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Discussion Starter #1
This thread isn't meant to debate serial numbers relating to quality of Mark VI horns. But it has occured to me more than once, and perhaps to many of you.

Did the 80,XXX tenors and the 140,XXX altos become popular before or after Brecker and Sanborn were known to be playing them? I think I know the answer.
 

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In 1959 when I bought my first brand new VI tenor all I was interested in was ,did it play well and was it brand new. Nobody that I knew in those days had any interest in the serial numbers of any horn..the only interest was how one's horn played and VI's hadn't reached any mythical status. As we've (mostly all) learned, serial number range means little to nothing when evaluating these horns.
 

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I didn'tknow a thing about serial numbers when I bought my tenors, the first one turned out to be a 63xxx and 20 years later I replaced that with a 86xxx because I felt that was a better horn. Could be a coincidence or my personal taste that they're both 5 digits, But I'm not totally unhappy with the fact that they sell for more....;)
 

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I've come to believe that they are popular as a result of al the debate here on SOTW. ;-)

Other than that. I haven't the faintest idea.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I've come to believe that they are popular as a result of al the debate here on SOTW. ;-)
But that would only make them just popular on SOTW, not the actual world of saxophones and saxophone players.
 

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Did the 80,XXX tenors and the 140,XXX altos become popular before or after Brecker and Sanborn were known to be playing them? I think I know the answer.
I don't think they are necessarily that popular. Do you have any data to substantiate that claim such as a price comparison of similar-era horns with serial numbers outside your "meaningful" range?

B.S.? You betcha!
 

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More importantly, why did Mk VIs gain legendary status at all?
Several things had to happen:

-so many great '50s-'60s players used VIs
-the VI alto and tenor left production
-the VII and SA80 turned out to be very different horns
-(very probably) something to do with Japan

We can almost always learn from BS if we think about how it might have come about.

This even extends to teaching and practice techniques if we've had wide enough experience of them. We're bound to run into one authority contradicting another, altho it can be very hard to question things when you get results.
 

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They aren't that much more popular than any other VI - they only made 10,000 or less of each. ;)
 

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More importantly, why did Mk VIs gain legendary status at all?
Several things had to happen:

-so many great '50s-'60s players used VIs
-the VI alto and tenor left production
-the VII and SA80 turned out to be very different horns
-(very probably) something to do with Japan

We can almost always learn from BS if we think about how it might have come about.

This even extends to teaching and practice techniques if we've had wide enough experience of them. We're bound to run into one authority contradicting another, altho it can be very hard to question things when you get results.
You're a sax historian and pose this question? I know I have posted this before - maybe before your time. Anyway, in the pre-internet days, information about saxes was not exactly a feature of the 6:00 news - you only got scuttlebutt at the music store or from other sax players. So, when we heard the MK VI was being replaced with a new model, we were thinking 'Okay, like the change from the Balanced Action to the Super Action, and from there to the MK VI.' We expected a continuation with improvements as in the past. What we got was a new tenor. Forget the alto - they're all the same - maybe a different-sized pinky key or something, and high F# standard. Big deal. The tenor was the problem. The MK 7 was like a Yamaha or something - Selmer had lost the link from Adolf Sax that had extended through the MK VI. Specifically, it was the bore, the keywork, standard high F#. But the biggie was the neck. It has a higher arch, which naturally means it has to be shorter to have the same total length. This throws the sax body closer to the player and it causes the sax to respond completely differently than a Selmer had responded since the Balanced Action came out. We hated it. Then it hit us - no more MK VI! We're dead! So, we started buying them up, and we're still doing it. So that is exactly how the MK VI tenor came to be ledgendary. To date, nobody anywhere has made a comparable tenor sax, and it remains doubtful that they ever will.
Once all of us are dead who grow up on a pre-MK 7 Selmer Paris tenor, then the MK VI will take it's rightful place in history and be largely forgotten except by collectors.
 

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To date, nobody anywhere has made a comparable tenor sax, and it remains doubtful that they ever will.
I think they have, it's just that quite a lot of people don't want a comparable tenor sax.
 

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1saxman, you add some important info. But over all, aren't you basically arguing for the legitimacy of myth-making among musicians? (Which is reasonable...see my comments downthread...)
 

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Then it hit us - no more MK VI! We're dead! So, we started buying them up, and we're still doing it. So that is exactly how the MK VI tenor came to be ledgendary. To date, nobody anywhere has made a comparable tenor sax, and it remains doubtful that they ever will. .
While I agree that the modern horns sound different from a VI, their design seems to be a clone of the VI. I'd say the VI set the standard for the modern horns, and you have to go back to the vintage American horns (Conn/Buescher/King/Martin) to find something great that hasn't been made in decades.
 

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And of course the ubiquity of the VI swept all others out the door in its time, leading many to dismiss the legacy of Conn, Buescher, King, and Martin entirely. That persists, in a more or less tacit way, to this day - a feeling that those horns and their sounds are, if not antiquated technically or tonally, somehow less than definitive. Ie: that what makes them special is less relevant to the way we play now.

That too carries a range of assumptions with it that are worth the unpacking.

I guess I don't like calling "bs" "bs." Musicians are practical to a fault - we're prepared to believe in anything that seems to work for us. Better to call "bs" "practical myth," perhaps - handy explanations that back up how we play, what we play, how we learn.

Practical myths are going to come into conflict with history, if you're interested in it. But there is something to be said for not being too hung up on history. We use the past in many ways when we make music, but we make the music only in the here and now.
 

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There is one thing about the 5-digit myth that has some merit. I say some, because the change didn't happen exactly at serial no 100,000 (I own a Mark VI tenor at 100,xxx). That is this - Selmer changed the mechanism of the side keys from the nice "corked-peg-in-loop" system to that abominable "weird-little-rattly-ball" system. There may be other minor changes at the same time, but I don't know of any.

Many musicians in the early 60s commented on this change - a change for the worse in most folks' opinion. I hated those damn little metal balls, they looked cheesy and rattled, even when new. Most people I knew at the time had the same opinion. I have always thought this was the origin of the 5-digit myth, though it happened sometime later than 100,000.
 

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I hated those damn little metal balls, they looked cheesy and rattled, even when new.
I never understood why people made such a big deal about these. I have them on my 141,XXX tenor and I never even noticed them until someone pointed them out. They never rattle and they work just fine.
 

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I never understood why people made such a big deal about these. I have them on my 141,XXX tenor and I never even noticed them until someone pointed them out. They never rattle and they work just fine.
I agree. I've never had any problems with mine (Alto & Tenor)
 

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I bought My VI in 1986. I was looking for a balanced action (My teacher played one). After playing a ton of horns the one that I liked more than any other was a Mark VI 85,000.

I've never had any desire for another tenor in all that time.

I didn't know what Brecker played at the time, I might have bought into the hype, but again I honestly didn't know.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
DrG; I'm getting my info, ( although a small data base ) from sellers such as Tenor Madness, and Saxquest. Several asertions as well on Ebay. Lots of claims on SOTW as well; a couple of threads I think. It may not actually be happening in sales but the hype is there. Check it out.

Jim
 
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