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Selmer Mark VI Saxophone – The Legend

Chuck Norris decided to make a saxophone, they call it the Mark VI.

Well….. that may or may not be true.  It could have been made by Selmer Paris from 1954 to 1973.

The horn can really sing, so it has become a legend.  Not all of them do, and some are in bad shape, but the ones that do play can play great.

The Mark VI’s needed to be adjusted by hand and that led to a lot of variation between the horns.  This actually happens with a lot of professional saxophones.

People seem to prefer the earlier serial numbers, but that should not be the only factor you consider!

Some people really like how the Mark VI feels- the keys, mechanics, etc.  This can also be adjusted though.  Since the Mark VI has probably been played for a while it can be worn down.  Check the pads, joints, springs, all that.  These parts can be in disrepair if less than perfect care was taken of the horn.

If a Mark VI looks too shiny/new it may be have been re-lacquered.  This brings down the price of the horn, since it’s not original.

The Mark VI can be a great horn if it’s a good one and in good repair.  They’re not being made anymore- so their value will always go up while pretty much any other saxophone will lose value after time.  You have to decide whether a particular Mark VI is worth it for you, it could be.  But some modern horns will definitely sound and play better than a Mark VI that wasn’t a great one.

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  1. Being a Mark VI owner, as well as the owner of many other vintage saxophone brands including Martin, Conn, King, Buescher (all be it a bass) and various European brands as well such as Pierret, Hammerschmidt, et al, I firmly believe that one of the reasons that the Mark VI continues to have such staying power, is the versatility of its tone. It can switch from classical to jazz to rock with relative ease, and it does so quite convincingly. These traits are not something I’ve found in any of my other vintage saxes. While the Pierret for example is a wonderful classical or jazz horn, but it would not do well in an electric environment. While on the other hand, the King Zephyr would not be a convincing classical saxophone.

    While the Mark VI may have started out being the choice of the pros in the 50s when it first came out, and then everyone decided that they wanted to have one, today’s players have more choices obviously. Although many may still continue to chase the sounds of Getz, Coltrane, or the modern players like Sanborn, the fact is the Mark VI still offers greater tonal versatility then any other “vintage” sax IMO. (I’m putting vintage in quotes since there is some debate whether or not the Mark VI is truly a vintage horn. Based solely on its age it would qualify.)
    .-= Helen´s last blog ..B&S Blue Label Tenor on eBay =-.

    • Hey Helen,
      Thanks for responding. I haven’t ventured into the vintage horns arena as much as you have, so I appreciate hearing your perspective!

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