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Hello,

I am thinking of buying an BA alto, as it is cheaper than SBA,
but I do not know if there is way to identify US assembled BA and European BA.

Did they have different kind of engraving?
Do the US BA have matching serial numbers on the neck?
Any other way to tell?

Thanks

Minoru
 

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First off, it doesn't matter too much where the horns were put together. Find one that you like to play, and you're in business.

But to answer your question - as far as I understand it, Selmer didn't start assembling horns in the USA until after WWII when certain US trade laws were passed. Any pre-WWII BA is therefore French assembled. BA horns were only made from 1936 - 1947, so there is just a two year post WWII window. If this really matters to you, get a serial number chart.

Yes, often the engraving was different on the two horns (French assembled vs US assembled), but I have seen so many different engraving styles on older Selmers that there were obviously numerous exceptions to the "rules" that way. I'm also not sure if the first US assembled horns were engraved in France or the US ... anyone? I know later US assembled horns were engraved in the states, but in 1946 were they?

But again, I've played a bunch of these horns ... French assembled, American assembled, Commonwealth stamped etc .... it doesn't matter, they all play well. All of these horns were MADE in France btw, sometimes that gets confused. US horns were only assembled in the states, and by now, these horns have been overhauled and repadded often enough to negate whatever differnece in original set up there might have been. Find one you can afford, and be happy. :D
 

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altoblues said:
- as far as I understand it, Selmer didn't start assembling horns in the USA until after WWII when certain US trade laws were passed. Any pre-WWII BA is therefore French assembled. BA horns were only made from 1936 - 1947
I always thought that the inscription "New-York, Elkhart" meant that they were assembled in the US. That's the case with my BA alto(1936)....my friend's Mark VI tenor says "London" ???
altoblues said:
Yes, often the engraving was different on the two horns (French assembled vs US assembled), but I have seen so many different engraving styles on older Selmers that there were obviously numerous exceptions to the "rules" that way. I'm also not sure if the first US assembled horns were engraved in France or the US ... anyone?
My BA alto has no engraving at all !!! Which is pretty rare. I read somewhere that Paris assembled saxes had no engraving:confused:.Aaaah the Selmer mystique.
 

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I'd beware of buying just because they are cheaper than SBA - the few I have played have had dodgy intonation. The only reason to buy one IMO is if you try one and it's a great horn for you.
 

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Pete Thomas said:
I'd beware of buying just because they are cheaper than SBA - the few I have played have had dodgy intonation. The only reason to buy one IMO is if you try one and it's a great horn for you.
Very true.
But in my case my BA alto's intonation is better than my SBA tenor's.
 

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SBAs have more comfortable keywork than BAs, so try to test play both the BAs and SBAs to make an well-thought decision.
 

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For altos, skip the BA, go with the SBA, as they are a much improved/better horn. Better tuning, ergonomics, sound, etc. Save up a while longer, then pull the plug on an SBA.

Tenors, not necessarily the same, as the BA tenors are very nice horns.
 

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I personally think that the ba alto requires alot more work than the sba and the mk6. You have to work hard to get the full measure of the sound of the horn, and you have to work hard to get around the horn itself. For me, it's not as easy to play as the next two models.

But when my chops are up to task, my ba alto produces a sound which is in some ways superior to the mk6. A sweeter, more delicate tone.

My horn is mint, and I rerely gig with it. It took me a long time to get a handle on where to put the sound, how to play the horn. It wasn't automatic like the mk6 or the reference horn that I gig with now. The ba alto is another world. But for me, it's a great horn.
 

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AMASAX said:
For altos, skip the BA, go with the SBA, as they are a much improved/better horn. Better tuning, ergonomics, sound, etc. Save up a while longer, then pull the plug on an SBA.

Tenors, not necessarily the same, as the BA tenors are very nice horns.



Yeah, I used to have a BA that was a piece of crap. -- but I prefer the BA keywork to the mark vi's -- if you can find a good one ,ok . -- but I would go with an SBA or mark vi .
 

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My BA alto has no engraving at all !!! Which is pretty rare. I read somewhere that Paris assembled saxes had no engraving.Aaaah the Selmer mystique.
I believe this was to allow engraving in the USA. Today, Selmer produces engraved and unengraved saxes for sale in France and elsewhere. My Serie 2 was unengraved, simply to keep down the cost.
 

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AMASAX said:
For altos, skip the BA, go with the SBA, as they are a much improved/better horn. Better tuning, ergonomics, sound, etc. Save up a while longer, then pull the plug on an SBA.

