Over the last several years, Christopher Elliott LLC has seen and sold some of the finest & rarest examples of Selmer Paris Mark VI Saxophones in the world today. Some are being used by real ‘professional’ players; some were only purchased as museum/collector pieces by some of the worlds most renowned saxophone collectors. Needless to say, although we would decline to call ourselves 'experts' on the Selmer Paris Mark VI Saxophone, we have seen enough of them in every condition to begin to understand the mystery behind these instruments.
Selmer Paris Mark VI Saxophones - Are they the best saxophone out there?
This is ALWAYS a matter of opinion... just because something is the most expensive doesn't always mean it's the best. However, there is something to say about the prestige that comes with owning a Selmer Paris Mark VI Saxophone that really sets this horn apart from the others.
For saxophone players, especially (us) male (egotistical) saxophone players, the Selmer Paris Mark VI Saxophone is the considered the king of the hill and the ultimate status symbol. Funny enough, some sax players who own Mark VI's will tell you they play one without you even asking, almost their way of entering into conversation with you so they can talk about their horns.
When I was a younger sax player, I was also hypnotized by the Selmer Mark VI mystique, and wanted one with all of my heart – even though I had never played one. I just thought that if I owned one, with my natural talent, I could be the best saxophone player in the world! Had I gotten one at a young age, there is the chance that owning it would have catapulted me into a more passionate desire to learn to play, and I could have been the best saxophone player in the world. However, even back then, the average Selmer Paris Mark VI alto saxophone would cost (my parents) around $2,500-3,500, a steep price even for a very talented young saxophone player. I stuck it out with my Yamaha YAS 23, it worked… but I still wanted one.
That’s the thing about these saxophones that I think people miss. The actual horn, even though it does have a certain feel and sound about it, is only going to make an average player sound average, perhaps with a twist, and a great player sound just as great. The Mark VI doesn’t make you play any better, BUT it may just make you better, because you feel like (in your mind) you are playing the best saxophone ever made!
Does that make it worth buying one? For some, it may. That may be the thing they need to get out of a funk – playing saxophone has a lot to with your mind, and if you change your thoughts about what you are playing, well, you never know. So if playing a Selmer Mark VI gives you a boost in confidence, then it may be the catalyst that propels you into a great future of playing.
What is the actual value of a Mark VI, should you buy one, what should you look for and what should you pay?
What is the actual value of a Mark VI?
The value of these saxophones jumps all over the board depending on several factors.
The first thing you need to take into consideration first is the year it was made - the earlier the year the higher the value. You can always tell by looking at the serial number. They start generally between 55,000 (1954) and end around 220,000 (1973).
The next thing we look at when determining value is originality of the finish. The finish of the Selmer Paris Mark VI, or any other saxophone, is the biggest deciding factor when an investor is buying a sax for their collection, and they only look for and purchase items that have the original factory finish. I’m not going to get into what is or isn’t original factory finish, that is something we usually need to see in person to determine, but sometimes we can look at pictures and tell if it has the possibility of being original finish, or if it has at some point been re-lacquered. There are also some deceptive signs that could make you feel a sax is original or not, but again, finish is best determined in person by an expert.
Again, on finish, we look to see what type of finish it is, and also how much is remaining. The three major finishes we look for are Gold Plating, Silver Plating, and the most common, lacquer. For finish remaining, this is done based on percentages, and a guesstimate. If there is no lacquer or plating wear, and there are maybe just a few surface scratches, we would consider that 99-100% finish remaining. Lacquer or plating wear in the usual spots would usually get a rating of 80-90%, more used or worn saxes would usually see 30-70% of their lacquer finish or plating remaining. When you see a saxophone that has less than 30% of the lacquer remaining, we usually make the determination that at some point the lacquer was stripped and buffed off, making it a non original factory finish.
Now we go to body condition. When a saxophone has more original lacquer or plating remaining, then we can usually also guess that there has been minimal repairs on that instrument. Most saxophones that are used regularly will have some visible signs of use, and/or repairs done. If the instrument has all the original parts, nothing has been soldered or repaired; we give the instrument a much higher grade. Any large dents that have been removed will be noticeable, but small dings and such can usually be taken out without much physical evidence. Any solder or repair is looked at closely to see if there is any structural damage that would keep the instrument from performing properly, and each visible repair takes a little off the total value of the instrument.
Along with body condition, we look for matching parts as well as the case. More original horns in great condition will also have the matching neck and the proper case, also in great condition. Some Mark VI’s have a matching serial number stamped to the neck and to the body, so we will always check for that. If the neck does not have a stamp, it does not mean it is not original, but there are a few things we look at to determine whether or not it is the original neck that came with the saxophone. Often times, the factories or dealers switched the necks out at the time of purchase, so it may have been purchased with what you thought was the original neck, but in fact it wasn’t the neck that was made to go on the saxophone. Not having the original neck affects the overall value of the saxophone as well.
Should you buy a Selmer Paris Mark VI Saxophone?
I’m not going to say you shouldn’t, but your budget is the most important deciding factor on whether or not you should own a Selmer Paris Mark VI saxophone. If you have the available money to spend $2,500-$13,000 on the saxophone of your dreams, then by all means do buy it if it IS in fact the horn of your dreams. Don’t buy one though if you cannot afford one, have never played one and think it is going to make you a better player, if you aren’t dealing with a reputable company to make your purchase from.
We generally have a NO RETURN policy when it comes to Selmer Mark VI saxophones, and it is not because we are trying to sell something that we aren’t willing to stand behind. We stand behind every saxophone or musical instrument we sell. However, because of the sheer value of these instruments, we don’t want to be responsible for affecting the value of the instrument as it is in transit, or while it is in our customers hands. Anything can happen, and if we accepted these back for refunds, we are taking the ultimate risk because there is a chance that the value of the instrument can change between hands, ours and our customers. Before we sell a Selmer Paris Mark VI, we ALWAYS make sure that that is the saxophone the person wants for the right reasons, and not allowing a return policy we know that the person is serious about owning a Mark VI saxophone.
What should I look for and what should I pay when buying a Selmer Mark VI saxophone?
First thing to do is play it. Don’t let that be the only determining factor on buying a particular sax, but it can be important. In some cases, you can’t play the sax first, (i.e. when working with an online seller like us), but if you can play it in person first, do so.
You need to know what you are buying, and have your research done. Just because you see MARK VI ® on the bell to bow brace doesn’t automatically mean you should pay top dollar for the instrument. Look at all the factors we use when determining the value of the instrument and check out the market and see what else is out there in the price range you are willing to pay.
Once you put your budget together you will find that there are probably many more options than you originally thought, and set your goal that you will get the best saxophone available for what you can spend, even if it means that you spend less than you originally intended.
We work with people on a daily basis trying to get them the best saxophone for their money. If you ever have any questions regarding the value of a Selmer Paris Mark VI Saxophone, or need help finding one or buying one, please don’t hesitate to call us at 877-884-5244, or email us at email@example.com. We just love to help people find the right instrument for them.
We hope this information on the Selmer Paris Mark VI helps you understand the instrument a little better. In the meantime, feel free to look at our inventory of Selmer Paris Mark VI saxophones.
Peace to you,
Christopher Elliott LLC