Saxophone/Selmer Mark VI

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QUESTION: Hi Eugene, I enjoyed your article on the MK VI that a FB friend sent me, and I shared its link. I'd recently sold mine for a Yahama Custom Z tenor. I also enjoyed hearing you play on YouTube. I thought I had a good 1974 (last year!). It was certainly the best one Ponte's had when I compared it with ~6 others and bought it in '75. My entire playing career, I and everyone loved the sound of that horn (je ne sais quoi), and intonation was good, but I struggled in two areas- low and high. Resistance made subtoning below a slightly gurgly D tough, with B and Bb, by far the worst, generally needing to be 'popped' out though no leaks. And altissimo was resistant, especially G, G#. Have you played enough Selmer tenors to believe this to be par for the course? I almost think the magnificent tone is part and parcel with resistance. When I bought my Z, I got to try two new Reference 54s and found them similar to mine. Obviously, so many wonderful players swear by their Mark VI, including yourself. I just got tired of the fight. The Z is extremely playable and suffers neither of these issues. I think I can make a beautiful sound, but it takes a bit more concentration to do that. Thanks Eugene!

ANSWER: Warren, thanks for the kind words!

I can't argue with you about both the top and bottom of the Selmer VI's...I think your analysis is spot on. I chalk it up to part of their quirky charm. Those areas never bothered me enough to outweigh the warm dark overtones I love on the rest of the horn. Did you know that they started putting nickle ingots at the bottom turn to help with those low notes?  In fact, my horn has one and I never knew it until last year - and I've been the sole owner! (They are on the upper inside of the turn and hard to see).

I am not a huge altissimo player - I get up to F#, G, and G# at almost every gig, but use it sparingly.  I figure we already have enough notes to choose from!

When I was in college a lot my colleagues were switching to Yamaha...including my 2 main mentors at the time, Lynn Klock (classical) and the great Jackie McLean. I'm sure their horns were comped and may have included a stipend as well, but they had a nice ringing sound over the full range of the horn. Both loved the ease of play.  I just have always dug my Selmer, it's familiar and it works for me.  

I tend to be a creature of habit - I've been playing the same mouthpiece (Meyer 6M) for probably 40 years and only recently have I started to try a few more reed varieties. I even had the same old Dick Hyman neck strap forever, until it finally frayed.  Just last week I ordered a Ligaphone harness strap after almost a month of research...lol.  They also saw a few of my reed videos and asked me to review their Alto Jazz Cuts...perk!

Keep playing and thanks again fpr reaching out.  Cheers from Dallas.

ec


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Nice to hear from you Eugene- thanks! I'm a Jersey guy as well, originally from Ocean County though I lived in Union, Middlesex, Essex, and Monmouth. See below...

I can't argue with you about both the top and bottom of the Selmer VI's...I think your analysis is spot on. I chalk it up to part of their quirky charm. Those areas never bothered me enough to outweigh the warm dark overtones I love on the rest of the horn.

>Great, happy you concur. I didn't know about the ingots! I was a skilled clarinetist and I think I have a really embouchure for both. Whether it was this horn in particular or not, I fought it for 40 years. For me, it did partially outweigh the wonderful tone. You're right on too- nothing sounds like them. I just really now love being able to include the lower half-octave as part of the normal range instead of shying away from C on down.  

I am not a huge altissimo player - I get up to F#, G, and G# at almost every gig, but use it sparingly.  I figure we already have enough notes to choose from!

> Agree there too. I admire the heck out of Lenny Pickett, but it s/b used sparingly and tastefully. I finally broke through and have G-D, and that 1/2 octave is enough for me I think.

>Jackie McLean- great indeed!

I tend to be a creature of habit

> Me too. Stick with what works and master it! BTW, it's Ray Hyman, and I made the mistake of getting a new one. What a piece of junk- now plastic slide rather than metal, bindy and poorly made. Now, on the mpc front, I thought a steel Berg I played for 40 yrs was 'it.' I tried a MacSax FJ-IV, and OMG- so much more open!

Thanks again Eugene! Warren Keller

Answer
Warren,

My brother still lives in Ocean City NJ and we had a summer home in Surf City on Long Beach Island for years back in the 60's.  I miss that ocean for sure.

PS - I post on my tumblr page here : http://eugesounds.tumblr.com/ - some interesting and fun sax and jazz reading and a few personal notes as well.  Thanks again and keep at it!

ec

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Eugene Cantera

Expertise

I have been a music educator for over 25 years and have taught on many levels from young children and school agers on through to college level, professional players and senior citizens. My main areas of expertise are saxophone(s) though I have taught many instruments including, guitar, bass, piano, oboe and drums to name a few. I have also done research on horns both vintage and new.

Experience

I have been in music education for 25 years and I have written and published in the subject of professional music education.

Publications
The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal, Marketing and Higher Education Newsletter.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Music Education, Hartt School of Music - The University of Hartford.

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