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Aquila C melody tenor sax

Hutchy

New Member
Messages
9
Hi
I am new to this and this may have already been asked but here goes. I have been teaching myself the alto sax for the last couple of years and thoroughly enjoy it and yes I know I should get lessons and maybe will soon. I am thinking about moving on to a tenor and have been looking at the Aquila C melody which after a bit of a poor start seems to be getting good reviews. The main reason I am looking at this is because I am not good at reading music and transposing would be a nightmare for me (I would like to play with my sons who play guitars). Has anyone any knowledge of this sax and can give me reasons to buy or not to buy?
Many thanks.
:)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,949
I know nothing about the sax. Just be careful, C Mels need different mouthpieces and they're not too common. There's also not a lot of music written for C mel, so you're going to be looking at origianl parts, which may or may not go outside it's range.

But good luck. HAve been toying with the idea myself. There's a UK site/dealer that specialises in C Mels.

http://cmelodysax.co.uk/
 

Hutchy

New Member
Messages
9
Thanks for the advice. The Aquila C melody is a new sax manufactured in China for a Newzealand company. I am hearing different reports on them.
 

QWales

Senior Member
Messages
730
Let me just put my disclaimer in first, I am also a beginner and know nothing. But my impression of the C Melody is that it is the Betamax of the Saxophone world. Perfectly capable of doing the job but because noone else uses them, you are just making life difficult for yourself by getting one.
 
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Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,055
I bought a 1920s C melody just for its novelty value. The sax plays fine and I could play it with the church band using the same hymn book used by the guitar/vocal players. So you will be able to use the same song sheets as your sons if that's what you want. I transpose everything for my Bb and Eb instruments.

The supplied mouthpiece might be fine, and if not try your alto piece before buying anything else. If you buy one let us know what you think of it.

Jim.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Hutchy,
Sax co uk sell them and have a write up that says that alto mpcs fit fine on them. http://www.sax.co.uk/acatalog/Aquila-C-Melody-Tenor-Saxophone-in-Gold-Lacquer-226136358.html . Our own Jules works there so may have a comment.

On the other hand there is music readily available for Eb alto and Bb tenor that has concert pitch accompaniment so it shouldn't be a problem.
YC
 
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jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,375
I think you have to give buying a C Melody instrument a lot of thought as it is a niche market,that said you would be surprised how many players have got one.
There are 2 directions to go,first you could buy the Aquila and have a new instrument,down sides to this is that they are expensive for that kind of sax.
Second direction is you could buy a vintage C Mel off Ebay although you might have to wait a while for the right one to go for sale,the benefits of going down this path are that you will get a great sax for a fraction of the Aquila,the downside is you have all the pitfalls of buying a vintage sax on Ebay, but the bargains are there if you are prepared to wait,i picked up a 1920s King with 95% silver plate intact and a full overhaul for less than the price of the overhaul and its a real belter of a horn.
The other thing to remember is they will play with 3 types of mouthpiece C melody for a mellower sound, a tenor for the tenor sound and alto for a more alto sound the choice is yours,I've always gone down the tenor route but its personal preference.
One other point is that if you are enjoy playing the sax then it is worth persevering with reading and transposing as this only gets better the more you do it,and if you were interested in getting a tenor sax this probably would be a better purchase in the long run.

Brian
 

Jack

Member
Messages
123
I own a Conn 1924 New Wonder (got it on a lark with a friend of mine) I play it with an Otto Link 6* Alto Sax mouthpiece.

It will play piano, guitar, and flute music for example. (Anything that reads in the Key of C concert)

When I arrange for it in Finale, I use the flute, and it works just fine.

It has a tone that is between the alto and tenor.

During the 1920's and 1930's, home entertainment was very different than it is today. Electrical lighting was in most homes, but there were few electrical entertainment devices, except of course, the radio. Television was in its infancy, and still a curiosity rather than a part of everyone's dreams.
In the 20's and 30's, when families and friends got together, they usually gathered around a piano and sang songs. Piano and vocal sheet music was easily available. Many people played instruments such as the saxophone, following the big-band craze. However, saxophone music was not easy to come by, especially as an accompaniment to the piano, guitar and vocal music favoured at the parties of the day.
To meet this 'home entertainment' demand, the larger American saxophone manufactures began building soprano and tenor saxophones in the key of C. These instruments could play the piano melody (hence the name C-Melody) without the problem of transposing. Vocal music could easily be played on these saxophones as well. So started the “play at home” craze of the 20's and 30's.
As times changed, the great depression meant reduced spending, and musical instrument manufacturers 'rationalised' their range of instruments. Later on, in the 40's and 50's, electronic entertainments became commonplace in the home, and the 'play at home' craze pretty much died. The C-Melody saxophones did not easily join the existing bands or orchestras that were structured around the Eb and Bb instruments. The C-Melody sound was considered not different enough from the Eb Alto and the Bb Tenor to make any difference to a band, so they fell by the wayside. Many just got "mothballed", literally as a musical time capsule, in the attic or under the bed.

