Posted on February 19, 2016
Selmer Balanced Action Tenor Saxophone
This is a Selmer Balanced Action tenor saxophone from 1939. This horn had a single owner, a man named Jennings Titus, who bought it new in 1940. Shortly after purchasing, he enlisted in the Army, and he played in military bands all over Europe during World War II. When he flew from place to place, he would send the horn with the officers since there was a lot more room in the officers plane, and he himself would fly with the rest of the enlisted bandsmen. His plane was shot down, but the officer’s plane was unhurt, and he spent the rest of the war in a POW camp while his horn was sent home to his parents. After the war, he reunited with his family and his horn, and played it for the rest of his life. Several years after his death, his daughter brought it to me to fix the old girl up, and I’m happy to say that this ended up being an absolutely beautiful horn that plays every bit as good as it looks. Every once in a while, you come across a Selmer that can give a Conn a run for its money in the big tone department, and this horn happens to be one.
I was given a lot of leeway with this job, so I set it up how I wanted it. I did a full mechanical rebuild with reusable brass resonators of moderate sizing, I hand polished it (not much of an old relacquer was left on it, and the brass was turning orange), and I set the spring tensions pretty light. It came out like I hoped- a light horn with light tensions that feels and looks “played-in”, and vibrates like crazy under the fingers. It gives me chills to play it, and I’ll be sad to see it go out the door. Good thing I have to playtest it for a few more days just to make sure I did my job right 😉