the years I’ve worked on a few thousand woodwinds. From time to time
something interesting would pass across my workbench, so I though I’d
share a few random observations.
The oldest Selmer I’ve worked on was a Model 22 (the serial number was
around 2050). The thing I remember most is that the side Bb did not
have a separate pad, but instead closed the Bb pad in the upper stack.
The key mechanism was rather primitive compared to modern horns, but at
the time Selmer was pretty much the cutting edge of design.
I’ve worked on a Model 26 (Cigar Cutter), Radio
Improved, one of the
first Balanced Actions made (it had a note in the case from George
Bundy describing the advantages of the new offset keys and improved
scale), and of course dozens of Mark VI and newer.
You may not be aware that there are at least four
versions of the
Mark VI. The very earliest (around serial 60,000) can be recognized by
the low C guard, which has the same design as the Super Balanced Action
(only two braces compared to three braces on the later Mark VI). The
next series (60,000 to 120,000) are easily recognized by the
distinctive deep orange tone lacquer. The mechanism for the side C and
Bb are a closed loop, rather than the later “ball and socket” design.
The third series (120,000 to 130,000) has the newer design on the side
keys, but still retains the deep lacquer. The last series, from 130,000
until they VI was replaced with the VII, has the lighter “yellow” color
lacquer. Of the four I think the 120,000 to 130,000 series has the best
balance of tone (the older horns are darker, and the newer brighter).
It’s interesting to note that when Selmer changed over
model to the next, it was not unusual for the first horns off the line
to have some of the key mechanisms carry forward from the earlier
model. That very early Balanced Action had keys I’ve not seen on
Balanced horns made in later years.