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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter #1
I am getting to the point where I think I have sucked the mouthpiece knowledge well dry in my immediate circle of friends, so I am turning to SOTW. I have a couple of mouthpieces I am not absolutely certain about, so I've got some pictures that I will post here in the hopes that you guys can add something.

1. I believe this to be a very old "very vintage" Berg Larsen bari piece. The things I don't understand is why there is no other marking than "90" on the bottom of the shank, and exactly how old are we talking? The condition is just unbelieveable, but I am pretty sure that this is from the 40s, right? I had to go outside in the bright sun to photograph it because the rubber is still black. Tip measures .087.








2. Interesting mouthpiece. This is a vintage Berg (the last model considered "very vintage") but what is interesting to me is the inscription on the mouthpiece itself, which reads "for Frank Caputo, De Luxe". Anybody have any ideas? Possible clue: the mouthpiece has either been refaced or is hand-faced. It measures exactly .100, and the stamp on the shank is 100/2/M. The engraving on the body looks very similar to the factory engraving visible on the very old Bergs on Theo's site here:http://www.theowanne.com/mouthpieces101/BergLarsen.php so I am wondering- was this mouthpiece factory? Was it a specially made piece for someone, made BY Berg?? Who is Frank Caputo?

 

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I googled 'Frank Caputo sax', and found him and a coupld of other Caputos (maybe related????) listed on a Herbie Mann recording, and a couple of other places. Apparently he is/was a bari player.

That's all I found, so far.

There's a Lou Caputo that's an active sax player in NY. Maybe write him and see if they're related.

http://www.loucaputo.com
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I just found something in the Fresh Sound catalogue of him playing with Steve Lacy back in the 50s, but it didn't say what he was playing. So he was a player in the 50s, played both bari and tenor apparently so far.
 

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Is the window width and length on the HR Berg similar to a tenor piece? Is the facing width as measured from the outside of the rails set up for a tenor reed? In other words - does a tenor reed fit on it well and does a bari reed seem a little oversized for the facing?

Earlier this year, I worked on a very old HR bari Berg that had a factory stamped "T" on it right next to the tip opening number. Never saw one before that. It seemed to be set up for a tenor reed and that is all I can figure as to why it had the "T" on it. Cane was hard to come by through a certain period of time which might explain why there was a bari "T" model.

Maybe yours is a "T" or maybe I'm just rambling needlessly :)
 

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Why would you want to play bari with a tenor reed? I mean, besides the fact that the reeds cost half as much.
 

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Due the length of the shank the Caputo model seems to be an early duckbill,(from the 50's), as opposed to the very vintage model. The hard rubber looks to be the hard rubber very vintage model like you were saying......my best guesses anyway.........daryl
 

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Martinman said:
Why would you want to play bari with a tenor reed? I mean, besides the fact that the reeds cost half as much.
Price and availability may be the only reason for that.

If cane became really scarce (as maybe it was post WWII?), then the larger reeds would probably be the first to be cut back in production.

Think about wood and lumber production. Easy to make a bunch of clean toothpicks without knots in them, but as you go to larger and larger cuts of wood, it becomes harder to find clean cuts without knots or other issues. Easier to find a good soprano reed on a stalk of cane than a good bari reed. I believe this is part of the reason why bari reeds are so expensive despite them not being all that much larger than tenor reeds.

While I think all of us passionate about the saxophone would like to believe that equally passionate, even mystical beings, are making equipment for us - if the manufacturing/business case does not hold up, stuff won't get made. But I digress, perhaps...

The length of the reed leading up to the vamp is too short on a tenor reed to get a really full bari sound. It's ok - but they make bari reeds for a reason. The tenor reed sound was too fundamental.
 

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Martinman said:
Why would you want to play bari with a tenor reed? I mean, besides the fact that the reeds cost half as much.
I believe that just after WWII bari reeds were in extremely short supply, so some mp makers made bari pieces designed for use with bari reeds.

edit: (EZ, beat me to it.)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I didn't put a picture of it up, but the tenor piece came with the brass ligature and cap pictured at the bottom of the "very vintage" section on Theo's Berg site I linked to in my original post. It doesn't have a "P" marking anywhere, so I am figuring it to be identical to the last picture on the right above the picture of the brass ligature and cap, which supposedly only came with the "very vintage" models.

As far as the bari, there is no "T" marking on it. A bari reed fits very well, and the window is much larger than a later (50s - 70s) HR Berg tenor piece I have. The window from tip rail to the bottom back of the window is 5cm/2". The length of the whole piece from tip to end of the shank is 14.5cm/5and 11/16".

Interesting to read about the "T" model you saw, though.

