"Big" vintage alto saxophones

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    Default "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    I have been casually in the market for a vintage alto for some time now and I was curious if anyone had some input into horns that have keywork more suitable for bigger hands. I currently play on a Cannonball Big Bell and even then I use palm key risers and find my fingers resting on the inside edges of the "pearls" (tiger eye on this model) on the lower stack. I also have a Malerne alto, the one that looks like an Evette, and it feels like I'm holding a toy. I recently got to handle a Martin "The Martin" and a Mark VI and they also felt really small. Thanks for your help!

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Get a tenor.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



    "When you are doing well, don't forget to do good." - Sichan Siv.

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Not exactly helpful, but point taken.

    I own a couple tenors and am happy with my setups there. I just wanted to know if there is an alto besides the Mark VII that is known to be more comfortable for bigger hands.

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Try a Couf Superba. I had a Keilwerth Toneking Special which is the same horn and it felt bigger than my other horns including The Martin.
    Ken

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    It's a hard question because the scale of the Alto IS what it IS...

    If the Q were asked about a Tenor, then I would scour the recesses of my mind to recall Tenors w/ keywork placement which people occasionally comment on as having 'too big a reach' here or there.
    Tenors come to mind.
    Altos ? Zilch.

    Your comment regarding the lower stack almost makes me feel perhaps a change in thumbhook placement, or an increase in the height of the thumbhook, might improve things....
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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    I have big hands too, so my teacher tells me I need to keep my fingers more curved. It helps with fast fingerings too.
    Yamaha YTS-62iii tenor/Paraschos Selmer Neck/Vandoren T20/Vandoren MO/L�g�re Signature Series 3.5
    Cannonball BBSS Brute alto/Selmer Concept MOJO/Vandoren MO/L�g�re Signature Series 3.5
    Buffet Prodige clarinet/Vandoren Masters CL6/Vandoren MO/L�g�re Signature Series 3

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Quote Originally Posted by PezSax View Post
    Not exactly helpful, but point taken.
    Well, we had to start somewhere, and you weren't sharing a lot of information.

    Quote Originally Posted by PezSax View Post
    I own a couple tenors and am happy with my setups there. I just wanted to know if there is an alto besides the Mark VII that is known to be more comfortable for bigger hands.
    Do you wrap your thumb around the horn, or do you rest the endmost joint on the thumb hook? Hand position can be key in adjusting to various horns. I can palm a basketball, but also play sop and flutes.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Only the endmost joint can get on the thumb hook in most cases. I have double jointed thumbs and my thumb curves up the back of the horn. When I was in marching band in high school I got a big old bump on the middle joint of my thumb from the trill f# guard rubbing on it. My thumb also makes soprano and clarinet incredibly hard to play (surprisingly flute was no challenge). I also tore a ligament in it a few years back and at full extension it can only make a 90 degree angle with the rest of my hand (and in response to Christian1, thanks to that fun geometry my right fingers actually have to curve more to make it to the key touches). Come to think of it I also broke 3 knuckles on my right hand earlier this year too. Its funny how you can forget about continually mangling a part of you that directly affects your playing.

    Perhaps I need to just resign myself to tenor and bari and my Cannonball...maybe try out a VII for kicks

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Try a Keilwerth.

    It won’t be a tenor because it’s an alto , but, as far as alto saxophones go, it has a very robust voice.

    Besides, before I played tenor it was often suggested to me that I played the alto like a tenor.

    Another possibility is playing a C melody. It’s a tenor after all.

    It's not at all true that they don’t sound robust because much depends on how you play them (both design Buescher and Conn).

    The conn Design with the long neck, I find more comfortable but the curved neck of the Buescher (and many more brands) is often more constricted.

    The extremely rare Selmer has a long curved neck rather than an high arched one, that might require a substantial budget.









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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Try an older Conn?

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Quote Originally Posted by PezSax View Post
    Only the endmost joint can get on the thumb hook in most cases. I have double jointed thumbs and my thumb curves up the back of the horn. When I was in marching band in high school I got a big old bump on the middle joint of my thumb from the trill f# guard rubbing on it. My thumb also makes soprano and clarinet incredibly hard to play (surprisingly flute was no challenge). I also tore a ligament in it a few years back and at full extension it can only make a 90 degree angle with the rest of my hand (and in response to Christian1, thanks to that fun geometry my right fingers actually have to curve more to make it to the key touches). Come to think of it I also broke 3 knuckles on my right hand earlier this year too. Its funny how you can forget about continually mangling a part of you that directly affects your playing.

    Perhaps I need to just resign myself to tenor and bari and my Cannonball...maybe try out a VII for kicks
    The Universe is talking to you, and it's saying "Tenor - It's all that matters."
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Perhaps you are right Dr G.

    I am definitely going to look into a Keilwerth/Couf, at least for grins.

    I have never played a C melody before, but I'll try anything once. Thanks for all the suggestions!

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    What's wrong with a Mark VII alto? Great horns.

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Oh yeah, I do want to try one of those too. So many horns, so little time...

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    I also found the Big B comfortable. It was about midway between the Mark 7 (spread feel) and my Conn tranny (would feel cramped I think to a person with large hands)

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Another I need to try! How about SML or King? Their tenors look huge but their altos look kind of typical size.

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    Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Forum Contributor 2010-2017 maddenma's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    There's no shame in palm key risers for those of us with large hands. Particularly on vintage altos it's pretty much the norm.

    I prefer to make cork risers and then coat them with clear nail polish. Others use Sugru.

    Matt explains how here.

    1926 Buescher Model 122 True Tone Series III Gold Plated Soprano
    1926 Buescher Model 120 True Tone Series III Silver Plated Straight Alto

    1936 Buescher Model 139 Custom Built Bare Brass Baritone
    1938 Buescher Model 127 Aristocrat (Art Deco) Tenor

    1938 Buescher Model 139 Aristocrat Gold Plated Baritone (some day)
    1947 Buescher Model B-11 400 (Top Hat & Cane) Bare Brass Tenor
    1949 Buescher Model B-7 400 (Top Hat & Cane) Silver Plated Alto
    1949 Buescher Model 140 Aristocrat (Big B) Alto
    1949 Buescher Model 156 Aristocrat (Big B) Gold Plated Tenor
    1970-something Yamaha Model YBS-61 Baritone
    2015 Vibrato A1S III Plastic Alto

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    That sure is a step up from my method!
    ...ah that is a shame, it won't let me add a picture. I have rubber key risers with zip ties to keep them on. They have never fallen off but it does look a bit silly

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    Default Re: "Big" vintage alto saxophones

    Quote Originally Posted by PezSax View Post
    Oh yeah, I do want to try one of those too. So many horns, so little time...
    Add Buescher Top Hat & Cane to the list.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



    "When you are doing well, don't forget to do good." - Sichan Siv.

    As a Veteran for Peace, I am already against the next war.

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