Jim Schmidt’s revolutionary new sax goes East…

  I was interested by this statement in a recent saxontheweb topic.  As you may know, a while back, Jim Schmidt was working on a revolutionary new ‘Contralto’ – in C – saxophone with a totally different fingering system, and, certainly for the Contralto,  a completely new bore design.  Subsequently Jim  stopped development and production of the C/Contralto – I don’t know if any C’s were ever actually sold – to concentrate on the Bb/Tenor version.   Now it seems that Garret L Hypes, of Las Vegas based Saxophone.com is taking the venture a step further.  Here’s the statement –

I (Saxophone.com) have just started a collaboration with saxophone inventor Jim Schmidt and our Taiwanese business associates on his new chromatic fingered saxophone (http://users.gotsky.com/jimschmidt/default.html). This is the first real change in saxophone fingering since the Boehm fingering system patent (1847). Jim is just now finishing up marking the tone hole locations on three custom Schmidt spec body tubes manufactured and shipped to him from our Houli contracted factory. Two of these tubes will actually be finished saxophones and the third will be a tone hole guide for future production. We are also adapting his stainless steel rod, and cup technology as well as his gold dust impregnated Mylar film pads on standard Boehm system saxophones. The new saxophone will be named “AVATAR by Jim Schmidt” and will be mainly marketed in Asia. I have video of our first meeting at his workshop and I will also try my best to update the progress on Saxophone.com and Twitter (Saxophonedotcom) —Garrett

Interesting times – here’s a video showing Jim demonstrating an original hand built (prototype ?) sax to Steve Goodson and Ron Carter.  Is this the C or the Bb ?  Possibly an unfortunate coincidence that the main investor has the surname of “Hypes…”, but it’ll be interesting to see how much it will have changed as a mass-produced product.


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8 Responses to Jim Schmidt’s revolutionary new sax goes East…

  1. Gandalfe says:

    As Goodson sez in the video, “Fascinating.” Thanks for bring us up to speed.  8)

  2. Lewis Pelham says:

    It would be interesting to know the C Contralto’s bore configuration…. is it, I wonder, a small tenor or a large alto?

  3. alan says:

    Lewis – Jim is a tenor player, and I think he was initially aiming to produce a ‘tenor in C’ with a totally redesigned bore, despite the ‘Contralto’ name.  Realistically, wouldn’t you have expected him to ‘sized’ both alto and tenor dimensions and initially gone for 60% up on the alto dimensions, and 40% down on the tenor (as in the Eb-C-Bb), then tweaking ?

  4. Lewis Pelham says:

    I like your thinking Alan, but I suspect that it’s not that simple….the bore/length ratio has to be multiplied in somewhere….but certainly a good empirical starting point.
    Another approach would be to use the bore/length of a Bb tenor in the form of a straight tapered tube which could be progressively shortened to give concert Bb as the lowest note. 😀
    I feel sure that, with Log tables, it would not be too difficult to work out the positions of the tone holes bearing in mind that the top of the toneholes is the critical point….it is at this point that the standing wave takes notice.
    Finally bend the tube to place low C in the usual position & make the keywork to suit.
    Should be able to knock one out over a weekend.  😀
    PS. Would Sir like it with rolled or straight toneholes?

  5. alan says:

    Big chunky toneholes with bevelled edges please, Lewis…  Guess they’ll need to be soldered ?   😆

  6. Lewis Pelham says:

    It occurs to me, that using the taper and diameter of the Bb tenor, the length of the C tenor would be the length of a Bb tenor as far as the lower part of the opening of the low B tonehole as this is the effective length of a concert Bb attained when fingering low C on that instrument.
    The “extra” length of the Bb tenor takes it down, of course, to concert Ab.
    Positioning of the toneholes would be much easier using soldered toneholes as it would be relatively easy to make positional changes. This was probably Martin’s philosophy plus the fact that expensive metal drawing machinery was not needed. One could do that with a knife & fork.  😀

  7. Mal-2 says:

    It’s a tenor, not a contralto. During his noodling you can hear him descend to a concert Ab, which the instrument in C would not be able to reach. That said, the whole advantage seems to lie in the fingering system — it just doesn’t SOUND that much different. I bet altissimo is more consistent though, when you can vent any hole you want as opposed to just the ones that aren’t held closed by some other key. Also there won’t be any poorly vented notes, but those are already quite well concealed on conventional saxophones.

  8. Lewis Pelham says:

    Well spotted Mal.
    I have a chum who can talk for hours about reeds. You seem to have a similar obsession about altissimo; have you ever considered a nino?    😀

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