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Discussion Starter #1
So I just scored a beautiful-playing and -looking Martin C melody (#52xxx, 1925). Thing is, it's a beeotch finding a comfortable playing angle - and I've played bent neck Cs before. This one has what appears to be built-in pull-down. The mpc doesn't sit at a right angle to the horn, but at a shallow acute angle.

This necessitates an inward quarter turn in my left wrist to get at the palm levers, digs the F# trill key guard into my upper beer-belly region, and I need the neckstrap tugged up so high I might as well wear it as a tie.

What were they thinking here? Was it to make it easier for kids to play the horn? What have you done to make it less of a bother? (Before you say it, giving up beer is NOT an option.)
 

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A friend, a long time semi pro picked up my Martin C tenor today & was as amused by the playing angle as he was impressed by the sound.
All I can say is that the playing position on mine is very similar to my TT....I am so used to it that I do not notice anything strange.....it seems normal to me However, on my other C tenors I have soldered on a lower strap hook to prevent the Conn Cobra effect & to prevent wearing the sling like a tie...as you so lucidly describe it. I shall make a matching strap ring for my Martin none the less.
 

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I have one of these horns in nickel plate. I like the sound, but I feel like I am trying to fasten a too tight collar button whenever a play it. I was thinking about getting a straight neck from aquilasax, and having my local tech cinch it in.
 

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Paul.
Following you post, I have re-evaluated the playing angle of my Martin. You are right; although I am accustomed to it, it is far from ideal.
I measured mine at 15 degrees below the horizontal & am very tempted to pack the neck with damp sand & tweak it up to the horizontal. I shall attempt this unless someone tells me that there is a very good reason for this low angle or that the damp sand & tweaking idea is a very bad one.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'd take it to a pro for such a radical mod.

Meanwhile, I am getting used to my horn as is. I also wrapped my hammer in cheese cloth and tapped my F# trill key cage back to a more comfortable angle.
 

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I'd take it to a pro for such a radical mod.
I hear what you say, but it's very light gauge material....from memory 20SWG, & plumbers spend most of their day bending 16 SWG copper pipes without any kinking.....so it cannot be that difficult!
However, as you are getting used to it & I have been playing them for decades, perhaps I will leave well alone....or perhaps not.
If the mouthpiece end of the neck was not slightly conical, an expansion spring of the correct diameter, fitted internally, would make it an easy mod.
 

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Beeflat - let me know if you do try subtle bending, I have a Martin Indiana tenor where the neck has a gentle 'upbend' (really drops the horn down) and I've long considered a similar mod on my Martin C neck.

Paul - never noticed the shallow 'down angle' before, but yes, it's still there in 1931... Out of interest, I've always played mine with the neck swivelled around more than on 'normal' [rolleyes] saxes - towards the palm keys, so that the end of the neck brace and the octave 'lever' are as below, not conventionally inline. Plus, I have to use a riser on the palm D.

 

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Gorgeous horn cmelodysax.
I wall certainly report back on my neck bending attempts....but as I told you in a PM it will have to wait until I have finished another vital project. :)
 

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The reason for the droopy neck angle is evident if one looks at a contemporary advertisement for the C Tenor.
The player, inevitably a smug looking chap with a centre parting, slicked down hair, co-respondent's two tone shoes, & spats, when leaning over the pianist's shoulder in the parlour, holds the horn to his side with the bow almost projecting behind him.
Clearly the C tenor was not intended to be played on stage with the horn held in front of the player.
 

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Just as an example of the differing neck angles, I have taken a couple of snaps of my Buescher and Martin C tenor necks....as you can see, the Martin droops considerably below the horizontal.




 

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I have changed the angle of a C-mel neck, with good results. The neck in question already had response issues in the high register (namely E and F just didn't want to speak), and this neither improved nor worsened these issues:



It did a lot to improve playing posture, and got rid of the nasty backwash that I was getting before. In my case I did it by removing the octave key hinge, cutting a wedge out of the tubing, bending until the wedge closed up, and repairing what was now a simple line cut. Then I put the octave key hinge back on, disguising the majority of the alteration. You can see a couple "pimples" at either end of the cut.

I ended up selling the 1923 True Tone with this neck (which came from my 1919) because the 1923 neck had much better response, no matter which body it was paired with. The octave pip is in a very different place between the two, and I suspect it is this that causes the huge difference in response at the top end of the horn. On the 1923 neck, it is almost an inch closer to the mouthpiece.
 

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...The octave pip is in a very different place between the two, and I suspect it is this that causes the huge difference in response at the top end of the horn. On the 1923 neck, it is almost an inch closer to the mouthpiece...
Mal - Yes, you're onto something there, Lewis (Beeflat) found the same with the original neck I sent him with the basis for his 'Saturday Night Special' - a different Buescher neck with the 'pip' nearer the cork really brought the top end alive.

Here are three Buescher necks that I had 'on the bench' at the time - Buescher (afaik) are the only C's with such insanely different 'pip placement'. So if anyone has a 'wimpy top end' Buescher, beg, borrow (or whatever) another neck to try...



(and 'no', before anyone PM's me - I don't have any spare C-Mel necks for sale, I have more horns than necks, isn't it always the way ?)
 

