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Is It Really A Vintage? What Is Vintage Anyway?

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I'm not so sure the tilting pinky-table is any indication of being modern. Many recently-made sops have the older style pinky tables and are modern - at least in MY mind.

My Yanagisawa SC902 for example, has a p;inky table like my '32 Cutter. And, I have a MKVI-clone with a similar pinky table. For sure, that design never posed a problem for me.

But like I've written before, I play both vintage and modern and a particular horn's keywork was not an issue for me. DAVE
Oh, I only talked about it because Ed did.

My opinion is that the "modern" G# cluster is just one that happens to have approximately the same layout as the Selmer BA and newer. In other words, the Buescher, Conn, Martin and other styles need not apply. But Buffet and many others had a very simular layout about the time and a bit after the BA.
 

Ed

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Personally I prefer the BA style a bit more than the tilting. It has a more positive feel.

The Yani sopranos still show their homage to the Selmer horns of years ago.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
However, backing up several steps, what I've said doesn't mean that the BA, SBA or VI aren't vintage instruments. They are, but they have a lot of modern features.

I still like my definition for "vintage", above.
 

sideC

Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
The mk6 is way advanced from the sba in my estimation.

I see a lot of points being made about different aspects of each horn's features. But nobody has mentioned what I think is a major factor in what it takes to really get around, technically speaking, on each one of these horns.

The thumb rest, and the thumb hook. Both of these features were greatly improved upon on the mk6. Now, you may not think that these two features are very important, but I've found these to be two of the most important parts of the horn. So let me attempt to explain the importance of these two "keys", as I use them.

Starting with the thumb rest. This may be the single most important feature on the horn. The fingers of your left hand have a lot to do when playing. How many keys does your left hand control? Fourteen? Fifteen? The little finger spatula, low Bb, low B natural, low C#, and the G# key. The keys on the left hand stack, C, B, Bb with the bis, A and G. The front high F, the thumb octave key. Now you've got your palm keys, D, D#, and F. And if you're playing a horn with the low A key, count that one also. So how much of the horn's weight are you supporting with your left thumb as you are playing? Not too much, but it depends on the combination of notes that you're playing, and the tempo of the tune. The thumb rest is of supreme importance if I'm playing a very difficult passage at a fast tempo which only involves the notes of the left hand, something which, lets say, starts with the stack notes and rapidly jumps to an altissimo G or a high F or one of the other palm keys. And if I want to quickly repeat the phrase a half step down, or up, I'll still be using the left hand. At this point I'm holding the straight horn out in front of me, supported by the leverage of the thumb HOOK against the neck strap. My left thumb is firmly planted into the thumb rest, enabling me to use my left hand to leverage my fingers and palm as seek to find the exact keys which represent the tones that my ear is hearing. The thumb rest frees up the fingers and the palm, a very important job in the negotiation of difficult passages.

The thumb hook has a slightly more blue collar, but still a very important, job. I use it to support more of the horn's weight, at times I'll support all of the weight of the horn with the hook for brief periods. We're also dealing with the right hand stack notes, the D# and low C plates, the side F#, and the side C, Bb, and high E. Now, I mention all these notes for a reason. Let's take these notes, and combine them with the left hand notes and use them to improvise a chorus of rhythm changes. And let's take the tempo to the ceiling, 400 beats a minute. You'll be doing a fantastic rhythmic tap dance with both hands and both sets of fingers. Now what part of the horn is holding down the fort, keeping it still while all this is taking place? The thumb hook, and the thumb rest, both working in conjunction with the neckstrap. The problem is that when you're holding the horn solely with the thumbs and the strap, while fingering intensely, the horn tends to want to flop from side to side. This will hinder execution. So this is where I see the definate advantage of the mk6. The large round thumb rest and the big square hook help to keep the horn centered when negotiating diffucult passages at fast tempos. Sure, you can play fast on the sba or the ba, but I feel that the horn is more stable in my hands with the mk6 setup. And this thumb rest and hook setup is copied on pretty much every modern horn today.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
The mk6 is way advanced...

I see a lot of points being made about different aspects of each horn's features. But nobody has mentioned what I think is a major factor in what it takes to really get around, technically speaking, on each one of these horns.

The thumb rest, and the thumb hook. Both of these features were greatly improved upon on the mk6. Now, you may not think that these two features are very important, but I've found these to be two of the most important parts of the horn. So let me attempt to explain the importance of these two "keys", as I use them...

And this thumb rest and hook setup is copied on pretty much every modern horn today.
100 years ago...Or when I was studying sax in university...I don't think anyone ever explained anything quite as well as that. Thank you.

I've been playing for more years than I care to admit, and for most of those years, I've been on autopilot, not really thinking about how I do things, rather just doing them.

What you're saying makes complete sense, and for the first time, I can understand why fast technical passages are easier for me to play on the my VI tenor as opposed to my Martin Handcraft. Key action & layout, spring tension, & my own deficits have always seemed like only partial answers. What you have written, fills in the rest of the picture.
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
Read "offset" as "ergonomic". Same difference, for me.

I've not seen the IW in person, so I can't comment. I think it might be more accurate to say that all professional horns have the "offset" stacks. I remember playing the Bundy II and think it felt rather odd in comparison to the other horns I played with.

You're still not telling me substantive differences between the SBA and VI, Ed. A little better intonation isn't good enough for me to say that the VI is "more modern" than the SBA.
There's a IW for sale on eBay with a picture of a lady holding it that clearly shows the hands are not inline but it will take someone more versed on the history of the horn to determine if this is a modern or vintage placement.

 

Dave Dolson

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
The bass in that picture is the one IW styled after the more modern basses like the Selmer MKVI. They (IW) also have a bass sax styled after the older basses (Conn/Buescher).

The right-side bell-pads are the giveaway (in addition the obvious body-bell size when side-by-side with their older styled design - the Conn/Buescher tubes being obviously bigger, even to my critical eye).

I've seen them in person, side-by-side and the differences are easily seen. DAVE
 

sideC

Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
100 years ago...Or when I was studying sax in university...I don't think anyone ever explained anything quite as well as that. Thank you.

I've been playing for more years than I care to admit, and for most of those years, I've been on autopilot, not really thinking about how I do things, rather just doing them.

What you're saying makes complete sense, and for the first time, I can understand why fast technical passages are easier for me to play on the my VI tenor as opposed to my Martin Handcraft. Key action & layout, spring tension, & my own deficits have always seemed like only partial answers. What you have written, fills in the rest of the picture.


You're welcome, Helen.
 
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