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Saxophones worst ergonomically designed sax?

zannad

Member
Messages
410
Out of 15 odd saxes I've owned my Martin Handcraft Standard (tenor) has the worst ergonomics...the thumb-rest is smaller than those found on most Altos and it is also located further left than in other saxes - this put some extra weight on my right thumb; as a result, I think I've injured my metacarpal muscles after only a week of playing...
Also, the low F# and some other keys had to be bent to make them playable and stop interfering with certain fingerings.
Oh, I've forgot to mention....this is also the best sounding tenor I've ever owned! (very annoying indeed - you can't have it both ways can you?).

Can you beat this pig? Of course you can...just list it here - a sort of compilation of worst ergonomically designed saxes...
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,659
Of the forty odd saxes I've owned two stand out. Mid 1920's Conn C mel, has the sling ring in completely the wrong place for balance. Easy mod to sort it though. 1920s Buescher True Tone soprano has such tiny palm keys that anyone with largish hands cannot hope to reach them through normal playing action. Both these saxes sound superb.

On the other hand, I have an early 1970s Yanagisawa alto, and a recent T992 tenor.Both have absolutely flawless ergonomics, but, how can this be? Both sound superb.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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12,069
I guess the LH pinky spatula on any Conn bari (best sounding bari ever) is the longest serving dog in the saxophone industry.
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,856
My old Conn soprano from the 20s has a ring instead of a hook for the right hand thumb. It's like a torture device for me and is excruciating on the edge of the thumb and the wrist as well. I've tried padding the inside of the ring and different positions for the thumb but nothing helps. I'm reluctant to have the original features changed for a modern hook, as some people have done, because it's a nice horn. But the result is that it stays in its case and I play my Yanagisawa instead.

The sound of the horn is lovely and the rest of the keywork is well-designed and comfortable. I struggle a bit with the tuning.

Rhys
 
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zannad

Member
Messages
410
Of the forty odd saxes I've owned two stand out. Mid 1920's Conn C mel, has the sling ring in completely the wrong place for balance. Easy mod to sort it though. 1920s Buescher True Tone soprano has such tiny palm keys that anyone with largish hands cannot hope to reach them through normal playing action. Both these saxes sound superb.

On the other hand, I have an early 1970s Yanagisawa alto, and a recent T992 tenor.Both have absolutely flawless ergonomics, but, how can this be? Both sound superb.

Me too, I have a Conn New Wonder C melody 1926 which I've never played as it's waiting in the loft for a repadding...I guess I might spend a few pounds to re-solder the sling ring on a better spot.

It's clear that vintage horns are in general the worst...I'm aware of a company dedicated to mod old Martins (like mine) - so, Martin in general might represent the worst ergonomically designed of the most popular makes?
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,856
I'm aware of a company dedicated to mod old Martins (like mine) - so, Martin in general might represent the worst ergonomically designed of the most popular makes?
What company is that which mods old Martins ?

Rhys
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,561
It's clear that vintage horns are in general the worst...I'm aware of a company dedicated to mod old Martins (like mine) - so, Martin in general might represent the worst ergonomically designed of the most popular makes?
No, no, no ..... I don't think you can say that! All my Martins are "ergonomically" better than the average saxes from the same time! But I just own and play Comm I, II and III and the design of the keys on these saxes are better than the early Martins from the 20's and early 30's. IMO it was just Selmer BA, SBA and MkVI that beated "The Martin ...." saxes when it came to ergonomic and playablity. We are all different. The design of the keys on a sax is not a big problem for me. For me the tone is more important. Are you playing a Std or Std special? The Std has a Eb vent key.

Rhys: I use to wrap a sort blue foam (we use it in the kitchen when you cut yourself) arond the ring on my Conn sop.
Jonf: You can raise/built up the palm keys. It's hard to switch from a modern designed soprano to a TT. I have a silverplated TT -28 myself. I prefer the Conn to the Buescher because I manged to get a Dukoff D6 to work on the Conn. Conn C-melody are not so well balanced. If you want want better balance you should move the sling ring.

I often wonder if older saxes were designed to be played sitting or standing? On some saxes you get a better playing position if you sit down.

Thomas
 
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zannad

Member
Messages
410
No, no, no ..... I don't think you can say that! All my Martins are "ergonomically" better than the average saxes from the same time! But I just own and play Comm I, II and III and the design of the keys on these saxes are better than the early Martins from the 20's and early 30's. IMO it was just Selmer BA, SBA and MkVI that beated "The Martin ...." saxes when it came to ergonomic and playablity. We are all different. The design of the keys on a sax is not a big problem for me. For me the tone is more important. Are you playing a Std or Std special? The Std has a Eb vent key.




Rhys: I use to wrap a sort blue foam (we use it in the kitchen when you cut yourself) arond the ring on my Conn sop.
Jonf: You can raise/built up the palm keys. It's hard to switch from a modern designed soprano to a TT. I have a silverplated TT -28 myself. I prefer the Conn to the Buescher because I manged to get a Dukoff D6 to work on the Conn. Conn C-melody are not so well balanced. If you want want better balance you should move the sling ring.

I often wonder if older saxes were designed to be played sitting or standing? On some saxes you get a better playing position if you sit down.

Thomas
Mine is the Standard with the Eb vent...and that horrible thumb-rest - apparently, I'm not the only one complaining:
http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?101355-Martin-Mods-has-saved-my-tortured-thumb!!


