It is spring, and every spring for the last 5 or so years, I end up with a new saxophone. (With new being a relative term, since all the horns have been at least 50 years old). This year’s offering: a Pierret Modele D’ Artistes tenor.
This old-timer is circa late 1920s or early 1930s, and bears a striking resemblance to my Concerto Model with Virtuor Improvement alto. As a matter of fact, other than the upper octave key on the neck, and the microtuner, these horns look pretty much identical.
A cursory glance at the right side shows a simple horn with no frills. The key and key guard shapes are identical to those on the Concerto Model.
The left pinkie cluster shape on this Modele D’ Artistes, is identical as that on my Concerto Model. (The nail file G# on the tenor is quite dirty. Apparently a previous owner played the horn with dirty fingers.)
The left-sided bell keys and their guards, the bell to body brace, and the chromatic F# key guard, are all identical to those found on my alto as well.
The horn still has its original case—which weighs a ton BTW—and end plug. I don’t think that the mouthpiece is original. There might be some writing on the top of the piece, but it has been rubbed off. I haven’t yet checked to see if it’s still visible with a magnifying glass.
This Modele D’ Artistes, like my Concerto Model, was engraved with the name C. Jeuffroy on the bell. Although, unlike my alto, nothing on this horn’s bell indicates that it was manufactured by Pierret.
This Pierret-made Modele D’ Artistes & the connection to C. Jeuffroy
According to a fellow from France, who contacted me a number of years ago, C. Jeuffroy was the name of a store in Paris. Based on the number of C. Jeuffroy saxophones that have appeared here in Canada—6 are in the gallery portion of this site alone, and they are all from approximately the same vintage—I can only assume that there was an importer in this country, who, during the late 1920s/early 1930s, brought in Pierret saxophones from the C. Jeuffroy store in Paris.
The backstory of this Modele D’ Artistes tenor saxophone
Although this C. Jeuffroy tenor has been hanging around my house for a few weeks now, I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it. The horn belonged to a music teacher who passed away, and his daughter is selling off his horns. (The Pierret was the only saxophone.)
The woman dropped the horns off at my tech’s shop on consignment, but this Modele D’ Artistes was way over priced. I made an offer based on the condition of the sax (it needs a full restoration), and am waiting to hear back whether my offer was accepted. In the meantime, I have had the chance to play it for a while, and decide if I like it enough to have it restored.
This Pierret is completely unlike any of my other tenors. It has a much softer, gentler tone than any of my American horns; is nothing like my mid-century German saxophones; and shares no sonic qualities with my Mark VI. Instead, this Modele D’ Artiste is a quieter, heavy-on-the core tone, soft-sounding horn, that is perfect for classical and jazz playing. Despite it leaking like a sieve, and needing a complete restoration, the horn’s true nature and sound are still very present. If restored this would be a lovely saxophone.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of getting together with a Professor of Saxophone Performance, who also happens to be a Yamaha Artist. What he could do with the Modele D’ Artiste was actually remarkable. He agreed with me, and thought that the sound was quite lovely—but then he also really liked the Concerto Model alto, and he could really make it sing as well.
In conclusion then…
In the end this Pierret tenor gets a big thumbs up from me. I really do like this old-time tenor sound. The horn plays perfectly in tune, and is quite well laid out from an ergonomic standpoint.
Is it a horn for a beginner? No, but then generally most vintage horns aren’t. I always suggest that students get a good, used YTS-23 or YAS-23. It will make their lives much easier to start with.
Is this Modele D’ Artiste a saxophone for everyone? Again, the answer is no. Even many vintage players will not like the horn, since it’s a much softer-sounding instrument than the brassier, ballsier tone that many vintage players are looking for. That said, these old-time Pierrets do have their place in the vintage saxophone world, and do deserve their recognition.
Pierret was ahead of the curve in some areas. For example, I really like the spatula front F that they put on their early horns. Both this Modele D’ Artistes, and the Concerto Modele have this feature.
Modern horn manufacturers now frequently use this spatula-shape key for the front F. It is much more comfortable to play than a button key. Pierret had already come to this conclusion more than 80 years ago.
If you’d like to see the rest of the photos of this Modele D’ Artistes tenor, you can find them in the gallery portion of Bassic Sax. To read more about Pierret, please check out the page I’ve written about the company. There you’ll also find more links to other Pierret resources.