Sax on the Web Forum banner

Selmer Low A Alto Production - an ongoing study

21377 Views 118 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  SteveS
I am researching Selmer Low A Alto Production.
As of May 11, 2013, I have identified 43 instruments, ranging from 85xxx to 250xxx

I have charted the results to date below.
If you wish to add your low A Alto to my research, please message me with the serial number, the finish type, and whether it has a high F#
If you don't want to share an entire serial number, please replace the last digit with an x. (12344x instead of 123446)


See less See more
1 - 20 of 119 Posts
Re: Selmer Low A Production - an ongoing study

That's quite a project. I've only seen one - the day I was trying out tenors at the Elkhart plant in spring, 1966. My buddy was playing a low A alto which he did not like because he thought it had intonation issues. We were acting as agents for an Indianapolis music store to pick up one Paris tenor. I left with tenor 130491.
Re: Selmer Low A Production - an ongoing study

Thanks for the info. So there was a Low A in Elkhart in 1966.
I have found no Low A's between 115k and 134k. Perhaps there's another one floating around from the 120s or early 130s.
The two largest gaps with no Low A are 115k to 134k and 230k to 250k (as of my current research)
I owned one in 2003 for less than a few months and then sold it off on eBay. I'll have to contact my insurance agent to see if he still has the serial number, and if so, I'll let you know via PM. In response to 1saxman, I'd have to agree with your buddy. Since I bought the horn sight unseen (Thought having a low-a alto was awesome, let alone it being a VI) I discovered some serious intonation issues with it. Had my tech set it up thinking that might have been the issue, ended up being slightly better but still awful in general.

Here is an updated chart as of May 16, 2013.
Two new Low A Saxes have been added.
Thanks to the owners who added their info to my research.
One of the additions is in a growing group of horns in the 205k range.
I now have identified 6 Low A Altos within a 200 serial number range, which may point to an actual run of low A horns, rather than just one-off orders. Adding to my suspicion of a possible Low A production run is that I have not found any other Selmer sax within that range which is not low a A Alto.

So ... if anyone owns ANY selmer saxophone with serial number between 205100 and 205300, I would be very interested to know about it.



See less See more
Selmer often batched up production of unusual models, since they're in a manufacturing/production environment. As of just a few years ago when I checked, if you place an order for an oddball horn, such as an Eb Sopranino sax, you may have to wait many months, as they used to make these things just a couple of times a year.

Back in the early 1980s, when the Series I horns were just unleashed, I ordered a silver plated tenor, specifying that I wanted the Paris facility to do the plating, not Elkhart. I had to wait about six months for them to get around to making that baby...

I know from my personal experience that if you order an out-of-the-ordinary horn, you -may- get one that was made several years prior and has been sitting on the shelf, awaiting a buyer. I did this with a decked out Recital A Clarinet(bought a Bb/A set), and the A clarinet serial number was several years older than the Bb, along with slightly older keywork design.
See less See more
I had a gold-plated Low A alto w/F# key that I sold a few years ago. Couldn't find the serial number just now, but if I get some spare time over Memorial Day, I'll see what I can find. Seems it was somewhere in the 80,xxx-120,xxx range, but I just don't know at this time...

Don't remember actually playing it(much), as the body/finish was in great shape, but the pads were shot. Think I did honk it a bit, tho.

Weird horns, to say the least...

For those that just cain't gits enuf, if'n you send a suitcase of $cash$ overseas to Paris, you could probably get Selmer to make you up a brand new Low A alto...Series II/III style, perhaps...I think I have a pic somewhere of a Low A Mark VII, just a matter of cash, cash, cash...
I have a little experience with custom ordering from Selmer Paris.
My first attempt took about 6 months to get them to agree they would make it, and another 3 months or so for the instrument to be made.
I've been trying for over a year to get a response about a new Low A.
Amasax, I'd be very interested in the serial number of your horn if it is that early.
The earliest low A I have confirmed is 106k, and have reference to an 85k horn, but have no primary evidence.
Well, I still haven't found the pics for the gold plated Low A alto...BUT, I do have 'em somewheres. I have no idea when I'll get around to looking some more. However, I did find some emails about this horn and I -think- it's from ~1969.

I'm sure I have actual pics somewhere...

What kind of special order were you referring to that took 6+3 months?

I think Selmer is pretty accommodating about extra key configs, etc.; just throw $money$ and be prepared to wait 'em out...

