We’d like to thank both Helen and Pete for their advice in identifying this instrument (see comments below), which we had previous described as being made by Pierret. As a result we firmly believe it is a René Guenot.
One of my favourite saxophone shops is Johnny Roadhouse in Manchester, England. I was up there shopping with my family and stopped by in the early afternoon to have a look at their secondhand instruments and found this going for a song. It wasn’t really in playable condition, although I did manage to get a few notes out of it down to about G or G#. They have a great repair shop there but had a lot on, so reduced the price on this to get it moving on. Luckily I have a fantastic saxophone fixer-upper, who managed to repad, replace a couple of missing pearls and renovate it. It is now playable and great fun.
I start my site with a bit of an enigma. I’d guessed that this was a Pierret, although there’s no proof on the horn itself. On the bell it’s marked ‘Doré’, ‘Paris’, ’228′ and ‘Made in France’. Having read the excellent article on Saxpics I came to the conclusion that it must be a Pierret mainly because the serial number is too low to be anything other than one based on the number of the particular model made and because it’s clearly not a Selmer or SML. By the way ‘doré’ in French means guilded and probably just refers to the finish. In this case the horn has been relacquered, possibly in the 1960s. The keys end in nickel/silver, although whether this was true when new or not it’s impossible to tell. My repairer has seen thousands of saxophones in his career, but never one of these. He does remember seeing adverts for Pierrets in the Melody Maker in the 1950s however. I’ve included a video clip so you can hear what the Pierret sounds like played with a Bobby Dukoff D 7 metal mouthpiece. I bow to the superior knowledge of Pete, who clearly identifies the manufacturer as René Guenot.
The instrument looks as if it dates from the 1930s. I has a Selmer ‘cigar cutter’ octave mechanism and ‘nailfile’ G# and lower F# trill keys – a bit like Conn New Wonder transitional model. I rather like the idea that Pierret was borrowing design features without permission and leaving their name off the horn in case they got in trouble – but that’s probably too much of a conspiracy theory. The bell is comparatively small and the bottom B and Bb keys are on the left. It has no high F# key.
You’ll need strong lungs and jaws to play this one. It makes the loudest noise I ever heard from a tenor… and that just with a standard Keilwerth Jazz 6* mouthpiece. The fingering is hard and certainly less balanced than a modern instrument. The bottom B and Bb keys are on the left, but there’s a good metal key guard, so they shouldn’t get closed off by your thigh when you’re sitting and reading in a band. I’m going to use it in loud pop bands to get across the guitars, as long as the music isn’t too complicated. I also intend to use it as a rehearsal horn, since an hour with this will make playing my other instruments easier – just as a guitar with heavy strings and a high action will make a guitarist’s fingers stronger!
- Make – René Guenot
- Model – (unknown) tenor
- Serial Number – 228
- Date of Manufacture – 1935
- Place of Manufacture – Paris, France
- Finish – Gold Lacquer (relacquered)
- Weight – 5lbs 0oz
- Sound – Loud and uncompromising
- Ease of Blowing – Hard with a standard mouthpiece
- Ease of Fingering – Tough, especially on ‘pinky keys’
Do you own a Pierret that looks like this? Or perhaps you think this was made by another maker. Please let me know by commenting on this post.