SYOS

(4th line) D tone issue

Magnus077

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Ireland
So this is a problem with the tenor I play currently, which was refurbished by a technician around 6 months ago. It involves playing D with the octave key (4th line on the staff). It sounds considerably fainter and a lot more muffled compared to the notes around it, but as far as I can tell it's still in tune. When I say muffled, it very much sounds as if I can hear air escaping, which leads me to suspect that an improper seal between the pad and the tone hole might be the culprit, but I'm not 100% sure. I'm almost certain this issue affects bottom D, an octave below, although it's a lot less evident. So, would anyone have any clues?

Oh, in case it's relevant, this particular saxophone is a New Super Dearman tenor, which I believe is a Czechoslovakian/East German copy of a 1920s Conn design, produced from about 1930 to 1950. As I've said, it was recently overhauled (including new pads), so the presence of this issue puzzles me.
 

jbtsax

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Check the opening of the low C key. That is the primary tone hole that "vents" the D. You may have to first remove the felt to find the best opening and then trim the felt before putting it back. But before making any key height adjustments, play D2 and then open the low C# key. This adds venting to the D which is an "under vented" note. It will always change the quality of the D a bit, but if this makes a significant difference in the clarity of the D, it suggests that venting is in fact part of the problem.

Try playing D2 without using the octave key and overblowing the low D. Listen to the sound and then add the octave key. If when the octave key is pressed the tone becomes more muffled, the body octave vent needs to be cleaned or perhaps enlarged, or the octave mechanism adjusted to provide a higher opening of the body octave pad.

Another cause of a stuffy D can be an Eb pad that is not closing with an airtight seal. The best way to check this is with a leak light. You may be able to test this by playing D and having someone else squeeze the Eb key closed, but the light is the best choice. Things can move a bit after an overhaul as materials adjust. It is not unusual to have to tweak a thing or two after the sax has been played a while.
 

Stephen Howard

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I recently worked on and reviewed the alto version - and have been reliably informed that it's a Kohlert stencil. As such it ought to be a rather nice tenor - and while it will have a few foibles when it comes to evenness of tone, it shouldn't be anything like as noticeable as your experience suggests.
JBT's on the right track (a leak) - but I suspect you're battling with more than one. A leak light would be a good way of checking the integrity of the pad seats....but unless you want to a buy or make one I'd recommend having at it with a cigarette paper.

Testing for leaky pads on woodwind instruments
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
When mine does this, Bis/C needs regulating. It never ceases to amaze me what can throw out regulation. Temperature, humidity, handling, wear and tear, cork and felt falling off, can all have their input. I'd be pleased if any of my horns went six months without a tweak.
 

Fraser Jarvis

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1,859
I had this problem with a Selmer ref 54 i dont have anymore, despite trying to get it sorted it still did it, used to drive me mad. I found that by pressing the side D key or low B key whilst fingering the middle D I could get around it, not ideal but it worked.

My King on the other hand plays as you’d expect.
 
OP
Magnus077

Magnus077

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Ok. so I've attempted a daignostic based on all of your suggestions, and after experimenting with JBT's overblowing test, it looks very much like the octave key vent might be our gremlin here. I'll do my best to have this rectified as soon as I can.
I want to thank all of you for your input, I am very much obliged. I'm playing some carols with my band and some singers in a church later today, so I'll be over the moon if I have it corrected ahead of this. Thanks again! :thanks1:
 
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Magnus077

Magnus077

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UPDATE: in the last few minutes, I went at the (body) vent with a simple artist's pipe cleaner, which didn't turn out to be very effective,and it turns out there isn't enough clearance between the neck vent and its pad to fit the pipe cleaner down there.
I just recorded myself playing the troublesome note and moving the instrument close to the microphone. I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the air-escaping sound is slightly stronger at the vent area, so I'm ruling out other possible causes at this stage.
So I was thinking of doing some surgery on the instrument in the coming weeks when I get a chance. I'm a mechanical engineer by profession, so I should have all the tools I need, perhaps a suitably small needle file or (very) slightly oversized drill bit, would these be okay or no-go?
 

Colin the Bear

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I wouldn't be poking anything abrasive down the vent hole till you've tried cleaning it. Maybe a small tube brush. The neck arm is held by one screw and very easy to remove for cleaning. However, it's the body octave that vents D2. Is the neck mechanism out of adjustment? It's very easy and quite common for the pin to get a knock in transit. The neck arm is bendable to get the adjustment right.
 

jbtsax

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You might consider taking it back to the technician who worked on the sax to have it checked over for the issues previously described. When I adjust the octave mechanism on a saxophone, When G is fingered and then pressing the thumb key I like the travel of the body octave key to go all the way up to where the key cup meets the arm that extends from the G key. This removes "lost motion" and insures optimum venting.

