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Saxophones my 1930s Orsi alto

DaveT

Member
Messages
39
So, having had a bit of time to get to know it better I have come to the conclusion that it is heavily based on the 1920s Conn Chu Berry Alto. It has that same very dimpled left hand pinky key.
There are no pearls on any of the keys and there never was. The keys are slightly raised and highly polished and feel OK to me.

I will see what I can do to post some images. I hunted high and low for any info or pics before I bought it, and afterwards, there's not much out there...
I might even have to write to Orsi and see what they can tell me!
 

DaveT

Member
Messages
39
pics coming up...
Google for some pics of a Conn Chu Berry alto - then you can compare the Orsi to it.
Some of my pics look yellow/gold put that down to LED lighting and an iPhone camera!
The sax is silver plated or nickel plated, not sure which yet. Very shiny though!


now what I think is the 'proof' it is a copy of the Chu Berry - the 'nail-file' G# key.
Orsi_ChuBerry_nail-file_key.JPG


Only 2 photos allowed.
Orsi_label.JPG
 

DaveT

Member
Messages
39
And now the left and right sides
Orsi_left-side.JPG
Orsi_right-side.JPG


That bottom key on the bow is the sticky one. I'll be fixing that in a couple of weeks. There are two Hardleys in my garage that I need to get back on the road after a bit of a refurb. Both of them 20 years old, getting them ready for another 20 years by which time I hope to be dead. (have you seen people over 80? Mainly not fun, don't intend to do it, and yes, 'Harold and Maude' IS my favourite film!)
 

DaveT

Member
Messages
39
The octave key is my favourite feature, it is in th eright place directly above the thumb rest, none of the shifting your thumb right nonsense! It is why I bought the Selmer Model 22 Soprano it was easier to play in every way than any of the modern sopranos I had to choose from.
Orsi_octave-key.JPG


None of the keys have pearls, just nice shiny slightly concave metal buttons. Might be a problem if I ever get to play it in some sweaty club.
Orsi_no-pearls.JPG
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,988
Upper stack looks strange..no Bis Key....if I am seeing things correctly.....(?)

Thus there is one less tonehole present on upper stack.

And the short bell as well as pinky table reveals horn is keyed only down to low B
.....again if I am seeing that right.
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,988
...just spotted this, too...no F# alt key...

@milandro once provided info that in Italy there was a subset of saxes produced known as "ministeriale" horns.

These were intentionally made sans full keywork, and supplied to military and civic police bands and such...where the general context was the band music played was very basic and the players were by and large unlikely to really pursue music as any sort of career or even serious hobby....so learning a particular note fingering ONE way...would suffice.

IF the horn IS 1930's (and not certain how one ascertained that, unless there's an Orsi serial list somewhere, which most folks have never seen (?)...as opposed to a much earlier horn, say pre 1920's... where less keywork would have not been so unusual....

....then clearly by the 30's a full compliment of keys was the norm..... so this would likely have been a 'ministeriale' model.
 

DaveT

Member
Messages
39
Well! 1930s 'ministeriale' is good, makes it an early model Trevor James Alphasax!
pre-1920s is even better.
Would a misteriale horn have some sort of indication of what it was?
 

Adrian63

Senior Member
Messages
2,174
Thanks Dave : so no bis : short bell and plays down to low B ; were you aware of these issues when you bought it Dave ? I mean it may play really nicely and no low Bb ; well you could live with that just but no bis I cannot imagine ; I use bis constantly....
 

Adrian63

Senior Member
Messages
2,174
Don't get me wrong I'm really not disparaging your horn : these issues however are going to make it a tricky player...
 

Guto

New Member
Account Closed
Messages
28
short bell and no low B is redundant. former is because of the latter. Bis key is a convenience, not a necessity.
low Bb may be missed some times, but it's not often that you need anyway. just like Baris that don't have a low A.
I wouldn't call these "issues". this is a very old horn, well before the 'modern design' was established by Selmer. not so surprising it doesn't have the Bis key.
it looks in great shape. it must be a fun horn to play.
 

Adrian63

Senior Member
Messages
2,174
The fundamentals of saxophone dictate that each horn cover 2 8ves and a fifth : this is what makes the Eb / Bb crossover such an amazing design . To say a low Bb is rarely used is in my opinion incorrect it is as valid a note as any . More so to have to use side Bb / A# constantly would be a nightmare . 50 % of the fat passages I use would not be possible . As I said I'm sure it would play fine but for a " working horn " ?
 

