History Notes: Ladario Model

History Notes : Ladario Model
In today's episode, Douglas Pipher looks at the rarest SELMER saxophone in history: the Ladario model. It was made in very few numbers - probably 3 - in the 1920s...


“Three examples are known to have been built, possibly as many as five or six, but three for sure. These were built for, at the time, a very famous Brazilian saxophonist, Teixeira Ladario. He apparently came to France and ordered some custom saxophones with a bunch of different changes. Now, I've wanted to do a video about this topic for a long time, but I didn't have a lot of reference. But fortunately, two things happened.

One of these three Ladario saxophones went up for sale in Brazil some years ago. And I have some photos. They're low quality photos, but they're the best we have.

Ladario saxophone

The really exciting thing that happened is when I was in Paris in March 2023, I was going through old records and I came across five pages of notes that appear to be quite possibly from the conversation happening between Mr. Ladario and someone at Selmer Paris. The first page of notes is describing details of the octave key mechanism that he wanted. He wanted a special octave mechanism. And then they go through just the challenges of how to build the keys. The third page shows the plates and where all the post hole variations have to be. And there's more on the fourth page. The fifth page is the most exciting is that nice descriptions and detailed sketches of the different key layouts.

The first obvious thing about the Ladario is that it has a range to low A. It is therefore the first low A saxophone that Selmer Paris has ever manufactured.

The serial numbers of the first two were 5965 and 5966. There may have been another one built in the 9000 range, and we do know for sure there was another one built in the 10,000 range.

Ladario model saxophone diagram

This variation required a new left pinky cluster. They added a low A key here. A really fascinating part is this entire left pinky cluster was duplicated on top of the lower stack, so that you could play C sharp, B, B flat or A with the right hand as well as the left hand. So when pushing any one of those keys down, it would depress all of these. You'd have to have the low C key depressed as well.

Another change, I'm not sure why, is Mr. Ladario wanted this side c key moved. Another change that he requested was to have a nonautomated octave key. Earlier, saxophones had had two separate octave keys, one that you play from D to G, and another that you play from A and above.

It is a beautiful and fascinating instrument. We know from the photos of the auction that at least in 2014, one of these three instruments still exists. So I will just put out the call if anybody knows the location of any of these Ladario saxophones, I and everyone at Selmer Paris would love to have some high quality photos taken of that. So if you know where the location of one is, please contact me or contact Selmer Paris. We'd love to hear from you. Thank you."



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