Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

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    Douglas Pipher's Avatar
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    Default Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Selmer Radio Improved Saxophones - an ongoing study

    Purpose: To attempt to determine the duration and makeup of the Selmer Radio Improved Model as accurately as possible.

    Method: Positively identify as many examples as possible, ideally with photos for reference and comparison.

    Outcomes - to determine the following:
    1) Production breakdown between Alto, Tenor and Baritone
    2) Production breakdown of Lacquer, Silver, Gold and Custom Finishes
    3) Beginning and end of the production for each type.
    4) Identify individual production runs within the overall Model run.
    5) Identify any developments or changes during the Model run.

    Late Radio Improved / Dorsey Disclaimer: For the purpose of this study, all additional Radio Improved horns built after the introduction of the Balanced Action Model are treated separately. For clarification, there seem to be two series of Late RI horns.

    Series 1: Radio Improved horns in the 22k to 24k range, stamped as "Radio Improved"
    Series 2: Later left-bell horns, not stamped Radio Improved, and generally known as "Dorsey" horns.

    Note: This study is a work in progress, so any thoughts and conclusions are subject to change.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Summary as of Oct 31, 2013

    RI Identified Range: 18,880 - 20,548
    Total of 1,668 horns.

    RI Maximum Range: 18681 - 20912
    Total of 2,231
    (based on Identified Supers and BAs)
    Images attachées Images attachées

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    Douglas Pipher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    If you own or know of any Selmer sax with a serial number from 18,500 thru 21,000 and would like to help, I am looking for the following information:

    Example:

    Serial Number: 20123
    Type: Tenor
    Model: Radio Improved
    Finish: Lacquer
    Original Finish?: Yes
    Location: Germany
    (Photos are always appreciated)



    Model Clarification:
    Super: Serial before 19,000, not stamped as "Radio Improved" on the bell.
    Radio Improved: Serial between 18,500 and 21,000 with "Radio Improved" stamped on the bell.
    Balanced Action: Serial after 20,000 and not stamped "Radio Improved"
    Late Radio Improved: Serial after 21,000, but with "Radio Improved" stamped on the bell.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Hi Douglas.
    In the summer I bought a Radio Improved from Cadences music in France. I attach a link to some photos of the instrument.
    http://www.cadencesmusic.com/scripts...Num=260&Lang=2

    Serial number : 19926.
    Type: Tenor
    Model: Radio Improved Stamped on Bell (US and Canada Stamp)
    Finish: Originally lacquered but now stripped to bare brass.
    Location: Bought in France.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Thanks Jasa80 ... I've added 4 horns since this post went up. I'll wait for a couple more and then put up a revised chart.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Thanks Douglas. Its interesting the number of Tenors there are with a close serial number to my own that you've tracked down including 19927 ?(one digit after mine). I'd be interested if there are any common engraving patterns featured on the examples - especially close in digit horns etc. mine has curling forma and a small sail boat quite a lot below the serial no.
    On a facebook site 'retracing the roots of my selmer super' a guy named Thiago has an RI that he has put pics on- its another 199xx horn.
    Thanks

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Here is Version 3 of the chart.
    It is a little bigger than Version 2, so it should be more readable.

    There is added info regarding breakdown of type and finish.
    Also, there is an RI Alto identified (209xx) ... produced after two identified BA altos. (207xx)
    I need more samples in the 20700 to 2100 range to decide when the BA range started. Currently, this could be a very early "Late" RI Alto ... or just a couple prototype BAs.

    A pattern is emerging of the RI Production runs. There seems to be roughly 7 to 10 runs each of Alto and Tenor, of roughly 50 to 200 horns each, plus a couple random baris.

    Thanks to those who have contributed their horn info.
    Images attachées Images attachées
    Last edited by Douglas Pipher; 11-09-2013 at 02:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    I've come across many BA altos in the 20,xxx-21,xxx range, so I wouldn't treat any BA alto with a 20,xxx serial as a prototype. Per your other thread showing total distribution of sop/alto/tenor/bari, see my post about changing musical tastes affecting the instrumention. Also, having trolled ebay extensively over the last 15 yrs, for some reason, most of the BA horns in the 20,xxx-21,xxx range I've seen have been altos, not tenors. This may partially be explained by more altos having survived than tenors, but I think it's also due to what people were ordering in 1935, when these first came out. By the time you get into the 25,000 and up serial range, there appears(to me) to have been more tenors made/survived, so it's not quite so lopsided on the alto/tenor ratio.

