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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I am considering buying a Selmer Super Balanced Action tenor saxophone (serial number 39365, 1949). Has been repaired recently by a repairsman in the Netherlands.

Asking price is 7250€, but maybe I can negotiate until 6500€. No case included, comes with 2 mouthpieces (no brand known).

Looks like overall in OK condition, some dings and repairs visible.

Any advice on the condition and valuation of the saxophone?
 

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Any advice on the condition and valuation of the saxophone?
It's hard to see the wear on the mechanism from here. Do you know the level of "repairs"? Was it that resolder of a guard and a couple pads, or did it have a complete mechanical restoration?

That's a lot of money to pay if you don't know enough about horns and have to ask.
 

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Hard to tell from the pictures of the bell whether it has been replated or whether it is original. If original, this is a good price relative to NYC area prices.
 

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Well, in our part of the world ( BeNeLux) a SBA is a very highly valued commodity. They go easily for €10,000 if in very good state.
They are rare and currently I am not aware of any for sale in the NL.

Having said this, this horn is NOT in a good state and even after work there will still be much to be desired.

€6500 but how much would this cost to fix and would you ever be able to recuperate the money?

Let’s see!

The neck has lost a lot of silver... why? Is this only from handling it (possible) or is this some sign of the neck having been repaired ? Could be replated but how would it come out?

Pitting on the silverplate surface all over the place wil never be fixable. I don’t like it. Do you?

That key guard has been soldered by an incompetent person. This makes me think that this saxophone has been handled poorly by an amateur. I don’t like it.

You will probably spend another €1500 in a good overhaul (including plating the neck, cleaning and resoldering the guard) but the pitting will never go.

This may be the best SBA that you could put your hands on, but you can buy a great VI for €7000 and need nothing at all!
 

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This may be the best SBA that you could put your hands on, but you can buy a great VI for €7000 and need nothing at all!
Once a player is at that price point, there are a LOT of options - including new horns (Borgani, Rampone & Cazzani, etc.).
 

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Once a player is at that price point, there are a LOT of options - including new horns (Borgani, Rampone & Cazzani, etc.).
It maybe possible that OP would consider a new horn over a Selmer SBA but my hunch is that if he is looking into buying a SBA, he is probably looking to buy a particular sound and perhaps the legendary “ vibe” of a vintage Selmer saxophone.

Buying any one of those horns secondhand would cost a lot less than a SBA, even in this state could possibly cost, I am sure that OP have valued other options even before looking at this.
 

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It maybe possible that OP would consider a new horn over a Selmer SBA but my hunch is that if he is looking into buying a SBA, he is probably looking to buy a particular sound and perhaps the legendary “ vibe” of a vintage Selmer saxophone.

Buying any one of those horns secondhand would cost a lot less than a SBA, even in this state could possibly cost, I am sure that OP have valued other options even before looking at this.
You assume, I ask. The OP has mentioned previous experience with a YTS-23 and a Conn 10M, but I don't know that his experience extends beyond that. Yes, buying a used R&C or Borgani Jubilee would be even less, but that would limit the options considerably.
 

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well, let’s see what OP has to say
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have not yet been able to evaluate the saxophone myself. The pictures are sent to me by the owner. I am visiting him somewhere next week. Off course an on-site visual inspection and playing test will tell a lot more. I am not that great of a vintage geek. For now, I was looking for advice/caveats in general or SBA specific.

The owner does not know whether it is a relacquer. I have asked what kind of repairs have been done to it exactly. The wear I'll have to judge visually when I am there.
 

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The owner does not know whether it is a relacquer.
So you are dealing with a seller who knows very little about saxophone finishes, as it is not lacquer so cannot be a relacquer. Theoretically it could be replate but i doubt that.

I'd say it's OK for tyhe price but not a bgreat bargain given the likely cost to get it in top nick plus I'm not sure the silver ones have that great collector value of the original lacquers.
 

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That neck has definitely been pulled down. You can see how it’s out of round on the sides. On a lacquered horn it would be a lot more noticeable.
I never cared for the few silver plated Selmers I’ve played or the one I owned and got rid of.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you for the replies.

