Was It A Mistake to Sell My Mark VI?
(Originally titled, “The Sound, The Trane, and All The Rest”)
I’d played a Selmer Paris Mark VI tenor since 1975, when my teacher and I hand selected it from among a half-dozen other examples at the legendary Charles Ponte Music on New York City’s 48th Street. I’d performed and recorded with it on the Jersey Shore, in Manhattan, and Nashville, playing everything from Chicago Transit Authority, to funk and disco, to hard rock, to a bit of jazz. I loved my Mark VI, and despite having been manufactured during the model’s last year, it was a very good example. It had The Sound- the fuzzy lushness of Stan Getz. But, it could also produce the enormity and directness of Clarence Clemons. So, why do I speak of it in the past tense? Because I found something better, at least for me.
I’m not even sure how this process even began. A few months ago, I noticed that the horn was missing its lyre screw. Though I can assure you that I had no plans of marching with it anytime soon, I had the genuine part ordered from Selmer- I loved the instrument that much. And, like thousands of other saxophonists, I was caught up in, and proud of being part of the MK VI mystique and history.
After a decade of barely playing at all, feeling as if my soul connection to it had been broken forever, last summer I’d been deeply inspired by a local, young hard bop sax player to return to playing, and have, for the past eleven months, been fully committed to becoming the best player I can be. This personal renaissance included shopping for a terrific new mouthpiece (Eric Falcon’s MacSax FJ-IV 8*) and availing myself of the many wonderful educational resources available on today’s World Wide Web.
Along with listening, practicing, and studying, I’d occasionally lust over ads for new instruments, becoming enamored with the vintage and raw finishes available from several makers. Sadly, as a brash young rocker who rarely benefitted from quality monitor systems, I’d scratched the heck out of the Selmer’s shiny finish on many a microphone, in an effort to hear myself better. And, though it was in excellent playing condition, the years of sweat and acid had eaten away at half of its lacquer. I wondered what, if anything a new instrument might bring to my playing, and one saxophone in particular called to me- the Andreas Eastman 52nd Street tenor. I loved its unlacquered finish and the 1940s-inspired engraving, and was impressed by some great reviews and its adoption by Bob Mintzer. Thinking I’d never have the opportunity to play one and compare it with my instrument, I reread this website’s Fourteen Sax Shops You Should Visit Before You Die and was delighted to see Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center listed (www.chucklevins.com), which was only four and a half-hours’ drive from home!
I contacted Levin’s woodwind expert to arrange a meeting. Nii Akwei Adoteye (http://11thhourmusic.com) is an absolutely delightful, young alto and soprano man who was invaluable as an honest and impartial listener. Over the course of five hours, Nii Akwei lent me his expert ear and caring nature, and I had an absolutely wonderful time with him, talking about saxophones, jazz music, and life. Although I only got to glance around Levin’s other departments, it was clear that it was a proverbial candy store for players of all instruments. And, apparently, although a standalone mom and pop shop, Levin’s competes with, and often beats the pricing and service of the web-based monolithic music shops.
We began with the object of my desire- the 52nd Street tenor. I was immediately disappointed in its finish. In person, it looked very different from the way it did in photographs. Rather than the look of unlaquered brass, it appeared as if it were spray painted with semi-gloss, gold enamel. Also, the shallow, line-style engraving of the vintage coupe under the old street lamp and sign looked much less appealing to me than it did in pictures. Still, I played it. After all- that’s what matters most. I was unimpressed with the Eastman. It wasn’t a bad horn, but there was nothing special about it. It felt OK. It sounded OK. It performed OK. But for me, it was totally forgettable.
Next was the Yaginasawa T-991. Having read many great reviews of ‘Yags’ over the years, and despite its beautiful high-gloss lacquer (recall that I wanted something raw), I was eager to try it. Its fine workmanship was clearly evident, but like the Eastman, I felt that it was just there. Neither instrument had the beautiful Selmer sound or offered any advantages to my playing.
