Friday 20 September 2019

In admiration of Martin (stencil) Handcraft tenor saxophones

A while back I went musically full circle, back to playing my elderly bare-brass 30's Martin (stencil) Handcraft tenor sax, engraved "Melody Master" . At that age, understandably not always 100% reliable even after being treated to a gorgeous full overhaul by Peter Bettle, no-one can predict when metal fatigue will strike - although, like a vintage car, the sound and feel makes up for any creakiness - so when it's silver-plated 'twin' popped up I didn't hesitate to spend a bit of someone else's inheritance ;-)
Like a pair of peas in a pod, the 'new' Lewin, another 30's Martin Handcraft stencil, plays identically. Harmonics in the same place (Jody Jazz Jet + Fibracell reed, really opens up the sound...) - even the necks are identical and interchangeable, which is a bonus as my bare-brass neck has been straightened and patched on both sides (before my time).
(Bonus #2, now have a big solid cardboard box etc. to ship out the B&S silver plated tenor it's replacing, next time eBay has a "only £1 selling fee" promotion...
Anyone need a silver plated B&S 'Blue Label' tenor saxophone ? :-)
Perfect playing companions for my 30's Martin Handcraft C-Melody / C- Tenor

Wednesday 8 August 2018

The amazing Charlie Ventura ( here on tenor sax )

When I was still at school, in Cornwall, I used to learn to improvise (on clarinet) by playing along to a Charlie Ventura LP - he was on a variety of saxophones - often playing the 33rpm record at 16rpm (half speed) to at least give me a chance to keep up.   

Lovely raspy solo here, dapper moustache n'all, from 1:25, playing on Gene Krupa's "Leave us Leap" - great audio quality, suspect the film clip has been 'tweaked'.  And again at 2:15, natty braces Chas !

It was obvious even then that, sooner or later, I'd leg it to the nearest Secondhand Shop and swap the clarinet for a saxophone !  But there weren't many Secondhand Shops, let alone with old saxophones for sale, in Cornwall in the late 50's / early 60's.

But that was a few years later, in Bath, just behind the Bus Station, where I swapped my school clarinet for a knackered old 'York' silver plated (well, mostly...) alto sax - and then, shortly afterwards, I joined my first Soul Band - Heart 'n Soul.   Wiltshire Soul rocked !!!

How can I remember all that from the 60's, but yesterday is a pretty much a blur...?  Sigh...


Thursday 2 August 2018

Keilwerth New King tenor saxophone, 50's vintage - the one that got away...

Although I'm quite happy with my current tenor sax, a German built B&S 'Blue Label' (pics here - more about it later), I couldn't resist the chance to try this 50's Keilwerth New King when it came up on eBay.  The seller was offering 'Returns', so minimal risk, and there was no other interest. Looked recently repadded with brown (plastic) reflector pads.

Played as you'd expect, thick smokey sound, especially low down, powerful sound, and plenty of cut in reserve with my favourite Couf J10*S mouthpiece, BUT (extremely sad part...) most of the low harmonics either weren't quite in the same place as my other horns, or (even worse...) were not to be found - even after several days of trying, even with several different mouthpieces !  Naturally I checked a few things, like pad heights - especially that the front-F opened 'just a crack'.

I'm so used to using the low harmonics (G-C) as a natural extension of the normal range that it was quite a frustrating experience.  Switching back to the B&S, where they just 'popped out', just confirmed the inevitable.  I had a very nice Keilwerth Tone King 'Exclusiv' back in the day, I don't remember any similar problems with it.  

So, it has to go back, thanks to the seller for allowing returns, obviously all shipping at my expense.   I'll always look at the pictures - click here - and wish that it'd been a bit more forthcoming.  Sigh...  Onwards and upwards !

Wednesday 22 July 2015

New (old) Bb Tenor Sax - Couesnon Monopole Conservatoire II - nice !

Just acquired a Couesnon Monopole Conservatoire tenor sax, s/no 149xx behind the pinkie table - I keep seeing "II" mentioned on reviews etc. but can't find anything on the engraving (apart from two pigeons ?) that would suggest that. Certainly has "Couesnon Monopole Conservatoire" in the bell engraving.

(the case didn't come with the sax, I've had that R&C case here for a while waiting for a suitable resident )

Plays like a dream - having been used to the more 'spread' Martin sound, I can now appreciate a more focussed sound. A lot is down to the choice of mouthpiece, but with my high-baffle Couf J10*S (far right in the picture below) it has all the presence you could ever wish for when pushed, subtones, harmonics, the lot - and backing off the airstream produces a more conventional sound acceptable to anyone.

I did disable the linked G#/C# (etc.) on the 'pinkie table', made it a little too much of a workout for my smallest digit. Speaking of which - I was doubtful about those shaped palm keys, but for my smaller hands the palm keys fit like a dream, as does everything else. Normally the frst thing I'd have to do is fit a riser to the palm D.

All for under $1000 (fitted case wasn't included), and I'm told it had been given a recent $500 repad by DG Music in Exmouth, nice job Griff... It was a UK sale, but I've put the figures in US$ 'cos I know how much you colonial readers get confused with foreign currencies

More pics (the sellers) on my flickr - click here, I'll be taking some pictures of my own very soon.  
No official serial numbers lists exist - the factory was burnt down, which also brought production to an end in the 70's - but I'd suggest that this was hand-built (as were all their horns) near the end of production.

