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H-Couf and Armstrong, revisited

Just to be clear, Pete likely already knows this, but Superba I baris had neither RTH, nor did they have the same bell to body bracing that their alto and tenor Superba I cousins did.

The RTH are a fact, and the bell to body bracing is based on every bari that I have looked at to date.

Re: the engraving, I had asked Brian to look at the pics of the horn to see if it resembles the baris he's seen with the extra "I" on their bells. I haven't heard back from him on that yet.

The horn is now enroute from Chicago, so let's all send a prayer up to the UPS gods that it arrives safely by the end of the week here on the West Coast. Once I know exactly when it will be arriving, I'll head down to my friend's place in WA to meet it at the door. Once the horn is safely in hand, I suspect many of the questions we have will be answered then.
This is without a doubt, the most stressful shipping experience I have ever had it my life. There is a reason I flew to New Orleans to pick up my bass in person. Truth be known, if I didn't have a neurological problem that is affecting the blood vessels in my head, I would likely have hopped a flight from Bellingham or Seattle to Chicago and picked up the sax in person from Paul.

If the horn wasn't dead mint, I wouldn't be so concerned about it. Sigh... Well let's hope that it made its unaccompanied trip OK, and will arrive safe and sound. It will arrive by the end of the day.
Well the bari arrived safe and sound yesterday afternoon around 3:30. Whew... The BAM HighTech is truly genius. (I already knew that since I had a first generation version, but these newer ones are even better! Yes, if you have an expensive bari, they are worth the cost.) Between it, Paul Maslin's primo packing job, and a boatload of luck with UPS , the horn arrived with only minor adjustments needed.

I think I bought one case about 30 years ago and it was for a clarinet, so I decided to check how much a BAM Hightech case is. $688 US to $1000 US for a case? Wow. Does it play for me if I need to take a 15 min break? ebay doesn't even have cheaper ones.
Yes, the BAM cases are expensive as hell, but there truly is no better protection for you expensive horn than them. If your horn has to be shipped, or if your horn gets moved around by others--like mine used to be all the time--or if it takes a hit in the case, the BAM case can protect it from an expensive repair.

If it protects your horn from even 1 repair, then it has paid for itself, and my original case has paid for itself multiple times over. This new one too, has already paid for itself, since I don't believe the horn would have arrived as unscathed in the original plywood box--regardless of the packing job.

I am still in the States, but will be heading home either late today or tomorrow. I'm planning to take some nice pics of the horn in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here is the first snapshot of my new baby....

Oooh. Shows up as blueish-black on my screens. Very pretty.

I was thinking about that BAM case. If I had multiple instruments of a specific pitch, as you do with baritones and others, it wouldn't be bad to have a "good enough" case at home and re-pack the horn you're using/taking somewhere in the uber-expensive case. Maybe.
That's what I do. I have the BAM tenor case, but keep my backup horn in a Protec. The Protec isn't a bad case, but the horn does move around in there a bit. The BAM really holds it tight. The only downside to the BAM is that it has very minimal storage space. The neck & mouthpiece must go in a bag in the bell.

I was thinking about that BAM case. If I had multiple instruments of a specific pitch, as you do with baritones and others, it wouldn't be bad to have a "good enough" case at home and re-pack the horn you're using/taking somewhere in the uber-expensive case. Maybe.
Here's the way I look at this: I don't go on vacations. The only $$$ I spend is on my horns, and that money I spend is generally coming from my musical endeavours--or in this case, the sale of another bari.

We don't have a vacation home, or drive expensive cars. Our place is paid off, as are our cars. We live a very unassuming life. The only thing I really do spend my $ on is my horns, and that's OK. So the horns I do have, I make sure are well protected, and well looked after.
I just looked at that pic again. That's a very pretty horn.

Provided my pay is consistent, I should have two big bills paid off at the end of next year. I'm very much looking forward to that. I do, of course, have a mildly expensive computer and website habit :).
Helen, I keep looking at that picture and drooling. Very nice indeed. I always liked the sound of the Couf saxes.

I remember your Couf tenor well Jim. (IIRC, Steve here has it now.) I hadn't played a one before I played yours, but I really enjoyed it. It is very similar to the 1957 Toneking that I now have, but I'd have to play one again to figure out exactly who they differed in tone.

