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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

A friend is thinking about selling his soprano sax. It's a Selmer pre-Mark VI Nr. 40xxx in very good shape.
Does anyone have data on these toys and their value ?

Thanks ;)
 

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No, but I know a local SoCal guy who plays one - and he sounds great on it . . . a Balanced-Action model, if I recall correctly. I can't imagine such a horn being cheap - probably in the early Mark VI range as far as value goes. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your answer. I know tenors can go for crazy amounts of money but I don't really have a realistic idea about MVI soprano prices.
 

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I think VI-soprano values can vary (like most things). Much depends on condition, and the region, I suppose. I have two of them - one from 1972 (outstanding condition and a superb player) and a five-digit one from 1959 (some cosmetic issues but the best soprano I've ever played). I paid a lot (I'm reluctant to say how much here on a public site) a few years ago for the 1972 horn - a real closet horn. The '59 horn was a gift from a well-known jazzer's estate and I won't sell it because of how it plays AND who owned it before me. When I'm gone, it will go to my family, who play.

It all boils down to finding a buyer and how much the owner will take for it. But I'm thinking around $3k would be a starting price to consider. DAVE
 

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Eastern Music unlacquered power neck tenor and a Jean Paul AC-400.
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Value is in excess of $2500 and condition, originality and if there was a recent high quality overhaul will all impact the top end of the value. eBay history of sold horns will show you what VIs have been selling for, though eBay seems to be loaded with bargain hunters these days, so may not reflect the real value.
 

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Yeah, that's about half-price if its in nice shape.
 

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It's also hard to know what is different between a Mark 6 soprano and one made just before. The Mark 6 soprano didn't include most of the mechanical changes of the Mark 6 alto tenor and baritone. As to keywork at least, it's a lot closer to a soprano from the 20s or 30s than to the rest of the Mark 6 instruments. So a 1950 soprano may well be identical to a Mark 6 except for engraving and maybe a couple of minor changes to key shapes. While most of us have at least a passing familiarity with the alto and tenor path from Model 22, Model 26, "Super/New large bore/Cigar Cutter/Radio Improved", Balanced Action, Super Balanced Action, to the Mark 6, the evolution of the sopranos (and to some extent the baritones) is less well known, certainly less well known by me.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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It's also hard to know what is different between a Mark 6 soprano and one made just before. The Mark 6 soprano didn't include most of the mechanical changes of the Mark 6 alto tenor and baritone. As to keywork at least, it's a lot closer to a soprano from the 20s or 30s than to the rest of the Mark 6 instruments. So a 1950 soprano may well be identical to a Mark 6 except for engraving and maybe a couple of minor changes to key shapes.
I agree about it probably being no different to a MKVI, which as you say didn't really have a new soprano model. There was so little call for sopranos right through the 30s, 40s and 50s. Then someone came along and made it one of peoples' favourite things.
 

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I agree about it probably being no different to a MKVI, which as you say didn't really have a new soprano model. There was so little call for sopranos right through the 30s, 40s and early 50s. Then someone cam along and made it one of peoples' favourite things.
Hah, I see what you did there. :bluewink: Thanks for that!
 

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Then someone came along and made it one of peoples' favourite things.
Did he really make such an impact for the soprano community? Shorter, Liebman, Garbarek, Lacy & G, it's still quite a short list. :) And I see Shorter as a tenor man.

And, to be honest, Selmer kept sleeping on their soprano development until Yanagisawa released the S880. Then they realised that they had to step up their game.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Did he really make such an impact for the soprano community? Shorter, Liebman, Garbarek, Lacy & G, it's still quite a short list. :) And I see Shorter as a tenor man.
Aha, you got my very subtle allusion to Coltrane. My point was not the scale of his impact, more to do with making it the soprano popular again in jazz. Apart from Steve Lacy the others you quote weren't until several years later and it could be argued that it was all down to Coltrane as he put the soprano voice into modern (post bebop) jazz. Lacy was a significant player, but did not do for the popularity of the soprano that Coltrane did

At this point though I feel a shoutout is necessary to the great Frank Weir and his Soprano Saxophone, before both Lacy and Coltrane:

 

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I'm also reminded of the wonderful soprano sax solo in the famous recording by The Tokens of The Lion Sleeps Tonight from 1961.
Paul Cohen
 

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We all are in our own musical world - mine did not involve Coltrane. And those within MY musical world were not influenced by him. My musical world involved listening to and being influenced by soprano saxophone players of immense jazz skill before Coltrane and other modernists.