However they are starting to re-gain popularity for use today, because most music is written and published for piano, keboards, guitar and voice. All of these instruments are in the key of C - as are other instruments e.g. flute, piccolo, violin, banjo, bass, recorder, penny whistles etc.
Use a tenor or alto saxophone with any of these instruments and the old problem of transposing comes back, just like during the play at home craze of the 1920's and 1930's. Once again, the C-Melody saxophone solves the problem! Once again the C-Melody saxophone is regaining popularity! It is also worth noting that several leading clarinet manufacturers are now offering a C-clarinet, as an alternative to the (transposing) B-flat version.
As regards fingering and mouthpiece technique, the C-Melody saxophone is identical to the the other members of the saxophone family. I play Soprano, Alto, C-Melody and Tenor saxes and happily switch between them. In fact, to be able to read over a keyboard or guitar players' shoulder, without having to sight-transpose, makes the C-Melody worth it's weight in gold. And how often has the alto sax been just that little bit too 'thin' or high, and the tenor sax just a bit too low - C-melody is in between ! Great for jazz, and all modern music.
Most 're-born' C-Melody saxes either use tenor sax mouthpieces or readily available 'specials' which use tenor sax reeds, so there isn't a reed problem and the modern sound is considerably brighter and fuller. Try your favourite tenor sax mouthpiece on it, you may be pleasantly surprised. For an older 'classic' sound the original mouthpieces can still be used, the old reeds are still available, and bass clarinet reeds fit & work perfectly on the original mouthpieces.
In terms of value, the good news is that almost all C-Melodies were handmade by the "Big Five" saxophone manufacturers, Conn - Selmer - Buescher - Martin - King, from the same top-quality materials as the famous classic vintage alto's and tenor's from the 20's and 30's that still fetch and retain high prices today. Holton, York, and, in Europe, Buffet also manufactured some fine but lesser known instruments.

Buescher-and-piano.jpg Buescher-easytoplay-advert.jpg buescher-life-of-the-party-ad.jpg Buescher-20s-advert.jpg
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,688
I also have a 1920s Conn C Mel. It's useful for playing along with my daughter on guitar, as we can both play from the same score without transposing. A C mel can be extremely useful for this.

Mouthpieces aren't that much of a problem. Aquilasax do their own, which are OK. You can use tenor mouthpieces, which tend to work fine, but may have to be pushed on a long way to play in tune. A great way to get a brilliant C mel mouthpiece is to buy a Rico Metalite and saw 1cm off the shank. Works a treat. Lots of people say that C mels have a very 'polite' dull sound. Well, lots of people don't know what they're talking about. A vintage C mel with modern reflector pads and a Metalite will roar. The Aquilasax is a pretty bright, modern sounding sax. If you fancy one, instead of ordering from Aquilasax in NZ you can always buy from sax.co.uk, as they stock them.
 

Hutchy

New Member
Messages
9
Thanks Jim. I did enjoy it. But it does show what a long way I have to go before I get even half as good as this.
Dave
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
"Lots of people say that C mels have a very 'polite' dull sound. Well, lots of people don't know what they're talking about." (JonF).

Quite so Jon. I suspect that many people's experience of the C mel is of Frank Trumbauer, but the word I would use for his sound is "polished" rather than "polite" and the apparent dull sound (criticised by some, including Humphrey Lyttleton) is because he used very little vibrato. However to me his solos are, if not explosive, technically very accurate, well balanced and melodic. They feature on many records he made as a perfect foil to Bix Beiderbecke, in both the smaller groups, mostly drawn from the Jean Goldkette band, or the somewhat elephantine orchestra of Paul Whiteman.

Trumbauer's style was also the inspiration for Lester Young's own "light, airy" style and linear, melodic solos, which were the first real alternative to Coleman Hawkins' heavier, arpeggiated style. Lester's style in turn was the inspiration for a multitude of tenor players since, including Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Scott Hamilton.

YC
 
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