Well, here’s a turn up for the books… A friend came around last night with his (Lewin) Martin stencil tenor – he’d just started playing again, and couldn’t work out whether a couple of problems he was having were down to him or the sax.
I had a bit of a play, and thought “Hmmm, I don’t remember being this bad on tenor…” – so I got the leak-light out. Two little problems found which both affected the lower notes. Easiest to find was the little ‘forked’ Eb trill pad was leaking a bit – easily eliminated by corking it down, time for a permanent repair later. That made everything fine way down into the bell notes, but still fuzziness as soon as the octave key was pressed (especially around D2, E2). That was fixed by a little gentle bending of the octave mech on the neck – the pad on the neck was slightly lifting all the time the octave key was depressed, instead of staying closed whilst the lower (body) octave pad was open.
Great, now it played like a dream, and I was really enjoying testing it with both Lawton and ebonite Couf mouthpieces – to the extent that I got my own (very similar but quite dusty) Martin stencil tenor out of mothballs to compare horns. Exit one happy tenor player, having also acquired a couple of reeds for his daughters clarinet, leaving me tootling away on my old and battered tenor ( I like to call it ‘character ‘…)
After a while, I naturally put down the tenor and picked up my Martin C-Mel (well, it was after 9 p.m. by then 🙂 ) – and what a culture shock ! All of a sudden, with the same mouthpiece/reed on the C-Mel, I was having to adopt a more measured (cautious even) approach to playing, and getting much less back from the horn for my efforts. My tenor hasn’t been out of its case for at least a year – probably very much more – but I suspect that things may well change from now on.
I still quite ‘like’ the C-Mel, but after exclusively playing it for some time, my C-Mel tone seems to have moved ever-so-slightly away from that of my original ‘small tenor’ sound, which was what I really wanted it for – it now seems to have developed into a bit of a gentler hybrid combination of alto/tenor sounds, when I make a direct comparison, something I hadn’t been doing for quite some while.. Oh dear, I was probably being just a touch naive… 😦 Maybe there is still a place in my life for Bb tenor after all ? No doubt about it !