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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I own a Selmer Super Balanced Action alto in silver plate, and I have heard the term "balanced action" and "super balanced action" used to describe these Selmers that came before the Mark VI. Does anyone know the meaning of the term or the key design changes or improvements that gave these saxes a more "balanced" feel to the keys? Thank you.
 

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"Selmer explained it this way in their 1935 catalog:

BALANCED ACTION EXPLAINED

Notice the simplified low-tone key leverages. Now the Bb, B, C# and G# work straight up and down, just as they do on a clarinet. The usual saxophone has more than 15 leverages -- "Balanced-Action" eliminates these differences. Now you can play just as fast in the extreme lower register as you can in any other part of the scale. Study the [pictures on saxpics' website]; note the extreme simplicity of the new mechanism. Fewer parts are used; action is more direct. Low tones speak more surely with ""Balanced Action" because the shorter direct leverages make pads cover quickly and seal perfectly. "

www.saxpics.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the tip. I have gone to that site many times looking at old Conns and Bueschers, but I have never thought to look up the informtion on my own horn. DOH! I always "assumed" it had to do with the upper and lower stack keys and that's why the term never made much sense. Thanks again.

If they ever have a contest for who has the best looking avatar, you'd win hands down.:)
 

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donme144 said:
"Selmer explained it this way in their 1935 catalog:

BALANCED ACTION EXPLAINED

Notice the simplified low-tone key leverages. Now the Bb, B, C# and G# work straight up and down, just as they do on a clarinet. The usual saxophone has more than 15 leverages -- "Balanced-Action" eliminates these differences. Now you can play just as fast in the extreme lower register as you can in any other part of the scale. Study the [pictures on saxpics' website]; note the extreme simplicity of the new mechanism. Fewer parts are used; action is more direct. Low tones speak more surely with ""Balanced Action" because the shorter direct leverages make pads cover quickly and seal perfectly. "

www.saxpics.com
The above information and additional stuff at saxpics makes me question, that if the horn had less effort, more even action, etc then why was it scrapped? Anyone know, or better yet, any SBA players weigh in on this?
 

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It is actually a Super Action, not a super balanced action...but SBA sounds cool...

I play a SBA alto, and have play tested a BA alto and BA tenor. To me, the action feels alot faster on the SBA and tone is fuller. Of course, I have no idea who set up the BAs, if so.

I think the years for the BA were 1936ish to about 1948ish...and the SBAs were 49ish till 53. 54 was the introduction of the Mark VI. You can get the "actual" years and s/n ranges off the selmer website.

~Jon
 

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And from what I've gathered, there were significant variations between the early and late Super Actions. Possibly in preperation for the Mark VI. I know a short while back there was a debate on here about the thumbrest on the SBA, between Metal and Plastic. Mine from the last year of production is metal.
 

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and balanced actions had even more significant variations ( considering their longer run..), I have seen balanced actions from 1947-8 having more SBA features than actually BA but retaining the original engravings.. I guess that every series had some "transitional" horns made in the end
 

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This is how I've always understood it -- someone let me know if I'm wrong.

OK, there are "BALANCED ACTIONS" -- i.e saxophones, a Selmer model name;

and there is "balanced action" -- an engineering concept ... or rather a PR term invented by Selmer to describe an engineering concept. Which was then applied to the new model.

The concept being -- to try and equalise (balance) the effort and travel your left-hand little finger has to make on every key it has to play. So that Gsharp, C sharp, B and Bflat should all require your finger to go through pretty much the same arc (allowing for the fact that the key touches have to be in different places) -- and that your finger should feel approximately the same resistance whichever key it presses.

And as donme144 said, Selmer claimed the design also got rid of unnecessary linkages, though this perhaps depends which of the previous designs you compare it to.

On pre-balanced action designs the the difference in resistance (or just "feel") between closing Bflat (and B) and opening C sharp can be very marked. Also the player is aware of the different travel (side-to-side, up-and-down, swinging through different arcs) of the keys.

Of course some players PREFER the old way. However even though, for example, when you play low B on a Conn 6M or 10M (IIRC) the tip of your little finger describes the same arc that the low B keycup itself follows (further down) this has always felt to me like being LESS in touch with the keywork than the balanced action way, where the arc of the key is on the opposite side of the vertical axis (the rod) to the arc of the fingertip.

If you don't like MY description, Saxpics approaches it from a different angle:

".... the Balanced Action represented a significant change in the design and manufacturing of saxophones. Selmer streamlined the feel of the action by placing the bell keys all on the right side of the bell. The responsive action of the lower spatula was achieved by placing the rods down the front of the body instead of the side, a radical and innovative design. This was accomplished by a 14 degree turn of the bell-bow assembly and the neck. This allows for the newly designed bell-key and G# key spatula to direct the left little finger in a natural, closing motion rather than pushing “"sideways".” As a result, less exertion is needed to close the low B and Bb, and the key action is more direct and solid."

And Bruce is right, the "balanced action" features have never been scrapped, but carried over (with minor modifications) to all subsequent Selmer designs. In fact the "balanced action" has triumphed throughout the saxophone world, as basically all modern saxophone designs use it, I think.

You could say it's the most significant change to sax design since Sax himself. I learn from Saxpics page that lead designer at Selmer at the time was Henri LeFevre, clearly a very talented guy.

One irrelevant point -- moving the rods to the front of the horn, and introducing the pressed brass keyguards to the bell, as well as the attention to keywork design throughout the horn, to my mind for the first time produced a saxophone that was a really beautiful object, a perfect marriage of form and function. They just look so compact and elegant, compared to earlier designs. I do love old Conns and Bueschers and the rest of them, but beside the Balanced Action and all its children, those old designs look ... very slightly ... like a ... bunch of rubes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
1953SBAALTO said:
It is actually a Super Action, not a super balanced action...but SBA sounds cool...
I believe that you are right. When Selmer came out with the Super Action "80", I think that sax players started calling the Super Action (from the late 40's and early 50's) the Super "Balanced" Action so as not to confuse the two.

My experience playing the "Balanced Action" vs the "Super Balanced Action" is that the latter has much better intonation and a fatter sound than the Balanced whose tone is more in the thin side---at least on the ones I have played.
 
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