    Hard to get too accurate of a read on all of this, as you're dealing with 80 year old horns, predominantly in the U.S., which doesn't necessarily reflect what the rest of the world was ordering.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Amasax,
    From what I see so far, the BA Production of Altos and Tenors was a ratio of about 5:3
    But ... interestingly, I haven't found a single Tenor or Bari between 31600 and 34100
    In that range I have only seen one soprano and lots of Altos.

    Anyways, back to the dividing line between RI and BA ... my inclination is that it is at roughly 20,700 to 20,900.
    With BA altos in the early 20,700 range ... then Baritones around 20840 and Tenors by about 20900 ... it seems pretty clear that by 21,000 the RI run is done and BA is in full production.

    I will continue to work to narrow it down more closely for each type.

    (For Soprano, I have found no horns between 18500 and 31900 so far)

    As always ... anyone willing to share their horn's information will always be welcome.

    Here is the info I am collecting if anyone is willing to help:
    Serial Number: (full number please)
    Type: (Alto, Tenor etc)
    Model: (Radio Improved etc)
    Finish: (Lacquer, Silver, Gold, Nickel, 2Tone etc)
    Original Finish?: (yes, no, no sure)
    Location: (country only)
    Special Features: (high F#, trill keys etc)
    Engraving?: (yes, no, custom)
    Body Serial #: (below the low D key, on earlier horns)
    Bell Distributor Stamp: (London, Elkhart, Br Empire ex Can. etc)

    Photos: (clear photos are always welcome)

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Radio Improved Production Chart - Version 4

    Two points of note:
    1) The beginning of the tenor line has been tightened up. 18877 is an SSS horn, and 18880 is a Radio Improved.
    2) Production runs now appear more complete. 8 Tenor Runs and 8 Alto Runs ... with a possible 9th Alto run in the 20600 range.

    Also, I am on the trail of a Silver RI Bari, unconfirmed as of yet, but I heard from a person who owned it in the 1980s. If confirmed, it would be 3rd RI bari located, and the first one in Silver Plate.
    Images attachées Images attachées

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Friends, how would you compare Radio Improved with Super Sax (non Cigar Cutter)? Any great diference?
    Tks!

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Claudio, I recently had a chance to compare my RI Bari with an early "Super" Bari. (15,3xx)
    The "Super" Bari is really a misnomer, since the early "SSS" Baris were the Modele-26 style right-hand wrap horns, and the later ones were the now normal left-hand wrap.

    While both horns played well, the keywork was substantially different, as well as the intonation. The early Super had left cluster keys very reminiscent of a Selmer Soprano setup, whereas the RI Bari cluster keys felt very modern.

    I have yet to have a chance to do a hands-on comparison of a late (Left-wrap) SSS horn vs my RI. I suspect that they will be very similar, if not identical.

    Note: The Bari redesign occurred somewhere between 16,900 and 17,750, but the "SSS" stamp started appearing by about 15,300. I do not yet know if there was a substantial redesign between the Modele 22, 26 and Largebore baris. I suspect not, since the 15,3xx bari still had the side Bb key arrangement not seen on Altos or Tenors since the Modele 22.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Thank you so much, Douglas... Any information on tenor? A friend is offering me a SSS 18xxx nicely restored and I'm really thinking about getting it. I have seen just pics of it, because my friend is out of country... I'm a bit worried about the mechanics and playability, you know... My current tenor is a Ref 54, but I love that old sound. Zoot comes to my mind...

    Thang again and best wishes!

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Thanks for researching these old Selmer saxes. My Radio Improved tenor is 19899. It's finish is silver plate, probably not original. This horn has seen plenty of action because the mother-of-pearl key touches are indented from countless hours of playing. The bell sports an engraved house, hills, and roadway. This is my favorite tenor. I have a 1950 SBA but I reach for this ancient RI because it delivers a warm but almost edgy sound that fits any style of music I play. Don

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    By the way, I notice you do not have Zoot's Radio Improved tenor in your serial number list. His was 20308 and I beleive it was lacquered. You can see his horn on YouTube by searching for the tune, "In A Sentimental Mood." Don

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Don,
    Thanks so much for that info ...
    I have to agree with you ... I just love to rich edgy sound of my RI tenor.
    I own #20,000
    It's my favourite horn for small combo work.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Claudio,

    There is no reason to fear the playability of an 18xxx Tenor.
    In fact, you may be amazed at the richness of the tone and the lightness of the action.
    Any horn that old could be very worn, but if it has not been beaten up too badly, you might by very surprised.

    My only advice is ... play your friend's horn.
    If it works for you, then go for it.

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Tks again, Douglas... I'll play it as soon as possible and will let you know...

    Best!

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Good Luck ... I'd love to know the serial number.

    Boa Noite

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    Default Re: Selmer Radio Improved Production - an ongoing study

    Boa Noite! Merci!

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