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What are the differences between a Early Mark Vi and a Late Mark Vi, in sound, intonation, ergos, action etc..
Thanks Justin
 

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The biggest change I have found was around the mid 60s when the bow was lengthened. I find these horns to not be as free blowing compared to the earlier ones.
 

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But, they are still amazing.

jdj52, don't get caught up in the serial number or original lacquer craze, concentrate on how the individual horn plays, for you. I've had dozens of Mark VIs come through the shop from serial 57,xxx to 236,xxx and they were each wonderful horns. Compare instruments, not statistics is my advice.
SG
 

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Another consideration is whether you're asking about alto's, tenor's, bari's, etc.

They all have different breakdowns depending on what you're looking for. Covering all of it would take a few pages at the very least :). Searching will yield quite a bit of info.

Some have preferences in regard to long or short bows when it comes to alto's. Some people aren't very fond of the ball bearing mechanism for side Bb and C keys that was implemented in the 60's. But these are just a few of many things that players have discussed on here (again, the search function is your friend).

I've never found any differences when it comes to ergonomics...IMHO, a VI feels like a VI feels like a VI. Although a VI definitely feels different in my hands when compared to an SBA...VII...or a modern horn like a SA 80.

When it comes to the sound...some people will say 'if you get an -insert serial number here- you sound just like so-and-so', or that one serial number range plays a certain way while another serial number range is different. The problem with many opinions of this kind is that the players who make them have only played a few VI's (in most cases). From what I've found, there is no correlation between serial numbers and any particular traits (such as a 120XXX projects more and is more free blowing vs the 65XXX which is dark and smokey with more resistance). Mark VI's in general have a sound that is different than other Selmer's, but I've found some VI's from very different periods that have a similar sound...and some VI's that were very close in serial numbers that had very different voices.

Is there a particular reason you ask? Are you thinking about buying a VI? If so, if you say what kind you're looking for (or at), we might be able to give some more specific advice/insight.
 

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I can really only comment on altos because I don't really have enough experience with the tenors or baris. I've now owned two MkVI alto's, and because I travel a lot and like to visit music stores (mouthpiece in hand), I've been fortunate to play a lot of different samples...more than I can count. As much as people like to try you really can't categorize the playing/sound characteristics by serial number ranges. It's been broadly discussed on here and other forums how the VI run changed dramatically over the years (bow length, neck tenon size, etc...). Those changes only allow you to put a horn in a particular category from a physical characteristic perspective. But in my experience those physical characteristics don't necessarily mean that a specific sample will play good or bad, bright or dark, or in tune or out of tune. Each horn seems to have its own personality. And there are so many variables, not the least of which being the player him/her self. That's why one horn may feel great to you, but feel like a dog to the next guy or gal. Also, you can't eliminate the all important factor of setup. A horn that has been lovingly caressed by the hands of a highly skilled tech makes a big difference, perhaps more so than the serial number that happens to appear under the thumb hook (just my opinion). So if you are looking to buy a horn, any horn for that matter, play lots of them until the right one lands in your hands. Only you will know when the right one comes along...no one else can tell you that. Oh, and don't forget to enjoy the search because playing lots of different samples of horns sure is fun. It really is a fantastic instrument, isn't it.
 

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I've found good and bad ones, with different characteristics in all eras of Mark VI. Often people talk about serial numbers as if it's an indication of what the horn is like, but i don't believe you can go on that.
 

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So many people here buy on serial # alone, or the general buzz about a particular horn-of-the-month. This can help as a starting point if you're an inexperienced player and can't tell the difference (in that case, have your teacher help you find a horn), but there are no absolute rules here. Best thing you can do is find a horn that you like - one that makes you want to play all day, and work with it for a few years until you've learned all you can get out of it. At that point, if there's something different you need from the horn, try some others. Most horns (except the brand new ones - and those are cheap anyways) won't lose any value unless you've overpaid to begin with.

There may be tendencies with different periods of MK 6, but there are MANY great ones out there from all periods. Somewhere along the line, the market got crazy because people started buying horns as an investment, rather than just getting a horn that they'll play. IMO there are too many "experts" out there and not enough people who can actually play well enough to tell the difference.
 

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I've found good and bad ones, with different characteristics in all eras of Mark VI.
Right, and opinions vary regarding the best serial number range for tenors and/or altos; and generally such benchmarks rest right around the number of some famous pro's horn. I'm sure there are subtle differences that can be generalized by those most familiar with them, and yes, they were modified throughout the run. However, the only true constant seems to be the economic factor.
 

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However, the only true constant seems to be the economic factor.
But of course there is an economic difference based on serial number to some extent. The '5-digit' models tend to demand a higher price, all other things (like condition and cosmetics) being equal.

So if cost is an issue to the OP, then the earlier (5-digit) horns tend to be more expensive, and as some would say, even more over-priced, than the later models.
 

