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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-p2.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-p3.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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Messages
331
Great review, and thanks for the advice, Ads.

I've taken the plunge and ordered the one from Thomann. I'll update this once it's arrived and I've had a play with it. I'll be looking into moving the thumb rest up a bit, on a raised block to clear the F# key cup.

I emailed Trevor Jones recently (the Bristol music shop) about a 1920s Conn C Melody they have for sale:

http://www.trevorjonesltd.co.uk/Second-Hand-Alto-Sax-4.htm

Tom, from that shop has sent me some pictures of the sax, which I find very interesting. One of them in particular shows the relationship of the right thumb rest, the FED keys and the side trills. I hope it's okay to post that here. It's not me that's selling it, so this is not for the yard sale, just for context. Someone might decide they'd rather have the original, of course, in which case, there's one there - low pitch, made around 1923-24 and ready to play (but no mouthpiece).

In this picture, it looks to me like the thumb hook is in roughly the same position as on the Sakkusu and Thomann, but the trill keys are placed lower down, making them easier to reach:

DSC_0018.JPG (click to enlarge)

The thumb rest appears to be soldered to the body of the sax on those Conns though, whereas on the Sakkusu and Thomman, it looks like it can be unscrewed, which makes it easier to do something about the position.

The right thumb could maybe go up a bit from where it is normally, between the first and second fingers, to be level with the index finger, or a little higher.

This next one shows the left thumb position, and excitingly chunky octave key, in relation to the palm keys, though not where it lines up with the BAG keys, unfortunately:

DSC_0017.JPG

I have two more pictures, if anyone is interested. I don't want to lead this off topic though. I could start a new thread about it, if people want to see them.
 
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Messages
331
Original, or modern clone, Kev? If I lived a bit nearer Bristol, I'd definitely have gone to look at the one at the Trevor Jones shop, but it's too far for me to want to drive, and it's about £85 for a return train ticket.

I was originally hunting for a new soprano, but that didn't go quite as expected, and I've managed to tweak my old one a bit more, so I thought I'd get a C melody instead :)

The Jericho tenor I briefly had (returned due to faults) felt a bit ungainly, somehow. I felt a bit like Rod Hull wrestling his emu. A C melody looks like a size that will suit me better.

I have a C clarinet too (among others). I still play my Bb more, but I like having both. The C is probably a better fit to my hands, really.

Here's another bit of context - a video I watched a while ago, looking at an old straight neck Conn in detail (a similar looking design) :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCe41k1ozbI
 
Messages
331
Fair enough :mrcool Yes, me too. Though I have thought about getting a C melody for a while, It was Ads that decided me on a new one.

Have you seen this thread too, by @Paul Warner, about the Thomann one? :

http://cafesaxophone.com/threads/thomann-c-melody.15560/#post-207404

Comparing his to the pictures in Ads's review, he said he believed they were the same one. I decided to take his advice, because it was a bit cheaper, which put it within my budget. I'd have had to wait a little while longer to afford the Sakkusu from sax.co.uk, and I'm not good at waiting :)
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I'm not biting, I've got my sights set on something else. Some tricky negotiations on the home front have been entered into.... But fortunately I was receiving service when the game was opened. The very weak opening service was a request for an upgrade to her backup guitar.>:)
 

Vlad

Senior Member
Messages
803
I always like your reviews Ads !
What might be cool here would be some actual 'soundbites' of the horn...everyone knows what a tenor or alto does, but the more 'exotics' might benefit from some short examples of what the thing actually sounds like..?
Just a thought
 
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