Selmer Mark VI 119k Tenor Rescue From Dead Restoration, KILLER!

This was a very long, slow and rewarding restoration project.  The horn is 119xxx, 1964.  It was left perhaps in a damp environment and the surface had corroded UNDER the lacquer so badly that it was multicolored and very ugly.

I tried every normal accessible method to remove the old lacquer after disassembly and nothing worked.  Eventually I took it to an industrial stripped and it was soaked fully in MEK (methylene chloride) an evil strong chemical that in this case was out best friend.  The MEK bath removed absolutely everything without etching the brass at all.  The horn emerged bare and very clean but quite discolored.

The next step was a very gentle acid then neutralizing bath to remove oxidation. This was done together with a neglected 83x tenor I also had sleeping here.

The previous steps were just a lot of disassembly, waiting, then driving, then waiting etc.  The next steps in the process were to most laborious.  This was all hand work with the finest of steel wool.  This removes no metal but does restore the surface shine and color to the brass.  To use something fine enough that there is no effect on the metal requires hours upon hours of tiring hand work, and of course repeated spearings by old springs.

The result is very nice though, kind of satin sheen.  Strangely this horn is a bit more gold in color compared to the 83k which was slightly more green when rubbed.

Next of course was the actual overhaul, which involved making a few rods, replacing springs as needed and tonehole level, key fitting, key alignment etc and all the special prep work that I like to do my way.  That in itself is a lot of work, but by this stage it was relaxing to just be doing something less extreme once I got to the keys.

I’ve set it up with brass resonators and a rather firm thin pad.  The resulting feel is quite cirsp, fast and solid.


The end result far exceeded my expectations.  It has been a while since I have had a horn in the 110k-120k range with a great setup so I have to say I was a bit shocked.  The overhaul and setup came out amazing, and then it is always hard to separate the special quality of the horn from the setup itself.  That said, only those inherently special horns will shine that extra amount with a great setup.  For the moment I am keeping and enjoying this one as it simply has more power and conciseness than anything else here.  I cannot say what I will do with it in the future.

As a project it was exhausting and took a few years, but playing it over the last few days made it all worth it.