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.
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.
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.