I first heard two different outstanding soprano saxophone players in jazz in 1956 at age 16. That did it for me and that one concert-night (a packed Shrine Auditorium in downtown L.A.) led me to the horn - and I still play it today.

I seriously doubt that many on SOTW have even heard of the guys who influenced me (and no, it wasn't Sidney Bechet - he came into my life not too long after my first experience with soprano sax). But as I sat there in the audience among thousands of cheering fans that evening in 1956, I was mesmerized by the sound of George Probert's old Conn soprano, and the whole auditorium raised to their feet in a standing ovation for a jazz soprano sax player. I know several current soprano sax players who owe their interest in the instrument to George - not Coltrane.

I acknowledge that outside of my musical world, some were motivated by Coltrane, but they remain in their world just as I do in mine. I still think it is inaccurate to claim Coltrane was responsible for any increase in popularity of the soprano saxophone. There were several players who can share that claim. DAVE
 

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It’s been a long time but I seem to remember playing a friends old Selmer soprano and it didn’t have that “whisper key” or whatever you call the little key activated by the octave that keeps the high C# from being really out of tune.
 

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I just looked at three of my sopranos . . . the '59 MKVI soprano (serial 81xxx) and the '27 Conn NW II both have a vent right above the B2 vent (top of the stack) that is open on C#2 and closes on C#3; the '72 MKVI (serial 205xxx) has that same vent but it is a two-part "donut" thing with a hole in the center. I don't know when Selmer introduced the donut-style tone-hole vent cover.

As far as keeping the C#3 in tune, all three sopranos play that note well. By the way, the Conn and the five-digit MKVI sopranos came from George Probert's estate - gifted to me by George's widow (see post14 above). DAVE
 

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I seriously doubt that many on SOTW have even heard of the guys who influenced me (and no, it wasn't Sidney Bechet - he came into my life not too long after my first experience with soprano sax). But as I sat there in the audience among thousands of cheering fans that evening in 1956, I was mesmerized by the sound of George Probert's old Conn soprano, and the whole auditorium raised to their feet in a standing ovation for a jazz soprano sax player. I know several current soprano sax players who owe their interest in the instrument to George - not Coltrane.

I acknowledge that outside of my musical world, some were motivated by Coltrane, but they remain in their world just as I do in mine. I still think it is inaccurate to claim Coltrane was responsible for any increase in popularity of the soprano saxophone. There were several players who can share that claim. DAVE
I agree there are obviously different worlds. In fact I'd rather listen to George Probert than Coltrane these days, and I also find it sad that such players are not better known these days.

Apart from the blatant excuse for some flippant humour, I was speaking in commercial rather than artistic terms. What I was trying to convey was the general popularity of Coltrane and my opinion that it was most likely his influence his soprano had on saxophone players in general. ie thinking about whatever genre. I don't think we can deny the sheer popular popularity and commercial success of My Favourite Things based on sales figures.
 

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Point taken, Pete, but I'll never forget when Pete Hales (saxpics) was active on SOTW and posted a video clip of Coltrane playing that tune whenever the subject of bad soprano tone came up. His posting was obviously a dig at Coltrane's tone and a perfect example of how not to play soprano.

I know, the discussion isn't about the subjective evaluation of that recording or that player's abilities, it is about any influence he had on soprano popularity. How can that be truly evaluated? He sure didn't influence me or the many soprano players I know. And no, I don't intend to put myself up as being anyone who counts in the equation. DAVE
 

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Point taken, Pete, but I'll never forget when Pete Hales (saxpics) was active on SOTW and posted a video clip of Coltrane playing that tune whenever the subject of bad soprano tone came up. His posting was obviously a dig at Coltrane's tone and a perfect example of how not to play soprano.

And I would have agreed, while totally respecting Coltrane's innovation and legacy. It's all subjective.

(Although a clip of Rollins on soprano may have been interesting: https://youtu.be/F6fPAF69hng?t=247 )

Coltrane had an excuse of course, Miles made him play it :)
 
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