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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Guy's

First, I pray all of you here and our administrators through out the forum are doing well, and I thank them for the great job maintaining this forum. For those in the know, what are the best serial number ranges in SBA's Tenor, Alto, and Baritone Saxophone. I've seen Coltrane with a beautiful SBA Tenor with the elaborate engraving, and David Sanchez and Coltrane with the individual B and Bb cages on their SBA's.. So, express your opinion or knowledge as to best SBA's and why? The certain style engravings and different stamps on the Bell illustrating different copy rights. I've getting into the SBA's a lot, and my first SBA Tenor was a really nice one I purchased from Marin, serial number 50XXX, but needed to sell it to get out of debt and so sorry I had to sell that one. I now have a really great player in an original Silver Plated 47XXX non-engraved Tenor that is awesome. I also have two SBA Altos... 47XXX and a 51XXX, I find the 51XXX to be the superior of the both, but, the 47XXX has a certain sound to it... Both are lacquered in the Deep Honey Gold Lacquer.

My 1964, 114XXX non-engraved, which is my main horn and a Mark VI is the baby of the stable. This one was originally gold lacquer, and plated with a nice thick plate of real silver plate in 1990, and this lacquer still looks as good as when it was first done, gold accented keys. This is my first horn which my teacher Benny Bonachio picked out for me at Saul Fromskin Shop on 48th and 7th Avenue NYC in 1969. In 2016, I made a big mistake of letting a tech that I knew for over 40 yrs, hey since I started playing the sax, completely devalued my horn when attempting its restoration, and it cost me even more to get her back to where she is now, and looking to have her restored again to remove the small dings. dents, and ripples put there by the tech. Just like the rattle snakes on his hat, is how he turned on me, by not respecting such a beautiful horn which I have cared for all these years, so make sure you know who you are dealing with when it comes to restorations... My more modern horns are my SA 80 series II Soprano, I pick up here last year at a real competitive price, and my SA 80 Series II Baritone Sax with the Low A. So, thanks in advance on your opinions and knowledgeable input concerning my questions as to the many different engravings, key work, and best serial number ranges of the SBA's, God bless...

Phil Mas'
 

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Hi FrenchmarkVI- I'm interested in the answers you get on this. I have a silver alto 1944 (31XXX) in very good condition.

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Discussion Starter #3
That's what I'm trying to learn, as the earlier SBA's are different in some ways, but there are some serial number ranges that are more sort after... Hope this post helps you as well...

Phil
 

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Serial numbers that are sought after are truly due to the collectors market or what "name brand" players play and don't have much to do with how they play or what range is best. The fact of the matter is, SBA's are truly a transitional saxophone for Selmer and it really depends on what you are looking for in the sound / core that will dictate what serial range is best for you. I can give an overview of what we find at the shop is true,"stereotypically", for SBAs. As a caveat, I'm only going to talk about tenors and as always, these are just generalizations and you really have to play each individual horn to get a sense of it.

- 34xxx thru 375xx or so: These can be VERY good players and have a special sound. They are really a mashup of a BA and an SBA. They tend to have a more husky sound than later SBAs and can really be powerful with some punch when needed. The issue is the shorter bell and the fact that C down to Bb tunes about a quarter step sharp. It can be tough to deal with, but less so when playing solo / sans other horn players.

- 375xx to 40xxx: These are similar to the above serial range. Still a fatter core with a great color in the sound. Selmer has fixed the Bell issue and now they tune much better down low. I find these to generally be a little darker / less punchy than the earlier ones. Not sure why, possible thought is that there is literally more mass on the horn with the longer bell.

- 40xxx to 47xxx: start to get more core / focus than the earlier ones but still not as focused as the later serials. Fairly neutral in terms of bright and dark, but most of these still tend to land on the darker side for me in comparison to the very early models and the later models.

- 47xxx to 50xxx: This is where they start to get much more focused for me and also tend to get brighter. I have no clue why, but these SBA's tend to be powerful and have a great core with tons of color and a lot of times will end up on the brighter side of the spectrum compared to the earlier ones.

- 50xxx to 54xxx: These tend to keep the same focus and singing quality as the 47xxx-50xxx, but start to get darker again in comparison and also tend to be drier sounding when I play them. The later they go the more early "VI" like they start to become in the core sound.

Once again, these are complete generalizations, but can hold true in a LOT of cases. Things that will make your SBA vary greatly will include the setup and which resos are in it. SBAs originally had larger metal resos, but it is rare to find them done like that now unless the tech overhauling them is knowledgable of the original design / setup. I find this makes a HUGE difference in the SBA experience and if yours has plastics that are sized like a MK VI, then you aren't experiencing a TRUE SBA.

Hope this helps someone!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
By all means... A crash course according to a knowledgeable player always helps... Now to get the low down on the Mark Vi's...LOL. I'm starting a new thread on that subject, and please chime in. Thanks...

