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Discussion Starter #1
There's probably no scientific logic involved and a simple explanation that being ignorant to technical specifics I don't know but..

I was lucky enough to play a mark VI today that has hardly ever been played, perhaps what you might call mint, together with original case and 2short shank mouthpieces no less!

It was a 75*** and had just had the pads replaeced as they had broken down after years of sitting in the case. To play it was a dream, and sung right through the register with ease, like you would expect , but heres the thing- side by side to mine ( 125*** ) and with the same mouthpiece the general sound in terms of timbre and projection , was completely different.

My tech noticed it as well, it was nowhere as fat or warm as mine, big if you like , I mean it was still a good consistent tone, but nowhere near as appealing to our ears.

We were amazed at the difference. Mine has maybe 20 % laquer and was made a few years later , but why such a difference?
 

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While this is true of wooden instruments such as guitars and violins I don't believe it would apply at least not as much to brass made instruments. I think it is probably the other way 'round. Better sounding/playing horns get played more.

Variations in manufacturing always occur, from the raw materials down to the final prep and QC. Two acoustic guitars made together by the same craftsman can sound/feel completely different. One would think brass instruments would be less so but this never appears to be the case.

There would be a period of break in on a new or unplayed horn (or a newly overhualed horn) where the pads would settle in and the springs, rods etc would limber up and the feel would improve or become less stiff. I don't think the horns basic tone would change. There's always the lacquer issue but I don't care to ressurect that dead horse again here. :argue:
 

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Did you play the other Mark VI with your neck and vice versa? If not, it would be a great opportunity if you can go back and make this comparison to see how much influence the neck has on the difference in sound between the two instruments.

John
 

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I've always understood that Mark VI's were notoriously inconsistent from one sax to another. But that's not coming from personal experience, so I may be mistaken.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
jbtsax said:
Did you play the other Mark VI with your neck and vice versa? If not, it would be a great opportunity if you can go back and make this comparison to see how much influence the neck has on the difference in sound between the two instruments.

John
Actaully at first I went to play it with my neck, but it didn't fit well and the octave mechanism didn't agree.
 

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This might wel lbe down to lacquering- most vintage horns have a fair proportion of their lacquer missing, which leads ot a bigger, livelier tone..
 

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martysax nailed it.
 

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I like buying horns that show wear from playing. Not beat and abused but wear from a loving player who put a lot a time on the instrument. I purchase a closet VI alto and have spent tons of dough working out the kinks. Looked great but I've finally got it worked out.

On the other hand, my VI Tenor looked beat when I purchased it in 1988 and looks even MORE beat now almost 20 year later but what a KILLER horn.

If a horns been PLAYED - chances are IT PLAYS.

Martysax has said it very well.
 

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My experience has shown that closet horns are usually not all that hot. I've found horns that have major wear to sound and feel the best. Just about anything gear wise for the saxophone that looks like it was with the player until they died is a good bet that it at least works.

Also I think most all horns need a real set up to sound best. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if the closet horn would have sounded better with a really good set up from say tenor madness or others that are meticulous. Neck swapping is always an option. I don't buy that just because it's the original neck its the best fit for that horn.
 

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I bought a closet horn tenor - Selmer mk VII (ok, no VII bashing in this thread ok). Anyways, it was from a retired Pro player who had it as a backup horn. Luckily, he only needed it 3 times during *all* those years - his primary horn was a VI.

Needless to say, it had an incredible setup right from the case .. beat my Couf Superba 1 on an A/B test, plus had the better ergos. Even the neck tenon had close to no wear .. though as i used it the neck got looser, and i subsequently finally fixed that.
 

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I think it's impossible to say.... of course, great-sounding horns tend to get played a lot and vice versa, but there must be some great horns which, for some reason, such as the death of its owner, get 'put away' for years and are, eventually re-discovered.

Years and years of use must have effects on a horn, some detrimental (wear & tear), but.... *possibly*, and ISTM this is the real question... in some way a frequently-played horn develops a 'different sound' just as a result of the playing.

