All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Saxophones HIgh pitch saxes

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,418
Locality
Sweden
The saxes that nobody wants. You could get nice delicate saxes for nearly no money at all. Hand burnished gold- or silver plated saxes with fancy engravings! Some players says they are unplayable. I've tried to put a cord inside the tube à la Erick Brand method. Now I'm thinking in another way: The high pitch sax can be a semi tone high compared to a low pitch sax. So if you play a A-440 on a piano it's a B on Bb saxes and F# on Eb LP saxes. The high pitch saxes are out of tune. But if I play C respectivly G on HP saxes it's better? Anyone who has tried this? Am I thinking in the right direction?

Players who are reading music must transpose thier charts. No big thing? But on the other side saxophonists who are playing by ear, they just play?

I think the tuning/intonation and mouthpiece issues remains. Older saxes are more or less suffering from this.
 

Ads

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,314
Locality
North West UK
You`d think that a longer neck would sort the issue (it makes the Cone longer so lowers the pitch ? ) but I`m sure that if it was that simple, every high pitch sax would have a long neck or there would be Neck extensions on the market
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Café Supporter
Messages
6,062
Locality
Minster On Sea
I've never come across a high pitch sax that's a nice convenient semitone sharp. I can't remember the figures but it's more like a quarter tone or a third. Anyway, it's not fixable with a longer neck. You can fix some of the notes but not all of them. If you stick a neck on that makes the thing the same length as a low pitch one then the lowest notes will be ok but as you uncover tone holes it'll get flatter and flatter and vice-versa - if you fix the top end the low notes will be sharp.
 

Dave McLaughlin

Sesquipedalian
Café Supporter
Messages
309
Locality
Paisley, Scotland
According to this article in Another Place, high pitch is (concert) A = 457 Hz, compared with the modern standard of 440 Hz. That's an increase of about 4%, whereas a semitone is almost exactly 6%, so high pitch is a little over a quarter tone sharp.

The trouble with making the cone longer is that it would affect high notes more than low ones. The length of the cone to the first open hole for a given note needs to be 6% longer than it is for the note a semitone higher. Adding a fixed length to all notes would screw up all those percentages.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
High pitch varies, depending on standard. But 457 is a common one. Unless marked otherwise, assume a high pitch sax is 457hz.

Best thing to do with hp saxes is get a bunch of similarly minded mates with them and form an hp band. If you need backing, drums are no problem.
 

Dave McLaughlin

Sesquipedalian
Café Supporter
Messages
309
Locality
Paisley, Scotland
You could play in a freezer. Or breathe some gas mixture that lowers the speed of sound by 4% - what that is is left as an exercise for the reader.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,418
Locality
Sweden
Thanks all.

Extend the tube can be an alternative. I know a guy, Jan Lundberg (established, managed and performed research in a unique project regarding development of the acoustical properties of saxophones (2002-2005). The participating company was the saxophone manufacturing company Julius Keilwerth AG) who bought a new Bb bassax that play out of tune. He extended the tube and made a new neck. So to extend the tube is one way. His Bb became a more a A bassax. Listen to the A basssax and the story. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R43kY-VkEk

To make an tapered rod/cord and put it inside the tube seems also to be an alternative. You are then decreasing the area of the tube?Text from Band Instrument Repairing Manual, Erick Brand.

hptolp.jpg
 
Last edited:

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,349
Locality
leicester
concert pitch has varied a bit over the years -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch

I just dug out my copy of Baines' 'Woodwind Instruments And Their History' -
"should one for any reason be obliged to use a sharp pitch instrument in a modern orchestra, the following remedies must be resorted to -
Flute: pull out the head joint by 3/ of an inch and bring the notes into tune with the embouchure. Much can be done with practice and a good ear.

Oboe: the only thing is conversion, an operation in which some repairers have been notably successful. Pieces are expertly spliced into the instrument in one or two places and then the whole is retuned. It is a long job however and expensive.

Clarinet: a method adopted by theatre clarinettists in the old mixed pitch days, in the lack of a flat pitch instrument, was to hang a length of thick string down inside the bore, having first frayed the end so that it will catch in the mouthpiece socket. This lowers the pitch uniformly by the requisite amount (apparently because in effect it narrows the bore and increases 'end correction' under the holes etc) but it makes the instrument tiring to blow and much of the brilliance is lost.

Bassoon: have the crook lengthened at the narrow end by an inch or more, pull out the joints a little and do the rest with the lip, assisted by flat-sounding reeds."

personally, I think high pitch instruments are best avoided - even if you lengthen the crook, the tone holes will be in the wrong place.
The only instruments you're likely to encounter that will be high pitch will be pre 1939 when international pitch was standardised at A440 and there were enough instruments made before then in the UK and USA at A439 or in France at A435 that fiddling around with a high pitch version would make little sense.
If you want a vintage tone, there are enough Martin Handcrafts, Buescher Truetones or Conn New Wonders available in low pitch at reasonable prices.
 
