The Alibaba C Key Alto Saxophone…

alan

Click here for more detailsThe subject of a topic in the SOTW Alto section, a “C Key Alto Saxophone” from alibaba.com No wonder the young lady who started the thread was confused… The picture looks long and lean, more like a tenor, maybe it has a high F# ?

Just a minute, wasn’t Alibaba a pirate, and a bit of a scoundrel – surrounded by illusions ? Sounds about right !

Click on the picture for more details – such as there are – I’ve sent them an email asking for more information, and offering to test or appraise one. A bit like the Pearl River Chinese C-Melody Sax – no one ever got back to me about that one ! Looking closely at the background image, that looks not unlike the bottom half of Steve’s Aquilasax C - even down to the engraved oval on the side of the bell…

UPDATE – received a reply - seems it’s a Mason Pro C-Melody sax . For more info and pictures, see the Comments…

** UPDATE May 22 2008 – There is a US  Mason dealer, who contacted me with these details -

We are  the  worldwide distributor for all   Mason Pro  saxophones from Eb sopranino to BBb bass.  We are out of stock but have a shipment scheduled to arrive here June 25th
The price including   Case /  MP   /  Neckstrap   is   $795     SHI to UK is $75
Lee Mason – C F P Music (since 1949),   2630B SE 39th Loop  Hillsboro OR 97123 USA  lbmason71@comcast.net

Aquilasax (latest) news from Steve, as of yesterday, May 22, quote - The necks are still being worked on. They got the neck right but the octave lever is a bit short and so doesn’t look professional standard. They are making a new octave lever mold (and should just about be finished by now). Once again I expect to have them in a couple of weeks and the rest of the batch should follow.” 

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28 Responses to “The Alibaba C Key Alto Saxophone…”

  • Lewis Pelham Says:

    Do you share my uneasy thought that this horn could be sourced from Steve’s supplier? A stencilled Aquilasax…after Steve has done all the hard work!

  • alan Says:

    Well, I had a reply back from a young man at Opus Music, with three pictures, all of them bearing the logo ‘ Mason Pro ‘ on the bell, and no sign of the ‘Aquilasax style’  logo…  I may well pursue my enquiries, Mason Pro seems to be a name cropping up on new offerings including a bass saxophone – on an ebay listing for one they say “The photo is a concept rendering…“. Hmmm….

    This C does look uncannily like the Aquilasax.  I did email Steve, who is currently still waiting for delivery of the replacement necks, and the ‘jury is out’ on whether it is a copy of his C.  I do hope not, Steve put a lot of effort (and money) into his project, for someone to clone it would be adding insult to injury…

    Interestingly, I recently saw a Mason Pro C-Melody mouthpiece on ebay, which again bore more than a passing resemblance to another product (sigh…)

  • Lewis Pelham Says:

    Yes, that piece bears a remarkable similarity to Steve’s soprano mouthpiece which we both own….You also, I believe, have the C Melody Aquilasax mouthpiece for a more accurate comparison.

  • alan Says:

    Lewis – I sold that mouthpiece to a fellow enthusiast – it was a little too mellow for me. To put things into context, Alibaba were recently advertising what seemed to be a 1920′s Conn bass sax (new :D ) at just $900 – the mind boggles… :lol:

  • Lewis Pelham Says:

    That’s an awful lot of plumbing for £400.
    Scale it down & I would buy the £300 baritone! :D

  • alan Says:

    There is a parallel thread running on saxontheweb – but bear in mind that the company offering the $900 bass is based in Indonesia, with 5-10 employees, and their address is “Mandala By Pass” :lol: (more here) (and here)

  • Lewis Pelham Says:

    Hmmm Sounds very dodgy; but, to be charitable, everyone must start somewhere!
    Whereas the Mandala By Pass sounds, to us, the sort of place where you would not take your girl friend; Tunbridge Wells would sound suspect to someone living in Asia….perhaps. :D

  • JonF Says:

    It was me who bought the Aquilasax off Alan. The pic above looks different – in fact it looks more like the brand sold here under the Sharkbite neme. In an odd twist, that’s what I mostly use on my c mel, rather than the Aquilasax. It’s a tenor c mel piece I chopped the end off so it doesn’t foul on the microtuner. Sounds great, particulalry with a carbon fibre reed from Harry Hartmann. Odd mix, 1920s US c mel, cheapo sawn-off Chinese mouthpiece and a stripy carbon fibre reed.

  • alan Says:

    Yes, Steve’s mouthpieces seem to come in a couple of shapes, either ‘modern sleek’ (with the ‘full width bite plate’) – that was the C-Mel one and my alto one – or looking like the old classic/jazz metal Selmers, with a round/oval bite plate, for his tenor and soprano ones. I suspect they’re all generic Chinese copies of more expensive mouthpieces.

    Look on Steve’s accessory page - go to the end, and scroll up just past the young lady playing the C-Sax. That’s the tenor/soprano type, with the oval bite plate. But I have seen the alto one listed in that shape as well, so it confuses me ( not hard these days… :? ) Or just hover over this link for the C-Mel / alto type, hover over this link for the soprano type, and hover over this link for the tenor type (very like the Mason Pro C) – click any of the links for a bigger picture – ain’t technology just wunnerfull…?

