My Horns

Saxophone players never get tired of talking about their horns. I have two tenors: a Mark VI and a Borgani Jubilee model.

My main tenor is a Mark VI. The serial number puts the year of manufacture at 1974, very near the changeover to the Mark VII. This horn is in great shape with 99% original laquer. I had it overhauled, and it feels like a new horn. It has a sound that is more centered than the Borgani, as one would expect from a Mark VI. Don’t believe the myth that the only good Mark VI is one with a five-digit serial number. There are some great horns among the later VI’s.

The Borgani is a great sounding horn. My friend and teacher Tim Price turned me on to this horn. Borganis are not well known in the US. They are hand made in Italy, where the Borgani workshop turns out only about 300 per year. It has a spread American sound reminiscent of a Conn 10M, but with very comfortable contemporary keywork. If you are looking for an alternative to the Selmer sound (and its many clones), you should check the Borgani out. My only complaint about this horn is that it was pretty maintenance intensive for the first 5 years or so. I had it in the shop on the average of twice a year. It now seems fairly well debugged, and maintenance seems normal now.

My alto is a Mark VI. This horn came to me almost by accident. It belonged to a work colleague of mine who had played it as a student in Sweden then put it in the closet for 30 years. It needed some work and smelled kind of funky, but after a complete rebuild by Steve Malarsky, it plays great–good intonation and solid from top to bottom.

2 comments on “My Horns
  1. Hi –

    Just curious if your tenor is near my 211,464, which I bought new. It’s about 25% lacquer, since I’ve played it for 50,000 (or however many!) hours. I’ve a-b’d it to 100,000 s/n’s and it looks and plays the same. I think Selmer reused old stock at that point. I can’t imagine playing a different tenor; it’s like my wife!

    My alto is a 1956, 666,65. I had a 130,164 alto that was stolen. It played more open than the “devil’s horn.” Both great horns.

    I practiced law for 20+ year but I got ripped off by Bob Segers’s lawyer, so my “second career” as a Jazz musician isn’t in retirement. I still have to write briefs for other lawyers to survive economically. Actually, I’ve played gigs and practiced saxophone continuously, so it isn’t really a “second” career.

    What career did you retire from?

    Best,

    – Jeff

  2. Mike says:

    My Mark VI tenor is 230,XXX. I have a friend who had a Mark VII with a serial number close to mine, so I know it was very late. It’s a great horn. I would never part with it.

    I still have the Mark VI alto, but for the past couple of years, I have favored a SBA also that I bought from a friend of mine who has since died. The SBA is not as edgy as the Mark VI, and I have come to prefer its sound. I have the original receipt from 1951.

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