Bye Bye Medusa Bari, Bye Bye

B&S Medusa, Medusa bari, German saxophone, modern sax, low A bari sax,

B&S Medusa Model 3256 Serial #015XXX

Yesterday was a pretty big day for me. I did something I have only done once before: I sold a saxophone that I really liked, but that I had not much use for anymore. The last time I did this was in the 1980s, when I sold my King Super 20 tenor in order to get the Mark VI that I have now. (My Super 20 was a saxophona non grata at the university I had been accepted to, which had a classical focus.)

Yesterday the saxophone that left my house was my much-loved, and quite rare, B&S Medusa low A bari that I bought for its rich overtones, and kick ass projection. However, when I bought it new in 2005, I was playing in electric environs, and unbeknownst to me, I was about a year away from developing a neurological condition that would forever change the trajectory of my life.

Fast forward 13 years, and the Medusa was just no longer practical for me. Now I play baritone in a big band—the Medusa does not blend with a section of Selmers—and in pit orchestras. Although I did use the Medusa this spring in Music Man, its rich overtones would have been too much for Hunchback Of Notre Dame.

The fellow who bought the horn is returning to playing after a 12 year hiatus. He had never owned his own baritone sax before, but instead used a Conn 11M that belonged to the local community band. It had been beaten up, and was a war horse of sorts.

From the first few notes he played on the Medusa, I realized that the Medusa wasn’t as wild and crazy for him, because as we should all know by now, the horn is not the source of the sound: WE ARE. Sure, the Medusa will have more natural overtones than another horn, but his playing—while using the same MP, reed, & lig as I did—was no where near as confusing to the tuner as my playing was.

The tuner could ID the core tone with no problem when he played a note. Whereas when I played the same note, the tuner jumped around like those Mexican jumping beans some of us had as kids. Go figure.

If anyone has been looking for a good, used bari lately, you’ll know they are extremely hard to come by. If you are looking for one that is nearly new; won’t break the bank; yet is not a piece of Asian-made junk, those are rarer than a snowstorm in July.

So with a relatively short play test, and a few days to make sure the decision was right for him, my beloved Medusa bari has a new home.

I wish both the new owner and the horn well. If he takes care of it, it will take care of his bari needs for the rest of his life. For all intents and purposes he got a demo horn: A horn with very few hours of play on it, and only light scratching.

Before I could let it go, I took a bunch of HDR shots of my baby, and also recorded some sound samples. I haven’t edited the sounds files yet, but once I do I’ll update this post. In the meantime, here is some sax porn for those of you with those predilections. ;)

Sadly the bari is too big for the light box that we built…. Sigh…. So see how much mid-century teak furniture you can pick out—along with my tripod and shutter release cable. :mrgreen:

© 2018, Helen. All rights reserved.


Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.

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