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I might be showing my natural cynicism, but how come every Mk VI for sale is a "killer" horn, a "players" horn, amazing player etc.? Bearing in mind it appears that the consensus is that there are generally some less than great VI's out there, how come there are never any of these for sale? It's irrelevant to me, as prices are at a level that I would never pay, even if I had the money. I wonder how many are so desperate to own one that they buy unplayed, and are disappointed. I have no wish to cause offence to any owners, but how refreshing it would be to read a for sale ad which described a horn as being honestly not that great, and at a price which reflected that. Maybe any VI can be made great by a skilled tech? Let the debate begin 馃榾!
Pure and simple, if one is selling something, they are going to put it into the best light possible...hopefully with honesty. As you pointed out, not all Mark VI's are good horns and they come in varying conditions of playability and repair. When I see "player's horn", to me that says it is not beautiful, has been used hard and may need some work, but it is a generally good instrument that can be used in a gig. When I see "killer horn", my spidey sense tingles that it is "hype".

When it comes to something like a musical instrument, I am disinclined to buy it without playing it first, period. Or I would want an ironclad agreement that I can send it back as some of the major online dealers allow but that is a pain in the neck. A friend of mine tried to sell a Mark VI alto last year and he honestly listed it as "relacquered" which brought in lowball bids- it was deemed less than great because it was a relac. But I've played that alto a few times and it is one of the best altos around. And I understand market value and all that, but I'll bet it outplays a number of original lacquer Mark VI altos out there.

My point, I am very reluctant to purchase a horn without playing it first. I am simply not astute enough to read between the lines in an ad to determine if the horn is a good deal or not.
 

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Because folks maintain and cherish MVI's. The converse is true about lowly "student" horns. Most of them are highly neglected. Which is why there is an associative fallacy with used horns and brands in general.
 

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Pure and simple, if one is selling something, they are going to put it into the best light possible...hopefully with honesty. As you pointed out, not all Mark VI's are good horns and they come in varying conditions of playability and repair. When I see "player's horn", to me that says it is not beautiful, has been used hard and may need some work, but it is a generally good instrument that can be used in a gig. When I see "killer horn", my spidey sense tingles that it is "hype".

When it comes to something like a musical instrument, I am disinclined to buy it without playing it first, period. Or I would want an ironclad agreement that I can send it back as some of the major online dealers allow but that is a pain in the neck. A friend of mine tried to sell a Mark VI alto last year and he honestly listed it as "relacquered" which brought in lowball bids- it was deemed less than great because it was a relac. But I've played that alto a few times and it is one of the best altos around. And I understand market value and all that, but I'll bet it outplays a number of original lacquer Mark VI altos out there.

My point, I am very reluctant to purchase a horn without playing it first. I am simply not astute enough to read between the lines in an ad to determine if the horn is a good deal or not.
No doubt, playing first -- if possible -- is the way to go.

Killer horns -- I've read some descriptions that have made me wonder why in the world the individual would even consider selling such a horn!

Lacquer -- I've just invented a new term today: "Lacquer Bigots." The bias against relacquered horns might not be 100% invalid, but it's wildly overblown, to say the least. Some of the very best horns I've played happened to be relacquers. Shocking, huh? No, not really. Lacquer Bigots believe that if any horn had been relacquered at any point in its life, it's now garbage. In reality, unless a horn has had so much metal buffed away that you can see seams, the engraving is almost invisible, and the tone holes are visibly shorter, you probably can't tell it from an original lacquer horn, either as a player or as a listener. In all the years I've been playing, I have yet to see a relacquer job that was destructive to the horn. Oh, I'm sure they're out there, but I have yet to see one. Probably pretty rare. For one thing, "back in the day," relacquering was done routinely, as part of an overhaul. The techs knew how to relacquer without buffing the bejeezus out of the poor thing.

But I digress from the original topic.... But to tie this into the mindless puffery that goes with sax for sale ads -- If you list a relacquered horn for sale, some people will offer you like $6 for it. Okay, SLIGHT exaggeration, but you know what I'm talking about. Then they'll turn around to sell the horn, and call it an "apparent FACTORY RELACQUER."

Ah. I see.

Aaaaaand how does anyone know it was a "factory relacquer?" Aw, who cares? Apparently just SAYING "factory lacquer" makes all those terrible things people believe about relacquering go away. Poof!

