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Info on 1937 Balanced Action "Bombshell" Tenor

5024 Views 36 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  Pete
I've been out of the loop for years and have brought out my old saxes from high school. I've got a 65 Mark VI alto and a 37 Balanced Action Tenor. My question is does anybody have any knowledge about the tenor. It's a 23xxx serial numbered horn which from my research puts it in the 1937 range. The peculiar thing about the horn is the neck. It has what was described to me years ago as a church steeple neck, an addition to the octave hole that looks like a church steeple or bullet to correct the intonation. The horn itself has been called a bombshell tenor from the material it is made of I assume, giving it a very dark tone. Does anybody have any futher history info on the horn, I'd also like to get a rough value on the horn for my insurance but becuase of it's rarity it's kind or hard for anyone to judge that I have spoken to.

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Yeah, those WWII artillery shells, eh? ;)

Ever see what's left of a bombshell? Since you're in Las Vegas, you should head out to the Nevada test site for some quality sax making materials - decades of testing out there.

If you want to insure its value, you should take it to a dealer and get a real appraisal. Internet replies from a forum such as this won't be worth much should you have to replace the horn.
Patrick: Welcome to SOTW. Unfortunately, Dr G is correct - there are MANY myths about saxophones floating around. I doubt if military ordnance was the source of that tenor's material.

Still, both horns ARE valuable - among the most desired vintage saxophones extant. The altered upper-octave tone hole may or may not be a standard item - someone better informed about Selmer tenors may reply. If it was an after-market addition, I can see where that may NOT enhance the horn's value.

You could go to Dave Kessler's store and have them look at them. Maybe you'll get a better idea of what they are worth - and some history. DAVE
I believe the myth was that MkVI's were made from bronze artillery "dummy" shells, not the BA's or SBA's.

I also play a B/A Tenor but a little newer, a 1940 vintage.

The neck that I think you are describing is what I 'think' is called the 'teakettle' neck. I have actually never seen one though I have seen photos if my memory is correct. My B/A has a 'standard' neck.

I won't speculate on value.

I think that you have a great old Selmer Tenor in addition to your Mark VI Alto. You should feel very good about owning such a great pair of Selmer Saxes. Congratualtions to you.
I hadn't really thought of Kessler's as a place to go to have a look at it, I'll have to go talk to Dave. I've been away from the music scene for a while and the knowledgable stores I remember are all gone. I am fairly certain the neck is original equipment it has a 1xx serial number on it, I've searched the net and have never found anything about the horns neck using the serial # either. I've had my house burglarized twice and luckily the theives left the horns and took the guns and mountain bikes. I may not get so lucky some day so want to cover the horns. Losing one would be like losing a part of myself because I've had them so long.
Here's a pic of the neck if the post works.
Boy.....that looks "messed up". :D
I believe that the myth is related to the artillery shell CASINGS! NOT the shells themselves. You know, like bullet shell casings that will fly off sometimes. (I'm sure some of you have seen a crime show or two or even shot a gun).
saxmanglen said:
Boy.....that looks "messed up". :D
Tim Price commented about a video of Charlie Ventura on YouTube, that CV was playing a Selmer with a "tea kettle" octave vent.

I'd sure like to sound "messed up" like that! :cool:
You say potato, I say . . . potato; casings, cartridges, rounds, brass, bombshells - I think we all understand what could possibly serve as the material for such a horn, if indeed those items were actually used, which I doubt. DAVE
Reading up on Charlie mentioned that he did club work in Las Vegas back in the fifties. I bought my horn in the 70's from some creepy old guy that use to do magic acts on the Vegas Strip. He house was all dark and full of old magic stuff like the boxes that they would put people in to "disappear", weird creepy stuff. Makes me wonder.................
saxmanglen said:
Boy.....that looks "messed up". :D
No - that's the "teakettle" octave mechanism. Quirky, but original.
For what it's worth, I have a 22,xxx Balanced Action which I belive dates to 1935. It has the "regular" style octave mechanism. This would pre-date your horn, based on the serial number.
potiphar said:
No - that's the "teakettle" octave mechanism. Quirky, but original.
Does it whistle when you're blowing a boiling-hot solo?
Swampcabbage said:
I believe that the myth is related to the artillery shell CASINGS! NOT the shells themselves. You know, like bullet shell casings that will fly off sometimes. (I'm sure some of you have seen a crime show or two or even shot a gun).
I though dummy shells would do it as they are solid metal. Regular artillery shells have HE in the middle. Dummy shells are solid and used for target practice without using the explosive ordinance. Henceforth, a MkVI could be made from training shells.
My understanding is that for each CARTRIDGE there is both a SHELL(casing) - and a bullet (which may be solid or HE).

I don't think we're talking about the bullets here - they're long gone..

Many shell/casings were recycled I imagine - though being made out of brass (even mostly today) yes - they would be good material.

Though I have no idea if there were ever used for any saxes.
And these casings were pounded into saxophones by the "little people", using tiny hammers and working only at midnight under a full moon. Selmer model numbers are based on the number of months it took 12 little people to make each sax.
Whatever the neck is made from it wasn't hard enough to prevent the 'pull-down" that it looked like it has suffered.
Where's my "Duh" card when I need it? The hyperbole is that MkVIs were made of artillery brass thrown in WWII. Check the dates for me as I may have forgotten, wasn't WWII some time AFTER 1937?

Has anyone asked whether the horn plays worth a darn? What does the teakettle mod do to intonation and upper register response?
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