I don't think old saxes were designed for a particular position (standing or sitting) - just modern saxes have evolved taking the best from the past and improving and introducing better solutions (as simple as that).
 
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thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,561
Mine is the Standard with the Eb vent...and that horrible thumb-rest
Yes, the thumbrest is not so good on the STD and STD Special. But you find thumbrests like that on yonger saxes as well. I have som Keilwerth built saxes that have a simular thumbrest and they are from -56, -63 and -68. The keys on a Martin std and std special are differnt. I think the std model was based on the Imperial body and the Std Special was based on the Comm I body. But both horns shared the same LH thumbrest.

Thomas
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,659
Hi Thomas

I've modified both saxes so that they are at least tolerable. I built up the palm keys on the TT sop with 'Instant Metal' resin, so they're better, and bolted a spar of aluminum alloy to the sling ring on the C mel. A hole drilled in the end of the aluminium acts as a second sling ring, this time at the point of balance.

That's an interesting thought about saxes from the 1920s being designed with playing sitting down in mind. Maybe that's why the ring on the Conn is in such an odd place.

Despite everyhting, I still really enjoy playing them both, particularly the C Mel. It has modern reflector pads and springs, so it has snappy action and bright, full tone. It also has an Aquilasax curved neck which allows the use of a modern, long shank tenor piece. Bizarrely, I find it works best with a bright, big baffle piece. Currently using a Brilhart Level Air 9 on it (the modern Selmer company one, not the vintage Level Aire).

Jon
 
Messages
501
I had a mark seven tenor which was an ergonomic nightmare! great if you had hands like a gorilla,plus it was not even close tone wise
to the mark six.
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,856
I had a mark seven tenor which was an ergonomic nightmare! great if you had hands like a gorilla,plus it was not even close tone wise
to the mark six.
This is what a lot of people say, but I've just got Mk7 alto and tenor for pretty decent prices and I find them great horns, very much with a family resemblance to the sound of the MkVI. The sound is a bit brighter and bigger than the MkVI, maybe less flexible and warm. but still great (to me).

My hands are pretty average size and I find the keywork quite comfortable. I know that people complain about the RH and LH pinky keys, but they are OK for me. What was so uncomfortable for you about the Mk7 tenor ?

Rhys
 
Messages
501
it was mainly due to the fact that i have quite small hands, so it was a real stretch to get the low b flat
that aside i just found the tone a bit inflexible however it was one of the first batch so maybe they sorted that on latter models
 
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Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
What company is that which mods old Martins ?

Rhys
It's a one-man shop, Martinmods. Does bell-key spatulas for old horns with LH bell keys that give you more leverage, among many other interesting things. Making a variable-chamber bari piece now, too. Not just Martins but all the other vintage horns. Probably started on Martins because he's a huge fan of them.

Can't believe nobody has mentioned the Conn 10M. Great playing horn, hugely popular yet requiring giant gorilla hands with fingers in the wrong place to play.
 
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zannad

Member
Messages
410
It's a one-man shop, Martinmods. Does bell-key spatulas for old horns with LH bell keys that give you more leverage, among many other interesting things. Making a variable-chamber bari piece now, too. Not just Martins but all the other vintage horns. Probably started on Martins because he's a huge fan of them.

Can't believe nobody has mentioned the Conn 10M. Great playing horn, hugely popular yet requiring giant gorilla hands with fingers in the wrong place to play.

Well it might be a one man shop but it's very well established by now...I'm tempted to send the Martin Standard I have but it would cost too much just to send it in the USA!! Beside, I've solved most problems and left the beast alone for the time being - until my thumb and hand recover from the damage - and until I've found an elegant solution to it.
After reading others complaints I've realized that the problem with the Martin Standard's thumb rest is not just the size but also it's shape - it's convex, which concentrate the pressure on a single spot...right now I've glued a small cork patch onto it - it improves things a bit but more needs to be done.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Yeah, the Martin thumbrests are all pretty uncomfortable. If that's the only problem, though, any competent tech can replace it with a Selmer style one.
 

Doodah

Member
Messages
40
My old Conn soprano from the 20s has a ring instead of a hook for the right hand thumb. It's like a torture device for me and is excruciating on the edge of the thumb and the wrist as well. I've tried padding the inside of the ring and different positions for the thumb but nothing helps. I'm reluctant to have the original features changed for a modern hook, as some people have done, because it's a nice horn. But the result is that it stays in its case and I play my Yanagisawa instead.

The sound of the horn is lovely and the rest of the keywork is well-designed and comfortable. I struggle a bit with the tuning.

Rhys
Not sure if this will help, but I used http://sugru.com/ on my soprano to make thumb rest more comfortable. My horns are modern and have adjustable thumbrests, but still need a bit of tweaking.

I borrowed a bari for a band competition once. Standing up, it played fine, but play it sitting down and weak springs came into play (or didn't if you know what I mean :confused: ). I ended up balancing the sax on my feet and bending forward to reach mouthpiece. By end of 2 hours rehearsal I was rather tired and uncomfortable.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,069
Can't believe nobody has mentioned the Conn 10M. Great playing horn, hugely popular yet requiring giant gorilla hands with fingers in the wrong place to play.
Conn bari are much worst.
I nominate SML for worst designed ring for the sling.
 
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