So yeah..... Magic words. "Killer horn."

"Factory relacquer."

"Sanborn era."

"Brecker serial number range."

There are lots of ways to stuff a lot of bullcrap into a for sale ad. But you can cut through it all by playing the horn yourself, or at least dealing with someone reputable.
 

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Expectation bias goes a long way. I sold a 30's large chamber mouthpiece on ebay recenty for 90$. The buyer who is a mouthpiece flipper, paired that piece with an old ligature and cap and described it as "plays like a really good slant Link" and sold it for $180.
Happens to me all the time. Since I'm not in the business, I can live with it.

As to killer horns, I've got one for sale right now on SOTW. Reputedly better than a Mark VI. But here's the thing. It's the setup that is killer. Probably better than it was new. The rest is up to the player.

I guarantee that I can play the best "killer" Mark VI in the world and it won't sound killer. Off pitch and tempo. A little wheezy, flat, and dead. Not killer but killed.

Just saved myself $3k again.

Mark
 

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No doubt, playing first -- if possible -- is the way to go.

Killer horns -- I've read some descriptions that have made me wonder why in the world the individual would even consider selling such a horn!

Lacquer -- I've just invented a new term today: "Lacquer Bigots." The bias against relacquered horns might not be 100% invalid, but it's wildly overblown, to say the least. Some of the very best horns I've played happened to be relacquers. Shocking, huh? No, not really. Lacquer Bigots believe that if any horn had been relacquered at any point in its life, it's now garbage. In reality, unless a horn has had so much metal buffed away that you can see seams, the engraving is almost invisible, and the tone holes are visibly shorter, you probably can't tell it from an original lacquer horn, either as a player or as a listener. In all the years I've been playing, I have yet to see a relacquer job that was destructive to the horn. Oh, I'm sure they're out there, but I have yet to see one. Probably pretty rare. For one thing, "back in the day," relacquering was done routinely, as part of an overhaul. The techs knew how to relacquer without buffing the bejeezus out of the poor thing.

But I digress from the original topic.... But to tie this into the mindless puffery that goes with sax for sale ads -- If you list a relacquered horn for sale, some people will offer you like $6 for it. Okay, SLIGHT exaggeration, but you know what I'm talking about. Then they'll turn around to sell the horn, and call it an "apparent FACTORY RELACQUER."

Ah. I see.

Aaaaaand how does anyone know it was a "factory relacquer?" Aw, who cares? Apparently just SAYING "factory lacquer" makes all those terrible things people believe about relacquering go away. Poof!

So yeah..... Magic words. "Killer horn."

"Factory relacquer."

"Sanborn era."

"Brecker serial number range."

There are lots of ways to stuff a lot of bullcrap into a for sale ad. But you can cut through it all by playing the horn yourself, or at least dealing with someone reputable.
But would you pay $12,000 for a perfectly playing re-lacquered VI? Or would you offer the seller something less? That wouldn't make you a bigot. There is something to owning an object in it's original condition.
 

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But would you pay $12,000 for a perfectly playing re-lacquered VI? Or would you offer the seller something less? That wouldn't make you a bigot. There is something to owning an object in it's original condition.
Well, I'm probably not going to pay $12K for a pristine original lacquer Mark VI either, no matter how well it plays. :) Just me. But I've seen relacs for around $3500 to $5500. If well done and played well, that would be in the ballpark. But I'm happy with my current Reference alto and tenor (54 and 36). They're killer, and I'm NOT selling them!
 

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No doubt, playing first -- if possible -- is the way to go.

Killer horns -- I've read some descriptions that have made me wonder why in the world the individual would even consider selling such a horn!

Lacquer -- I've just invented a new term today: "Lacquer Bigots." The bias against relacquered horns might not be 100% invalid, but it's wildly overblown, to say the least. Some of the very best horns I've played happened to be relacquers. Shocking, huh? No, not really. Lacquer Bigots believe that if any horn had been relacquered at any point in its life, it's now garbage. In reality, unless a horn has had so much metal buffed away that you can see seams, the engraving is almost invisible, and the tone holes are visibly shorter, you probably can't tell it from an original lacquer horn, either as a player or as a listener. In all the years I've been playing, I have yet to see a relacquer job that was destructive to the horn. Oh, I'm sure they're out there, but I have yet to see one. Probably pretty rare. For one thing, "back in the day," relacquering was done routinely, as part of an overhaul. The techs knew how to relacquer without buffing the bejeezus out of the poor thing.

