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Cryogenic treatment?

Stephen Howard

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Same maker, same cast, same facing (measured) same room with the same reed.

We can start a debate about the concept of "identical", but I have quite consistent experience about pieces to be able to feel what the difference is due to.

It depends on what level of precision you're working at.
Casting isn't generally that accurate a procedure, and once you start removing material mechanically you have to take into account a lot of variables - such as wear to the tooling, small variances in the way the material is held and even fluctuations in temperature during the cutting process.
Consider a Nikon pro-quality prime lens - costs a bomb, has a relatively simple design and relies largely on the integrity of the manufacture of the individual pieces of glass within it.
Many steps will have been taken to ensure accuracy throughout the manufacturing process so that a consistenty can be maintained, and yet it's still possible to find that one example of the finished product produces a sharper image than another.

I very much doubt such accuracy is used in the production of mouthpieces - which is why when buying a new piece (or a horn) an experienced player will first narrow down the choices between the larger elements (brand, model, dimensions) and then refine the choice between 'identical' examples.
It's always been thus.

Regards,
 

aldevis

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It depends on what level of precision you're working at.

In trying a mouthpiece we are quite rough in our perception. The position of the reed can make a bigger difference in sound.
And our attitude too (do I really want a white mouthpiece?).

In that specific case the two specific mouthpieces were worked almost together, an I can spot if a mouthpiece is brighter because of a slightly different baffle or the reeds' position.

I still think that materials make a difference in sound, even if the difference is not easily measurable.
 

aldevis

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The structure of most metals is largely chaotic, so you're going to find notable differences between any two samples.

That's not to say that there's no room for the craftsman - but that's more about the manipulation of the material rather than any 'mystical' properties.
Regards,

Nothing mystical, just too complex. And often impossible to experiment (except in Japan).
 

Stephen Howard

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In trying a mouthpiece we are quite rough in our perception. The position of the reed can make a bigger difference in sound.

Straightaway you're laying down the criteria for detecting any differences and as you say, it's quite a rough one.
If you accept that materials make a difference, then you also have to accept that they're going to be very small indeed - so small in fact as to not be detectable (so far) by any scientific means, and so small as to leave room for considerable doubt on the part of a good many people.
Not only that but even the people that use these materials to make instruments etc. can't agree on the supposed tonal qualities of them.

In that specific case the two specific mouthpieces were worked almost together, an I can spot if a mouthpiece is brighter because of a slightly different baffle or the reeds' position.

I still think that materials make a difference in sound, even if the difference is not easily measurable.

I can spot differences between apparently identical horns and mouthpieces too, and I've found that the difference between two seemingly identical horns can be so much that while I might like one of them, I won't like the other at all. That's a huge difference - the sort you might expect between two entirely different horns...not two that were the same.
With that kind of variation in play (ho ho) I really have grave doubts that we postively attribute any changes to material effects.

Regards,
 

aldevis

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If you accept that materials make a difference, then you also have to accept that they're going to be very small indeed - so small in fact as to not be detectable (so far) by any scientific means, and so small as to leave room for considerable doubt on the part of a good many people.

Totally agree. Doubts forever!
Until a month ago I thought that, generally speaking, silver plated instruments tend to play slightly brighter and more free blowing.
Not true in the last 5/5 cases.

In the case of those mouthpieces, my preference of one particular material (and I didn't know the material: it is marked with a numeric code I thought was a serial number) has been consistent across all the mouthpieces of that make that I own.

And other materials have been consistently too bright for me regardless of the mouthpiece size or design.
It can be a coincidence, but quite a surprising one (the holy maker himself was surprised)

If we think of the best facings around, they are simply the ones that players like. Nobody could still find the perfect mathematical function that describes the perfect mouthpiece curve.

It's not mystical, but it can be transcendental, and part of the fun in playing and looking for the perfect gear is in this undetermined aspect of both music and instrument making.
 

Stephen Howard

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And other materials have been consistently too bright for me regardless of the mouthpiece size or design.
It can be a coincidence, but quite a surprising one (the holy maker himself was surprised)

Now this is getting nearer to the mark in terms of 'something you can take to the bank'.
There is a case to be made for the supposition that it's not so much the 'resonant' qualities of the material, rather it's the way that it reacts to being shaped.
For example, we could make a mouthpiece out of cement and in theory it should sound the same as one made in brass. But you can't get a really sharp edge on a lump of cement...so the rails, for example, just wouldn't be quite so neat.
Granted, the difference in machineability between brass and bronze is going to be small - but I'm a great deal less sceptical of the theory that the way the air column moves over different metals can make a difference than I am of any resonant properties of them.

