Vintage horns are so hot right now. They are also really friggin expensive.
I makes sense. There is a limited number of these horns and they play really really well. I love vintage Selmer horns. They have something to them, qualities that modern horns don’t necessarily have. My Mark VI tenor has been by my side for close to 15 years now and has taken me through so many periods of my life. I never felt the need to try any other horns and the few that I did try didn’t even come close to my horn. My horn has history as well, it was my father’s before mine and that means a great deal to me. When I touch or play that horn, it has a way of transmitting that history to me. Nothing can replace that feeling and the horn also happens to sound and play very nicely.
Here comes the plot twist. I had my Mark VI overhauled recently and a friend was nice enough to let me borrow her Yamaha Custom Z tenor for the month or two it would take to get my horn fixed. This horn played beautifully. At first, I thought I loved it so much because my horn was in such rough shape that anything I played in decent condition would be light years ahead of my current situation. As I played it for that period of time, I started to like it more and more. Many of my fellow musicians also started commenting on how good I was sounding lately. Something was different in a very good way but all I could think about was how good I would sound when I got my horn back.
Then I got my horn back. It was playing very nicely but when I set both horns up and went back and forth I was really surprised that I liked the Yamaha better. I felt dirty. Like I was cheating on the vintage-horn-snob part of me that thought this would never be possible.
After talking to many of my friends and colleagues, I started to realize that it’s all about what works best for you. It’s not about vintage or modern, it’s about your personal playing style and feel for the instrument. When we get caught up in what horn we should be playing, sometimes we miss out on the perfect horn for us because it’s not even on our radar. This has been an eye opening experience for me and one that I won’t forget anytime soon.
I won’t be getting rid of my Mark VI anytime soon. It means too much to me and I’m not 100% percent sure of the future of my decisions yet. I would rather hang on to it than make any rushed decisions, just to be safe. Now I just have to figure out how to afford another tenor which is sometimes the problem with being a musician right? 🙂