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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well, I bought a straight neck 1922 C-Melody Conn from Charles Fail this week. It plays great, though I think I'll be looking for some sort of different mouthpiece for it eventually. Anyway, for the next month, nobody's going to be able to live with me because every breath I make will come out with something about the virtues of C-melodies. ;)

So now I've been searching for info on C-melodies and found that Rudy Wiedoeft was an early popularizer of C-melodies during the nineteen-teens and twenties. I also found that Ted Hegvik is a modern-day fan of Rudy's and an excellent saxophonist in his own right who has recorded compendiums of Wiedhoeft tunes on modern recording equipment. You can hear sample of these tunes when you surf over to his site! There's one sample on this page called "Saxophobia" and another on this page called "Saxema." Oh, and here's another whose name I don't know.

And by the way, if you want to hear Rudy Wiedoeft's original version of Saxema from 1922 (I think), just head on over to this page.

What immediately struck me about his playing was how much it sounded like an alto. And then!!! I actually found something useful using the "search" function of SOTW! :twisted:

According to this thread, Rudy (and therefore Ted) use an alto mouthpiece on their C-melodies.

So what this means for my mouthpiece search, I'm not sure. My favorite sax size (up to now) has been the Eb Alto, mainly because I love the sound you get from about G (sitting on the staff) up to about C or D (sitting a couple lines above the staff). Ted and Rudy seem to come close to capturing this sound on their C-melodies. Anyway, I'm off to the basement to try my metal Yana mouthpiece on this C-melody and see what happens. Does anybody else out there use an alto mouthpiece on their C-melody?
 

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Supertourist, although there is now a small selection of modern C-Mel mouthpieces, a lot of players use their own tenor or alto mouthpieces on C-Mels.

I tend to use tenor mouthpieces on (e.g.) my curved neck Martin, but alto sax mouthpieces are more suited to the straight-neck Conns.. This is mostly because (due to long shanks on a lot of tenor mpcs) the microtuner restricts how far on you can push the mouthpiece, therefore alto mpcs are more suitable for the Conns, unless you can find short-shank tenor mpcs.

I used an alto ebonte Berg (quite a big chamber, unlike the metal ones) when I had a Conn straight-neck C-Melody, the intonation was quite acceptable. Be interested to know how you find the intonation on the Conn, using your metal alto Yana, I have a very similar alto mpc here that I need to check out on C-Mels.

Regards, Alan.

(P.S. Interested to see you also use a Yana metal on your C-Sop, a Bb mpc I assume ?)
 

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I prefer a tenor mouthpiece on my Buescher TT C-mel, having tried real C-Mel and alto pieces on mine. I've been told that the alto piece was favored in the era of the saxophone, but I don't care for that approach.

If you want more good C-Mel recordings from that era, look up Frankie Trumbauer's work, including TRUMBOLOGY, a very Weidoeft-style recording. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Alto Mouthpiece

....alto sax mouthpieces are more suited to the straight-neck Conns.. This is mostly because (due to long shanks on a lot of tenor mpcs) the microtuner restricts how far on you can push the mouthpiece, therefore alto mpcs are more suitable for the Conns, unless you can find short-shank tenor mpcs.
Yes, I tried both tenor and alto mouthpieces and I'd need a hack saw to use the tenor mouthpiece.

I found that indeed it sounded more like an alto with the metal yanagisawa mouthpiece. On the other hand, the wonderful sweet brightness that I get from that piece on alto seemed completely distorted in a rather unpleasant way on the higher end of the range (the low end sounded fine). Maybe this is caused by the different bore size of the C-melody?

The mouthpiece that came with the C-mel is a literal no-name piece that seems much more suited to the horn as a whole. I was offered a vintage C-mel mouthpiece instead, but was advised that this mouthpiece was more open, perhaps closer to what I was used to. I think that was good advice. Compared to a metal Yanagisawa, it sounds more like a classical tone or maybe a thirties jazz tone, but it seems more consistent in quality up and down the horn. Perhaps I will need to try out a bunch of mouthpieces to find one that will work for brightness as well as for consistency. Or maybe I should just cut to the chase and write Ralph Morgan. :cool:

Be interested to know how you find the intonation on the Conn, using your metal alto Yana, I have a very similar alto mpc here that I need to check out on C-Mels.
The intonation with the metal mouthpiece on the C-mel seems fine. However..... I'm a very part time musician. Were I to play any horn acapella, the chances are that I would not play it consistently in tune. But put me with a bunch of other musicians, and as long as I can hear myself, and as long as I pay attention, notes usually come out in tune (at least no one ever complains), even though with an open mouthpiece I can usually lip them up a little or down a lot at any time. That is to say, it seemed in tune to me, but your mileage may vary.

