The F-Mezzo is sort of the lost member of the saxophone family. Adolphe Sax's original idea was to have 2 full sets of alternating sax families, one in Eb and Bb like what we have now, and the other in F and C. While there were a good number of "C Melody" Tenors made in the 1920's, and to a lesser extent C Sopranos, the F-mezzo was not revived until Conn remade it in 1927.
The F-mezzo was a project of the Conn Experimental Laboratory. There were three large factory runs for the F-mezzo, the first at serial number 213xxx, the nest at 216xxx, and the last major run at 219xxx. There were no design changes between the three different lots. The F-mezzo was the first Conn saxophone to feature same side bell keys and was the inspiration behind the disign for doing the same on alto and tenor. The Saxquest Saxophone Museum is home to two F-mezzos, and also contains an experimental model alto made in the middle of the F-mezzo runs with serial number 218xxx that features the same side bell keys. This did not become standard on alto until about 249xxx in serial number.
To look at an F-mezzo, it has the appearance of a small alto. Like all Conns from this vintage, it does still have the G#, fingernail file table G#, rolled tone holes, and is keyed up to high F. Although it looks like a small alto, it sounds more like a soprano, especially in the upper range of the horn. It has a beautiful sonority that is rich and vibrant, not at all stuff and suprisingly intonation is very good as well.
Unfotunately, the F-mezzo suffered along with the rest of the country during the Great Depression. Although advertised by Conn as selling like hot cakes, the reality was that it never really caught on. In fact, Conn was still advertising F-mezzo for sale in catalogs all the up into WWII. A 10+year lag in sales was not something Conn was used to prior to the Great Depression. Although its a marvelous intrument, it nevver really had a chance.
Check out James Carter's 2001 recording of Gypsy Music to hear his take on this unique Saxophone.
The F-Mezzo is sort of the lost member of the saxophone family. Adolphe Sax's original idea was to have 2 full sets of alternating sax families, one in Eb and Bb like what we have now, and the other in F and C. While there were a good number of "C Melody" Tenors made in the 1920's, an... [more]