Introducing the Mason Pro C-Melody Sax !

You saw it here first ! These are the latest pictures of the Mason Pro C-Melody Sax, just received from Lee Mason, of CFP Music – Hillsboro OR.   It’s actually continuing on from an earlier blog post,  The Alibaba C Key Alto Saxophone  (this seems to be the same sax) but I thought these new pictures merited starting a fresh post.

This is a little bit ‘deja-vu’ ! One picture even shows a Mason Pro C neck (pic #9) on a Buescher body – the red sax in some of the pics is a Mason Pro tenor, and the vintage C-Mel is a Buescher (pic #10).   Cost ? Including a mouthpiece, strap and soft case ( quite like the Aquilasax soft case ? )    $795 plus shipping.

Right-click on the main image for options, including slideshow – or click on individual thumbnails to see the big picture (arrows mean more…)

Photo Album: The Mason Pro C Melody Sax

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20 Responses to Introducing the Mason Pro C-Melody Sax !

  1. Mal-2 says:

    It’s a little disappointing to see the same straight-ahead neck angle that forces me to pull the bow way back to my hip, or have metallic spit flowing back at me. I would seriously like to see a more tenor-like angle on the end of the neck. I think the C-mel feels right pushed slightly away from the body like a tenor, not hiked up snug like an alto, but the neck angle is just not conducive to holding it that way.

  2. Lewis Pelham says:

    I, and I believe Alan also, much prefer the tenor style neck. I had a straight neck Conn C Mel & had to adopt the position of an Anthropoid to play it. Not all tenor players play " straight out in front"; many of us prefer the more comfortable & cool stance with the horn on the right side. To a large degree the position is dependent upon the radial position of the strap ring…my Rampone tenor "wants" to sit on the right yet my Grassi naturally adopts a poseur’s position.

  3. alan says:

    Mal – I had another email from Lee Mason, who said "The factory told me it was their design, but it looks exactly like the Aquila sax, so don’t know what the actual situation is…"  Lee seems very open about the whole thing, and has been in the business quite a while, so chances are that maybe it’s the same factory not just selling to Steve.  Which is a bit of a gut-wrencher, as Steve (afaik) funded the R&D and had some ‘hands on’ in the early days.

    Apart from extending the body (and therefore slightly shortening the neck) to accomodate the high F#, it was always – if it is a re-badged Aquilasax – going to be a new action on a tweaked version of the old curved-neck Conn body.  Until someone does a real re-design, the same comfort and intonation issues are going to be just under the cosmetic surface – unless they were all addressed in the R&D stage.

    I do believe that some modern players of 20’s C-Mels have had their (sax…:lol:) neck angle adjusted, slightly ‘pulled up’ to relieve the very problems that you mention.

    Hello Lewis – we must have been writing at the same time (I’m slow, and your comment wasn’t there when I started). I don’t find the tenor-neck 20’s C’s a challenge – apart from the centre of gravity – and do find that with both later Conn C’s, and the Bb tenor, the playing position is too far down.

    Having the C-Mel ‘up’, like an alto, allows me to play slightly to the right, with the bow even more to the right, slightly diagonal, and mouthpiece rotated slightly cw – perfect position. With short arms, both s/neck Conn and Bb tenor have to be so far to the right, and a bit up, that it gets uncomfy. Alto always was my ‘easy to hold’ sax.

  4. Lewis Pelham says:

    I think that the underslung octave rocker is the give away….looks to be the Auilasax. If this is the case then I am devastated for Steve.
     It is my opinion, fwiiw, that only those who play both alto and tenor have a problem with the mouthpiece entry angle.