My new bari is certainly a looker. I took it to my big band rehearsal on Tuesday night, and despite being nowhere near doing the horn justice, our Musical Director actually liked the sound. He normally prefers the sound of my Committee III over my Mark VI to anchor the sax section. However, I do have his OK to use it in our upcoming performance on Nov. 17 at a jazz festival. The only reason I might choose not to do that, is if I can't get the palm keys 100% in tune by then.

I'm still trying different MP/reed combos to see if I can find something that this horn likes. Right now it responds best to my vintage SS Berg with Rico Plasticover reeds. At this point I'm about 10 cents flat on each of those notes, but can correct that through embouchure adjustment. With my HR Berg, the notes are between 30-50 cents flat. My other 2 bari pieces I've tried so far (a Runyon Quntum and a Zinner) do no better. Go figure....

I'm off to my tech today to get the necessary tweaking done after the Couf was shipped last week. He's also going to check the palm keys to make sure that their openings are right. Steve did mention that the palm keys is where the Coufs are weakest, and that he's considered toying with thinner pads. It'll be interesting to see what David has done for workarounds on Coufs (JKs) in the past, since he worked on so many of them.
Well that was fun... David was great. He blocked 3 hours in his shop for the job, but it ended up taking him 5. My iPhone is charging upstairs right now, so I'll upload some pics later, but he did a mini overhaul of sorts. The high E key had a slight bend in it--or so I thought. It turns out that the key's lower post had been ever so slightly pushed in. It's not anymore, and the key is now straight again. Here's a listing of all the work that was done. (Not necessarily in the order that they performed BTW.):
  • Remove all the keys & apply grease/oil to all the rods, screws, springs, rollers.
  • Look the horn over from top to bottom in minute detail to look for damage.
  • Swedge the couple keys that needed it.
  • Replace all the felts.*
  • Replace all the corks.*
  • Clean all the resos that had a slight tarnish to their mirrored finish.***
  • Clean the pads.**
  • Clean the rust off the effected springs.***
  • Replace the cork on the water key with a special synthetic one that lasts much longer. (I have these already on my Martin & Mark VI and they are great corks!)
  • Replace the neck cork for an exact fit for my SS Berg Larsen MP.
  • Restore the lower post of the high E key back to its original position. (No more tiny dent. How? I don't know. I left his shop. I get nervous around this kind of work.:eek: )
  • Oh, ya, and reassemble with no evidence of any work ever being done on it. ;)
* This was done because this horn was totally original, and the ones that were installed were compressed. This led to louder action, and where possibly part the slightly musty smell the horn has.
**The pads are quite possibly the biggest culprit with regards to the musty smell. Right now I'm leaving the horn in the stand all the time to air it out, and David figures the smell will naturally dissipate the more I play it. I should mention with just a week's worth of playing, the smell has already gotten better.
*** David believes that it is quite likely that the horn has spent at least part of the last 50 years sitting in a damp environment. Hence the rust on some of the springs, and the tarnish on the mirror finish of the resos, as well as a contributing factor to the musty smell the bari currently has.

Now that the horn is leak free, I can tell you some fun facts about the sax. While at David's shop, I took my 2 main MPs (SS Berg & HR Berg). The SS Berg was without a doubt the right fit for the horn. The HR Berg has some tuning issues in the palm keys--and by some I mean A LOT. Although the HR Berg is my go-to piece on my Martin and Selmer, and just sounds raunchier on those horns, on the Couf, it sounds weak. So I asked David if he could explain it.

David carefully looked at the bore opening of the 2 pieces, and then at the neck opening. The neck opening is quite small, while the HR Berg's bore opening is wider, and more like what you would see in other baris. The SS Berg's bore opening is smaller though, and much almost a perfect match for for the neck opening. The chamber on the SS Berg is also smaller than that on the HR one.

Now I don't pretend to understand the conical bores, and how the cone gets completed by the MP (or something along those lines), but I certainly know from my own experience that not every MP works with every horn. David said it makes sense that the SS Berg would work better, and gives the horn a better sound that projects the horn's natural overtones better. He then went on with some explanation of saxophone acoustics that @jbtsax would understand. Me? I glazed over as I do in these cases, since it's the equivalent of finding myself in a post doc calculus class, when I barely got of out HS algebra.