For me the gear is not a goal in itself but a tool to get to the sound in your head. After playing the Conn 10M/Otto link STM 7* combo for a few years (need to change that signature) I can say that combo has done just that. After the initial tuning difficulties with the Conn, the main issue for me is ergonomics. I am suffering from tendinitis that I can't get resolved, even after guidance from my teacher and changing the position of the thumhook and neckstrap ring. So good ergonomics - certainly for the wrist - are definitely important for me. I have indeed considered two routes: going for a vintage horn or modern horn with a vintage 'vibe'.

I admit being a bit carried away by the 'vintage selmer vibe". Selmer just keeps coming on the top of my mind and Selmer SBA sound is on top of that for me. That's why I put this post up in the first place. When I saw this one poppin' up I thought why not go play-test it. Your replies have put my feet on the ground. Thank you! The horn is indeed not in a shape that it should be and would need money/work to get to a good level. The work that has been done was not a major overhaul but replacing pads/corks/felt and the souldering of one guard. When sticking with Selmer it is probably better then to aim for a well-rounded mark VI.

On the other side, I am not ruling out modern horns. If you keep in mind the core SBA sound, what would be a good modern horn? A year ago I looked into Borgani, R&C, Yamaha, Yanagisawa (T880) but Honestly I am a bit confused by the modern saxophone offerings. Maybe I should reconsider those. The italians sem a bit inconsistent and the yanagisawa a bit bland.

In that regard, I don't claim to deserve to play those horns but I am working my butt off to keep developing. I am looking for a next step and find a horn that can give me a vintage type of sound and that I can grow with without sacrificing my wrists.
 

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I have not yet been able to evaluate the saxophone myself. The pictures are sent to me by the owner. I am visiting him somewhere next week. Off course an on-site visual inspection and playing test will tell a lot more. I am not that great of a vintage geek. For now, I was looking for advice/caveats in general or SBA specific.

The owner does not know whether it is a relacquer. I have asked what kind of repairs have been done to it exactly. The wear I'll have to judge visually when I am there.
Your query is premature then. First rule, play it first. If you can't live without it then buy it. But if you are considering buying it because of it's vintage and all the hype surrounding it you're probably not going to be happy. I had one of these, same vintage 1949. It was a re-lacquer and I bought it cheap. It was an OK player but not good enough to keep VS doubling my money selling it. So, think about that as well. Could you make a profit selling it if you decide later you really don't like it?
 

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Could you make a profit selling it if you decide later you really don't like it?
Or "Could you make a loss because you don't know the market and you don't know how to evaluate a worn, vintage horn?"

Regarding the Borgani tenors: I suggest you check out the smaller bore Jubilee series with serial numbers starting with "OBT". They incorporate some positive changes from earlier horns, and respond a little more quickly in my experience (I have played many Jubilee tenors, and currently own one each of the big bore and smaller bore horns).
 

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There is a gold plated R&C R1 Tenor for sale here for 2450€, that might be a steal
If you have a chance to check it out, it could well be worth your time (and money).

I am curious about your comments that the Italian horns were inconsistent. What horns did you try? Were they of "recent" (last 15-20 years) manufacture?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If you have a chance to check it out, it could well be worth your time (and money).

I am curious about your comments that the Italian horns were inconsistent. What horns did you try? Were they of "recent" (last 15-20 years) manufacture?
Sorry, that's not from personal experience. It was based on a Matt Stohrer video. I have not played those.
 

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Sorry, that's not from personal experience. It was based on a Matt Stohrer video. I have not played those.
Hah! You may have seen him talking about rebuilding one of my horns! Like I wrote previously, the more recent horns have a lot of improvements in the mechanism. Matt didn't have to do the same kind of work on the second Borgani that he overhauled for me. Both have a sound that is amazing - and I have played a lot of Selmers (from Balanced Action through III and Ref 36).
 

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I think the price you are getting is very fair or underpriced. I like the serial number, the body seems to be in very good condition. There is a pull-down on the neck that needs to be taken care of when overhauling. A good technician can make this a monster horn. Go for it if you ask me.
 
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