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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a long time player. Played through college and some pro gigs before going on to professional school. Now that my kids are playing I have a Tenor player. Since Music has been cut from Middle school he has been playing in a private invite Jazz combo and has been playing my 121xxx mk VI tenor. I'm starting the process of looking for him his own Tenor to take to High school next year (as my VI won't be traveling on the bus). I would love to find him a 1980's Selmer AS 100, Yamaha yts 62, or something along those lines, also considering a older yamaha yts 23. What I found today that intrigues me at a local pawn shop ($1750) is a very early Mark VII SN 234xxx, no engraving, case is destroyed, looks (and smells) like its been a closet for 30 years. Pads are shot but lacquer is mint, almost looks new. I played it and playes in tune through the middle (where it doesn't terribly leak due to pads) seems stuffy but the pads are almost non-existent.

Any way I have 3 questions:
1. The VII's didnt have a SN on the neck correct?
2. IT has an odd hand engraved "X - three numbers" above the SN on the body, that seems lacquered over? Could it be a government horn? Military? School District?
3. Would you buy it for a 9th grade player to leave in his locker at school? He would still play the VI for gigs and at home, or look for something else? I would send it to my old friend Gary Underwood in FL for an overhaul if we go this route.
 

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I'm a long time player. Played through college and some pro gigs before going on to professional school. Now that my kids are playing I have a Tenor player. Since Music has been cut from Middle school he has been playing in a private invite Jazz combo and has been playing my 121xxx mk VI tenor. I'm starting the process of looking for him his own Tenor to take to High school next year (as my VI won't be traveling on the bus). I would love to find him a 1980's Selmer AS 100, Yamaha yts 62, or something along those lines, also considering a older yamaha yts 23. What I found today that intrigues me at a local pawn shop ($1750) is a very early Mark VII SN 234xxx, no engraving, case is destroyed, looks (and smells) like its been a closet for 30 years. Pads are shot but lacquer is mint, almost looks new. I played it and playes in tune through the middle (where it doesn't terribly leak due to pads) seems stuffy but the pads are almost non-existent.

Any way I have 3 questions:
1. The VII's didnt have a SN on the neck correct?
2. IT has an odd hand engraved "X - three numbers" above the SN on the body, that seems lacquered over? Could it be a government horn? Military? School District?
3. Would you buy it for a 9th grade player to leave in his locker at school? He would still play the VI for gigs and at home, or look for something else? I would send it to my old friend Gary Underwood in FL for an overhaul if we go this route.
I played a MVII alto in high school. It was challenged for some reason, intonation issues, odd tone, etc. At the time, I bought into the theory that these were flawed. But since then, I don't think so. I don't think Selmer released a flawed product, but somehow there's a belief they were bad designs. I'd simply demo one, and if its a good deal with budget for a rebuild, should make a great horn - it was Selmers top of the line for a while. I'd be proud to sling a working MVII.

There are a lot a great horns for your child to play, that are professional, suitable ($$) for toting and buses. I see a lot of really nice SA80s, series I, II and III in the 3k range. There are others. A budget of 2500 offers huge options. I've had Selmeritis since school, I do own a MVI, but I've owned a lot of other horns, and it doesn't HAVE to be a Selmer. My main wailer is not a Selmer. Think outside Selmer. A 61/62, Yani, older King, and others make superb horns. 2500 buys a lot of horn for anybody, much less a kid. Congrads on the kid and his interest btw. Keep it going!
 

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I have a friend with a MKVI alto with no engraving that was assembled in France rather than the US. So maybe it's an import from Europe, possibly with some kind of military connection given the extra markings.

A tenor case would take up a lot of locker space, but if you think he would be diligent enough to keep his locker locked at all times, shouldn't be a problem.

I actually had a MKVI in high school in the early 80's, and it got the crap beat out of it, no matter how much I babied it. So I'd be hesitant to spend much more than $600 on a horn that has to survive high school band.
 

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What's wrong with a VII for gigs? It's a much-maligned model, for no reason as far as I can see. I don't own one, but have played a couple over the years, and set up properly it should be a fine horn. If it's good enough for Stanley Turrentine....

Selmer stopped putting the serial numbers on necks somewhere around 120K - my 144K alto did not have it, my 100K tenor does.

Regarding the X-xxx, I have no idea.

Regarding school lockers - any horn left there is subject to abuse and disappearances. As long as your son is careful, you should be OK - depending on the high school. Though I'd be inclined to go the YTS-23 route if he is playing in marching band, or if the school is rough (or your kid is forgetful!) A Mark VII is still a Selmer, and worth way more than a student Yamaha, both monetarily and intrinsically. (Just my opinion...)
 

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I wouldn't leave a horn overnight at school - especially one with "Selmer" stamped on it.