Phil Mas'
 

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Things that will make your SBA vary greatly will include the setup and which resos are in it. SBAs originally had larger metal resos, but it is rare to find them done like that now unless the tech overhauling them is knowledgable of the original design / setup. I find this makes a HUGE difference in the SBA experience and if yours has plastics that are sized like a MK VI, then you aren't experiencing a TRUE SBA.

Hope this helps someone!
Just mine has those big metal resonators!! Happy to know that's the original design for it.
 

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Wow, that's amazing detail TM obviously from A LOT of experience. Would love to have played that many horns... keen to hear opinions on SBA altos as that's my game, but with a sample of 1...
 

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Hello,

I am about to experience my first SBA Tenor. I have had a BA alto in the past. I have 10 other tenors to compare once it gets here. (2 x Conn Chu, Conn Transitional, 3 x various Beaugnier models, 2 x Vito Duke , King Zephyr, Early Buescher.

Check out this serial number 403xx. It's on the way to me.

View attachment 244954


View attachment 244958

Willy O
 

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I had a 47xxx french SBA for a short time. I sold it to pay some medical bills and miss it to this day. Every SBA that I've played in the 47xxx - 50xxx has been dynamite. And, they all had a great setup. I've only played a few 50xx - 54xxx Tenors and they were also keepers. I think if you take an SBA to a top tech you'll come away with a great horn. They were a big improvement from the Balanced Action, IMHO.
 

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I have a late SBA (serial 506xx) since 1995 which I really like. It doesn't look that nice (bare brass), but it sings and sounds spread and on the darker side. I let my tech set the key heights to the max many years ago, which did change the sound quality from more mellow/warm into louder (but still warm). Only horn I played that I loved more was an early Mark VI from 1957 from my band leader (which was/is not for sale).

Once played an older SBA (with the sharp bell notes) and also some BA's, but none of them performed and sounded (for me that is) better than my SBA.

Here is a screenshot I once captured from an eBay listing of an SBA sale by Marin (HornedToad on this forum, who played a lot of vintage horns) in which he describes the different sound characteristics he found in different SBA serial ranges:
View attachment 244962
 

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TM is on the money in my experience!

I own a 49*** SBA which I play on, and also own a 34*** SBA which I will let go at some point. Both overhauled by the same tech an both in original condition. They play very very differently. The 34k is definitely more spread and a bit more aggressive when pushed. It’s a brilliant horn although the tuning at the bottom is something to get your head around I haven’t had my tech work on any of the tuning at the bottom yet as it isn’t my main horn and I don’t really play it. The 49k is most definitely more focussed and the tuning is pretty consistent! Definitely more spread that a vi across the first 2 1/2 octaves, but in the altissimo it is as focussed and easy to play as any vi I have owned. Both great horns, although very different..


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They were a big improvement from the Balanced Action, IMHO.
I would disagree. I've owned a couple of SBA tenors over the years (a 40xxx and a 48xxx) but found both horns a bit polite and bland sounding compared to the BA and earlier Selmers. It is all a personal preference.
 

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I would disagree. I've owned a couple of SBA tenors over the years (a 40xxx and a 48xxx) but found both horns a bit polite and bland sounding compared to the BA and earlier Selmers. It is all a personal preference.
I found SBA’s to be so close to my Mark VI I preferred the BA too.
As long as it’s sealing well I don’t find the bell notes to be a problem. One little leak seems to set it off.
Maybe it’s because they BAs were made at the height of the big band era they were made for projection at the the expense of tuning.
It seems each ptogressive model of Selmer had more and more influence by classical sax players and they became darker and darker.
 

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When Dave Liebman came to me looking for a Selmer he said Wayne Shorter told him to get an SBA between 38xxx and 42xxx. I had 9 Selmers of various vintage for him to try that day and he ended up selecting a BA which he traded back to me about a year later for another BA (with non-matching serial neck) that all of us who tried it agreed was at another level, I think he still has that one
 

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I would disagree. I've owned a couple of SBA tenors over the years (a 40xxx and a 48xxx) but found both horns a bit polite and bland sounding compared to the BA and earlier Selmers. It is all a personal preference.
Haha, maybe just two not so great examples in that case Liam..? They definitely have a different vibe to the pre-SBA horns, but in terms of literal mechanical build they are a step up - just as the mkvi is a small step up from the SBA... I’m not talking specifically about sound, but more about the overall build etc.. thoughts?


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Hello,

I recently bought this album with a great picture of an SBA Tenor on the cover. I have a pretty large collection of vinyl specifically saxophone related. Blue Notes, Hank Mobley among them

By the way, this SBA Tenor I pictured a couple of posts ago is also coming to me with a 1940 BA Alto and 1953 SBA Alto. I stepped up and bought a collection from a 97 year old former big band touring musician. He stashed these around 1960 and called them his "Investments". View attachment 244964

Willy O
 
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