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Bass Sax Patent

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Waiting for Groovekiller to respond ....

Venturing an opinion, I see no reason to believe that the first A. Sax horn, a C bass, wasn't in the curved ophicleide form. However, when I first wrote about th A. Sax prototypes 10+ years ago, I heard that there were about 4-6 prototypes hanging around. However, I haven't been able to FIND one, with recent reports now saying that this is the oldest surviving A. Sax instrument.

I can say that the horn that most people attribute to be an A. Sax curved C bass (this one) is ... and quoting Groovekiller, from my old website:

That baritone picture was originally published in Saxophone, Erfindung und Entwicklung einer Musikinstrumenten-Familie und ihre bedeutenden Hersteller (whew!) by Gunter Dullat. The book is not entirely accurate, but since Dullat actually own[ed] the horn, I'm sure he has at least correctly identified the key in which it is pitched [F]. It is the only baritone in F that I know of that still exists, made by 'PELISSON FRERES & Cie., SYSTEME GEORGE BREVETE S.G.D.G.' It was made around 1900, and even though it's not that old, I sure wish I could find one.
... the website I glommed the pic from did identify the horn as a Pleisson, with a manufacture year of 1900 and listed that it was for sale. Unfortunately, Gunter Dullat hasn't returned my e-mails (probably because I don't write in German) and the gentleman that was selling the Pelisson has passed away (I think: I had gotten two responses from someone representing the seller saying that he was ill and then nothing else), so I can't confirm the pitch -- but if you see another website showing this pic, it's not an A. Sax instrument.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Oh. The reason I'm waiting for Groove to respond is because he wrote an article about the early A. Sax patents. There were some interesting differences.
 

Groovekiller

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
There is no doubt that the earliest "prototype," as the Curator of the Instrument Museum in Brussels calls it, is in the shape of an Ophicleide.

There is some disagreement about whether it was pitched in C or Bb. I think that it was in C, based only upon the fact that in so many of Adolphe Sax's earliest catalogs there is a listing for a bass "Saxophone in Ut" - C

However, the 1850 catalog lists only the bass in Bb, and the drawing shows a very conventional looking bass (Think 1920s Conn or Buescher) with a short bell because there was no low Bb.

There are more reasons to assume that the earliest bass saxes were ophicleide-shaped. Besides the famous descriptions by Berlioz, there was the (legally documented) lawsuit by Sax against the manufacturer of the Sarrusophone. In this suit, Sax said the design of the sarrusophone violated the copyright on the saxophone. But the Sarrusophone doesn't look like a saxophone. It looks like an ophicleide.
 
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