Untitled Document
     
Advertisement Click to advertise with us!
     

Selmer Mark VI C Soprano on eBay

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Of the serial number. I haven't yet done a point-to-point comparison of each feature between this and a Bb soprano VI.

I think you might be hinting at, "Well, maybe Selmer just trotted out old tooling and updated the engraving accordingly." Possibly. The last C soprano -- and the only one I know of -- I have pics of is a Modele 22. Yes, it has an altissimo range to Eb, like the $40K horn, but the G# (just an easy feature to pick out) is different.

I might not be able to do too much research on this for the next several days. I'll give it a shot, though!
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Assuming this is a Mark VI and even possibly one of a kind, this is worth $40k.....why?

AFAICT, among horn collectors no one really values completism, especially since C instruments are such odd hosers in the first place. I don't know of any sax ensembles that specialize in all the harmony instruments, so it's not like a string quartet looking for that unobtainable Stradivarius Viola (and sax ensembles have never had the monetary attention strings have had in the first place).

Even if I had a billion dollars, I would pass.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
Here's why I wondered about the Mark VI designation: the key design. We all know Selmer made Mark VIs well into the Mark VII design phase, and with serial #'s that would have you think that they are Mark VIIs. Furthermore, we all know they never made Mark VII sopranos or baritones. I have examples of both of these, since I own a high serial # Mark VI alto, with the Mark VI stamping, key designs, etc, that based on serial # 240xxx alone, you would think should be a Mark VII, yet it is not.

Regarding my Mark VI soprano, it too was made during the Mark VII production run, and is [HASHTAG]#266xxx[/HASHTAG]. Its key design is clearly Mark VI in design, and those design features--eg. the octave lever--are different in this horn.

I'm wondering if isn't an earlier model that they built during the VI's production run like my Mark VIs. That was my thinking--based on design features.

Since I'm more fluent in my knowledge of vintage German horns, I'll leave it to those with greater knowledge of the Selmer--and French brands in general--to compare/contrast the various bits and pieces of the horn to other Selmer models. But to me, as the owner of a complete set of Mark VIs, this horn just didn't give off that Mark VI vibe...Just MHO of course, YMMV and likely will... :)
 

Groovekiller

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I know the seller. He is very well informed about saxophones, and he researched this instrument thoroughly. He went to Selmer Paris and found this horn listed in their records. He tells me that the mechanism is nothing like the early Selmer sopranos, and it closely resembles Mark VI Bb soprano keywork.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I get to quote everyone! Actually, there's just so much good stuff to talk about:

Assuming this is a Mark VI and even possibly one of a kind, this is worth $40k.....why?
The phrase "one of a kind" has a tremendous allure. Combine that with the mythical, "It's a Mark VI!!!11111one" and "It's a 5-digit serial number Mark VI!1111one," and you might get someone's motor running. Mind you, the Mark VI soprano was never considered the non plus ultra of sopranos until very recently; essentially as a consequence of everyone going nuts over how the Mark VI alto and tenors are supposedly the best saxes ever. And, of course, the 5-digit serial number Mark VIs are supposed to be the best Mark VIs.

"One of a kind" also means that you can set the price to whatever you want and hope for the best. If there is such a thing as a Selmer sax collector, this would be a jewel in the collection. Do I think it's worth $40K? Nope. I tend to think that the Conn A soprano prototype that was somewhat recently sold on GetaASax.com would be worth more than this Selmer because it's one of two surviving and it's in an extremely odd pitch for a saxophone. IIRC, that went for low 4-figures, so I'd value this Selmer considerably lower. The most expensive vintage horn I've seen sold that wasn't owned by someone famous was around $30,000. Groovekiller knows more about A. Sax instruments and owns a couple, so he may have seen or heard of one of those going for more. I've not seen an A. Sax Eb alto, Bb tenor, Bb soprano, or Eb bari sell for more than low 5-figures, but it's possible a bass, sopranino, a C instrument or F instrument might have sold for more.

Technically, the standard range is keyed to high Eb. Altissimo range would start above high Eb.
:p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p
The oldest surviving saxophone is a baritone from 1846(ish) and it's keyed to altissimo F. The A. Sax patent drawings suggest a range to altissimo Eb. Fine. Hey, I didn't load all the flats and sharps for the note shape emoticons! I don't like writing 8va :TrebleClef::Space4: flat! :D. I'm also a recovering clarinet player and that Eb is in the altissimo register on the clarinet, so there. :p

Here's why I wondered about the Mark VI designation: the key design. We all know Selmer made Mark VIs well into the Mark VII design phase, and with serial #'s that would have you think that they are Mark VIIs. Furthermore, we all know they never made Mark VII sopranos or baritones. I have examples of both of these, since I own a high serial # Mark VI alto, with the Mark VI stamping, key designs, etc, that based on serial # 240xxx alone, you would think should be a Mark VII, yet it is not.
There were actually quite a few Mark VII baritones, sopraninos, and Bb sopranos (I haven't heard of or seen a Mark VII bass). However, you then get into the question of what constitutes a Mark VII. Is it the "Mark VII" stamp on the bell-to-bow brace and/or the neck with the "M7"? Is it the funky low C/Eb keys? Is it just the serial number? Selmer's no help: hey, they used to tell folks that they never made curved sopranos.

