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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

I recently recorded some takes of the "Groove Merchant" (a composition by Jerome Richardson) for the SOTW TOTM of October 2011 thread.

The takes are played on my two Selmer tenor saxophones:
1. Selmer Super Balanced Action (serial 50xxx) of 1952. My main horn since about 1995. The body is bare brass.
2. Selmer Super Action 80 (serial 345xxx) of 1983. My back-up horn, hardly played since 1995 (it also didn't see a tech since then [rolleyes]).

All takes are played on an Otto Link Florida no USA 10* with a La Voz medium reed.

I just compiled one (very long, sorry [rolleyes]!) track out of three takes and uploaded it to YouTube with a (boring) picture movie behind, showing which tenor is played where in the clip. By opening the 'Show more' tab under the video you get a time index, which makes it easy to jump directly to a certain part of the recording.

- Time index:
00:09 - Head on SBA & SA 80
01:15 - Solo SBA
04:14 - Solo SA 80
07:12 - Chase chorusses SBA & SA 80
09:11 - Closing theme (SBA & SA 80, fills on SBA)

- Link to YouTube clip:
or

The original three takes can be found on my SoundClick page:
1. Groove Merchant take 2 (Florida 10* and Selmer SBA): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11101547
2. Groove Merchant take 3 (Florida 10* and Selmer SA 80): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11101546
3. Groove Merchant take 4 (Florida 10* and Selmer SA 80 and SBA): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11101545

Just posted these clips here for information. I think it's a good addition to all the lengthy discussions I've seen on SOTW about vintage Selmer yes/no/why-can't-they-remake-it/... For me one clip can tell more than 1000 written posts. Please don't bother too much on my playing, I'm just an intermediate player who likes to make these kind of (silly!) comparisons.

My conclusions (and that of others in the TOTM thread of October) are that:
- The SBA sound has more body and core and is warmer than the SA 80 sound.
- The SA 80 sound is more focused and clean than the SBA sound.

Actually I like both horns, but with the SBA (by far :mrgreen:!) on number one.

Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Pete :). I can't check right now being at work, but yesterday evening it played well on my (poor) laptop speakers. It was recorded a bit loud (those 10* MPC's can be very noisy :bluewink:!), so maybe you have a better result turning the volume down to around 40%. I will have another look at it tonight at home.
 

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Man, you really sound best on the SA80. I'll do you a favor: I'll get this poor sounding SBA off your hands. Just mail it to me and I'll dispose of it for you for free :twisted:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Actually that could be an option MP, but I find that great sounding SA 80 to good for my limited capabilities as a player. So I think I stick with that pour sounding SBA for the moment :bluewink:!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sounds great, lovely playing, but it seems to be distorted on my speakers here.
Thanks Pete :). I can't check right now being at work, but yesterday evening it played well on my (poor) laptop speakers. It was recorded a bit loud (those 10* MPC's can be very noisy :bluewink:!), so maybe you have a better result turning the volume down to around 40%. I will have another look at it tonight at home.
I just uploaded a new version of the clip with lower sound levels. It should sound 'less' distorted now (see link in post #1) :).
 

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I agree the SBA is warmer sounding and if you like a lot of 'fluff' that's your horn but personally I prefer the sound of the SA 80. It maintains it's tonal character throughout the ranges for me and sounds gorgeous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Alan, I also like the SA 80 for those qualities. I think it can even play better when I would let it check by a tech. The lower notes have a lot of resistance now, probably because of some leaks at the lower key pads. But since the SBA is much closer to my prefered sound concept I will not do that for now.
 

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I just uploaded a new version of the clip with lower sound levels. It should sound 'less' distorted now (see link in post #1) :).
Yes, that sounds much better, very nice tone on both horns.

Just a tip re: the recording, a little (short and subtle) reverb would help with getting the saxophones to "sit" in with the track and sound more live.Currently they are a bit "in your face".
 

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..... It maintains it's tonal character throughout the ranges for me and sounds gorgeous.
This single phrase summarizes the never ending stories and questions about Selmer's decisions to move ahead and not stay stuck somewhere in the fifties (or even earlier if we consider the SBA). It also reflects what "classic saxophone" players (I personally have trouble with those 2 words in the same paragraph, but that is another story) expect from a horn.
Furthermore, I agree with you: PB's sound on the SA80 has a certain punch and "grain" (en français on dit "grain"...), which Turrentine or Griffin had. Strange enough, both played on SA80s during years...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I like the SBA more. It has a warmer and a bit wider sound, more free. The SA 80 doesent sound bad either!
Thanks :).

Yes, that sounds much better, very nice tone on both horns.

Just a tip re: the recording, a little (short and subtle) reverb would help with getting the saxophones to "sit" in with the track and sound more live.Currently they are a bit "in your face".
Thanks again Pete. I use Audacity for recording and once tried to use Gverb, but I hated the result. So I always post without any effects to the recorded sound (except that I have to normalize the sound levels).

I agree with your remark about 'in your face' sound, but just don't know how to correct that properly. I could experiment a bit further with the reverb handling in Audacity, changing parameters and maybe by mixing an 'over reverbed' (is that good English?) track with a non reverb track to get something in between. Do you add reverb on a single recorded sax track before mixing with the backing ar after mixing? Would be nice if you could give some more information on how I could improve that (using Audacity) :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Furthermore, I agree with you: PB's sound on the SA80 has a certain punch and "grain" (en français on dit "grain"...), which Turrentine or Griffin had. Strange enough, both played on SA80s during years...
Thanks dex :). I noticed the same in the sound of the late Illinois Jacquet, who also played a SA 80 II (very heavily gold-plated, like the one of the late Griff). Mabye I should bring that SA 80 to a tech to see what it brings in perfect condition (it now has some resistance due to lack of maintenance in the last 16 years).
 

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Well, I'll liked the sounds of both. I know we're supposed to like the sound of the Super Balanced Action more, especially since they cost so much and are generally considered 'the horn' to get, based on who played them in the 50's, but I actually preferred listening to the SA80 more over a longer period of time. The tone was more pleasing to me, for whatever reason, more clear, interesting, whatever.
This kind of surprised me because I really like the older players and the sound they got from their older Selmers and Conns. I've only played two SBA's for short periods of time. One I really liked due to its free blowing feel and the vibration I was getting as I was playing it. I got this same vibe from a silverplated 165XXX or 185XXX (I can't remember which) Mark VI a friend of mine owns. The second SBA I tried was very unexciting. I preferred a Balanced Action I tried at the same time. Obviously the feel as well as tone are important in determining one's favorite. But as far as this particular recording, I'd have to go with the SA80.
 

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Actually that could be an option MP, but I find that great sounding SA 80 to good for my limited capabilities as a player. So I think I stick with that pour sounding SBA for the moment :bluewink:!
Let me know whenever you feel ready. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks Smokey613 and Honeyboy for listening and your comments. Fully agree that the SA 80 has something very appealing to the sound. It's a bit more introvert compared to the SBA, which is much more free blowing. The SBA can also be sweet and nice, but in this groovy tune it show it's more wild character (which is ofcourse also linked to how I prefer to play it :)).

Concerning feel and smoothness of key action (which you can't hear in a soundclip) the SBA is much prefered over the SA 80.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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