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dave2sax is right about the bow length - or rather, he meant what he said! 89xxx would be a long bow model. My 82xxx is short bow. Not sure exactly when the change to long bow happened. 140xxx was medium bow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Thanks guys,
so are you saying that length of the bow makes a difference in intonation but not sound?
 

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Don't you mean the opposite on the bow?
No - as Mike F pointed out my original post has the correct information regarding the bow length on those two horns . I guess the 140xxx could be called medium instead of short, but the 89xxx was definitely long.

While the bow length definitely affects intonation, I don't know how much influence (if any) the bow has on sound. On the two horns that I compared in my post, they really both have the same identical character to the sound. The later one is slightly brighter and edgier, and (after swapping necks between them) I'd say that was more related to the neck than anything else.
 

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jdj52:

If you are thinking of a resale, then the serial ranges of VI's matter. But if you are looking for a player, don't be fooled by the myth that early VI's play or are better than the late ones. Mine is a 1972 VI tenor, and I love it more than any of the other tenors I have owned: Two King Super 20, two Buffet Super Dynaction, and a Mark VII. The word out there is that the early ones play darker than the late ones, but last night, my friend took his 5-digit VI to my house and we compared the two and guess what?: Mine sounded darker.

So, as Sax Guru said earlier, there are no two identical VI's. Play the one that you - not someone else - like most. In fact, you would be doing yourself a disservice when you keep thinking of such things as serial number of your horn when you are playing; you would not come up with the best notes (improvisation) or tone, which define you as a player. And the other very important thing that no one has mentioned here: Find a mouthpiece that best suits your selected VI. Even if you have a great VI in your hands, but with the wrong mouthpiece/reed/ligature setup, it can still be crap.
 

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Thanks guys,
so are you saying that length of the bow makes a difference in intonation but not sound?
Intonation - Basically, the short bows are sharp at the bottom, the long bows are flat, and the medium bows are the best in tune. People who aren't caught up in the serial number rubbish know that in some ways the later 6's were the best because after many years of development (which in those days meant trial and error) Selmer just about got it right!

Sound - I think you can generalise to some extent about the sound of MKVI's from different eras but it's so unreliable, because of individual variation, that's it's more misleading than helpful.
 

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It seems appropriate here to introduce a theory that I share with some pros and techs in my area. Simply stated, it is that "hand madeness" and subsequent inescapable variance in intonation that gives each horn its individual character. With all respect to Yamaha for the fine instruments they make, I have found the Yamaha saxophones to be excellent in their intonation, precise and dependable. But, I also have found them to be the most soulless instruments I have ever held in my hands, totally devoid, in my opinion, of life and character. I have always assumed that it was their very precision that took their soul away where the inconsistency of a Big B, a 10M or the Mk VI are exactly what "temper" that horn and give it life and character.

Again, I do not want to disparage the Yamaha horns. I know a lot of people on this forum play Yamaha and for very good reason. They are wonderfully made and if you finger a G, that's exactly what you get. Perhaps, too exactly?
SG
 

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It seems appropriate here to introduce a theory that I share with some pros and techs in my area. Simply stated, it is that "hand madeness" and subsequent inescapable variance in intonation that gives each horn its individual character.
Being hand made could easily make one horn very different to another but is that a good thing? Most modern cheap Chinese saxophones have a large degree of "hand madedness", much more so than most modern saxophones, but this is rarely pointed out as something in their favour.
 

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Being hand made could easily make one horn very different to another but is that a good thing? Most modern cheap Chinese saxophones have a large degree of "hand madedness", much more so than most modern saxophones, but this is rarely pointed out as something in their favour.
I think the bigger point was not that it was handmade, but the inconsistancy and imperfections create a uniqueness that's not easily duplicated. I have some Asian pottery that is intentionally made with flaws - it's the flaws that make it beautiful, the imperfections are built-in - designing imperfection is part of that art culture. Not that Selmer intended design flaws - it just turned out that way for better or worse. I know my Yani plays mechanically better than my 6 and sounds great too, but there's something special the 6 has that the Yani doesn't.
 

