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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of my first posts on SOTW was when I bought my first sax, thinking that I was buying an alto (as it was advertised on Ebay). It was a C Mel. Grump's advice was to return it if possible because there is no ensemble music for C Mel. I said that I didn't intend to play ensemble music and went about rebuilding it. Since then, I've acquired "real" saxophones, even learned how to play a little, but I've never even thought of selling the C Mel.

Well, the worm turns. A past instructor emailed me and asked if I would play C Mel in an sax ensemble she's forming. I'm giving it a go. Got the music at the first meeting (no playing on the C Mel yet). For some of the music, she transposed a C Mel part for me (she's very interested in hearing a C sax part). Other scores have an oboe or recorder part that I'll be playing.

It will be interesting to see how the my Buescher True Tone C Mel sounds with a big B baritone, big B tenor, and True Tone alto. I usually play it with a Link Master 4 that's been opened a little and has an epoxy baffle to brighten it and cut down on chamber volume. I always like the C Mel sound, but a comparison test will be interesting. I'll know more next week.

The transposed scores are all listed as a part for a "C Tenor," and I suppose that sounds classier than C Melody. I'm going call it a C Tenor from now on in hopes that it will add to and further develope the snobbery of owning and playing a C Tenor. I'm even going to capitalize the T to further distinguish it from just a regular run-of-the-mill Bb tenor, which are common as dirt.

Mark
 

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Let me start off by saying YAY! Its exciting to witness the revival of the C Melody. First, modern players began recording with them. Then aquilasax made the first new one since the Vito attempt. Now its good to hear about this story.

It will be interesting to see how the my Buescher True Tone C Mel sounds with a big B baritone, big B tenor, and True Tone alto. I usually play it with a Link Master 4 that's been opened a little and has an epoxy baffle to brighten it and cut down on chamber volume. I always like the C Mel sound, but a comparison test will be interesting. I'll know more next week.
I imagine it will sound fuller, the family connected as Adolph envisioned when he designed the full family of saxes. I am sure the C Tenor will fill a nice role inbetween the alto and the Bb tenor, and it will sound out with its family once again! (Minus that darned F Alto...that ones not coming back anytime soon!)

If the snobbery about C-Mels persists, prices will stay low for those of us who play them!

-Danny
 

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The incredible Frankie Trumbauer regularly led the sax sections of the Goldkette and Whiteman orchestras of the 1920s with his C Melody burnished gold Holton, using a bright-sounding Goldbeck mouthpiece. It is a clear lead horn, provided the other players don't over-blow, as the C is quieter. I hope a modern manufacturer increase the conical shape and revolutionises the C sound so it can produce the volume of a tenor or alto. Good luck with your ensamble. Sounds exciting!!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the C-Me
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They wean well, but I have to smile when Grumps and others witter on about "no ensemble music for C Saxophones..."

(e.g.) What about all the string quartet scores ? For four instruments in C... :|

And don't forget that most C players also play Eb/Bb saxes as well, so we can transpose those parts ! Just because we talk about "no need to transpose with a C", doesn't mean that we don't, or can't. I've often listened to saxophone quartets and thought that, with it's extra clarity, a C-Soprano would be better suited for the top line than a Bb would.

Go for it Mark !
 

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In the 20s, Buescher suggested a sax quartet for standard SATB mixed vocal quartet music:
C sop for soprano parts - non-transposing
C melody for alto parts - reading up an octave
alto for tenor parts - reading bass clef up an octave plus 3 #s
bari for bass parts - non-transposing bass clef plus 3 #s

Thing is, you're pretty close to being a good transposer if you can do the octave OR the 3 #s trick. So the C-SCAB quartet never caught on. :lol:
 

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Gotta admit that I like the tone of my C mel a lot. I prefer its sound. But when it comes to intonation I am somewhat cumbered. Or rather perhaps, it could be cumbersome for an audience. But, I've never so far dared to play a C melody for an audience.
 

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The intonation issue is generally common to all saxophones of that period...not just the C tenor.
Correction becomes semi automatic. Having said that, I have recently been playing a more modern Bb tenor with good intonation....it is so relaxing to just blow the thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Finally got a chance to play my C tenor with the group. Too bad the Bb tenor player couldn't make it last night, since a lot of my parts would intertwine with the Bb more than the other horns. We only had a first and second alto, a baritone, and my C tenor.

The odd thing was, nobody said anything about the horn once we started playing. No comments about intonation or sounding like a goose fart. I was playing a C tenor mp that is of later vintage than my 1917 Buescher. It looks to be a Conn Eagle, which has a slightly smaller chamber than the original Buescher mp and the hint of a baffle. It is similar to the Aquilasax mp, but for whatever reason, it tunes a little better. It's not a jazzy sound, but we were playing stuff that sounds medievil to me, so it fit right in with me covering the recorder/oboe parts.

I'm going to miss the next couple of meetings, so I won't get to dig into my bag of tricks. Coming up is "Barbara Ann" and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." Then I can switch to my Link Master tenor mp and see how the C tenor fits with rock and jazz.

The only major intonation problems were that middle C and C# were really flat. In several places where I held a note for two or three beats with other horns, I had to also use the side Bb key to bring C/C# up. The only long-term solution that I could see would be to lower every key in the stack to flatten them equal to the flat C/C#, and then adjust the mp to bring them all up. The chances of that improving both registers (after several hours of dinking around) are slim, so I'm going to live with it for now. But really, two clunky notes on a 1917 C tenor---I should be thrilled.

Mark
 

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The only major intonation problems were that middle C and C# were really flat. In several places where I held a note for two or three beats with other horns, I had to also use the side Bb key to bring C/C# up. The only long-term solution that I could see would be to lower every key in the stack to flatten them equal to the flat C/C#, and then adjust the mp to bring them all up. The chances of that improving both registers (after several hours of dinking around) are slim, so I'm going to live with it for now. But really, two clunky notes on a 1917 C tenor---I should be thrilled.
Perhaps you could do it, but it would not be a simple task. (I assume you already ruled out a low-hanging LH1 (B) pad.) You could put crescents in the tone holes, rather than messing with pad venting. This pretty much means taking off the whole left hand stack multiple times, but at least it's a "soft mod" that can be reversed without damage. I'd be more inclined to do this than to play with pad venting.

More straightforward would be to get the offending holes enlarged. This shouldn't be too difficult in the case of the C#, but probably would for the C. Best case (stretching), it would be almost undetectable. Worst case (replacement), it would require new tone hole chimneys to be soldered onto the body. On the Buescher True Tones I've had, and even on a couple 70's Aristocrats, I've noticed the tone hole chimneys are tapered inward, like this: _/ \_ (though not this severely of course). This means the smaller tone holes (like the C#) are amenable to stretching into a configuration that looks more like _| |_, then filing flat. The pad is large enough to handle the job but may need replacement if it has a serious groove in it already. Unfortunately this probably won't help with LH1, the hole responsible for emitting C.
 

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Congrats Mark.

A shame about the tuning... I dont know much about the Buescher C's, but hopefully it can be fixed by some sort of set up adjustments to the horn.
I have no correlation because all three of my Conns play in tune well, except for the usual slightly sharp D2 on every saxophone. 1917 is a very early
C-Tenor so thats awesome anyways!

Let us know what everyone thinks when you play it with the Link!
 
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