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Discussion Starter #1
hello i am a newcomer and really hoping for information have recently come into possesion of a saxophone it is in an original selmar case and has insignia "the great gretsch american" with a serial no.176 680 looking for info and valuation please help (p.s i am not a sax player please dont crucify me i have been playing guitar for <35yrs) in hope mark h
 

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Re: mark h

According to this website: http://www.saxpics.com/?v=info&p=stencil Gretsch is a Conn Stencil... meaning is was made by Conn and stamped with another company's name (Gretsch in this instance). I don't know what the serial number tells as far as year it was built. Knowing it was built by Conn fills another variable to search the interweb with though.

I wouldn't be surprised if someone around here knows more about the Gretsch version of Conn's instruments. Gretsch sounds like a guitar name to me. :dontknow:
 

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Re: mark h

Gratsch has been around for a VERY long time. I know for a fact that they produced trumpets and metal clarinets as well as guitars and drums. It doesn't surprise me that they had a line of saxopnones as well.
A kid I went to school with had a Gratsch Pathfinder trumpet. It looked to be more of a 'student' horn, but I could be a little off on this assessment.
 

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Moderation note:

Thread name changed to "Gretsch" and redirected to "Misc. Saxophone Manufacturers"
 

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Thank you Kim! :)
 

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My alto is a Beaugnier Gretsch stencil from the 50's...according to a timeline I saw in another thread. It was made in France and has some really interesting and fun little features. Great sound too.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
the story thus far says "the great gretsch american" alto sax," low pitch" is circa ww1 and the player from america who left it with me/us stated it was made from shell casings from that war the name on original case is selmar i cant remember the players name he was touring here 20 yrs ago and was delighted to play as no-one in gosford nsw australia knew who he was ! this being the reason he gave the sax to us stating then that it was both a very valuable instrument and a pleasure to play i have now noted one other of the same name instrument a later serial no. dated @ 1920 really would like more info please...mark h
 

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The "shell casings" story is a long-term myth, an urban legend if you will.

The term "low pitch" is indeed 1920-ish and eralier, mainly to differentiate those saxophones made to play A=440 and others (high pitch) made to play - higher pitch. Some old saxophones. clarinets, etc. may be marked LP and HP instead of spelling out low-pitch and high-pitch. Low Pitch is the desired model. A high-pitch instrument could not be played in today's ensembles.

It would help us all if you could post a picture (as mentioned above) or at least post a better description (length, shape of neck, location of the bell-pads - the two large tone-holes and pads at the end of the tube - are they on one side only or split between both sides of the bell?, compare your horn to known horns, etc.).

I once owned a soprano labelled DORADO 600, made by Yanagisawa (a Selmer Mark VI clone) and the story was that the Dorado line was imported by Gretsch. I never verified that story, though. DAVE
 

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The "shell casings" story is a long-term myth, an urban legend if you will. DAVE
While it may be a myth that they used actual shell casings found on the battlefields of Europe, my repair tech with over 40 years of experience and industry contacts in Elhart back in the day (he's past retirement age but continues to work because he loves what he does), told me the old American manufacturers used a grade of brass which is actually called "cartridge brass" and is the same stuff kind used by the military in WWII for shell casings and weapons cartridges.

So even if they didn't get it directly from shell casings, they might as well have because they were using brass that was just as high of quality.

But that's why Zoot Sims was right when he said that "It's the metal" when describing why his 1934 Selmer Radio Improved sounds better than newer horns. And anyone with half a brain knows this is true when you realize that over there in Asia they've tried to copy a Mark VI down to the pinpoint but they still don't sound as good! So you can throw out all those theories on paper that it's the bore geometry, yada yada yada. No, it's because the brass used to make them is just not as good--plain and simple. And materials DO matter! :bluewink:

BTW have you ever noticed that many of the folks who incessantly remind us that "materials don't matter" are the same folks who push their imported horn lines on here (or those who make obscene profits from their pricey plastic copies of dead sax players mouthpieces--oh the humanity! :faceinpalm:) -- or those who sound so much like a broken record in promoting import X that they've been accused of shilling or kickbacks? Hmm.... [rolleyes] OTOH I have no financial interest or anything to gain in my efforts to counteract the bilge of marketing-based misinformation that is spewed on here daily in ever increasing amounts....
 

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I sure don't want to re-create the discussion about shell casings; it has been cussed and discussed at length here years ago. I'll stick to my assertion that the "shell casings" issue is a myth. The quality of brass being used in various applications may be a different issue, but that doesn't seem "material" to this thread.

As far as the "materials matters" continuing discussion, I agree. I am one to believe that material DOES matter, however subtle as the differences may be. It is the finish on those materials that doesn't seem to matter, at least in my experience . . . the presence or absence of plating, the presence or absence of lacquer, etc.

Being the one-time owner of a Mark VI soprano and now the owner of an Asian-made MKVI soprano clone (at least I THINK it is Asian-made, no one has been able to answer that question- and believe me, I've asked many of those here and elsewhere who should know), I'm inclined to disagree with you about whether one sounds different from the other. Both of mine had/have a similar good sound to them. Unfortunately, I no longer own the real VI, so a side-by-side couldn't be done. I'm relying on memory. The VI-clone I have displays all the traits of my real VI, good and bad. DAVE
 

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But that's why Zoot Sims was right when he said that "It's the metal" when describing why his 1934 Selmer Radio Improved sounds better than newer horns. And anyone with half a brain knows this is true when you realize that over there in Asia they've tried to copy a Mark VI down to the pinpoint but they still don't sound as good! So you can throw out all those theories on paper that it's the bore geometry, yada yada yada. No, it's because the brass used to make them is just not as good--plain and simple. And materials DO matter! :bluewink:
The SOTW forum seems to be the only place in the world where people argue in earnest that materials used (in horns and mouthpieces) don't matter. Why is that? Why is that assertion generally accepted here, but seemingly nowhere else?
 

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I think the brass can make a slight difference but I think the build quality is still the most important factor. For flutes, it does make a difference. Silver, gold and nickel all play differently but it is also a smaller instrument.
 

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Speaking from personal experience, I think the metal has a lot to do with the way a horn sounds, although I still don't buy the entire shell casing "myth" either. I've played copper horns, brass horns, and other metal combinations and must say that anything other than the "norm" sounds and feels different.
 
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