SYOS

Vintage or modern to learn on?

Howsey

Member
Messages
38
Hi,
I'm totally new to the saxophone and this is my first post but I have just acquired an old alto saxophone.
A Pierret " corps embouti" (according to several web searches I believe it's circa 1920)
It needs a professional set up/re pad etc. But that aside. Would I be better of learning on a modern instrument. Or do you think I would be ok learning on the old saxophone? Assuming it is restored ok, would there be any issues with keys in different positions or playing issues I might meet on an old sax or anything like that?
Thanks and any advise would be great.
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
Subscriber
Messages
1,590
Welcome to the Cafe and the saxophone. A horn that old could prove very challenging especially to a beginner. The keywork is surely very old school and could present serious ergonomic issues. It may be tricky to play in tune as well.

That's not to say you couldn't learn on it. In 1920, people did. That's what they had. You might make faster progress on a modern horn.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
Subscriber
Messages
5,831
Welcome to the Café, and to the saxophone. It’s great fun, though frustrating at times too!

I don’t know anything about that model, but my immediate reaction is that a saxophone from 1920 is not a good instrument for a beginner.

The first thing to check is whether it is “low pitch” or “high pitch”. Nowadays all saxophones play in tune with each other and other instruments, but at that time some instruments sounded higher in pitch than others, for example ones used in military bands. If your instrument is “high pitch” then in my opinion it is not really worth restoring because you will not be able to play it together with anyone else or with backing tracks. You need a low pitch instrument. So you need to check this. If you post pictures of the writing on the back, and anywhere else on the sax, then people here may be able to tell you which pitch it is.

The actual key positions on a 1920 sax should be more or less the same as today (though modern saxes have one or two extra keys) but the mechanics may not be as smooth as a modern sax, and you may have more difficulty playing in tune. Also, some old instruments are fussy about which mouthpiece will work, though others are fine. The instrument may be OK if it is set up well, but my advice would be to get a modern saxophone to start on.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,579
Hi,
I'm totally new to the saxophone and this is my first post but I have just acquired an old alto saxophone.
A Pierret " corps embouti" (according to several web searches I believe it's circa 1920)
Can you post a photo of the sax ? 1920's can go either way...it may be a bit anachronistic in the keywork. Pierrets usually were pretty well-intoned, even old, old ones (and that one is an old, old one).

I mean, a Conn Chu or a Buescher TT from the mid-late 20's makes a fine first horn...am just not sure how the Pierret is outfitted...'circa 1920's' could mean 1927 ...or it could mean 1918.... and there's a pretty wide gulf there as far as sax design goes....

If you had mentioned a 40's or 50's horn, my answer would have been: "it's fine as a first horn".

But I wanna refrain from committing to an answer until I see it.


The first thing to check is whether it is “low pitch” or “high pitch”.
Good point.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,872
Condition, condition, condition! A 100 year old instrument can easily require work and restoration that far exceeds its value. For anyone just starting to learn an instrument reliability and dependability is essential. The first stage of learning includes not knowing if its you or the instrument if something doesn't play or sound right. There are a lot of other things to focus on instead of "is my instrument out of adjustment again"?

My best advice would be to pick up a YAS-23 or its Vito equivalent and then take it to a shop for a thorough "play condition". That is a proven student sax that has stood the test of time and is a "sure thing" as opposed to a little known brand that has a lot of uncertainty about it and its condition.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,667
Of course you can learn on an old sax. It's pretty much the same way if you blow into an old Pierret or a modern Yamaha. To learn basic songs. No high F# key and maybe no low Bb? But you can still play. My friend in Boston (double diploma from Berkleee as teacher and musician) met a new and young student the other year. The student had a Martin Handcraft "Typewriter" model. My friend was surprised how good the Typewriter sounded! Often when it comes to beginners saxes, and what to learn on , the standard is set by teachers. The other year a shop owner called me and asked me if I could testplay a Jupiter 7XX model alto. Parents had bought a brand new Juiter to thier child but the teacher told them it was no good. The teacher refuse to teach if the students were not on Yamaha saxes!!!! One guy in our band is teaching woodwinds at the public music school. One year he got a student that wanted to play the basson. My freind had no basson so he borrow my old (pre wwII) Möllehauer with old key system. He played my old basson and the student played a basson with modern key system. The student went after some years to Kungl. College of Music in Stockholm for further studies. If you have an older instrument and want to learn you maybe should search for more open minded teachers instead of buying a new instrument? But I also think a modern sax is better start with. I just don't want young enthusiastic player to be turned down by "square" teachers.
 
OP
Howsey

Howsey

Member
Messages
38
Thank you everyone who replied. I think there is generally a consensus of opinion and a more modern instrument would be best in this instance to learn on as this one might be OK but could pose more problems than it's worth. I'll post some pics and maybe someone can say if its "high or low" pitch from the pic's? I've not played a note on it yet as there's a few pads that don't seal and the odd spring missing. (Not to mention I've never blown a note on a saxophone before!). ...Now to find out how to post pic's
 
OP
Howsey

Howsey

Member
Messages
38
Of course you can learn on an old sax. It's pretty much the same way if you blow into an old Pierret or a modern Yamaha. To learn basic songs. No high F# key and maybe no low Bb? But you can still play. My friend in Boston (double diploma from Berkleee as teacher and musician) met a new and young student the other year. The student had a Martin Handcraft "Typewriter" model. My friend was surprised how good the Typewriter sounded! Often when it comes to beginners saxes, and what to learn on , the standard is set by teachers. The other year a shop owner called me and asked me if I could testplay a Jupiter 7XX model alto. Parents had bought a brand new Juiter to thier child but the teacher told them it was no good. The teacher refuse to teach if the students were not on Yamaha saxes!!!! One guy in our band is teaching woodwinds at the public music school. One year he got a student that wanted to play the basson. My freind had no basson so he borrow my old (pre wwII) Möllehauer with old key system. He played my old basson and the student played a basson with modern key system. The student went after some years to Kungl. College of Music in Stockholm for further studies. If you have an older instrument and want to learn you maybe should search for more open minded teachers instead of buying a new instrument? But I also think a modern sax is better start with. I just don't want young enthusiastic player to be turned down by "square" teachers.
Thanks, that's a bit more reassuring. Maybe I'll try it for a while and have a few lessons?
 
OP
Howsey

Howsey

Member
Messages
38
Forgot to add note to pictures above. Can anyone tell from these if it's High or low pitched? Thanks
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
Subscriber
Messages
2,080
Yes, never noticed that. thanks
I'd suggest knocking on the door of No. 12 Rue Beranger, to ask, but you know what travel's like these days ;)

If it's not cost effective to recondition or it's not going to be suitable, it's a very nice horn to look at, nonetheless.
 

Clivey

Senior Member
Messages
959
The " L" if there is one,? is pretty likely to be at the back of the horn down close to where the bell joins the body.

Get a quote to get it playing as soon as things become more normal.
If it's too much than you want to spend then get a more recently setup playing horn and keep this one as a future "fixer upper". It's a wee beaut of an Alto ,and I am a Bb horn guy.
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,043
As Colin said the "LP" which most likely stands for Low Pitch which is under the makers name on the bell Pierret A Paris...try playing F# second octave to see if sounds like A = 440 Hz on a piano or electronic keyboard...

Greg S
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
Subscriber
Messages
5,831
The LP under the name probably refers to L. Pierret - the name of the company.
 
Saxholder Pro

Members OnlineStatistics

Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom