I love saxophones - they are for me the instrument closest to the human voice.

The essentials of saxophone sound are produced by the player´s breathing technique and body-resonance and depend to a large degree on the ability to interact (like a singer) with the instrument. Saxophones respond acoustically like conical pipes closed on one end (similar to a stopped organ pipe). The mouthpiece and reed create the fundamental tone and the instrument functions only as an amplifier. The saxophone bore dimensions, thickness of the brass used, and the ergonomics of the kework are decisive factors for players - but different mouthpieces and reed combinations offer seemingly infinite options to create a diverse tonal palette on every instrument.

During the end of my studies I started to experiment with historical (1925 and earlier) and vintage (1925 -1950) saxophones and mouthpieces to learn more about their manufacturing history. I have owned, played and recorded on over 100 of the major brands by ADOLPHE SAX / SELMER / BUFFET GRAMPON (Evette & Schaeffer),
CONN, BUESCHER and MARTIN and saxophones of smaller companies who built excellent hand made instruments such as YORK (USA), HAWKES & SON (UK), LEBLANC (FR), COUESNON (FR), DOLNET (FR) PIERRET (FR), LYRIST (FR) and of course the instruments from German companies made before WWII like HUELLER, HAMMERSCHMIDT, ADLER, KOHLERT and KEILWERTH.

An excellent online source to read up on saxophone history is (click on the link below).

I have learned that the best way to understand the instruments is to play the repertoire that was originally played on these instruments and the original mouthpieces that have been used in that time or were even particularly manufactured for certain instruments. It is a beautiful experience to play repertoire on the instruments that the composer knew and heard, for me this becomes particularly obvious when Adolphe Sax instruments are used in comparison to instruments built after 1930.

With the exception of a few saxophpone builders scattered around the globe, modern saxophones starting from the 1950s are mostly machine produced. This is certainly more an exception in the world of musical instrument manufacturing, as a lot of professional instruments are usually still custom- and handmade in small workshops.

It is regrattable for me how much knowledge about design inventions has been lost and sacrificed after WWII for the mass production market. A lot of features that earlier saxophones possessed could be useful today as well in developing new high class instruments with a wider ambitus, in different transpositions and with alternative fingering systems.
Bb-Soprano Briard Soloist, full pearls

Bb-Soprano Briard Soloist, full pearls

I play a Bb-LYRIST Soprano Saxophone, model "Raymond Briard".
I have played on a ADOLPHE SAX & SON Soprano before and found this saxophone very much in the tradition of the original Sax design (thin brass, small bell diameter) but with a very convenient modern keywork.

The Lyrist company / 'Établissements Lyrist" where situated at 9 Place du Combat, Paris'. The saxophones have nothing to do with the models built by Adolphe Sax fils labeled Lyrist as well. Mr Mahieu founded the small workshop which became famous for its saxophones. In 1927 the Pombeuf model won a gold medal at the International Exhibition 1927, Geneva.

Auguste MOUCHOT of R. P. "in 1933, to complete his" trade "of music, he decided to sell wind instruments, including those of Lyrist brand, best known for the saxophone. Available in the early 20's was the Poimboeuf model. Later the Raymond Briard which had rolled toneholes and full mother of pearl inlays. Both Hyppolyte Poimboeuf and Raymond Briard played in the Garde Republicaine. Poimboeuf was tenor player in the quartet of Marcel Mule and a technician at Pierret.

I play a COUESNON MONOPOLE Alto Saxophone completely hand made in the mid 1950s that is keyed to low A (concert C) and high G. These saxophones were played by Marcel Perrin and have a wonderful sound in the classical french tradition.

Comparing this model to Selmer saxophone with low A, I find that it has a slightly larger bore and feels much more free blowing despite it´s extra length. The mechanic is also much faster than a SELMER Mark VI low A. Marcel Mule helped to develope the Monopole Series for Couesnon. For a detailed review of Couesnon Saxophones read the review by Stephen Howard at the link below:

I play a C Soprano Saxophone manufactured in London around 1930 by Boosey & Hawkes. It is a custom made model keyed to high F and has excellent intonation and scale - and a surprisingly dark tone. I have been performing and recording on C-Sopranos since 2005 and played models keyed to high F from Buescher, Holton and York and tried modern ones by Eppelsheim and Antigua - but ended up with this one! Since the original mouthpiece had a very large (Adolphe Sax like) chamber, it plays very well with regular Bb soprano mouthpieces. There is an excellent review of the Bb "Sister" of this soprano on Steve Howards website, please click on the link if you are interested!


I tried modern and vintage mouthpieces over the years and personally didn´t like the idea of changing a mouthpiece for a "classical" or jazz "tone" - for quite chamber music or Big Band. For my instruments I play mouthpieces made in the same years when the instruments were built.

On my alto I play a short shank SELMER SOLOIST refaced/redesigned by Fred Rast with a G tip opening (0.96) from the 1950s. I use VANDOREN BLUE 2,5 reeds and a gold plated Ishimori Woodstone ligature.

My C-soprano mouthpiece is a SELMER SOLOIST mouthpiece refaced/redesigned by Fred Rast with a tip opening of G (.062) from the 1950s. I play it with a ISHIMORI Woodstone gold plated ligature and VANDOREN BLUE 2.5 reeds. I replaced the F# trill tone hole with a Barcus Berry Flute pick up and use it with often with Electronics that way (Z-Cat, Boss, EHX).

Please visit the website of Fred Rast and his phenonemal mouthpieces by clicking on the link below.
As a flute I play since 2010 an ORKON flute by Powell, USA, 1960.
For electric amplification I use a built in condenser mic with EHX, BOSS and Z.CAT effects.

This flute was invented and built by Edward 1941 (US patent #2330379, 1943), (1903-1986), the son of V.Q. Powell the famous New York flute maker). It is essentially a modified soprano recorder moulded in plastic with metal reinforcement rings and fitted with a simplified Boehm system keywork. Its lowest notes could be blown loudly as well as softly with minimal pitch change and the chromatic scale was much facilitated by the keywork.

Orkon's were made for Powell by Richard W. Jerome. Only a few hundred of these instruments were built between 1942 and 1952, most of them in the period 1951-1952.

Please click on the link to find more information about this unique instrument.