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Thread: Selmer Cigar Cutter?

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    ZephyrSax's Avatar
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    Default Selmer Cigar Cutter?

    My tech just happened to get a Selmer Cigar Cutter in. I don't know much yet, as I haven't talked to him personally about it, but it is of course from the early 30s and he is completely restoring it. I have no experience at all on these horns, so I could use some opinions on that particular model! I think the price will be somewhere around or slightly above $1000 CDN (not like it makes a huge difference at the moment )

    Thanks for any assistance.

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    30's Selmer = free blowing and loads of projection

    A friend of mine has a Radio Improved, I have a Balanced Action, we get together and peel paint off walls...

    Seriously though, I'm yet to play a horn that is as free blowing as mine of my friend's. They are really warm sounding, especially with a nice large chamber mpc.

    The guy who sold it to me is now on an endorsement deal with Yamaha, hence couldn't keep playing it, he also had a MkVI. He prefered the BA to the MkVI, enough said.

    Oh, I'm talking about the altos, I've never played a 30's tenor.
    Alto: 1939 Selmer Balanced Action, Mark Spencer customised Sumner Acousticut, Vandoren Java 3's, BG Standard Ligature

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    I have a New Largebore alto from 1930 (Cigar cutter with conventional octave mechanism, essentially). It too peels paint or rocks babies to sleep.

    $1000 is a snip, especially in restored condition.
    It's an ill wind that blows nobody down a long lane which has no silver lining.

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    Sounds like 50% off what a properly restored horn could sell for. Lucky you.

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    That price is very low for a decent alto Cigar Cutter. Mine is from '32 - one of the most resonant altos I've ever played. I think my three Bueschers (TT, Big B, and TH&C) are louder, but for pure tone and resonance, the Cigar Cutter is equal. They are wonderful old saxophones. DAVE
    Dave

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    What type of sound does the Cigar Cutter have? How does it compare to a vintage (1957) King Zephyr (my current sax)?

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    Zephr: Not trying to be sarcastic or flippant . . . but my Cigar Cutter sounds like an alto saxophone, that's all. Yes, a good one but nevertheless, an alto. I seriously doubt that anyone listening to my CG will instantly shout, "Hey, that's a Cigar Cutter!!!" It doesn't work like that - no saxophone does. DAVE
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    Oh, I was just curious if it was aligned a particular way - more for jazz, or swing, or something. I haven't been able to find much information on them, except for what is at www.saxpics.com, and even there the pictures link for the Cigar Cutters is broken...

    My tech is done with my horn, and so I think he's going to bring it and the Cigar Cutter over later for me to try out. I'll keep people updated!

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    Yes, please report what you learn.

    By the way, I'm one to NOT believe that certain saxophones are meant for certain types of music. Show me a good playing saxophone and I'll wager it will play any type of music the player pushes throught it. To claim that Model X is better for jazz (or rock or classical) than Model Y is just marketing hype or myth. DAVE
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    Well, first off, let me say that my dad told me the price somewhat incorrectly. He thought that the tech said on the phone "a thousand," but I think we're looking at closer to two after all, after talking to the guy myself. Whether or not that changes things, I don't know. It sounds like that's a more reasonable price in any case (hey, I don't want to steal from the guy, he's a family friend )...

    However, I playtested it today. The keywork is brilliant and perfectly smooth, and I actually really do like the spatula keys, even though they're not really tilted and probably not as ergonomic as they could be. Regardless, I find them easier to work with than the ones on my Zephyr, that's all. The sound is very nice and resonant, as was said, though it seems a little more "tame" than my Zephyr in terms of pure power. However, this doesn't bother me a whole lot.

    Now, for the problems, all of which I would consider exceptionally minor. First off, the plating is fairly worn and tarnished (I don't think I ever mentioned, it's silver plated), but I think I can buff it up nicely, though I am considering a full replate if I do buy it (any opinions on this?). On the octave key, the plating is particularly worn and has left a rough edge, so I think I'll just get my tech to buff that to smooth it down (one reason why it's nice to buy instruments from techs, haha...they'll do that before selling ). Also, the Bb pads rise wayyyy too far up, creating a super sharp D1, E1, D2, and E2, but a thicker bumper will fix that up, no problem. And...oh, there's some funny vibration noise when I play a C3, but I think it's just something stuck in the bore somewhere, and it's pretty hard to notice anyways. It needs some cleaning.

