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Saxophones David's Interesting Finds - Oooh! A Selmer MkVII Baritone for sale!

David Roach

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That's fascinating information and good photographs, although I couldn't see the style of the LH pinky keys. Did you get a look at the soprano as played by JM Londeix and do you remember any particular features such as the style of its pinky keys and palm keys ?

On my Mk7 alto and tenor the intonation is pretty good and better than my MkVIs - I wonder what Selmer could have done to make the bari so sensitive to mouthpiece position. Did you play it with a Soloist mouthpiece ?

I wonder whether Selmer would have records of the number of bari and sop Mk7s that were made. Probably Douglas Pipher over on SOTW could answer that question.

Rhys
You can see the LH pinky keys in photo 13 if you zoom in, although at high magnification it's not very clear. As far as I remember the keywork was pure MkVI. I played it with S80 mouthpieces and I can categorically state that from a player's point of view the bore was not that of a MkVI or a SA80, so very definitely a transitional prototype.

I do not remember the layout of Londeix's soprano, but I have a professional friend in London who owns a MkVII soprano (which he got from another pro whose Dad worked for Selmer's importers in the UK in the '70s), and it has MkVII style pinky keys, but MkVI style palm keys (FrankenSelmer).

The whole MKVII thing is fascinating viewed from 2021. Most of the problem was that players who were used to MkVIs could not get their heads around the intonation curve of the MkVII, and no real explanation or guidance was ever forthcoming from Selmer or their reps or endorsers. There are so many stories of pro players in London selling MkVIs and buying MkVIIs, loving them when playing at home only to find themselves in real trouble when playing with others. With hindsight and the experience of playing SA80s people have really starting to appreciate the good qualities of the MKVII. I have one friend who is an excellent player and teacher who relatively recently swapped from his MkVI to a MKVII for a time and loved it. But, to be fair the quality of production was extremely variable: I think you'd have to look very carefully for a good one.
 

Wonko

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And it's EXTREMELY bad form to buy any item with removed or altered serial number. Reputable dealers won't have anything to do with such an item.
I guess you are right.
But practicaly speaking, I doubt if most people looking for a second hand sax (for playing it, not as collectors) would look at the serial number.
I know I didn't look at the serial number of the Stephanhouser bari sax that I bought last year.
 

Clivey

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I guess you are right.
But practicaly speaking, I doubt if most people looking for a second hand sax (for playing it, not as collectors) would look at the serial number.
I know I didn't look at the serial number of the Stephanhouser bari sax that I bought last year.
This is no Stephenhouser Bari ,though they are versitile and decent horns I am sure.
This is a very valuable french Selmer mkvi?mkvii?With buffed off serial number as shown in the ist photo, David kindly posted. Worth at least as much as decent 2nd hand runaround car in the Uk. Or put another way what some unfortunate people perhaps receive in 6 months to live on in the way of pension or welfare.
There is evidence that this is a piece of valuable Stolen property being openly discussed while the real question that should be being answered. Is who does this belong to?
 

Wonko

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This is no Stephenhouser Bari ,though they are versitile and decent horns I am sure.
This is a very valuable french Selmer mkvi?mkvii?With buffed off serial number as shown in the ist photo, David kindly posted. Worth at least as much as decent 2nd hand runaround car in the Uk. Or put another way what some unfortunate people perhaps receive in 6 months to live on in the way of pension or welfare.
There is evidence that this is a piece of valuable Stolen property being openly discussed while the real question that should be being answered. Is who does this belong to?
Of course it's a very valuable sax, and once you know that the serial number has been "deleted" you can't pretend that all is OK.
I was just saying that most people would not look at the serial number when buying a second hand saxophone. In that case they would not be aware that they might be buying stolen property.
Finding the original owner might be difficult without the serial number. Although maby not impossible in this particular case. From what I've read here there are not many such bari's arround (if any)
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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I'm not sure what you mean by "spat".

