The Central Coast Philharmonia

Rare Saxophones: Contrabass Saxophone

This gargantuan titanic and indisputable king of woodwinds has got to be the most sonically impressive and visually intimidating creation ever to be handled one to one by a human. The contrabass saxophone magnifies the power of the already earthshaking bass saxophone and descending near to the bottom of the piano, its tones are magnificently clear and vastly intense. The contrabass has always been rare due to its rather impractical nature and requirement of virtuoso technique. However nothing can replace its almost alien timbre quality and world-halting presence. Even though it is perhaps the most powerful of possible orchestral instruments, very few orchestral pieces include the goliath monster. Several pieces on the Genesis program will feature the beast, including Seismic Disturbances, Reflections of Honor, and the Four Poems.  For more info on the contra, and sound clips visit

Some technical info:
Contrabass Saxophone is in EEb sounding a full octave below the baritone sax. This puts its foot note at the Db at the bottom of the piano. Low range is a full and heavy bass voice which fills a frequency spectrum like a sponge in water. Mid range is often unpredictable and with a certain degree of spontaneous growl, and high range is very smooth and sweet if handled by a good player. The entire range takes considerable practice to facilitate, and even the very best of players can have trouble taming the beast. For artists who have recorded on the contra, check out Jay Easton, Don Stevens, Scott Robinson, and Anthony Braxton.  Also for even more info, check out the section for the contra in and the company that makes it at

Learn more about other Special Instruments