Get a lightweight contour case for the horn - check out Softpack cases by BAM at MatthewsMuziek.com (Netherlands) for best prices.
 

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It sounds like you’re more concerned with what he plays than he is.
Unless your kid is 6’6’’ with giant hands I wouldn’t bother with a Mark VII. Just get him a shiny Asian sax you don’t worry about.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all. @whaler, He is a relatively big kid 14 and 5'9". I would have never thought of a Mk VII for him and was only considering it since a shipping a used YAS -23 tenor would be $1200 and the VII they are asking $1750. I started him on my tenor this year as for the last 4 years he has played alto (my old YAS-23 I got new in the early 1980's) and I wanted to be sure he was going to stay with tenor before I buy another horn.
Also as per our school district policy only "Small" instruments can be transported on the bus, and a tenor isn't considered small. Also

@Skeller there is nothing wrong with a Mk VII my main alto is a Mk VII, I've played many VI alto's and none I like as well as my VII. I'm in Alaska so My options are limited and shipping is expensive. I found a Vito (YAS-23 in disguise) for $1400 50 miles away I'm going to look at/play it tomorrow. And my VI tenor has the SN on the neck, must be close to the end of the time frame where they did that. I called Gary this AM and an overhaul on the VII would be ~$2k+ another $500+ in shipping so not considering that option any more. I'm also leary about buying a used horn online that isn't from a reputable dealer since I'm so far away and have limited access to repair techs.

@Musekatcher thank you. My initial thought was a it would be great to find a 61/62, king, or vintage Selmer Omega/162/ts100
 

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1) I have never seen an example with an SN on the neck. I believe that the practice ended with the VI, and even then they often didn't match the number found on the body.

2) Certain stores used to engage numbers and markings, as did a lot of organizations that you asked about. My own personal New Wonder has additional engravings from the music store it was originally sold from. The horn may have been engraved from any of those entities, or one that we're not considering.

3) Absolutely. If they're already playing a VI, they might as well have a VII as a backup. Expect to pay up to $1,000 for additional work putting the horn up to about $2,750. Which, while cheaper than many VII's, puts it close in line with the average modern used Selmer. If you have a tech in mind who does fantastic work for less, all the better. Call around to shops to see what they charge for repads. Might as well get some case prices while you're at it.

Regarding the YTS-23, you can often find these used in very playable condition for around the $500-$700 mark. From pitting my personal YAS-21 up against the brand new Advantage series, I can state that other than improving upon leverages in the key work, nothing has changed on these horns. The changes are really superficial, and cannot be felt. They're not something that a player would even notice. Of note, after the 21, Yamaha student horns use a glue joint that holds the bell to the bow. This is a means to easily repair dents on the horn due to these saxophones being marketed towards young (not the most careful) hands. As such, older glue joints may be more prone to leaking. It's a quick fix, but it's also something to be considered if you're set on finding an older version of this horn. IMO a 23 is a great saxophone that are plentiful, cheap, and consistent. They'll never have the stigma of being a professional Paris Selmer (ANY Paris made Selmer), but they can more than keep up with them. If paying the better part of 3k is in your budget to get this horn playing up to snuff, and if your son doesn't mind those large pinky keys, go for the VII.
 

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I have a VII and love it, but honestly, for a kid? I agree with the Yammy or similar.

I was in Roberto’s a few weeks ago and a guy came in with his wife and kids. His son started playing alto, and he had two options he was considering...
1. Overhaul his own MK VI alto that had been sitting in the closet for decades (and looked very very new) and let him lug that back and forth to school, OR
2. Buy him something in the range of the full overhaul like a Yammy.

Everyone in the shop said not to let him use a VI for school band and to buy a student Yammy or similar.
Except me, I told him i would trade him for a student horn i had a home and would make the sacrifice and pay for the overhaul. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
 

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I got a brand new VII tenor back in the late 70's from my parents for use in school band. It was my go-to horn for decades. Until I came here of course, and realized it sucked...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just to close out the story, I found him an extremely clean YAS-23 Tenor and got it for $900 for him to play at school. Just for fun I went back to look at the Mk VII again. It's SN is 234xxx so should be a Mk VI, the earliest confirmed SN i can find for a VII tenor is ~240xxx. Key work and markings are VII for sure and it has no SN on the bell brace? I'm guessing it is some type of transitional horn. Since the pads are gone I figured I could tell if it was a decent player by the neck so I took my mk VI and played it with the VII neck. Not good, stuffy and out of tune.

Anyway at the shop it stays, If I were single I would have bought it as something odd and have it re-padded for fun but given I'm not single my wife would have made me wish I was single for buying a almost $2k project... that may or may not turn out.
 
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