Saxophone Forum


by thekidd
(10 posts)
16 years ago

Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

I am looking to buy a sax. This will be to play, not to just look at, so any help would be appreciated. The ones I'm comparing are a 1944 Selmer Balanced Action, a 1924 Buescher True Tone Melody C, and a 1928 Conn Chu Berry. The Buescher seems to be in very good shape, the Selmer could use some work, new pads/cork, things like that, and the Conn has already been completely refurbished. I'm looking for thoughts on the playability of one compared to the others, and what a good price would be for each.

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  1. by nicko12
    (4 posts)

    16 years ago

    Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

    what about a 1914 selmer new york

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  2. by Sax Mom
    (964 posts)

    16 years ago

    Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

    For what are you planning to play it? The Melody C will work nicely if you're playing along with a piano or organ, and don't want to transpose. If you want to play in a band, it might not be as easy, because most parts are written for either Bb or Eb. However, if you play by ear, that won't matter.

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    1. by thekidd
      (10 posts)

      16 years ago

      Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

      I would be using it to play in a band where I would be playing from piano music, so I wouldn't want to transpose in that case. In the other cases I would be playing by ear anyway. I'm just trying to find out which of these instruments will give me the best quality sound, and value.

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      1. by Sax Mom
        (964 posts)

        16 years ago

        Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

        I guess I won't be much help, then, because I don't have experience with these horns. They're all good brands, though. You may just need to try them, and see which sounds the best (although that would be hard on the one that needs work).

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        1. by Radjammin
          (255 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          I woudn't be concerned with pad work, how is the body? Any soder points? Major Dents? evidence of major body work? If not I think the Selmer is the way to go. If those are present then the Chuck Berry (New wonder II) Also price is a concern. Are they close? I wouldn't buy a C melody as my primary horn, unless its going to be a small hobby and it's a better deal. C Melody's will always go for less money, but good luck finding a mouthpice for it. Heh.

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        2. by thekidd
          (10 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          I can get the Conn, completely refurbished, no dents, dings or scratches for $650. There are no solder points on either one of the other too, or obvious sings of body work. Money for the Selmer would run about $400, and the Buescher about $250. The C would be for toying around with the church band, and would be easier than having to transpose music.

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        3. by definition
          (963 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          really if you are able to afford the Chu, you could really buy both the semler and the buescher if you wanted...

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        4. by Sax Mom
          (964 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          If it were me, I'd go with the Chu, and practice transposing for church. Not sure how much money would still need to go into the Selmer, and the C would be more difficult (for me) to transpose for other uses.

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        5. by thekidd
          (10 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          Well based on things I heard and read, I let the True Tone go. It ended up going on ebay for $320. Hopefully I don't live to regret that decision! I'm going to try to go take a look at and play the NWII tomorrow.

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        6. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          I'm assuming that the Selmer and the Conn New Wonder are both altos? I think letting the Buescher C Melody go was a good choice. C Melody saxophones are cool, but they are have a few problems. The old straight-neck Conn C Melodies and Buescher True Tones were the best, but they tend to sound out of tune on certain notes depending on the mouthpiece and reed that you use. I've found that bass clarinet reeds work the best with a C Melody mouthpiece. There are a few modern mouthpieces on the market for C Melody, but they are hard to come by. Personally, I would look for a Bb tenor. I think the tenor would probably fit more with the style of music you are wanting to play. It's much easier to transpose from Bb than to transpose from Eb (Alto saxophones are in the key of Eb, tenors Bb) Conn and Buescher tenors are my favorites; especially the Conn 10Ms and the Chu's. As for value, the Selmer Balanced Action really sounds like a great deal if it is in good condition and plays well. The original BA's in good condition are worth plenty! 1928 was a good year for Conn also, and the price for the New Wonder Series II is also very reasonable if in fact the horn has been reconditioned. I would play them both and decide which one best fits your need. I'm sure you could get your money back out of either horn if you decided to sell it or trade it towards a tenor. Good Luck! Jim

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        7. by wvujazzman
          (48 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          Couple of interesting points: first, I play both alto and tenor at times with my church group. I have a Selmer BA (1937) tenor and a Conn 6M (1946) alto. I'm a tenor guy by preference, but i find that i really would rather play alto with the church group for one reason - the range of the alto sits just above the male voices in the choir, while the tenor sits smack in the middle of them. The result is a clearer sound overall with the alto - the tenor can get muddy if there's a bunch of SATB stuff going on. SO... if the church group in question has a bunch of voices, that may be a consideration. If it's instrumental only, then I'd rather play tenor, all things considered. The second point is regarding the BA... did I read correctly that it's $400 for the horn??? Or is that $400 of work needed on it? My tenor is appraised and insured at $4,000... and saxquest has an alto for sale right now at $3,200. So $400 seems very much like a "too good to be true" price. Eric

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        8. by Radjammin
          (255 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          I knew I couldn't be only one that thought 400 for the balanced action was a great deal. I like Conn just as much as the next guy, but if the BA is in good shape is there really any question which one he should buy? Of course play both, I think you will see why the BA is the better pick. I think they both will sound good, that the best thing about the conn, it's sound. The action though will be far superior on the Selmer. The point about Tenor and male voices is a good one too. A tenor plays in my churches Faith band and he is a little low pitched vs. the singer. I would say play alto. Overall though play the one you sound good on. If you don't have much of an alto sound, play the tenor your used to. Church is about praising our Lord, Play something you think will like to listen too, hehe.

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        9. by JaZzer
          (25 posts)

          16 years ago

          Re: Selmer Balanced vs. True Tone vs. Chu Berry

          Yes, i was wondering about the price for the Selmer as well. If it is at that price and in good condition, then without question go for it. Personally I would stay away from horns made before 1930, since they were pitched differently and all. If you want it as a solo horn, then it would work great, but to play in an ensemble, you just don't want that kind of variable. Personally, I'd go with the Selmer, but depending on your situation, test which one plays better for you, and how even the intonation is up and down the register.

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