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Discussion Starter #1
So I recently bought a 1924 Buescher C-melody. My saxophone experience consists of a handful of lessons a few years ago using my stepdaughter’s unloved alto (which has since been sold). I just got the sax back from the shop with a clean bill of health and have lessons starting again later this week.

My question is the same one that seems to plague many c-mel players and that is the matter of mouthpiece. It came with an unmarked mouthpiece that is not an original Buescher, but it is bigger than an alto and smaller than a tenor, so I expect it is a c-mel mouthpiece. I am using that mouthpiece with bass clarinet reeds with moderate success. However, I am having issues playing low notes and am having some intonation issues with higher notes. The issues I am having could likely be just the hallmarks of a beginner. Still, I would like to eliminate, as best I can, any gear issues so I can know that any problems are with technique not poor equipment.

Does it make sense for a newbie to buy a something like a Morgan mouthpiece, or would that be a fruitless extravagance at this juncture?
 

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You can buy a Rico graftonite B 7 mouthpiece. It’s a nice inexpensive mouthpiece that should work OK with your Buescher C.
 

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Since you will take lessons -a very wise move, btw- your teacher can evaluate this mouthpiece. I think an alto or tenor mouthpiece would cause even bigger intonation issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the advice. I’ll definitely seek the advice of my teacher, but he admits to having limited experience with a C-mel. It occurred to me after I posted that my local shop has a handful of old c melody mouthpieces for sale (not cheap) that I could try, which should help me discern if my issues are me or my mouthpiece.
 

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The key here is the lessons.

While this place is great in many ways, we are not there in the room.

Your tutor will be able to tell you about your horn and your mouthpiece and reed and ligature, and neckstrap and corkgrease and whatever.

When it comes to making sounds the tutor is beyond compare. A moment is more valuable than hours on line.

Chances are that your problems are nothing more than a breaking in process that most new players go through.

Your horn got a clean bill of health from the shop, so there is no reason to second guess that.

Your tutor will sort all of this out for you.

If not, get another tutor, asap.

[Ditto, if your tutor tells you that all c mels are garbage.]
 

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The high C will be flat and you'll have to squeeze your embouchure to bring it up to C over a C-flatish....

The low C, you'll have to open your throat and loosen your embouchure and say aaahhhhh over eeehhhh......That way the low notes won't squeak or go to the higher octave

The original mouthpiece can give you an awesome tone.....much quieter than say a Marching band bold mouthpiece you see in modern horns. This isn't a bad thing, it's the way it was designed to play with a piano, violin and none-mic'd vocalist in a parlor. Embrace the sound, it's beautiful when mastered.

Every Tenor or Alto player that tries my horns has an initial adjustment period in that, the Alto players try to squeeze the tip of the mouthpiece and NOTHING comes out. A C-Mel mouthpiece has to be a big bite, or you have to take a lot of it in your mouth and play more or less 3/4 of an inch up on the reed.

I'd also suggest that you buy a #2 Black onyx reed. The tone they produce is awesome and they last a couple of years unless you mistakenly break it.

If you want a bolder sound for cheap, just buy the FAXX C-Mel mouthpiece on Ebay for ~$40, merely changing to this mouthpiece changes the volume of the horn sound.....that being said, you'll use twice the air to play that mouthpiece.

With my Reed and the original mouthpiece, I can play at a level with awesome tone. I use half the air and play at a sound dB level that if other horns tried to reach it would be that airy nasty tone.

....and that's the beauty of a C-Mel. Just sit in your place and play an awesome sounding horn without blasting out into the neighborhood through your windows. (My band instructor used to put a sock in the bell of my Tenor, when I was in the practice room with the door shut) If you wanna play it live....the condenser mic fits on the bell "just like" it does on any other Sax and the mixer slider moves up to 6 rather than 4....pretty simple fix if you ask my opinion.
 

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[Ditto, if your tutor tells you that all c mels are garbage.]
Agree 100%, but in all honesty, other than a few curmudgeons looking for attention on this board, every time I encounter another Sax player, they are more intrigued than negative when they see/hear a C-Mel. Especially if they see my collection of Conns, True Tones and Kings
 

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NYARR welcome to SOTW.

A little encouragement from one of our own members. Anything is possible if you desire to learn. Try the assortment of mouthpieces from your music store with a little help from your instructor. Negotiate! Include the ligature as part of the deal.
Select a reed from a bass clarinet. It’s closer than anything you’ll find to a original size C-Mel reed.

Member Dave Pollack
https://youtu.be/Tb8nZQ2z8p0

https://youtu.be/eMxmcPi6nQs

And from another artist.

https://youtu.be/T_4cuRpZtt4

https://youtu.be/Xm-gMUCh1kg

https://youtu.be/HjWu-yHaifc
 

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Morgan c-melody MPC. In this very rare case, it will be the only mouthpiece you ever want.

If you start mucking around with tenors, reeds etc. you will very quickly spend more money than taking the plunge and making the right one-time investment once.
 

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Agree 100%, but in all honesty, other than a few curmudgeons looking for attention on this board, every time I encounter another Sax player, they are more intrigued than negative when they see/hear a C-Mel. Especially if they see my collection of Conns, True Tones and Kings
My own tech is very supportive of C mels and vintage horns, and warned me against techs too ignorant to deal with them.
 

