SOMEONE has to own one of these ....
FWIW, I played a Buescher C soprano for a brief time. The low C# was broken off (posts and all) and someone fitted a key from some other kind of horn. It didn't fit, look or sound very good.
SOMEONE has to own one of these ....
FWIW, I played a Buescher C soprano for a brief time. The low C# was broken off (posts and all) and someone fitted a key from some other kind of horn. It didn't fit, look or sound very good.
I've a Conn C straight soprano. Sweet instrument. Sarge at Worldwide Sax did the refurb and is quoted here (near the bottom of the page) as saying:Originally Posted by pete
"Here it is friends, the most difficult job i have ever decided to undertake... This is a potentially great sax, that will again posses a totally unique sound only c-melody soprano's can achieve... but sadly, it had been stored somewhere moist for so many years, that every single key on it was frozen in place. Every spring was rusted into a little "Cheeto" and every screw rod was totally screwed!"
It is a sweet instrument with okay intonation. A pro would have no problem voicing this instrument. As an intermediate player myself, I can play it easily but struggle with some of the inherent intonation challenges. That said, it has the best intonation of any of the six or so C soprano saxes that I have tried.
That's a nice looking horn.
The C soprano I played -- briefly, as mentioned -- did not have a C soprano mouthpiece: it had a very old Selmer Bb soprano mouthpiece, which I think was stamped "E" or some such.
The horn needed overhauled-ness, so I really couldn't say much about it. It didn't overwhelmingly impress me either way.
FWIW, I would prefer a C clarinet to a C soprano sax as an instrument to have because of the range -- and because I can't play flute or oboe. I do like the tone of the C soprano sax, tho.
I started on a Conn C-soprano in 1956. I was 16 years old.
I'd heard George Probert with the Firehouse Five plus Two, and Joe Darensbourg with Teddy Buckner's band, playing sopranos at a Dixieland concert at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium that same year. I didn't know anything about wind instruments but I just had to have a soprano. So I bought a C-sop. What did I know?
At the same time, I had a paper route in WLA and one of my customers was Orie Amadeo, a reed-man with the Lawrence Welk orchestra. He was a very nice guy and when we talked about the C-soprano, he advised me to get a Bb model instead. Not too long after that, I went to Sol Betnun's house in Hollywood (Sol was a well-known instrument dealer in L.A. at the time) and I traded my Conn C-sop for a Conn Bb sop.
I've been playing ever since - no C-sop in my closet now. DAVE
I pre-ordered an Aquilasax modern C soprano. Steve Wedgwood says he got enough pre-orders to start making them in 2009. I'm looking forward to it.
Nice to have you join us, Mike!
My opinion on the Aquilasax C instruments is ... "Why bother?"
Based primarily on the review by Gandalfe, but by logical assessment, the relatively large supply of high-quality C instruments from the 1920's and 1930's seems to overwhelm my desire for a newer, lower quality horn. If Aquilasax does come up with some cheaper horns or raises that quality bar, I'll be more interested.
I've gotta say, the only "new" horn that really intrigues me is Peter Jessen's G Mezzo-Soprano. Like to have one of those in F ....
Pete - thanks, good to be here.
Why bother with a modern C soprano? Fair question. The main reason for me is modern keywork. All my soprano playing is basically covering oboe or flute parts, and while I can transcribe on the fly just fine, why bother if I can have a modern C soprano? They make soprano clarinets in A and C, right? Why not soprano saxes?
Also, there's the uniqueness/coolness factor, as well as whatever differences there may be in the sound timbre.
But I never expected everyone else to get as excited about a modern C soprano as I have. So it's cool if it doesn't float your boat.
I've owned 3 C sopranos - two Bueschers and a Conn. All had original mouthpieces. The Conn was in mint condition, so that's the one I still own.
I've never met a C soprano that I loved, although I repaired a King once that I thought played pretty well.
I've had good luck with modern smaller chamber Bb mouthpieces (Like Pete's Selmer) on old C sopranos. Still, I think vintage C sopranos are most appealing as collector's items, so the original C soprano mouthpiece is a plus.