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I thought the alto bow progression went like this:

Short
Medium
Long
Medium


numbers are approximate:
Short: start - 70K
Medium: 70K - 85K
Long: 85K til 140K
Medium: 140K - end

I have heard that the various bows have differing characteristics. I know on my long bow the low Bb is in tune, but the rest of the bell keys are really flat until I've really warmed up. Then it is pretty solid.
 

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Not sure about that, but I don't think so. My 82xxx is definitely short by comparison to a late model and is the same length as one from '54 that a friend of mine owns. Also it doesn't make sense that Selmer would get it right with the medium bow after the short bow and then get it wrong again with the long bow. Not that any of them are 'wrong' as such and I think the can all be played in tune with some persuasion, but the short and long bow models both had intonation problems at the bottom. The medium bow proved to be the best compromise.
 

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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.
I also had a problem with the low B gurgling on two early, short bow horns. I had to have a metal plate soldered inside the bow to cure the gurgle.
 

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I ve got 3 MVI alto.
1 : 59 xxx short bow, silver 100% and gold in bow, not the best in tune but really complex good sound. In fact the one I like to play.
2 : 136 xxx long bow, lacker at 20% , the best in tune and very "open" sound, very free blowing (perhaps because it s an unlacker ?) but not as rich as the 59 xxx. I don't have flat or stuff notes. A very homogen sax.
3 : 137 xxx med bow (yes yes, certainly a test for the 140 xxx med bow virage), Laker (and silver key plus F#) 95 %, in tune but less stable than the 136 xxx and a very aggressive sound very responsive and the best for the 3rd octave.

I have tried a 220 xxx very close to the 137 xxx. Two 80 xxx silver short bow: like my 59 xxx but less dark but more free blowing and bright. A 135 xxx long bow F# and 100 % plastic resonator: in tune but not a big sound (I think this sax had never been played before because was like a new one).
No leaks on all those saxs. But mine are with plastic resonators and the 220 and 80 xxx metal one. It's not indifferent IMO. All the tests with a meyer HR.
 

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Not sure about that, but I don't think so. My 82xxx is definitely short by comparison to a late model and is the same length as one from '54 that a friend of mine owns. Also it doesn't make sense that Selmer would get it right with the medium bow after the short bow and then get it wrong again with the long bow. Not that any of them are 'wrong' as such and I think the can all be played in tune with some persuasion, but the short and long bow models both had intonation problems at the bottom. The medium bow proved to be the best compromise.
These are pics from usahorn


59575 - short

77619 - medium

92958 - long

150795 - medium



Looking at these, I would say that there are two differing medium bow lengths. The early one looks closer to short (the bands are directly in line) and the later medium bow length is between that and the long bow.
 

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Many thanks madlee, I've learned something today! I have to confess that I've never previously noticed the difference between the first two bows even though I've looked at these same pictures before and seen a few examples in real life. Do you mean that the short bow bands are directly in line? I don't think they are actually, but they're not far off!

Perhaps we can agree to call them short, medium short, long, and medium.
Thanks again!
 

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It seems appropriate here to introduce a theory that I share with some pros and techs in my area. Simply stated, it is that "hand madeness" and subsequent inescapable variance in intonation that gives each horn its individual character. With all respect to Yamaha for the fine instruments they make, I have found the Yamaha saxophones to be excellent in their intonation, precise and dependable. But, I also have found them to be the most soulless instruments I have ever held in my hands, totally devoid, in my opinion, of life and character. I have always assumed that it was their very precision that took their soul away where the inconsistency of a Big B, a 10M or the Mk VI are exactly what "temper" that horn and give it life and character.

Again, I do not want to disparage the Yamaha horns. I know a lot of people on this forum play Yamaha and for very good reason. They are wonderfully made and if you finger a G, that's exactly what you get. Perhaps, too exactly?
SG
I agree. I think the same overall idea applies to a design process in general. Fighter jets are engineered to sacrifice stability for agility. Same goes for sports cars, comfort versus response. This is not good for a novice, of course, but will make a huge difference to an experienced pilot or driver. Imprecision, or instability, feels more natural to a human being, who ultimately becomes a part, and the brain, of the machine or the instrument.
 

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My expierience is that early Mk VI sopranos are more free blowing and have more depth to the tone. I've played some very late ones (300xxx +) that sounded very thin in comparison.
 
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