C Tenor Saxophone

C Tenor Saxophone

C Tenor Saxophone range

Of the family of C and F instruments that Adolph Sax originally envisioned, the C Tenor, commonly known as a C Melody, was by far the most popular.   It was highly popular throughout the 1920s and many instruments are still extant (with a few modern instruments now being produced).  Procurement is usually fairly easy, but mouthpieces are less common (B-flat Tenor mouthpieces do not work on the C Melody).  The same company (Aquilasax) that is producing modern C Sopranos is also producing a modern C Tenor.  These instruments are said to be very good.

In sound it is somewhat akin to the Alto (like the F Alto is akin to the B-flat Soprano).  The bore is narrower than that of the larger B-flat Tenor, and thus produces a lighter sound.  I find this sound will mix better with strings and double reeds than will the B-flat Tenor.

Piece for C Tenor and Harp

Sax-O-Trix by Rudy Wiedoeft

Liebesfreud by Kreisler

11 thoughts on “C Tenor Saxophone

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  4. Chad Erickson

    Hi Brett, my name is Chad Erickson and I’m one of your subscribers on your YouTube channel. As a saxophonist I have been quite intrigued by the C tenor (melody) saxophone. I watched your video about the instrument, and I’ve contemplated getting one. My question to you is how I would go about obtaining mouthpieces that will work on C melody saxes? Thank you.

    1. It was very simple. I ordered a C Melody mouthpiece from Caravan. It works ok, but the instrument itself is woefully out of tune. A few other makers make them. I just went with Caravan as I have a much more traditional sound concept.

  5. reverendsax

    I am confused why you call the generic C Melody sax a “tenor.” Some have a double curved tenor sax-like neck (which makes it ergonomically difficult to play) but most have an alto shaped neck. Why not just call it a “C Melody” with descriptions of the neck?

    1. C “Melody” is a colloquial term. These are Tenor Saxophones pitched in C. Shape of the neck has nothing to do with the terminology. In fact, only the later Conns used the straight next, all other C Tenors had a tenor-like neck design (though I agree, the straight neck is a much better design).

      1. John Hammons

        Hi Bret, The Conn New Wonder II ( I guess considered “later”) with the tune-able neck is straight, the earlier New Wonder had the Tenor style neck and all the Bueschers had the “man on the moon” curved neck. Like Reverendsax stated, I’ve never heard the term “Tenor C-Mel” used like that either.
        Per your “Chinese Sax” review on youtube, lemme know if you would like a reasonably priced Buescher or Conn. I usually build one per month and sell them. Sadly, when I used to sell on Ebay ( I think the last time I did) I found the absolute most pristine stencil ever….it had two hard to find dings, and played awesome. It sold for less than $200 and I think that is the last time I listed anything on Ebay. I literally had people writing me using the eBay “contact seller” consoling me for such a loss, and stating they thought it would shoot up at the last second.

        Thank you for taking the time to address the C-Mel, it gets very little love out there

  6. John Hammons

    Oh, The Mouthpiece, for those that are just trying out a C-Mel for exploration, if the C-Mel didn’t have a nice Buescher vintage mouthpiece with it, you can use the FAXX brand C-Mel mouthpiece for $35 off of ebay or American Way Marketing. It has a modern voice to it and seems more inline with a modern Sax. I don’t care for it being a C-Mel purist, but people that aren’t familiar with the C-Mel and feel that they have the stuffy Donald Duck voice will be more impressed with the FAXX (at first). Once I started really getting into the classic sound, I went back to a vintage Buescher mouthpiece, but I use a Fibretech Carbon Fiber Medium reed.
    My two cents.

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