The Mk7 alto and tenor had much larger RH pinky key touches than did the MkVI. The pictures provided by the OP are small (like a VI) and NOT large (like a tenor/alto 7) The low C touch piece on a 7 was shaped like an ear but on a VI it was half round.

Rhys
OK, but again all of what you are saying is based on a presumption that a VII Bari would have the same Spat key shapes (you call them right pinky...the common tech term is spatula key) as the Tenors and Altos, and you presume the pinky table of the Bari would, like the VII Tenors and Altos, be sorta odd and oversized.

Which for a start, isn't an unreasonable assumption.

But Dave Roach, who confirms he had a bona fide VII and that it had different attributes than a VI, provided photos of his VII which illustrates the Spat keys and the Pinky table were not of the same configuration as the VII altos and tenors.

basically what I am saying is...if Dave R. confirms his was a VII, then it appears the VII baritone (and we now have 3 sets of photos of a Bari marked VII....Helen's site, this thread, and Dave Roach's) never had the shapes Spats and Table like the other voices of VII did.
 

JayeNM

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@rhysonsax was referring to RH pinky (low C/Eb) which are rounded like on a Mark VI.

On my MK7 brochure, there is no mention of MK7 nino,sop, bari (lowBb or low A) or bass. The photos show what look like MKVIs, as the pics are from the side I cannot tell whether they were stamped MK VII or not, but safe to say they look like MKVI.
Fair enough, so perhaps you would be in the camp which leans towards saying there was no VII design in Baritone. So ones marked VII are actually VI's.

The thing here is,

1) Dave Roach (who owned one) says in fact his VII Bari was NOT a VI.

2) Helen notes on her website that Selmer has noted that they did build VII baris as prototypes, they were just never put on the market (for those who have jumped into this thread without first reading Helen's article on the VII, which the OP linked to in the opening post...it'd be not a bad idea to do so).
Thus the company admission that they did fabricate (or 'start' to produce or experiment with) a VII model, or some....which evolved into the SA eventually.

2 things right there which suggest that indeed, Selmer made a VII, and it's different in some way than the VI's...so cannot be described as 'just a re-branded VI'.


You know what ? If we wanna solve 90% this NOW...here's how:

1) SOMEONE go look at the VII of this thread, the one with no serial # the guy was trying to sell....and bring calipers (or your tech). Measure the horn in like 20 places ( I can suggest where).

2) Find a VI Low A owner....ask them to measure their horn in the same 20 places.

There will be your answer..or at least a partial answer. It WILL tell us whether the VII of the owner/seller in this thread...differs from a VI.

It would NOT, however, tell us if David Roach's horn differs in body/neck specifications from a VI (although again David says it wasn't a VI).

Truly, anything less than finding one and measuring it...is just gonna be endless speculation/hypotheses....
 
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JayeNM

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Well, all I know is that every authority agrees that the design of the Mark 6 baritone continued clear through to the introduction of the Super Action 80 - and that a small number of instruments were labeled "Mark 7" - and that other than the labeling they were the same thing as Mark 6s.

Well, you claim 'every authority' agrees on this, yet a bona fide former owner of a VII right here says his wasn't a VI, with an extra I added. And given their rarity, I would ask how many of the 'every authority' group ever played one ???

And Selmer, from the site quote noted in Helen's article, notes it made some VII bighorns (or the line 'started'...room for interpretation there).

Regarding your comment:
"If Conn-Selmer were to take a generic Chinese alto and stamp it "Conn 6M VIII" it still wouldn't make it a 6M VIII"

...this is true, but this isn't the situation we are discussing here.

"If a company labeled their horn of one model a different model...it would NOT make the actual design a different model".....is the situation.

And the question to many remains...is THAT ALL Selmer did here ?
 
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JayeNM

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This is no Stephenhouser Bari ,though they are versitile and decent horns I am sure.
They were excellent horns, actually....sad they went under...
 