    So the Sharkbite mouthpieces are quite playable, Jon ? I’ve been tempted to buy one to try. All you need now is a funky strap..

  • JonF Says:

    Alan, the Sharkbite is actaully really good – or at least the one I bought is, don’t know about consistency. I bought it on a whim to play on my tenor, and it really is good. Then I got the C Mel, and after a discussiob with you, if I remember rightly, realised the tuning difficulties were down to not being able to push a long shank tenor piece on far enough. I’ve got loads of tenor pieces, but the only one I could face cutting down was the Sharkbite. Worked out really well, it give a great modern tone to the sax, and give excellent intonation.

  • Mal-2 Says:

    Maybe other brands are different, but I have no trouble pushing tenor pieces onto a Buescher C-mel neck as far as necessary. In my case it’s only a couple mm past the end of the cork, but there’s a ring of tarnish another 5 mm beyond that where it looks like a prior owner’s mouthpiece lived. Another 3 mm beyond THAT point starts the neck brace, which finally would limit how far a mouthpiece can be pushed. Still, there is freedom to place a mouthpiece a good centimeter beyond the end of the cork without hitting anything. What is the limiting factor on other brands (other than Conn, where the microtuner is a pretty obvious stopper)?

  • alan Says:

    Mal – I’ve never had to push a tenor mouthpiece onto a C-Mel much more than to the end of the cork – maybe a couple of mm more at absolute most. The standard C-Mel mouthpieces go about half-way on, maybe a little more, and alto mouthpieces tend to cling onto about a third of the cork. It’s possible to have a ‘stepped’ cork to accomodate a couple of types if you change around a lot. Of course that all applies to non-microtuner necks !

    I did hear that some tapered-shank mouthpieces foul the ‘lip’ at the end of the Buescher neck, there was a topic on SOTW where someone had to file the lip off to get an Aquilasax C in tune.

  • totalsuper Says:

    I’ve never bought products from Alibaba.com, but these remarks about the C-mels available there have me intrigued. Has anyone here actually bought from an Alibaba vendor?

    I’m not a fan of the silly A-with-wings logo on Aquilasax. I wish they could have been just a bit more creative with their branding and come up with something akin to Selmer or Buescher, but I’m buying one anyway because of how people say they play. The audience will probably not see the logo, and I could put something over it if really looks obnoxious in person. I just need a good sounding professional C horn for jazz gigging at a price I can afford with modern ergonomics. Hence Aquilasax. I do like the Fleur-de-Lis engraving they do. Works perfect with the explosion of Fleur-de-Lis graphics everywhere after the New Orleans disaster. The Fleur-de-Lis is the traditional NOLA symbol.

    I hope some copycat isn’t trying to undermine Steve, but I wouldn’t put it past a jealous vendor to try. All I can say is I hope he has some good horns shipping pretty soon. The waiting is paralysing.

  • alan Says:

    totalsuper (welcome…) – I had an email from Steve about a week ago, the new necks are coming anytime, then the Aquilasax C’s can ship.

    Alibaba is/are something else, they front just about every Chinese producer, as I’m now registered with them, I get daily emails about three necked guitars, inflatable saxes, S-shaped guitars, and even animated saxophone-playing Santa’s ( < < hover over the links…) and everything else imaginable ( and some I hadn’t thought of ! )

    But no more news, of how/when/where to buy the Alibaba/Mason-Pro C-Melody-Alto…

  • alan Says:

    Well, I’ve had several email conversations with ‘Richard’, and he does seem to confirm, quite sensibly (quote) -

    Hi Alan.:
    Thanks for your reply, hope you are fine.
    We can promise this is C melody saxophone not the a normal E-flat alto saxophone, we have a clients has order 3 pcs, I will let you know the C melody saxophone body how long. We sincerely hope can cooperation with you.
    ….”

    So, at their quoted prices, what now ?

    The FOB price is $321, we can make it with silver plated or gold lacquered , if you have any problem, please let us know feel free.
    The shipping cost is $ 299
    Total charge is : $620

  • totalsuper Says:

    The comparison shopper in me has awakened. With Steve’s new horns pending, I have registered with Alibaba and sent an email of inquiry to Opus Music asking for more information about their C Alto Sax, and also asked how it compares to the Aquilasax C saxes. I will report back with any results.

  • alan Says:

    total – yes, and I have a bit of a dilemna here – I should report findings back to saxontheweb, BUT, if this sax is a copy of Steve’s earlier (admittedly slightly flawed) Aquilasax, but at a cheaper price, and with less personal contact, then the possible complications (and chances of disappointment) just increase exponentially.

    I’ll keep it all for here (for the moment…), as I really don’t want to be responsible for some of Steve’s potential customers deserting him for something more tenuous – I really want feedback from someone who’s actually bought and played the ‘Mason Pro’ – shipping cost is a bit horrendous, from China, far higher than I’ve ever paid (or been quoted) before.

