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I found this at the Wichita Band website. A very nicely written article about Selmer saxes; their quality and use over the years.

SOME NOTES ABOUT SELMER SAXOPHONES...


The Henri Selmer company dates from 1885. Both Henri and Alexander Selmer were fine clarinet players. Alexander played in the New York Philharmonic for a few years, joined with his brother in 1904 to form "H. & A. Selmer" in Paris. The factory moved to Mantes (west of Paris about 40 miles) in 1919. One of Alexander's students in the States was George Bundy who became the founder of Selmer-USA. Selmer-France and Selmer-USA are two completely separate companies, the former still owned by the Selmer family, the latter now owned by Steinway Properties, the Massina family of Boston being the majority shareholders.

Selmer's first French saxes were engraved "Modele 22",according to the "New Langwell", a few were made as early as 1920.

The "Modele 26" appeared four years later, is considered by us to be virtually identical to the 22. "Pea-shooters", we call them. Mechanically good, but very small voices.

Selmer acquired the Adolphe Sax brass factory in 1928 and the production numbers increased.

Until 1931, fewer than 15,000 Selmer saxes had been built. The introduction of the "Cigar Cutter" in 1931 made Selmer famous as builders of superb instruments. Keywork was still similar to the old "Modele 26", but the sound of these saxes was superb: bright and singing, lots of cutting power. Within a decade, almost all the world's professional players considered Selmer the only serious choice. A few jazzers held out for the "Lady Face" Conns and the silver-necked Kings, but most guys went to Selmer and stayed there.

"Cigar Cutter", "Selmer Super Saxes" and "Radio Improved" models differ only in subtle ways. True CG models have on the octave mechanism a unique one by two inch flat brass plate with a round hole that looks like the tool you'd clip off the end of a cigar with it. For us, the "Super" is a fine sax, the tone quality a little more "locked in" than the CG, but with plenty of carrying power and quality. There were several variations in the octave key mechanism of the SSS and RI models (none with the flat brass plate above the octave key touch) and for us, there's not much difference in playing characteristics. Intonation is better on both than on the CG's, though: I've never played a Cigar Cutter that didn't have a fourth-line D that wasn't very sharp.

Professional players who used CG, SSS or RI saxes throughout their entire careers included Joe Allard (Julliard Conservatory, NBC Orchestra, New York Philharmonic sax soloist), Hymie Schertzer (Goodman's band), Al Klink (tenor player of the original Glen Miller band, later with Carson's tonight show orchestra), Woody Herrman, Dick Stabile (sax soloist in the pre WWII years), Arnold Brilhart, Chester Hazlett and hundreds of other guys. Jimmy Dorsey used a variation of the SSS sax as well.

Low B & Bb pad cups on the CG, SSS and RI models were always on the same side as the player. Keywork was not always the same on these and it's possible to see all sorts of variations on the G#-C#-B-Bb key touches. Some saxes have the one & three forked Eb mechanism, some do not. Instruments made before 1932 were seldom lacquered, almost all were silver plated, sometimes gold plated.

George Bundy operated a New York retail store for Selmer for several years. "Selmer New York" saxes are fairly common, but have nothing to do with the French instruments. All were bought from American manufacturers and stenciled with Selmer's name. I've seen American Selmers made by Conn, by H.N. White Company ("King") and by Buescher, even a couple from Martin. Selmer-USA moved to Elkhart before the second world war, purchased the Buescher saxophone factory in 1961.

The Balanced Action saxes were introduced in early 1936. The earliest I've played belonged to Wichita band leader Norman Lee. I did lots of pad work on it back in the '60's and '70's. Serial number was 22,300. BA models had very light springing and lots of guys replaced the original needle springs with stronger piano wire. The tone-quality of the early instruments is darker, the intonation superb. Key-guards for the low pads are easily removed, the workmanship the very best. The BA evolved slowly, by the late '40's had offset stack keys and brighter tone-color. We call these "Super Balanced Action" saxes.

Thousands of guys played, still play, the BA and SBA saxes. I've got photos of Al Galladoro, Stan Getz, Paul Desmond, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins and dozens of other superb saxophonists, all using this model. Man, how many could I name?
My personal opinion is that the BA instruments made just before and just after the war are the best ever known to mankind.

The Mark Six instruments came out in 1954, continued the trend toward brighter tone-color and sharper low notes. Not all Mark Six saxes are so engraved, but they're easily identified by the unique neck octave key and the sideways octave touch. Our experience is that some Sixes are very good, some less so. They just weren't very consistent and lots of guys experimented with necks and key adjustment before they were happy with how they played. But it's the Sixes that today command the high prices. Not certain why, but there are lots of fellows who play far better than I who swear it's the best sax ever made.

The "Super Action 80" saxes have gone through several variations since they started making them in 1980. The "Series I" instruments are, in our opinion, quite good: scale and tone-color leave nothing to be desired. Some guys like the slightly brighter sound of the "Series II" and the "Series III" is even more so. All should be considered as superb instruments, worthy of the finest musician.
 

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I have a BA (earlier model than the one this guy played), SBA and VI. In my opinion they are all great horns, but the VI is the superior horn.
 

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The 'Super Action' was also omitted. This was the transition model between the Balanced Action and the Mark VI, commonly and incorrectly called the 'Super Balanced Action' or 'SBA.
 

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I bought my BA from that shop- great store-
 

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Gary Ray has been around as long as I can remember. I bought my first MeYer (a 5M) from Vern Nydigger in the original store on Grove back in 1975.
 

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The 'Super Action' was also omitted. This was the transition model between the Balanced Action and the Mark VI, commonly and incorrectly called the 'Super Balanced Action' or 'SBA.
He mentioned it, but he lumped it in with the BA, implying that it was an improvement on that model rather than its own model...

"The BA evolved slowly, by the late '40's had offset stack keys and brighter tone-color. We call these "Super Balanced Action" saxes."
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It was probably just an oversight: the omission of the mark VII.
 

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I agree with this statement after playing quite a few Selmers and other brands;

“My personal opinion is that the BA instruments made just before and just after the war are the best ever known to mankind.”
 

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I love my Vii:)
I've played 6 Mark Vi's now and I prefer my Vii (Has a KB HHC neck though, which makes a noticeable improvement)
I have large hands and I've spent so many hours on my Vii it feels like home to me. Any other horn I dislike the ergonomics.

Stock neck my Vii sounds Brighter, Punchier, slightly thinner and buzzy. KB neck is more free blowing, I get a darker fatter sound - Both necks are extremely focused.
 
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