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.
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.
One of a kind 1960 tenor Mark VI, serial 87xxx in original US lacquer and engraving. This horn is the top, as it is one of the best periods of the MK VI but is also a totally unique and special instrument of this variety as well. There is no damage past nor present that I could find on this horn, structurally excellent and sound. There is normal lacquer wear on the body and most is gone from the neck yet the neck is physically perfect and wonderfully responsive.
This pads are not old, and set up with what I think are original Selmer plastic resonators it plays very well, but I think the setup could be a bit better when the right player determines it is time to address. I found no solders nor dents on the this horn, but of course there going to be normal scratches and small dings perhaps, nothing that caught my eye and I am meticulous.
Now for the most important part, the sound and response: There is simply nothing like this horn, anywhere. I have only ever played a few like this one. It is very loud and exceptionally lively, which is different than just being loud. It has what those in the know would call a kind of boldness to the sound, almost like a physical impact of sound.
This horn is quite edgy and cutting though it has an underlying warmth and color to the sound that makes it not what I would call excessively bright. It has a very aggressive, colorful and complex kind of edge to it. It is probably in the middle between dark and bright, has a mid-tone quality to the very loud cutting edge that is very hard to find along with the physically impacting fundamental bass. I can only wonder how it would function with metal resonators.
This is a very rare and special horn, I have only ever played one or two others that came close to it. I waiting a decade to buy it.
SBA 48xxx as rare as it gets. This horn is in 99-100% original US lacquer and Elkhart engraving. It has original resonators and a truly wonderful playing setup with quite new pads etc. It needs nothing and is ready for the gig out of the case. There are only minor dings and scratches to be found, no repairs that I could find, wonderful responsive neck with original matching number.
The pearls are brand-new sharp, the case is old and the zipper does not work but it is sturdy.
The response is exceptionally fast and fluid and the sound is very warm and kind of bouncy and expansive while still being focused as SBA’s are. This is a very loud and open feeling SBA, yet definitely not of the later design that feels a bit more like a MK VI, this is not at all like a MK VI.
I could keep writing but in the end, anyone looking for the SBA of a lifetime find would run with this after playing it for 2 minutes. It IS that good, best SBA I have ever played, no contest. Of course these are very rare, desirable and expensive, just the way things are now. No complaints, this horn sounds and plays that great.
This is an excellent prime period MK VI tenor serial 103xxx from 1963. The model period, just after 100xxx has a very special character. They tend to play slightly more compact than the late five digits yet still retain much of the early resonance and vocality. These add just a touch more bright edge and punch to the sound, slightly more compact and a huge amount of fun. I believe this particular design was inspired by the demands of emerging “hard bop” styles of jazz and amplified rhythm and blues and respond with power and edge it surely does. I personally love this period and prefer them myself. Within this range, 100k-115l (or something like that) I have literally never played anything but great and extremely satisfying horns.
This is a wonderful old player’s horn made in 1948. The serial number is 35xxx and it is a very interesting one in that it is a transitional or experimental design model. This is a true SBA as indicated by the improved bow to body band that has screws and is removable for better ease of bow repair. However, early SBA’s usually have the lower foot of the low B guard attached to the bow to bell ring, as they had a slightly shorter bell than the later design starting at usually around 38xxx. This long bell version starting around 38xxx was the model played by Coltrane, somewhere around 40xxx and has superior intonation to the early SBA models, resolving a slightly sharp set of bell notes.
Interesting here is that this is clearly an experimental or transitional model that would be replicated consistently in the later SBA models. This early 35xxx has the long bell of the later 38xxx as can be seen by the position of the low B guard foot. This means some intonation issues will be better and also the tone may be altered. I would love to know myself but I don’t have time to overhaul this horn to get a clear idea of it’s character. What I do know for sure is that early SBA’s have the most excellent tone in general and can be even more vocal, warm and organic sounding than the post 38xxx models. The tone is just very poetic.