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Borgani Tenor Saxophone - Semitone Flat

There is still something that seems not quite right about this.

To summarise:

  • We have ascertained that nobody is thinking of the tenor as a concert pitch non-transposing instrument (otherwise it would appear to be one whole tone flat)
  • The player is competent.
  • We presume it would be unlikely a Borgani could actually be manufactured so far out of tune.
  • We know that there is potentially room for the mouthpiece to be pushed on if cork is sanded and grease applied
  • We assume that a tech may be able to adjust key heights and get some significant raising of pitch (though probably nowhere near a semitone)
But we have also heard that the instrument is in tune with itself:

Otherwise the saxophone is in good playing condition, standard intonation and great sound.

My issue is that if it is in tune (with itself) like this, it would be unlikely to still be in tune (with itself) when adjusted to be a semitone different either by mouthpiece position or combination of mouthpiece position and key height adjustment.

I have been on gigs where I have had to compensate for a Piano 1/4 tone sharp or flat, and honestly this through the saxophone intonation way out.

:headscratch::headscratch:
 
I have been on gigs where I have had to compensate for a Piano 1/4 tone sharp or flat, and honestly this through the saxophone intonation way out.

So what did you do?

A bass playing friend is a piano tech by profession. He use to tune the Steinway Grand Piano at A=442 or 443. In these cases you must tune all other intruments after the grand piano. Or to ask the piano tech to tune the piano down.
 
It's flat. Push in. I can't understand why a proclaimed teacher doesn't get this. Plenty of grease and the cork will compress. Push on with a twisting action. Sometimes it's easier to do it without the reed mounted. My tenor piece goes way past the cork.

Colin, he used a lot of force to get it on to were it was but doesn't look like he used any grease. Considering how basic this advice is (I am not a musician) I don't understand why highly regarded teachers and my son who has been playing for 10 years would not consider this . Anyway, lesson learnt for my son I hope about jumping to conclusions (something wrong with instrument) and that sometimes simple answers are often the best answer.

At this stage he can't take instrument to technician until next week. He will try the sanding and grease on Monday following advice provided in the video posted above as he doesn't have the mouthpiece he will most likely use on the instrument
 
My issue is that if it is in tune (with itself) like this, it would be unlikely to still be in tune (with itself) when adjusted to be a semitone different either by mouthpiece position or combination of mouthpiece position and key height adjustment.

My guess is that having discovered that the saxophone is roughly a semitone out across the whole range of the instrument, the player will not have bothered to check whether some notes are more out of tune than others.
 
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I have been on gigs where I have had to compensate for a Piano 1/4 tone sharp or flat, and honestly this through the saxophone intonation way out.
So what did you do?

One particular gig at PizzaExpress Dean Street, the plan was very sharp. Just pushed the mouthpiece on and dealt with it.

A famous saxophone play (Benny Waters) sat in with us and we played Stomping at the savoy in Db

He just listened, assumed we were testing him up by playing it in D and went ahead, played the whole tune in D.

He was not happy until I explained. Oh how we laughed.
 
What would "a significant amount" be in terms of cents?
OK, so first - it appears the OP's issue may have been solved by now (although I scratch my head as do Colin and Daniel that something as basic as pushing in the mouthpiece on a short-corked neck was something which nobody - unwired and in real-time - came up with). So this particular digression may not be addressing the OP any longer (although if pushing in doesn't work - for some odd reason, I cannot imagine it wouldn't - perhaps it is still germane to that problem).

So, taking a breadth of keyheight openings ranging from "as open/high as they can go while still having an effect on intonation"....to...."as closed/low as the can go without the sound of the horn becoming stuffy".....most techs can probably answer your question themselves.

In a situation where the owner is confronted with a well-playing horn which is displaying flatness/sharpness attributes...and it appears not to be user error or bad mouthpiece match...the heights are an available tool a tech can work with.

I know you and I disagree on this...you feel there are prescribed heights for keys for Tenors and Altos and those heights actually are appropriate for horns regardless of make, model, or whether it is a splitbellkey from the 20's or a spankin' new Taiwanese horn.
While my experiences over the years reflects that horns have/want different optimal keyheights.... and I set those keyheights on a horn-to-horn basis. So when I see posts and threads asking "what should be the keyheigts for my XXY ?" I generally respond " let you and your horn tell your tech what those heights should be".


I would imagine, for example, most techs have had the experience of a player coming in and saying " I just got this horn and the 'action' is set too high/low for me". In such instances, I would imagine a tech would endeavor to address what the client desires and not reply "well, actually, according to these prescribed charts...no, it isn't. So, I don't suggest you do anything, and just learn to acclimate to the horn".

You could say that...but again, IMHO if there IS a range of adjustability available (regardless of whether that contradicts someone's chart or table)..I would think many techs would probably make the prospective client aware of that.
 
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There is still something that seems not quite right about this....

My issue is that if it is in tune (with itself) like this, it would be unlikely to still be in tune (with itself) when adjusted to be a semitone different either by mouthpiece position or combination of mouthpiece position and key height adjustment.
Ha. Hadn't thought of that but...not a bad question.....
My guess is that having discovered that the saxophone is roughly a semitone out across the whole range of the instrument, the player will not have bothered to check whether some notes are more out of tune than others.
Ha. Hadn't thought of that...but not a bad answer....