But I digress from the original topic.... But to tie this into the mindless puffery that goes with sax for sale ads -- If you list a relacquered horn for sale, some people will offer you like $6 for it. Okay, SLIGHT exaggeration, but you know what I'm talking about. Then they'll turn around to sell the horn, and call it an "apparent FACTORY RELACQUER."

Ah. I see.

Aaaaaand how does anyone know it was a "factory relacquer?" Aw, who cares? Apparently just SAYING "factory lacquer" makes all those terrible things people believe about relacquering go away. Poof!

So yeah..... Magic words. "Killer horn."

"Factory relacquer."

"Sanborn era."

"Brecker serial number range."

There are lots of ways to stuff a lot of bullcrap into a for sale ad. But you can cut through it all by playing the horn yourself, or at least dealing with someone reputable.
It's not that a relacquered horn can't be great; I've played a few that have been excellent horns. However, in the current day when people typically do not have a chance to play a horn before buying, what would you prefer: an original lacquered horn, or a relacquered horn? I would much prefer an original lacquer horn, and it's not because I'm a bigot; it's because I think original lacquer horns are nicer than relacquered horns (with regard to non playing characteristics, which is what I'm basing my decision on without being able to test the horn), and it's easier to get my money back if I don't like it. All things equal, I would be shocked if someone were willing to pay the same price for a relacquered horn as an original lacquer horn, and if there were such a person, I've got a killer relacquered horn that I'd be more than happy to sell for the price of an original lacquer one.

In regards to factory relacquered horns, yes, it's difficult to prove that a horn was done at the factory, but there are characteristics such as how well it was done and if the color is correct that would make it highly possible to have been done by Selmer, so when someone says factory relacquered, if it's an honest description, it tells me there is very little evidence of having been buffed, the lacquer was applied well, it is a correct color for a vintage Selmer horn, and it is good enough to fool most people into thinking that it's original. In other words, it was done very well. If given the choice without having a chance to play first, I would much prefer a "factory relacquered" horn that meets all of this criteria than a relacquered horn that does not.

And saying factory relacquer does not make all my notions of relacquering go away; I still prefer original lacquered horns :D
 

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I think the factory relacquer claim is BS most of the time. A horn can look like it was done in the factory, but unless there's a receipt for the work it's just someone taking a wild guess.
 

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If a horn is truly a "killer," it will be down to the playing condition (and probably some design intangibles), not the condition of the lacquer.

That said, I'd take anything a seller says with a grain of salt until or unless I have a chance to play the horn myself.
 

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It's not that a relacquered horn can't be great; I've played a few that have been excellent horns. However, in the current day when people typically do not have a chance to play a horn before buying, what would you prefer: an original lacquered horn, or a relacquered horn?
All other things equal, a relaq. It's the day and age of audio clips and videos as well. Talk to a trusted seller, see what they say about the horn, then you can make a fairly informed decision. My main is a relaq SBA, it's for me a "killer" horn. For resale value, I can sell it for more than I paid, so original horns don't inherently mean it's a better return on investment.
 

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All other things equal, a relaq. It's the day and age of audio clips and videos as well. Talk to a trusted seller, see what they say about the horn, then you can make a fairly informed decision. My main is a relaq SBA, it's for me a "killer" horn. For resale value, I can sell it for more than I paid, so original horns don't inherently mean it's a better return on investment.
So, all other things equal, you'd pay the same price for a relac as an original? I imagine you're one of the few.
 

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So, all other things equal, you'd pay the same price for a relac as an original? I imagine you're one of the few.
sugaki can chime in, but I didn't hear him say that. My guess is he'd rather pay less for the relac while still getting a great horn.

I think, given the prices these days for a SBA or VI, if you can get a relac for a couple of grand less than a horn with original lac, that might be a deal worth considering.
 

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Well, hold the phone. We can debate the playability of original versus relacquer all day long. I still maintain that it would be impossible to tell a (non-destructive) relacquer from an original lacquer horn as a player or as a listener in a blindfold test. I'm sure somebody out there still would want to disagree with that. But that's my guess. I have never conducted such a test, so it's just an opinion at this point.

