Sakkusu C-Melody Saxophone Review

Saxophones Sakkusu C-Melody Saxophone Review

Finally there`s a NEW C-Melody (or Contralto) Sax which can be easily bought from a proper bricks and mortar shop and pretty much handles and performs like a modern Alto or tenor ..

Getting a C-Melody sax these days seems to take two routes , first and most usual is to search out a Vintage horn (most likely from the 1920s) from Buescher, Conn etc which hopefully is either in playable condition or at least repairable at a sensible price . the problem with this apart from the obvious issues of getting one which is worse than expected fixed up or even worse landing a High Pitch horn which is pretty much useless (you wanted a C-Melody to be in tune with regular instruments right?) is that horns from this period don`t have a reputation for having fantastic intonation or being particularily friendly with modern mouthpieces - add to that the lack of choice in dedicated C-Melody mouthpieces and you`re into the realm of hacking a tenor one down or finding an alto one which doesn`t fall off the cork .. then there`s the problem of Ergonomics , unless you`re a vintage horn fiend, a 20s model can be rather - errm Weird and you may find swapping between it and your modern Tenor or Alto difficult....... I don`t know of any vintage C-Melodies in the late 50s or newer . There`s certainly and sadly no Yamaha YCS-61 or anything like that .

Sakkusu-C-Mel-1-p.JPG

The Other option is to buy one of the new Chinese models - as far as I know this is limited to two well known models - Aquilasax and Sax.co.uk`s Sakkusu label , there are a couple of no namers on E-Bay as well of unknown quality and I`ve not seen an Aquila advertised for quite a while. C-Melodies would appear to be made in small runs as Sax.co are often out of stock awaiting a delivery and they seem to sell them as fast as they land, the E-Bay no namers aren`t common either ...

On getting the Sakkusu, the first thing I noticed was the case, it`s as light and cheap as possible and doesn`t have the Sakkusu name on it, it`s very like the case Bauhaus Walstein supply with their altos. I`ve not pulled it apart but from the weight, I`d guess that expanded polystyrene plays a large role in its construction. it`s a shame the case is Naff as it`s not easy to find a C-Melody case, I`ve been informed by Scott at Sax.co that this is an old design and the current one is far superior - good move .

Second thing you notice is that there must be a couple of versions as Sax.co call the finish "Dark gold Laquer" on the website, err, yeah - I`m pretty sure that the bell, bow, body and neck tube on this example are proper Bronze (Or at least "Rose Brass" which has slightly less copper in it) , this isn`t an overall dark gold laquer finish, it`s real - you can tell by that the straps, ribs, pillars etc are all brass whilst being on a bronze tube, even the neck`s brace is brass on the bronze tube.. very nice indeed ..... third thing you notice is that it ain`t half heavy ! , I`d say it was as heavy as a Yamaha YTS23 TENOR , I`ve noticed this with bronze horns in the past .

The sax is certainly well put together, it uses ribbed construction , blued steel needle springs, detachable bell and bow and what feels like proper pearls on the keys ! . Setup is OK,a bit heavy and high as you`d expect but not unrefined or in the least bit clanky .. a setup from a good tech who specialises in squeezing the best from an action like Stephen Howard ought to get the thing playing faster and slick in no time, the neck has a Conn-alike Microtuner which I`d say was pretty much redundant thesedays, a longer cork would do just as well , for less cost and maintenence .

Sakkusu-C-Mel-N-p.JPG




Regarding Mouthpieces the horn seems to be designed with a bias towards Alto ones (as displayed by Sax.co's suggestion) and thats a great thing as they`re plentiful in all types makes and sounds , I tried my regular LAW LCM, the LAW Buzzer, a Bari Esprit-II and a Rico A5 Graftonite , all worked and tuned up just fine ...

