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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The serial numbers are not definitive as different websites give slightly different cut-offs for BA and SBA. I am considering a 35xxx tenor and I was told it is a SBA. According to the Selmer website, it is within the BA series. Per Saxpics, it should be categorized as SBA.

There is a little rectangular metal with 2 screws at scrolled metal band connecting the bell and the bow. Saxpics said it should indicate it is a SBA. Also, this tenor has off-set key holes.

I tend to believe this is a SBA but certainly like to know more methods for distinguishing.

By the way, is there so much difference between BA and SBA in terms of tone and playability. The SBAs command much higher prices.

Thanks.
 

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Search function could help here ....

For example, discussions on SBAs here --

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=46458

and here

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=52581

What you are considering sounds like an early (one could say "first series") SBA. These differ from BAs in the ways you have noted (bell to bow connector, rotated right-hand toneholes) and in other ways (screws for adjustment on the F/Gsharp bar, possible bore differences in the neck etc).

A big similarity to BAs is the tendency of the low notes to be noticeably sharp. Selmer corrected the placement of the bottom B and Bflat toneholes somewhere between 35xxx and 38xxx. Check out the pictures at Saxpics and elsewhere. I have a 35xxx SBA but I think a later example would be preferable.

Apart from that issue, when I tried several of both I could tell little difference between them in terms of tone and playability. Someone with wider experience may have a more nuanced view.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks a lot, amg.

The one that I am looking for has separate key guards for low B and Bb. But that's not important to me though. For the low notes intonation, I am not sure because I don't have chance to test play and I am buying it from overseas.
 

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I have seen horns from 1947 33xxx up ot 358xx that are not considered to be sba by selmer have the balanced action engranvings but have more similarities to sba horns (like the ones you mentioned above), I would consider them transitional horns
 

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Neither all selmers are pretty bad and over rated. I'd get a cannonball
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Swingtone said:
SBA--better intonation.
I was told that even among the SBAs, the later serial numbers have a better intonation, and more edgy on the high notes.
 

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I would ditto the remark about about early SBA's being sharp on the bottom . I believe the bell wqas too short.
I almost bought a wonderful sounding early SBA but didn't want to deal with the intonation issues.
I seem to remember that Tenor madness said they could actually pull the bell out a bit and re-do the key mechanisms to correct the problem , but then you've screwed around with a vintage instrument so I wasn't sure what it would do to retail value. It was only about $300 at that time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I suppose the $300 was for the restoration/adjustment work - not the price of the SBA, correct? :D
 

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for alto & tenor, the serial number cutover was in the 33,2xx-ish range.

I know of a 33,1xx alto that's a hybrid(the detachable 'Remove-a-bell' came first, then the offset right hand keys).
This horn is most likely a BA body with the SBA bell. And, it
has the black pearls, too :)

Likely a small bit of overlap; however, I think not as much as on other Selmer models, as this was right after WWII, when the Selmer plant had been effectively shutdown for about 5 yrs.
 

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Hotspur said:
Neither all selmers are pretty bad and over rated. I'd get a cannonball
If that's what works for you, great, but why post it here?? Post it in the sub-forum for horid Taiwanese trash laced with semi-precious stones and funny coloured finishes. And before you asked have a I ever played a cannonball? Yes I have, numerous examples, all horid, all of them.

As for the tenor, I looked at the official serial no. chart on the Conn-Selmer website, which may very well be innacurate, but it seems that 35xxx serial numbers are right on the transition point between the two, so transitional horn it is. It sounds like it has characteristics of both horns too.

http://www.conn-selmer.com/content/resources/serialno.php#Selmer

Serial Chart, have a look and see what you think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Matt Kaesler said:
As for the tenor, I looked at the official serial no. chart on the Conn-Selmer website, which may very well be innacurate, but it seems that 35xxx serial numbers are right on the transition point between the two, so transitional horn it is. It sounds like it has characteristics of both horns too.

http://www.conn-selmer.com/content/resources/serialno.php#Selmer

Serial Chart, have a look and see what you think.
Yeah, that's why I bought up this discussion. If the early SBA tenor is very close to BAs, then might as well buy a BA that commands less $. I am still undecided at this moment.
 

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you should do a careful playing comparison between these two. Don't think that the 35,xxx horn is just another BA, cuz the main diff between BA & SBA is in the neck. Yes, the hand position is different, but as far as tone & response, the neck was the big change from BA to SBA.

So, make sure you really want a BA before you 'go for the cheap horn'.

You should also test the horns swapping the necks. You might be in for an interesting surprise :)
 

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Have you tried the reference 36? I played a early 41,000 sba tenor for eight years, and loved it. I kept running into little maintanence problems that just started really bothering me. I bought a reference off of ebay for 3100 and still had my sba. The sba was a little more free blowing and played better in tune in the altissimo register but when I weighed the maintence problems, and the fact I could buy Dr. lucky's book of modern altissimo fingerings, I decided to sell my SBA. Although I miss it every once in a while(I'd say it played about 10% better then the new reference if that), I feel the quicker and more user friendly keywork, lack of maintence problems, and the fact that I bought a new alto,tenor, and soprano for what I sold the SBA have made more then the difference. Anyway, that's my take.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
AMASAX said:
you should do a careful playing comparison between these two. Don't think that the 35,xxx horn is just another BA, cuz the main diff between BA & SBA is in the neck. Yes, the hand position is different, but as far as tone & response, the neck was the big change from BA to SBA.

So, make sure you really want a BA before you 'go for the cheap horn'.

You should also test the horns swapping the necks. You might be in for an interesting surprise :)
Ideally, I should test play the BA and SBA side by side, but problem here is lack of after-market for vintage horns. The music shops here are selling new Selmers, Yamaha, Cannonball etc. I have to buy from overseas and rely on seller's representation.

Yes, the neck makes a lot difference. I swapped the necks of 2 SBA altos and the neck virtually dictates the core tone.
 

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Regarding necks...FWIW...

My Tenor is a 29XXX Balanced Action.

I once had a 52 or 53XXX (can't remember now) SBA for a weekend to try. In this case each horn played better with its own neck. Maybe they were just too far apart serial number and design-wise...I don't know...just my observation.

And just in case anyone asks, the neck tenons and sockets both seemed to fit well between the two.
 

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Yeah, you guessed it the $300 was just for the adjustment work. At the time the horn was only $3800 (only!).
The neck on that horn was phenomenol though. It made anything else I tried it on great.
That neck on my old pretty average 172XXX mark VI was better than the SBA itself was. Unfortunately I couldn't buy the neck alone and didn't want to get a horn with a sharp bottom. Sure was a beautiful sounding horn though.

You really just need to try the horns, #'s and model names just are as important as the individual horns. They can vary a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
May I know if there are any up-to-date price references on early SBA tenors in good original conditions?

Thanks.
 
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