With an almost vocal quality, the saxophone can be a great addition to your praise team. The problem is… saxophones are pitched either E flat or B flat, so to play with piano accompaniment, the sax player has to transpose the piano chart to the correct key. Of course you can get music that is in the correct key, but what if you like to improvise or play along with guitars and piano or even play some of the old-timey hyms from the hymnal?
If you can find a good one, a C Melody (aka “the C Tenor”) is a great addition sax arsenal.
While large scale production of C Melody saxes ceased in the 1930s, many are still available on eBay. As you can see by the photo, the C melody (silver) is slightly larger than the alto (gold). It’s also slightly smaller than a tenor. This one was produced in 1914 by Conn and still plays (after a complete professional overhaul) quite well. The neck is a bit longer than the altos, and the mouthpiece is a tenor. You’ll also find C Melodies with an alto body and a long, curved Tenor neck, but from my personal research, this design by Conn is arguably accepted as the best.
This one was originally owned by a band leader / piano player andhad seen very little use. It spent the last 50 years in a locked case so it was in exceptional condition when I discovered it on Ebay. And, they’re not expensive. There are still enough C Melodies around that, even in good condish, they don’t demand a huge price. This one was purchased for around $500 in 2005. CAUTION: If you decide to go shopping for one, make sure you check it out carefully as many C Melodys online are simply C Moldys that aren’t even in tune with themselves.
While many players have great memories of listening to others playing a C Melody, most would still rather play Alto or Tenor. On the other hand, with the growing popularity of saxophonists playing on Praise and Worship teams, which are led by C instruments—it appears that a C Melody renaissance may be in the not to distant future.
For more information on C Melody Saxophones: