Original Adolphe Sax Instruments at the Shrine To Music



Original instruments from Adolphe Sax's workshop:Saxophones by Adolphe Sax, Paris:
Soprano, ca. 1858.
Alto, ca. 1857.
Tenor, ca. 1861.
Baritone, ca. 1858.
Bass, ca. 1876.
The silver-plated bass was from Sax's personal collection.

All photos on this page were taken at America's "Shrine to Music", the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota. Special thanks to Dr. André P. Larson for coordinating my visit to the National Music Museum, and for allowing me access to the Adolphe Sax instruments for my research.




Above and below: Bass Saxophones:
Brass lacquer bass by Selmer, Paris ca. 1999.
Silverplated bass by Adolphe Sax, Paris, ca. 1876.
mp3 comparison of Sax bass sound vs. Selmer bass sound 0.8MB

Jay recorded both instruments using the same position, mouthpiece, reed, and microphone setup.
Since the bass was the first saxophone Sax invented, here is a unique chance to get a sense of the tone that he originally conceived of as the "Sound of Sax." Despite the fact that the instrument has not been restored, it was still fairly playable. Despite the leaky pads, no other instrument I have ever found even begins to approach the magnificent tone of this Sax bass. The Selmer has a great sound, but it sounds comparatively weak and colorless next to Sax's bass.





Above: Baritone Saxophones:
Brass baritone by Adolphe Sax, Paris ca. 1878.
Black lacquer baritone by by Selmer, Paris ca. 1996.
mp3 comparison of Sax baritone sound vs. Selmer baritone sound 1.0MB

Jay recorded both instruments using the same position, mouthpiece, reed, and microphone setup.
Note that the Sax baritone is tuned to an old higher pitch standard (about A=458), so the C major scale
sounds about a half-step higher than the same scale played on the Selmer (A=440). The bell looks much shorter because it only descends to low B, vs the low A on the modern baritone sax.




Soprano and alto saxophones:
by Adolphe Sax, Paris,
ca. 1867 and 1860.






Tenor saxophone by Adolphe Sax, Paris.
mp3 sample of Sax tenor sound 0.2MB



All material Jay Easton 2001-2006 unless otherwise noted