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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After playing for 25+ years I got to try a Mark VI for the first time the other night. I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. It had that good vintage tone but the ergonomics were terrible, (specifically the right hand pinky table.) The intonation was a little weird, (flexible though, I could see how with practice it wouldn’t be too hard to learn to compensate.) Also the absence of the high F# key was disappointing. Maybe it was just a lemon but it got me thinking that the mystique built up around these horns is a little overblown. (no pun intended)
 

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After playing a VI for 40+ years, I have yet to find another horn with the same sound.

I'm willing to give them a pass on the high F# since it was just an option in the 50's when the VI came out. You'll have to search harder to find a VI with high F#. I purposely never use the high F# on any of my horns because most of them don't have it. If I get in the habit of using it, I'll get into trouble on my other horns that don't have it.

I don't understand the issue with ergos considering every other horn maker since has copied the VI's ergos exactly. The right hand pinky table has just two keys. They're in the right spot and have rollers in between. What could you possibly do to improve them? I guess it would be helpful to know what make/model horn you're accustomed to playing.

The intonation on mine is spot on. So maybe the intonation issues are you?
 

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Ive had mine for a long time and recently switched to a modern Eastman 52nd street. I feel like it’s easier to get a good sound on and easier to play. There are qualities to the sound of the 6 that I miss but it was worth it to me to make the switch.

The 6 like any vintage horn needs repairs a lot more often. I also felt that to get a full, warm sound on the left hand keys in the lower octave you really had to push a lot of air. On modern horns I never had that problem. I’ve heard thought the SBA gets that warmer sound without having to play loud.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
After playing a VI for 40+ years, I have yet to find another horn with the same sound.

I'm willing to give them a pass on the high F# since it was just an option in the 50's when the VI came out. You'll have to search harder to find a VI with high F#. I purposely never use the high F# on any of my horns because most of them don't have it. If I get in the habit of using it, I'll get into trouble on my other horns that don't have it.

I don't understand the issue with ergos considering every other horn maker since has copied the VI's ergos exactly. The right hand pinky table has just two keys. They're in the right spot and have rollers in between. What could you possibly do to improve them? I guess it would be helpful to know what make/model horn you're accustomed to playing.

Then intonation on mine is spot on. So maybe the intonation issues are you?
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The angle of the pinky table felt clunky and awkward to me. Probably not a big deal if you’re used to it but it could definitely be improved. Also, I personally like having a high F# as an option and would rather not have to avoid it. I guess I’m used to playing more modern horns like Yanis and currently a cannonball but I learned on an old Beuscher so I can definitely appreciate the vintage sound. As far as intonation I’m happy for you that you don’t have any issues lol. It sounds like you might be getting a little defensive though, I’m not saying VI’s are bad horns, I’m saying maybe they don’t live up the hype (read $) IMO.
 

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Never thought of the VI as a ‘vintage’ sound.
 
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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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I don't understand the issue with ergos considering every other horn maker since has copied the VI's ergos exactly.
This is obviously untrue. Not even Selmer's modern horns exactly copy the VI's ergos.

While some general features of the VI's ergos have been copied by most modern manufacturers (e.g., the offset stacks, the general arrangement and tilting of the LH table), many details are different across horns. For example, the side keys are shaped differently and are typically set higher above the body of the instrument on modern horns, most modern RH spatulas are shaped differently, and the positions and spacing of stack keys, palm keys, and spatulas are different across different modern instruments.

I play on an SX90R (which is a modern, current-production horn), and the ergonomics feel worlds different than a Mark VI to me.
 

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I'm sure the VI was pretty underwhelmed by you, too. ;)

Just kidding, of course. You've identified some of the quirks of the VI that make people love them or shrug at them. Personally, I find the ergonomics of the VI to be among the top reasons I keep playing mine. My hands just feel so "at home" navigating the keywork. Intonation can be spotty (lots of VI players gripe about this) but is typically easily compensated for, as you observed. You can find VIs with a high F# key. My VI has a high F# key - it also just happens to be the side-Bb key.

IMO, the VI isn't a "best of everything" horn, but it is the most "near perfect" vintage horn. I prefer the tone of the latter Beaugnier horns and the Buescher Series I Aristocrat to my VI. Most comfortable keywork goes to Yanagisawa. Ruggedness goes to Yamaha. The VI, however, combines all of those things into a near-perfect package.

You might've played a lemon. You might've had too high of expectations. You just might not be a VI guy. All are fine. Play another one should the opportunity arise. Have fun. :)
 

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"Horrible ergonomics of the right hand pinky table"? Really?

Slap a couple more mattresses down and you won't be able to feel that pea.

And you did notice when you picked it up, that it didn't have a high F#? Just finger it with one of the two or three other fingerings.
 

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The angle of the pinky table felt clunky and awkward to me….It sounds like you might be getting a little defensive though, I’m not saying VI’s are bad horns, I’m saying maybe they don’t live up the hype (read $) IMO.
I was going for flabbergasted, not defensive. Of all things to have an issue with the RH pinky table which consists on only 2 very easy to reach keys, that’s blowing my mind. I could understand finding the LH table angle unfamiliar, but the RH makes no sense.

I currently play Yani for economic reasons and can’t tell a lick of difference in the ergos. The transition for me was seamless. The low C on the RH table is a tad larger, giving a bit more leverage. Hardly worth even mentioning.
 

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After 40+ years playing all kinds of saxophones and flutes, I just try to put my fingers on the keys, and push them at the appropriate times. I don't take "ergonomics" discussions, especially when people are talking about instruments that are all extremely close derivations of the Selmer Mark 6, very seriously. And I don't even like the feel of the Selmer keyboard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I was going for flabbergasted, not defensive. Of all things to have an issue with the RH pinky table which consists on only 2 very easy to reach keys, that’s blowing my mind. I could understand finding the LH table angle unfamiliar, but the RH makes no sense.

I currently play Yani for economic reasons and can’t tell a lick of difference in the ergos. The transition for me was seamless. The low C on the RH table is a tad larger, giving a bit more leverage. Hardly worth even mentioning.
Yeah I didn’t have any trouble switching between my old beuscher and a Yani either. Probably because the ergos are better.
 

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Jeez...some of these replies are a bit strident, no ?

The VI MAY have been the keywork design which most modern asian horns base off of, but as noted, that doesn't mean a copy.

Also as noted, and I have heard this from several players, very good players over the years...there ARE horns out there (now) which actually feel slicker and more comfy than a VI. Mechanically it was never the end-all, it (along with BA and SBA) was a trailblazer, tho.

Which is just to say, the template from an ergos point of view apparently HAS been improved, so I am not sure what all the blowback is about the OP's comment. It doesn't seem outlandish to me....

Tone ? Yeah, 'vintage French-school tone'...warm but more focused than the "American-school" tonality...also not a ridiculous descriptor. I would not call a VI 'modern-toned'....

Intonation more flexible than a contemporary horn ? Again...a reasonable observation....
 

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Mark VI - a bit long in the tooth, just like me. I'm keeping mine. Nothing like a Selmer, they know how to build a saxophone.
 
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