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My Buescher TT C-Mel is the most uncomfortable saxophone I've ever held . . . it becomes downright painful after a short time playing it. The small left-thumb button is the most offensive of the ergonomic issues I have with this instrument, followed by the awkward placement of the left pinky table and the difficult angle required to play it. The whole thing is an ergonomic nightmare. There is no way I could ever concentrate on tone and technique when merely holding the horn is distracting.

The best thing about it is that I don't need to play the darned thing and previous efforts in selling it were unsuccessful, so I have room in my closet to store it and I'll let my kids deal with it when I'm gone.

I have, in the past, thought that maybe the straight-neck Conn would be interesting but I have yet to come across one . . . and I am not in the market for one anyway because I much prefer transposing saxophones. No need to reply with advice - I am no longer interested in solving my C-Melody dilemma. Anything I need or want to play can be done much better FOR ME on soprano or alto. DAVE
 

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My Buescher TT C-Mel is the most uncomfortable saxophone I've ever held . . . it becomes downright painful after a short time playing it. The small left-thumb button is the most offensive of the ergonomic issues I have with this instrument, followed by the awkward placement of the left pinky table and the difficult angle required to play it. The whole thing is an ergonomic nightmare. There is no way I could ever concentrate on tone and technique when merely holding the horn is distracting.

The best thing about it is that I don't need to play the darned thing and previous efforts in selling it were unsuccessful, so I have room in my closet to store it and I'll let my kids deal with it when I'm gone.

I have, in the past, thought that maybe the straight-neck Conn would be interesting but I have yet to come across one . . . and I am not in the market for one anyway because I much prefer transposing saxophones. No need to reply with advice - I am no longer interested in solving my C-Melody dilemma. Anything I need or want to play can be done much better FOR ME on soprano or alto. DAVE

I have a Martin crook neck c mel, and your experience with playing position in no way exaggerates the problem I had with it. It gave me the cramp.

I fixed that horn by having a neck made for it which moved the body of the horn away from me, and slightly downward.

The Conn C mel with the microtuner straight neck that I have has a very comfortable playing position.

Others who find themselves in Brother Dolson's situation may wish to consider options.
 

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The C-Mel was always a compromised invention. The specs and proportions of the body, neck, tube intrinsically provide it with certain....attributes, regardless of the brand.
I have refurbed a number of them and while they are curious things, I would never suggest a Beginner start on one. Yes, people can post vids of players playing 'em and slayin' it...but again that doesn't address the reality that they aren't particularly user-friendly for newbies.

Yes, it reads C Concert, which I give out a completely honest and heartfelt Cheer for, truly.

It'd be damn awesome if a quality, reputed mfr actually produced a modern one, having made the spec corrections necessary so it sounds like a normal sax. Beaugnier did one for a short time, and I guess Aquilsax took a stab recently....but the former is rare as heck and the latter has not particularly garnered a reputation as a solid mfr; plus they do not seem to have really dug in and altered the general bore proportions.

If I was asked, I would say: start on Alto or Tenor, when you have a good grasp after a couple of years, pick up a C-Mel if you still have the curiosity. Most players I know who own 'em have had experiences which mirror Dave's above - they mess with 'em for a while, have some fun, then the horn gets relegated to 'seldom-used'
status.

But all that is beside the point here. OP has the horn, has put $ into it, and has a teacher who is OK with a C-Mel student.

OP has just discovered one drawback of the C-Mel - not may contemporary mfr's make mouthpieces for 'em, so you are stuck with either a vintage old-school, no-baffle C-Mel 'piece which probably at least need to be opened up in the tip a bit, or a rather expensive modern option (sadly, Beechler used to make a very reasonably priced C-Mel mouthpiece which was pretty darn good....apparently they stopped - although from time to time you can find one on eFlay).

If your teacher (or you) thinks the mouthpiece is hampering you, then either look for a used, modern one online, or as others have suggested go to a shop and try some Tenor and Alto ones and see if you can get any of those to blow nicely and in-tune. There are a number of threads here which indicate this is quite possible.

If you want, you can contact me via my website (below) as I do have a mouthpiece here which appears to be a C-Mel, and it isn't ancient, and it's in decent shape....and I have no use for it since typically the C-Mels I refurb have mouthpieces with 'em already.

Best of luck.
 

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I have a C mel mpc with a tip that original, and very closed.

While I do not use it for anything else, I find that it plays extremely well at low volume next to the ear of Aunt Bee on the upright piano, with both of us reading off the same sheet.

Moreover, it seems as though my C mels fall into a natural, sweet tone quality under these conditions, almost as if they are being used in the way they were intended.
 

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I have a C mel mpc with a tip that original, and very closed.

While I do not use it for anything else, I find that it plays extremely well at low volume next to the ear of Aunt Bee on the upright piano, with both of us reading off the same sheet.

Moreover, it seems as though my C mels fall into a natural, sweet tone quality under these conditions, almost as if they are being used in the way they were intended.
Very true, and arguably, there is a bit of a discomfort with the Buescher and Martin but it is nowhere as bad as it is described. That may of course depend on the specific player but just don't pretend it is a Tenor or Alto and adjust the darn neck strap :)

Of course, that may be an issue because the neck strap for the c-mel needs to be very short which is outside the range of some of the straps used.

Another small tidbit about the Morgan MPC is that it is specifically designed to use any standard tenor reed.
 
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