Posted 19/Nov 2010 at 15:55
by in Music & Sound / read by 3578 people

How to spot a real Selmer Mark VI Mark 6 saxophone

So you have decided to go and get yourself a piece of saxophone history and get a Selmer Mark VI (Mark 6).

This horn was played by many of the greats, some have passed since, many of them are still among us: John Coltrane, David Sanborn, Chris Potter, Euge Groove, Joe Henderson, Charlie Parker, Steve Neff, Charles Lloyd, Benny Golson, Michael Brecker, Art Porter, Bob Berg, Magnus Lindgren, Per 'Texas' Johansson, Bob Malach, Bob Sheppard, Bob Mintzer, Eric Marienthal, Najee, Kenny G, George Howard, Grover Washington, Coleman Hawkins, just to name a few.

There are a few specific characteristics that you should look for in a Selmer Mark VI (Mark 6) manufactured by the Selmer Company of Place D'Ancourt in Paris. Beware of cheap semi lookalike copies! There are many features that have been reused on other saxophones, but look for a combination of the following on the same saxophone and you are holding a real Selmer Mark VI (6) in your hands.

No rolled tone holes.

Unlike early Conns, a mark 6 has straight tone holes with fairly sharp edges to the pads. Well adjusted, they close tighter than rolled tone holes. The pads may experience a bit more wear, but well adjusted they close excellently in all places.

The circular ringed metal piece that holds the bell to the body of the saxophone.

Although not exclusive to the Selmer Mark VI (Mark 6), this is exclusive to Selmer saxophones, but it needs to look as the picture. There are many other saxophone brands out there, who make very slight variations on this way of attaching the bell.

The advantage is that unlike with for example old Conn saxophones, which only hold the bell with a single spoke welded to an attachment on the bell, the circular ringed metal piece usually does make a dent in the bell in the event of knocking it or dropping the sax.

The neck containing the S and that certain octave mechanism

The S on the octave mechanism, right where the neck has its big bend is not easily missed. The S was originally coloured in a bright ish blue but has worn off or has been taken off over the years.

What is more interesting is the mechanism below it. From the octave key leading up to the small plastic covered pin that lifts opens the actual octave hole in the neck. Look at it closely and you see it functions a bit like a see-saw that kids use.

A lever, if you wish, that transforms the movement from the pressed octave key by the left thumb into the movement that opens the octave key. This design is almost exclusive to Selmer and present on all Mark VIs.

The extra support for the lower bend of the saxophone.

Ever heard the story of saxophonists just standing their sax on the floor leaning against something? This can cause dents and scratches and even openings in the lower bell bend and adjacent connections. Selmer added an extra, very nicely moulded slick, soft piece of brass in the center of the bend to strengthen and protect. It is pointy on both sides and very well shaped with the intention and detail of a sports car design.

So there you have it. Some very specific tell-tale signs to help you locate that real Selmer Mark VI (Mark 6) saxophone. Next time you are at your local garage sale, second hand music shop or just browsing the classifieds, keep your eyes open.

You never know what has been found in someone's attic and put up for sale for a few bucks.

Now this is just the tip of the iceberg. I will post more soon to help you find that perfect Selmer Mark VI, the holy grail of horns.

Till then, happy hunting and Love the Vintage!

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