Other sax shaped instruments

From Brasspedia

Other sax shaped instruments


Jazzophon Calura D.G.R.M. coll. Gerard Westerhof

The name Jazzophon is also used for other sax shaped instruments. Before World War II the German company C.A. Lux from Ruhla (Thüringen) made a 20 cm tall metal sax shaped kazoo called Jazzophon. The sound source is a vibrating membrane. There is a D.R.G.M registration for August 26th in 1926. They registered the design also at D.R.G.M. on August 18th, 1932.

The British saxaphone is an almost identical instrument from the same period. There's also a Jazzophon that's marked Astoria REG.128880 on the backside.

Similar instruments with a reed instead of a membrane were called Luxophon or Sirenophon. Both are of German origine, the Luxophon, measuring 4 3/4" tall, has a D.R.G.M registration.

On October 13th, 1929 the Bubbling Over Five recorded a piece called Get up off that Jazzophone during sessions in Richmond, Virginia, for the Okeh Record Company with James Simons ("Blues Birdhead") on a harmonica, labelled as jazzophone.


Adler also sold the Saxoharmonika, a saxophone shaped harmonica.

La Traviata, harmonica made in Germany, registered under number 264852, Ebay November 2010


Couesnon Saxie

Saxie and Saxie engraving, coll.: Gerard Westerhof

The Saxie is a sax shaped instrument with a 62 centimeter u-bend brass tube and bell and a reed mouthpiece. The inventor and patent holder of the instrument was Frederick B. Hammam of Baltimore, Maryland, the US-patent dating from June 3rd, 1924. The Couesnon company in Paris must have quickly bought the patent rights as their name is on all the now known extant Saxies. Under the reference to the US patent is written Bte SGDG, an abbreviation of Breveté Sans Garantie du Gouvernement. SGDG was a French patent system, where the government didn't accept liability.

Couesnon pricelist 1930 source: Jean-Luc Matte

It was described to the 'ever-widening circle of admirers of the saxophone' as 'the little brother of the saxophone', but easier to play. A Method for the Couesnon Saxie was published by Simson & Frey, New York 1924. The small number of Saxies shows that it was an interesting experiment but not a commercial success. The Saxie is described in detail in The Galpin Society Journal from April 1999: A Six-Finger Hole Saxophone: The Saxie. At the time the author, David Rycroft, was aware of four Saxies apart from his own, two in private collections and two in a museum. At least four more popped up on Ebay in recent years, the one I acquired was sold by a designer from Oakland, California, who found it years ago at an estate sale in Berkeley.

Attilio Berni playing his saxie, from 7.12 till 7.30 in this video

The Saxie owned by Pete Thomas is also branded Couesnon but has a different, more forward looking bell. A 1938 catalog from Ernst Hess Nachf. Klingenthal (Germany) lists a saxie with a forward facing bell to, albeit slightly different. Hess also offers a straight saxie but doesn't refer to Couesnon.

1938 catalog Ernst Hess Nachf. Klingenthal

The saxie also figures in a British J.E.D.& S catalogue from 1930, called Saxette or Saxie. Nickel plated and offered in a straight soprano form as well. J.E.D.& S is John E. Dallas and Sons in London (GB). By half covering the holes chromatic scales can be produced and there's a tutor offered.

1930 J.E.D.&S catalog source: Bassic-sax

John E. Dallas (1856-1921) was trained as a banjo maker in London, opened his own workshop and also started a publishing music service. By 1905 the company name was renewed as J. E. Dallas & Sons. The business grew hugely and in 1914 they moved to a new big workshop and the Jedson brand was introduced (J.E. Dallas & SONs). During the '20s Dallas started their wholesales distribution. By 1926 they were offering a huge variety of instruments, usually imported, plus their own makes, now going beyond the banjo manufacturing including Jedson guitars, and the music publishing as always. Most of these '30s instruments were Czech and German imports, a huge percentage were coming from Schönbach (Egerland, Czechoslovakia).



Couesnon also produced the Couesnophone, patented in France in 1924 (patent number 569294). The instrument is described in the patent as a 'saxophone jouet' (saxophone toy). This proved a little difficult for English-speaking people to pronounce, so it was commonly Anglicized as “queenophone”, but it was even more commonly known as goofus. The instrument did resemble a sax but it was actually a free reed instrument with the reeds being selected by piston-like keys arranged in a similar manner to the keys of a piano – one row of keys giving a C major scale, the other row arranged in alternate groups of two and three to give the sharps and flats. It was played professionally by early jazz musicians like Adrian Rollini.

