Odd, rare, weird, or fascinating musical instruments

I felt myself going down a serious derail in another thread, so to stave off the wailing and gnashing of teeth I am going to put subsequent instrument posts here. @PatRx2, @Beanolini, I expect you to participate.

No rules really, pictures or recordings are encouraged, but not mandatory.

One of my first saxophones was called a ‘naked lady’. There was an engraver at Conn that would do pictures of stylized women on the bells. Most people never even noticed they were there.


Another sax I loved was called ‘the committee’. It was designed, well, by a committee. So weird pieces were reused in strange places to save money,they always sounded and loomed okay but a little… Off. Hell of a horn to work on.


Back when I was playing jazz flute (yes @OtherMichael! I played jazz flute!) I played it on a late 1880s grenadilla reverse taper, A455 flute. With a cracked headpiece I repaired. It was quiet, and the intonation was… Challenging… But I still play it from time to time.

I just took the bottom keys off of mine, they were useless.


One of my favorite instruments of all time is my friend Stephens portable pump organ. It is a real, honest to god WW1 clergy organ, that was trotted around and used to play hymn’s. It is the most punk instrument I ever played, and I had it on loan for three years. God I miss that thing.

It folds into a box you can carry.


If it has an oval embouchure hole without a lip plate, I’d love it. I can’t blow transverse flutes with the usual rectangular embouchure holes and lip plates, but I can handle damned near any folk flute.

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It certainly does! You can get more volume out of boehm head pieces and bodies, but oval holes and reverse tapers just have such a nice richness. Similar to…

Old style boxwood German clarinets. These arent Albert system (which I have two of sitting next to me), but look to have the German fingerings.

Fun fact, authentic German clarinets dont use easy to remove ligatures to hold the Reed (a ligature is a glorified hose clamp). You tie the Reed on with string.


Look lovely, but I discovered I had lost the ability to work with single reeds about 30 years back when I had a choice between buying an alto sax or buying an oboe, couldn’t get a squawk out of the sax (despite having played the tenor in high school). I could run a perfect bottom register on the oboe, however (and that’s the tough register on that instrument).

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I love double reeds, except when you have to make the reeds :D. I still have my Reed knives somewhere…

Speaking of double reeds, I have only ever seen a sarrusophone in a museum. Some day, some day…


Want want want!

I miss seeing old pump organs in people’s parlors, something you could still find in 1970s South Dakota.


They sound so cool. But you have to find an accordion repairman to fix any issues :slight_smile:

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Usually got mine pre-made. It’s a bit peculiar, but I discovered that, if a double reed could be made to squawk, I could make it squawk musically. I’m probably the least fussy double reed player I know.

I found that out rather early - a friend handed me a bagpipe chanter in my late teens to accompany him while he played his 12-string. Now, bagpipe chanters generally sound a half-tone off C scale, the temperament is not equal by any stretch, they don’t cross-finger worth beans (so you are stuck with its diatonic scale), and my friend wasn’t moving off the guitar’s preferred keys, so I was in a bind. I ended up removing the reed cap, and lipping the chanter into tune… on a badly chipped reed.


How quickly can you change one of those in the middle of a movement, sitting as they do smack-dab in the middle of the orchestra (no way out)?

The Reed or the instrument?

My daughter’s ukulele teacher plays over a dozen fretted stringed instruments (and a few others, I believe), but the cuatro is dearest to his heart:

(internet photo, not his personal instrument)


Yeah, that’s what I was guessing…you’d have to keep a second German clarinet set up and handy just in case!

B♭ and A pair?

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No, no no no. Those are a Bb and and A. Changing instruments takes, err, three seconds. Changing a Reed on a boehm clarinet/sax takes 15 seconds, a German maybe 20 seconds (to get it good enough for an emergency, then adjust as necessary).

At the mid to high levels there is never an unexpected blown Reed, broken string, or cracked tube. You inspect everything, and if something goes wrong there are always plan Bs.

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