These don’t show up often and mostly not in this condition either. This is an original US finished 56xxx tenor, 1954 first MK VI design, still something of a transitional instrument. It has a nice pad job, all new and smooth. Original S/c matched serial neck in very good condition, never pulled. Bow, bell and neck all without injury, small dings here and there and some natural lac. wear.
The sound is really quite huge and unexpectedly loud and cutting. It has what I would consider a dark fundamental with an exceptionally cutting bright edge. It’s quite unique, not as focused as SBA, but significantly bigger booming sound as well. Sound coming out feels rather spread but behind the horn is not especially wide feeling. This is what I consider to be a BIG horn. It’s just a huge sound, very powerful and weighty; both darker AND brighter than most all at the same time.
Selmer MK VI 145xxx gold plated player, a very interesting horn with a special sound. This has been well loved for good reason. It is right within the best medium bow ‘Sanborn’ popular 140k altos. Originally a European market horn, it was aftermarket gold plated over nickel, of which plenty is now showing through. The pearls and keys have some brass wear which could be addressed or left as is. There are some normal past repairs and evidence of a life lived on this one.
140k altos are usually expensive and always in demand. This one is something of a deal for someone who wants a player and put a little fixer energy into.
Here we have a very nice example of the mid 90k MK VI, original dark US Lac and engraving. These horns tend to retain the vintage organic sound from the 80k period with a bit more focus less boomy spread. They tend to project the center just a little bit more. Of course there is much variation, but that is the trend.
This one is all original finish, very pretty dark color and engraving. The neck is original sharing the same number and never had any pulldown, a couple of minor surface blemishes only, and it’s a very good playing neck, suiting this horn very well. The pads are mostly old originals, with a few replacements. It is playing ok at the moment, easily displaying it’s sonic character, but in the long run I suggest an overhaul.
The horn has been played, has some normal minor wear and some blemishes, one minor bump on a post, normal stuff for an old horn like this but nothing particularly serious. This will clean up very nicely and already is a lot of fun to play with a wonderful energetic and complex sound. It is not cosmetically perfect but also not been treated badly at all. These old Selmers are just getting very hard to come by now and we can see the demand and prices jumping. This is one of the cleaner examples of what can be found out there now.
Here we have the much vaunted mid-80k tenor of legend. This is right at the apex, 85k serial, original US lacquer at about 99.5% preserved state with some age speckle. US Elkhart engraved, original matched neck, factory sharp pearls, and a high class overhaul ready to go.
There are none of what I would call “dents” on this horn and never have been. There were a few tiny scuffs on the horn, just tiny stuff that you would hard pressed to even find. It’s very close to new condition. The neck had minor flex to it, revealing that the horn has been played; the angle and contour are correct for the model period.
The horn was overhauled from the ground up; custom pad order, pad treatment, nickel plated brass mostly Tonex 5-digit selmer resos with some resotech fill-ins. Balanced approach key fitting, toneholes conservatively leveled and dressed, old school cork &felt, nice neck fit etc. The key action is open enough but not huge, the balance between speaking and speed.
This is a horn that has the expected sound for the mid 80k period but is perhaps uncharacteristically focused and loud. It is not what I would call a spread horn. It has a powerful bright edge that some of the earlier mid 80k’s lack. It is not the wide lush sofa you might find at 82k. It is more of an edgy power puncher with a raspy edge that offers some spring to push against.
Minty (nearly new) original US 85k tenors are not easily available these days.
Wonderful rare 110xxx MK VI soprano, this is getting very close to the 99xxx mark of Coltrane’s soprano and is the same design point; having the earlier bore of the late 5 digits yet with the articulated c# regulator (a double “donut” pad assembly) that was prototyped in the mid 80xxx but did not come into production until the 90xxx period.
The condition of this horn is excellent, all original lacquer (a few very minor blemishes) and original pads and resonators with the exception of maybe 2. It plays quite well, but given that most of the pads have lacquer on them from 1962 I would suggest it will be better with an overhaul eventually. It is just not in dire need.
The sound is focused, buzzy as these are, rich and quite loud with a vocal quality. This has a ‘something’ that definitely disappears by the mid-100-teen numbers. It is near impossible to find this serial number and design these days, and it is preferred by a set of folks who know. I kept this one for years, and may yet keep it, but for the moment here it is for the ambitious!
