Sax Stands: Circa 1930s

Over the past few weeks I have written a number of articles about Martin, Pan American, as well as Cavalier saxophones. These articles were all based on the pages of a Chicago Musical Instrument Company catalogue from 1931. Today I’m going to finish up with that catalogue by looking at three saxophone accessory pages, which all featured sax stands.

Dewey sax stands, attachments, and mutes (aka Tone Rings)

The catalogue designers managed to cram A LOT of information onto one page! It takes a while to get your head around all the little images that make up the border. Yes, they are all number-coded to descriptions on the Dewey page itself.

Chicago Musical Instrument Company catalogue, 1931, Dewey sax stands, tone rings

What the Dewey system allowed the player to do, was put together a custom stand designed specifically for his/her needs. That’s really a great idea. I wish we had a stand system like this available to us today.

With regards to the Dewey sax stands, what I don’t like however, is the fact that the alto, tenor, and even curved soprano stands don’t have a secondary horseshoe to protect the bell/bow region from bumping the sax stand. That said, lack of protection was pretty commonplace back in the day. Look no further than the cases that came for the horns in the 1930s, 40s, and even 50s. It really wasn’t until the 1960s and later that we saw good, protective cases for our valuable instruments.

Lack of protection for our babies aside, take a look at all the various bits and pieces the player could buy to go with his/her sax stand. These attachments give us an interesting insight into not only the instruments that were commonplace in 1931, but also into what sax players might have been doubling on. Some of the more interesting ones include: violin, Hawaiian guitar, tenor guitar, banjo, and ukulele, as well as a variety of brasswinds, including a Mellophone.

The King Saxello must have been a popular seller, since Dewey made an attachment (24) specifically for this uniquely designed soprano sax.

Ah, stick a mute in it….

Perhaps my favourite item on this page are the Tone Rings. Described as a “New Combination Tone Refiner And Mute” in 1931, these items were supposed to have a patent pending. I have tried doing patent searches, but couldn’t find this little vintage gems. I only found the Dewey stands.

Regarding the Tone Rings, I’m not sure how a mute is supposed to refine a saxophone’s tone. Now granted I don’t have a huge amount of experience with mutes, but from the limited amount of time I have tried them on alto, I find is that all they do is affect the bell key tones.

Unlike other mutes that we see that are made in a full “O” shape, these Dewey Tone Rings are C-shaped. Is this missing section of the mute what was ostensibly to refine the saxophone’s tone?

Overall it just strikes me that Dewey is making a similar claim that Crown did about their Saxophone Tone Modulator in 1928. It is perhaps not surprising that Dewey was not awarded a patent for the Tone Ring.

Combination and Hamilton sax stands

Until I saw the following catalogue page, I didn’t realize that Hamilton made sax stands for anything other than baritone and bass saxes.

Chicago Musical Instrument Company catalogue, 1931, Hamilton sax stands

I have never been of fan of Hamilton stands. I don’t like the damage that they can do to bari and bass saxes. (More on that below.) Now seeing the image of the Hamilton stands for the smaller horns, doesn’t sell me on them either. These stands appear to hold your sax by the strap ring. I’m just not sure what was supposed to protect your horn from banging into the stand. And look, for an additional $0.70, you could add another sax to your stand so that they could rub and bang together. What protected the horns from each other exactly?

Like the Dewey stand system, the Hamilton stand had attachments that the sax player could buy, which would hold his/her favourite doubles as well.

Based on these images, I give the Hamilton sax stands for curved horns a 2.5 out of 10. YMMV of course. Feel free to disagree.

The combination sax stand shown above doesn’t have a brand name attached to it. However, it is supposed to fold flat enough to fit inside even an alto sax case. I have a hard time picturing that, but then I am somewhat spatially challenged. ;)  I’m trying to imagine putting a flat stand—regardless of how flat it is—inside a case sax, without damaging the horn itself.

I’ve bought vintage horns that would have been dead mint, had it not been for a stand stored inside the case. My tech has carefully removed the offending smalls pings and dents, and now you wouldn’t know that there was ever any damage. However, yes these vintage beauties of mine did get dinged courtesy of a stand that was stored in the case.