Before we continue, let me clarify a couple of things. Despite my love of the Mark VI, I’d always had two issues with it- one down low, and the other up high. I’d always found it progressively resistant, beginning with a somewhat gurgly low D. A special effort was needed to pop out low B and Bb, and even when warm and subtoning well; my results at the lowest end of the range could be inconsistent. Although I’d finally been victorious with the altissimo range beyond F#, I’d found G and G# to be resistant as well.
It’s my opinion that part of the beautiful Selmer tone is based on resistance. I’m not an expert, but I’m not sure you can achieve that wonderful fuzziness in a horn that’s very free-blowing. For forty years, I viewed this as an equitable tradeoff for the terrific tone I’ve always been complimented on. Now, as a reborn player, and one intent on improving my jazz chops, I’d hoped that there was something a bit more responsive. Thus far, that didn’t seem to be the case. I found neither the Eastman, nor the Yaginasawa any more free-blowing than my horn, neither down low or up high.
Next came an Austrian Schagerl T1-VB, a brand I was unfamiliar with until Nii Akwei suggested it. The T1-VB, as opposed to brass, is made of bronze that’s raw and unlacquered. Replete with a really nice floral engraving- I absolutely loved the look of it! If it’s still a secret, I admit that I’m certainly an artful person who values aesthetics. Nicely constructed, the Schagerl played and sounded fine, but again, had no special attributes for me, and it felt really heavy around my neck.
Nii Akwei then brought out two new Selmer Reference 54s, the modern-day version of the Mark VI. They were good looking, and in a shape that I wish I’d had the maturity at 20 years of age to have worked to maintain in my own Selmer. I also own an absolutely brilliant Selmer Paris 10B Bb clarinet. In fact, my former teacher- the late, great Kenny Davern (who’d been on the board of Buffet Crampon) felt that mine equaled the best Buffets. So, it and the Mark VI, along with my predisposition to Francophilia, had rendered me somewhat of a Selmer Sycophant. I found both 54s to possess the magical Selmer sound, though neither matched the beauty of my ’74. And, while mine has the typical, less-than-perfect Selmer intonation over the full range, the intonation of both the new ones was significantly poorer. I also found both to be equally as resistant as my horn. At nearly $8,500, the Reference 54 was roughly double the price of the other tenors, and I did not feel called to spend that amount of money- relieved that the Selmers didn’t outperform my horn in any way.
Feeling disheartened, we moved on to Yamaha. I’d began on a Yamaha student tenor, alto, and flute at 15 years of age, so I was hesitant to ‘go backwards.’ Nii Akwei took a Yamaha YTS-82ZII (Custom Z) that had just arrived that morning out of the case for me. It had a beautiful, lacquered finish (again, not what I’d had in mind) and a particularly lovely, floral engraving. It was noticeably lighter than any of the other tenors I’d tried, including mine, and it felt great around my neck, as well as under my fingers.
If the Mark VI is Getz, the Custom Z is Trane. While it doesn’t have the inherent smoky warmth of the Selmer Paris, the Z has a no-nonsense, Coltrane-esque beauty. Not cold, but very direct, and warm enough to be appealing. And it has a fairly big sound- nearly as big as you want it to be, or just as mellow too. I was blown away by the 2016 Yamaha Custom Z. Using a tuner to corroborate my impression, the intonation is good. It is without equal, the most free-blowing tenor I’ve ever played. The low end is effortless. I could subtone down to Bb at pianissimo, even with my open 8* metal mouthpiece. The altissimo G and G# also spoke very cleanly, with no effort at all.
Nii Akwei and I thought we’d try an experiment and switch necks between my Selmer and the Z. While neither of us heard any appreciable affect on the sound of either horn, it did demonstrate something impressive. Turns out, that the Z’s octave key couldn’t open the vent of the Selmer neck- I didn’t need it. We were both amazed as I went from low Bb to altissimo G without opening the octave vent. I don’t think I was even aware of having to change my throat voicing.
