Was ready to write about this in September, but I was sidetracked by the oddest "Grassi" bari on Ebay, upon which I pondered for my first post, about this odd/, counterfeit?? Grassi, while also promising a thread soon about my "Martin Busine" bari.
Coming back to playing saxophone after 45 years off, I had an alto and a tenor sitting around, but bari was the first sax I ever blew and always my first love. But spend huge money to play bari in a community concert band, and home recording? AND I require all my instruments to look near pristine? I saw a bari online at a very well-known midwest sax shop, with beautiful Martin Busine (Charging Pegasus charging out of the clouds) engraving on the bell and the m/b logo stamped in the edge of the low B-Bb keyguard (where a Grassi would have a stylized G)
Research quickly led me to SOTW, where most of the skimpy information even ON the net resides. There was, and you see on Ebay, the occasional Martin Busine Altos and Tenors. Often but not always they are beat, but most are clearly to me, in pictures, obviously Grassi. The keyguards. The laurel covered joining bands. With mine, also:The perfect logical fit in the Grassi serial number range. The location of the serial number back then (doesn't start with a letter like Orsi) Serial number is duplicated on the underside of the side HiF key, as well as the last four digits on the neck tenon. The talked about "Backwards Y" in the "Made in Italy", the shape of every key. And on this prospective bari (at the time), even the LH palm keys were identical, not only with what I suspected was the "mother horn" (from the published 1975 catalog Grassi Standard bari. that pic is a little blury but I could tell.)
Studying about European stencils, most of them were identical to the then current model of the manufacturer. Writing here on SOTW and many other sites talked about that Grassi may have been known for garden variety student altos and tenors back then, but that their baris were consistently very good. BING! M/B=Grassi=Great bari + no one knows about them= Cheap. And pretty. And sold by a very well known and respected sax shop, And I could play it!
It played very well, I bought it. I sent links of the very photos I'll post here to the expert who influenced me so much, and was crushed when he doubted its Grassi-ness. He concentrated MUCHLY on the body to bell brace, which is not the usual Selmer-style ring. I wonder if many folks put way too much emphasis on btb braces when talking about stencils. Perhaps the buying vendor wants it that way, or manufacturer wants some differentiation. I'm sure my tech could take out that brace and replace it in minutes. And, it does look a little like braces used by Orsi, but Orsi has used the almond-eye opening shaped brace, where Marting Busine brace has that shape inboard, but turns into a circle for 180 of the degrees at the bell. Probably off the same vendor wagon in Quarna.
Last May I saw a pristine Grassi "standard" (as in that article on Grassi models, made- up, I know) bari on Ebay. Wow, perhaps even more pristine, a mid 12xxx serial- meaning probably more mid sixties (?). Convinced myself that a "back-up" horn wouldn't be a bad idea, and that it was undervalued. But if my feet were put to the fire, I would be screaming that:
A----I wanted into the Grassi club for darned sure, and, B----to have those horns side by freaking side for months to prove to all who care (all 6 of you) that these horns are nearly identical. The M/B (serial # high 27000s) Hi F has a keyguard, as does the F3 trill key, and the aforementioned btb brace. End of list. Please see the many pics I have from the retailer when I bought the m/b in 2015. Polishing all the keys and guards makes it look better now than then. Then compare the Grassi (sorry, not as good!) pics from my cellphone, where I tried to take pics from similar angles to the professional M/B pics. Ooo...I'm limited to 5?. Well those will match up with the Martin Busine pics in next post. I have 24 total M/B pics, so request another angle if you happen to be one of those 6 who even care and can't see what you want.
BTW, many say Martine Busine, a French concern selling woodwinds of several manufacturers, is largely been stated to heavily have used catalog sales, (Sears amoung others) but I have seen many ebay pics where the m/b are in cases where interior ribbons proclaimed the names of many family music stores across the US.as mb 5.jpgas mb11.jpgas mb 14.jpgas in mb bari 2.jpg are in cases where interior ribbons proclaimed the names of many family music stores across the US.
My expert will certainly chime in as always when the subject of Grassi stencils comes up that Grassi was not very into stencils. Well, they made mine, I'm convinced of it. "Helen" agrees.