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I've used a Selmer C* for about 30 years (off and on with some periods of intense playing) but I spent the last 6 months or so casting around for an alternative. I probably would have never switched if I was sticking to legit playing (solo classical music at home for fun, plus weekly community concert band). But I may be doing some big band playing in the near future and I feel that the C* needs a bit too much pushing to make it speak jazz. The other alto in band does a lot of noodling around on their C*/Selmer setup during warmup/breaks and to my ears I don't think that they're getting a great jazz sound yet either.

Despite reading some negative comments about how Meyer mpc's may have slipped in design or manufacturing quality since the good old days, I ordered a new 5m and gave it a try. So far, I really like it. With the old Rico Royal (or maybe its a Vandoren?) 2 1/2 reed I've been using for the last long while, it blows very freely. The sound seems solid, almost hard, and focused. On my 1981 Selmer Mk VII the intonation is good and it doesn't burble on low notes. I haven't got the highest end speaking as clearly yet (high E, F, F# and altissimo) as with the C* but this may take a change in reed, and of course more practice.

It seems to blow as well at ppp as at fff. I think I can use it at concert band as well as big band. I may have to tone down the volume a bit as it seems to play somewhat louder than C* in most of the range, for the same amount of breath. We altos for some reason are frequently asked to "play a bit softer and stay underneath the clarinets/flutes/horns/trumpets/etc." :mrgreen:

One of the reasons why I got this mpc was that my old teacher told me used "a meyer of some kind" in his salad days for both jazz/pop gigging and for his legit work playing L'arlesienne and Moussorgsky/Ravel with the symphony. He didn't tell me what model of Meyer, but by playing tests I eliminated the Meyer 6 and 7 from contention.

On my old 1926 Selmer Model 26 alto (silver plated) the 5m is another story. The sound in the middle range is similar, but the burbling on low C and below is really bad. Maybe this could be corrected by practice, or perhaps the hunt for a mpc that will do justice to its sweet, flute-like sound must go on. The old sax appears to be a lot smaller than the Mk VII, so maybe it needs a small chambered mouthpiece to match its presumably smaller bore.

A word about the C*. A guy in the music store who is a very good jazz player who also did legit playing at college told me that he moves his students off the C* as soon as possible. His theory is that the square chamber introduces turbulence into the air flow that makes it harder to tune the instrument. I have no idea if this is true, but I suppose that if he's getting his students to switch mpcs on a regular basis then he hears a lot of players trying a lot of different setups consecutively, and is in a pretty good position to judge mpcs by their sound. I speculate that the square chamber, if it creates turbulence as he said, also introduces extra harmonics that give the C* that "classical" sound which seems to be favored for playing with orchestras. But I also have a lot of sympathy for the school of thought that says, sound is mostly all in your head ... both in terms of conception and in terms of the way you use your embouchure, mouth and throat.
 

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The gurggling on low C or lower is caused by a mismatch of the mouthpiece to the horn. This is a common problem on older horns and the fix is to either change mouthpieces or do what I do....drop a wine cork in the bow and see if it helps. If so, remove the low C key and glue the cork into the bow. Some people just drop the mouthpiece cap down the bell each time they play. I use a Selmer S-80 D or Super Session D.
 

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Generally horns of the 20's and 30's vintages require large chambered mouthpieces to speak properly. You might want to check the Model 26 for leaks down low, too. Also, try Bruce's "drop the cork" method. Sometimes mouthpiece position on the neck affects low end response, more so on the higher horns. Try pushing in a bit more.

As far as the C* turbulence theory, it really depends what C* you are referring to. The S80 and S90 models are Selmer's two square chambered models. However, there is also a "soloist" line that has a horseshoe chamber. Which one is yours? I personally prefer the horseshoe chamber more over the square. I prefer round over all. Despite my opinions, it is really all down to personal preference and how we approach the horn, in the end.

Wanna make your head spin? Play test some Selmer Larry Teal or Vandoren AL3 mouthpieces on your VII. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.
 

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I've tried dropping a mouthpiece cap in the bottom and it works better than a cork. For me at least. Make sure the cap has a hole on both ends to let air through though.
 
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