C Melody Saxophones – a Blast from the Past

DSC00813 When I started looking to acquire C Melody Saxophone, I had visions of looking over Suzy’s shoulder as she played the piano. You see these instruments were designed in the early 1900s (1910 – 30s) for the amateur to use in the home. So they were pitched in the key of C like the piano. The saxes you are used to are pitched in sop, tenor, bass – Bb and sopranino, alto, and bari in Eb. There were some odd balls like the F mezzo soprano sax and such too.

So a beginner could play the instrument well enough by reading the top line of a piano score. But the Depression hit in the 20s and pretty much helped kill the the instrument. I could imagine a pump organ and a C melody being the main instruments in a prairie home. Maybe with a guitar and some singing.

DSC00814 So I did some research and found that the Conn C Melody straight-neck arguably had the best intonation of the available instruments. I’d love to get one of the 20 or so C Melody’s that Vito made in the 60s, but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. Well I purchased a Conn C Melody and my son liked it so much that I gave it to him. Then I started anew with another beater that I had refurbished by Sarge of Worldwide Sax in Everett. So those are the pictures you are seeing in this blog.

Next I proceeded to look for a mouthpiece that would make the instrument speak. You see I am an amateur musician and every instrument I acquire I have to learn to voice, get a great mouthpiece and figure out a good reed story. But I didn’t every really get a finish to that journey as shortly thereafter I started learning to play the bass clarinet. So this particular instrument hasn’t made it into the rotation of saxes I play on a regular basis.

The instrument has a unique sound and as such is very interesting. And there are a lot of professional musicians and hobbyists who can really make the instrument speak. So take a listen at Dan Higgins a professional reed player.

Kind makes you want to pull the ol’ C Melody sax out and give it a toot, eh? If you want to read and talk more about the C Melody instruments which include the soprano sax too, visit the Home of the C‘ and say hi to my good friend Alan.

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About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band (formerly the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra) a GOLD sax quartet, and enjoy time with family and friends.
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4 Responses to C Melody Saxophones – a Blast from the Past

  1. Barb says:

    It is the strangest thing I have piano fingers so I am told however
    couldn’t play a note if my life depended on it. Somehow my artistic
    side has come out in different areas. Although interesting as to how
    these instruments are put together, my utter delight however is that
    I have an ear (or two) and I thoroughly derive pleasure from simply
    listening. That video clip was was terrific btw :)

  2. daphne says:

    I wonder what it would feel like, playing an instrument. I can only imagine the deep satisfaction you would get from it. Singing is satisfying, but being able to carry a tune on an instrument must be amazing. Unfortunately i cannot read notes and have no opportunity to learn at the moment. Maybe after the summer i can look into it. Is there any instrument you would recommend?
    love, daphne

  3. JaAG says:

    Barb – sometimes a pearl is posted on YouTube that would be lost to the world if YouTube didn’t exist. I take great pleasure in discovering and sharing these wonderful clips.
    Pinkie – I have a lot of friends who started playing an instrument well after they finished school. They are called late bloomers in many circles. You should think about the instrument that speaks to you in some way. That is the instrument that you will probably stick with. And plan on taking lessons when you start so that you don’t learn any bad habits that can shorten your career.

  4. Pingback: FAQ: Name Those Saxes | The Bis Key Chronicles

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