After years of owning these two awesome horns I am finally doing a Selmer Mark VI vs Selmer Mark VII comparison!
The first saxophone I ever bought was a King Cleveland way back when I started playing as a teenager in the 1970’s. This sax did the job for the first couple of years. Then my sax teacher made a trip to Paris and offered to pick me up a brand new Selmer Mark VII right from the factory. I was excited.
It arrived without any engraving on the bell which seemed weird at first because this was a real trademark for every Selmer saxophone I had seen before. I figured that this was really cool and one day I’d get a special engraving put on it. Well, these decades later it’s still bare.
How I Ended Up With a Selmer Mark VI and a Mark VII
This Selmer mark VII was my main and only horn for the next dozen years or so. By then I was playing professionally and touring about 300 days a year. Then it hit me that if it was to be damaged during a tour, like bumped or dropped on stage I would be really screwed and the band would be out of a saxophone player for at least a day or more.
I talked my manager into buying me a second horn and that’s when I found my Selmer Mark VI. It belonged to a guy named Doug Johnson (keyboardist for rock band Loverboy) who decided he wasn’t using it enough to keep it. After trying it for about 6 notes I bought it! It just felt perfect…still does.
I know there are so many really nice saxophones available today, and I’ve even tried a few but nothing that would make me switch. If you’re considering a Selmer pro model then great, you won’t go wrong.
There are later Selmer versions such as the Super Action 80 that are also excellent horns. For some reason the most popular and sought after model is still the Mark VI.
Lower Priced Selmers
Of course you should know that Selmer makes several models that are much lower priced than the Mark 6 and even the mark 7. Under $2000 and up to about $2500 you can get the 500 series or the 600 series. Check out a few more lower priced options for Selmer Saxophones.
What are the Differences Between the Mark VII and Mark VII?
For me, the the biggest difference with the 6 and 7 is the larger bottom right hand note cluster. It’s a bit clumsier to play than on the 6. The overall keywork changed as well so the overall feel isn’t as light and smooth.
I would guess that the composition of materials is also different between these two saxophones and this does relate directly to slightly different tonal characteristics. This may be the reason why the Mark 7 weighs slightly more than the 6.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the Selmer mark VII never became as popular as the Selmer Mark VI. At the time, Selmer was having their problems with the 6. Share of the market was dropping, and even quality control which resulted in some not-as-good later Mark VI’s.
Even so, it was still the mighty Selmer and they did produce a quality horn with the 7. There are still some players who have had better experiences with them over the 6. Some also prefer their sound over the 6. I should also mention that during the production of the mark 7’s they only made them in alto and tenor, no soprano or baritone.
It’s all very subjective and so that’s why I did this Selmer Mark VI vs Selmer Mark VII comparison video. In the end it’s all about the sound and the music.
Give a listen and share your thoughts!
They say that to compare sounds, one has to listen to them both within 8 seconds.
Jeff, one of our members took my comparison track and spliced it into 6 second lengths using Audacity. The Selmer 6 piece then Selmer 7 piece, so its 6,7,6,7,6,7….through the whole song.
[mp3player width=200 height=27 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml file=https://howtoplaysaxophone.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/6-7.mp3]
Nice Johnny. Not too much difference, but I could tell. The 6 sounds smokier, fuller, warmer. The 7 in the upper register sounds thinner and too clean. I know a guy who prefers his 7 to 6, but its a personal thing. Sadly, the Selmer 6 is becoming a bit of a ” status ” thing. The prices are ridiculous: up to $12000, and that’s a conservative estimate. In the hands of a pro like yourself Johnny, it sounds great. Again, sadly; some people have more $$ than sense. ” if I get this Selmer 6, even though I’ll have to sell a kidney , I’ll sound like Stan Getz “….wrong !! The horn is only 10% of the equation. A monitor. A good mpc and hundreds of hours playing long and overtones is the only way. Buying a 6 if you don’t have a disciplined routine is just a waste of time. The real sad thing is that young and talented kids will never get the chance to play one. Too much $$$….what’s new ? My advice, get a 10M whilst you still can. IMHO….No phatter sound than that big bore Conn. But hey, I’m biased… LOL !!!!
Hi Johnny I found little difference in the sounds other than I felt the Mark 6 was a wee bit darker but that may because being bias I wanted to hear it heard it darker. I have a Mark 6 and a Selmer Rev 54 and as you said the 6 is much lighter. You did say that Selmer had stock issues thus the quality of the production dropped, can you tell me around what time that happened?
I thought the Mk7 had the edge on the 6. Sounded brighter to me, although they both sounded great.
I agree with you (and Jak somewhat re the 10M). I also have both a VI and a VII. I do detect a slight tonal difference (not enough to even describe), but the MAIN difference for me is the tremendous reach difference in the right pinky keys. You’ve got to be a monster for those ergos. Because of that, the VII is no fun to play. The only good thing it has going for it is that I customized it in black with outstanding engraving showing. Otherwise, my faithful buddy, Mark the Sixth is my main man.
Interesting comparison, think the VII comes with the F# side key and I’ve been tempted to get one but now I think I might be interested in the Selmer reference 54 instead. Did anyone have any experience from them?
Both sound fab not a great difference.
What’s the name of the tune? Sounds like some Italian number ,Love it.
the tune is called Maria Elena.
in my opinion the 6 is warmer and smoother, the 7 is a bit brighter and so better for rock which is what I played mostly so it worked well for me. I do play the 6 much more tho. it feels nicer too.
I like that tune, Maria Elena, by Lorenzo Barcelata. I have it in one of my Music books with lyrics but I like your version. The music in my music book does not read like what you are playing. I’d like to buy your version.
I found in the music where you started…Tu-yo_es mi co-ra – son. Barr 24. I went over to Youtube and listened to Nat King Col. I still would like to buy your charts
Ya William, I copied most of it from the guitar cover done by Los Indios Tabajaras. I tend to like that one the best but I did have to alter a few things around to fit the sax. I will be putting it up on the song download section as soon as I can.
The 6 is a little more subdued, a bit thicker in overtones across the board but the differences are subtle but both horns sound excellent.
There’s very little difference between the two saxes when looking at the averaged frequency response.
It just demonstrates how important having a good MP setup is.
Looking closely at the curves, the Selmer 6 does out-perform the Selmer 7 at frequencies below 1000Hz.
What a great tune for the Sax!
Hey guys, I have a 6 and a Yamaha 62-2. The 6 was a fluke. A guy had the 6 for sale and had to sell for money he needed. Do I have the ability to play the 6? No. Got lucky! The 62 is a pound heaver than the 6. The sound from the 6, to me, is deeper that the 62. The fingering is a little different, but not much. I play the 6 most of the time. I am used to the fingering even though there is not that much different. Johnny has heard the horn and he likes the tone. As I said, I got lucky. The horn has 99% of original lacquer. It is appraised in the mid teens. It’s a keeper for sure. To me the bottom line is this, A good player can make any horn in tune and good repair sound great. Just have fun playing your instruments!