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Mal.
Admirable...a very brave move cutting out a wedge. Alignment of the mating faces is the usual issue to avoid a step...I suspect there was some "dressing" with a small hammer involved.
The usual method, which I have used on vehicle exhaust systems, is a series of parallel cuts, nearly through the pipe, then folded up together & welded...the width of the saw blade being a series of "wedges".
I too had problems with the position of the octave pip on a Buescher stencil. The original pip, some distance from the mouthpiece, resulted in very weak palm key notes. A neck with the pip closer to the mouthpiece was a vast improvement. It is possible that a pip mounted even further from the mouthpiece would also have resulted in a similar improvement....the original being perhaps in a position to interfere with the standing wave.
It surprises me that the modified angle does not, in your case, improve the upper register, as you are now blowing up into the mouthpiece....more like an alto.
With the use of Cerrobend, I also will bend the neck upwards, in my case by reducing the original radius leading to the mouthpiece. This radius is restricted to a 1.75" length of the neck...restricted at one end by the position of the rear soldered flange of the Martin "Bailey bridge" neck brace & the need to keep the mouthpiece engagement end (effectively the corked length) of the neck, unbent.
 

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Beeflat - yes, it is tight, there is only a relatively small 'bending area'... Good point about moving the pip closer to the tenon, probably a sine wave of optimism in there somewhere :lick:
 

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Today was the first I'd read this thread. I have a very nice early TT C-Mel, but the awkward playing position turned me off. Oh, I occasionally get the thing out and run through it, but it is SO uncomfortable to play. I had to laugh at the one comment about wearing the neck-strap like a neck-tie. Amen to that! After a go at my TT C-Mel, I probably should see a chiropractor to get my neck fixed.

I have a couple of C-mel mouthpieces for mine, but a Kessler tenor mouthpiece seems to work much better. Still the thing is tepid to say the least - much like the video posted in another C-Mel thread featuring the young gal playing trad jass on her's (with the soprano guy). She played it well, but the thing just didn't speak, at least to the level of other saxophones.

Finally, I'm not a huge fan of C-pitched instruments anyway - I have a C-Albert clarinet with a nice voice, and I started my playing experiences years ago on a C-Conn soprano. But I MUCH prefer transposing saxophones/clarinets, so I am not inclined to do anything to my TT C-Mel to change the playing position (like the neck fixes discussed in this thread). For those of you who enjoy playing C-Mels, I can understand why you'd want to change the position. DAVE
 

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Dave.
In it's natural form, the C tenor does indeed sound stuffy & tepid.
You use a Kessler...a good solid "section" mouthpiece rather than bright & high baffled.
The C tenor, in my experience, because of it's inherent stuffy sound, needs a high baffle mouthpiece to bring it to life....then it sounds just like a saxophone.
May I suggest that you drag out that old Dukoff, No. 0 chambered Berg or whatever & re-appraise.
It saddens me that some still regard the C tenor as different from the flatties...it is not...it's just another size of saxophone.....a very useful size.
 

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Today was the first I'd read this thread. I have a very nice early TT C-Mel, but the awkward playing position turned me off. Oh, I occasionally get the thing out and run through it, but it is SO uncomfortable to play. I had to laugh at the one comment about wearing the neck-strap like a neck-tie. Amen to that! After a go at my TT C-Mel, I probably should see a chiropractor to get my neck fixed.

I have a couple of C-mel mouthpieces for mine, but a Kessler tenor mouthpiece seems to work much better. Still the thing is tepid to say the least - much like the video posted in another C-Mel thread featuring the young gal playing trad jass on her's (with the soprano guy). She played it well, but the thing just didn't speak, at least to the level of other saxophones.

DAVE
I have struggled to find a comfortable playing position with my TT, and finally settled with the bell close to my body slightly to the right side, with the neck canted over slightly MP twisted appropriately. Then, as long as I keep my back straight and don't slouch, the neckstrap puts the weight downwards (not pulling my neck forward) and the pain in my wrist disappears.

(In that video of Avalon, I think Amy Roberts is playing an alto. It's straight-necked, but it looks more like an alto angle than the Conn. In another video playing what looks like the same horn, the horn appears to have both low B and low Bb on the same side of the bell: did any of the Conn straight necks have that? In the chicken-suit video, which is specifically identified as being a C-Mel, the horn has a curved neck.)

I second Captain B's suggestion about trying different mouthpieces. I play with a fairly moderate Graftonite B3, but try the Rico Metallite on it: it produces a sound that might have military applications, and I don't mean in the Army Band, either.
 

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...Still the thing is tepid to say the least - much like the video posted in another C-Mel thread featuring the young gal playing trad jass on her's (with the soprano guy). She played it well, but the thing just didn't speak, at least to the level of other saxophones...
Dave, sorry to pile in on you, but I'm 99.999% certain (nothing is EVER 100% certain in life :bluewink:) that Amy is playing an alto 'with the soprano guy'. The only time I've seen her playing C-Mel on video is the 'chicken' thing...

But I will agree about the 'tepid' bit - I prefer gentle - that's why the talk seems often to go to 'weapons grade' mouthpieces, needed when playing in brash company. I note that most of the 'names' who've strayed into C-Mel territory seem to go for the subtle side of the C.
 

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Yes, I agree. Amy's horn on Avalon was probably an alto (I DID pick up on the straight-neck right away and then wondered about the rest of it as I watched the clip, but probably an alto in retrospect). I've always been a fan of Tram's C-mel and recently of Danny Levinson's C-Mel. I sat-in for a week with Danny in NYC several years ago and Danny would sit-in with my band when he lived in L.A. My band did an LP with Rosy McHargue playing his TT C-Mel, so I'm familiar with how they are SUPPOSED to sound.

But for me, I like to control the edge (power, maybe?) and turn it on and turn it off when I want to. My C-Mel doesn't allow that. Like I said, I'm pretty happy with the horns I play now and going back to concert-pitch isn't in my future. DAVE
 

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Back on topic if I may.
Yesterday, using Cerrobend, I bent up the neck of my Martin from a droop angle of 6.2 degrees below the horizontal, through 10.2 degrees to arrive at 4 degrees above the horizontal.
The result is flawless...no marks or flatting anywhere...& just so much more comfortable to play.
"Before & after" superimposed photographs shewn below.


 
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