C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Chuck Piper
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Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:20 pm

C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Chuck Piper »

I was given (yes given!) a 1924, or 1925, Buescher C Melody saxophone to restore. The former owner is a good friend of mine and he is cleaning out his house. Him and his wife and son are moving to Canada for church planting and thought of me for this project. I have repaired some found guitars (thanks to this site for the info!) and he felt I was right for the project. I will post before and after pics, even though it may take me a year to restore this thing. I want to ship it to him after I complete the resto and hear him play. He is an incredible sax man!

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Jim McConkey
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Jim McConkey »

I will be watching this discussion closely. I was also given an alto sax which needs a little work. The body on mine is in pretty good condition, but some of the valves leak air.

Why don't you start by describing the current state of your sax and what needs fixing? Is it filthy? Keys don't work? Lots of dents? It is hard for members to give advice if they do not know what is wrong.
MIMForum Staff - Way North of Baltimore

Owen Woods
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Owen Woods »

I tried to restore a C Melody once, a Conn. The work is not impossible, but time constraints caused me to to put it in a cupboard and I haven't got round to getting it out again. I would strongly recommend you to have a notebook where you note down exactly how each key went on the instrument and in what order before you strip it. Label every rod (they are all different), every screw and every key so that you don't lose track. The complicated assemblies can be held together with garden wire or similar whilst you work on the body. Mine was silver and was heavily tarnished, I had cleaned most of the keys when I had to give up. MusicMedic is your friend for buying pads and tools (although I never got their torch to work properly) and I recommend Stephen Howard's site (http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/) for inspiration and his book on maintenance to get you started. Good luck!

Chuck Piper
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Chuck Piper »

Jim, the sax is tarnished but no large dents. The only dents I see are very small, about 1/8". I need to reduce the size of the pics so you can see it. It is in really good shape for the age. The pads definitely need replaces. Owen, thanks for the advice. I've talked to musicmedic and they answreed the questions I've had so far. The interesting thing about the sax is that the pads are snapped in. Buescher's resonator pads are snaps and there are nipples in the pad cups. I have baggies on the ready for the keys with their cooresponding rods and screws, plus lots of pictures as to where they all go.

Owen Woods
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Owen Woods »

Snaps? Good luck! I've spoken to people who've repadded with snaps, it is possible, but you might end up swearing under your breath a few times, from what I've heard it can be a bit fiddly. Lots of old Bueschers (mine for example) have had their nipples cut off so that you can fit conventional pads to them.

Chuck Piper
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Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:20 pm

Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Chuck Piper »

Had a nice suprize last night. I was starting to remove the keys and polishing them when I noticed something inside the sax. I took a wooden dowel and pushed it down from the neck and the original mouthpiece nad neck strap dropped into the bell.

Owen, I hear ya on the snaps. I found a website that sells pads for Bueschers and I'm going to give it the old college try. If it doesn't work, I'll go back to shellacing them in.

Chuck Piper
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Chuck Piper »

Working on this last night.
Attachments
iPhone Pics 016.JPG
Lots of polishing
Lots of polishing

Owen Woods
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Owen Woods »

Beautiful!

Chuck Piper
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Chuck Piper »

Thanks! I am trying to take it slow so I don;t screw anything up, but it's always nice to see shiny clean spots!

Patrick Hanna
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Patrick Hanna »

Never dreamed I'd see a c-mel turn up on this forum. I've got a very nice Conn c-mel, circa 1922, with the straight or "alto" neck. Mine came to me in playable condition, and I also found the mouthpiece stuck inside the horn. I use a modern c-mel piece on my horn--sized to use a Bb tenor reed, but with internal chamber sized to fit the c-mel bore. There is an entire sub-culture of c-mel enthusiasts out there, and they have their own discussion forums, so please search them out. You will find people as knowledgable about rebuilding these horns as the luthiers are about guitars on this site. I'm guessing your Buescher has the "Man in the Moon" bow brace--a True Tone-- but I can't see it in your pics. It's a restoration-worthy old beauty, and regardless of what others may say, I think these are serious, jazz and praise music-worthy horns--very finely made by prideful craftsmen in their day. As good as any professional horn of the same era.

Chuck Piper
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Chuck Piper »

Patrick, I'll check to see if it is a True Tone. I am taking my time on this, I don't want to screw it up. Nice Conn by the way. I took the mouthpiece to the local music store and a tenor reed fits it, so i don;t know if it is the original mouthpiee or not.

Jason Rodgers
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Jason Rodgers »

When you have all the rods and keys off, watch out for the springs... OUCH!
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.

Fred Marcuson
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Fred Marcuson »

another thing to watch out for on old horns is un-level / uneven tone holes ..
if they aren't flat you will never get the pad to seal the hole ...
i've done a few horns in my day , if i can be ant help ; just ask :)

Owen Woods
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Owen Woods »

If I'm going to be pedantic, the "Man in the Moon" brace was on the crook, the bow brace for a True Tone is "Scalloped" generally. Although that isn't just True Tones, my Buescher stencil has those features.

Chuck Piper
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Chuck Piper »

It's been a while sine I was here. Jason, I know that, Brother! I need to rplace the springs, they are corroded. Fred, thanks for the input. When I get to re-padding, I may ask for assistance. Owen, I'll look at it tonight. I am taking the limited 'free' time tonight to get some more parts off of it and cleaning done.
Question for all: what should I use to free-up stubborn rods and screws?

Fred Marcuson
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Fred Marcuson »

Question for all: what should I use to free-up stubborn rods and screws?
use heat to loosen the screws . a soldering iron will work . just clean all the solder off first .
also use a screw driver that fits the screw ! if you don't you stand the chance of breaking off half the screw slot (been there , done that , had to make a new rod ) .
stubborn rods ....
first check to make sure the rod isn't bent or kinked .
you can chuck the rod up in a bench motor and run it through the shaft a couple of times . lube with oil .
be careful because you can actually lengthen the shaft it you are too aggressive ..

cleaning , tarnex , a soft brush (old tooth brush will work ) and warm soapy water .
a lot easier than trying to remove all the old tarnish by buffing . when clean just hit it with a jeweler polishing cloth .

Owen Woods
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Owen Woods »

WD40 is also effective at freeing up jammed rods.

Fred Marcuson
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Fred Marcuson »

Owen Woods wrote:WD40 is also effective at freeing up jammed rods.
yes , but you need to clean it off .. if you don't it will gum up ..

Owen Woods
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Owen Woods »

True. And if it doesn't work then heating it up could be hazardous.

Chuck Piper
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Re: C Melody Saxophone Restoration

Post by Chuck Piper »

Thanks for the repplies on my question. I looked at it and yes, it is a True Tone with the 'Man in the Moon' on the neck.

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