Bari and bass sax stands, and some long forgotten clarinet accessories

If you’ve ever wanted to stand out in the band, then either the clarinet tone transformer or megaphone will probably be the thing that will get you noticed!

Chicago Musical Instrument Company catalogue, 1931, Hamilton bari & bass sax stands, Silva-Lae baritone sax stand, clarinet tone transformer, Shastock clarinet megaphone

Now for some comedic interlude

If there was one vintage accessory that I would like to find in someone’s attic, it would be the clarinet tone transformer. Can you imagine how trendy you would be playing your clarinet into something like that? Wow! Hey, as they wrote in their ad copy:

Flashy in the extreme, even more so than a gold saxophone.

But if flash isn’t your thing, and you want volume instead, you could always opt for clarinet megaphone. Mind you, it too was gold in colour, and was touted as something every clarinet would be proud to own. Sure… Whatever… How many have you seen pop up for sale? I suspect they didn’t sell particularly well.

Let’s wrap this up with a couple of bari and bass sax stands

I had never heard of the Silva-Lae baritone sax stand before. I’m not sure how well it caught on. Although it allowed you to play your bari while seated, if you look at the way the horn was clamped into the stand by the bell, it looks like that’s an area of the sax that might very well get damaged from the stand.

Finally we’re left with just the Hamilton stands for baritone and bass saxophones. This stand actually looks decent. It too allows the player to play the horn while seated, but securely holds the sax in place with a couple of horseshoes like we see in modern stands.

This double horseshoe system in 1931, was changed for some reason, and not for the better. Perhaps Hamilton was concerned about the valuable instruments falling out of their stands, since Hamilton replaced the horseshoes with a single clamp to the bell, which it still sells today.

I have never been a fan of this newer style of bari/bass sax stand that Hamilton makes. Why? Well for a couple of reasons actually.

  1. I don’t find them particularly stable. Way back when I was in high school I played in a community band with a player who kept his bari in one of these stands. The horn was always teetering, and was always on the verge of falling over whenever someone so much as brushed by it too hard. Yes, the horn did take a tumble one day. It was not a pretty sight.
  2. Traditionally the clamp part that gets attached to the bell was made of rubber. Many players left that on their horns for years. Over time, the rubber damaged the lacquer or plated finish.

I must confess, now that I’ve been using Andreas Kaling’s bass stand, I can’t ever envision myself going back to anything else. It is available with horseshoe cradles for bari sax as well. If you really love your horn, and want to protect it from falls, and play it in any position, then you won’t find a more stable and secure bari/bass stand on the market. Period. Find out more about it, and contact Andreas to get the current price.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

Cavalier Saxophones

I must admit that I had never heard of Cavalier saxophones before I looked at this 1931 catalogue from the Chicago Musical Instruments company. Given I have spent the more than 15 years now researching vintage saxophones, I found this odd. So I did some research about the brand, and it suddenly became clear to me why this brand had slipped past my radar: My research tended to focus on the pro models made by saxophone manufacturers, whereas Cavaliers saxophones were not pro-level horns.

Cavalier Band Instruments, vintage catalogue, 1931, Cavalier saxophones, Pan American, Conn, Chicago Musical Instrument Company

Cavalier saxophones were made by Pan American. According the Conn Loyalist website:

Pan American had its own “budget” brand, namely Cavalier. These were labeled along the lines of “Produced by the Pan American company”.

If you want to play degrees of separation, there would be two degrees of separation between Cavalier and Conn. However, those two degrees made a hell of a lot of difference.

Compared to their big-name Conn cousins, Cavalier saxophones were seriously watered down versions of what a saxophone could be. That said, they still did the job. And haters not withstanding, those that own or have owned them, and techs who have worked on them, seem to be of the opinion that they are good vintage saxophones.