DaveT

Member
Messages
39
Some things are easy to buy.
That's pretty! Look at that! I want that one! It applies to just about anything you might want to buy from a guitar to a motorcycle.
I have no 'need' of an alto sax, but not going on holiday this year frees up a shed load of cash for other things.
Did I want to buy a working horn? Mainly yes. One sticky key is not a problem, it being some delightful vintage thing is not a problem. I like Vintage Stuff! I'm a biker and an engineer and a saxophone is a mere mechanical contrivance. I can fix it. The 'cheap' not working ones went for more than the tight-fisted Yorkshireman wanted to pay.
Is it just me, but if low Bb is missing you play the octave above, or maybe leave a moment of silence, or even play a fifth above - it'll be reight. Best of all the audience won't notice. (they won't notice. really)
I'm a beginner at this sax thing. As long as it is fun that's fine. Plan A is to work through the exam grades. A bit of discipline will do me good. If some modern 'post 1920' things are missing, well, I'll live. A friend of mine rides a 1907 Triumph motorcycle. I shan't bore you with the many 'modern' features it is missing. Damned Good Fun Though! (to add to the fun she's a transexual - had the Full Monty op about 30 years ago)

I did try a proper Purple Logo Yamaha soprano sax when I bought the Selmer Model 22 Soprano, and I went to Bradford fully expecting to come back with that purple logo Yamaha. YouTube made it clear it would be good.
It was 'big boys toys'. I could tell if you put the effort in it would be really really good, but it was not 'fun'. It was the equivalent to giving a Ducati Desmosedici to a biker on 'L' plates, except it wouldn't kill me!

The rattlin' snortin' vibratin' Hardly Sportster is doing my hands in. I'm looking for a 'sensible' replacement. The local bike shop had a Ducati Panigale V4 in. Only £35,000. If I wanted it I would have bought it in a heartbeat. 214HP, what on earth would an old man like me do with that? And my body hurts when faced with rearsets and clip-on handlebars.
 

Guto

New Member
Account Closed
Messages
28
Dave, that’s awesome! I share a lot of your point of view regarding why we acquire vintage stuff. Enjoy this beautiful instrument!

Correct if I’m wrong but I believe by “working horn” Adrian meant a horn to make a living from playing it, while I read Dave meaning a horn that works.
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,988
short bell and no low B is redundant.
What an SOTW thing to say.....

Bis key matter of convenience..(?) ....how many horns have you owned and kept and played for a significant amount of time which were absent their Bis key ?
 
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JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,988
I wouldn't call these "issues". this is a very old horn, well before the 'modern design' was established by Selmer. not so surprising it doesn't have the Bis key.
it looks in great shape. it must be a fun horn to play.
They are issues, of course, if a purchaser was unaware they were buying a horn with limited keywork and therefore impractical from the perspective of most players....

(and attemptimg to parallel a an Alto which has no Low Bb (nor bis, nor alt F#) ...to a Baritone which is low Bb, not Low A....?)....

Really now....

But ...whether it's a 'ministeriale' or just super-old, it's an interesting piece from a historical perspective....
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,988
The fundamentals of saxophone dictate that each horn cover 2 8ves and a fifth : this is what makes the Eb / Bb crossover such an amazing design . To say a low Bb is rarely used is in my opinion incorrect it is as valid a note as any . More so to have to use side Bb / A# constantly would be a nightmare . 50 % of the fat passages I use would not be possible . As I said I'm sure it would play fine but for a " working horn " ?
All of this is true. I like vintage horns too...it's my biz...I was just pointing out to the OP that his purchase, while cool, again from a historical perspective....isn't what 99% of players would consider a practical sax, is all.
Fact is a sax player, once beyond the initial excitement of the new acquisition, would very likely want and need a fully-keyed horn in order to develop as a player. Any teacher/tutor would insist on it....and fact is alternate Bb and F# fingerings are just a standard part of learning the horn, and have been for 100 years now.

I've refurbed and resold a couple of MInisteriales...more to just satiate my own curiosity than anything else.

But would most players invest into getting it fully up to snuff ?
Probably not, for reasons noted above.

But again, an interesting and quirky piece, and perhaps most interesting is the physical condition it is in. Someone cared for it, it seems.
 
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