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The Oldest Surviving Saxophone ...


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
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Notice that this bari sax goes all the way up to high F. Later baritones only go to Eb. By 1850 they were already saying "They don't make them the way they used to!"

I got to see and play the mouthpiece for a few weeks. The previous owner of the mouthpiece, Robert Sheldon, is a former curator of musical instruments for the Library of Congress. He is a friend of mine and sent me the mouthpiece to measure and play.

The mouthpiece is made from grenadilla wood. In its present state the facing is badly warped but still playable. The chamber is enormous, especially near the tip. The chamber is so large that the walls if the mouthpiece are quite thin. The tip opening is small.

Recently, the theory that Sax designed one family (SATB) of saxes in Eb and Bb for band and another family in F and C for orchestra has been challenged. Everything seems to suggest that after the prototype bass sax, shaped like an ophicleide, almost all saxes were made in Eb and Bb. The Bb tenor probably came last. All of the classical contest pieces published by Adolphe Sax were for Bb or Eb saxophones.

There are exceedingly rare examples of saxes in the keys of F and C, but it is likely that they were not in common use anywhere, including orchestral playing.
From what I understand, so far, 1866 was when Sax was granted the patent for the extensions to low A and altissimo G (really). I need to find the Sax Journal article on the Sax F Alto and check the serial.

Point of interest: the Sax F alto was owned by Paul Brodie. He died a few years ago. What happened to the collection?

I posted, in another thread, two separate listings of "all" the known A. Sax instruments. I should justify those with the table I've used for serial numberage and see. (Also included in those linkies is the dates -- and hopefully listing -- of what was displayed at each "exposition" Sax went to. That might be helpful.)

BTB, for those of you who don't know, Groovekiller not only owns and plays a couple of A. Sax instruments (check out his Myspace page), he's written some things about the Sax instruments.
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