Buescher New Aristocrat Alto (1934)

The Story

This splendid American saxophone came to me from my fixer-upper, which I bought from in 2006. I haven’t played it much, but intend to, especially as its big brother is currently my favourite tenor. Continue reading

Yamaha YS62 (1974)

The Story

Lizzie was a keen clarinettist, playing a Conn metal instrument and a fine Buffet. She decided to take up the saxophone and I was keen she used something modern and good. We bought this from allegro in Oxford. It was already some 20 years old, but had not been played much and still looks shiny and pristine. Continue reading

Dolnet Belair (1947)

The Story

Kate plays saxophone in the Earley Music Centre Big Band. She’s been sitting on the front row with the altos in front of us tenor players for years, although she’s just moved to baritone – so we’re also going to review of her Selmer Pennsylvania Special here. Ours is a rehearsal band which plays occasional concerts to friends and family, having an annual outing to the Victoria Embankment Gardens in Westminster, London. We play a good variety of big band music from swing to blues to pop and jazz. We’re lucky to have Tom Benellick as our conductor. Continue reading

Hawkes And Son XX Century Alto (1932)

The Story

A Couple of years ago I was looking to add a good English saxophone to my collection. Hawkes and Son made saxophones in their factory in Edgeware near London. I saw this in an eBay auction and put a bid on it.
I never took much interest in the instrument when it arrived, because it was immediately evidently that it was a ‘high C’ and unplayable in tune. Although I collect saxophones, I’m really not interested in them if they’re unplayable with other musicians, which is true of all ‘high C’ instruments. For those of you who don’t know, concert pitch was not always the standard 440Hz in is today. Many instrument manufacturers from the nineteenth onwards made high and low pitched instruments. While pitch is possible to adjust for stringed instruments, it can’t be changed for brass and saxophones, where the length of the tube dictates the frequency of the notes. Looking at the pictures now I realise that I completely failed to see that this horn had a solid silver bell and neck – like a King Silversonic. If I had I might have been more tempted to keep it.

I had some trouble getting a refund for this sax, but took some photos, which I think are useful for those thinking of owning a Hawkes XX Century horn. Oh… and to avoid purchasing a high-pitched Hawkes look for the ‘#’ or ‘H’ (bad) and ‘b’ or ‘L’ (good) markings by the serial number. I’m not personally against owning ‘high C’ horns, but I’m not going to pay proper saxophone prices for them.

My advice to those selling them is to make sure the fact that it’s a ‘high C’ is listed right at the top of the advert. Sell the instrument on its historical importance, but not on its playability.

Continue reading

Selmer Mark VI Alto (1962)

The Story

I’ve owned this since I was 13 when a school boy at Abingdon School. I managed to get a term’s free lessons because I ‘looked like a saxophonist’ according to the head of music, Antony Le Fleming. I was very lucky to be taught by Pat Crumley, who was a fine musician. He used to borrow this horn to play with Johnny Dankworth. Alas neither are with us any more. Continue reading