Have I made a mistake?

kevgermany

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I bought a fixer upper old alto on Ebay. No neck, but I thought I'd just get one as they come up every now and again, not too expensive.

Arrived today and as I was unpacking it, I realised it was too small. At a guess it's an F alto, slightly smaller and thinner than my Eb alto.

However it now begs the question - what to do about a neck? And when I sort that out, mouthpiece. I guess I could go along to the instrument maker and ask him to make one for me, but that probably puts the project way out of limits cost wise. Also appears to be keyed only down to B, as there's only one bell key.

Sax has some value as a rarity, but.....

Thoughts? Anyone have any sources/specs for neck and neck octave vent position/size.

I bet a few of you will say send it back, but I'm rather tempted by this oddity.
 

rhysonsax

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Are you absolutely sure it's in F ? They are supposed to be extremely rare. What are the markings on the horn (maker, model, serial number, anything else like stray letters) ?

Looking at pictures on Saxpics might give you some reasonable ideas on neck length and octave vent position, but maybe you need to get an owner of the same/similar model to measure up for you. I'm sure there will be someone on SOTW that has one.

Paul Harvey's book "Saxophone"has got a picture of an F alto next to an Eb and it certainly looks different. The bore seems narrower and the crook/neck is less bent. That F alto is made by Rene Guenot and is from Peter Ripper's collection.

Any pictures ?

Good luck

Rhys
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Rhys, Have been over it with as close an eye as possible since the first post. No serial number or other markings. No pitch markings. All I can find is the small engraving on the bell:

Ig. Meindl jun.
Graslitz

Ig. is probably Ignatius, but can't find any web reference to him. Jun I'm guessing is junior as in English (at least current German usage is that). I'm assuming this is the maker's mark, and not the owner's...

Size difference to my alto looks about the same as the difference in the comparison on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezzo-soprano_saxophone
But the bell is shorter, I presume cos it's not keyed to Bb. But no, I'm not sure that it's actually in F, but the tube is shorter and narrower than my alto.

I bought it partly dismantled. Bare brass, not plated. Some corrosion. A couple of minor dings, but nothing serious. Body is straight. Tone holes are soldered, not rolled. Workmanship looks to be of a high standard, there are interesting turned posts soldered on the body to stop the keys banging into the body (and corks inder the keys to stop the noise from hitting the posts). Wire keyguards, of course, slightly bent. Octave mechanism is dismantled, so I can't yet tell if it had one or two octave keys. Most of the pads had been removed, but those that are still there are white, much like a clarinet. Neck screw is broken off. Looks as if the previous owner bought it as a restoration job, partly stripped it, tried to remove the neck and left the tenon behind, I'm guessing the rest of the neck got wrecked in the process, sadly. I'm going to contact him and see. Could at least serve as a pattern for the octave mechanism/neck replacement, even if it's knackered. Key posts are all mounted on ribs.

Graslitz was one of the main instrument building areas in the 19th/early 20th century, along with Markt Neukirchen & Klingenthal just over the border in Germany. Graslitz was in Bohemia (Austro-Hungarian Empire), which became part of the newly formed Czechoslovakia after WW I. The name was changed to Kraslice (Graslitz in Czech) during that period, reverting to Graslitz when Hitler annexed the Sudetenland in 1938. Keilwerth, for example, started in Graslitz, as did Kohlert, moving to Germany after WWII when their factories were nationalised by the reinstated communist Czech government. Assuming it's not 1938 or later it's engraving implies it was made pre 1918. Certainly seems to be a lot older than my '35 Kohlert (which has a German, not Czech inscription...). Apart from the big guys like F A Uebel, there were lots of small shops in the area making instruments, often sourcing parts from common suppliers. Keilwerth, for instance is known to have supplied bodies to many other makers, who then fitted their own keywork. I'm guessing the instrument came from one of those small workshops.

Will try and get some shots tomorrow. The ones on Ebay Germany are rubbish.
 

jadoube

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Fleet, Hampshire
Kev,

Do you mean like these?

I bought an old cousnon that only went down to B off ebay. Smaller bore, generally smaller all over than my modern alto. ie a bit shorter too. Tech initially thought it was not the correct pitch, but once done up it was fine.

I've been told it was the basic model cousnon made at that time. (1925) Bog standard cheapest option sort of thing. Plays fine, quite a nice tone but no Bb and of course no modern keywork.

Comment made to me - people were smaller in those days.

I claim no knowledge in this field but perhaps yours may be similar and its just the age of the sax?
 

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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Could be. Shape looks right with the short bell. Thanks. Will get some measurements later. Need to get my daughter off to a red cross competition now.
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Dual octave keys.... Auto was first patented in 1888. Some sources say auto was common by about 1915 or so.

Jadoube, is yours single, or dual octave keys?

