Subcontrabass saxophone

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Subcontrabass saxophone
Full-size Subcontrabass Saxophone.jpg
An Eppelsheim Full-size Subcontrabass Saxophone

Wind Woodwind

Playing range

Written range

Sax range.svg

In B: sounds three octaves and a major second lower than written.
Related instruments

Military band family:

Orchestral family:

Other saxophones:

More articles

The subcontrabass saxophone is a type of saxophone that Adolphe Sax patented and planned to build but never constructed. Sax called this imagined instrument saxophone bourdon (named after the lowest stop on the pipe organ). It is a transposing instrument pitched in B, one octave below the bass saxophone, two octaves below the tenor saxophone, and three octaves and a major second below its written pitch.


Until 1999, no genuine, playable subcontrabass saxophones were made, though at least two gigantic saxophones were built.[1] Although the smaller of the two (constructed in the mid-1960s) was able to produce musical tones, with assistants opening and closing its pads due to the instrument's lack of keywork, witnesses stated that it was incapable of playing even a simple scale.

The B subcontrabass tubax,[2] which was developed in 1999 by instrument manufacturer Benedikt Eppelsheim of Munich, Germany, is described by Eppelsheim as a "subcontrabass saxophone". This instrument is available in both C and B, with the B model providing the same pitch range as the saxophone bourdon would have. A contrabass-range tubax in E is also available.

The question of whether or not the tubax is truly a saxophone is debatable: it has the same fingering as a contrabass saxophone, but its bore, though conical, is narrower (relative to its length) than that of a regular saxophone. This makes for a more compact instrument with a "reedier" and "fatter" timbre. While some[who?] argue that the tubax is akin to the double-reed sarrusophone, the tubax's bore is much larger than that of the corresponding size of sarrusophone. Since several conical single-reed instruments with bores narrower than the saxophone are known (Octavin, Tarogato, Heckelclarina), analogies to a double-reed instruments can only relate to range and overall dimensions. Some authorities[who?] regard the tubax as a separate family of instruments rather than as a type of saxophone.

A Brazilian company, J'Elle Stainer, produced a working compact subcontrabass in 2010, which was shown at Expomusic 2010.[3]

In September 2012, instrument manufacturer Benedikt Eppelsheim of Munich, Germany completed building the first full-size subcontrabass saxophone. This instrument stands 2.25 meters (7 feet 5 inches) tall.[citation needed]

In July 2013, J'Elle Stainer of Brazil completed building a 2.8-meter (9-foot-2-inch) full-size subcontrabass saxophone.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Subcontrabass Saxophones (?)". Retrieved 2007-03-17.
  2. ^ "Tubax B subcontrabass saxophone". Retrieved 2013-07-11.
  3. ^

External links[edit]