"Real" cotton pipe cleaners are more effective than the art ones made with synthetics---especially those with bristles. Bristle Pipe Cleaners
 

Stephen Howard

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Running a pipe cleaner through the pip may not be enough - they often get clagged up with hard deposits (like the scale you find in a kettle).
Rather than attack it with something abrasive it's better to have at it with chemistry.
Once you've got the octave mech off, seal the body pip with a lump of Blu-Tack, turn the horn so the octave tube faces upwards and fill it with plain old malt vinegar, Leave for an hour, mop it out and refresh. That should do it.
 
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Magnus077

Magnus077

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Thanks everyone, I'll keep an eye out for the proper pipe cleaners, and I'll attempt the vinegar remedy as a last resort before approaching my woodwind guru again.
As far as I can see, on visual inspection, the octave key cup does indeed meet the G key arm. This however prompts a question: if this octave key vent is indeed causing this issue, shouldn't all notes in the second octave (up to and including G) be affected, not just D?
 

jbtsax

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Thanks everyone, I'll keep an eye out for the proper pipe cleaners, and I'll attempt the vinegar remedy as a last resort before approaching my woodwind guru again.
As far as I can see, on visual inspection, the octave key cup does indeed meet the G key arm. This however prompts a question: if this octave key vent is indeed causing this issue, shouldn't all notes in the second octave (up to and including G) be affected, not just D?
That's a good question. Yes they all should be affected somewhat, however the body octave vent on most saxes is at the ideal location for the note F. It for is this note that that the octave vent is the most efficient and the pitch change is the least. The farther away from this "ideal" note the sharper the note becomes when the octave key is used. For example D and G#, both three half steps away are typically sharp.
 
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Magnus077

Magnus077

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SITREP: I tried persevering with the pipe cleaners I had over the last day or so, and something interesting happened.

Yesterday, instead of just moving the pipe cleaner in and out of the vent, I tried moving it around while doing so (best comparison I can come up with is like trying to scrape jam from the bottom of a jar with a knife - you move around the base with it) - in essence, I attempted a more thorough clean. So, I was playing carols again with the band yesterday evening. I had just assembled the intrument and just attempted a blow at the finnicky note - and it sounded ~80% sharper and less stifled compared with before!

As far as I could tell, though, it didn't last. Gradually, over the course of playing, the tone began to become more stifled and congested like before.

So I can say I've learned that the pipe cleaner trick is a temporary solution, it looks like I'll have to go the vent with vinegar, as Stephen has suggested.

Thanks for all the help in the meantime, hope you're all having a great Christmas.
 
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Magnus077

Magnus077

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Ireland
SITREP: attempted the vinegar treatment last week. Upon testing the note afterwards, it sounded significantly better in terms of volume, but it's still not 100%. So I'll have to go about getting it back to the repairman. I will update again once more progress is made. Thanks again in the meantime for all of your help.
 
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Magnus077

Magnus077

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Ireland
Just been tinkering around with the instrument for the last week or so, and discovered that the low C key does indeed affect the clarity of the note, pretty much to the same extent as the octave vent. Lifting the C# key pretty much cures the issue, but this key is rather stiff on this particular saxophone. I've found that using the D palm key produces the same effect, so this will be my go-to remedy for long D2 notes.
So I suppose this thread could be marked as 'solved', if there is such a feature on this forum. Thanks once again to everyone for all of your help and guidance.
 

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
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I have a similar issue on my recently re-padded YTS-23. I checked the octave key, in case I missed it during the cleaning process, but it's shinny clean!

I must now check a small change I made to adjust the octave spatula, it's a large piece of metal on the 23 and I adjusted it to bring it more level with the thumb rest. I will reverse that and see if it makes things any better. Allowing more space between the body octave pip and the pad.

I doubt I have a leak on the E key or any adjacent one as the horn never played so well in the low register. But nothing will be neglected.

At the moment, there is a rather annoying gap between the C/C# and the D2 that sounds stuffy. I already opened the low C and it's fine with D1.
 

Keep Blowing

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Bottesford England
I have a similar problem, middle d is not so much stuffy but sounds a bit dead and very sharp, it does sound better without pressing the octave key. I have taken the octave mechanism apart (I think I will be taking it to my tech to put it back together) the pip appears to be clean and clear. Can anyone advise as to what size the bore should be please, a 1mm - 3/64" diameter nail slides in and out very easily.
 
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