Still working on the pitch. One guy on SOTW suggested it may be a high pitch Eb, not an F. Curioser and curioser.
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Thanks.
Would really appreciate the measurements.
Neck socket to centre on the tone holes, octave pips and length of the neck from the top of the socket would really help - as would diameter's of the neck - say at the bottom. half way up and at the cork. Also a couple of body diameters. Hope I'm not asking too much. Thanks!.
 

gladsaxisme

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Hi kev

I took a look at the pics and I don't want to rain on your parade and apart from the engraved name and the GRASLIT on it which I believe is a famous cech? town a bit like ELKHART for producing saxophones.
sorry you already knew that just read your post again.DOH

It looks a lot like the first sax I bought which turned out to be a replica for decorative purposes only made in india but hey what do I know I may be completely wrong...john;}
 
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jadoube

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This any use? Not precision stuff. Best I can do with me old tape measure

Neck socket to centre on the tone holes,
to A 15.0cm
to D 40.5cm

-diameter's of the neck
at the bottom. 2.4 cm
at the cork. 1.3 cm
at octave pip 1.5 cm

Also a couple of body diameters.
F - 4.0cm
D - 4.6 cm
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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It looks a lot like the first sax I bought which turned out to be a replica for decorative purposes only made in india but hey what do I know I may be completely wrong...john;}
Am sure this is genuine. Old corosion, dents from use... wear on the keys. The pads that are left on it are white, and rock solid. Took a look at some original sax altos, looks like a direct copy. Someone on anothe forum told me there was a brass instument builder by the name of Ignatz Meindl in Graslitz around the 1820-1830 period. This is from Ig Meindl jun, I'm guessing his son/related, which would tend to date it earlier, rathe than later. Dual octave keys, Graslitz inscription, not Kraslice puts it pre WWI. Must be post the sax's invention in the 1860s. Could easily be 19th century.

I've no expectation that it'll be easy to play - or have good intonation, but it seems a pity to scrap/junk it. I'm going to go down to the instrument builder in Munich and discuss with him. He loves old brass and does superb work. If it wasn't for the missing neck, I'd simply clean/rebuild/repad (hopefully I can find white pads the right size, clarinet pads are white, so are roo pads. And look to move it on to a collector or museum. But I don't want to be spending a forutne on an instument without a neck that loses it's collectability because the neck is non-original.
 

jadoube

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I've no expectation that it'll be easy to play - or have good intonation, but it seems a pity to scrap/junk it. I'm going to go down to the instrument builder in Munich and discuss with him. He loves old brass and does superb work. If it wasn't for the missing neck, I'd simply clean/rebuild/repad (hopefully I can find white pads the right size, clarinet pads are white, so are roo pads. And look to move it on to a collector or museum. But I don't want to be spending a forutne on an instument without a neck that loses it's collectability because the neck is non-original.
in that regard its probably a good idea to find out that a collector would want it.

i initially thought mine wa slovely and old and might be worth something but it became clear that it was a bottom end of the range instrument for the period, and not so easy to play for a beginner. so i accepted I was simply sinking money into it for sentiment.

Having taken it out of its case for the first time in two years to take the measurements I had a blow. Felt really small and clumsy to my tenor hands, but it was lots of fun. So I'm really glad your question prompted me to do it.
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Have just been comparing the lengths.

D seems to be in the right range - 40.5, 41.4, 44.5, 44.5
A I can't get close 15, 18.8, 21, 21

comparing Couesnon, Meindl, Kohlert, Dolnet in that order.

But not to worry, I think I've got enough from the other two to sort out what's going on with the Meindl. Thanks.

This any use? Not precision stuff. Best I can do with me old tape measure

Neck socket to centre on the tone holes,
to A 15.0cm
to D 40.5cm

-diameter's of the neck
at the bottom. 2.4 cm
at the cork. 1.3 cm
at octave pip 1.5 cm

Also a couple of body diameters.
F - 4.0cm
D - 4.6 cm
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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Guys

Just reviving this thread, rather than start a new one.

Have been working on and off on identifying the pitch of the instrument. I've been studying books, trying to use the tube/tone hole dimensions to come back to a pitch for the instrument. I'm at the stage where I believe it's in F at A=440Hz. Which is worrying me a lot, cos if I'm right, it's a very unusual instrument. And if I'm wrong I could be making a real fool of myself.

I asked a question on saxontheweb a few months ago and just got told by guys who hadn't seen it, that it was in Eb. No prospect of a realistic discussion. So I'm loathe to go back there.

Does anyone understand enough of the maths (or know someone who does) and be prepared to double check my calcs/tell me where I'm going wrong?

Have been working from C.J. Nederveen Acoustical aspects of Musical Instruments, revised edition and also from Ernest Ferron, The saxophone is my voice. Haven't done anything fancy like tone hole corrections for size/height and so on (yet), just calcs based on lengths.

Will be eternally grateful. Thanks.
 

jonf

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Should be possible to calculate by linear comparison to known constants, if you can calculate accurately the length, bore and volume of the cone. By comparing to known dimensions of Eb alto, Bb tenor and Bb sop you should get a workable estimate. Sax in F is very unusual, but far from unheard of. Better to work on comparative calcs than ask opinionated pundits on SOTW.
 
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kevgermany

kevgermany

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That's about where I've got to. Have compared it to a known Eb alto. Will extend to tenor and another couple of altos. Volume's not really relevant - exceppt where you replace the sharp end of the sax cone with a mouthpiece. So I'm discounting volume and working on a simple cone.
 

jonf

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Thinking back to O level physics (tricky as it was 30 years ago) I think volume can be relevant, but only at extremes, and where the cone is not really a cone, ie, in cross section the sides aren't straight. However, I think you're right when it comes to the normal dimensions of a sax. Good luck with the maths.
 

Taz

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Ah yes, O Level physics...... Whilst on the subject of cones, can I have a double flake with Strawberry sauce and sprinkles please?
 
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