Lyrist Briard Soloiste (1920)


The Story

I noticed my friend Tony at Maggini Supplies had this for sale in his ebay shop. I’ve bought a number of saxophones from him over the years, as readers of these reviews can discover. Instead of meeting up in person, this time the horn was delivered by courier – well packed and protected. The price was low because is was advertised in poor condition, so I ended up spending as much on having it repadded and put in playing condition by my sax fixer-upper.

The Instrument

There is no serial number on this and thankfully no sign of one having been rubbed out, which would be the sign of a stolen instrument. It is marked ‘Lyrist Briard Soliste’, ‘Guarde Republicaine’, ‘Mark Deposee’ (trade mark) and ‘9 Place du Combat, Paris’. The instrument has seen better days – a number of the tone holes have been soldered back on, reducing the aesthetics. On the positive side it has one of the best music holding clamps I’ve ever seen – modelled in the shape of a lyre of course. Although it lacks the tell-tale bevelled tone holes, it could be a stencil made by Martin. The pinky keys and the font of the ‘LOW PITCH’ stamped on the side are also reminiscent of the Martins I’ve been able to investigate. I even visited the Bate museum in Oxford to get a close look at an AE Sax alto, but can’t say there was much of a similarity with this. As an older instrument there is no F# key and the lack of the extra keywork makes it lighter than more modern sopranos.

I’ve found it difficult to find more than a few mentions to Lyrist on the Internet: however according to an advert on a curved alto at JunkDude Music , “The Lyrist saxophones were originally made by the A.E. Company which was the original Adolphe Sax Company which was continued by Adolphe’s son Adolphe-Edward. Adolphe-Edward had an exclusive contract to make the Lyrist saxophones for the French Republican Guard. The musicians in the Guard were considered the best available. The Lyrist instruments were highly regarded and were among the best produced. Selmer purchased the A.E. Company around 1927 and they produced Lyrist saxophones until around 1935. These saxophones are very similar to the Selmer Super saxophones. They are excellent quality saxophones and because they are relatively unknown, they are excellent horns for the money.”

The Player

I’ve been using this to practice silently while watching TV and it has an unbalanced action – harder on the low side cluster and low D# and C keys.. I have tried blowing through it. Although I’m not an accomplished soprano player, it actually sounds quite wide and open and its relatively unrestricted to blow, unlike some narrower bore ‘pea shooter’ alto and C melody designs I’ve played.


  • Make – Lyrist
  • Model – Briard Soliste
  • Serial Number – none
  • Date of Manufacture – 1920
  • Place of Manufacture – Place du Combat, Paris
  • Finish – Silver plated
  • Weight – 2lb 6oz
  • Sound – Wide and modern
  • Ease of Blowing –Unrestricted
  • Ease of Fingering – High and relatively unbalanced

There’s really not much more to discover about Lyrist saxophones on the Internet – if you know anything more, please let us know by commenting here.

2 Responses

  1. I have an old clarinet that says soloiste. Can you tell me anything more? This article is all I could find on it.

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