I should have bought that Mk VI low-A alto in the 90’s…

Selmer MkVI low A alto sax - picture by Don Mackrill

– one just like this from the same dealer – Don Mackrill’s in Edgware. It was under a thousand pounds then, now Don has one on ebay with a Buy-it-Now price of £3000, and I’m sure it will sell. Click here for the ebay listing.

Instead, after Don had confided that the extra bell length did slightly stifle the sound, and not being a great fan of Selmer actions, I bought my incredible and equally rare Martin Magna alto from him – also for under a grand, and with a VERY generous part exchange for the truly horrible modern Conn alto I was desperate to get rid of at the time.

But for three grand then, a little over a decade ago, I could have run riot in the shop, and bought the Martin Magna alto, plus the low-A Mk VI alto , plus a very nice Conn underslung alto, and still had change from three grand !

Hindsight is a truly wonderful thing. Photo courtesy of Don Mackrill.

Classic saxophones may just be that rare thing – an asset whose value has grown at a greater rate than property, over the last decade !

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15 Responses to I should have bought that Mk VI low-A alto in the 90’s…

  1. Lewis Pelham says:

    Nail a couple of extra bell keys up the side of your Martin; you will then have the look without the stuffy sound.
    Don Macrill also has a new Grassi Professional 2000 tenor in his old new stock…very tempting.

  2. al says:

    Yes, I thought that the only use for the alto low-A, would be playing down to the equivalent of a tenor low-D… But it’s a lot of messing with little fingers – I can’t even remember where the low-A key was ! Theory was (I seem to remember) that Marcel Mule (?) used to play string ‘parts’ on his alto, so the low-A was to allow him to reach low concert C, and only offered whilst he had any ‘clout’ with Selmer.

    Don is a good guy to deal with, he always offered a good part-ex, offsets his quite high prices – well worth buying direct from the shop (despite a drive to Edgware) just for that. Don’t know if he still stocks a load of vintage saxes tho’ ?

  3. Lewis Pelham says:

    Alan. Yes, Don Macrill still does stock vintage saxophones.
    As I remember it, the low A is triggered by a key under the left thumb rest…like low A on a baritone.

  4. al says:

    Lewis – makes sense, I’d probably have ended up linking it with the low Bb key, to be able to go from low B to low A with one pinkie movement – can’t remember the last time I (sensibly or seriously) played a low Bb/A# in anger… ( except as a HONK, as I dislike ‘flat’ keys, can’t seem to improvise in ’em anymore – possibly from decades of playing with keyboards & guitars, who seem to avoid ‘flat’ keys like the plague )

  5. Lewis Pelham says:

    Like you Alan, I also prefer the sharp keys; I can usually find the right one within a note or two when the guitars fire up. The only time where I struggle a bit is when the band is in F#, where I think (tenor) Ab, rather than G#.
    All the old standards seem to be in concert Bb, Eb or C…frankly, I get bored with these…no real challenge.

  6. al says:

    I think I’d go for a beer if I had to play tenor, when they played in concert F# – as Ab is a nightmare for me, especially adding flattened blues notes to that key !

    I can handle playing in Db as I think C#, but Ab is my Achilles Heel ! Playing in Eb is also OK, as, with the obligatory ‘flattened notes’ I think more Gb/F#, but playing blues sax in Ab ? Brrrrrrrr……

  7. Lewis Pelham says:

    Being a harp player, it is relatively easy finding the blue notes on tenor very quickly. Take the example of F# concert. The concert key note is always the flattened 7th on tenor..i.e. F#. With a harp, always played in one sharp fewer (or one flat more) than concert, it is easy for me to ask myself “what harp would I use with F#?” Answer B…and B is therefore the minor third.
    Sounds a lot more complicated written down. 🙂

  8. ukebert says:

    As a folk player, G and D are the nicest 😉 but on Piano my favourite is probably C# minor. Ab happens to other people 🙂

  9. Lewis Pelham says:

    D is also a good key for tenor. I have often wondered why guitarists avoid it. They are happy in G,A,E and B…so why leave out the key with two sharps? Their usual excuse for playing in sharp keys is the open string tuning to these notes…yet one string is tuned to D, so what’s the problem?

  10. ukebert says:

    And if they use DADGAD or similar, as so many folkies do, then it’s even easier!

  11. al says:

    Yes, I knew an acoustic guitarist once. always seemed to have a selection of guitars all tuned differently. As if that wasn’t enough, he also used to re-tune between some numbers ! Often only a couple of strings – and not a capo in sight. How his brain managed to keep track of all the finger positions with different combinations of tunings, was beyond me… But then, so many things are in life, I’m just a simple soul, really, that’s why I like all things in C 😦 But what has all this to do with low-A alto’s ?

  12. Lewis Pelham says:

    Alan…With respect, you started the tangential move with the mention of flat keys. 🙂

  13. al says:

    Yes sorry, I was in ‘the wrong place’ for a second there – vacillation, digression, and all other forms of tangentism are fine here – positively encouraged !

  14. ukebert says:

    the closest I get is playing 2 ukuleles, one with 5 strings, one with 4. My brain can’t handle any more 😦

  15. Lewis Pelham says:

    A friend of mine makes and plays seven string guitars…even an eight string occasionally. A really brilliant guitarist who finishes his products exquisitely.
    Check out his work on, http://www.richardfayguitars.co.uk

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