If there`s a downturn, it`s the ergonomics . the constriction of making a C-Melody has taken its toll on the position of the thumb hook which for me at least is too low, this makes use of the C and E side trills quite a stretch , looking at the tube, they couldn`t have put it higher as it`d interfere with the side F#`s tonehole and key, you can see this in the picture here.
Sakkusu-C-Mel-T-p.JPG


The other issue for me is the position of the thumb rest, the ball of my thumb is uncomfortably on the left edge of it for the fingers to sit right and the octave key is very high . this could be me being used to Yamahas and Selmer designs ...

So how does it sound ? . very nice indeed with excellent intonation and keeps the sound at both ends amazingly - and yes the sound does remind me of a Yanagisawa, though in a key Yani never made one in - it has that neutral, refined well rounded controlled tone typical of the marque and likewise, it`s dull with a stuffy mouthpiece and bright with a brash one , thankfully not a difficult horn to pick a piece for soundwise .. I doubt it`ll ever really let its hair down like a Yamaha or smooch the hairs to attention on your spine to the same degree as a Selmer but it won`t bore you sensless like other horns I can think of . this is also exactly how I found Yanis too both Tenor and Alto and why I own Yamahas but until Yamaha make a YCS62 AND Selmer Make a C-Melody Series III , the Sakkusu is more than up to the Job ! ..


I`m playing the sax with my LAW LCM Alto piece which has a fantastic full sound with an edge when pushed and the Sakkusu C-Melody responds to this very well.. this modern made C-melody certainly strikes a nice balance between Alto and tenor without doing the "falling between two stools" thing which vintage models are often accused of . I can`t say that this horn has the refined feel of the Taiwanese made Sakkusu Tick logo Alto of old or the likes of the TJ-SR or Selmer Premiere , it`s a Chinese sax after all, but it's not as lumpy as some of the higher end Chinese horns can be under the fingers ..

I am totally independent and in no way connected with Sax.co.uk
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An excellent view which pre-empted all my questions. As a aside, I'm just a bit surprised that the manufacturers have incorporated a copy of the old Conn "Microtuner". I view that as a retrograde step. It would have been better, I think, to have simply had a neck with cork on it - like 99.999% of modern production horns. Simple is best where mechanisms are concerned. The fewer moving parts the better. That way there's less to go wrong.
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Great review. Thanks.

My hands are a bit on the small side, so the ergonomics of a sax is a big deal, for me. It would be nice to see a picture showing the position of the left thumb vs the keys for the left hand, but I guess the short answer is "too high". I've just seen a youtube video of someone at sax.co.uk playing it, and it looks like he'd really struggle to reach the low Bb key. I'm sure I would. I might not be able to reach below the G#:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3Q250cJc0Y

I gather the Thomann one is probably the same design, maybe the exact same sax. There are pictures that show the left thumb position on the listings for it, and it does look really high.

I guess it would be possible to make a right thumb rest extension to bridge the key above it, but it would be a lot harder to do anything about the left thumb.
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I think the problem is that they`ve used Alto keywork on a C sax which means the side trills aren`t close enough to the thumbrest, it no doubt alters other ergonomic geometry too but I didn`t find anything else problematic..
Excellent, thanks. I think I might have to try one of those, see how it compares to my vintage Conn C
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They`re not cheap but you can see that in the build, heavy and tough springs to mine which beats sloppy and rough any day of the week ......
Regarding the thumbhook, I`m sure something could be fashioned to get the fingers closer to the trills (an L shaped bracket?) , the existing hook won`t move back but there is some space where one could .
Useful review thanks

Particularly interested in the ergonomics... makes me think try before you buy unless it's a bargain too good to resist
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Yeah Ivan, the thumbhook distance and thumbrest position thing may drive you nuts, I`m prepared to live with them as I need a C-Melody and this is as good as they get for someone averse to 1920s Horn design and that otherwise, it`s really very good indeed, at least as good as a Bauhaus Walstein AS-PD ..

Ideally I`d prefer one made to the Standards set by the old Taiwanese Tick Logo Alto (Elkhart Deluxe) they use to sell but that`d cost well in excess of a grand and be called a "Selmer Premiere".
great analysis. Thank you Ads
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Thanks Aldevis .. I`ll do an S.H type update (edit) if I can after I`ve had the horn a while.
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