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Selmer MK VI, Selmer SA80 II Silver-plate Alto, Selmer SA80 II Silver-Plated Tenor, Yani Soprano SC
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Hello All
I came accross a Selmer MK VI on fleabay some days ago with a modification that I personally have never seen before, not that I have seen many saxophones in my short existence. This example had a Low A like on a Bari.
Why don't we have these on current new every day models in this day and age?
Would it be an intonation issue?
20210610_231111.jpg


Note the sellers comments.
It can be found here:
Selmer Paris Mark VI Alto Low A and high F# saxophone in playing condition | eBay
 

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Although I recall being the cool kid in high school that could play a low A on tenor with my knee, I haven’t had occasion in the 50 years since then to play one.

Are you planning to write new repertoire that requires a whole section to play low A on their respective horns?

FWIW, I find the current design to have an elegant balance - visually and mechanically. I guess it‘s time for someone to screw that up too.
 
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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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Well the original saxes (made by Adolphe père) only went down to low B, so the ones you typically see with a Bb already represent a modification.

As you point out, Selmer tried making altos with low A's in their Mark VI model (I've seen several of these in person, and tried one), but they were not popular, so it didn't stick.

However, if you want a low A extension on your soprano, Benedikt Eppelsheim will make you one.
 

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i own an low a alto and its useless. this is the reason they are not made . plus i have huge hands and its extremly cramped to play . the mk 6 is allready a heavy alto and the low a just adds to this and the balance isnt the same. plus they dont play in tune well . mine is VERY rare and has opt f#
 

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S: SA II. A+T: Martin HC1 T: Mark VI A:39 King Zephyr B: Martin HC imperial
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Ornette Coleman played one. Other than that they had a bad rap.
106564
 

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I used to play Tenor in a Wedding band. There were one or two songs that I used my knee to play a low A on. I'm sure no one in the band or audience was aware I was doing it, but I loved it!
 

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I used to work with a guy that had a low A Mark VI alto. I never heard him play the low A except as a demonstration. The horn sounded fine, especially in his hands, otherwise.

In my opinion, it's just not needed for an alto. I can see it being useful on a tenor, like for a jump blues in G, but I don't think one has ever been made. And the knee (or heel of your shoe) adds a visual kick, so maybe it's not really needed after all.

But on bari, absolutely. Having that low A (concert C) really helps, especially in rock and funk where keys like Db aren't used so much...
 

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I have owned two Selmer low ‘a’ altos with high F sharp. One of them had pretty bad intonation and the other one had good intonation. As someone pointed out, your fingers on the right hand are pretty cramped. The thing is, it was kind of a gimmick. Selmer really should have redesigned the whole horn to be a new instrument but instead they just added the lower mechanism to a normal mark VI. however, I loved playing the low A whenever possible. Couesnon also made an alto sax with low A, but they are extremely rare.
 
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Is that a Mark VI with double arms on the bell keys? Is that somehow how the low A is actuated?
I don’t think the double arms do anything other than maybe adding mechanical advantage in operating a tonehole key, or possibly some rigidity. You’ll see those double arms on some ordinary saxes, too.

To activate the low A, my understanding is that, just like on a baritone sax, there’s a second key below the regular octave key that you press with your thumb.

As for appearances only, I like the look that extra key gives.

I think a halfway reasonable argument could be made for having low A on a tenor. Needing that A isn’t too uncommon and having to play up an octave for it just doesn’t sound right, IMHO.

Besides, the saxophone is a dignified instrument and we can’t mock that by putting our feet or other appendages into the bell.
 

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The "double arms" aren't actually double arms in the same sense as modern altos that have them (i.e., the arms aren't fixed to the pad cups). They actuate the closing of the B and Bb keys when you press the low A thumb key.
 

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I played a friend’s low A alto once. My LH fingers kept hitting the longer bell right over them and that was very annoying.
 

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Keilwerth SX90R Tenor, Selmer MVII Alto, Yamaha Flute, Fender American Tele
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Although I recall being the cool kid in high school that could play a low A on tenor with my knee, I haven’t had occasion in the 50 years since then to play one.

Are you planning to write new repertoire that requires a whole section to play low A on their respective horns?

FWIW, I find the current design to have an elegant balance - visually and mechanically. I guess it‘s time for someone to screw that up too.
So true, I stumbled across a low A in the Bb Real Book for "My One and Only Love" but always play an octave above anyway. I recall in HS how cool I thought I was that I could be in tune with my knee. That was 40 years ago and haven't tried it since.
 

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yep i brought mine to one gig after i first got it . no more. might be fine for playing sitting down in concert type band with it between your legs.
 

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When playing tunes in concert G, I often wish my soprano sax could go to low A. If I had low A, no doubt I'd take it for granted & wish for low G#.
 

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When playing tunes in concert G, I often wish my soprano sax could go to low A. If I had low A, no doubt I'd take it for granted & wish for low G#.
Instead we get a high G which hasn’t been very useful for me. Especially since voice high F / F# are a bit hit or miss for me.
 

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Cousenon produced a Low A and High G alto which are rarely seen. The Forked E flat is another feature abandoned. There was once additional trill keys no longer seen. Some still consider the High F sharp to be superfluous and an unneeded feature.
 

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I've owned a lot of Selmer altos including 4 Mark VI altos. I was a repairman, so I had the advantage of putting all of them into top shape. I liked every Selmer alto, but none was perfectly in tune. Playing in tune is MY job. I eventually sold all my Selmers except a gold plated 1933 Super and a 1973 Mark VI with a low A. For me, the Super had the best, most complex sound and the low A had very good intonation.
 
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