I think S-6 period's serial isn't like the Selmer ones in sequences...using 2 consecutive numbers showing the year of production
last time I saw a busking guy with a S-6, seems made in 1959~~~ I offered him a good price, but he rather keep it. but anyway there shouldnt be a S6 made in 1959...but my eyes naturally ignore other digits...
The engraving isn't that useful a guide because probably more S-6s are stencils by Vito, Artist, etc than actual branded Yanagisawas: indeed the stencils don't usually have the manufacturer's name anywhere on the horn. Though the serial numbers vary according to the marque, there's usually a 2 digit year code 2 or 3 digits in.
They're well built machines, and I don't think there are any specific issues except that the palm keys share the unpopular ergos of the Mk VI. But if that's not a problem for Coltrane, Marsalis, Coffin etc - not to mention me - then I consider them one of the best buys. $650 seems about the going rate, or perhaps a bit more for a branded "Yani" since people pay for image, not good music.
Not all S6 have a neckstrap ring. If you play soprano with a neckstrap, you might want to be sure the horn you choose has one. I've owned a few S6 horns and they all sounded great.
The placement of the LH "palm" keys varied slightly between the older and later S6 models - ergonomics improving with the later model. I don't have a year or serial number so I know that comment isn't much help, but it's an observation I felt worth mentioning. I only noticed it because I was so familiar with the keywork and played the two horns side by side. Anyone new to the S6/Mark VI key arrangement may not notice the subtlety. It has to do with the location of the cluster. I think it was the later horns had the LH cluster rotated on the horn further to the left - away from the upper stack. I recollect the closer arrangement felt a bit crowded, but I was used to the later one already.
Whether it's a Vito made by Yani or a Martin made by Yani or a Yani made by Yani - the S6 are fantastic. I've never played a Mark VI soprano, but I've heard that Yani did a better job of making a Mark VI soprano than Selmer ever did.
I played my Vito/Yani S6 against Keilwerths and even new Yanis including a bronze model - and the S6 won all around against the JK and had more character in the tone than the modern Yanis.
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