While I’ll work to get a bit more ‘Selmer’ into my sound going forward, I had to have this instrument. The Custom Z is the most responsive and even-tempered saxophone that I’ve ever played. I put it on lay-away, and was fortunate enough to sell my beloved Mark VI two days later. While I had a few bouts with sentimentality as I prepared to pass it on to its grateful new owner, there were few regrets. I knew that I’d made the right decision. If I possessed the ‘collector’s gene’ and wasn’t a rabid minimalist, I would have kept the Mark VI. But I’m a different player, and a different person now, and I’m excited to be starting over with a clean slate.
I also tried the Yamaha YTS-875EX (Custom EX) but much preferred the Z. Granted, it was late in the day and I’d already made my decision, but for some odd reason, I was making a lot of split tones on the EX. While you may find conflicting comparisons between the two Yamaha pro horns, the Custom EX is physically heavier and therefore darker-toned than the Z, and both get excellent reviews.
I had forty good years with The Sound. I couldn’t wait to get down to serious sheddin’ with The Trane. And as for The Rest, well, there are obviously many playable and affordable saxes out there today. I would like to have tried a P. Mauriat, a Viking, a Trevor James, and perhaps one or two others, But, for those that I did play, there was only one for me, and I strongly suspect that this would have remained the case, even if I’d played everything else available today. While it’s highly unlikely that I have another forty years of playing ahead of me, I can’t wait to make all of the music I can with the Yamaha YTS-82ZII Custom Z.
Postscript: I currently have about two months in with the Z. While upon first play after its arrival, I experienced some seller’s remorse, my ears are making peace with the different sound of the horn, and I’ve found that using a reed of sufficient resistance will indeed produce a lovely Getz sound. While not at all resistant, I find the upper stack a bit repressed, as compared with the big MK VI sound, and the upper palm key notes (D-E-F) tend to be sharp (perhaps a trip to Curt Altarac’s MusicMedic in the future). But overall, the Z has a fabulous tone, is eminently playable and even, with a wonderful low-end and easy altissimo.
The Yamaha ‘V1’ neck takes a decidedly upward curve at the mouthpiece end which took me a bit of time to get used to, as it renders a noticeably different playing angle and feel than the Mark VI. Whether or not this was changed in the future, I think any horn, this one included, would benefit from a (Wanne-style) multiple strap hook to give the player a variety of angles.
Lastly, and this is significant- this Yamaha’s pads are sticky. Searching the web, it appears that the culprit may be a protective pad sealant. Soliciting input from Tim Glesmann of Sax Alley, while I continued to swab at the end of each session, I stopped leaving the HW Pad-Saver in as the horn sits on its stand overnight. While the Pad-Saver can serve well as a secondary swab, it may retain more moisture than it removes when left inside the body. Despite Levin’s backing-off some of the pivot screws, the low C#, and especially, the G# keys continued to be a problem. When the horn was warm and moist, the G# would stick to the tone hole in real-time! Neither powder paper, cigarette paper, sandpaper, or naptha helped. Only a bit of valve oil on the pad finally provided relief. Tim Glesmann, a major Yamaha dealer himself, told me that they chemically strip Yamaha pads in an aggressive two-step process when they set-up a new horn. I can only speak for one horn, but this issue has been very significant.
As to finally answer the question posed by the title of this article and not to end on a sour note (like a G when you finger a G#!), The Custom Z is an overall huge winner, which gets the top vote of several Yamaha dealers who carry it along with the horns of several other fine makers. I love it more each day.
July 17, 2016 @ 7:25 am
Have a M6 bought new in 70. Have the same issue, low D-D#-E do not respond as well as I would like even though I know the horn is not leaking. Feel the same way about the great sound of the Selmer though. Have been re-evaluating everything , new reeds (VanDoren green java), new mouthpiece(Navarro Bebop). So many saxes to choose from now. Thanks for the tip on the Yamaha Z model.