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turf3

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Well, you claim 'every authority' agrees on this, yet a bona fide former owner of a VII right here says his wasn't a VI, with an extra I added. And given their rarity, I would ask how many of the 'every authority' group ever played one ???

And Selmer, from the site quote noted in Helen's article, notes it made some VII bighorns (or the line 'started'...room for interpretation there).
Fair enough.
 

JayeNM

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FWIW I am not arguing one side or the other.

Things DO get strange when, for example, one example marked VII on the bow ferrule is not marked 7 on the neck, as other examples are.

And it isn't unreasonable to wonder if the keywork is in fact that of a VI, could the body and neck also be ?

I am just sayin'...if we wanna find out (confirm, better word), someone has to measure a VII Baritone. Simple as that.

As for the seller's horn, I sorta feel bad for the guy. A wiped serial Selmer, France....takes a lot of the wind out of the sails, there.
 

JayeNM

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The whole MKVII thing is fascinating viewed from 2021. Most of the problem was that players who were used to MkVIs could not get their heads around the intonation curve of the MkVII, and no real explanation or guidance was ever forthcoming from Selmer or their reps or endorsers. There are so many stories of pro players in London selling MkVIs and buying MkVIIs, loving them when playing at home only to find themselves in real trouble when playing with others. With hindsight and the experience of playing SA80s people have really starting to appreciate the good qualities of the MKVII. I have one friend who is an excellent player and teacher who relatively recently swapped from his MkVI to a MKVII for a time and loved it. But, to be fair the quality of production was extremely variable: I think you'd have to look very carefully for a good one.
Interesting comments. Having worked up a few VII's, I have to say I did not find them squirrelly intonation-wise, nor odd in blowing response nor any of that. I have only serviced maybe 4 or 5, both altos and tenors...but in that dept they never struck me as bad.

Is there an 'intonation curve' ? I have never seen a lot of negative comments from VII owners (then again French Selmers aren't what interest me, particularly, so I don't gravitate towards conversations on them, usually...)
 

rhysonsax

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I first started getting interested in saxophones about the time of the Mk7 and I picked up an interesting Selmer leaflet on their new Mark 7. It includes colour photographs of the Mk7 alto and tenor and then on the back has pictures of all the other sizes (nino, sop, bari to low Bb, bari to low A and bass) but without saying whether they should be called MkVI or something else. They are clearly MkVI in style.

The text inside the folded leaflet is interesting as it describes what makes a Mk7 what it is. Here is a quick extract:

The "MARK 7"
The increasing importance given by SELMER Paris to research, allied to close cooperation with many professional players, who together with our technical advisor have made it possible for us to create a new MARK 7 dynasty. This new model is the result of many years development and endeavour to achieve the ultimate both in quality and performance.

The most important new development of the MARK 7 is the improved quality of sound which incoporates these features:

  • Rich, full tone
  • Homogeneity
  • Improved exactness and balance
  • Easy and consistent blowing
  • Great sound volume
To these acoustical qualities, improvements in mechanisms and keys have been added which, thanks to even smoother operation, increases still further the player's ease on the instrument and subsequently will improve his technical possibilities.
  • New octave key mechanism, making its operation even more precise
  • C and Bb bridge keys (fork driven)
  • Functional location of the stack left hand little finger spatulas allowing easier shifting from B to Bb and low Bb
  • Modification in the height of the D, D# and high F spatulas
  • F and high F# spatulas allowing quicker fingering techniques
  • New shape for the C/Eb Right hand little finger spatulas
  • Brace ring strengthening the rigidity of the body-bell assembly. (Three screw mounting pictured)
The three Mk7 baritones pictured on/from this thread so far seem not to have any of the improvements to mechanisms and keys stated by Selmer to be relevant to their "new Mark 7 dynasty". So even with M7 on the neck shield and/or Mk VII on the bow ring, they seem not to be fully qualified members of the dynasty.

