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  1. #1

    Default SBA Vs. Mark VI?

    Can someone tell me all the differences commonly associated with these two horns? I am looking to buy a REALLY good tenor, and I'd always been interested in Mark VI's, but never really thought about a Super Balanced Action. What are the differences in tone, feel, resistance, etc? Also, are some serial numbers preferred like how early numbers are with the Mark VI?

    Any information, and personal experience would be great.

    Thank you very much!

    Rubel

  2. #2

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    I think the single biggest design difference between the SBA and the Mark VI was in the bore taper. With the Mark VI horns, Selmer was trying to make a horn that projected better. They changed the neck and bow curves (among other things). The bow of a Mark VI tenor has a tighter curve to it than an SBA. An SBA is a freer-blowing, more resonant horn than the Mark VI, with a more spread, broader sound.

    fwiw, I agree with bluenote - if you're really interested in an SBA, check out the Ref 36.

    Here's the page on the Selmer site that describes the different playing characteristics of their various horns:
    http://www.selmer.com/content/selmer...enor_chart.php

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluenote4098
    I take back what I said about Wayne earlier--that he plays a Ref 36. Someone actually posted some pics of his horn on a thread in the Name Brand Players area ("Shorter Discusses his Old Saxes"), and it's definitely an SBA. It's just such a minty one that I assumed it was a Ref 36! Wow, I wonder how much that one cost? 10 Grand? If he bought it in NY, that's probably not far off. Just mere pocket change to someone who's enjoying the comeback and public praise that's he's finally getting.
    That was me, actually. And his SBA was birthday gift, according to this interview: http://music.barnesandnoble.com/feat...ect_id=1000102

  4. #4
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Really, the best thing to do is try a horn. If it plays well buy it.

    There are good and bad MKVIs, good and bad SBAs and no serial number will tell you whether it's a good horn. Maybe there were more good 57,000s than good 200,000s, all it does is narrow your chances if you are buying without trying. Even if you try them out, you can only compare horns that are in tip top condition. A good horn that has a very minor leak can sound very bad compared to an average horn with no leaks.

    The serial number thing is only relevant to collectors who think some serial numbers are better than others.

    Players know a good horn when they play one: serial number don't make you sound better - I've played and owned many MKVIs and BA, and SBAs.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Ruhl
    Here's the page on the Selmer site that describes the different playing characteristics of their various horns:
    http://www.selmer.com/content/selmer...enor_chart.php

    What do they mean when they say full ribs and mini ribs?

  6. #6

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    Ribs are plates of brass that they solder the posts to. Then they solder the rib to the horn. Mini ribs just means they still use ribs but they are smaller. I believe our VII's, based on their weight, use maxi ribs.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by sw3119
    What do they mean when they say full ribs and mini ribs?
    "Ribs" are flat metal plates that are soldered onto the body of the horn, onto which the posts that hold the keywork are attached. Some horns have ribs that run longer than others. It's thought that the ribs have a "dampening" effect on the horn's resonance. "Mini-ribs" are simply the minimized use of ribbing. For example, instead of running a full rib between posts that at, say, four inches apart, they'll just use two shorter ribs. The idea is to allow the body tube to vibrate more freely. The Series III horns use mini-ribs.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluenote4098
    Why buy an SBA when you get a Reference 36 for much less? The Ref 36 will sound similar if not identical but will have mostly modern ergos and most importantly, will not be 50 to 60 years old! Most horns this age will have a tarnished smell to some extent no matter what you do (short of stripping and refinishing). So why not get a new one for a lot less!
    It may be true that you'll like a Ref 36 as much or more than a SBA or VI. You won't know until you try it. But I have to take issue with the implication that a vintage horn will have a "tarnished smell" no matter what you do. Generally what happens with some old horns is they get closed up in a case for years and mildew forms on the pads giving off a musty odor. This won't happen with a horn that is used regularly and swabbed out, no matter how old it is. Also, if you take that old mildewy horn and have it cleaned and overhauled, it will smell as good as new! I know this because I had a musty 75-year old TT alto overhauled and it has no longer has any musty smell.

    As Pete says, you gotta try out horns to find a good one. If you're looking for a "REALLY good" tenor, you might consider some other brands as well, unless you are totally sold on Selmer. Vintage Conns, Martins, Bueschers, Kings, and others can be great horns when overhauled by master techs. Also there are a number of new horns that might fill the bill as well.

    Sorry I can't really answer your question. I have a great VI tenor that I love, but right now I prefer my Buescher Aristocrat. I heard a really good player on a SBA a few months ago and he had one of the best tones I've ever heard. I don't know if it was him or the horn. Probably both.
    Last edited by JL; 08-10-2005 at 11:09 PM.

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    I'll side with JL on the musty-odor deal. I own several vintage horns dating from the early 1920's to an early '50's TH&C alto (I'm not counting the early 60's MKVI alto), and I've owned several others. None of them ever smelled bad - and they play/ed great. DAVE
    Dave

  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW Member Razzy's Avatar
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    The smell you are describing is undoubtedly that of bare brass, something that is, obviously, not a problem on any new horn unless it comes with no lacquer (like the 82Z-UL). On my old student Vito, the lacquer wore off of the thumb rest and the bare brass would leave a green reaction on my finger, which smelled much like you describe. The same smell would be on my hands after playing my school's VI with most of the lacquer on the keys worn off. The smells were identical. Most of the pads on the VI were in good condition and I kept it clean and all; the problem was not at all with the pads or even the age of the horn, just the fact that bare brass was coming into regular contact with my fingertips.