July 27, 2016 @ 5:54 pm
Mike: Try the Cannonballs. (See my comments below or a Keilwerth SX-90R if you can afford it). I do not know where you are but get a really good repair person to go over your horn. (See my comments below). Your Mk VI should play really well. Now because the Mk VI was sort of a compromise horn it does not play as well down low as a Conn 10M, a King Super 20 or a Selmer Balanced or Super Balanced Action. But it will play if you keep it in adjustment. Plus IMHO the Mk VI just seems to project and cut better. You may not hear it but out inthe audience they are hearing it really well. I saw Stan Getz at Blues Alley in Wash DC several times and he never used a mic. Yet you could hear him great. He was playing a Selmer Mk VI w/a HR Otto Link mpc.
Was your Selmer every banged up, did it fall off your sax stand or did a drunk crash into it at a dance? Also is it a relaquered horn. All of these things can make a difference in how well it plays.
Also IMHO Rico products or Roberto’s RW reeds work better or tenor than the Vandorens. Also there are some really good Link knock offs being made today. Check out CEWinds.com or Kim Bocks Shop in NYC. He has a guy there who is making a really good Link knockoff. Good luck and like I told Warren this is only my 2 cents worth.
January 26, 2021 @ 7:42 pm
I was a selmer guy forever and thought that resistance was just a hurdle you paid for… After 30 years, and carefully moving to a Yamaha Z…. I found you don’t have to fight bad intonation, relentless resistance, loud clapping production noise… will never go back… Yamaha Z… So fun and freeless to play.. beats selmer in every way except for the mistique of yonder years..but no more..
January 26, 2021 @ 7:48 pm
I was a selmer guy forever and thought that resistance was just a hurdle you paid for… After 30 years, and carefully moving to a Yamaha Z…. I found you don’t have to fight bad intonation, relentless resistance, loud clapping production noise… will never go back… Yamaha Z… So fun and freeless to play.. beats selmer in every way except for the mistique of yonder years..but no more.. The theo wanne mouthpiece makes the Z fly..
January 26, 2021 @ 9:43 pm
Gary, Glad you found your baby! Everything you say about the Z, and the Selmer, I found to be so. As I mentioned in a follow-up comment somewhere, I sold my Z for a Trevor James Signature Custom, which is MY baby. I found the Z to be a bit too focused for my ideal sound, though I do still play a Yamaha alto. Thanks!
July 27, 2016 @ 5:37 pm
Warren: First off I’m glad you found a horn you like. However why do you call the Yamaha a Trane sound? Coltrane played a Selmer Mk VI w/a metal Otto Link 6 or 6* Super Tone Master. That is until sometime in the mid-60’s he messed it up.
I played a Yamaha Custom when I was in a Navy Band (govt horn) and found it to bright sounding. Unless your Selmer had some inherited flaws (some do) it sounds like you just needed to visit a really good repair person to go over your horn. Maybe the tone holes got messed up and were not level. Maybe you needed to have shims on certain keys. What kind of pads were you using? Also because you said you drove 4 hrs to Chuck Levin’s I assume you live in or near NYC. If I am correct why didn’t you go to Roberto’s on W.46th Street. First off he could have fixed your Selmer or 2nd he could have sold you a better horn than the Yamaha. He stocks Keilwerth’s and they play really well.
Now you must know this. The guy at Levin’s told me that all there horns are discounted horns, none of them are perfect. I went there from Baltimore to look for a new alto. I tried everything and nothing seemed to play perfect. I certainly wasn’t going to be $X,xxx.xx for a horn I didn’t like.
So the next day I drove over to where I got my spare tenor, a Cannonball Big Bell Black Nickle plated tenor at L&L Music in Gaithersburg, MD. It’s just a little further around the Beltway from where you were. I played about 4 or 5 Cannonballs w/different finishes. I finally decided on the raw brass Big Bell Mad Meg Raven.
Here’s the thing. Yes Cannonballs are made in Taiwan BUT they are adjusted at their plant in Salt Lake City, Utah. They have 1 guy who adjusts tenors, another who adjusts alto/sopranos and another guy for bari’s.. Here is what I have found on both my Cannonballs. The Big Bell makes it so that there is less resistance down low. Actually to me the way it plays is similar to a Conn 10M or a King Super 20. BUT the intonation is really great. The lower register sound is really nice and fluffy, it really sub tones very nice. The key action is very close to a Selmer Mk VI. I put 1 key riser on the side key Bb to raise it up it bit. Other than that it plays just as nice as a Keilwerth but it is at least $2K – $2.5K cheaper. (I played Keilwerth SX-90R’s when I was in NYC w/my Navy Band. I loved them but the price was to high for me).