According to SOTW member badenia, who for years has been researching the Pan American and Cavalier brands:

The three lines of Conn Ltd, Conn, pan American and Cavalier all shared design similarities in contemporary models. However, since Conn was the premium line, Pan American the moderately priced line, and Cavalier the lowest priced line, there are differences. A main difference is the Conn’s had rolled drawn tone holes, while the Pan American and Cavalier lines had straight drawn tone holes. Additionally,the Pan American’s had missing keys or MOP buttons from their Conn equivalents and Cavalier’s had missing keys from their Pan American equivalents. Also,the Conn’s stamped the Haynes tone hole patent on their instruments, while the Pan Americans after the mid 1920s went to stamping the Hardy tone hole patent. Cavalier started with the Hardy tone hole patent stamp. Later all went to patent applied for, with the Conn line first and Pan American and Cavalier following some years later..
Based on discussions I have read, I suspect in the pre-WWII models, overall quality was similar between the lines, the price differential coming from the handling of the tone holes and the differences in the keys. [Emphasis added.]

Source: SOTW thread, Cavalier Production Dates? 

1931 Cavalier saxophones that dealers could order

Cavalier Band Instruments, vintage catalogue, 1931, Cavalier saxophones, Pan American, Conn, Chicago Musical Instrument Company, 92M, alto saxophone, 96M, tenor saxophone

Because the descriptions were seriously lacking, I did some eBay research to see what I could find. Sadly what I found were mostly junky horns that had led anything but a charmed life. I didn’t find any in pristine condition. Not one was what I would call even nice…. Sad…

However, at least the photos of these junky horns allowed me to determine what features the Cavaliers saxophones did have, and how they compared to their Pan American and Conn cousins.

92M-2 Alto # 0948

Nope, there was no neck with this horn. That didn’t seem to stop people from bidding on this vintage student sax however, since it received a surprising 23 bids!

In case you’re interested, it sold in March of this year for $162.50! WTF???? Hey, I got a neck from a Bundy II alto you can buy that’s left over from my lamp project. Someone what to pay me $300 for it? :tongueincheek:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

OK, back to reality… Or at least back to this Cavalier alto… Here are a few things to note:

  • If  the serial # is indication, this was a very early Cavalier saxophone.
  • The sax has no front F key.
  • It does not have a bis Bb key either.
  • It has split bell keys.
  • It has no clothes guard.
  • Nor does it have a key guard for the chromatic F# key.
  • It does have the Mercedes-style key guard for the low C key—which is a hallmark of Conn saxophones, and was carried through to the Pan American line as well.
  • The shape of the low C key is what we commonly see in both Conn and Pan American saxophones.
  • The octave lever appears to be shaped similarly to what we see in Pan American saxophones of a similar vintage. (When viewed from a similar angle.)
  • The patent number is that of Pan American saxophones.

92M-2 Alto # 9869

  • This sax does not have a front F key.
  • It does however, have a bis Bb key.
  • It has left-sided bell keys.
  • It has no clothes guard.
  • Nor does it have a key guard for the chromatic F# key.
  • It does have the Mercedes-style key guard for the low C key—which is a hallmark of Conn saxophones, and was carried through to the Pan American line as well.
  • The shape of the low C key is what we commonly see in both Conn and Pan American saxophones.
  • This sax does not have a patent # on it. Rather, it is stamped with: Pat. Appd. For, which may indicate that Pan American had its own patents for the line of Cavalier saxophones.

96M-2 Tenor # 03917

Unfortunately the seller didn’t provide us with a pic of the serial # area of the horn, so we don’t know what the patent information on it might be. That said, the photos are of a good quality, so we can make out the following details:

  • This sax does not have a front F key.
  • It does however, have a bis Bb key.
  • This tenor has split bell keys.
  • It doesn’t have a clothes guard.
  • Nor does it have a chromatic F# key guard.
  • It does have the Mercedes-style key guard for the low C key—which is a hallmark of Conn saxophones, and was carried through to the Pan American line as well.
  • The shape of the low C key is what we commonly see in both Conn and Pan American saxophones.
  • The left pinkie cluster is similar to what we see in Pan American saxophones of a similar vintage.

