Bass Saxophone English
Contra Saxophone English

A 16' Saxophone. In Organ Stops and their Artistic Registration Audsley says:

The stop can be made with either free- or striking-reeds. On account of the smoothness of the tones of the orchestral Saxophone, we are of opinion that their closest imitation is to be obtained from free-reeds pipes; but the most favorable form of resonators has yet to be discovered. While an almost deceptive imitation of the tones of the Saxophones have been obtained from labial pipes of wood of 8 ft. pitch, we are not aware of any attempt having been made to produce a corresponding labial Contra-Saxophone.

In The Art of Organ-Building Audsley provides the following exterior dimensions of the boots and resonators of a Contra-Saxophone by Hilborne L. Roosevelt.

of Boot
of Boot
of Boot
Length of
Top Diameter
of Resonator
CCC48.25"3.75"4.75"10' 1.25"5.63"
FFF37.625"3.25"4.125"7' 7.25"5"
CC23.875"2 13/16"3.5"5' 1"4.13"
FF19 1/16"2.625"3.25"3' 9.25"3.56"
C13.75"2 5/16"2.75"2' 5.25"3.06"
F11.875"2 3/16"2 9/16"1' 9.5"2.75"

Audsley gives this information as an example of the very large boots he considers to be conducive to the “prompt and satisfactory” speech of free-reed pipes.

Roosevelt made for Audsley a 16' Euphone which Audsley renamed Contra-Saxophone. It is not known whether this is the same stop whose dimensions are given above.

Irwin states that the Contra-Saxophone is found occasionally at 32' pitch, “particularly in the Continental organs.” He goes on to say:

This bass line of the orchestral counterpart is a poor imitation. This highly variable, breezy, fluty tone with its peculiar initial harmonics and unstable pitch is quite impossible to imitate by the steady wind supply of the organ. Labial pipes have been used with some success, particularly above CCC.

Strony reports that a few theatre organ builders made 16' Bass Saxophone stops, but none extended down beyond tenor C.


Bass Saxophone 16', Orchestral; John Wanamaker Store, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. This is the only known example of this name.

Contra Saxophone 16', Pedal; Ham House, Richmond, Surrey, England.

Contra Saxophone 16', Gallery Organ IV; Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA; Midmer-Losh 1929-32.

Contra Saxophon 32', Schwellpedal; Luitpoldhalle, Nürnberg, Germany; Walcker 1936 (destroyed 1942).


Audsley[1]: Contra Saxophone; Euphonium (footnote). Audsley[2]: I.XIII Contra-Saxophone; II.XXXVIII Free-Reed Stops. Irwin[1]: Contra Saxophone. Strony[1]: Bass Saxophone.
Copyright © 1999 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
ContraSaxophone.html - Last updated 3 October 2000.
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