I use my Cannonball tenor as a spare horn and my outside bad weather horn. The horn is built like a tank and knock on wood it has been staying in adjustment really well. Also the bell keys (Bb, B and C) are double braced which is a great idea. They also have a bar that helps keep the G# down and in adjustment. Keilwerth has the same thing. I even had that feature put on my Mk VI by my repairman in Baltimore. So on bad weather gigs my Selmer stays in the house and takes a day off and my Cannonball tenor does the gig. Now for alto the only alto I have is my Cannonball. Everything I said about the tenor also goes for the alto. I use my alto mostly for teaching because so many kids play/start on alto. But if I get called to play alto in any setting I am ready.
Btw – no, I do not work for Cannonball. I still love my Selmer Mk VI and use it more than any other horn. But when my Selmer is in the shop or the weather is bad, or I just feel like switching my horns out, my Cannonball is my go to horn. If I did not have my Selmer Mk VI I would play my Cannonball all the time. Also just to let you know I have some friends who have retired their Selmers and are just playing their Cannonballs. Lastly the buyer for the US Navy Band Program (a sax/clar player) tried the Cannonballs at the Namm Show and s buying them for the Navy as other horns wear out and become unplayable.
So should you have sold your Selmer Mk VI? I say no unless you were told by a really good repair person that they horn could not be made tighter because maybe it was a relacquer horn or it got bang up in a marching band accident etc. Anyway this is just my 2 cents worth but I had to comment on your interesting post and question.
September 13, 2016 @ 9:21 am
Larry, Thanks for reading my piece. I’ll address a few points you raise. I reply respectfully because as a Navy player, I’ve no doubt you’re a very fine one:
‘…why do you call the Yamaha a Trane sound?’
I’m sure you’d agree that different players will sound different on the same/same model horn. To my ear, Coltrane made anything BUT a typically warm, fuzzy Selmer tone on his MK VI. I however, did. When I played the Custom Z however, it reminded me of Trane’s sound. I’ve put back some of that Selmer warmth as I’ve adjusted to the horn.
‘…it sounds like you just needed to visit a really good repair person to go over your horn.’
If you read the piece in its entirety, you should have noted that I played the horn for 40 years and had bought it new. Over those years, the horn was well cared for by many competent techs.
‘…I assume you live in or near NYC. If I am correct why didn’t you go to Roberto’s on W.46th Street.’
West Virginia. Note my statement that the two new Selmers, for me, played similarly to mine. I believe it’s an inherent Selmer trait, and while hundreds of great players make them sing, for me, it was always a bit of a fight.
‘…Now you must know this. The guy at Levin’s told me that all there horns are discounted horns, none of them are perfect…’
I spoke with Alan Levin of Levin’s yesterday- one of the nicest guys I’ve talked to in some time. While he suggested I let this comment go, I felt it important to address it. Despite what ‘the guy’ may have said, yes, Levin’s horns are discounted. They’re known as one of the shops to beat for pricing, often besting the web-based music conglomerates (WWBW/Musician’s Friend/Guitar Center). A discounted price however, in no way relates to the quality of their instruments. My Z had just come into the store that morning in brand new and perfect condition, and plays like a dream.
Thanks for allowing me to address your comments Larry! The title of the article was of course, a rhetorical question, chosen by Doron to grab readers’ attention. For me, I have no regrets at all. I play better and sound better than I ever have.
May 25, 2019 @ 4:09 pm
FWIW, Trane played a SBA, not a VI. His sound was uncharacteristically out-front for that instrument. It might be easier to achieve that quality on an 82Z than with a Selmer. Just goes to show how different equipment can lead towards the same destination for different players.
May 25, 2019 @ 4:11 pm
That Doron is such a mischievous lad…..
