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Hi - I had a quick question - I haven't held a saxophone for nearly 20 years and back then they were grade-school 'beaters' that the school had.

Today a nice shiny brand new black nickel Kessler Custom Deluxe Alto arrived for me =)

It sounds great and I hope I can soon play well enough again to do it justice.

So, to the issue at hand. I noticed something about this sax that I haven't recalled seeing on horns in the past, and I'd like someone to tell me what's up with it.

On this sax the bell is not 'straight on' as I had recalled, but rather is curved off slightly to my right as I hold the horn. I seem to recall the saxes I have played in the past having the bells face more or less straight outwards but again that was 20+ years ago.

Is this the case with all altos or just with some? Or does mine have an issue?

Everything seems to be in working order, all the pads and keys seem to be functional so I don't think its been wrenched or twisted, and I would guess that it is intended, but I'm just a little nervous. Unfortunately the internet isn't providing me and straight-on pics so far to assuage my fears.

I have an email out to Mr Kessler, but I thought I would stop over here and see what anyone thought here.

Your thoughts?
 

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My 1937 Balanced Action alto has a similarly shaped bell. I think they make them that way so if you're playing in a seated position with the horn on the right side of your thigh, the bell will still face straight ahead.
 

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If you're at all worried that the bell might have been knocked off line, there's a very simple way of testing it.
Press the low Bb key (to close both the low B and Bb keys) and peer down the bell.
What you're looking for is any sign of light entering via the pads - due to a gap between the pads and the tone hole rims.
When a bell gets knocked off line it changes the position of the tone holes relative to the pads (which typical don't get knocked off line at the same time), and so creates a leak.

It might help to cup your hand aound the bell to shield light from the inside, and to turn the horn towards a bright light source.

What you hopefully won't see is that both pads are leaking in the same area - usually the back or the front, depending on which way the bell was knocked.

If there are no leaks it means the bell was fitted at the correct angle - or at least was set up to work as such.

Regards.
 

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The bell of some newer saxes are indeed "twisted" to the right a bit. Borgani does it, as a lot of Taiwanese horns do too. It's designed to project straight ahead, whereas the "in-line bell" projects off-axis.
It's compensating the direction of the bell when holding it in a natural position. if you would hold the horn fully vertically and away from your body, the sound will deflect to the right a bit...
Soundwise, nothing changes. As Roger Manins would say: "It is designed for us, we're not designed for it..."
 

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Welcome to SoTW & congrats on the acquisition of a great alto! After a layoff myself, & getting back into the sax, I noticed the same thing about horn bells. As others have already noted, they are designed that way and unless you can detect leaks in those low B and Bb keys, you're very good to go. Play that Kessler with full confidence that you have a horn that will take whatever you can give it for as long as you want.

FYI - In the interest of full disclosure, I have a four year old Kessler tenor. It's been a great horn for me. Other than that axe, their mouthpiece, and some further discussions on equipment and cases, I have no financial ties to Kesslers (other than they were outstanding to do business with). As a matter of fact, I'd have to pay them for an endorsement deal!
 

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Yep,

I'm not sure when most manufacturers went to this "twisted" alto design, but it seems pretty standard now. It bothered me too the first time I played one like this. And I really don't see the advantage useless the player is very small. But other than a slightly different feel to the horn's balance, there doesn't seem to be much difference while playing.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Phew!

I'm thrilled! Cant wait to get home and play some more. I'll probably need to get a refresher primer so I'll look around on here to see what is recommended.

Thanks again!!!
 

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My Selmer USA Tenor is the same - the bell tilts toward the right, looking at it from playing position. I asked the same question and one of the SOTW members said that the reasoning behind the "twist" was mechanical, having to do with the arrangement of the bell keys. Looking at it, as one guy said here, projection is straight on when playing from a "normal" position, i.e, with the horn tilted against the right thigh. Either answer is o.k. with me. My horn sounds great. I also have a Conn tenor on which the bell sits straight with the body, and a Selmer alto with a "crooked" bell. Depends on the designer's choice I suppose.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Phew!

I'm thrilled! Cant wait to get home and play some more. I'll probably need to get a refresher primer so I'll look around on here to see what is recommended.

Thanks again!!!
 

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Try this SoTW page - "Beginners". I'm not a "beginner" but there is enough here to give you quite the jump start or primer to get you back in a groove! Tons of stuff! Excellent/high quality info on this site! And did I mention that - it's free!?
 

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This was a Selmer Paris innovation in the early years of the sax and has been used by many manufacturers since. You really won't find any 'straight' bells anymore - even the cheapest Chinese horns faithfully copy the Selmer/Yanagisawa architecture. Probably the last American horns with 'straight' bells were many student model horns possibly into the '80s. A sax can be great without the curved bell, though, and many great vintage saxes not only have straight bells but inline tone holes without the RH offset - for example, Conns and Martins.
 
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