alto saxophone Grafton


In 1945, Hector Sommaruga (1904-1986) - an Italian immigrant who had settled in London - took out a patent for a saxophone whose body was moulded virtually entirely in one single piece, turning to a material suitable for the process: plastic. Such an instrument cost much less than a traditional saxophone. Solely the fingerwork and the bell were in metal. The saxophone here is known as a 'Grafton', after the street where the inventor had established his business.

Production began in 1949, but ceased officially ten years later, although spare parts and  certain assemblies remained available until 1967. The instrument nevertheless remains a marginal one, albeit that several famous saxophonists occasionally played it, including Charlie Parker and chiefly Ornette Coleman, sometimes called 'the Man with the plastic horn'.

Grafton alto saxophone in E flat
Charlie Parker on the Grafton