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I'm thinking about buying a new Selmer alto sax in the next weeks.

what are your experiences, is there really a difference in sound between the new Axos model and a vintage SBA or does it depend more on the mouthpiece and reed combo (and my own playing of course)? I love that Paul Desmond sound, but I'm really wondering if it's worth it to spend like 5000 Euros on a vintage Selmer (where I can't even be sure everything works properly) when I can have the same result for about 2200 Euros.
 

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Sound concept is all about what you hear in your head and how well you play the saxophone. Horn types and even mouthpieces are not nearly as important as you abilities. However, if I were to buy a Selmer alto, I would either get a vintage horn, or a second hand newer model.

Good values can be found with older BA and SBA. Here's a re-lac BA for under $3k USD. http://www.tenormadness.com/product_detail.php?product_id=1577
This BA is just like Lee Konitz's horn, a #21k. Here's a re-lac SBA http://www.tenormadness.com/product_detail.php?product_id=1858#photos

Nothing wrong with a re-lac if it was done properly. These older horns will maintain their value. I assume that a new Selmer Axos will not maintain re-sale value in the same way. But, if you like the new horn, go ahead and get one.
 

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I play tested an Axos side by side with Selmer's other modern pro altos (II, III, Ref.). I thought the sound was actually very nice in comparison, and even preferred over the III and the Reference. But the Axos didn't have as substantial of a feel in the hands as Selmer's top of the line models, and the asking price for a new one is absolutely insane.

You know I did once own an Alto SBA. Nice horn, but it wasn't until I dumped it and its vintage mouthpiece in favor of a True Tone alto with an RCP that I could better mimic a Desmond sound.
 

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I played newer Selmer for years (a super 80 series 2) and then recently bought an old SBA...there is an enormous difference in sound! The SBA has that indefinable vintage sound, a velvety beauty that I didn't get from a modern horn. Same player, same mouthpiece, world of difference. I went for an SBA as opposed to a Mark VI just for price, so as BarrySachs says, you may be able to find a vintage horn for an affordable price. Also bear in mind that an old horn is idiosyncratic...there are intonation issues with mine and some stuffy notes, but these are well worth it for the sound.It depends what you want, but in my opinion you only get that sound from a vintage horn.
 

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Also bear in mind that an old horn is idiosyncratic...there are intonation issues with mine and some stuffy notes, but these are well worth it for the sound.It depends what you want, but in my opinion you only get that sound from a vintage horn.
If it has to be an alto SBA, especially a later one... you'll want to make sure it is leak free and then with your mouthpiece of choice, get it tuned just right... and then blow a nice, soft, long low B.
 

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Super Action 80 Tenor, Yamaha Vito YAS-21 prototype, Kessler Soprano, Superba II Bari, Fender J-Bass
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There's a certain mid range velvety sound in vintage Selmers that just isn't found in their modern lineup. There's a tradeoff though as the vintage horns require you work a little harder at keeping them in tune. A new Selmer alto that's set up well is a great horn to work with, and the Axos is no exception. Will it play like an SBA? No, they're two distinct animals. Can one get a Desmond sound from the horn? Depends upon the player's mouthpiece and voicing. There are some who will be able to do this easily on the SBA, while others will prefer doing it on the Axos. And still there are others who will prefer another setup altogether. Use your own best judgement based upon your own playing experiences. Your personal tastes make you the most qualified person to answer that question for yourself.
 

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As I've posted several times, if you want an SBA alto on the cheap, find an SBA neck and use that on a modern horn, such as a Series II. You'll get 85-90% of the sound and response, along with better tuning on the modern horn. Cheaper, too :)
 

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There's a certain mid range velvety sound in vintage Selmers that just isn't found in their modern lineup. There's a tradeoff though as the vintage horns require you work a little harder at keeping them in tune.
Some vintage Selmers are harder to keep in tune than others. A really early SBA I had easily played in tune, better than some newer Selmers I've tried.
 

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Some vintage Selmers are harder to keep in tune than others. A really early SBA I had easily played in tune, better than some newer Selmers I've tried.
Conversely, I've played some late BA's that were a bit all over the place all around. Took a few minutes to get them under control, but were well worth the effort. I suppose it's all what you're used to.
 
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