One of the best older Selmers I have played. This model was famously played by Coleman Hawkins, Al Cohn, Sal Nistico (who also played a Conn and some other Selmers) and many other early tenor greats. This is a beautiful original lacquer (Canadian market, I think) Selmer Super Sax. True Super tenors are pretty hard to find, as they only run from roughly 17xxx-19xxx. I doubt there are 1000 that were made. This is a very nice, clean original lacquer example, and it also has a well done overhaul. People always ask what I mean by overhaul – that means that it gets the works – it’s at least a $1000 job to do right and usually costs more. All new pads, corks, felts, mechanical work, setup, key fitting, extensive play testing etc. Takes a good tech around 25 hours as a baseline.
Is this a Cigar Cutter? Depends what you mean. Most of the time online, people refer to any early Selmer before Balanced Action as a Cigar Cutter. So this would be one by that description. But in a narrower sense it isn’t. Selmer never used this model name at all. The name originally and narrowly refers to an octave mechanism that looks like a cigar cutter. This is almost exclusively found on Selmer altos between 15xxx-16xxx serial, and on fewer than 100 tenors mostly in the early 18xxx range. Selmer changed octave mechanisms three times between 14xxx and 19xxx, but the rest of the horn is pretty similar.
Anyhow, on top of that, this tenor has additionally received modern style pinky keys on the left hand. The left hand spatula keys were made based on the later Selmer design, and feel more familiar than the older version. It was done well, and the feel is comfortable. I don’t want to overplay the result though – this doesn’t feel like a VI or a Yamaha. There is no tilting low Bb, and the spring tension is stiffer than a modern horn especially on low B and C#. I think it cost someone around $1000 to have these mods done, and you get that for way less, bundled with the horn.
I’m also including a new case with it. I have it in my favorite case by BAM France – the $310 Softpack, which is a hard case, but has a perfectly designed ‘soft’ foam in the interior that keeps the horn packed safely away from external shocks to the horn. People tell me their horns stay in adjustment better in this case, compared to a Pro-Tec, and way better than a vintage case.
Tonally, this is Selmer but wider, darker, and more spread. It has a big sound almost like a Conn, but with more of a lyrical, focused, singing upper register. The tuning is pretty good, though you will want to lip down low B and C especially if you have a normally-tight embouchure. Totally worth it for the tone you get.
This is a good buy and a great playing vintage Selmer for someone. It doesn’t sound like all the Taiwanese horns out there at all, and is instantly gorgeous to play. Only one available!