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Bass Sax Making A Comeback?

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
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The thread on c melodies got me thinking about the bass saxophone. It too seems to be experiencing a revival of sorts.

When I bought my 1922 Buescher from Paul Coats in 2000, bass saxophones were far and few between. As players we for the most part all played vintage horns, since Orsi, Selmer and Keilworth were the only companies making new ones. Now we have new Asian horns coming in at the pricepoint of good vintage versions, and small cottage shops like Eppelsheim, and at least 2 South American companies making basses that go to low A and in some cases low G.

What do you think? Are we seeing the bass saxophone make a comeback? Is my signature eventually going to come true? Or are we bass players destined to live our lives as an :ugeek: (minus the beard on my part :emoji_smile: ) ?
 

Ed

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I hope so. I've been on the hunt for a great deal on a Bass sax for some time and I keep coming up empty. I hope that the Asian horns show the ability to hold up and to play well. If so, I might have to consider one of those.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I'm told that the Eppleshiem bass is ... sublime.

Oh, I may as well edit, a bit:

I've played a grand total of one bass sax: a Conn New Wonder silver plated beast that's probably still mouldering away on a shelf at SUNYC Fredonia (if there's any shine left on it, I was the last person to have polished it. 20 years ago).

I didn't like this horn. Major intonation problems. Niiiice sound, though. And I do enjoy hearing Vince Giordano when he plays on A Prairie Home Companion -- although he's gotta tell Mr. Kiellor that there are WAY more than 9 of these beasties "in captivity" (he's thinking "contrabass" and that's still an inaccurate number, especially as THOSE are in production, again).

The question would really be if the bass could be a replacement for the baritone and I'm not sure it could. How's your altissimo on the bass, Helen? :D
 

Ed

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Temptation to visit Seattle.

A visit to Seattle could lead to a lot of issues. Most of them stemming from my desire to buy some really expensive horns. My wife has stopped turning her head on the horns. It went from "oh dear when did you get a clarinet" to "Ed, WHEN DID YOU GET A FLUTE!?!". I was waiting for her to evoke middle names.

The last bass I played was some eastern European thing that I could barely get much out of. It was in being repaired by my tech and I stopped by to give it a blow.
 
Gandalfe said:
If you come visit me, I get you hooked on Eppelsheim's stuff. I own a soprillo and bass sax to low A. Jay Easton down the street has Eppelsheim contrabass and sub-contrabass saxes that we could probably give a blow. I've played the contrabass and it truly is sublime. :ugeek:
u live down the street from jay easton and you go visit quinntheeskimo and try out his awesome horns.....jealous!
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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Administrator
pete said:
How's your altissimo on the bass, Helen? :D
Mmmm...Altissimo on bass...Isn't that why Adlophe invented the tenor sax? ;)

Seriously, before I got sick I was getting pretty good at noodleing around "up there", but now I'd be hard-pressed to get my bass to play in tune again in its regular range.

Years ago someone sent me a copy of an altissimo fingering chart for the bass. It saved me months of trying different combinations coming up with "the right, one" fingering for each note.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Helen said:
pete said:
How's your altissimo on the bass, Helen? :D
Mmmm...Altissimo on bass...Isn't that why Adlophe invented the tenor sax? ;)

Seriously, before I got sick I was getting pretty good at noodleing around "up there", but now I'd be hard-pressed to get my bass to play in tune again in its regular range.

Years ago someone sent me a copy of an altissimo fingering chart for the bass. It saved me months of trying different combinations coming up with "the right, one" fingering for each note.
You should post that chart.

Seriously, while I really, really like the tone of the bass, I have always had some doubts abut its usability. The baritone is "obvious", in a way: it's Eb, thus you can read a bass clef part without transposing (for the folks that don't know the trick: change bass clef to treble -- don't change the positions of the notes on the staff -- and add three sharps to the key signature, for instance, if it was F, you key is now D, etc. and now play as written) and you can play "transpositions" of most cello parts, but bass sax? That's kinda-sorta euphonium-ish, I suppose. Maybe. It's really a better "bass" than baritone sax. But, that'd be "jazz quartet" bass, not "ensemble" bass. "Ensembles" -- like quartets, etc. -- generally use cellos or baritone saxophones, not basses.

Just an observation.
 
You forget an other Maker it is Rampone&Cazzani (Italy), I saw three bodies and bell ready for bass, they used to produce them before WWII (one being displayed at Berlin's Music Museum in Germany)
i think there is more and more people playing Bass Sax, here in France I know some people (even in classic playing bass sax)
 

Ed

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I would love to see what they come to market with. I think Rampone and Cazzani has some really nice products in their R1 and R1 jazz lines.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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saxbass said:
You forget an other Maker it is Rampone&Cazzani (Italy), I saw three bodies and bell ready for bass, they used to produce them before WWII (one being displayed at Berlin's Music Museum in Germany)
i think there is more and more people playing Bass Sax, here in France I know some people (even in classic playing bass sax)
As mentioned on the other thread, I don't think that R&C (or Rampone) mass-produced basses at any point. I definitely could be wrong, but I Googled this one really hard and couldn't find anything.

It's possible that the bass you saw was a one-off or prototype. However, if you can find, say, a catalog or some pics, that'd be perfect. Or, as mentioned in the other thread, if R&C does that interview.
 
I hope so. I've been on the hunt for a great deal on a Bass sax for some time and I keep coming up empty. I hope that the Asian horns show the ability to hold up and to play well. If so, I might have to consider one of those.
In 2010 I bought a Jinbao bass sax stenciled for J'Elle Stainer. The price was within my range but it did need some maintenance work (loose corks) but in the following seven and a half years it has performed perfectly. The case is on rollers and it fits across the back seat of most cars. I bought a new mouthpiece but found that the no-name mouthpiece that came with the sax was just as good. Bass sax reeds are expensive but I found that baritone sax reeds are just as suitable. The D2 note sounds nicer when played with the left hand palm D key. I never expect to use the high F# note. Earlier saxophones from mainland China had a poor reputation but good quality instruments are now coming from mainland China.
 
You should post that chart.

Seriously, while I really, really like the tone of the bass, I have always had some doubts abut its usability. The baritone is "obvious", in a way: it's Eb, thus you can read a bass clef part without transposing (for the folks that don't know the trick: change bass clef to treble -- don't change the positions of the notes on the staff -- and add three sharps to the key signature, for instance, if it was F, you key is now D, etc. and now play as written) and you can play "transpositions" of most cello parts, but bass sax? That's kinda-sorta euphonium-ish, I suppose. Maybe. It's really a better "bass" than baritone sax. But, that'd be "jazz quartet" bass, not "ensemble" bass. "Ensembles" -- like quartets, etc. -- generally use cellos or baritone saxophones, not basses.

Just an observation.
The Eb baritone saxophone player does have the advantage of easy transposition of bass clef parts (e.g. bassoon) as described above. The hardest part is the need to elevate all accidentals that appear on the notes F, C and G by one notch - i.e. a flat becomes a natural and a natural becomes a sharp. That can lead to errors when the accidentals come thick and fast.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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Yup, considering that you can have double-sharps in the key signature. As a person that often played bass and/or trombone parts when those instruments weren't available, I know the pain.
 
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