  5. alan says:

    Lewis – you might need to re-read my comment #3, I was still tweaking it when you posted again 😯

    The necks (plural) will be a clue, as the replacement one shown in the 20’s Buescher will need to be of a different (longer) length – if it is to work properly – to the ones on the new 2008 C.  Remember the shorter neck/longer body syndrome, to allow for the new high F# on the 2008 body…

    So whilst there may possibly be another factory making new C’s that look just like the Aquilasax (far-fetched ?) – what are the odds that the other factory also makes the slightly longer 20’s replacement necks, where the body is shorter and the neck longer ?  Apologies for sounding like a conspiracy theorist…

  6. Lewis Pelham says:

    Well spotted young Sir. I do so hope that you are right.
    However, whereas Steve had the new C Mel market to himself…it seems no longer to be the case. He will lose, whatever the supply position; perhaps he shewed his cards too early

  7. alan says:

    I hate to sound a little negative, but unless both the Aquilasax & Mason Pro C’s have the niggling ergonomics/quality and intonation issues sorted, the new C-Mels could also end up being criticised as much as the 20’s ones are now.

    The ‘common sense’ aspect of C Trumpets and C Clarinets has never really caught on in even a modest way, and modern versions of those have been around for a while – so maybe the C Sax is likewise destined to stay in the shadows forever ?  After all, the 20’s (and 30’s) ones can sound fantastic in the hands of accomplished and synpathetic players.

    It may also be simply that Steve is a little financially constrained after making some refunds on his original C’s and funding the neck mods, and can currently only take a few saxes at a time – I suspect it’s a ‘money up front’ arrangement with the factory – so the factory is just looking to ensure that it has sufficient outlets for the C saxes coming through ?  Unfair in life, but understandable in business.  Unless they sell in sufficient numbers, for the factory to take the initiative, who’s going to fund the next batch ?  It’d be ironic if the few new ones out there became cult horns.

  8. Mal-2 says:

    I would like to wait for Steve for several reasons. First, I know his return policy is commendable, so I won’t be stuck with a useless lump. Second, I have already pre-ordered it. Though I haven’t put down any money, I feel like there’s a horn in the pipeline with my name on it and it would be wrong to turn my back on that. Third, it’s a question of short-term cheapness versus long-term consequences of screwing over the investors. We want new products, right? We have to show that we respect the R&D behind it — after he sells off the first 100 or 200 and has covered the expenses, then fine, let the market get divided.

  9. alan says:

    Mal – I agree with all that totally.  I’m currently talking to Steve, there does possibly appear to be something strange afoot, but I don’t want to talk about that here without Steve’s OK.  I just put up some pictures up on the blog, for all to see,  which came my way whilst tracking down the Mason Pro C. I would still very much prefer to deal with Steve, because I’ve dealt with him before.

    I’ve dealt with Steve (Aquilasax) for years, and, as well as being a perfect gentleman, he’s completely honest.  I should also say that my previous statement also doesn’t imply that anyone else isn’t…  I think we have to wait and see what happens.

  10. Lewis Pelham says:

    One would have thought that a clause, allowing exclusivity to Steve, would have been put in place with the manufacturer; giving him initial rights, to cover the not inconsiderable. R&D…that’s how it usually works.
     My experience of Steve also shews that he is a man of his word.

  11. alan says:

    Just a reminder that I was contacted by Mason Pro, from the US, after talking to Alibaba and Opus in China.  So it’s reasonably safe to assume that it’s the same C Sax.
    Opus / Alibaba have been kind enough to put up a better ‘original’ picture on their website, so it gicves a better chance to look at what was thought to be the Aquilasax logo on the original Alibaba/Opus picture (click/hover here).

    Here’s the Alibaba/Opus ‘logo’ picture, below, look at the bell in the background –

    And here’s one of Steve’s Aquilasax logos, below…

    So, either they just used one of the Aquilasax saxes for their own advertising – naughty – or they are the same sax. and the Mason Pro is the same sax with different engraving. Either that, or two factories are building the same C saxes ? Really, and they happened to use one of the saxes from the other factory, already engraved for Aquilasax, for their own marketing… ? I’m not for a moment suggesting that Mason Pro are doing anything underhand, they’ve just bought some C saxes engraved for them in China, and are selling them as part of their Mason pro product line in the US. It all seems to go back to Alibaba/Opus in China. Before I was contacted by Mason Pro, I had this offer to buy one direct from China – from Richard Guo, of Beijing OPUS Musical Instruments Co. Ltd –