Interested to see you also use a Yana metal on your C-Sop, a Bb mpc I assume
Yes, it was an odd coincidence, that. I have no Bb soprano sax, so I went to that store with the idea of purchasing a Bb soprano mouthpiece that I liked which I could use to try out various Bb instruments to decide which one I would want to buy. They didn't have much selection, but I was tickled to find that they had a used Yanagisawa metal Bb mouthpiece, just like the one I had for alto but soprano-sized!! They sold it for (iirc) about 90 bucks, much cheaper than they go for at WWBW, so I was happy. I tried a few straight sopranos with it (though I was looking for a curved so I could pretend I was Jan Garbarek) and then.... I saw the C soprano under the glass of the counter. I thought maybe it was a sopranino or something. Imagine my surprise when I was told it was in C.

Well, I tried that horn next, but even I could hear that it wasn't in tune with itself from top to bottom. It was only after leaving the shop and while driving home that I realized that the reason it hadn't played in tune with itself was probably that I had to push the mouthpiece further down on the cork. So the next day, armed with a tuner, I went back, found indeed that the mouthpiece had to be pushed an incredible distance down the neck (thank goodness it was only keyed to high Eb!), and so I bought it. I can't wait to take it traveling with me this summer.

The C Soprano was sold with a Bb metal Selmer C*, presumably what the previous owner had used. It's a fine mouthpiece as well, but not as open as I prefer, so I use the Yanagisawa mouthpiece on it. What I'm going to do if I actually ever get around to buying a Bb soprano is a mystery at this point. IN the meantime I have two very nice mouthpieces.

So instead of a Bb soprano, my original objective, I have gotten two C horns instead. As you might surmise, you're dealing here with somebody who, for once in his life, has paid off his mortgage and so all of a sudden has a lot of money to get things he's always wished he could afford, which is the reason for all my purchases of late.

On the other hand, I have in fact used that Yana soprano piece to try out a couple more Bb sopranos in the meantime - a curved Cannonball and a Yanagisawa SC992. The curved Cannonball with that mouthpiece was so bright it was like playing a kazoo. I'm not saying it's a bad horn, just with that mouthpiece. The Yanagisawa, on the other hand, was one of the nicest-playing, prettiest-sounding saxophones of any size or brand that I've ever even touched. Wow!! It was hard to leave the practice room at the music store. It will probably be my next purchase when my bank account rises again.

I've been told that the alto piece was favored in the era of the saxophone, but I don't care for that approach. If you want more good C-Mel recordings from that era, look up Frankie Trumbauer's work, including TRUMBOLOGY, a very Weidoeft-style recording
Yes, now I wonder if Trumbaur might have used an alto mouthpiece. You can listen to a lot (maybe all?) of his band's recording for free at:

http://www.redhotjazz.com/fto.html
 

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Couple of quick responses (you'll be glad to hear...)

Yes, with all 20's C-saxes, seems that to get a bit of 'bite', especially playing in company, often a quite edgy mouthpiece produces good results, although often less edgy than you'd expect.

I sold a couple of straight-neck Conns once, and sat down with all my mouthpieces to check out response and intonation. One went with a relatively modern Selmer/Brilhart tenor piece, which had a usefully short shank. The other performed amazingly well on a 'no-name' (student ?) plastic alto piece, in preference to a load of good 'name' mouthpieces..

It often is a case of trying as many mouthpieces as is possible, the most unusual choices can often come up trumps. You just never know until you try ! Borrow as many from friends as you can, worth the effort when you find something that really flies. By the way, there was some talk a while back, that some of the solo's attributed to Tram on C-mel, may in fact have been played on alto.........

Logical that, because the (later) Conn looked like a big alto, and because Tram played alto, he would have tried his alto mouthpiece(s)/reeds on C-Mel, and found it suited him ? After all, it's what we do now, in preference to that unresponsive 20's lump of sulphur-tasting blandness that usually comes with a C-Mel....
 

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Morgan MP

I can't say enough how much I like the C-mel Morgan MP that I ordered from JunkDude. It makes my 1921 Conn S/neck totally legit. No more excuses..'old horn'...'C-mel'..blah blah. It completely cured the low-end motorboating that I had experienced with several other mouthpieces - original and modern. My Conn plays top to bottome like a dream. If you're going to keep your C-melody, I'd say buy the Morgan.It was about a 10 week wait, but well worth it.
MM

PS - I should add that I traded in a Morgan Alto 3C to offset the purchase of the Morgan Cmel. Ralph's Alto piece was 'nothing special' for me on the alto - so I cashed it in. The Cmel rocks! No more mouthpiece shopping for that horn.
 

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Mark - couldn't agree more, there are two 'top end' modern C-Mel mpcs that I haven't tried, but would like to - one is the Morgan, and the other is the Zinner Jazz. Of course, not forgetting the two very reasonable Aquilasax mouthpieces, based around the original chamber design, but with much more open tips, and a far nicer taste.....
 