This King Silversonic is exceptionally well preserved, it has been played very little. The pads are original along with everything else including the original packing label, factory inspection tag and King Instruments catalog 1970 with a price of $835.00! It currently plays, fairly well but being original pads it will need an overhaul for sure. It’s in very nice condition and plays with a rather huge muscular and flexible tone. Many people would say that this mid 400-serial is the best period for King Silversonic.
Selmer MK VI tenor 98xxx one very special horn. Everyone who has tried this one has loved it. It is a very powerful, balanced and full player. It has plenty of weight to the sound as well as a forceful edge and depth. The US lacquer and engraving are all original and in show several color variations, seems to be still darkening over time. The neck, bell, bow all are structurally spotless with no previous damage nor repair of any kind. There is minor lacquer speckle on some keys but thats all really. It’s a near mint original, the pearls are quite sharp.
I’ve given this the absolute excellent setup with custom treated pads and large 5-digit original Selmer ToneX resos. It plays exactly as great as it should. This horn is special enough that the listing may be removed – quite likely, but its here for the moment. It is for the treasure seeker and will not be cheap as it is very hard to find a player like this in this condition as well. I honestly don’t know what to write- its among the best.
Here is a wonderful and extremely rare original 21xxx Balanced Action tenor. The vast majority of remaining Balanced Actions have all been refinished, as they are just quite old. Some of those very early 1950’s relacquers were done at the factory and are stunningly good, many will fool many wish-to-be experts. Actual originals though, are extremely elusive, probably nocturnal, reclusive and nearly extinct, not adapting to human civilized expansion.
This one is a very rare find in that it is in excellent condition, minimal repairs and plays exceptionally well. It has all the early mechanisms, and extensive artistic engraving that is still very sharp and crisp. It plays with a huge, wide and rather brash on-stage type of sound that was engineered for a time when microphones were not common.
It has an added strap ring in the modern position for much more comfortable playing and arthritis prevention protocol, one resoldered guard foot at the low C, and some repair to perfection of the neck angle. It has had everything done to set it up to tight tolerance and optimization, fitted with original (if I remember correctly) Selmer ToneX resos hoarded from SBA’s. Original Balanced Actions had no resos (true). It plays like a million$$ under the fingers and is a super flexible and expressive. It won’t cost a million but if it seems like this should be a bargain it’s probably best not to ask. It’s been decades since original Balanced Action were freely galavanting the countryside and it’s never going to happen again.
Here is a very nice example of the earlier ‘long bell’ SBA in the same model period as Coltrane was known to have used up until maybe 1965. This SBA has a serial number of 39xxx right on the cusp of the desired 40k mark. The neck is original to the horn and shares the serial number. It was originally US engraved and lacquered. Having been refinished at some point, the engraving is still visible.
The original Selmer ‘Tone-X’ resonators are still (mostly) present and, oddly, are some of the largest sized examples I have seen. The pads are without any doubt, OLD and will need replacing. This horn will play just a bit now, with effort. Based on my experience playing so many leaky horns over the years I believe the sound and response even on the old dried pads with this one reveals that this is an absolutely wonderful and very promising SBA. If I have time to overhaul I will but that remains to be seen.
The horn has had some normal wear and tear over the years; pearls don’t show much wear. Most of the refinish is still present with some speckle here and there. There has been some rather normal issues addressed, body is now straight and shows one resolder. The neck is at the proper SBA angle and fitted exceptionally well. This horn will definitely come out great. Given how rare SBA are in any shape these days this is actually in very good condition and a great candidate to turn into an apex classic.
This horn was made right in the most reliably good and consistent period of Selmer MK VI manufacturing, early 100k-120-something. That is the model period of Coltrane’s MK VI (122+/-) tenor that he used throughout the mid-1960s.
Owned by an active player, this horn was definitely used, though it is in quite good condition compared to common examples. The body still has a lot of original gold lacquer finish that has a very nice color. There are no resolders that I could find, and no significant dent repairs. It does show normal scuffs and some minor dings and smoothing out of some past dings etc, normal stuff. Structurally it is in quite good condition. The neck has a past pulldown that has been very nicely corrected and is now at the optimal angle for this model and is not only round but also a great player, that is also fitted wonderfully to the receiver.
What WILL need to be done eventually is pads. The pads are old, they will need replacing along with felts/corks etc. It has not been updated in quite some time. I’ve played it, it is currently playing well enough to know exactly how good it is, which is very good, the tone and response are great, but it will need work eventually, and some cleaning.
Someone is going to get a nice one though. I love the way it plays.