Still wondering, why does my bari piece only have "90" on it? Do some of the older ones only have a tip opening stamped, or all older bari pieces just have a tip opening stamped, or is this one weird?
 

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I've not handled what I would call a "statistically significant" number of HR bari Bergs - but I think yours is weird.
 

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Well the brass Berg ligatures came with the 50's duck bills, maybe even into the early 60's. Hard to say the way Berg changed with no rhyme or reason; consistent they are not. The very vintage, (or long table), Bergs were slightly conical, not cylindrical, in their shape as well, and for that reason the brass ligs for them are shaped slightly differently than the brass ligs for the duck-bills ( I have 1 duck bill brass and 2 very vintage brass ligs).
The reason I'm so on this lig issue is that my main piece is an old very vintage Berg and it's hard to find a lig to fit!.........daryl
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wersax, thanks for the info. I guess I either read Theo wrong or its not quite clear on his site about the ligs. Good to know. It would be nice if someone could measure the shanks of vintage Berg metal tenor pieces and figure out which is which! Looks to me like there are 4 different shank lengths, with 2 of them being very close to each other- the last of the "very vintage" and the vintage duckbill.
 

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Martinman said:
Why would you want to play bari with a tenor reed? I mean, besides the fact that the reeds cost half as much.
Why didn't those post WWII Brits just order bari reeds on the Internet?:twisted: History suggests that for many on both sides there wasn't much difference between the winners and losers during that period just after the war. Lots of things we take for granted were considered luxuries, like bari reeds for instance.

I'm the owner of the Berg "T". Ed did a beautiful job with it and I play it happily with bari reeds.

That noname HR piece is definately an early Berg. I have a few like that , my guess is during that early period they didn't etch the name in very deeply. Plus the fact that they had a long time to fade. I would say its a fair amount older then the metal piece, agreeing with others here.
 

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abadcliche said:
Still wondering, why does my bari piece only have "90" on it? Do some of the older ones only have a tip opening stamped, or all older bari pieces just have a tip opening stamped, or is this one weird?
The earlier ones had only a facing number. Both the chamber number and facing length designations came later. I'm trying to remember which of those two appeared first but I'm drawing a blank at the moment.:?
 

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I have a number of very vintage Bergs with only the tip openings engraved on them. I believe they are the oldest of the line. But I'd like someone to chime in on their thoughts regarding the "DeLuxe" marking. All the ones I have feature the unique table and they are "fat boys". They are made of very heavy metal, the heaviest pieces I own. They play great!
 

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Any of you guys with multiple Bergs interested in giving me any?:D
 

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Discussion Starter #17
abadcliche said:
The things I don't understand is why there is no other marking than "90" on the bottom of the shank,
Kritavi said:
That noname HR piece is definately an early Berg
I worded my post wrong! I meant no marking other than the 90 on the bottom of the shank alone. There is in fact the slanted signature Berg Larsen etc. on the top of the shank of the bari piece. You can see it a bit in the photo, but it was really hard to get anything to show because the rubber is still very dark.

Thank you Kritavi and Midnitesax for the info about the facing stamps! I did not know that the earliest ones only came with the tip opening. So that bari piece is one of the oldest Bergs out there, then.



My GUESS on the De Luxe one is that the engraving came from the Berg factory. It looks identical to the engraving shown on Theo's site, not only in whatever was used to engrave it but the handwriting as well. As far as the facing, either it was refaced to match its tip opening stamp (because as we all know, Bergs vary widely in their actual tip opening measurement vs. their tip opening stamp) or hand-faced at the factory especially for Frank Caputo. Either way, I am pretty sure its a special piece, and it is going to be going in the collection drawer vs. up on my website.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Midnitesax said:
I have a number of very vintage Bergs with only the tip openings engraved on them. I believe they are the oldest of the line. But I'd like someone to chime in on their thoughts regarding the "DeLuxe" marking. All the ones I have feature the unique table and they are "fat boys". They are made of very heavy metal, the heaviest pieces I own. They play great!

Does this mean you have a few with engraving? If so, post some pictures!
 

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Yes. A few 120/2's, super heavy brass (I believe). All Slants and very wide-bodied. One of them is my main piece. Very versatile on many type of horns. Another DeLuxe is 105/2 offset M, silver plated brass (not sure if my terminology is proper); very wide and heavy. All have very long, tapered tables.

I believe these these came after some of the other HR's I have as those only have tip openings marked. I know the earliest Bergs feature the slanted signature.

I have yet to figure out how to post photos but will look into it.
 

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I'll also mention that the handwriting on your Caputo/Deluxe is not only similar that inscribed on my silver plated brass DeLuxe (including the wrapping underline under the word from the last letter), but it also matches a Charlie Ventura model I have....
 
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