July 28, 2016 @ 2:41 pm
follow up, took horn to KBsax in Queens, Kim Bach , great guy. Vintage sax expert. Looking for a neck. He went over the instrument and found many subtle leaks. SM6 pretty complex. Now plays better than ever.
He carries Tenor Madness Custom (?) horns. Played them and really was impressed, exceptionally easy to play. But will stick with my SM6 for now.
August 15, 2016 @ 1:06 am
I remember the day I got my new Yamaha YTS62 about twenty six years ago. I swear it started playing before I put the mouthpiece up to my mouth. It seemed to (and still does) play itself. Coupled with my ottoman link 6*, I love it. I’ve played others, but wouldn’t swap mine for anything…. But I’m now keen to try a YTS82 now that I’ve read your article !
August 26, 2016 @ 7:59 am
That’s a great tale Warren. I am glad that you have found a horn that you can work with. More so, that you rid yourself of the Selmer6 obsession. I gave up my 6 many years back in favour of the 10M. Sure the ergos take a while to get into, but in my opinion, the timbre, the spread; the 10M is the definitive tenor sound. Sadly my last 10M was stolen. It was however a late sixties model and not a great horn. I am looking forward to choosing a new horn in the near future. Will it be a 10M ? I really cannot say and am keeping an open mind. Oddly right now I am getting by on an Arta Guban. It is a very cool tenor. Thanks. Ade
May 25, 2019 @ 4:20 pm
I play a 10M but if I were in the market for an instrument with that same sound quality today I would be looking seriously at the Cannonball big bell, Keilwerth SX90R, and the Theo Wanne Mantra. There might be some lesser-known Taiwanese horns in that same category. I love my 10M, but that doesn’t blind me to certain advantages of more up-to-date horns.
September 4, 2016 @ 12:06 am
Its sad that the price of Selmer horns have elevated so much. Conn’s are following. Buying a new tenor soon, a lot of options are closed. Thai horns are out. A seller of a well known brand told me what they cost at source. The money you are paying is for whistles and bells.( funky finish, engraving, pepperoni key touches ). Believe it or not UK prices began being dictated by one dealer alone. Sure he has thirty 6s , to choose from at any time. Year after year he pushed the price up , everybody followed suit. Up to twelve grand for a b.a. ? It would be laughable if greed were not the worst of traits. Young, great players will never get a chance to play these horns. Its sad.
September 30, 2016 @ 3:52 pm
Warren: Okay you live in W.VA. I stil think that since you came to to DC Metro area that you should have checked out te Cannonballs at L & L Music in Gathersburg. When I went to Levins they as much told me that none of their horns are perfect, just discounted. Sorry, I’m not going to pay several $K for a horn that is not playable at the level I want. Maybe you do not think that Trane had a typical Selmer sound. However he played an Otto Link mpc. One thing about Links, after a while you can shape your own sound. Consider al the people who played Mk VI’s and Otto Link mpcs, they all sound different. Stan Getz, Trane, Dexter, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Scott Hamilton, Harry Allen etc, etc.The list goes on. Personally from y experience w/Yamaha Custom horns I prefer the MK VI and my Cannonball or a Keilwerth SX-90R. Take care, Larry W
January 25, 2020 @ 11:20 pm
Interesting discussion. I play on a Selmer super that I bought used in 1957. In 1964, while in the Navy I was stationed with the CinCLant Band. C J Landry was there at the time and played on my horn. He wanted to trade his Mk VI for it, because he said my horn had a warmer sound. Many years later, after he retired crom the Navy,I was talking with him, and he said he switched from his MK VI to a Conn 10M because it had a bigger sound. I recently had Jeff Dening do a full mechanical overhsul on both my tenor and my bari Selmer Supersaxes, and they feel like new horns. I cant praise his work too highly.
