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A new neck for my Selmer Serie I alto?

Discussion in 'Saxophones' started by Prince Curtis, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. Hi!
    This is my first post here on The Woodwind Forum. Some time ago I read a review by SuperAction80 about his Serie I Tenor. I have a horn of the same mark and model, and since I've had a similar experience that he describes, i.e. a fairly subdued tone, I thought I should try out his solution: a new neck (Serie III). So I bought one myself, and it really changed the horn for the better. Much better! The new neck gave more power and projection, and it also changed the overall feel of the saxophone.
    Now, I also happen to have a Selmer alto (Serie I). I feel the horn is a bit stuffy; the high C is rather muted (this, by the way, seems to be a common problem regarding altos). Maybe I can improve the tone with a different neck? I've already tried a Serie III neck, but it didn't work it's magic as it did on my tenor. I'm grateful to y'all for constructive-minded suggestions!

  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Welcome Prince. Have you tried different mouthpieces? Unless the neck is damaged, getting another neck is usually just about glitz. What is your musical background? What kind of music you you play?
  3. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    ... and, of course, you should make sure that you don't have leaks or anything.

    Selmer pro horns are good in the fact that most 3rd party necks are available for them. However this also means that you have another bit of kit you can spend money on :).

    Gandalfe is very correct about mouthpieces. Those can change your tone more dramatically than a neck. I'm not going to say that a neck and what it's made out of won't affect your tone, but I will say that it might not affect it as much as choosing a different mouthpiece. Hey, sometimes just switching to a different strength reed might make the change you want.

    I'm a computer tech. I try to go for the easiest fix, first, then the least expensive -- which can be the same.
  4. A lot of players did complain about the tenor SA80's neck angle, which leads itself to angling the horn in a position that some feel to be uncomfortable. This is usually said by saxophonists who grew up with the Mark VI tenor. The Serie III gold brass neck is far closer to the VI than that of the original SA-80. The III neck is also a little more flexible and free blowing, which is a matter of preference.

    Now in regards to SA-80 altos, most players who own one feel that the SA80 alto was just about perfect as is. Most Serie II players (same bore) feel the same way. So I definitely agree that you should have the horn looked over first before spending money for after market parts that you may not need. I believe that I stated that the reason why I bought the III neck, for my tenor, was because I was using its stock neck in order to correct some intonation difficulties that my Chinese backup tenor had. Sure enough, that horn DID have a bum neck that made notes past high Eb over a half tone sharp.

    If your alto is in good repair, and you still don't care for the tone, start trying out different mouthpieces to see if that's your issue.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Back a few years ago, there was a television bit honoring the anniversary of Sax's birth. In that bit, there was a short (no more than three or four seconds long) shot that panned down a set of early saxophones in a museum somewhere. They went by the camera in order, from soprano (guessed from the size) to alto, both in the familiar form that we all know (and some of us love).

    However, when they got to the tenor and the baritone, things were a bit different. The baritone was there, albeit with the short B natural bell rather than the Bb or A versions with which we are familiar. In any event, it still had the eight inch coil up at the crook, same as we have now.

    It was the tenor that was immediately before the baritone that was the shocker. The neck on the tenor was coiled in the same fashion as that on the baritone, losing the long, horizontal neck that we have today.

    Mind you, it all passed by in a matter of seconds. But, I've spent enough time around the saxophone family to know a tenor body when I see one, particularly where there's an alto and a baritone staked out on either side of same. That horn was a tenor, and it had a much more rational neck that do the tenors that we have all come to know.

    I tried to track the clip down again to confirm what I know that I saw, but no one at the station could give me any information. And, I never saw it again.

    True be told, one of the reasons that I have avoided playing the tenor when I could was that awkward angle that the neck forces the rest of your body into. The neck also forces the mouthpiece into your mouth if you are not careful, this due to the point where the neck strap is attached puts pressure on the body of the horn. You are either bracing it out front with your arms extended, or you are slinging it back to the side, with the neck forcing your head and neck to angle downward as well.

    Putting all of that neck length into a coil would fix a lot of that. It probably won't ever happen again...
  6. saxhound

    saxhound Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    I seem to recall that the Series 1 altos had an issue with the octave pip being slightly too small, which was the root cause of the stuffiness. Also, due to the small diameter of the hole, it was easier for it to get clogged by a little bit of crud. You might want to take the octave key off and gently clean the pip with a tooth pick or slender pipe cleaner. If that doesn't help, perhaps your tech can open it up a bit. If I recall correctly, it was a fairly minor adjustment - just a couple thousandths of an inch, but not something you want to try without the proper tools.

    You could try emailing someone like Randy at Tenor Madness or Curt at Music Medic to get the specifics. Perhaps JBT or some of our other techs can chime in here as well.
  7. Now that's the first I've heard of this issue. Of course, considering the fact that these horns are at least 30 years old now, I'd imagine that a good percentage of the SA80's used by players have been through at least one overhaul, and this issue has been addressed.

    About a decade ago, these saxes had a rep that was only slightly better than the Mark VII. When they began going through their first major overhauls, more and more players began to realize that they were very good horns. BTW, the same thing also happened to the Mark VII, though their ergonomics are still lousy for the small handed.

    Come to think of it, weren't a lot of players having the very same issue with the early Serie III pips as well?
  8. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I now have another project: to track this down.

    If you look at the A. Sax patent drawing on FR 3226, even though it's a rough sketch, you can see a vastly different neck shape. I tend to doubt that Sax, himself, made a tenor with a baritone-esque neck, but some other company might have. The ophicleide-shaped (bass) sax in the A. Sax patent, for instance, was given new life as the Pelisson Georgeophone baritone. Stranger horns are out there. However, it might be that you saw a baritone Rothophone. Hey, if it was a really quick shot, I'd think that a Rothophone was a sax.

    There might be an acoustics reason not to have a baritone-sax-like "pigtail" on tenor. It's an interesting idea.
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