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I was recently on the hunt for a budget friendly horn with modern keywork and and great vintage sound when this guy popped up on ebay. The price was right and it looked like it was in pretty good condition so I took a shot. It's an 822xxx, so it's about as early of a tenor as they get. I am just pleased with this sax. It plays great, feels good under my fingers, and has a HUGE sound. I can't believe these saxes aren't hyped up more. I've had it for a couple days now and I just love it.







 

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What is a 164? Is this the Selmer USA copy of a Mark 6? I knew a guy who had one of these (alto) and he said it was a great horn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The 164 was Selmer USA's attempt at making a pro-level horn to compete with the Selmer Paris horns. Apparently they never quite took off. I don't know how it was developed or what it's supposed to be a copy of. There's plenty of rumors and not very much in the way of documented history as far as I can tell.

All I can say is I really like it and that's good enough for me.
 

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Looks like you got a good one. I just got home from the gig with mine. I also have the alto. They are not 'MK VI copies' although they do have some early styling cues but also some later ones. The 'pro horn' concept never took off as you said and they started marketing them as 'step-up' horns. They ran from around 1982 to 1999 or so. All the serial numbers start with '82' except a few at the end with '83'. At some point they dropped the '162 and 164' model numbers and started calling them AS and TS 100. somewhere in there they also went to a 7-digit SN range starting with '1'. They're still the good horns but have some minor differences.
 

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Great horns for the money. They aren’t quite in the same ream of a Selmer Paris but I was happy with mine. The Selmer rep at a JEN convention did tell me they were completely American made.
You’ll notice the keys are cast instead of forged. I guess that makes them more in the intermediate range in sax production.
The neck angle kind of bothered me so I got where I was using a spare MarkVI neck. Someone has said the Series III neck would give you the same angle but cheaper and easier to find.
Mine was set up well and did I get a nice round sound.
 

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The Selmer rep at a JEN convention did tell me they were completely American made.
Really? Where were they made in America? I'm not trying to be snarky here, just curious. I never knew that Selmer USA ever had any factories here in the U.S. I own a Selmer La Voix soprano, made in Taiwan, it's a nice horn as well.
 

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Yep, made in Elkhart. Note the dates; well prior to the outsourcing of everything to the Far East.

I'm not sure about the "cast vs. forged" key thing, but a good casting will do just as well as a forged part. Most of the key parts are stamped from sheet and brazed together, anyway - it's just going to be a few big keytouches like side and palm keys that aren't stamped sheet.
 

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Really? Where were they made in America? I'm not trying to be snarky here, just curious. I never knew that Selmer USA ever had any factories here in the U.S. I own a Selmer La Voix soprano, made in Taiwan, it's a nice horn as well.
They made the Bundys in the US for about 30 years. This was kind of an extension of that, but much nicer. They used to come in Selmer Paris-style Vanguard cases too.
 

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Yep, made in Elkhart. Note the dates; well prior to the outsourcing of everything to the Far East.

I'm not sure about the "cast vs. forged" key thing, but a good casting will do just as well as a forged part. Most of the key parts are stamped from sheet and brazed together, anyway - it's just going to be a few big keytouches like side and palm keys that aren't stamped sheet.
I talked to a well-known sax tech on the telephone one day about an overhaul on a Paris tenor and just happened to mention that I needed to do one on my Selmer USA alto - 'Oh, no, I won't work on those - the brass is just pot metal and it falls apart if you try to braze it.' I could hardly hold back the laughter but I changed the subject. I mean, the key work was brazed together at Elkhart with no problem and after having owned my tenor for 15 years and my alto for 37 years, I know for sure that the brass in a USA is every bit as good as the brass in any other horn, and if it has to be brazed, it can be brazed. I never did send that guy a sax and I never will.
 

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I think it's not the Omega or the TS100.

Now that I look at it, the neck shape (arch) does look more like a Super Action 80, but that was heavily, heavily, derived from the Mark 6 after all. Those of us who were there at the time will remember the happiness with which the Super Action 80 was received as indicating a return to the design legacy of the Balanced Action and Mark 6 after the very strange deviation of the Mark 7.
 

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Is this model different from the Omega or TS100?
Omega was only the alto. And it was really just a name- not a design difference.
 