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I think there's more than just early and late. The alto bow length seemed to change around until the Phase 4 or 5. The tenor bow seemed unchanged. Here's the phases I have noticed - there's certainly more:

1) Early VI with Double SS
http://www.doctorsax.biz/Selmer_MkVI_DoubleS_Neck.htm
2) Later Early with VI marked by thumb
http://cgi.ebay.com/1957-Selmer-Mar...902?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c17daa72e
3) Later Later Early with Serial Number on Body and Neck - Brecker Era 80,000ish to 110,000-ish
http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Selmer-...l_Instruments_Instruments&hash=item230ea0ae03
4) Early Later Serial Number on Neck but Ball joints on side keys - Altos in Grey Cases -Still metal Thumb Hook.
http://cgi.ebay.com/SELMER-MARK-VI-...140?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b00e4224
5) Middle Later Bow on Altos settled down - Sanborn Era - I think Sonny Rollins
6) Later Later - Mass Production in full force - Black Zipper Cases. Eric Marienthal Era
http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-SELMER-...360?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2561a44878

This is rough but some info I've noticed over the years. You could probably go to USAHorn (or other retail site) and look different serial number ranges. Each era is also assiciated with a certain tone quality while the earlier ones are thought to be more Mello - while the middle era is more aggressive and edgy BUT It's ALL SPECULATION.
 

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Another important point is matching the mpc with the horn. I have a later mark 6 that has a more-focused sound. That horn needs a darker, more spread mpc than an earlier mark 6, whereas an earlier mark 6 might work better with a more-focused mpc. While this is not always possible, it helps to have a couple different mpc's when trying horns..
 

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What are the differences between a Early Mark Vi and a Late Mark Vi, in sound, intonation, ergos, action etc..
Thanks Justin
Assuming there really is some useful info on this, it would help if you'd specify alto, tenor, bari...... Otherwise we'll be mixing 'apples & oranges.'
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well i am questioning the Mark Vi Altos, I wanted to know because i've seen such a price difference in the early ones compared to the newer horns.
Justin
 

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Likewise with re-lacquered horns. Some of the best sounding Marks that have come through the shop have been re-lacs. My observation, there ain't no difference in an original lacqer horn vs a re-lac. Obviously for aesthetic reasons you would want a nicely done re-lac but thus far a difference in sound is undetectable. Must admit, however, that in the case of the re-lacs I didn't get to hear or play the horn before it was re-lacquered so in a hand made complex instrument like a saxophone it's impossible to clearly state that there is no change unless you play and hear the before as well as the after. Just saying, I've sure had some great playing re-lacs through here.

So we've taken out serial numbers and introduced the long debated re-lac issue, what's left? Just the natural variation in hand made horns. Each is a seperate personality and I've never played two Marks alike out of the fifty or so that I've played.

Interesting thread,
SG
 

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Just the natural variation in hand made horns. Each is a seperate personality and I've never played two Marks alike out of the fifty or so that I've played.
This might be the most useful thing I've heard on this topic, and we've heard plenty.
 

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I bought one of the late altos new, back in 1975. It was a wonderful horn, and I played it extensively until 1996, when I bought the alto that I now play, a mk6 from the first year of manufacture. The late horn seemed to play brighter, sound and tonewise. I think there were more machine made parts on the later horn, it doesn't feel as seamless in my hand as the older one I now play. I put a tremendous amount of wear on the newer horn, and as it wore, it tended to play a little sharp in the palm keys.

By contrast, the older mk6 feels like a slightly smaller horn. It's entirely hand built, so it has a slicker feel than the newer one did. The sound seems darker....mine is gold plated, but I think the earlier ones blow a little darker in general. The middle register seems a little fatter than the late horn, also. The bell is smaller, and I have no problem with intonation in the palm keys.

For me, the 1954 alto suits my needs better than the 1974 horn. But just barely. Do I miss my late, great, Selmer? YES! But the old horn is just a better quality saxophone for me today. But that last of the line mk6 was no slouch.
 

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This might be the most useful thing I've heard on this topic, and we've heard plenty.
Yes, and now what folks need to do is remember this same principle applies to all vintage horns, whether you're talking 1930s Conns or 1950s Kings. Not all of them are "born equal" due to the variations brought on by the handmade process. In other words, some of them just came out better than others. You can try to equalize some of this by having a top pro set up your inferior example, but this will only go so far. From my experience, even on old pads the stellar example will still outplay the average (or below average) one.
 

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I've owned two Mk6 altos, the first one was a 5-digit model 89xxx that I played for 20 years, and my current is a 1407xx. The biggest difference between the two is definitely the bow length. The earlier model has a long bow, and this created some quirky intonation issues on some of the low bell notes. The later model short bow has none of those same issues, and the scale is a bit more even from top to bottom . Both are great horns, both have lots of character and the same Selmer color to the sound, and they feel nearly identical in my hands. The 140 is a shade brighter with a little more edge in the tone, the 89 a bit darker and more traditional sounding. Depending on your personal taste, either horn is a great choice.
 
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