:sax:
Wine! you need wine ;)

Jx
....probably right. I have had this bottle of Cab for 3 days now, was gonna bring it over to a Thanksgiving gathering then I remembered nobody attending...drinks.
 
To be clear. What I have written in the past is that the only "published" suggested key heights I know of are those from Yamaha, and that I use those figures as a good starting point for setting the key heights on all makes of saxophones.

Setting saxophone key heights was terribly confusing to me when I was a band teacher doing amateur repairs. I have come to learn that it really is quite simple. Only 1 key height of the stack keys must be decided upon and all of the others follow through regulation and eliminating lost motion. I like to use the F key as a starting point. The independent keys are set to where the note voices clearly, and in some cases matches the timbre of an other fingering for the same note.

Something that provided further clarification was Curt Altarac's Balanced Venting Method. It too is quite simple. Curt describes it this way, "I have developed a method for setting saxophone key heights called the Balanced Venting Method that allows the instrument to speak in a responsive and full voice while balancing intonation and mechanical function." [emphasis added] In a nutshell one identifies what are called "undervented" notes and sets the key heights so that those notes speak with a "full voice". When that has been accomplished the normally vented notes take care of themselves. [emphasis added]

The "rule of thumb" that says raising a key beyond 30% of the diameter of the tonehole has no further effect is based upon the acoustical factor called the "end correction". Simply put this is the distance beyond the first opening a soundwave travels before it reverses course and goes back to the mouthpiece. Each note on a saxophone makes this back and forth trip travelling the length of the tube twice before being emitted into the room. Another way to say this is that the "wavelength" of each note is the sounding length of the instrument times two.

The 30% end correction is a very rough estimate based upon the diameter of the bore at that point. Roughly speaking the diameter of each tonehole is approximately the same as the diameter of the bore---with many exceptions. This is why none of this is exact, but a rough rule of thumb.

What all of this is leading up to is a hypothesis as to why optimal key heights may be slightly different on different makes of saxophones---especially those from different eras. While all body tube have roughly the same taper some have "bores" that are larger or in some cases smaller than others.

Smaller bore = proportionally smaller toneholes = lower keyheight at 30%
Larger bore = proportionally larger toneholes = higher keyheight at 30%

More than you ever wanted to know about saxophone tonehole diameters and key heights can be found at Marten Postma's Website. Go to "measurements" then "holes keys". He makes no claim as to the authenticity of the keyheights as being original---simply as he found them. Also each key height listed is the "average" of the opening at the front and the back. I can't understand why he did that as it makes it next to impossible to convert that to the modern method of measuring key heights.

Attached is a study I did a few years back using Benade's formula to calculate pitch changes at various key heights. One day when my "artificial embouchure" is completed, I hope to compare this data to the results of actual trials.

Artificial Embouchure 004.JPG
 

Attachments

  • Effects of key height on alto sax D1,G1.pdf
    15.1 KB · Views: 133
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To get back on the current subject, I noticed the neck cork looked new. It must have been replaced recently and from what we've read so far it is obviously so tight that it doesn't allow the mouthpiece to be pushed far enough to make the sax play in tune.

I'd say it's a blessing! I'm playing Yamahas (23, 25, 62) and I'm often a bit high and need to pull the mouthpiece where it's hanging uncomfortably on a tiny bit of cork. So being in the opposite situation sounds good.

All that's needed is sanding a bit of cork and greasing it to allow the mouthpiece to move further in. Job done!
 
My amateurish view is that most sax players probably forget about the need to grease the neck cork, especially if everything is working OK. So my suspicion is that our sax player has forgotten about the requirement for that and is faced with new cork, mpc goes on 'so far' and an assumption that 'must be where it's supposed to go'...
 
My amateurish view is that most sax players probably forget about the need to grease the neck cork, especially if everything is working OK. So my suspicion is that our sax player has forgotten about the requirement for that and is faced with new cork, mpc goes on 'so far' and an assumption that 'must be where it's supposed to go'...

Funnily enough I dealt with such an issue this last week.
The player's mum brought the horn in (a Yamaha 62 alto) and read out a list of problems as flagged up by the player's teacher - one of which was that the crook cork needed replacing. I examined it but thought it to be fine - using my usual metric of the player's mouthpiece starting to bind on a dry cork about a third of the way on.
So I asked the mum to query the teacher as to the specific reason for requesting a cork change - and the answer came back that "The mouthpiece was too loose in the playing position". This would have placed the mouthpiece at less than halfway on the cork.

Maybe there was an issue with the mouthpiece? I tested it, and as expected it hit concert A at around 3/4 of the way on the cork.
So I didn't replace the cork, but explained to the mum that there's a 'sweet spot' for mouthpiece placement, and that you very quickly run into internal tuning issues the further away you move from that spot.
What surprised me the most was that a teacher was unaware of this, and hadn't picked up on a very obvious problem with the player's embouchure/technique. Even stranger was the fact that the cork bore the usual 'witness mark' of a ridge at the 3/4 point, thus clearly indicating that at some point the mouthpiece had been used in this position on a regular basis.
 
I had a do at teaching. Couldn't do it. All that squawking and you can't hit them anymore.

Some advice I picked up on here on how to find the sweet spot is to balance the harmonics, by over blowing bell notes and checking them against regular fingerings. Saves a lot of faffing about.
 

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