Quite a size difference for just one tone…

Thanks to lewis for emailing me this wonderful picture of his Bueschers, to quote him –

(left) 1940-45 Solid silver Big B with green gold plated keywork and now, courtesy of “Aquilasax Steve” (and sore fingers, following a day of fettling to size) Paua pearl touches.

(right) 1925  TT C Melody with satin silver plated, gold lacquer keywork & rose gold bell interior. A rather flash looking, but pretty little horn.


I’ve always perceived the C-Mel to be physically closer in size to an alto ( but with a pitch difference of one and a half tones) – yet with only a tone difference, the tenor sax looks huge by comparison to the C.

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9 Responses to Quite a size difference for just one tone…

  1. Mal-2 says:

    Part of the reason the C-mel looks more similar in size to an alto is the neck shape. The recurved, tenor-style neck makes the instrument look smaller – sometimes smaller than an alto placed next to it. This I also have to attribute to the proportionally greater rise of the bell, which means it sits low on a sax stand.

    This picture of an <a href=”http://mal-2.com/sax/cmel_vs_alto.jpg”>alto and C-mel side by side on a stand</a> shows what I mean. You can see that the bottom bow sits much lower on the C-mel, but this does not factor as strongly into its APPARENT size.

  2. lewis Pelham says:

    Good points Mal, also, perhaps I should have photographed them the other way around to compensate for the perspective error.

  3. alan says:

    Ah, but maybe the Big B is closer to your heart, and therefore closer to the camera ?  🙂

  4. Mal-2 says:

    I realized at the last rehearsal that I hold the C-mel in front of me like an alto, rather than off to the side like a tenor, and I am a lot more comfortable with the extra stability of holding it in front. Changing the neck angle so that it is more like a tenor allows me to hold it less like a tenor and more like a large alto. How ironic.

    When seated with a bari, I usually put it on the floor with a phone book under the bow. (Simple but effective. Tear off pages or insert a few until you like the height and you have a one-point stand.) It is only the tenor that swings around. Some people use this to good effect, visually at least, but I don’t like to be chasing after my horn while trying to play it.

    The thing that bothers me most about playing the C-mel seated isn’t the playing, it’s holding on to it afterward. The wire key guards and the big scroll on the bow mean no matter how I try to hold it on or across the legs, something is poking me uncomfortably. Even the bottom post of the low C# can get prickly. There’s no more fork-Eb cage, but the low C# post is almost as annoying. I think I can put split vacuum hose over the bow brace to render it “soft”, and I might be able to do the same to the key guards, but I really don’t want to have hose out front where everyone sees it. I’m fishing for a better idea here. A latex dip perhaps? I bet one of the places that “ruggedizes” iPods and PDAs with rubber could do the same to the key guards, but I’m still not sure I like that either.

  5. lewis Pelham says:

    My, how we differ. I feel out of control with the tenor directly in front of me…a la Ben Webster….my right hand is both fingering the keys and supporting the sax….particularly laterally.
    When placed to the side, my hip provides extra stability, the horn being locked against my body.
    Clearly I must be wrong, but I had always assumed that the “in front” position was a pose…perhaps I should try again.

  6. alan says:

    For me, the ‘in-front’ playing position seems to encourage strain and tension, whereas on the right side of my body seems the most natural angles for arms etc. – much more comfortable. 

    The only time I’ve ever played ‘in-front’ was in a small standing section (like the old soul bands), plus it had the added advantage of getting my bell closer to the shared microphone 😆

    Never had the need to really consider ‘sitting’ positions – for long club gigs I used to bring along a tall (bar) stool – usually ending ‘half-perched’ with the right foot on the floor, hence the tenor sax would naturally slide to the right (that was before the C-Mel days…)

  7. Mal-2 says:

    I always wondered why I seemed to be so much looser at home as opposed to on stage, since I generally do not have a problem with stage fright. I finally realized that at home, I usually sit down and rest the horn on something, or stand up and do the same (the arm of the couch was a common support). This results in a much looser and more mobile right hand position, but how would I duplicate that on stage?

    I came up with a simple answer that doesn’t require permanently sacrificing any expensive hardware — I mounted a dip dish (a small bowl about 3 inches across) on a camera tripod. This is bolted on the same way I would attach a camera, so I can remove it easily enough and use the tripod to hold my camera (which I did to take this picture:

    showing the conjunction of Moon, Venus, and Jupiter).

    The dip dish then has a layer of 1/4″ cork glued into the bottom, so the tripod screw is covered and there is a forgiving but firm surface that is fairly resistant to slipping. Being mounted on a tripod means I can set it at whatever height pleases me, and at almost any angle. This being a nice Manfrotto tripod, it even will let me kick the legs out until it stands less than one foot high. Anything lower than that would be better accomplished by stacking books, boxes, rolls of tape, whatever works.

    The only horn this is not terribly well suited for is soprano. It sits comfortably enough, but being a straight soprano, all the moisture runs straight out the bottom and fouls the cork in the dish, so I have to cover it with a towel, which adds to problems with the low Bb as you might expect. It also does not really help with playing bari while seated, since this usually only requires 6 to 8 inches of support structure. But for tenor, C-mel, and alto, it is easily adaptable. I just set the legs for the biggest horn I’ll play, and use the center post to get a little more lift for the smaller horns.

    With the support of the tripod, my right hand is no longer trapped against my body and my neck is completely free of the weight of the horn. I don’t have to push it away from me with my right thumb either, something that was starting to cause problems in its own right. I already have a permanent “clarinet callus” (which is really a bone spur) on the right thumb, I don’t need any more trouble.

    I’ll try to get pictures, but it may have to wait until I have a visitor who can take the picture for me, since I don’t have enough hands to go around and I can’t just mount the camera on a tripod to use the timer… for obvious reasons. 🙄

  8. ukebert says:

    I seem to recall a special sort of strap somewhere that had the same effect Mal. Some kind of angled brace culminating in a band that stretched across the lower chest (one would hope well below the diaphragm). Can’t remember where I saw it now.

    I love that picture. If only *sighs*

    I haven’t played sax in months, and have only played clarinet once since the summer. I’ve been exclusively playing Melodeon and uke and university.

  9. Mal-2 says:

    I have a “harness” type neckstrap. I can’t stand it. First, my right hand still gets cramped against my hip, and I’m trying to push the horn away with my (rapidly tiring) thumb. Second, the harness does take the weight off the neck, but it doesn’t take it off the back or the legs. Finally, there is little room for movement with a harness. If I can’t get it to adjust just how I want it (and I’ve tried and failed), tough luck. It was a total waste of $30. Maybe you’re talking about a different kind of support, in which case I’d be interested in checking it out if you can find a reference.

    When I put the horn up on the tripod, I can step toward or away from it as it suits me, and it adds no weight to my ailing back and legs. My hands need only apply enough resistance to keep the horn from toppling over, which is almost nothing as long as I keep it reasonably close to vertical. It is not secured to the tripod in any way, it just rests on the small bowl I’ve mounted where a camera would normally go. The method is so successful that I intend to get a cymbal stand (cheaper than a tripod, so I won’t mind cutting it up) and mount the “horseshoe” part of a sax stand on it. Then I don’t even have to hold the horn upright, nor would I have to lower it to the sax stand when I’m not playing. (I’d still put it down between sets, as I don’t like the idea of it being a giant inverted pendulum.)

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