One thing is for sure, the Couf takes a ton of air--and by ton, I mean a boatload more than the Mark VI and Martin Committee III. As I told David yesterday, if I didn't know that he had just finished setting it up perfectly, and removing all leaks, I would think it was leaking. Going over the break? Brutal. Diaphragm support? I thought I did that to play the baris I have. Nah, not near enough. I ran out of steam and my diaphragm went into spasms within 10 seconds of holding a note. I see A LOT of long tones in my immediate future.

Although I haven't measured the Couf and my other baris side by side, based on the barely-fitting BAM case, it appears to be longer than both the Martin and the Selmer too. I must admit, compared to some low A horns I've played, this one is a beast to play.... But.... The tone is worth it. The flexibility, richness, and available volume is like no other low A bari that I have played before.

Will I be abandoning my 2 low Bb horns for my new Couf? No, not at all. The low Bb baris have their place, and I will continue to use them just as I did before. However, in the immediate future, the learning curve of a new horn is always a fun one.
IDK if I've mentioned it on this thread (too lazy to check), but I've mentioned it elsewhere: I did own a Keilwerth made Bundy bari, with a low Bb. I mentioned to Helen that the two mouthpieces I used on the horn were a Sigurd Rascher -- primarily because of my teachers, not necessarily because I have great fondness for the mouthpiece -- and the one that came with the horn, a very long and fat Geo. Bundy. I did a quick Google and I was able to find one:


This mouthpiece worked out quite well for the horn. I don't remember any intonation problems, but it's been a long while and we might be talking 20 years between the Bundy and H-Couf.

My teacher and I both liked the horn an awful lot, but I really wanted a low A horn before I went off to college and I wasn't overly fond of the keywork, so I traded the Bundy, some other horns, and cash for a Yamaha YBS-52. I don't regret the trade for the Yamaha, but I will say that the Bundy had a much better tone. Also, IIRC, the top curve of the horn -- the top of the "pigtail" -- had both of the connectors resoldered and relacquered. I don't know if this was because there was some adjustments made to the altissimo keywork or if someone once mashed the top of the horn badly enough that it had to be removed completely.
Here are a couple of pics from my Couf's day at the sax hospital ;)....
Even the pads were in really good shape! I think that you did pretty well getting this horn.
I have a lot of Couf sax pictures on my website and computer, although may links do not work. I need to fix that. lol

Royalist II were make in Elkhart, Indiana. At least that's what is engraved on my 1974 horn. Gary Ferree (one of Mr Coufs sax engineers at the time) gave me a history of the horns at one time. In brief, Mr. Couf wanted a cheaper horn for the student market to better compete against Selmer USA, etc. And the european horns were still too costly, so they essentially reverse engineered the Royalist in the Detroit office and started making it in the US. Thus the reason the US made Royalist II look so much like their european predecessor.

Yes, RTH were really only on the Altos and Tenors. Not much differentiates the other I and IIs. Just more engraving, different lacquer options, bell brace, G# and other touches, etc.

My teacher at the time, at Mr. Coufs Royal Music store, had a "Black gold" - dark honey gold plated Superba I alto, special order horn.
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NOTE: Early sops, the S1s had pearl G# touch. The SII had black plastic G# touch.
Thumb rest was better in the S1, initially replaceable/adjustable left/right metal later being a plastic piece with 2 body anchors.

Early sopranos, in this example #76915, had
  • mkVI style palm keys with inline toneholes
  • top style bell keys
  • Keilwerth style RH pinky keys (squarish)
  • LH Table keys are on one post / mechanism which dictate the top bell key design

Later on as the design was improved,

  • addition of tall arched palm keys as they moved the toneholes from inline, to the side.
  • tall palm key toneholes
  • addition of high F# sliver key, notice the lack of room and sliver side F#



  • you had a change in the LH pinky table keys, from a mk VI style action (though with the more modern layout) to an improved mechanism
  • that moved the bell keys around.
  • rounder RH table keys



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