Since there are new Chinese C melody saxes, why not a Chinese C soprano? They're easier to make. I just wish they would stop copying vintage American horns and start from scratch. Of course, that means paying someone who knows a lot about acoustics.
Possibly a new C-Sop would have a bigger take-up than C-Tenor - but then C-Clarinet didn't...
I wish I'd had another 'C' instruments in the arsenal when I was pro, instead of just flute, not so useful in the jazz-funk 'section' context, but in all those small club quartets backing visiting cabaret artists who'd just throw bizarre collections of backing manuscript at us... Usually all in concert pitch - and of course I can transpose, having played Eb/Bb saxes and clarinets most of my life - but I'm sure that bit of the brain that was busy sight-transposing could have been better utilised adding some more emotion to the music ? C-Sop would have been so useful, but I didn't know about them then. I do now
Last edited by cmelodysax; 11-08-2008 at 11:43 AM.
It all just depends on what you're planning to do with it. I'm not a pro, just an avid hobbyist on a budget. Since most of my playing is at church and in concert bands, I have found that an Eb alto is the most useful sax for me: there are almost always parts in the scores for an alto. In fact, this lead me to sell my King Super 20 tenor and buy a Kessler Custom Deluxe alto last year. I know some would consider that an act of high treason, but over the past 18 months or so, I've found that having a good modern alto is much more fun - for me. I don't miss my Super 20 at all.
Pete's point about the availabilty of old C sopranos is valid, but I'd prefer not to have to deal with the assorted vagaries of those instruments. I'm anxious to see if the Aquilasax C soprano has good intonation.
For me, it's all about the music, not necessary the horn itself.
Last edited by Mike R.; 11-08-2008 at 05:31 PM.
Well, the Aquilasax C melody had tons of intonation issues. I expect the C soprano to be about the same.
While I've mentioned that a C clarinet would be good for me, I can see a place for a C soprano sax, it's just that I think I could find a "decent" Buescher True-Tone that'd blow away the Aquilasax for approximately the same price.
If I could find one of the elusive curved C sopranos, so much the better.
I think that the key layout/ergonomics issue is a bit blown out of proportion. While I agree that there are problems with "old style" ergonomics -- for me, it's generally the G#/C#/B/Bb cluster and some people think either the "reach" of the keys or the "straight" layout sucketh muchly -- the only real issue is the lack of an "articulated" G# is probably the only valid problem. One that can be resolved by a sufficiently interested tech if you actually USE that articulated G#; I've rarely used one.
Yes, C sopranos from the 1930s or earlier aren't necessarily that high quality, but that's because the entire class of instruments was designed for home use. I'd think that if I got a (relatively uncommon) French-made C, it'd blow away most American makes, especially in terms of intonation.
And if I had a C mouthpiece .
I didn't realise that you own an Aquilasax C, or indeed that you'd played one ?
P.S. I just love being a 'Junior Member' - it's been a long time since anyone has called me a 'Junior' anything...
Last edited by cmelodysax; 11-09-2008 at 05:04 PM.
Alan, I think Pete is basing his assessment upon a number of reviews of the instrument when it first came out. Among the reviewers was mine in which my favorite tech and I were shocked and dismayed to find both the shoddy workmanship and the fit and finish problems.
I wish I had taken it to another tech or two. Not that they would have said anything different. The instrument was simply, the worst new horn I've ever purchased. I was even willing to do some fixes like Bootman did to his, but my tech said that would take a lot of money and you'd still have a sub-standard horn.
It was interesting to note that my problems were attributed (by some) to shipping damage, which was not true. In my review I noted, as did my tech, that there were problems that were about the manufacturing process and not any 'shipping damage'.
Steve returned my money eventually. But I'm still a little bitter about the whole deal. I really wanted a decent horn. Fortunately I'm only out shipping as my tech didn't charge me anything for the inspection. And, as you know Alan, I have both vintage and new instruments that I love. I don't consider myself a rookie purchaser of musical instruments.