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The neck on the tenor has nothing to do with the MK VI. It is the same profile as the MK VII and 80 Super Action. The alto was marketed as the 'Omega' as soybean said, and the tenor was not. They did come out briefly many years later under Conn-Selmer with an 'Omega' student model which has nothing in common with the one from 1982. Later on, they were called AS100/TS100. All those are great horns too, hand made in Elkhart.
And, Selmer never went back to anything resembling the MK VI until the Series III tenor, which does have the late MK VI neck profile. I have two of those necks, a Sterling silver and a brass, and they are extremely good tenor necks. I use them on my USA and MK VI interchangeably.
 

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At any rate, if OP still cares what we have to say about his tenor, I think the general opinion is that this run of Selmer USA tenors and altos are darn good horns with playing characteristics very similar to Selmer Paris.

(there are a lot of so called Selmer USA horns that are re-labeled Bundys, but this isn't one of them)
 

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You might know that Boots Randolph played a 164 the last 10 years of his life. I have one myself that I butchered up by taking off the high F# and plugging the tone hole. When I first got it, it was so bad with the original neck that I thought I had wasted the money - then I tried a MK VI replacement neck I had around and a match was made. Now I will use a Series III neck on it, either silver or brass. They can be exceptional horns, particularly when compared to the Chinese/Taiwan offerings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
At any rate, if OP still cares what we have to say about his tenor, I think the general opinion is that this run of Selmer USA tenors and altos are darn good horns with playing characteristics very similar to Selmer Paris.

(there are a lot of so called Selmer USA horns that are re-labeled Bundys, but this isn't one of them)
I agree with the general opinion! That's why I bought it, I'd read so much about how much of a sleeper it is and it fit the requirements for what I was looking for - modern keywork with a big vintage sound. It delivers!

However it's had to sit for a few weeks during this whole quarantine thing due to needing some bad leaks fixed. It's finally at the shop but it does need quite a bit more work than expected, but for the price I bought this for I can put in a few hundred in repair work and still feel like I paid a pretty good price for it.
 

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I talked to a well-known sax tech on the telephone one day about an overhaul on a Paris tenor and just happened to mention that I needed to do one on my Selmer USA alto - 'Oh, no, I won't work on those - the brass is just pot metal and it falls apart if you try to braze it.' I could hardly hold back the laughter but I changed the subject. I mean, the key work was brazed together at Elkhart with no problem and after having owned my tenor for 15 years and my alto for 37 years, I know for sure that the brass in a USA is every bit as good as the brass in any other horn, and if it has to be brazed, it can be brazed. I never did send that guy a sax and I never will.
Didn't the same people who assembled the Selmer Paris Serie I and Serie II in Elkhart, Indiana make the 164/162 Omega's in the same exact shop?
One would think that after putting together so many Selmer Paris horns that they would be using awfully similar materials that they sourced themselves. No? (I'm guessing that most of the hands that assembled the Mark VI in Elkhart were retired by the time the 164/162 and Paris Serie II were being made in the mid 80's).
 

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I saw that on ebay and drooled every day until it sold

Those are pro horns amd play fantastic

Another horn I should have kept
 

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I talked to a well-known sax tech on the telephone one day about an overhaul on a Paris tenor and just happened to mention that I needed to do one on my Selmer USA alto - 'Oh, no, I won't work on those - the brass is just pot metal and it falls apart if you try to braze it.' I could hardly hold back the laughter but I changed the subject. I mean, the key work was brazed together at Elkhart with no problem and after having owned my tenor for 15 years and my alto for 37 years, I know for sure that the brass in a USA is every bit as good as the brass in any other horn, and if it has to be brazed, it can be brazed. I never did send that guy a sax and I never will.
Well, right off the bat he exposed himself as having no idea what he was talking about: Brass is brass, pot metal is pot metal. They are not even closely related. Pot metal is essentially a zinc alloy of more or less uncontrolled composition, containing whatever scrap was put in the pot today (Zn, Al, Sn, maybe some Cu, Pb). Pot metal is used in die casting for metal objects of the lowest possible cost and quality.

Brass is Cu and Zn with a tiny amount of additional elements sometimes, and is made to exacting composition specifications. Different alloys of brass are used for stamping, machined parts, and castings, all of which may be present in a saxophone mechanism.
 

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I saw that on ebay and drooled every day until it sold

Those are pro horns amd play fantastic

Another horn I should have kept
I never had ‘Seller’s remorse” with mine since I took what I sold it for, threw in another grand and bought a beater MarkVI.
I liked the Selmer USA but it’s no Selmer Paris sax by any stretch.
 
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