January 26, 2020 @ 2:09 pm
Hi guys! Happy to see that the article still generates some chatter. Dave Booth, the 10M is so beautiful looking. In 2018, I heard the head of WVU’s jazz dept. sound so wonderful on one, and would love to try one, some day. As an update to the original article, Larry, et. al., I sold the Yamaha Custom Z tenor as I’d become quite disenchanted with it. I loved the keywork and its resistanceless qualities, but sonically, it wasn’t me. I found it to be too pointed, lacking tonal complexity, and a bit bright. For the past two years, I’ve been in love with my Trevor James Signature Custom Raw, which I became aware of via an excellent review by top tech and author, UK’s Stephen Howard. I bought the horn from Sandro Massullo, Massullo Music in Burnaby, BC, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it. It has the gorgeous spread of a good Selmer, with all the playability of the 82ZII. I believe it is a lifer instrument. I would encourage anyone to try it, or one of the similar, higher-end Taiwanese horns. I’d love to try the TJ SC alto as well, as I suspect I could do much better than the trusty Yamaha YAS-275 I’m currently playing. Thanks all!
August 29, 2020 @ 7:55 am
Hi Warren, Thanks for a very interesting article. I bought my MK VI tenor new in 1967 ( 21st. birthday present from my father ) and I’ve also suffered with low note and altissimo hassles, particularly the G. I now am using a Selmer Ref. 54 neck which has helped with the harmonic G, but it’s still very difficult, even after years of practice. I would like to relate the following and ask for comments: I have lived in Spain for the last 15 years or so, and on one of my trips back to the U.K. an old friend offered me a gig with his band. I explained that I hadn’t got my sax with me, (the MK VI ) but I had brought my mouthpiece. At that time I was playing a Guardala MB II. No problem, he said, you can borrow my old Beuscher, so I said O.K. At the gig I found his horn to be virtually unplayable (he hadn’t used it in years) and had to wet all the pads thoroughly just to make it just playable BUT the harmonic G just popped out effortlessly, no need to even add the side Bb key! You didn’t have to think about it, it was SO easy! So that got me thinking about different necks but I’ve not been in a position where I can visit a store and try out any other horns. I too love my old 6, we’ve been through a lot together, so I’ll keep buying a lottery ticket!
Would love to hear any opinions on MK VI tenor necks.
July 23, 2020 @ 5:06 pm
Tried a 10M not impressed ran to a 1964 selmer M6 for 10 years till it fell apart. Moved to yani sold yani bought chinese yani copy sounded better than yani more soul Bought about 5 types of chinese various finally found Tide Music SBA autocad copy with some palm improvments good brass mix raw finish core sound better than my selmer M6 Do i regret selling selmer no still the yani SC soprano cannot be copied thats a great horn to Check out tide on alibaba.com with the original ring brace
August 29, 2020 @ 10:08 am
Thanks, Mike Hutchings, for reading the piece! I remain where I was in my reply to this thread in January, 2020. No regrets on selling the Mark VI or the Custom Z, neither of which were the ideal horns for me (and that’s the only perspective anyone can speak from). I’m actually now a Signature Custom by Trevor James endorser, and remain absolutely in love with the tenor.
While a student Yamaha YAS-275 serves me pretty well with my great mouthpieces, I look forward to moving up to the SC RAW alto as well.
FWIW, I also recently traded my Di Zhao 700 flute up to a Trevor James Virtuoso Voce, which I think was also a wise move. Didn’t mean to turn this into a TJ commercial, but again, their SC saxophone has the amazing, lush core of the best of Selmer (they’ve been thru 9 iterations of alloys to get it right), with the low resistance and fast fingerwork of a modern Yamaha or Yani, neither of which did it for me.
Are there other terrific Taiwanese horns today? Absolutely. While I’ve not had the opportunity to try the Tenor Madness, it gets great reviews. Folks love their Cannonballs, and I think the P. Mauriats, which I’ve tried, are very solid and sweet. While I didn’t like the Eastman, some love them. You also hear great things about Japan’s Ishimori Woodstone.
And, while I’m a Francophile, I don’t feel that Selmer remains a clear choice, certainly not the only choice, particularly for those on a budget. For me, I’ll jump across the Channel to Lenham, UK, where Trevor James/Worldwind is located! :>)