I have tried contacting Douglas Pipher over on SOTW about these horns as he has access to Selmer factory records so may be able to provide some more information. Unfortunately he hasn't been sighted on SOTW for some months, so there may be no reply.

Rhys
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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I first started getting interested in saxophones about the time of the Mk7 and I picked up an interesting Selmer leaflet on their new Mark 7. It includes colour photographs of the Mk7 alto and tenor and then on the back has pictures of all the other sizes (nino, sop, bari to low Bb, bari to low A and bass) but without saying whether they should be called MkVI or something else. They are clearly MkVI in style.

The text inside the folded leaflet is interesting as it describes what makes a Mk7 what it is. Here is a quick extract:

The "MARK 7"
The increasing importance given by SELMER Paris to research, allied to close cooperation with many professional players, who together with our technical advisor have made it possible for us to create a new MARK 7 dynasty. This new model is the result of many years development and endeavour to achieve the ultimate both in quality and performance.

The most important new development of the MARK 7 is the improved quality of sound which incoporates these features:

  • Rich, full tone
  • Homogeneity
  • Improved exactness and balance
  • Easy and consistent blowing
  • Great sound volume
To these acoustical qualities, improvements in mechanisms and keys have been added which, thanks to even smoother operation, increases still further the player's ease on the instrument and subsequently will improve his technical possibilities.
  • New octave key mechanism, making its operation even more precise
  • C and Bb bridge keys (fork driven)
  • Functional location of the stack left hand little finger spatulas allowing easier shifting from B to Bb and low Bb
  • Modification in the height of the D, D# and high F spatulas
  • F and high F# spatulas allowing quicker fingering techniques
  • New shape for the C/Eb Right hand little finger spatulas
  • Brace ring strengthening the rigidity of the body-bell assembly. (Three screw mounting pictured)
The three Mk7 baritones pictured on/from this thread so far seem not to have any of the improvements to mechanisms and keys stated by Selmer to be relevant to their "new Mark 7 dynasty". So even with M7 on the neck shield and/or Mk VII on the bow ring, they seem not to be fully qualified members of the dynasty.

I have tried contacting Douglas Pipher over on SOTW about these horns as he has access to Selmer factory records so may be able to provide some more information. Unfortunately he hasn't been sighted on SOTW for some months, so there may be no reply.

Rhys
All of that is interesting....but somewhat ancillary, because the question remains really simple:

Is the body and/or neck of the labeled Mark VII Baritones...different from the body and necks of the Mark VI's ?

That is all that matters.

Accessing a company's records, interpreting marketing pitches, etc...while perhaps a worthwhile endeavor to a degree....seems a more indirect path towards that answer than simply measuring up one....particularly when there IS one accessible at the moment....
 

rhysonsax

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All of that is interesting....but somewhat ancillary, because the question remains really simple:

Is the body and/or neck of the labeled Mark VII Baritones...different from the body and necks of the Mark VI's ?

That is all that matters.

Accessing a company's records, interpreting marketing pitches, etc...while perhaps a worthwhile endeavor to a degree....seems a more indirect path towards that answer than simply measuring up one....particularly when there IS one accessible at the moment....

That might be all that matters to you and it might be your one question .....

I'm also interested to know how many Mk7 baritones and how many Mk7 sopranos were made and sold and when. I would also ask what they were like in terms of design features, such as mechanism and keytouches as well as distinguishing marks.

It would also be interesting to know whether Selmer considered them as prototypes or production instruments and why they didn't go ahead with them.

Rhys
 

turf3

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What I remember about the Mark 7s is that my school got an alto and a tenor when they came out and we all had a go at them. They were freaking beautiful with that dark lacquer, and they gave off the sense of being really well made instruments. The absurdly oversized left hand little finger keys made it damn near impossible to play the low notes; and our lead alto player, a really very fine player, was NEVER able to get the alto to play properly in tune and he gave it up and went back to whatever he had been playing (I expect something like a "Evette" or King Cleveland or something like that).

