The Selmer Super Balanced Action is considered by many to be the design that set the tone for the modern saxophone. Originally called the Super Action model, it is now known as the Super Balanced Action (SBA) to differentiate it from the newer Super Action 80 model that came much later. This was the first Selmer saxophone to feature offset tone holes in the upper and lower stacks. On previous models, the tone holes were all in line along the front of the sax. On the SBA, those in the bottom stack are now offset slightly to the right, making for a much more comfortable feel. Players loved it, and pretty much all modern horns are based on this idea now. Special order options available from Selmer for the first time included high F# and low A (on the bari sax).
The only notable change to the SBA over its lifespan is found on the tenor, which had several changes to its bottom bow and bell lengths, all within a couple years. You can always spot the differences though if you know what to look for. Basically there are two versions of the bottom bow, and two versions of the bell. The short bows had no significant gap between the low C# tone hole and the bow-to-bell joint, whereas there is a noticeable gap there on the long bow horns. On short bell models, the lower foot of the low B keyguard was soldered straight on to that bow-to-bell joint, and on long bell models, the guard foot is soldered on to the bell itself, above the bow-to-bell joint.
From what I've gathered, the short bow/short bell models were made from the introduction of the SBA until around 355xx, last I've personally seen was a # 35528. Then Selmer switched to short bow/long bell configuration for a very short run, I've seen two in this range (# 35566 and # 35828). Around 36xxx, they switched again, to a long bow/short bell design (see # 36006), which stuck around until about 385xx. The last of these I've seen was # 38410. The final change at 385xx went back to a short bow/long bell (first spotted at # 38711), which is the design that finally stuck and lasted throughout the run of the Super Balanced.
Why all the changes? Well, there are definitely intonation issues in the bottom register of the early SBA tenors, where notes below low C tend to go sharp. Some in that late 355xx range tune well, as do the ones after 385xx, both of those designs having the short bow and long bell. The other notable change is the keyguards themselves. Tenors had separate key guards for low B and Bb until around 477xx, afterwards they shared one keyguard, like the Mark VI and other modern horns.
The Selmer Super Balanced Action is considered by many to be the design that set the tone for the modern saxophone. Originally called the Super Action model, it is now known as the Super Balanced Action (SBA) to differentiate it from the newer Super Action 80 model that came much later. This was ... [more]
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