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Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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7,408 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Bought myself my first 'real' alto in 1983, a Selmer USA Model 162 'Omega', #82100x. I was using a Brilhart Level Air on tenor at that time, so I got one for alto, a 7*. Everything was great and I had a good, earthy sound (always playing 'pop' music, Top 40, etc.). Fast forward to 1998 and I had an 'overhaul' on it that nearly destroyed it. I was really just bummed about it and pretty much stopped caring about it but I still used it some on every gig. I had changed to Guardalas in 1989 and I had a 'Studio' on the alto. I think it was still in the '80s when I got mad about the flatness of the horn and cut 1/4" off the neck - I used it like that but eventually bought a MK VI replacement neck and started using that. That neck was damaged when a light fell on the sax on a gig so I went back to the shorter original.
Then I had another crummy overhaul around 2010. By this time the horn was playing like hell but I really only used it for tenor/alto 'duals' and I had started that process where you begin to think of parting ways with a horn. I fell into a deal for a pair of Selmer USA silver necks, alto and tenor, that had been saved from the landfill at the last minute when they were cleaning out the old plant at Selmer USA. I thought this would be great for my USA alto and tenor, but alas, I found out why they were in the cabinet - they were prototypes and both had faults. the alto neck in particular was very thick-wall silver and the neck weighed six ounces. It played with a thin, stuffy sound which is exactly what I did not want.
This year I bought a brand new Selmer Paris 'Reference' 'dark vintage lacquer' neck thinking it might be just what I needed, but such was not the case. Aside from the color, it was basically the same as any other Jubilee alto neck. On a Selmer Paris, this probably is a great neck, but on the USA it was too 'pure' if you will. The USA neck is simply a Bundy neck that has a different profile than the Paris neck.
I was looking at necks on ebay when I found some 'new, old stock' Selmer Bundy necks. One of them was configured like the original Omega neck, with the Paris-style octave rocker with the 'fold-down ears' with the hinge pin holes. Otherwise, this neck looked exactly like the original neck except it didn't have the Selmer USA logo on the octave rocker and the rocker was nickel plated. For just a few bucks I took a chance on it. Long story short, it is my alto neck now. I used an automotive trim product to color the rocker gold. It fit the horn perfectly and I didn't even have to adjust the octave mechanism. Intonation is great and it delivers that 'husky' sound these altos were born with.
So now, I began to think about the mouthpiece which after many years and changing tone concepts was now a little bright. Being very familiar with how DG modified certain mouthpieces for fuller sounds, I first 'rolled' the edge of the Studio baffle to remove the sharp 'break'. Then in the throat, I ovaled-out the throat ring, working on the lower half of it, taking it down even with the floor and blending-back the little ramp at the end of the window as well as the sides.
Finally I went through the whole sax fixing little leaks and regulating certain sectors, like the low C#/G#/table keys complex. For example, the low C# hold-down lever that extends from the low B key was not making contact and it was allowing the C# to blow open, weakening the B and Bb. That lever also can limit the amount of opening of the C# which affects voicing, so its an involved adjustment but worth the time.
Finally! I gave it a good Pledge cleaning/waxing and lube job. Now, I am absolutely happy with this horn and am constantly looking for ways to get it into the lineup. For example, one group does the James Taylor version of 'How Sweet it Is' which I jumped on with glee!
The alto on that record has the great Selmer Paris sound, lots of sizzle, but I'm a lot 'thicker' on it, almost an Earl Bostic thing. Now the horn has the capacity for those wide lip trills. growls and most any other kind of playing where you open up your throat and get a more full sound.
Now when setting up I simply tune the alto and tenor separately and they play in tune in the 'duals' configuration. Previously tuning was a compromise as the alto played differently in the single mode than it did in the duals mode.
I probably will have to get a pad job on it within a couple of years along with some minor key-tightening but at this point I am not thinking 'overhaul' on it again.
So, don't you love it when a horn comes around like this?
 

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I always love seeing posts about the Omega, I have a special bond with mine.

That being said, I'm still trying to force a sound from it that I don't think it can give me. I have a VI alto that I got rid of in order to acquire my tenor, and I miss that sound; there's something 'sweet' in the tone of that VI that I'm hoping to pull from the 162. I know you mentioned trying a Ref 54 neck on your 162, and like you said here, it was too 'pure' (I believe you've discussed this before, but I can't find it). When you say "pure", what do you mean? It may be exactly what I'm looking for. A VI neck is too expensive, or I'd buy one.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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7,408 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
The reference neck on my Omega basically produced that more clear, focused sound typical of the Selmer Paris alto. This was nice, but not what I was looking for. I was hoping the neck might have been made in the slightly shorter, fatter profile of the USA neck but that was not the case. It tuned normally and had excellent intonation. It performed pretty much like I remember the VI neck playing when I was using one on mine, except it had more of that 'sizzle'.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
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7,408 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Okay, I have finally found the neck I like for the Omega. I took a not cheap chance on a Sterling silver Chinese alto neck, advertised as cloning the 'SBA'. The neck arrived in pretty good time and was a little tight so i did some light sanding on the tenon to fit it. Also had to fit the cork for my Guardala. The neck played great right from the start and the tuner results were very good - actually the best I've had with it. Plus, the neck looks great on the horn. This all took place earlier this year and I've gigged on it a couple of times with nothing coming up as a negative. I sold off the Bundy neck but I'm hanging on to the original neck. I doubt if I ever play it again but there's no percentage in getting rid of it.
 
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