The only person I've ever seen really getting around well on a Mark 7 in the low register was a tenor player I knew with hands like two bunches of bananas, and even he had had to have the ridiculous tilting low Bb disconnected and fixed in place (no tilt) in order to hit the key reliably.

I also remember very well, being there at the time, many players buying them and lamenting their weirdness; and I also remember very well that when the Super Action 80 came out it was immediately recognized as a return to the general design philosophy of the Mark 6, and greeted with sighs of relief.
 

Pete Thomas

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Isn't there a web site for stolen saxes? I'm sure I've come across something, somewhere.


However this site is way too small and niche for this kind of database.

If only there was more joined up thinking, that kind of database should be something the MU did, along with all other such organisations.

I once bought (for £15) what I suspected was a stolen piccolo. (very valuable vintage vintage wooden Adler) I contacted the MU to see if it had reported but they said no. So I thought I'd at least done my bit in trying to be legit.

I found a snare drum kit in the street once. I called the police who said I could keep it if nobody claimed it. I rang the MU who said they had heard it was lost by drummer Bobby Orr. So I rang him and very gratefully came to collect it. That is good function of the union IMO.
 

Saxodent

Member
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What I remember about the Mark 7s is that my school got an alto and a tenor when they came out and we all had a go at them. They were freaking beautiful with that dark lacquer, and they gave off the sense of being really well made instruments. The absurdly oversized left hand little finger keys made it damn near impossible to play the low notes; and our lead alto player, a really very fine player, was NEVER able to get the alto to play properly in tune and he gave it up and went back to whatever he had been playing (I expect something like a "Evette" or King Cleveland or something like that).

The only person I've ever seen really getting around well on a Mark 7 in the low register was a tenor player I knew with hands like two bunches of bananas, and even he had had to have the ridiculous tilting low Bb disconnected and fixed in place (no tilt) in order to hit the key reliably.

I also remember very well, being there at the time, many players buying them and lamenting their weirdness; and I also remember very well that when the Super Action 80 came out it was immediately recognized as a return to the general design philosophy of the Mark 6, and greeted with sighs of relief.
Rumour has it that they (Selmer) measured Johnny Griffin’s hands because he was the fastest saxophone player at the time ...I asked someone in the know and he confirmed the fact as he knew and played with him .
He had huge hands !
 

DavidUK

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With legit MkVI baris at £4k 2nd hand I reckoned this one is maybe worth £1k to someone, like me, prepared to do the rounds of the police, MU, Selmer, to either add positive provenance or hand it back to its rightful owner.
The current owner is now resigned to having it as a decorative item and although I don't want a rather beat up sax, nor a bari at all, I do have a soft spot for "saving" horns, keeping rare horns out of retirement, and possibly finding it's owner. But the latter will cost me whatever I paid for it as I'd have to hand it over gratis to whoever lost it.
I think my vintage Olds tenor would be more fitting of a place on the seller's wall, and save him one day taking the hit or indeed getting into hot water as I'm certain he doesn't have the resources or connection to research it like I could. He paid £700 for what could be worth £0 or maybe £2k with supporting letters from police, Selmer, MU, whoever, if no owner can be found. Even then, years later someone looks at this thread and I get a knock at the door. Of course the owner is fairly anonymous, perhaps I'm the only one who knows who he is now his ad's down. That too puts some pressure on me to act, but apart from "grassing him up" it seems fairer (on him, maybe NOT me) to take over the burden he carries and rather than hide it away to demonstrate one way of another if it's stolen or legit and in the process... what exactly is it?
But then again, if it's worth a grand now but needs a grand's worth of overhaul, it's actually worth zilch! The seller may have thrown away £700 buying it (which it an awful lot to pay for anything you have no clue about at a car boot) but he can at least justify it in that he does know Selmer France = value.
What to do...?
 

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