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Nice to discover yet another C-Melody fan! I've got a Lyon and Healy (Buescher Stencil, very similar to the TrueTone Series 2) C-Melody that I absolutely love. At the moment, she's in pieces once more as I've been working on restoring the finish and am contemplating doing a full repad.

I've had success with both Tenor and Alto mouthpieces, although I primarily use alto on her. I'm a big fan of the "big and beefy" sort of tenor sound, and with a tenor mouthpiece, the C-mel just can't keep up. With an alto piece, however, she has a much more unique sound.

Rudy Wiedoeft is great. I've got a CD called "Rudy Wiedoeft: Kresler of The Saxophone" that has something like 25 great recordings of him. Haven't listened to Ted Hegvik, I'll have to check him out!
 

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rs1sensen - not to go off topic, but I'm interested in your statement "...with a tenor mouthpiece, the C-mel just can't keep up....". Can you please explain ?

I've used many different tenor mouthpieces on most makes of C-Mel, currently on a '31 Martin, without any problems except maybe the odd (easily lippable) intonation issue.
 

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I'd be happy to explain, but first I'll preface this by saying that all of this has only been my experience with my one c-melody and I would never make the claim that this is true for all horns or for all players.

In my experience, I've found that most alto mouthpieces tend to give my c-melody a sound which I consider to be truly unique. It doesn't sound like an alto, or like a tenor. Many tenor mouthpieces seem to try to pull the c-melody for more of a tenor-like sound, and on my horn, the sound isn't all that unique, it just sounds like a rather poor tenor. By saying "can't keep up" I meant that in my experience, I wasn't able to get the same amount of ballsyness out of my c-mel as I have from Bb tenors, and it doesn't make sense to me to work towards a Bb Tenor sound on a C-Melody. If I want that sound, I'll play a Bb Tenor. A C Tenor should sound like a C tenor.

That isn't to say that I haven't heard recordings of C-mels with players who use tenor mouthpieces and sound great, I have. In the end, the greatest factor in creating that mystical sound we hear inside our heads is us. The mouthpiece can influence the direction the sound goes, but the core, that's our own. It's just that in my experience, I've had a lot more success with alto pieces than tenor.

At the same time, I admit that I still haven't completed my mouthpiece search for my horn, and am often trying different ones, both tenor and alto. I may order a "modern" c-mel piece soon too. My results may have also been effected by the fact that my horn is not in necessarily "tip-top" condition, although that's something I've been improving all the time (hey, at least the pads seal!), but really, I'd assume both alto and tenor pieces to be effected an equal amount by the condition of the sax.

I hope that clears my perspective up a little bit. In the interest of keeping the thread on topic, feel free to PM me or email me at [email protected] if you have anything you'd like to add, ask about, or simply chat c-mels! As a side note, I've truly enjoyed browsing your website many times in the past (I always seem to find myself going back to it)!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Alto mouthpiece

rs1sensen said:

I've had success with both Tenor and Alto mouthpieces, although I primarily use alto on her. I'm a big fan of the "big and beefy" sort of tenor sound, and with a tenor mouthpiece, the C-mel just can't keep up. With an alto piece, however, she has a much more unique sound.
I'm curious what sort of alto mouthpiece(s) you've tried on your C-melody. Do you use a big-chambered mouthpiece like Cmelodysax has used on his Conn?
 

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SuperTourist said:
rs1sensen said:
I'm curious what sort of alto mouthpiece(s) you've tried on your C-melody. Do you use a big-chambered mouthpiece like Cmelodysax has used on his Conn?
The mouthpieces that seemed to work best on mine surprised me. For a long time I was on a Selmer C*, and now I've been having a lot of success with a Vandoren Java. A friend of mine borrowed my horn and was able to wrestle something that he said was similar to a Yamaha 4C copy, and he had success with that! I expected to need something a lot larger than those choices, but on my horn, they give me consistent intonation and a fair sound quality.

I think the lesson is, try as many mouthpieces as you possibly can. What works on my horn may not work at all on yours.

My horn is in pieces at the moment (the "to order new pads or to get more life out of the old ones" debate). Whenever I get her back together, I'd be happy to make a few recordings using a variety of mouthpieces. I kind of would like to make several recordings, starting with something small-chambered and tight, and working my way up bigger and bigger. Might be interesting to listen to.

I thought I read somewhere that Wiedoeft used an alto mouthpiece. Not sure if that's true or not.
 

