Marin Spivack, veteran restorer of vintage mouthpieces takes an in-depth journey through the different models of vintage Otto Link tenor (because they are a lot less famous for alto) saxophone mouthpieces. We will cover the 1940’s to the 1970’s. Not ALL models and examples will be featured but plenty of detail based on what is available. Be prepared for corny humor and some time wasting, it’s a bit long, but you may learn to identify and understand the differences in the models. There may be mistakes and contradictions, we do our best. This is for the true nerds and enthusiasts.
Here we have a wonderful player’s gigging horn, serial 125xxx, in the same range as Coltrane’s MK VI tenor. This horn has very new fresh pads on it that I have gone through and seated a bit as well. The resos are plastic which very much suit this horn. It feels and plays great! The sound is very full and precise and satisfying. It is not shy, plenty loud and defined sound. The setup is pretty good, will not need much attention for a long time I think. The lacquer is original but fared rather poorly over the years with some water damage that can be seen in the photos. The horn and mechanism have not been affected apparently, just the lacquer is a bit challenged. The neck is in great condition, no pull down, and I did not find any solders or serious dents on the body either. This horn will be a good deal for a real vintage yet precise player that is not the big bucks like museum pieces; extremely fun to play and would be great on the gig.
Here is a video with a bright Florida Link:
And another video with a slightly darker Florida Link
This is of course the most desirable MK VI in the world based on model period. These always play great in my experience. This is of course the “magic” (Brecker) serial number and it does not disappoint at all. When I got this I could only play a few notes on it as pads were falling out. Based on the promise of the few notes I could hit I opted to overhaul it. It has wonderful new (slightly hard) pads and oversized nickel plated resonators with a springy setup that requires no pressure to seal. The keys all vibrate in the hand and it responds very fast. All toneholes leveled and all keys fitted and regulated. The overhaul and setup are excellent and I am picky.
This horn plays slightly focused considering other horns of this period. It is not what I would call a big spread, slightly focused, VERY EDGY sound, VERY LOUD and sounds exactly as horns of this period usually do; heavy significant sound with a blasting edge quality. I would not say this is a dark horn although the sound is not light, it is bright on top of weighted if you can understand that. The feeling is buzzing in the hands and a kind of intimate right-on-top of you sound that usually only SBA’s have, but still sounds and feels like a VI. It is a unique horn.
It had one broad dent on the side of ot eh bow that is now perfectly round but shows some cosmetic evidence. I did one resolder on the low F# trill guard that can barely be noticed. The neck is in perfect structural condition, never had any pull or bend. The neck has a snug fit as well. The body is very straight. The setup is amazing and the sound and feeling are addictive.
Here is a very nice MK VI soprano, #133xxx that I was happy to receive in trade for an excellent MK VI alto. This horn has a very recent pad setup from Manny’s in L.A with treated pads and plastic resos. The lacquer has some cosmetic challenges; minor brass work and some corroded lacquer that was removed, as well as just general blemish, dark spots and wear. Basically this means it is an old instrument, but quite a nice player. It is in good structural and playing condition.
This is still in the sweet spot for MK VI soprano’s and still has plenty of vintage tone mojo and complexity, with a bit of edge and a colorful core tone.
Long and detailed discussion of a kind of common strawman overly hyped discussion of the “The MK VI” saxophone based on years of experience.
This was initially made in response to a video that is posted in the description
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puApTzibuHM ) . Many hunters of such vintage Selmers, students and just those wanting to learn more may find this helpful.
We have the good fortune to acquire yet another 140k-series alto AKA “Sanborn” model. This one is in very good condition, no damage, original lacquer and a wonderfully playing, seems owned by a working pro. Out of all the 140k altos we’ve had here there was one that stood out above the rest for just being resonant, a good deal better than the others. This one is equal and just has that extremely lively and free response. It is focused enough to project and cut without being stifled or narrow. It spreads enough for color and complexity and it is just extremely loud and powerful and edgy.
This particular horn is a current favorite alto, a wonderful experience to play. It has one key guard foot re-attachment (not due to any damage, just detached) It has lacquer missing on a few key cups. There appears to have never been any physical damage of any kind to the body or neck. Will need pad attention, the pads are old, but very fun to play, apex MK VI alto!
This here is pretty much the apex model design for the first run of MK VI. it is like the full extension of the best qualities initially produced in 56xxx-60xxx tenors. By 76xxx the same tonal color and resonance qualities are expressed yet amplified by probably the most power, projection and presence that could be achieve with that particular color palette and bore design. By the late 70xxx and early 80xxx the entire concept had changed into a much more spread and lush response with a different color as well.
This particular example offers a beautiful complex sound color, a fairly focused and centered response and a rather angry aggressive edge as well. It feels like a light horn and when pushed it responds as extremely resonant and light.
The horn was assembled in USA and engraved here as well. The lacquer is all original and nearly 100% intact. The pads are all original it seems and original tone-x resonators also present. By some mystery, with original pads (with lacquer still on the edges) this horn plays like it has a wonderful recent overhaul, really just plays perfectly, which although hard to imagine is a great experience to play.
There is a small amount of occasional lacquer speckle and maybe one tiny ding that will disappear smoothly. This horn is a museum quality collector’s treasure with a player’s dream response and feels ready to take on a gig right now. This is probably the best early 5 digit tenor I have played in years, or ever. It is incredibly satisfying to drive hard or soft. The neck has matching serial and is in exceptionally good condition. Original trey-pack case is also present with working zipper in good condition. This is not a horn one finds every day, year, or decade. It is a first class rarity and killer player.
Here we have a Yamaha 62 straight soprano in lacquered finish. This horn is a wonderful player with a very warm and projecting sound. It is among the first 600 of these ever made with 4 digit serial and purple label.
The key arrangement is very comfortable which is classic Yamaha design. it is very easy horn to play and speaks exceptionally well with a colorful tone. This one has been played a bit, has some normal dings but overall in very good shape.
Here we have an Otto Link true ‘Early Babbitt’ Tone Edge. This is the fat body model with the smaller chamber and clamshell baffle. This has the original 7* stamp on the side and an untouched facing. The piece is very loud and projecting with both edge and warmth and a significant power. Plays very well as is, people often have these set up but this is a blaster already.
Beautiful Original Otto Link Tonemaster tenor piece, cap and lig set. Original 4* facing in good condition, normal wear and scratches but overall quite good. This is the later model close to the Bluetrain type. These go great on an SBA tenor of course or early MK VI but will bring the Mojo to any combination.