Couesnon: bugle

Couesnon also made a saxophone shaped bugle. The instrument has no reeds, holes or pistons but a trumpet/bugle like mouthpiece. It stands 77 cm high and has a bell diameter of 12 cm. The shape and the tapering is very much that of a saxophone body.

Coueson sax shaped bugle coll.: Frans Mich, Neerpelt, Belgium

The pineapple below the Couesnon & Cie engraving says 27, which according to some sources stands for the year of production, 1927. That would make sense.

Saxonette en Saxello

Saxonette H.N. White Saxello

The saxonette, also named a French clarinet, pitched in C, A or Bb. It has the approximate overall shape of a saxophone, but unlike that instrument it has a cylindrical bore and is therefore categorized as a clarinet. The instrument is also known as the 'Claribel' and 'Clariphon'. Saxonettes were first produced by the Buescher Band Instrument Company, between 1918 and 1921. They were also made for the US market by french makers Couesnon and Martin Frères.

According to James Evans Buffet also made a clarinet that looked like a saxophone in the twenties. Here's Alphonse Picou playing a sax shaped clarinet in a 1958 take with Emma Barrett.

The Saxello is a soprano-saxophone with a bend neck and bell, made by H.N.White. The instrument came on the market in 1924-1925, the patent dates from 1926. Due to the economic crisis, production ceased in the thirties. Recently, new saxellos were build, by Rampone and others.

Zobo and Songophone

The Zobo and Songophone saxophones dates from the end of the 19th century. Under the Zobo brand W.H. Frost in New York marketed a whole line of brass kazoo's from 1895 onwards. On Januar 7th, 1896 he had the patent registered. Besides the saxophone there was also a cornet, a trombone and a tuba model. A set of 4 listed for $8,25 and made musical instruments affordable. Some years later, in 1900, Louis N. Crakow patented the Songophone, an almost identical instrument. Crakow first dealt in Zobo's together with Frost. The Songophone was also traded as Sonophone.


Somewhere around 2003 Paul van Bebber, former employee of Schenkelaars, manufacturer of musical instruments in Eindhoven, built the Sax-nietphone using a lot of different parts. He built the instrument for street musician George Glandorf of Schellinkhout. "Getting it tuned was the most different part", George says. Here George plays it in his Nuts and Notes act, performing in Hengelo (Ov), 2009.

To the right an old King 1165 baritone, reshaped by Ian Church from Seattle.

Pat Stuckemeyer sax euphonium

A few years ago, Dan Schultz from Indiana built this 4 valve horn for Pat Stuckemeyer using a valve section from a Conn euphonium and a bell from a baritone sax. The instrument plays in Bb and "has an interesting timbre' according to Dan.

The National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, has a saxophone-shaped alto horn in E-flat/D (high pitch) made by Roy Cooper in Elkhart, Indiana, dated ca. 1910. Cooper was apparently a Buescher employee, that's all they now about this instrument, that is compared by the museum to the cornophone and the Orpheon/Antoniophone

And here's another saxophone-shaped instrument from the collections of the National Music Museum. From their description: "likely made about 1925. It appears not to have been professionally made: there are no tuning slides (just engraved lines where the slides would normally be located), the pistons are crudely made, and it has been essentially "patched" together. It appears that an amateur maker may have copied a professional euphonium with a four-valve compensating system similar to Besson's "enharmonic patent,".


An interesting experiment is this sax-o-tuba, build in 2010 by Harvey Hartman from Boyertown (PA) and Tim Sullivan (Lausanne). It's made out of a King 2341 Bb tuba, cut back to a CC-tuba. It's played by tuba-soloist Sergio Carolino from Portugal, and named Lusophone. The adjective 'Lusophone' means Portugese speaking. To the right the Orenophone Mike Johnson from the UK build for Oren Marshall. Marshall performs Bach's Badinerie from the Orchestral Suite No 2 in B minor on it.

Ian Church and Harvey Hartman build this Jazzophone from a King 1140 marching tuba in 2011. A 19-inch bell, .687-inch bore and four valves. It weighs 26 pounds, measures 6 feet. For sale in October 2012 for $3100. It went to the Norwegian tuba player Roger Fjeldet, who plays it here.

source:Joost de Jong 2015

And a sax shaped tuba with rotary valves, caught in June 2015 on the Charles Bridge, Prague playing Dixieland music. The Bridge Band performing, with at 1'06 a tuba solo..... And here's another take.

Le Jazzophon.jpg

And finally, I need to mention a three monthly jazz magazine that appears around Nice since 2015.