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This is a question for geeky sax players.

Why can't Selmer make a reference 54 horn that actually sounds like a Mark VI?

With today's analytical and manufacturing equipment, one would think that taking a good vintage 50s Mark VI and reproducing it to submillimeter tolerances (or at least to a precision much greater than the individual differences between hand-made horns produced in 1954) would be child's play. And it's difficult to argue that brass (unlike wood for example) cannot be accurately reproduced. Yet the new horns sound very different than the originals they seek to emulate.

I don't mean to imply a value judgement- sax tastes are very individual and I know and respect that some (though not I) prefer the Reference 54 sound. But it is a much different sound, and the purpose was to emulate their classic model.

Why is such emulation so difficult? Any ideas? (Please avoid vague terms we musicians love in your replies, like mojo, soul, love, etc)
 

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Oh, we could always use another 35 pages on this. I'll get it going:

Maybe it really was the brass after all...
Yes, what they used back then was called "cartridge brass" (not necessarily brass taken from old armaments as the story goes, but the same grade/variety, mind you). My tech with 40 years of experience told me this.

They can try to copy the dimensions of the Mark VI all day long, but there's NO way they can get a modern "Chaiwanese" horn to sound like a 56,xxx Mark VI if they use cheapier pot metal brass instead of brass that's the same quality as that used to make those vintage classics.
 

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It was the late Civil War .45-70 brass . . .

I've played my Ref 54 alto alongside my MKVI alto and there certainly is a tonal difference between these two horns (both nice yet different). I prefer the VI but I don't use it on gigs. For that, I like my vintage altos. I don't know why there is a difference; I just expect differences out of various saxophones. DAVE
 

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Then one day on the banks of the Pocomoco I found them...slowly I turned...step by step...
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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This is a question for geeky sax players.

Why can't Selmer make a reference 54 horn that actually sounds like a Mark VI?
They probably do if set up correctly.

Sorry if I'm not geeky enough to qualify :)
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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a ref 54 sounds like a bright VI.
So does a bright VI.

Because they don't want to.
I get the feeling this is probably true. They want to move on. The fact the some people don't think it's moving on is irrelevant to them while they are still selling lots of horns at very high prices.
 

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this is a conspiracy, of course, what else!? An unnamed Asian plutocracy got involved in this , gathered some embarrassing pictures and documents involving Monsieur Selmer and drove him to suspend production of the Mark VI and introducing the Mark VII ( a failure design which was imposed to them to shame the company henceforth). They are now the owners of the secret to the perfect saxophone that the Selmer family doesn't dare replicating because of fear of what the world could do if they knew.......... .

All the technicians and workers were forcibly transferred on Sheshan Island where they have led a miserable life. There are only 4 elder survivors on the island . They are kept there against their will together with the blueprints for the Mark VI.

Of course the design is only one of the element which made the Mark VI so special. Another and fundamental element were the metal by the spent shells used by the Big Bertha Howitzer in WWI.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bertha_(howitzer)

After the " Great War " they were found in a deposit in Verdun, brought to Mantes where they were used to produce the Mark VI. The Asian superpower took all the remaining shells and sunk them in the Manila trench.
 

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If I was a computer geek, I could probably find a moving picture of a can 'o worms being opened. Since I'm not geeky enough with computers, use your imagination and picture that here:
 

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Here's some things about the VI that what I think made it special

1. It was very lightweight, not as many mechanisms on the horn as there are today and just less metal, very very simple design.
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2. I think not having the F# makes a difference, from weight and how the instrument blows.
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3. Tone hole placement was key, not as much the brass, but the placement of the toneholes, as well as the angle of the neck socket, angel of the bell and how that works with each other I think acoustically gave it that signature ring/sound.
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4. They were so versatile in sound,having a small bore also as well contributed to that fact on how it blew, I think Selmers especially the older ones tend to be sharp generally especially as you go up, however this is compensated by the player and lipping down as you go up is one way to do that, yet I think that's what made these horns great, they were true players horns. Now there are a lot of modern alternatives that are better, Yanagisawa/Yamaha/R.S Berkeley they are all great and would pick them over a six anyday personally.

I also believe that the neck design contributed a lot too, and the change of the bow sizes effecting it as well. Again I emphasize LIGHTWEIGHT, SIMPLE DESIGN is really how I think it is, the metal really doesn't have anything to do with it.
 

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1. It was very lightweight, not as many mechanisms on the horn as there are today and just less metal, very very simple design.
This was a striking difference when I played a SBA, not so much with a VI. I don't understand why modern horns have to be so heavy and have so much extra keywork.

4. They were so versatile in sound,having a small bore also as well contributed to that fact on how it blew, I think Selmers especially the older ones tend to be sharp generally especially as you go up, however this is compensated by the player and lipping down as you go up is one way to do that, yet I think that's what made these horns great, they were true players horns.
This was the subject of a recent thread i.e. the fact that having to lip down the higher notes made the player produce a different kind of sound up there.
 

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If I was a computer geek, I could probably find a moving picture of a can 'o worms being opened. Since I'm not geeky enough with computers, use your imagination and picture that here:
make your own
 

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I have both yamaha horns and mk VI's. I don't have to 'lip down' on any of them.

MkVI's were imbued with an aura by the sixth reincarnation of Merlin as Mark Selmerman. This was done by mixing phlogistin and aether in a certain, secret proportion and saying an incantation over the brass and the lacquer. It's magic.

The five digit MkVIs sound better because there was an increase in the price of the phlogistin, so they used a pinch less in the later ones.

Mark Selmerman has since ceased to put his inner-other life on pause and entered a oneway portal into That Far Beyond Questquestion, in a slowflow jump into that abyssjoy focus area.
 
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