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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 10:56 pm 
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A reader writes:

I am in the market for a C melody sax. I play a Selmer Soprano at present. I had the opportunity to play a reconditioned Conn and I loved the tone and the range of this instrument. I think it can be very versatile for me.

Your article on whether a person should gamble or a vintage or purchase a new one WAS frightening.......but ever so helpful. The particular C melody I played had a fantastic tone....but intonation was a bear.......My questions: #1 In your opinion is the new sax of which you spoke the route I should go? #2. Where can I see, hear, and play one of these? Thanks again for a very informative article.

-------------Our Reply ----Please log in and add your own response -----------

I mapquested your zip code and I don't have any trouble seeing why getting your hands on a few C melodies to try is a bit of a chore. :-)

I live near Springfield OH, myself, an hours' drive from Columbus, 1 1/2 hours from Cincinnati and 2 hours from Indianapolis, and I had to go online to get mine - there just aren't that many playable C melodies out there.

By the time I bought mine and paid to have it adjusted, etc., I had nearly $800 into it, but it is playable and a good example of the genre, so I try not to remember that I could have got an alto or a tenor in the same condition for more like $400.

Wish you lived closer, I would definitely let you try mine; as I said, it's a good representation of the benefits and drawbacks of the thing.

That said, if you're used to soprano and not to alto or tenor, you may take to it faster than most folks who grew up on the bigger horns with their wide bores.

Intonation isn't just a matter of the horn, either, it's also a matter of the mouthpiece and the player. On a soprano if the intonation is bad, you're kind of sunk, there's not that much for a repair person to work with. On a larger sax they can do things like bring the pads in or out when they're in resting position, which slightly raises and lowers the notes above them, within reason, of course.

Finally, may I ask why you're interested in a C horn? You're already used to a Bb horn. I bought the C horn for church playing. I like to improvise, but our songleader likes to pitch songs in E and B, because that's where he's comfortable singing, and it's easier to play in E and B than in F# and C# (which I would have to do on my tenor). But then someone else who couldn't improvise got jealous and told the songleader that if he couldn't provide sheet music for her to play, I shouldn't be allowed to play either. Printing sheet music for her was too much of a hassle, so I was "unvinvited" from the praise team. Ironically, I got the C melody just before this happened, so I haven't played the thing in church once, though I still get it out and practice on it.

Everywhere else I play, the songs are in "real keys," so I can improvise to my heart's content on my tenor or Alto or Bb soprano.

If you lived within a hundred miles, I'd be tempted to invite you to consider coming over to try it out. But for what I have into it, it might not be your best choice.

No, I didn't answer one question, did I? C melody is one of those areas where "your mileage will vary." If you do buy one online, make dead certain you have return privileges, no matter what the purported condition. Also, do you have a good sax technician nearby? Mine has "saved my life" on woodwind purchases in the past, but I wouldn't be nearly as confident buying a used sax online if he wasn't available.

Best of luck, if I can think of anything to add, I'll get back in touch - Paul


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:54 am 
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A reader shopping for a saxophone and considering a C melody writes:

What I am looking for is the classic tenor sound, and I'm not sure that a C horn will have the right color of sound. I already own a soprano and two alto's, and what I really want is the "tenor" sound.

----------My Answer. Please log in and add your own----------------------

Because you're an alto player, you may have more luck getting a "full" sound than me - I grew up on tenor and I have to be careful not to overblow my alto OR my C horn.

A C melody has about the same bore as an alto, but it's longer, so there's a little more back pressure, almost like a bass clarinet, if you've ever played one of those. It's not like playing a tenor, and you won't get the full rich sound tenor sound out of it that you'd get out of a Bb tenor - the bore's too narrow.

I was playing in a church band where sharps were the norm and I couldn't play loud anyway; that's why I picked this up. It served for that. When they play everything in E that puts my tenor in F# or my alto in C#, but my C melody was in E. And sometimes they used to play in B if you can imagine that. The guitar would just slap on a capo and the bass would just slide up a couple frets and everybody was happy but the sax. :-)

Then the songleader shook things up and I'm not playing sax there any more (guitar sometimes, banjo infrequently, but not sax). Any other place I play sax, my tenor does me more good, and I have an alto and soprano for when I need higher pitched horns.

Sorry, probably more than you wanted to know, but there are three main reasons for owning one of these:

- You're playing for a band that plays everything in A or E, or
- You want its unique sound to add to your arsenal of tones, or
- You want a "tenor" you can take on airplanes.

In other words, I'm wondering why you don't just track down a good tenor if you're looking for a rich-sounding, lower pitched horn. You'll hyperventilate at first, but you'll get use to it. :-)

Best of luck - Paul


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