I would just advise anyone considering this instrument to continue to read the reviews and see if the instrument is refined and improvements made. Remember, this isn't just me saying this. There are other reviewers out there, one who upon inspection would not accept the package from the Post and had it sent back immediately.
Last edited by Gandalfe; 11-09-2008 at 05:39 PM.
Some of you may recall that I was one of the first to call for a modern C soprano on SOTW. And I've been following the Aquilasax story from very early on. I remember Gandalfe's disappointing review, and I've watched Alan's site for a while. When I saw that Steve was a least willing to consider engaging the Chinese to make a "modern" C soprano, I made a decision to support that effort by pre-ordering.
I don't expect the first run of Aquilasax C sopranos to be perfect - not at all. I am hopeful that they are playable. And I'm even more hopeful that as a result of some of us being willing to take a calculated risk on this project, perhaps one of the major saxophone manufacturers - Yanagisawa? (be still my heart) - or maybe one of the better Taiwanese factories may recognize enough demand to consider producing a C soprano. That is when we will start to see real improvements.
But for now, I am happy to be a part of something new and old at the same time.
Gandalfe - I don't want to go back over old ground, but when I read things like Pete's quote ("Well, the Aquilasax C melody had tons of intonation issues..... I expect the C soprano to be about the same.") I'm just saddened. Talk about Chinese whispers... Sorry Jim, but Pete says he's basing his Aquilasax opinions mostly on yours - (to quote him) "Based primarily on the review by Gandalfe, but by logical assessment..."
I'd just, out of interest, love someone to list the links to the other reviews so I can read them all for myself (I know all about Mo/Anke's damaged one, that WAS shipping damage). There were some initial problems, seems that they will now be a permanent millstone for poor old Steve. The Aquilasax I have seems to bear little resemblance to yours unless I'm very undemanding - which is certainly not the case. Realistically, bearing in mind the selling price and the manufacturing process, it's a good compromise. Would that the satisfied buyers were all as vocal and communicative as the unhappy ones !
Anyway, I digress from the topic.
C-Soprano's - I have a Conn (PanAmerican) C-Soprano that plays as well in tune with some Bb soprano mouthpieces (slant-sig Link, and 'Mojo tweaked' vintage Meyer) as it does with its original rather closed C-Sop mouthpiece. Like most vintage instruments, you have to play them for a while to really get to know their real character and quirks, and naturally make some small allowances. I'm interested to see how my waiting Martin (L&H stencil) C-Sop compares with it when I finally devote enough time to the project. The Martin C-Sop is slightly smaller overall (incl. bore) so the 'big sound of the Martin' may possibly not apply to the C-Sop.
Last edited by cmelodysax; 11-09-2008 at 06:58 PM.
Originally Posted by MeOriginally Posted by cmelodysax
No, I haven't played the horn. I do, however, respect Jim's opinion and it was corroborated by a bunch of other folks. Including you.
Most of the stuff I've read about the Aquilasax instruments came from SOTW, but I saw a few things on other forums. Hey, resurrecting a specific pitch of saxophone? I'm all over that!
When people start talking that a neck pip has to be redrilled or moved to get the horn to play properly in tune, that's a rather large warning bell.
Yes, the C soprano could be different. They could have switched manufacturing plants, etc., etc. Bottom line is, tho, the Aquilasax C Soprano is $680 and is going to be aimed at the professional market -- students don't want or need any sopranos, much less a C. You can buy a really, really nice looking Conn for $1300 at JunkDude.
Would a professional decide to buy a horn that's cheap, but has/had a lot of issues or expensive, has a few issues, but it's not as ergonomic?
No one would welcome a truly great C soprano more than me. I'd want it for its collectable value, but if Chinese manufacturers could make it for a reasonable price, I think it would be useful in church, where it could be used to play from the vocal music without transposition, or anywhere it is handy to read from music in concert C.
While oboe players will hate me for this (This is, after all, a woodwind forum) a good C soprano could sub for an oboe in a pinch.