    (quote) “We can promise this is C melody saxophone not the a normal E-flat alto saxophone, we have a clients has order 3 pcs. The FOB price is $321, we can make it with silver plated or gold lacquered , if you have any problem, please let us know feel free. The shipping cost is $ 299 Total charge is : $620” (end quote)


  12. Lewis Pelham says:

    As you so succinctly say…Hmmm

  13. ukebert says:

    Such a shame for Steve if it is the case. And I, along with most people here I fear, still think that a newly designed C Mel with a better, wider, more consistent bore would have been the appropriate instrument to start off the return. I hope that the intonation on Steve’s new saxes is better than it was on the one that I had, which I returned due to damage for a refund with Steve being most supportive. This was before the neck problem was identified. I’ve been away, so I don’t know what’s happening to Steve’s business, is everything alright over there?

    Oh, and hello all, nice to back if only for a short time.

  14. Lewis Pelham says:

    Hello Owen; welcome back.
    It occurred to me that Steve’s C Mel was to be up and running by last June…Hey Ho. (or, for Owen, Nonny No)  😛

  15. Dan says:

    I received my Aquilasax many months ago (probably one of the first shipments), played with it and experimented with it extensively and made several recommendations for modifications to Steve. I returned it and Steve promptly refunded my money.  Steve’s reputation is top notch IMHO and i will only buy from him as far as the new C-mel is concerned, after all his effort, R&D.  I do not know much about Mason Pro but I do know quite a bit about the Chinese culture and business practices. I am employed by a very large Chinese company (a global 500 giant). It is common knowledge for Chinese manufacturers to have a "night run". Thats when they manufacture an identical knock off product and sell it without the originators knowledge. They are basically cheating Steve out of his investment, time R&D and dumping the product in the open market behind his back.  Unless of course Steve has given them permission to do so in order to get rid of the first batch of C-Mels without damaging the Aquilasax brand name, since that first batch had problems.    

  16. al says:

    Dan – Welcome – I’ve obviously been exchanging emails with Steve over this, and don’t know how much I should disclose here.  I can however confirm that Steve does have an ‘exclusive’ selling agreement with the factory, and he isn’t dumping the old saxophones – in fact he’s waiting for a new batch right now.

    Whether the factory is doing it behind his back is another matter !  But if the factory have sold any to Alababa/Opus – they are likely to have the old necks, and the old problems

    The man behind Mason Pro (also currently waiting for a shipment of C’s) has announced his intention to sell his own Mason Pro C Mel on ebay shortly – again, that must be one of the old type.  He also seems to be selling the same type of replacement neck as Steve…

  17. alan says:

    I note that the ebay auction for the first Mason Pro C Melody Sax didn’t tempt anyone at $800 – despite some enquiries about the (very reasonable) shipping costs to this side of the Atlantic…    Curious, his ‘Aquilasax style’ replacement neck didn’t sell in a previous auction either  !

  18. alan says:

    I notice that the Mason Pro C is back up on ebay (having failed to sell last time…)

    Click here for the ebay listing

    Cheeky blighter even says he ships to New Zealand – now that IS slightly taking the p!**

  19. Steve says:

    It does look exactly like my saxes from the pix but there are no pix from back or front.
    My saxes all have serial numbers on the back and model name engraved on the front “Presence”
    Interesting that I dropped 2 bright silver C saxes back at the factory several months ago to test some mods on and haven’t heard back since. I don’t know anybody else selling bright silver saxes?
    There is only one factory making them and I have a 5 year contract as only supplier and I also hold the patent on them so theoretically no-one can make or sell without my permission.
    The legal system in China has been fairly flimsy in the past but they are rapidly catching up to international standard and prosecution may soon be a viable option.
    If it is one of my saxes from the early batch, it will have the same intonation issues.
    Guess time will tell and it will all come out in the wash!

  20. Alan says:

    I suppose I ought to point out, in this topic/post, just in case anyone has ‘Google’d here – that I’ve happily been playing (and testing) an Aquilasax C for some time now – here’s the ongoing review, and the latest post on it.

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