    Other than those tiny things, which could all be fixed, it's probably the nicest horn I've ever played, even better perhaps than my 1957 Zephyr. I think I will probably buy it...!

    Oh, and it's 15014. So it's a 1931, I believe.

    Here...pictures!

    http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/8516/1000967rw3.jpg
    http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/9391/1000973hd9.jpg
    http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/8527/1000968db8.jpg
    http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/6988/1000972tt0.jpg
    http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/7050/1000975rq1.jpg
    http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/2038/1000976km9.jpg
    http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/8356/1000978cy1.jpg

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    That plating looks pretty good! I would clean it up, touch up any minor areas with rub 'n buff. Replating a body is a large job but you can get nice results replating a few keys that are bad.

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    Ok, thanks for the suggestions, Bruce. I think I'll take some pictures later in better lighting so the plating can be better seen (I had to use a flash when I took the pictures last night, and it does make the plating look deceivingly good ).

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    I agree about re-plating. I wouldn't do it - and I could afford to do it. I once bought an old crappy silver-plated Buescher TT alto off of eBay. It looked AWFUL!

    When I got it back from the repair-tech (Rheuben Allen), the horn was GORGEOUS. I still have it. All he did was clean it and do an overhaul.

    My Cigar Cutter has a small half-moon shaped leather insert in the low D tonehole, obviously put there by someone in its history to adjust intonation. Mine has a good scale and I have not had anything done to the horn since buying it years ago from a local store.

    If you can get this horn, do so - then invest in a complete overhaul and cleaning (no replating). I think you will be happy you did so. DAVE
    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson
    My Cigar Cutter has a small half-moon shaped leather insert in the low D tonehole, obviously put there by someone in its history to adjust intonation.
    Dave, that's an interesting modification - is the insert actually half-blocking the tone hole, or is it in the bore of the sax, like the baffles said to have been put in Mk VIs to reduce gurgling?
    It's an ill wind that blows nobody down a long lane which has no silver lining.

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    That little crescent-shaped leather piece is glued (well, affixed - I don't know what was used to keep it in place; I'm assuming glue) to the inside edge of the D tonehole near the top of the upright stack-part of the tonehole.

    It doesn't take up half the tonehole, though. I first described it as a half-moon and maybe that was inaccurate. It is more like a quarter-moon - definetly a crescent-shape. I discovered it long after I'd purchased the horn - it requires looking at the tonehole from an odd angle to see it - the piece is blocked from view by the pad-cup. DAVE
    Dave

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    As far as cleaning, I could probably do that myself, right? Just some silver polish with a buffing job? I think I could manage that.

    As far as the plating, is it just silver plate (such as that on jewellery), or is it more of a satin finish? I'm not sure.

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    When a tech "cleans" an old saxophone during an overhaul, he usually (may?) dip it in a chemical cleaning solution. Probably our repair techs on SOTW could provide a better description.

    THAT gets it all, inside and out. That type of cleaning requires the horn to be disassembled and ALL of the parts are included. I doubt if you could EVER approach that type of detail with polish and a rag.

    Yes, you could make a dent in the crud and tarnish, but the spaces unavailable to you without a complete disassembly would really show up (contrast with the places you were able to clean).

    The finish on a silverplated saxophone is of little regard in this process. My Buescher TT had a matte-silverplate look except for the polished areas within the engraving and the pad cups/keywork. The end result was amazing. If you want, I'll e-mail photos to you. Contact me at jazzdolson at ca dot rr dot com. DAVE
    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson
    That little crescent-shaped leather piece is glued (well, affixed - I don't know what was used to keep it in place; I'm assuming glue) to the inside edge of the D tonehole near the top of the upright stack-part of the tonehole.

    It doesn't take up half the tonehole, though. I first described it as a half-moon and maybe that was inaccurate. It is more like a quarter-moon - definetly a crescent-shape. I discovered it long after I'd purchased the horn - it requires looking at the tonehole from an odd angle to see it - the piece is blocked from view by the pad-cup. DAVE
    So it's probably a pouch for the secret treasure map, right? Full of surprises, these old Selmers.

    My alto originally had the gold-wash bell: it wasn't very obvious when the plating was dirty, and unfortunately it was replated about 1973 and the gold, of course, went. I'm not sure if Selmer made a plain silver finish at that date - another reason to get it cleaned rather than replated.
    It's an ill wind that blows nobody down a long lane which has no silver lining.

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