Tenors, not necessarily the same, as the BA tenors are very nice horns.
Perhaps I was just fortunate, but I find comments like this (and there are LOTS of them here so I am not picking on AMASAX) interesting. My BA is exceptional. The ergos feel great and it blows very easy. The tone is better than any VI I have played. Though I usually gig with my Omega, just because I am overprotective with my beloved BA, I have yet to find the problems that are often associated with pre SBA horns. Tone, ergos, intonation, ease of playing are all fantastic on my BA.
 

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I would also reccommend caution when purchasing a BA horn. I had a beautifully engrave Balance Action Alto for a couple years. Waterfall Scene with a cabin and a couple deers. Nice Tone but PITCHY.

Also some interesting multiphonic sort of sounds - bussing high A is one I remember well.

You'd really have to commit to the Balance Action or find a "Good" one.
 

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rsclosson said:
Perhaps I was just fortunate, but I find comments like this (and there are LOTS of them here so I am not picking on AMASAX) interesting. My BA is exceptional. The ergos feel great and it blows very easy. The tone is better than any VI I have played. Though I usually gig with my Omega, just because I am overprotective with my beloved BA, I have yet to find the problems that are often associated with pre SBA horns. Tone, ergos, intonation, ease of playing are all fantastic on my BA.
The 1939 Selmer catalog has a brief blurb about the 'improved' BA alto. Also mentions the tenor is unchanged cuz everyone liked it so much.

Could be the late BA altos(say, from serial 29k-32k-ish) are better in tune than the earlier ones.

I used to have a BA alto, # 29,3xx that was a nice horn. Don't recall tuning info that much(been a lonngggg time), but when I started picking up SBA altos, I remember thinking these were definitely better than the old BA.

Odds are that a BA alto will not tune as nicely as an SBA. However, I suppose it's possible one could luck out and get a hot horn...

There were a couple things I really liked about that BA horn, tho...one, it had the fastest/easiest keywork of any alto I've yet played. Two, I prefer the right hand tone holes & keys to be straigh down the body of the horn vs. offset to the right, which Selmer started on the SBA and continues up to the modern stuff. If you play with the alto directly in front, straight lined up keys keep one's right hand from being in a cramped position.
 

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AMASAX said:
The 1939 Selmer catalog has a brief blurb about the 'improved' BA alto. Also mentions the tenor is unchanged cuz everyone liked it so much.

Could be the late BA altos(say, from serial 29k-32k-ish) are better in tune than the earlier ones.
Mine is a 1936; the one with the double key guards for B and Bb. It was "cherry picked" by the first owner out of about 30. (I am only the second owner.) He was classical saxophone player, a Selmer dealer and my first sax teacher. He went to the USA distributor and picked it out of a bunch of horns. His son sold it to me several years ago at an excellent price because he wanted it to go to a "good home." It may be quirky and I may just be very adaptable. ( I hope I am that good. ;) ) I have played it in big band, small group and classical solo settings and have never detected any tuning issues.
 

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rsclosson said:
Mine is a 1936; the one with the double key guards for B and Bb.
Hey that's like mine, also 1936 (22 xxx). The keys are silver-plate on mine and there's no engraving. Intonation is dead on also, even in the upper stack.
Are your left hand E and D keys locked in together like mine, because of the "stops" that aren't on the reverse side ? That must be something left over from the Cigar Cutter.


edit....I ment the RIGHT hand E and D keys.
 

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Mine's a 1937 (24,xxx) No lacquer left and lots of sharp engraving. I love it...no tuning problems...just a very lush sound. So far everyone who has tried it wants to buy it!

You lost me on the D and E palm keys though.... A few pictures attached....

.
 
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My BA alto (23XXX) is better in tune than my SBA alto (47XXX). I therefore sold my SBA and kept the BA. I do miss the tone of my SBA though. Too bad I could only afford keeping one alto.

BTW, the picture of my BA shows my boat & a lake with house on the left.
 

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daigle65 said:
Hey that's like mine, also 1936 (22 xxx). The keys are silver-plate on mine and there's no engraving. Intonation is dead on also, even in the upper stack.
Are your left hand E and D keys locked in together like mine, because of the "stops" that aren't on the reverse side ? That must be something left over from the Cigar Cutter.
I think you mean the RIGHT hand D/E keys. The extra gizmo that locks these together was a BA thing, on just the first/earliest BA altos & tenors. Fortunately, Selmer dropped that damned thing and went to a more conventional design fairly early into the BA run.
 
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