Something else to keep in mind in regards to production and serial numbers is that the main diff in the Low A horns is just the longer bell, along with the keywork to activate the low A with the left thumb. Therefore, serials may be somewhat irrelevant, as from a production standpoint, it would have made a lot of sense for Selmer to just pump out a couple hundred bells(and thumb keywork), let 'em sit until needed, then slap the goodies onto a -current- body and shove it all out the door. Old bell + new body + nice finish and there you are.

While it -is- possible Selmer actually made many of the entire horns and left them on the shelves until needed, it would make a lot more sense to just have the extra/different spare parts in a bin somewhere until an occasional special order came in.
See less See more
The low A alto also uses a different neck than the low Bb model. So I would think that we're talking about custom made neck, bell, and keywork.
Amasax, thanks for continuing to look for the photos.
I agree with you about the likelihood of Selmer batch producing the custom bell and key arms, and then using them as needed for custom orders.
My desire to research the serial numbers is rather practical. For years I've heard the rumours and thoughts about Low A production, but I've seen very little actual research, so I decided to do it myself. My premise is that for the most part the Low A horns were made as one-offs, with perhaps a couple small-production runs of horns for stock.
Assembling the actual serial numbers will lend credence to this. As noted above, I suspect that a small ran of Low A horns for stock was done in the 205k serial number range. I am currently planning a trip to the factory in France in hopes of getting further information on the Low As (as well as several other lines of Selmer research I'm working on)

My custom Selmer order? ... I wanted a silver-plated Reference 36 tenor.

SideC: I hadn't noticed a neck difference. I will check that out tonight. Thanks for your input.
See less See more
I'm curious as to what percentage of the Low A horns have high F# keys? Was the high F# standard on a low A horn?
Of the 46 Low A horns I have discovered, 20 of them have high F# ... so that's about 43%

After 225k, all of them have high F#
Of the batch at 205k, 4 have F, 2 have F#.

So, prior to 225k, it seems to be on an order by order basis.
Here is an updated chart as of July 11, 2013.
Two new instruments added, for a total of 47.
Thanks to the members who added their horn info.

Note: 21 of 47 have F# (45%)


See less See more
Chart updated as of July 15, 2013
One new instrument added, for a total of 48

Note: 21 of 48 have F# (43%)


See less See more
Chart updated as of July 15, 2013...
Neat. Just curious of the motivation this your research.
Selmer Low A Production Update

It now appears more likely ( or at least possible) that there are at least TWO mini-runs of Low A horns.

1) Potential Run 1 - 1086xx I have now identified 4 low a horns in the 1086xx range - separated by only 28 serial numbers. I now think it possible that a run of at least 28 horns was done at this time.

2) Potential Run 2 - 2051xx to 2052xx I have identified 7 horns, separated by about 100 serial numbers. It may be possible that a run of about 100 or so horns was done at this time.

I am looking for info on ANY Selmer horn between the two following serial number ranges:
108500 to 108700 and
205000 to 205300
If you own ANY Selmer with a serial number in this range, whether or not it is a low A Alto, I would be most interested to know about your horn.
(as well as ANY Low A Selmer Alto)
See less See more
I'm curious as to what percentage of the Low A horns have high F# keys? Was the high F# standard on a low A horn?
When I got mine I order4ed the low A plus the high F#, you had to order both if you wanted both.
Re: Saxmusicguy
My motivation is just ... for the fun of it.
I have heard many rumours over the years of how many Low As were (or were not ) made, so I thought I would start doing some research.
I am basing my research on photos and first-hand information, so hopefully the accuracy level will remain reasonably high.
I am looking for info on ANY Selmer horn between the two following serial number ranges:
108500 to 108700 and 205000 to 205300 ... If you own ANY Selmer with a serial number in this range, whether or not it is a low A Alto, I would be most interested to know about your horn. (as well as ANY Low A Selmer Alto)
Here are some leads:

... up for sale ... Mark VI Soprano - 205XXX
So, I was in a local music store a couple of weeks ago ... and spotted a nice looking soprano ... - a Selmer MKVI with a serial 205XXX ...
I sell a perfect overholed (with Roo pads) Selmer Alto Low A, Mark VI. Original neck, serial 205xxx. ...
... the music teacher found in case covered in about an inch of dust, a 205,xxx mk vi alto on a high on a shelf.... ... i offered them 2500 for it as is and they didnt bite. ...
I bought recently the best mark VI i've ever played on. ... And I had a few.... my own ... (205xxx)...
#108XXX Alto, Low A ... said:
I too gave up my Makr VI (108xxx)
Hi, a wonderful tenor not engraved 108xxx - 1963-
Got my 108xxx bari w/o low A last week from complete overhaul. ...
I have a Mark VI low A alto ... 108xxx serial number ...
1 - 20 of 119 Posts