Regards,
 

aldevis

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Interesting.
If you have the occasion, try to file the beak of a mouthpiece (I never dared). Old clarinet players say that having less material there gives life to the piece.

But could just another urban legend....
 

kevgermany

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Interesting.
If you have the occasion, try to file the beak of a mouthpiece (I never dared). Old clarinet players say that having less material there gives life to the piece.

But could just another urban legend....

All the arguments that material doesn't make a difference are based on the assumption that the material is thick/solid enough not to distort.... In the mouthpiece where you've got high pressure, thinning it down may allow it to start moving and so affect the sound.
 

h4yn0nnym0u5e

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For example, we could make a mouthpiece out of cement and in theory it should sound the same as one made in brass. But you can't get a really sharp edge on a lump of cement...so the rails, for example, just wouldn't be quite so neat.
OK, so could we make one mostly out of cement, then coat just those areas that "need" neatness, and finish those in the normal way? You'd still have to do a number in each of ebonite, brass, cement etc. to otherwise "identical" dimensions to conclude anything, but it'd be easier than making sets of identical instruments in different materials, as I previously suggested.

I agree that manufacturing tolerances are likely to be much more influential than material, but even if it's hard to detect, it'd be good if someone with the expertise and equipment could demonstrate just how small the influence of the material actually is.

I'll bet the Japanese know already, and just aren't telling...

Cheers

Jonathan
P.S. I quite fancy a cement mouthpiece with brass rails - definitely a case for using a patch, though...
 

tzadik

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Every factors which have an influence on the vibrations of the saxophone body (neck/crook, body, bow and bell) have an influence on the sound.

I'm not experienced with cryogenic treated instruments... but here in Italy this kind of thermal treatment is very common.
It has been verified by many people who have their horns cryogenized that the difference between before and after the treatment are not subtle.

I'm experienced with differente metal influence on the sound.
I tried the same horn with almost 5 different neck (with the same bore, came out from the same factory). The neck were in different materials, different finishing and have been differently thermal treated.
Every neck changed the sound and the response in a noticeable way.
If I have another chance to make this test, I'll to record some samples.

I know physics and number say the opposite... but my ears work really good and they felt differences.
The sound is not only made by the air flow into the instruments but also by how the horn vibrates.

Here an interesting video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uhr-npMwpg
 

milandro

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the mind is the most powerful of the human muscles...........
 

milandro

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not only it is impossible to compare a horn before and after since they will reassemble and readjust the horn ........the player in the video tell us that they made a video to convince us with the sound (with a Youtube compression, I don’t think so!) but that on that side (the player’s side he can hear and feel something that nobody else can hear. In other words, if you are not convinced:
1) It is your fault your ear isn’t very good or:
2) you cannot feel and hear what he is feeling.....or both

in other words they are doing something to prove something that you cannot disprove
 

aldevis

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If only they'd cryo'd only 1 of the saxes, but did all the other stuff - disassembly, reassembly to both, then asked the fellow to spot which one had been chilled ... even better if they'd cryo'd 10 and not cryo'd 10 others ....

I think this is the only way to know something.
Every time a debate about materials start, there is this pseudo scientific assumption that only comparing two other ways identical pieces will give an answer.

This implies that geology, astronomy, sociology and so on are not science.

Only a statistical approach can give some sort of validity to the theory: you play 20 horns, and you consistently prefer the 10 frozen ones. Even this way, you are not sure that the 21st frozen one will be a good player. It is called "inductivist theory". It is not perfect at all, but in some case it does the job.

It might be still a bunch of BS, but I am sure that Walt Disney plays a cryo'd sax.
 

milandro

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good for him.....
1731717_1_l.jpg
 

tzadik

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Generally, before the cryo treatment the instruments don't need to be disassembled nor to be overhauled/readjust later. ;)
 

milandro

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obviously, as they also say in the video that you posted, the saxophone needs being disassembled before treatment , you cannot treat cryogenically the pads, cork and felt as you would for the body because they would pulverise. When you reassemble the horn, even if you don’t need to change the pads (and unless it is a new saxophone one would, because most of the cost is in the time not in the pads) , you will make sure that the horn closes perfectly, which will improve its sound.
 
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