But one thing is NOT up for debate -- Original lacquer horns sell for more money than relacquers. Period. End of discussion. That is written in stone (somewhere). You'll move Christmas before that rule is abolished. Why? Just because. Do they play better? In my opinion, no. But they sell for more, because The Saxophone Gods have thus declared. You can't ask $10,000 +++ for a relacquered horn. It could be in otherwise pristine condition. It could play with enormous depth and character, and with perfect intonation. Could be a Brecker-Coltrane-Sanborn-WhatHaveYou Era horn. You'd have a hard time getting $7,000. It's a relacquer.

Even those of us who think Lacquer Bigotry is overblown and a bit ridiculous know this to be a fact.

But this isn't necessarily a bad thing! I can tell you firsthand that you can get yourself a HELL of a bargain on a relacquered horn. I have a 1962 VI alto and a 1962 VI tenor that are among the very best I have ever played. Both relacquered. Won't tell you what I paid for each, but each was a really good deal for the quality of horn I received. Could I have afforded either of them if they were "original?" Probably not. Would either of them be, in any way, a better playing horn with original lacquer? I can't imagine how. So from my point of view, I got a couple sweet deals on a couple sweet horns, all because relaquers are -- by some decree -- priced lower. My point is this: If you have the ability to check out a horn yourself, and you are experienced and competent enough to evaluate it, you can get a lot of horn for the money somewhere.

Some people say getting original lacquer is the "safe" way to go, and I totally get that. I find no fault with anyone who wants to go that route. Do it! But you'll pay more. Sometimes a LOT more -- thousands. Hey, that's cool with me. Will you get a better horn? You decide!
 

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I have a bias against re-lacquered horns because it seems to me that it hides the history, dentwork and stuff like that. I've played relacquered Mark VI tenors that seemed to have lost all the life in their tone, kind of dead, which at the time I attributed to too much buffing, but it's not like I know what I'm talking about in that regard. I once had a Mark VI alto relacquered (101XXX) along with an overhaul, with special request to not buff it, I didn't mind if scratches and marks showed under the new lacquer. It wasn't a heavy layer, but when I got it back, there was that deadness. Over the next couple decades the new lacquer started falling off, and when it was at about 80% the alto started to sing again, a REALLY big sound. I have two other Mark VI's now, a 54XXX and 93XXX, and while they have an extremely focused sound, they're not as just plain loud as that one I had re-lacquered. I sold the relaq to a friend for a fire sale kind of price, she got a good deal.

So I wouldn't discount the value of a relaq. Don't buy without playing it first, or get a really good price you know you can recover if you don't like it.
 

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So, all other things equal, you'd pay the same price for a relac as an original? I imagine you're one of the few.
Erm, where did I say I'd pay original price for a relaq? The whole point is that a lightly relaq'ed horn is a steal, because the market doesn't differentiate between a good and bad relacquer. I am actually in the camp that a relaq can affect the sound--I don't know why or how, but some relaqs sound thin, and lose that great core Selmers are known for. Some also sound very lively.

I bought my horn at 40% of the price of an original horn, and it plays as good if not better than original SBAs I've had/tried. I actually like this being relaq'ed aesthetically, because it's beautiful to look at:

Gold Wood Natural material Curtain Headgear
 

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Erm, where did I say I'd pay original price for a relaq?
Well, that would be all other things equal, including the price.

I completely understand that for you (and I'm sure many!) it's a much better deal to pay less for a nicely relacquered horn, and like I said before, I've played some very nice relacquered horns, so I'm certainly not against it. However, I'm willing to pay more (assuming I have the means) for an original lacquer horn because, like bokagee said, relacquering (or delacquering, too, for that matter) hides the history (e.g., dentwork, resolders, wear, etc...), and I like that with original lacquer, I have a better idea of what the horn has been through, so there is certainly more value than just a collector's premium. Plus, let's face it; if all other things were equal (e.g., price, condition, pads, year, playability, etc...), who wouldn't choose an original lacquer horn over a relac?
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Thanks for all replies! All very interesting,and I completely get that a seller will want to portray a horn in the best possible light. Maybe my English humour didn't translate across the pond, but I was kinda tongue in cheek wondering why all the VI's for sale are killer apex predator monster players,and nobody appears to be selling the less good, less well playing, slightly unimpressive players. Surely, these are exactly the horns players would want to move on? If you owned "the best VI I've ever played", then surely nothing would make you part with it?
 
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