Stephen Howard did a great review of the same model tenor, you can read it by clicking here

Catch up with me on Facebook

Hello - just in case you think it's a little quiet here lately, I seem to have migrated most of my online activity to Facebook, where I'm known as (variously) Alan Tucker, Tucks and c.tenor.saxophone - click on this link

I've also started a C Saxophone Archive page over there, early days, but my C's are getting a touch neglected at the moment. Seem to be back on tenor sax, also enjoying a new friend - a bass clarinet - and I've also gone all 'baroque', playing tenor and great-bass recorders and music from centuries past (well, they are in C...)

Again, click on this link for the C Saxophone Archive page...

Hopefully, these links will also encourage Google search engines to include my Facebook witterings in normal searches - who knows ? 

Friday 1 May 2015

Yet another Martin C Melody saxophone, lovely...

Another of mine, of course - thanks CV !

Photo's from my Dorsetdriftwood flickr page 
Just be patient, and give the slideshow a few seconds to get up good head of steam...

Saturday 6 December 2014

Chris Potter plays a Selmer Balanced Action c-melody saxophone circa 193...

Yes, Selmer really were still making C-Melody / C-Tenor saxophones as late as 1939 - although I suspect only as a Special Order.

Wonder if it's for sale ?

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Kohlert C-Melody / C-Tenor Saxophone - the two generations

On the left,  my early Kohlert C-Melody / C-Tenor saxophone from the 1920-30's, recently acquired.  On the right, possibly one of the last manufactured Kohlert C-Melody / C-Tenor saxophones - pictures courtesy of its owner, Kari Riikkilä from Finland, who says it is from 1977, which could give the two C's an age difference of around 50 years.

I was lucky enough to acquire my early Kohlert C-Melody / C-Tenor saxophone recently - the silver plated one on the left - by 'internet bidding' at a UK auction.  Not on, but an actual established UK auction site, Bamfords.  The only downside, apart from the lightning speed of the bidding, which was over less than 20 seconds, was having to arrange my own shipping from the (quite remote) auction site to my home.

The reason I say, somewhat tentatively, 1920-30's, is that I cannot date the sax because it has no serial number that I can find, there is NO information stamped on the back of the body at all...  There is a possibility that it could have been made elsewhere for Kohlert, as a stencil, and some features lead me to the assumption that it was definitely made 'this side of the pond', in Europe.  It has yet to be overhauled to full playing order, some of the current pads are, at best, 'hopeful' (the bow Eb pad is perched on top of the cup...)

As for the 'last' 1977 Kohlert C, the two-tone C on the right, looking at them in side profile the thing that immediately srikes me is how much lower down the 'sling-ring' is and how much higher up the thumb-hook is on the '77.  Other than that, the profiles and proportions of both bodies are quite similar.  The 77's owner,  Kari sent me a photobucket link to his photos of it, so I can offer links to albums, and slideshows, for them both !  Enjoy, click on the links below to enjoy the pictures.

          Early (1920-30's) Kohlert C-Melody / C-Tenor saxophone pictures

          Late (1977) Kohlert C-Melody / C-Tenor saxophone pictures

          Or as a slideshows - below - scaled to fit both on the same screen....

** Usage hint, hover over each slideshow to see the 'options bar', and click on any of the pictures to see it in a full size window...

                                          1920-30's above, 1977 below....

Friday 29 August 2014

Brief hints and tips on how to use this blog / website

1) Welcome, this blog/website covers a few diverse topics, not just C Saxophones. If you'd like to just view (e.g.) just 'C' related posts, look to your right for a Section titled "Select which type of Posts to view...", and click on "C-Melody / C-Tenor Saxophones" - and only those posts will be shown. Click on 'Home' in the top LH corner, or "Show all Posts" at the top of the page, to show everything.  Check out the 'tabs' above too.

2) You can still read the old posts etc. on the original blog - click here - but new posts will be on this blog.  I'm working on all the 'returns' to come back here, but in the interim you may have to use your browser 'back' key.

3)  To be able to comment on any of the Posts or Pages here, you will need a Google login (or an associated account, i.e. Wordpress, Yahoo, Flickr, myspace, OpenID etc.) - for more info, and/or to get an OpenID account, please click here.  That's about it, scroll down the screen to continue, enjoy !

Tuesday 26 August 2014

(Test 4) - Embed a SoundCloud mp3 track on Blogger.....

On a King C-Melody sax, with a Jody Jazz (alto) HR* 9M mouthpiece - rather open tip - and a Rico Royal #2 BASS Clarinet reed... Rather eccentric setup, but, apart from the tip opening (.105" ?), quite a bit of similarity to the old 20's setup... The bass clari reed is an excellent fit for the JJ alto mouthpiece table/tip profile.
AS I now play Bb tenor, I could be searching for a slightly more unique and/or individual C-Tenor sound than the normal 'tenor mouthpiece' type !

And now for something completely different - just a bit of a waffle on tenor sax, decades ago, way down in the mix, at a recording session in Wokingham - Peter Howe was the singer. Who dubbed that squeak in ????