Some concluding thoughts about Cavalier saxophones

My goal was and is not to regurgitate all the existing research, but to provide Cavalier, and potential Cavalier saxophone owners, with an overview, and some hints of where to check for further info, as well as pitfalls to watch for when reading stuff on the web.

Doing research for this article proved to be challenging, since there was very little information about the Cavalier brand available, and what I did find online was in some cases simply wrong. For example, one website refers to the 96M as the stencil version of Conn’s 10M horn. Huh?   :scratch:

That said, SOTW did have a fair amount of decent information as people assisted badenia in his quest for Pan American and Cavalier examples.

As badenia was collating his research, in July 2015 he offered up the following determinations based on his findings to date:

1) The saxes launched in 1931 with a serial number a kin to 001. I have a 048 serial registered.
2) Based on the Kingston trademark from Wurlitzer, around 3750 is 1935.
3) Based on the Continental Clarion Trademark around 6900 is 1937.
4) based on the 1940 catalog, around 9070 is likely 1941. The dividing line between split and left side bell keys.
5) The highest sax serial recorded is 16122.
6) The Cavalier line as a whole likely ended in 1948 as believed. There is no documentation, but advertising, serial number magnitude and a replacement clarinet model indicate this.
7) Other than trombones with a high number of 17952, all other instruments reached into the high 60000’s – low 80000’s range.
8) At the moment the above is supporting very low production volumes for the saxes.
9) The name Cavalier was used on a Pan American clarinet in 1955/56
10) The name Cavalier was used on a Conn clarinet in 1956/57.
11) Items 9 & 10 explain the trademark renewal in 1951.
12) At this point, all I need is something that confirms the saxes made it back into production post WWII.

Source: SOTW thread, Cavalier Production Dates?

If you do a search in SOTW for Cavalier, you’ll likely turn up other bits and pieces of useful info, however it is a bit of a time suck. I’ve literally spent hours pouring through 13 years of old threads looking for the one or two pieces of information that would be helpful for this article.

In summary then…

  • Cavalier saxophones were NOT Conn stencils, but rather student horns made by the Pan American, which was a subsidiary of Conn.
  • Conn were the pro-level horns; Pan American the intermediate level ones, and Cavalier the student models.
  • Prior to WWII the quality of manufacturing may not have differed much between the three lines, but what differed were the features.
  • Features stayed pretty consistent over the Cavalier saxophones’ production run. From the limited amount of research I did—compared to others who have studied Conn and their subsidiaries for years—the features that did change included: the placement of the bell keys; an addition of a bis Bb; as well as the switch from the Pan American patent number stamped on the the body tube, to a generic Pat. Appd. For.
  • Cavalier saxophones were introduced in 1931. (The year of this catalogue.) When their production stopped exactly is not yet known, but to date research has not shown that they were made post-WWII.

Please note: Additions and corrections to this article are more than welcome! Please contact me via email, or leave a comment below. Thanks!

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

Couesnon Bass Sax: It’s A Train Wreck

Couesnon bass sax, saxophone bell engraving, Couesnon logo

Source: messenbrinck on eBay.de

I love vintage and antique saxophones, and if you’re reading my articles, there’s a good chance you do too. This is especially true of bass saxophones. I am especially fond of the behemoths that make the glass and metal in a room rattle when the low notes of these vintage beauties rumble out of the bell.

That said, have you ever seen a horn that is so clearly past the point of saving, that you realize it’s time to call the funeral home and give the once vintage beauty a proper send-off?

That might be the case for this Couesnon bass sax being sold by a seller on the German eBay site. My first thought when I saw this horn was: Oh, it’s a vintage bass sax sold as a jigsaw puzzle….

Couesnon bass sax, saxophone in pieces, bass sax in pieces, sax keys, sax bits and pieces

Source: messenbrinck on eBay.de

However, once I took a closer look at all the pictures, I wondered if: a. All the pieces were included, and b. What the f!#* exactly happened to this thing. How exactly do you get bell damage like this? We know the metal isn’t paper-thin, but it sure looks that way in the photo below.

