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Haven't run across a dedicated thread yet (and yes, I searched), and having recently adopted one of these, I figured it wouldn't hurt to know who I could turn to with questions...

So, my newest addition is a very early SBA tenor, with a serial number in the low 34XXX range. It languished in someone's garage until this past summer, when it was put up for sale locally and I took a chance that it would be a good one. Totally unplayable at the time I bought it, but eventually I got it into my tech's hands for some TLC, and now it's sporting a new set of black roos (almost, anyway--they were backordered on a couple small sizes, so he put in a couple kidskin pads to hold me over), with resonators that match throughout. Mechanically, the horn is AWESOME.

Anyhow, I've been playing it just about a month, and can finally give some impressions. First, this is the sweetest-sounding tenor I've ever played. In that sense it's taking some getting-used to, since there are times I really need to cut loose, and it doesn't brighten up as easily as my Yamaha Z. That said, a couple more-experienced-on-tenor players have demonstrated that this horn can get down with the best of 'em, so I'll figure that out. It's also the quirkiest tenor I've ever played from the standpoint of pitch (this is a short-bell model), but I'm learning to deal with that. The previous owner--who obviously played the CRAP out of this horn--put rings in the Bb, B, and C bell keys, and those do help the pitch and stability on those low notes, so we added a touch of solder to make them stay put.

So... what are your experiences? Anything I should know? I wouldn't have expected the horn to like contemporary mouthpieces, but it like my way-open Berg better than anything else I own. Go figure.

Oh, and here's a few pics. Would love to see everyone else's....





Love that ornate engraving!
 

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Hi Leanne. Nice horn you've bought, pictures look great. Based on the serial number 34xxx yours would be a BA of 1934, based on the table I found here:
http://saxofoons.volop.info/serienummers-selmer

I have a 50xxx SBA (a Super Action according to this table) of 1952 with which I'm very happy. It looks not so nice as yours, no lacker anymore, but it plays great (according to me!). No good pics available, at least none without me attached to it! See my profile picture here on SOTW to get an idea on how it looks. I don't have the intonation issues you mentioned. I have ofcourse some intonation issues, but I think they are more linked to my limited skills as saxophonist and not to my horn, because some pro friends of mine sound great on it.

About mouthpieces: I have tried a lot of them (mainly Otto Links, but also other brands) and they all mix quite well with my SBA. I have a preference for vintage metal Otto Links of the same area, that is Florida no USA (manufactured between 1950 and 1960). I play currently on a Florida no USA 10* and before that on an Early Babbitt 8* of 1974. I recently compiled out of several takes a blues of about 20 minutes, played on 12 different pieces (mainly vintage Links, I have all metal types of Links produced between 1930 till now in my collection). If you would like to hear some of them you can check this thread:
http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...lues-quot-(played-on-12-different-mouthpieces)

I hope you will have lots of pleasure for a long time with your beautiful horn!

Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Leanne. Nice horn you've bought, pictures look great. Based on the serial number 34xxx yours would be a BA of 1934, based on the table I found here:
http://saxofoons.volop.info/serienummers-selmer

Hi, Peter,

Many of the serial number charts are wrong by several thousand specimens. On my sax, the lower stack toneholes are rotated radially relative to the upper stack, where they were all in-line on a Balanced Action. This horn also has the removable bell, which is an indicator of a Super, and the serial number is located under the thumbrest, not on the bell as with the BA series.

You can read up on these transitional horns here: http://www.saxpics.com/?v=mod&modID=13
 

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Barisaxdiva:

Nice horn! Due to its smaller bore and body tube (vis-a-vis the Mark VI), the SBA does not have the kind of projection that the Mark VI does. But that does not mean you can't be heard on your SBA tenor. For one thing, you need to practice more with your horn until you feel you can make it scream when you want it to. Furthermore, you may want to try a more powerful, fuller-sounding mouthpiece on it to see if you can increase the projection. I am recommending the Jody Jazz DV; it is what Jody says it is: effortless projection and beauty.
 

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By the way, my SBA is an alto with serial number 37XXX (1947). I am slowly liking it after a new set of pads was changed last week. But, to be sure, I am not getting the same power and tonal richness that I do on my Buffet SDA on this SBA.
 

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Hi Yellowhorn. Indeed a SBA can sound a bit more shy or mellow compared to a Mark VI, but that can be changed easily if you want. A good and open tip mouthpiece can help (I would prefer Links over JJ, but that's personal), but what helps a lot in getting more sound out of your SBA (or sax in general) is to ask your repair man to open your valves to the maximum position possible. Most SBA valves are tuned closer to the sax, thus giving less sound.

Ofcourse you should only do that when you think your SBA sounds to soft. Some people feel that this softness is a part of the charme of this horn. The valves on my tenor SBA are opened to the max some years ago and I can get the same volume as any Mark VI I have played with without issue (maybe also because I play a Link Florida no USA 10* tip MPC). Have tried several VI's from pro-friends and don't hear too much difference in volume with my own SBA. Also, ofcourse, your volume and sound highly depends on what you can put into your horn physically.
 

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I love the sound of my '50's SBA alto for both jazz and classical playing, but I'm not an "in your face" jazz player---more like Desmond than Cannonball.

The problem with the restoration I've done on the sax shown below, is that it looks so nice I don't want to take it out and play it. :shock: Seriously, I would use it on important gigs, but I recently picked up a second alto to take with me to the local schools when I go to teach sectionals and give clinics.





Engraving by Jason Dumars
 

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See John, I told you there was a reason I like you! Nice horn, man. I understand about not taking it to schools, but give that horn some work, it deserves to be heard.

I have and love a '49 SBA alto, SN 44K. It is not in photogenic dress right now, about 30% lacquer remaining. It has had a nice full life, playing lead behind some of the greats (and a lot of the not-so-greats...) What a sound this horn makes!

I got this horn because a guy called me up, saying "I heard you were looking for a horn" (I wasn't). I went to see it, played it, immediately sold my recently-overhauled-by-Emilio Mark VI and bought it. Same price, I neither made nor lost money. You may try to pry it from my cold dead hands, but good luck, because I suspect that even in death it will be attached to me. It's my horn, it was meant to be my horn, and it will stay my horn until there is no more me.

A nice Meyer 7 drives it today, no intonation issues, and a better alto I have never played.
 

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Beautiful horn, Bari Sax Diva and congratulations! I have a 1948 SBA alto that, as skeller047, says about his, I have yet to play a better alto. I own a MK VI too but basically that is my back up horn now. I use my SBA for playing lead alto, for rock/funk and anything else that comes long.

Someday I hope to have a SBA tenor too! Enjoy your new horn--it's great that you have it out and about playing again.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hey, everyone,

Thanks for the good wishes. I left the horn with my tech Monday--the last four Roo pads came in so he's going to swap out the ones he put my palm keys. The timing was perfect, as it gets the tenor out of reach so I can focus on 'shedding bari this week. I've got a gig and a session this weekend on that one and I've been neglecting it a bit these last few months.

Anyhow, Yellowhorn--right now I'm switching back and forth between a vintage Link STM 7* (I think--it's in the case at the tech) and a 130/2 scoopbill Berg. The Berg has plenty of power to spare, but it also wants to go a bit flat up top, and I sometimes don't feel like wrestling with it when I'm in a section. A lot of this, I think, is me still feeling like I'm not really a tenor player like the cats who really PLAY it. Once I get more woodshed time and a bit more confidence on the horn I hope the problem will resolve itself.

Jbtsax: That is one of the most stunningly gorgeous saxes I've EVER seen. What a work of art--I can see why you'd want to be careful with it! If it plays half as good as it looks, I bet it's nearly impossible to put down.

skeller047: If you have a moment to post a pic of your alto, I'd love to see it as I have a real soft spot for the well-loved horns. Interestingly, both my current alto and tenor came to me in much the same way you came across yours. Getting a different tenor was sort-of in the back of my mind, but I was NOT looking for an alto when a friend called me about the VI I'm playing now, and as soon as i tried it I knew it was a keeper. Weird how that works.

CardinalRule: Thanks, and good luck on your search for your own tenor!
 

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Hi Leanne, congrats on your SBA tenor. I've been playing mainly SBAs on tenor for decades, only long-bow. SBAs do like more open metal pieces, and metal Bergs are a great combo; my favorite Berg was a vintage fat-body. These days I'm using a Saxscape prototype.
The VI does have that "core" feel, and more focused notes which has it's place, but I find that the SBA's dynamic envelope, from subtle to screaming, is wider. I also prefer the ergos on the SBA to anything else.
 

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my sba alto 50,xxx is too ugly for pics. some one relaqed it in gold sparkel!
 

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er.....I actually got a 50k and a 52k SBA tenors...both are very nicely done relacq....minimal buffing for sure....both are tuned up.

I never feel the power of the crazily priced SBA tenors....then I delacq the 52k tenor, which has some fairly 'thick' lacquer layer....the result is amazing....it was taken down to bare brass...and I do feel the vibration is totoally different. Has some far more buzz than before.

but....comparing any horns so far in my hand, the 126k VI tenor is the best, then is the 98k VI....the SBA is simply too gentle for me....of course they are both relacqs and that may affect my user experiences

I find large chamber mpcs are the best with my SBA tenor and for metal ones, only otto link stlyed stuff feel good to me on the horn...
 

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I have a 50xxx SBA (a Super Action according to this table) of 1952 with which I'm very happy. It looks not so nice as yours, no lacker anymore, but it plays great (according to me!). No good pics available, at least none without me attached to it! See my profile picture here on SOTW to get an idea on how it looks.
Just posted some new pics from a gig of me playing with Rinus Groeneveld (a giant Dutch tenor) in another thread. You can see my SBA on those pics a bit better then on my profile picture. Rinus is the one with hat (he plays a Buescher 400), I'm the bold guy on the SBA!

Here are the pics:
View attachment 26647 / View attachment 26648 / View attachment 26649 / View attachment 26650
 

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I have a SBA from around 1950 also. It looks very similar to yours Bari Sax Diva. This is a pic from one of my book covers.



When I got it it was almost in mint condition. I put all those scratches and marks on it over the last 15 years. Still looks pretty nice..........I should clean it once in awhile though.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Gorgeous horn. It blows my mind how ornate the engraving is. Mine, too... they sure don't make 'em like THAT anymore!
 
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