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rs1sensen said:
[...]
In my experience, I've found that most alto mouthpieces tend to give my c-melody a sound which I consider to be truly unique. It doesn't sound like an alto, or like a tenor. Many tenor mouthpieces seem to try to pull the c-melody for more of a tenor-like sound, and on my horn, the sound isn't all that unique, it just sounds like a rather poor tenor. By saying "can't keep up" I meant that in my experience, I wasn't able to get the same amount of ballsyness out of my c-mel as I have from Bb tenors, and it doesn't make sense to me to work towards a Bb Tenor sound on a C-Melody. If I want that sound, I'll play a Bb Tenor. A C Tenor should sound like a C tenor.
[...]
I wonder if the tenor mpcs you've tried thus far have had chambers that are too large for the horn. If you can, try a smaller chamber mpc (like a Metal Selmer Jazz Tenor) and see if that doesn't fix the tenor mpcs problems your having.

FWIW, I primarily use a Beechler on my Conn straight neck. I've used an Alto STM which responded very well through the range of the horn, but didn't have as full of a sound. I've also tried a Runyon Cmel mpc and I have a Babbit model as well. The Babbit didn't grab me like the Beechler and the Runyon didn't feel right either. In all honesty, I'd like to try a Runyon again since I was pretty new to the Cmel when I dismissed it in favor of the Beechler. I have yet to try a Morgan made Cmel mpc. Maybe we can convince Theo to make a Cmel AMMA. :)

Good Luck!
 

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rs1sensen said:
...... A C Tenor should sound like a C tenor.......
Ah, but what should a C Tenor sound like in the 21st century..? Surely not like a 20's C Tenor ? How can you define the sound ? Even those Bb tenor players who play vintage Bb tenors have mostly stepped up to a more modern mouthpiece. And the original C-Mel reeds and mouthpiece tables were closer to tenor size than alto. I just love making a 'slightly lighter' tenor sound with tenor mouthpieces, but then that's the beauty of the better C-Mels, they're just a blank canvas - easily influenced by mouthpiece variations.

On that subject (and getting back on topic), I remembered seeing a slightly obscure link on 'Saxmong' Steve's Aquilasax website. It said - For a modern style in C try "just maybe" http://myspace.com/nathanhaines....

So anyway, click on "Just Maybe Live" and in between the vocals is a lovely flowing sax solo that sounds just like Stan Getz :) on a straight-neck Conn C-Mel.

I emailed Nathan, and he said,(quote) "
It's a 1923 Gold artist model I found in mint unplayed condition....the mouthpiece was an Otto link re-bored to fit the neck and works fine for me. It's my fave 'jazz' horn as the sound is so clearly vintage with a great feel.It doesn't project like a tenor and I can't get my head around the harmonics (all different for some reason) so the range is limited but I do love playing it."

Gorgeous gentle sound, but he 'boots' it along, and I assume he meant an alto (sounds like an ebonite, rather than metal, but i can't be sure ?) Otto Link as he talked about re-boring the neck. Anyway, maybe an example of what rs1sensen meant, a C Tenor sounding like a (slightly more modern) C Tenor, because it certainly doesn't sound like either an alto or tenor.

I may just email back for more details, I'm interested......
 

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Thanks for posting the Nathan Haines link Cmelodysax. It's great to hear the C-Melody on a live gig, in the context of a modern arrangement.
 

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SAXISMYAXE said:
Thanks for posting the Nathan Haines link Cmelodysax. It's great to hear the C-Melody on a live gig, in the context of a modern arrangement.
I keep listening to it, I know other contemporary players have recorded C-Mel - but this solo just hits the spot for me ! Nathan also said "I'm playing it on my new album due for release in Nov this year."

http://www.nathanhaines.com/
 

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Following on from comments here, I thought it'd be great to have all the sounds in one place - so I've expanded my C-Melody Sax Players page to include sample sounds from modern players like Braxton, Lovano, Levinson, Pietro, Robinson (etc.) and of course the "original Masters". Have a listen !

It's far from finished, and if any of you have any sounds (mp3, wav etc.) that I can use to fill in the gaps, I'd be glad to receive them. Most of us have software on our PC's that will convert CD tracks to mp3. And if anyone likes any of the 'extracts', I'd be happy to email the full track to them, if I have it.

More to be added soon.

BY the way, SuperTourist, if you click here, you can hear up to 2 minute samples of all 20 Hegvick tunes/tracks on that Wiedoeft tribute CD - its also on my webpage.
 

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Ernie Watts played c mel on Zappa's Grand Wazoo. Zappa called it the 'mystery horn'. Very cool solo.
 

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Yes BBlow - I've (so far) refrained from listing Ernie as a 'C-Mel player' on the website because I don't know whether it was tongue-in-cheek, as a 'dare' or what... I'd love to think that Ernie thought he could have a little niche playing C's, but haven't found any other recorded occasions when he really used it in anger.

I've also spent ages on youtube (etc.) looking/listening for any tracks that Jan Garbarek recorded on his Buescher C-Mel - can anyone help me out ?

I think this may just about be my 1000'th post, is 09:48 too early to crack open the champers ? :shock:
 
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