to be able to play the horn, regardless of the fact that that would still have been a great price for the horn in question. Was I just supposed to suck it up anyway and spend more than I was willing to?

I sell on eBay as well, and if it had been the other way around, I would probably have accepted the return, had the horn looked at and repaired by a tech, and relisted it. I would probably have gotten more money for it by advertising that it had just been overhauled. I also told him he could that. I didn't force him to give me a refund. I gave him the option of accepting the return or accepting the compromise and asked him if he had any other suggestions. His first response was yes, let's split it. So that was that.

Bottom line is, if you're a seller, you have to make sure to the extent possible that your buyer knows exactly what he's getting. Buyers make calculations and decisions based on your description and photos. If they get something different than what the description and photos indicate, that's on you as a seller. If you miss something significant (even if you just honestly missed it), that's still on you. If you don't have the expertise to ascertain the condition of the item you're selling to enable you to provide an accurate description, you take it to someone who does. When I sold my other horns on eBay, I took them to a tech first so he could fix any issues and/or tell me what's wrong with it so I could describe it accurately.
 

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Agree with Pete -
Don't, in all honesty you should only ever buy any misical instruments after you have played them for yourself and can therefore put your own value to what the instrument is worth to you in terms of playability looks etc. When it comes to vintage original lac and so on you could be opening yourself up to " the instrument was returned in poor condition with extra dents scratches and the like" and serously not worth the hassel.
I am selling a mk vi alto on ebay a great sax but have declined sales as they want it shipped unseen and I want the person to play it and be happy before they buy it, I also dont want the trouble of someone accusing me of selling something not as described, I therefore clearly state you need to come and play this sax before you purchase. Everyones interpreation of descriptions and what is or is not a great sax is different, just look at the many discussions on this site.
My advice buy what you can see and play or buy on-line if you can afford to lose the money if things are not what you expect.
Kenny
 
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