I cannot see any logical reason why this should be, and tend to the view in the first paragraph..... if it sounds great, it gets played more :)

[I do know that, in the Air Force, if we flew often, the aircraft had less unserviceabilities than when they were left standing on the tarmac for long periods :D Does a closet horn simply 'deteriorate' in some way (other than the pads and 'perishable bits') ? ]
 

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martysax said:
It sounds like its lack of character relegated this horn to be a closet horn.

~40 years later, apparently, it's still a closet horn.
I'm normally pretty skeptical about closet horns. It always seems like there's a reason they are all in such great condition. To be fair though, there are some really worn saxes that I don't like too much. At junkdude I played a 90xxx mark VI with around 80% lacquer that was probably the best horn I've ever played..just a bit better than my conn. A late mark VI with a lot of lacquer wear and some red pitting didn't come across to me as a great horn. I know I would prefer many other horns for that money.
 

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davesaxa1 said:
I was lucky enough to play a mark VI today that has hardly ever been played, perhaps what you might call mint, together with original case and 2short shank mouthpieces no less!

It was a 75*** and had just had the pads replaeced as they had broken down after years of sitting in the case. To play it was a dream, and sung right through the register with ease, like you would expect , but heres the thing- side by side to mine ( 125*** ) and with the same mouthpiece the general sound in terms of timbre and projection , was completely different.

My tech noticed it as well, it was nowhere as fat or warm as mine, big if you like , I mean it was still a good consistent tone, but nowhere near as appealing to our ears.

We were amazed at the difference. Mine has maybe 20 % laquer and was made a few years later , but why such a difference?
IMHO and limited experience, no two VIs really play the same. I recently traded a stuffy 139xxxx for an open throated, glorious sounding 91xxx. In the process, I played about 20 different VIs, all recently set up and some completely overhauled. A few were similar to each other. But for the most part, most were unique, ranging from nice to magnificent.

FWIW, my 91xxx has most of the lacquer gently worn off, I assume from being well played over its first 45 years.
 

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I have a question to add. We have all heard about cryogenic treatment of objects. From what I have heard and read this distributes the molecular structure more evenly and destresses the structure. Could the amount of playing do the same thing just taking a much longer period of time? The way my horns vibrate and move when playing made me think of this. Just something to ponder. My be you should have bought this MKVI and play it daily and after 30 years you can tell us how the two compare, just for fun, of course. Mybe we shouild take up a collection so we can answer this scientifically.
 

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I've played lots of Mark VI's in the last 35 years. They are VERY inconsistent. Some are bad, with horrible intonation, most are OK to good, some are great. The people that are paying stupid money for these horns....
 

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If somebody wants to give me the horns I will probably be around for at least 30 years to play one.:D
 

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There are so many factors that go into this. Really, the ONLY way to test true horn and combination qualities would be to have the "Giant Steps Robot" play them.

If you've been playing a horn for a while, you are going to naturally feel its ins and outs. Also, there is the point of lacquer wear, with less lacquer the horn is going to be thinner in it's construction and vibrate a little more freely. I also beleive this to be true of posts being swedged too tight. Also, there is the setup involved. pads, resonators, springs, cork, glue, etc...

Everything on the horn will effect it's playing in some small and minute way in my opinion. Was the thumbrest/hook plastic or brass?

Ultimately there is the matter of "good vibrations." I have no scientific evidence to support this, but, I do think it's effected by vibrations over the years just like a guitar or violin.

The bottom line is, the more you play a horn the better it (and you) will sound. ;)
 

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Selmer was constantly tweaking the Mark VI though the run. It's rational to think that a 75xxx may have 1 or more differences from a 125xxx. One of the differences did involve the dimensions of the neck, which would explain why yours did not fit correctly.

I may be mistaking, but I believe that Selmer has always relied on using a handmade process to produce their saxophones. This has made them notoriously inconsistant even to this day. If you really want this to become a player's horn and if you are sure that the horn is set up correctly, your best bet would be to find another neck that fits correctly. The neck is the most important piece of the horn after the mouthpiece and player.

Do you happen to have close up pictures of both horns for comparative reasons?
 
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