  11. #11

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    Perhaps we could compare recordings of well known players who swapped
    from BA/SBA to Mk6 - Coltrane & Mobley come to mind:

    If you want "Soul Station" or "Kind of Blue", get a SBA.
    If you want "Ascension" or "The Turnaround", get a six.
    If you can't hear the difference, get your ears waxed ;-)

    Others who've played both SBA & Mk6 on record - Shorter,
    Webster (?), Getz....

    I note that many of the London / UK based young players can be seen & heard playing older (i.e.pre-Mk6) Selmer tenors:
    Julian Siegel, Ingrid Laubrock, Julian Arguelles, Ben Castle...

    To me , my '49 SBA sounds lighter / airier than my '56 Mk6
    [my bought-it-this-week '54 Mk6 seems somewhere in between the two,
    but needs a tweak or two]

    I'd say the SBA "rings" - it's definitely
    slightly easier blowing, but only slightly, compared to the Mk6.
    A change of Mouthpiece will change the
    sound much more noticeably.

    the keywork on the Mk6 is a delight, though, and feels like quite a big improvement on the SBA.


    Either horn is more-than-good-enough for me and 98% of all sax players.

    -Andy-
    Last edited by AndyW; 08-12-2005 at 10:42 AM.

  12. #12
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    Andy, I would endorse your comments.
    P.S. Your guestbook is full. Nice site!
    Cheers, Dave (6,sba and ref54 tenors, 6 bari, 7 alto.)

  13. #13

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    My "top tenors" site: 30+ free transcriptions
    & my (out-of-date) set-ups, best gook, etc...
    Some new tubby hayes solos just made available last week.

    http://www.geocities.com/andyw129/

    -Andy-

  14. #14

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    .....
    Last edited by ThomasK; 03-06-2009 at 10:01 PM.

  15. #15
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    Mk VI vs. SBA. SBA all the way for me. After played more than a few of each, I like the SBA's more than the VI's, but I still like both horns. ANd most of them are keepers, you just have to have them set up, by someone with a cluse. Thats it, no more than that, if you have an old Selmer SBA, or six, that you think is a dog, get it fixed. If it already has been fixed, and still won't play, go somewhere else man. I don't care what the name of the tech is, go somewhere else, something was missed, and even if another guy in't as good as your tech, he might have something else to offer the situation. I have worked on my share of both SBA's and VI's. and have yet to find one that wouldn't play well. They are great horns.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saxdaddy
    ANd most of them are keepers, you just have to have them set up, by someone with a clue. Thats it, no more than that, if you have an old Selmer SBA, or six, that you think is a dog, get it fixed. If it already has been fixed, and still won't play, go somewhere else man. I don't care what the name of the tech is, go somewhere else, something was missed, and even if another guy in't as good as your tech, he might have something else to offer the situation.
    I think there's a LOT of truth to this. Here's what I went through some time ago:

    When I first bought my MK VI tenor, about 25 years ago, it played great. I had a good tech for the first couple years, then he moved away. The next time my horn started acting up (you know, leaks and difficulty in the lower reg, etc.) I took it to a tech at the local music store. Got it back and there was little improvement. In fact it just got worse and, for a period of time, I gave up on it and started playing my alto instead (I wasn't in a band at that time so it wasn't a big deal). When I'd pick up the tenor, I had nothing but trouble. I thought it was me.

    Then I went into a store and tried a couple of tenors. They played fine, so it occurred to me the horn played so badly, it just had to need work. I took it in to a different tech. Got it back, still no good. More time went by and finally I took it to another tech, told him the story, asked him if he could overhaul it completely and get it playing. He told me it was a great horn and he could put it right. Yes indeed. After he overhauled it, I had an entirely different horn! Fantastic in every way.

    This all happened over ten years ago. Recently I got the VI tuned up by Lee Kramka (saxworx, in SF). This guy is a master! Now the horn plays better than it ever has. On a sidenote, a couple of years ago I bought a vintage Buescher tenor from Gayle Fredenburg, that she had overhauled. It plays wonderfully from top to bottom, no doubt due to Gayle's expertise. Playing condition is everything and I think a lot of the "dogs" are actually horns that need work from a good tech.

    Good techs are rare, not inexpensive, but absolutely invaluable and necessary. Sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but the point is, you can't be certain about a horn until it is in good playing condition.

  17. #17
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    I competely agree with JL. As a matter of fact there are so many "little" things that can make a horn great instead of just average. I always believe that if you can't play a horn with as light of a touch as possible then there usually is some sort of minor problem especially if someone else plays a horn without a problem. Many minor leaks are taken care of by "heavy hands" or slight over blowing.

    Making a horn great requires patience and a good tech. Alot of techs out there do so many school level horns that they get into a rhythm and loose that "special patience" to make a great horn.

  18. #18

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    SBA keywork is the most articulate I have played. To VI or not to VI is an interesting question. They are overpriced for their availability in my humble opinion. I also have a JK sx90r that is really great.

    There is no perfect horn. That should be obvious by the number of people (including myself) playing multiple instrument. DEPENDS ON THE GIG!!

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  20. #20
    Forum Contributor 2014 ZenBen's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=kingman]There is no perfect horn.QUOTE]

    well, my sba is pretty close

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