Also, to point out the rarest of the rare, Buescher showed a "tipped-bell" C soprano in their catalog in the 1920s, and rumor has it that a few "tipped bell" C soprano bells were found in the Buescher factory when it was acquired by Selmer. The Buescher "tipped bell" C soprano may be one of the rarest, most collectable saxes in history. My Buescher tipped bell Bb soprano is definitely the best playing 1920s soprano I have ever played. Since the tipped bell Bueschers arrived rather late in the 1920s and employed most of the improvements Buescher pioneered, including Buescher's excellent late 1920s octave mechanism, I would expect the Buescher "tipped bell" C soprano to be one of the best C sopranos ever made, and I'm willing to bet that one or more exists somewhere.
Pete - I still think it was quite unkind to say that the Aquilasax had "tons" of intonation issues - and to condemn the (possible/probable) new C-Sop to the same fate before it's even been born. You seem to be hinting that I've also confirmed "tons" ? Nah !
I think the C-Sop may well be made by a different factory, I know Steve has had a few frustrations with the existing manufacturers. I don't quite understand what you're saying here - "Would a professional decide to buy a horn that's cheap, but has/had a lot of issues or expensive, has a few issues, but it's not as ergonomic? "
I don't know exactly who Steve has sold to, or who is on the waiting list - I suspect there are a load of 'closet' C players out there nto shouting about it - but anyone with an open mind and an interest in C saxophones can't really afford not to try one. You can lose more than the cost of the shipping every time the stock-market hiccups They don't come along that often, even Chip Shelton seems happy with his.
When I get the bare-brass Aquilasax C I originally wanted (again, factory supply problems, but they seem to be on the horizon), I'm very seriously considering sending the 'stop-gap' one I have now to Stephen Howard in the UK, for an impartial review. Should be interesting reading, as he has experience of both the low-end Chinese market, and 20's C-Mels.
The one concern (or reality ?) I have, is that any brass/wind in C (except flutes, obviously...) doesn't really ever seem to make inroads on the Bb/Eb market. Until teachers actively encourage (e.g.) C trumpets or C clarinets it won't happen - I talk to a lot of young players, and the one frustration that sticks out is that they find it difficult enjoying 'playing together' on the spur of the moment. With Eb alto, Bb clarinet and C flute being the main 'starter' instruments, all usually taught seperately, it's a great culture shock when they get together and try and play each others favourite music, ending up in a variety of pitches... Difficult enough learning the instruments, without having to get into transposition at an early age.
I know we all did it, but it doesn't make it necessary...
With regards to my adult students, again, if they have plans to join community bands, which is in reality where most adult students will end up playing, if they play in a band at all, I would have to steer them towards an Eb or Bb instrument, because in those bands too, C-pitched saxophones are generally not welcomed.
Many adults do not plan, or cannot afford, to purchase more than 1 saxophone. So buying a C pitched horn to start, would not be something I would feel comfortable doing. I would be severely limiting my students' ability to play with others.
Now having said that, if one of those adult students said to me they wanted to learn sax in order to play with their church's worship band, that would be a different story. In that case, a C-pitched sax would be a natural option for them.
BTW, yes, I have some C-pitched horns. I have a mint-condition (I'm only the 2nd owner) straight neck Conn (love it), and a Martin Handcraft which needs a rebuild & is currently totally unplayable. (It is acting as "wall art" at moment.) I must admit, the Conn soprano Pete linked to that Junk Dude currently has for $1300 is very pretty and tempting, but the fact is, I don't use my Bb sops enough, or my C melody at all (never have), so I can't justify the expense for yet another horn that will sit around, and not earn its keep. (I already figure I'll have to gig with my bass until I'm 70 to justify it. )
Last edited by Helen; 11-10-2008 at 03:47 PM.
Saxquest sold. And here's my article I wrote for saxpics.com (a lot of the links from that page don't work; hopefully usahorn.com will eventually fix them).