Semi-officially, Selmer only made Mark VII altos and tenors. At least, that's what they'll say. The breakdown I've used for the Mark VI has been:

S/N 55201-220800, 1954-1974 (alto & tenor)
S/N 55201-365000, 1954-1981 (soprano, bari & bass)
S/N 55201-378000, 1954-1985 (sopranino)


That's from my old website and based on my observations from 2006 and earlier. The original page has, unfortunately, gone *poof*.

There has always been a lot of model bleed over on the Selmers, e.g. you could easily find a Mark VI alto with a Mark VII serial number. The only "written in stone" serial number is the first Mark VI that you have an ad of on your website -- and I bet that Selmer didn't have Mark VI baris and sopranos ready at that time.

Regarding my Mark VI soprano, it too was made during the Mark VII production run, and is #266xxx. Its key design is clearly Mark VI in design, and those design features--eg. the octave lever--are different in this horn.
The big problem with sopranos is how different they look from their alto and tenor counterparts. The only major design feature I know of, off the top of my head, on the VI soprano that is so different from the VI alto is the design of the G#/C#/B/Bb cluster. As a matter of fact, I've seen a bunch of Chinese Selmer Mark VI soprano knock-offs that you can tell are fake because they have a VI alto style G#/C#/Bb/Bb cluster.

I know the seller. He is very well informed about saxophones, and he researched this instrument thoroughly. He went to Selmer Paris and found this horn listed in their records. He tells me that the mechanism is nothing like the early Selmer sopranos, and it closely resembles Mark VI Bb soprano keywork.
That's really good enough for me. I think I would want the letter from Selmer if I was actually going to pay $40K for it.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
He went to Selmer Paris and found this horn listed in their records. He tells me that the mechanism is nothing like the early Selmer sopranos, and it closely resembles Mark VI Bb soprano keywork.
Well if Selmer has it in their records that's one thing, but the the 2 things that immediately jumped out at me that differed from Mark VI's were: 1. The lack of a Mark VI stamp on the engraving, and 2. The shape of the octave key lever.

The latter is something we saw on the Balanced Action, like this one #31988. While the former looks like this on the same BA. Admittedly, now that I've looked at this BA I did notice that the left pinkie cluster is different. Then there is this SBA that has a blend of the Mark VI and BA left pinkie clusters.

What did Ed call the Mark VI soprano? I think it was the "ugly step-child". It seems there might have been more step-children in this family than first thought. ;)
 
Last edited:
Technically, the standard range is keyed to high Eb. Altissimo range would start above high Eb.
I was not talking about all saxes, just the ones keyed to palm key Eb like this C Selmer. For them you are forced to use altissimo fingerings if you want to play above high Eb.

For the ones keyed to palm key F, altissimo would start above F. If it has a forked high F fingering, and then that would be an altissimo note as would would the forked high E if you use it. You would be playing the 3rd harmonics of A and G.

But the palm key E and F would not be altissimo notes as these are just 2nd harmonics.
 

Groovekiller

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
On some of these small saxes, a "broken" fingering for altissimo, even if it's just a high E or F above the staff, sounds better than a high note played with the standard fingering (If there was one). The player is using a longer vibrating column of air for the notes above high Eb, and the note sounds "fatter" and more like the other notes in the normal range. Also, those "altissimo" fingerings, from high E on up are usually easy to hit, once the player finds the fingering that works best for him/her.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Hey, I play bari. What's this altissimo thing I keep hearing about?

Sorta responding to Helen's comment, the Super (Balanced) Action (I'll now just use "SBA") horns were an evolution. The early ones didn't have as many features as the later ones. I've mentioned, elsewhere, that it looked to me that Selmer just added features as soon as they patented them and when the feature set got too far from the first SBAs, they changed the model name to "Mark VI." Granted, that's an oversimplification, but it does kinda fit.

Selmer had several different kinds of stamps that they used for the Mark VI and they placed those stamps in different locations. They also had different logos in different places and there were at least four different necks with different stylized "S" or "Selmer" engravings/badges. That's kinda just to say that the great thing about standards is that there are so many of them. I think that the C soprano's stamp looks like another 5-digit serial number soprano. I start looking more at the key shapes and post placement when someone's trying to convince me that their SBA is actually a VI. There were even several with G# trill keys, forked Eb fingerings and all that noise.

There's too much stuff and not enough time, but I'd love to find some better pics of the Modele 22 C sopranos and compare this C soprano to that, and to Mark VI and Modele 22 Bb soprano, more-or-less "just because." I think that there will be some divergences from a Mark VI Bb soprano. How many, I don't know. It'd also be interesting if someone played this C soprano and a Mark VI Bb soprano from around the same serial number and gave his opinion.