Couesnon bass sax, saxophone bell, bell lip, saxophone bell damage

Source: messenbrinck on eBay.de

Since the seller is in Germany, and is aiming his sale at a German audience, he wrote his ad copy in German. This is what he said about this Couesnon bass sax:

Baßsaxophon der Firma Couesnon mit getrennten Oktavklappen, Seriennummer 16859, wohl aus den zwanziger Jahren.

Dieses Instrument ist sehr selten, ich habe keine Spur eines zweiten gefunden. Derzeit ist das Instrument zerlegt wie auf den Bildern zu sehen. Alle Teile sind vorhanden (bis auf eine Strebe des Klappenkäfigs tief C), der Korpus wurde Material schonend sandgestrahlt.

Um das Instrument wieder spielbar zu machen ist sehr viel Arbeit nötig. Der Schallbecher ist abgelötet und hat unter der „Krempe“ Risse, die man mit dem Untersetzen von Flicken mit Weichlot wieder schließen kann, zudem wurden an der Stelle, wo die Verbindungsstrebe zum Korpus sitzt, zahlreiche Risse mit Hartlot (also nicht optimal) repariert (einige sind noch offen), das Resultat ist eine bucklige Oberfläche an dieser Stelle. Der restliche Korpus hat zahlreiche Beulen, am oberen Ende ist ein Tonloch besonders stark betroffen, zwei Tonlochkamine sind lose, nach dem Ausbeulen müssen die Tonlochkamine aber ohnehin alle wieder richtig aufgelötet werden.

Die Mechanik wurde nur partiell gereinigt, viele Böckchen wurden abgelötet da Achsen und Schrauben anders nicht zu lösen waren. Alle Achsen und Schrauben sind rostig und sollten durch solche aus Edelstahl ersetzt werden. Natürlich muß das Instrument nach Abschluß der Blecharbeiten noch überholt (gepolstert) werden.

Plan B wäre das Instrument als dekorativen Blickfang zu nutzen, das wiederum ließe sich wesentlich einfacher bewerkstelligen.

Zum Instrument gibt es keinen Koffer, ich werde es aber sorgfältig mit sehr viel Blasenfolie verpackt versenden.

Dies ist ein Privatverkauf, keine Rücknahme und keine Gewährleistung.

Helen Translate says:

Bass saxophone made by Couesnon. With dual octave keys; serial # 16859; likely from the 1920s.

This instrument is very uncommon. I have found no trace of a second one. At present the instrument is disassembled, as can be seen in the pictures. All parts are present (except for one brace for the low C key guard). The body was carefully sandblasted to save the metal.

In order to make the instrument playable again, a lot of work is required. The bell has been unsoldered. It has tears under the lip, which could be repaired by applying patches with soft solder. Furthermore, at the spot on the bell where the support brace to the body is located, numerous tears were repaired with hard solder (not optimal). The result is a bumpy surface. The rest of the body has numerous dents. At the upper end one tone hole is especially effected. Two tone holes are detached. After all the dents have been removed, all the tone holes will have to be resoldered.

The mechanics were only partially cleaned. Many posts were unsoldered, otherwise the work on the axles and screws could not be done. All axles and screws are rusty, and should be replaced with some made out of stainless steel. Naturally after the bodywork is complete, the instrument needs an overhaul (re-padding).

Plan B: this instrument could be used as decoration. This could be done much easier.

This instrument has no case. I will however, send it carefully with a lot of bubble wrap.

This is a private sale. No returns. No warranty.

Oh where to start… :lol:

On second thought, I think the text speaks for itself. :mrgreen:

If you really want this Couesnon bass sax, I hope you live in Germany, or have someone there who can take delivery for you. Sorry to all you disappointed potential buyers out there… Maybe next time.

If you do live in Germany, and you really want this Couesnon bass sax for your wall, garden, or maybe to restore (in that case, please send me the after pictures), then you have until May 17 to get your bids in. At the time of writing the price was at €3.33, with 3 bidders. (BTW, xe.com calculates the current bid price to be $3.76 US.) Let’s see where it ends up! This is a no reserve auction, so it should sell.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!