    I await developments with interest ! Well, curiosity…

  • totalsuper Says:

    Well, the overall price is still a bit less than Steve’s, so not too horrendous. Speaking of personal contact, I have yet to receive an email from Steve announcing my sax is ready. A miracle from Opus Music notwithstanding, I’ll still buy from Steve, but it’s interesting to explore alternatives. The real tragedy is that there aren’t more makers of C-mels to choose from.

  • alan Says:

    I think Steve is still waiting for the new necks. In the last year or so there has been Aquilasax, Pearl River, and now Mason Pro – but they’re all so low-key (no pun intended) and laid back, that no-one other than the keenest enthusiasts knows anything about them.

    It’s like a tiny bubble that’s going to go ‘pop’ when no-one is looking or listening… One of music’s best kept secrets – why !!! But C-Clarinets and C-Trumpets have been out there for a while, with so little impact. :|

  • alan Says:

    There is a US Mason dealer, who contacted me with these details -

    ” We are the worldwide distributor for all Mason Pro saxophones from Eb sopranino to BBb bass. We are out of stock but have a shipment scheduled to arrive here June 25th
    The price including Case / MP / Neckstrap is $795 SHI to UK is $75
    Lee Mason – C F P Music (since 1949), 2630B SE 39th Loop Hillsboro OR 97123 USA lbmason71@comcast.net

    (I’ve added this to the ‘front page’ of this topic – this is just so that it will show on ‘Recent Comments’)

  • totalsuper Says:

    To quote Spock: “Fascinating.” Anyone reading this in the Portland, Oregon area should go to his shop and record a live play test for the rest of us. Even if he is out of stock, I’ll bet he’s got a display model.

    Meanwhile, I’ve heard back from Opus Music. Alan, I’m going to forward you by private email what they sent me and get your opinion. I’m skeptical about the offer. Maybe it’s because of Alibaba, or maybe it’s because it ships FOB from China, but I think I’d rather have an Aquilasax or a Mason Pro first.

    Interesting about the Mason Pro coming out in late June, a month after the Aquilasax is due. Coincidence?

    Speaking of Aquilasax, any word from Steve? None here, and it’s getting late in the month.

  • Mal-2 Says:

    There’s a reason the cargo industry half-jokingly says “FOB” stands for “Fresh Off the Boat”. I’d be more than a little wary of something direct-shipped from a source without a reputation to uphold. A cargo container from China is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

  • alan Says:

    Aquilasax (latest) news from Steve, as of yesterday, quote -

    The necks are still being worked on. They got the neck right but the octave lever is a bit short and so doesn’t look professional standard. They are making a new octave lever mold (and should just about be finished by now). Once again I expect to have them in a couple of weeks and the rest of the batch should follow.”

  • stan graber Says:

    Anyone know what the Mason Pro c melody sax sells for, and where I could get info on it ? Thanks stangraber@gmail.com 

  • alan Says:

    Stan – here is what I recently got from the US Mason Pro dealer – I’m not  "Mr Alan", but then the message was frorwarded on from the Chinese factory (?) that I was dealing with, so it’s close enough.  :lol:   Maybe you’d like to ask them if they have any decent pictures ?  I’ve truncated the email to save space.

    ==========================

    from – Barbara and Lee Mason <lbmason71@comcast.net>
    date – 22 May 2008 04:31     subject -  Mason Pro C melody sax

    Mr Alan – AOFA has notified me that you inquired about our  Mason Pro   C Melody sax
     
    We are  the  worldwide distributor for all   Mason Pro  saxophones from Eb sopranino to BBb bass.   We are out of stock but have a shipment scheduled to arrive here June 25th
     
    The price including   Case   MP     Neckstrap      $795        SHI to UK is $75
     
    Lee Mason    -   C F P Music   -  since 1949
    2630B SE 39th Loop   -   Hillsboro OR 97123    USA
     

  • alan Says:

    I’ve just started a new post on the Mason Pro C-Melody Sax

  • totalsuper Says:

    Last Friday, Steve of Aquilasax told me he still expects to see the C-mels arrive from China by the end of the month. And so does Mason Pro. Coincidence? Meanwhile, Opus Music says they’ve been making C-mels for two years and have product available right now. I’m still not sure what to make of all this. Opinions?

  • alan Says:

    You can see more pics of the Mason Pro on the latest post (see comment #26 for link) – they’re expected in July as well, big coincidence…

    And the original Alibaba pic had opus.en.alibaba.com on it.  They offered the sax for under half of the Mason Pro price, but higher shipping.  But who has ever bought an Opus/Alibaba/Mason C-Mel ?  Like the Pearl River C-Mel, they seem to be out there, but where ?????

    We’ve had some diverse feedback about the Aquilasax ones, but not a whisper about the Opus/Alibaba/Mason ones – so where have the two years worth of sales gone ?  I’d have thought someone would have popped up on the forums (forae ?) with some sort of Opus/Alibaba/Mason feedback by now ?  But nothing… :neutral:   One of the worlds best kept secrets – but where’s the profit in that ?

    Steves Aquilasax ones must have been churning thro’ production for nigh on two years now, if you include the prototypes !  I’m confused :roll: