A Saxophone Tattoo: Really?

Just how much do you love the saxophone? Do you love it enough to get a saxophone tattoo?

I don’t imagine there’s a sax player who reads my site regularly who doesn’t love playing the most popular wind instrument in the world. However, just how committed are you to this hunk of brass you hang around your neck regularly? Would you go through the pain of having an artist ink a saxophone on a body part of yours?

Getting a saxophone tattoo is taking the love of our instrument to a whole different level

If you said “yes” to the previous question, then you have something in common with this fellow who Jonny Rees-Williams photographed getting a saxophone tattoo. Rees-Williams got the before and after pics of the ink work in progress…



Photography by: Jonny Rees-Williams Source: Flicker



Photography by: Jonny Rees-Williams Source: Flicker

So two things immediately jump out at me: 1. Why is there blood draining from the bow and lower bell key? OK, I get it that it’s for artistic reasons, but it reminds me a bit of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde, and the saxophone that was supposed to have been in their death car. It’s like Clyde’s saxophone is bleeding for its dead owner, gunned down in its presence.

A little to Stephan King-like for you? Nah, King’s version would have the sax take possession of each new owner, and then every one of them would go on a new killing spree with their significant other in tow. Have a same-sex couple in the mix as well to bring it into the 21st century, and that would be beginnings of a new horror novel. But I digress…

The second thing that jumps out at me about this saxophone tattoo are the key guards. These key guards look exactly, and I do mean exactly, like they were modelled after those of a Dörfler & Jörka.

To my knowledge, D&J was the only company that used mother of pearl or plastic—depending on the ordering company’s wishes—for big buttons in the middle of the key guards shaped exactly like this. Although very striking, the disadvantage for this build is that the key heights are not adjustable like they are on those saxes that utilize felts and screws in the design like Keilwerths and Selmers.

In conclusion then

If you really truly love the saxophone, and you want to advertise it to the world, perhaps a tat is the way to do that. Hey, your body, your choice.

Me, I’m a subtle kind of gal. I’ve had a sax pendant that I’ve worn forever that my mom gave me back in the day. I wear that together with the Saint Christopher pendant that I also got from my mom on one of my trips to or from Germany. These necklaces almost never leave my neck, and are almost never seen.

If you come across any saxophone tats—or you have one—please leave a comment with a link or picture here. I’m curious to see what kind of ink people are getting.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

In Memoriam: Remembering Ernest Kahlke

It was 20 years ago today, on April 24, 1996, that my dad, Ernest Kahlke, passed away. Like my mom, who would go on and live nearly another 14 years without him, he too was the greatest supporter of my musical career from the very start.

Ernest Kahlke, stuffed toys, vintage B&W photography, 2 year old girl,

My dad worked for Volkswagen as a Field Manager, so he was always on the road. When I was growing up, he was not home during the week because he was either driving to all the dealerships in his region, or flying wherever for conventions or ongoing training in the latest repair techniques on the newest VW, Porsche, and Audi products.

Because I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with dad during the week, the weekends were special. I was always with him whenever he did chores around the house. We also spent lots of time as a family doing family type activities as well.

As I was poured through all the boxes of photos last night trying to find a nice pic of him, I literally found hundreds of photos in which my dad, mom, and I were either at places like the zoo, or travelling throughout Germany and Canada. Yup, we travelled and moved A LOT.

Being a VW brat was similar to being an army brat: I tended not to go to school for more than a year in one place, and didn’t have a chance to make friends that lasted.

That changed when my dad retired from VW, and took a job with a dealership. We ended up moving to BC, and that’s where I got to stay in school for the long-haul, and where I first decided that I really wanted to play saxophone.

I really was daddy’s little girl, and he always made sure that I got what I wanted. When I was 12 or so, I really wanted to learn how to play saxophone, so in grade 7 my parents rented me a brand new, Conn Director Series alto saxophone, and I started in beginner band.

I only kept that horn for a year, because I decided that I wanted to switch to tenor. My dad was the one that made it happen, and my parents rented me a Bundy tenor for the next school year.

When it became clear that I wasn’t going to give up the saxophone, it was dad who found my first tenor in the Vancouver Sun’s classified section: the Orsi-made La Monte tenor that now adorns the foyer wall today. I played that tenor until my last year in high school.

Since dad no longer was on the road during the week, I can count on one hand the number of concerts of mine he missed during my elementary and high school days.

Ernest Kahlke the photographer

Another thing dad and I shared, was our love for photography. As a matter of fact, I happened across quite a few pics of me as a little kid with my dad’s camera around my neck, pretending to take a picture.

Because dad was the photographer in the family, it was hard to find of photo of him, although there are literally thousands of my mother.

Dad was an excellent photographer, and also regularly did the training pics for VW. His favourite possession would have to have been his Leica M series camera that he replaced regularly as new models came out. I still have his last M3 along with all the accessories. I haven’t tried to use it, because I’m afraid that I would not do it justice.

Among the thousands of images dad took, I stumbled across this artistic one. I had never seen it before last night, but it is the kind of shot I try to do on occasion. My partner said it’s obvious where I get my artistic eye from. I don’t know about that, but I certainly got the photography bug from him.

vintage VW hubcap, B&W photogaphy, vintage photo, Ernest Kahlke, photographer reflection, artistic photo

As I write this, I can’t help but remember what 20 years ago today was like. The police; the paramedic crew; the coroner; my lovely borzoi Serenade—who actually warned us the night before that something was wrong with dad—my partner; and of course my mom. The actions of everyone seem to be indelibly etched into my mind.

Vati, I miss you, and love you. You suffered a lot the last 10 years of your life, but never lost the core essence of who you were: a committed provider for our family, who never gave up. That last bit is also something I inherited from you. Thank you for those genes as well… Ich glaube ich bin so stur wie du warst, und manchmal ist dass gut so!

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

The Mythical Selmer Mark VII Baritone Saxophone

Does a Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone really exist?

1934 Loch Ness Monster image, hoax, seamonster, When Selmer introduced the Mark VII’s in 1974, only altos and tenors ever made it into production. There were no bari or soprano Mark VIIs. Or were there?

The sighting of a Selmer Mark VII baritone is somewhat like a sighting of the Loch Ness monster: Stories are told of such a beast, but few have seen it, and even fewer have pictorial evidence of their encounter.

I for years was of the opinion that no Selmer Mark VII baritones existed, since that was what I was told by both my university and private instructors. And they should know, right? Furthermore, they were the ones who insisted that I rid myself of my nasty-sounding King Super 20 tenor, and get not the new, Mark VII alto and tenor, but rather the good, used Mark VIs I still have to this day.

What’s Selmer’s take on all of this?

This is what Selmer Paris states on their website about the model that was to be the Mark VI’s replacement:

Selmer-Mark-VII-Description, Selmer Paris, screen shot

Source: Selmer.fr

Note the last bullet point:

However, only the alto and tenor saxophones saw the light of day; the soprano and baritone “Mark VII” prototypes started during this period were instead used as the basis for the ”Super Action 80″ line.

Common wisdom would likely lead one to think therefore, that we wouldn’t see a such thing as a Mark VII baritone saxophone.

Well common wisdom be damned. Apparently the mythical Mark VII baritone saxophone is real—at least in limited numbers. (Just how many lake monsters do we have in the world?) Furthermore, I happen to have stumbled across a Japanese website that is selling one.

Since I can’t read Japanese, and Google Translate is horribly inaccurate, I can’t tell what kind of music store this is, but I think their name is Sound Fuga. (At least that is their domain name). Whenever I visit their website, I always lose track of time since I get lost in their many, many vintage saxophone offerings.

While trying not to drool too heavily onto my keyboard, I happened across this oddity: Selmer Mark VII baritone # 31XXX.

Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone, low A baritone sax, Selmer bari, sax in case

Source: soundfuga.jp

At first I thought it was a typo, but then as I started looking at the horn, I noticed some things that didn’t quite fit with a Mark VI. Most notably, the Mark VII engraving on the back of the bow to body tube connecting ring.

Mark VII Stamp, Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone, body tube to bow connecting ring, bari sax,

Source: soundfuga.jp

And the Mark VI logo on the front of the neck…

bari sax neck, Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone, Mark VII logo,

Source: soundfuga.jp

What this Mark VII baritone saxophone didn’t have, are the typical Mark VII spatula pinkie keys for the right and left hands that Selmer introduced, and what so many Mark VI players hated…

Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone, saxophone keys, bari sax,

Source: soundfuga.jp

Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone, low A bari sax, saxophone keys, saxophone bell,

Source: soundfuga.jp

Some thoughts about the Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone

Although you would think Selmer would know its own history, time and time again we have seen this not to be the case. Perhaps nothing is more glaring than the company not knowing when its Mark VI production actually started.

According to Selmer’s official serial # chart—called the Sax Legend—Mark VI production began in 1954 with serial # 59000. However, according to this 1962 print ad I noticed on eBay, Selmer then said it was #53727. (I wrote an article about this if you’re interested.)

Given this history, I’m not so convinced that Selmer knows what actually happened to its prototype Mark VII baritone saxophones. Bari #31XXXX would indicate that at least one, and likely more, made it out of the Selmer factory, and swam with the big boys in the general saxophone population.

If I could speculate wildly for a moment, the backwards facing model stamping on the bow to body connecting ring may tell us something. Normally, if a horn has such stamping, and not all do, the model stamping faces forward on the bell to bow connecting ring, like it does on this Mark VI tenor #103451.

Selmer Mark VI tenor sax, silver sax, bell engraving, Mark VI stamping, bell to bow connecting ring

Source: The Sax Group on eBay.com

This change in location might be, and I stress might be, an indication that the Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone in question was not a regular production horn, but rather a prototype, since other Mark VIIs have their model stamping facing forwards. The backwards facing stamping might be what signifies this as a prototype.

The lack of enlarged spatula keys also indicates that this in no way is true-blue Mark VII. Although we don’t know if there were bore changes over the Mark VI, Selmer did not build this as a late-model Mark VI baritone.

If you would like to be the proud owner of saxophone equivalent of the Loch Ness monster, you’re in luck, this Selmer Mark VII baritone saxophone is currently on sale. It can be yours for the low, low,   :tongueincheek:   price of only ¥ 680,000, which xe.com estimates to be $6,092.28 US. That’s a savings of ¥40,000 ($ 358.35 US) off its regular price.

Even if you’re not interested in buying it, it’s worth a look at this interesting horn just to see the photographic evidence that yes, these mythical beasties to indeed exist.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!