I'm sorry if you think that was unkind. Again, I substantiate my statement by what I mentioned before: if other players/techs are saying that pips need to be moved/redrilled/completely redesigned, that = "tons" to me.Originally Posted by cmelodysax
The quote on your website was, " The first batch, when they finally emerged from the factory, seemed to have a couple of teething problems. Some arrived damaged, possibly due to slightly optimistic packing ... and there were a few comments about the intonation." First, I work with people that do advertising. "Teething problems" means, "junk", generally. This is why you never should by version 1.0 of anything. Second, "a few comments" generally means "a lot of comments". Third, I know you want to promote these instruments hard and helped bring them to market, but what better promotion would there have been than to ship a really good product? Finally, I don't know of any manufacturer that sells one pitch of horn that has lots of issues and all their other horns are just fine. I also know that soprano instruments (and higher) have a lot more intonation problems than other pitches, due to overall length, tonehole size and placement. So, for example, if a tenor is substandard, I'd think their soprano would be worse. Hey, in most instances, a company will have a "decent" tenor and their sopranos will be "OK". Very few have both a tenor and soprano that are "excellent", like Yanagisawa.
Believe me: I'd like there to be an excellent "modern" C soprano and C melody. I've mentioned in a number of places that I like the C melody sound a lot more than Bb tenor for orchestral/ensemble use and I heartily agree with Groovekiller's comment about using a C instrument for vocal parts and in church. I just think it's unfortunate that Aquilasax isn't the make/model that'll satisfy that.
One thing that I can say is that the C soprano saxophone has gotten harder to find, recently, and it's possible that Aquilasax will have more of a market. However, if the horn is as bad as I anticipate, they may fade into obscurity really, really quickly.
If you want an opinion, the person to have approached for the C project would have been Benedikt Eppelsheim or Thomas Inderbinen. Both these gentlemen are known for specialty, high-end instruments that are insanely good. Yes, Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers are starting to get higher quality, but they're mainly known for "cheap".
I don't think that there'll be another C instrument craze, like the 1920's, but havening Aquilasax fall flat on their face because of low quality is going to make the next company that wants to try to make a C instrument think twice about doing it.Originally Posted by Mike R.
I'm willing to be wrong, though. Prove me wrong.
Pete - I don't know where you get your ideas - but (with reference to the Aquilasax C's) I didn't "help bring them to the market" - I merely published the info, that Steve passed to me, on my website for the benefit of other C Mel players - nor do I "promote these instruments hard", sure, C's are one of my interests, but equally so is my Martin Magna alto (in Eb)
Just love the way you casually toss out names like "Benedikt Eppelsheim or Thomas Inderbinen" - back in the real world, not many of us can afford to buy from those guys, so it's down to cheap vintage and/or oriental for most of us (me included). Think we'll have to agree to disagree.
Last edited by cmelodysax; 11-10-2008 at 11:58 PM.
Again, my opinion is that a new C instrument would not be for a beginner, it'd be for a pro. A pro that'd pay for a quality instrument. In the case of Eppelsheim, he's pretty well known for basses (and lower). Would you pay the $11K or so for the IW bass or the $16K or so for the Eppie -- when you read a whole bunch about how the Eppie is considerably better that the IW?
Again, in the "real world", very, very few people want a C horn. Economics: good horn + low demand = high price. I don't want a junk C horn. I want a good one.
Bottom line is that Eppelsheim and Inderbinen are just two manufacturers I know off the top of my head that make custom horns and one makes horns in odd pitches. Hey, I could mention Peter Jessen, too, and he also makes horns in odd pitches (and I'll leave Jim Schmidt out of the conversation, as kis keywork system is ... different).
Anyhow, I had really thought you were the gentleman that was trying to get a list of folks together to get Aquilasax to build this thing. Please forgive me if I was mistaken. In any event, I didn't mean to imply that you were an endorsing artist or anything: just that your prose is rather purple regarding these horns and that fits the definition of "promoting".
That's a great Buescher C soprano. Full keywork, certainly rare, but not a "Tipped bell" so I'm still looking for evidence that one truly exists. I think it does.
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