Alto Saxophone (Eb) Adolphe Sax 1855 Original, Model 1


Alto Saxophone (Eb)

Brand / Maker

Adolphe Sax


Original, Model 1



YearTuning (A / Hz)

450 / 435 (Diapason Normale)

Material & Finished :

-Body : Nickelplate
-Bell : Nickelplate
-Keys : Nickelplate
-Neck : Nickelplate
-Buttons / Rollers : N / N

SN# :


Place (Head Quarters / Factory) :

Paris, FR

Year Introduced - Year Ended :

1840 / Patent 1846 / Model 1 1840 – 1861

Value (Year / Price) :

-Original : 1870 = ₣200 (€30.49)
-Current (Used) : 2008 = €5,470


-Rareness : Original Model 1 Alto / 15th oldest Alto in the world
-Logo/Name : Stamped / Engraved
-Tone Hole Type : Soldered
-Left Pinky Spatula-keys Type : IN / CW
-Bell-keys Type : (Low B) L
-Natural Range : B-F
-Engraving : Non
-Pads / Resonators : White leather, soft / Non
-Keyguard : R
-Non-modern-standard Key Mechanism : Different: two octave keys, G# on the back. No: Bb-bis, side F#, side C, low Bb, high F#, high F trigger.
-Type in Collection : Historic / Playable


This is the most original alto saxophone you can get. It was made at the famous 50 rue Saint Georges in Paris. The very large parabolic bell can be identified and confirmed the period it was made. The nickel plate was the more expensive model at that time and must have been quite experimental. It was made in 1855 – only 9 years after the patent was granted – and was purchased in 1856 by the musical society “Harmonie du Rhône” in Lyon for its orchestra, hence the tuning pitch of 450Hz. When the French government passed a law on 16 February 1859, setting the standard tuning at A = 435Hz (almost half a step from the general tuning at that time), Adolphe Sax redesigned the tube of his instruments a little longer to accomodate this change. The earlier (already made) instruments such as this one, however, was lengthened only at the neck and this instrument came with two necks to accomodate both tuning. In fact, the “Harmonie du Rhône” continued to use the old tuning of 450Hz up to the present day. (It is noticable though when using the neck with 435 tuning that the innotation, NOT intonation, isn’t very good.) When Adolphe Sax designed the saxophones, he intended to replace the low woodwinds with a more blending sound so the very first saxophone was the bass sax in C. Despite its wonderful large sound, the idea didn’t catch on but smaller saxophones – soprano and alto – were in great demand and thus became more successful. Adolphe Sax manufactured the saxophones in three successive models (not counting the early prototypes). This alto is the earliest model with a large bell. (Serial# earliest-24xxx) However according to the inventor himself, he rather preferred a darker sound in order to blend in with the brass so he reduced the flare of the bell. The second model was most produced (Serial# 24xxx-35xxx). Then the last model was with minor improvements adding the cushion to the lower key cups & better design to the stem of each key. (Serial# 35xxx-41xxx) Also in the last model, the baritone reverted the low B tone hole to the side of the bell instead of in the back. The soprano’s octave trigger also was redesigned without a ring. This is the 15th alto saxophone ever made!