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Discussion Starter #1
After having gone through a thousand different mouthpieces trying to find something my Special Perfect likes, I have reached Nirvana. I tried Tonalins, Ebolins, Links(STM and Tone Edge ), Meyers, Vito, Reloplex(not bad), Selmers and I've probably forgotten a few others. I finally pulled out an unmarked Chedeville piece, the only inscription is a "4" on the side, and, oh my God, that's the ticket. These are the guys that did the Lelandais pieces and they're a dime a dozen here in France. It seems like every French-made saxophone shipped with one of these. I actually have 3 of them, one marked Lelandais, one marked J.Gras and my favorite, the unmarked "number 4". It plays like a dream with a #3 or so reed, even a Vandoren 3 which is pretty beefy. The sound is nothing short of awesome, focused and centered and warm. Subtoning is a dream. Even my very limited altissimo skills shine. The horn feels like butter with this piece and even though is a fairly closed piece it doesn't feel like it's going to clamp down, you can really send some air through it. The top end just sings, the bottom end is full in a polite way, not boomy but full and warm like a thick pair of socks on a cold day. Intonation is spot on. I'm really having a hard time describing the vibe, it's just to cool for words.

Anyway...I'm posting because the Special Perfect is not a screaming raver sort of horn. I was put off at first by it's seemingly discrete vibe. What this horn wants is a big chamber, closely faced mouthpiece for it to work. I was thinking that maybe other SP owners were in a bit of a quandry as to what mouthpiece to use with the horn so I'm passing the info on. This is one man's experience but, man, it works for me!
 

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Great news, frnkfrkl! And congrats on finding holy grail!

Just recently I got myself a nice Paul Gerard tenor made by Beaugnier that I think is basically
the same tenor as the Special Perfect without the key guard pearls and different engraving. I am also looking for
a mouthpiece to get the best out of it. I already tried Links, Brilharts and a few large chambered ones and they sound
nice on it. However still no nirvana moment for me.
I never tried a Chedeville piece but now I think I should. Where do you find these in France?
And what tip opening is a '4' in mm or thousands of inches compared to, let's say a Link?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Paul Gerard, huh? I'm not familiar with that one. Mine is an alto, however. I don't know if the same criteria would apply to tenor or not.

To answer your question, the piece is somewhere in the Selmer C* range as far as tip opening goes. I've got a long-shank soloist style alto piece and they're pretty close. It's an eyeballed 0.1-0.2mm more closed than my Tonalin 3* ( though Brilharts are all over the place as far as tip references so it's maybe not a valid comparison ). Looks like a medium length facing, too, there's enough play there to still be able to bend though you're not going to get more than about a tone. But the intonation is amazing. It's got a bit of a baffle, too, it's not just a straight shot through to the chamber. That's a good thing too, you get the big chamber roundness with just a touch of bite on top. I can cop a Paul Desmond vibe like no other horn I've ever played and yet when you push it, it gets nicely nasty without EVER getting shrill. It's exactly the sound I've always had in my head for alto. It just sings! You can put any amount of air you want through it and it plays like butter and sounds just sweet. I've got a Noblet alto, too, also a great player, but much more aggressive and it can get shrill at times. I generally put a Link Tone Edge 7* on it to calm the high end down a bit. I like the sound of that too, but the Link is a tiring piece to play for any length of time. Really, the SP and the Chedeville is my perfect setup.

I've also got a Noblet Maville tenor. It's not Nirvana but pretty close with a Reloplex 4M and a Hemke 2.5-3 reed. That said, the horn does need pads pretty badly so it's hard to judge. You might want to look into one of those if you can find one. You might want to try a 5M or 6M, I'm finding the 4M and bit closed for me on tenor.

Lastly, these pieces are everywhere ( the Chedevilles ) but you almost have to buy a vintage french sax to get one! 75% of the time that's what comes with the horn. That's how I got mine. I rarely see anyone selling just the mouthpiece. I had just sort of set mine aside and hadn't really bothered even trying them because I was all into the Meyer-Link-Brilhart hype trip and a no-name mouthpiece just wasn't worth my time. Big mistake. I am SOOO glad I kept them.

One more thing: if you read french there's a want-ad site here called " Le Bon Coin ". That's where I pick up most of my saxophone stuff. There's a lot of junk being sold but every now and then you run into a sweet deal on an old french sax. This link should get you straight to the saxophone section:

http://www.leboncoin.fr/instruments_de_musique/offres/ile_de_france/occasions/?f=a&th=1&q=saxophone

Hope this all helps...
 

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Hi Frnlfrkl,
Many thanks for your help and the link to leboncoin.fr. My French is pretty bad but I can read it
alright. I will check it regurlarly from now on.

O.k. my mistake I did not realize you were talking about an alto. But I bet it sounds killer too.
I had never heard of the Paul Gerard either and it appears he was a musical instrument dealer
in Paris up until 1956. Apparently he had ordered some stencil saxes to sell under his own name.
I don't know if he ordered saxes from different French firms also. This one has a lot of resemblance
with the Beaugnier saxes including the characteristic key guards, the LH pinky cluster, the bell brace
and the neck support, pretty much in everything. In fact it resembles the Beaugnier even more than for instance the Vito's.
It has the LH Bell keys though. Unfortunatly the sax has an old relaquer.
Kim Slava on www.doctorsax.com has some great Beaugnier serial number charts listed and to
my very surprise the Paul Gerard (or Paul Girard in his list) is mentioned including the LH bell keys.
And what's more: The serial number on mine is 9553 while the one on Kim Slava's list has 9554!
No doubt there where not that many Paul Gerard saxes made so I guess it is kind of rare.
But then again compared to a Special Perfect the Paul Gerard is a fairly 'plain Jane'
without the pearls on the keyguards and without the G# lever adjuster.

Anyway when I can I'll put up some pics on here.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No problem. The Fabrication Artistique serial 962 on Kim's page is also mine. I picked that one up on Le Bon Coin for something like 200€ if memory serves me correctly. No high F but still a very nice horn. I've got to put a few keycups back on it after changing a few pads.

If you ever need a sax luthier who's got a ton of experience with Beaugniers, Google "Atelier du Globe-David Barrault". He does all my "good" horns and he is God when it comes to vintage stuff. I overhaul all my junk horns myself so if I screw something up at least i won't hate myself in the morning.

Cheers!
 

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so does the 962 have a switchable G#? (always trying to improve the data set) (i also added your 3998)
 

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Hi Frnlfrkl,
Many thanks for your help and the link to leboncoin.fr. My French is pretty bad but I can read it
alright. I will check it regurlarly from now on.

O.k. my mistake I did not realize you were talking about an alto. But I bet it sounds killer too.
I had never heard of the Paul Gerard either and it appears he was a musical instrument dealer
in Paris up until 1956. Apparently he had ordered some stencil saxes to sell under his own name.
I don't know if he ordered saxes from different French firms also. This one has a lot of resemblance
with the Beaugnier saxes including the characteristic key guards, the LH pinky cluster, the bell brace
and the neck support, pretty much in everything. In fact it resembles the Beaugnier even more than for instance the Vito's.
It has the LH Bell keys though. Unfortunatly the sax has an old relaquer.
Kim Slava on www.doctorsax.com has some great Beaugnier serial number charts listed and to
my very surprise the Paul Gerard (or Paul Girard in his list) is mentioned including the LH bell keys.
And what's more: The serial number on mine is 9553 while the one on Kim Slava's list has 9554!
No doubt there where not that many Paul Gerard saxes made so I guess it is kind of rare.
But then again compared to a Special Perfect the Paul Gerard is a fairly 'plain Jane'
without the pearls on the keyguards and without the G# lever adjuster.

Anyway when I can I'll put up some pics on here.
is 9553 a tenor? left hand bell keys?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
No, the 962 does not have the switchable G#. I sent some photos to Kim and he posted them; you can consult them on his Beaugnier serial number page. It has wire guards and probably dates to the mid 30's-early 40's from the information I've managed to gather from other sources ( sorry, I can't remember what those sources were... ). It also came with a thread-wrapped neck instead of cork. One of my Chedeville pieces came with the horn, too, and the Chedevilles were made in the 20's-40's if memory serves me correctly. This sort of lends credibility to the hypothesis that the horn dates to the same period. That said, a lot of time has passed from it's origins to my acquisition so who knows what happened along the way. The case it came in was a wood and cardboard affaire with a fake alligator motif that looked very old and pretty much self-destructed shortly after I got it. The action on the horn is typically Beaugnier supple ( even with the somewhat archaic keywork ), though I could probably stand to replace a few springs. As far as the sound it's on a par with the Special Perfect. The pearls are made of some sort of plasticky material ( bakelite? ) and have turned a rather ugly poop-yellow-green over the years. The ergos are a bit strange. I rather like the vintage LH pinky cluster but the whole horn seems to be built for someone with very small hands. Too bad for me because I'm just shy of 2m tall and I have hands like beach umbrellas. I'm constantly bumping into other keys when I play it. I could probably get used to it over time but, hey, I've got the Special Perfect to play and the ergos on that one are great ( except for the LH pinky table with the low B stuck right in the middle of the rest, that wasn't such a great idea...).

That's about it, I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
FYI I just picked up a vintage George M. Bundy HR ( NOT a plastic Bundy ) alto piece on Ebay for less than 10 bucks. It works really well on the SP as well. It's got a bit more volume and midrange presence than the Chedeville. A bit less "Desmondy". Again, it's a small tip ( 3 ) but that seems to be what works best with this horn. The interior design looks like a cross between a Selmer soloist and a Brilhart Tonalin/Ebolin, a sort of trapezoidal affair with a concave area just before the baffle. I see them every now and then on ebay for $20 or so. You SP owners might want to give this on a try, too. Again, I would recommend a harder reed as it is rather closed. I must qualify my evaluations by reminding you all that theses setups match my specific tone concept which tends toward a lush, dark foof-foof kind of vibe. Think Desmond or early Sonny Criss and you're in the ballpark.
 

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Yes it is a tenor and LH bell keys.
I'll try to take some pics soon. Next week I am going to have
it overhauled. Pads are fine and so is the action. However
some adjustments and fine tuning are needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok, so I was playing the other day with my Special Perfect and my Chedeville piece and I was thinking, this sounds really cool but the tip opening is so small I can't get any expression out of it. So i put my Tone Edge 6 on it. Hmm, better expression but that low D is sure stuffy. I took off the C keyguard and chopped a decent amount of felt off the bumper to get the C opening farther. Ahh, now that's a bit better...Not quite there yet...I took the B / Bb guard off and whacked some more felt to get those opening a bit more. There! That's the ticket! Now the sax plays as well in the lower register as in the upper. Sooo...I've got a new favorite mouthpiece for the Special Perfect. This sax is set up from the factory with fairly closed action. If you open up the bottom end a bit ( mine's just about as open now as the keyguards will allow ), the horn really comes alive. Again, nothing miraculous here, i just thought I'd pass this little tidbit along as I feel it's worth considering if you've got a Special Perfect.
 
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