The most non-Mark VI-looking thing to me is the little "arm" (no, I don't know the technical term) that holds down the G# tonehole. It's lifted straight off the Modele 22; no screw adjustments. However, the VI sopranino doesn't have this feature, either, so there's precedent. The "bis" key looks neither like that on the VI Bb soprano, nor on the 22 Bb soprano -- and the 22 C soprano didn't have a bis key.

*Sigh* I might have to do that point-by-point comparison ....
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I came across an altissimo F in a concert band bari part. I assumed a lazy arranger. Or maybe he liked the sound of an asthmatic alto.
"Rite of Spring" doubling the bassoon part at the beginning?

I've only seen altissimo for the bari in jazz, method books, or in music that was written for a different instrument then transposed to play on the bari. YMMV. :p FWIW, I much prefer the sound of the bari in a much lower register and I think that tone can blend very nicely. However, I don't mind the concept of teaching altissimo, especially if you put an emphasis on intonation in the various leaps from lower registers, tone (as Groove mentions), and playing around with fingering combinations, a la Rascher's 24 Intermezzi.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
TL; DR:
The construction of the Mark VI C soprano is closer to that of the Mark VI sopranino, not Bb soprano.
Is the Mark VI C soprano an earlier horn with factory custom keywork? Possibly. I can't tell for sure, but if it is, it was done by Selmer.





*****************

Comparison Time!

First, I'm including sopraninos in this mix because Selmer made sopraninos back until at least the Modele 26 and this C soprano has a keyed range to altissimo Eb, which is the keyed range on most Mark VI sopraninos, until you got into the 1980s.

=============

Octave Key Mechanism

I like looking at octave key mechanisms because they do tell a lot about the model.

Selmer Mark VI C soprano (sn 77316; 1958). Really good shot of this.
Modele 22 C Soprano (sn 4162; 1926). Yes, it's very hard to see much of anything on this, I have to admit. Unfortunately, this is the only other Selmer C soprano I've ever seen.
Modele 26 Eb Sopranino. (Earliest Selmer sopranino I was able to lay my ... eyes ... on.) Also not a bad shot. You'll see that the tonehole for the octave vent is approximately the same place, but it doesn't have the secondary "bar" that's on the Mark VI C.
Mark VI Bb Soprano and Eb Sopranino (serials 197xxx; 1972). Looks about the same as on the Mark VI C.
Mark VI Eb Sopranino (sn 338673; 1982). Another gratuitous sopranino pic. Again, looks about the same as on the Mark VI C.

G#/C#/B/Bb Cluster

Yes, I'm jumping around.

Mark VI C.
Mark VI Bb (sn 58527; 1954). Looks about the same.
Modele 22 C. Bad shot, but it looks like a standard Modele 22 Bb soprano. The feature to note is the G# key, which doesn't have a pearl. This design can also be seen on the Modele 26 sopranino I mentioned above.

Bis Key

I did mention this in an earlier post, but I wanted to do a bit more thorough of a job. Again, note that the Modele 22 C soprano doesn't have a bis key.

Mark VI C.
Mark VI Bb (sn 58527; 1954). There's a difference in shape and theres a curving connector arm under the actual key that's not present on the Mark VI C, however this feature also isn't on Mark VI sopraninos, whether they're keyed to altissimo Eb or altissimo F#. The Modele 22 Bb soprano does have a version of this connecting arm and the Modele 26 sopranino doesn't.

G Whiz

I noticed this when I was taking a closer look. The G key on the Mark VI C soprano is considerably different from the Mark VI Bb soprano. It looks like the G key on the Mark VI sopranino and the Modele 22 C soprano.

G# Tonehole Bar

Just putting this in one place.

The bar on the Mark VI C doesn't the adjustment screws that are found on the Mark VI Bb soprano (extreme bottom of the pic). However, the Mark VI sopranino doesn't have those screws, either. Again, neither the Modele 22 C soprano nor Modele 22 have those adjustment screws.

Chromatic F# Key

The Mark VI C soprano has a standard pearl button, which looks about the same as the one on the Mark VI Bb soprano and Mark VI sopranino. It's different from the "spoon" shaped key on the Modele 22 C soprano and Modele 22 Bb soprano.

=============

What does all this prove? Well, I think that you can say that the construction of the Mark VI C soprano is closer to that of the Mark VI sopranino, not Bb soprano.

So, did Selmer pull out the tooling from the Modele 22 C soprano for the Mark VI C soprano's body, then fit it with custom keywork? I think there's a higher probability of that rather than making new tooling from scratch for ONE C soprano. However, you might be able to argue that the Mark VI Bb soprano and/or Eb sopranino have the same body as an earlier model and were just fit with custom keywork, too. That's a bit more difficult to tell from pictures alone. I know there are a few vintage horns out there that have been fit with modernish keywork, so it's possible, but is a Modele 22 fit with Mark VI keywork still a Modele 22 or something a little different?
 
Top Bottom