Last edited:

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
Extending the tube and lengthening the neck may work if the scale is bad to start with. But on a sax with a good scale is can't work unless you put quite a few extensions in - and maybe experiment with tuning crescents and tonehole heights/sizes and key heights.

Changing the neck taper can also affect intonation, so may help.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,723
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I agree with Altissimo on this one that no matter what you do "the holes will be in the wrong place". A is 440 hz and Bb is 466 hz. Each cent represents .26 hz and each hz comes out to 3.85 cents. A "high pitch" instrument at A = 457 is 17 hz or about 65 cents sharp.

One could conceivably lengthen the neck the correct amount to bring the first open tonehole C# down to pitch, but since the notes closer to the neck opening are affected more than those farther down the tube, the lower notes will get progressively sharper creating octaves that are too narrow. Stacking crescents into the tone holes thicker as you go lower would be a nightmare because the effects of the closed toneholes on those farther down the tube is cumulative.

In addition an expanded tapered neck would produce a "missing cone" with a smaller volume to replicate with the mouthpiece. I don't know what effect(s) this might add to the mix. I suppose you could push the mouthpiece much farther onto the cork to accomplish the task as far as the interior geometry of the mouthpiece would allow. But in reality, I suspect making a high pitch saxophone work at A=440 would be a "Fool's Errand" at best.
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
Messages
1,736
Locality
cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
Some tuning problems of chanters on uilleann pipes can be cured with a rush or wire inserted in the bore up as far as the first note which is in tune. The process is known as "rushing" the chanter. Not recommended for fences, however.

This is described in Dave Hegarty's "The Uilleann Pipe Reedmaker's Guidance Manual" published by An Chomhairle Ealaion. There may be stuff online, too.

It sounds very similar to that described above for clarinets. With the larger bore resistance to blowing might not be such a problem.

It would be interesting to try if an instrument could be borrowed. Otherwise you would have to take a gamble on ending up with a decently re-pitched instrument - or use it as a wall decoration.

If it works there could be a lucrative racket in it for someone!
:sax:.
 

B Flat

Senior Member
Messages
447
Locality
Melbourne Australia
I would have thought it would be necessary to move and re-size every tone hole as well as lengthen and widen the body to re-tune it.
Not a job for the weekend tech.
With the trouble some people seem to have getting a modern horn to play in tune I can't imagine why it would be worth messing around with.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
The width/taper doesn't affect pitch.

In terms of moving every tone hole, ideally yes, but you'd probably be able to play in tune if you only put three or four extensions in. But you end up with a stepped cone, which would be ugly and probably introduce its own tuning issues.
 

Ads

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,314
Locality
North West UK
No, the width and taper makes no difference, if it did, Yamaha 21s and 61s would be in a different tuning to 23s and 62s .....

I`d think moving a tone hole would be borderline impossible and certainly far from worth the hassle given that all the keywork would need to be modified , pillars moved the lot (It`d be easier to make a new body tube and mod the stack rods accordingly) - no wonder high pitch horns are pretty much worthless .

Reminds me of kids in the 80s with 1100 escorts retrofitting 1600 engines, then the brakes, then the suspension components, then the dash etc . may has well have bought a 1600 in the first place.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
Moving tone holes isn't difficult, but it's a lot of work. It's been done, for instance, to bring prized Louis Lot flutes into 440hz tuning.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,349
Locality
leicester
isn't difficult? Lets see, for a sax you'd have to work out exactly where the tone holes should be, cut the instrument up into sections, solder in narrow tapered brass rings to lengthen the body and move the toneholes further apart, resolder the pillars and posts back on, modify some of the keywork because the spaces between the holes are now different and hope the end result actually does play in tune when you're finished. Unlike a wooden flute, you can't make variations to the bore and undercut the toneholes to alter the tuning.

And that's if you could find a sax tech mad enough to take the work on - most sax techs tut-tut at you if you dare take a C melody in for a service, asking them to modify a high pitch sax would result in much bad language followed by vigourous ejection from their workshop.
Even if you could find someone willing to take on the job, how much would this insane tech charge you? Whatever it would cost, it'd be far more than just going out and buying a good sax.

I used to know a woodwind player of many decades experience who had an old Rudall Carte flute in high pitch - a beautiful instrument in African cocus wood, 1867 pattern keywork etc. Somehow, by pulling the headjoint out and with a lot of careful lipping, he could just about play it in tune. About 7 years ago, he bought a cheap Tevor James student flute and constantly raved about how good it was... the moral of the story is - don't make life difficult for yourself.

In theory you could use a mouthpiece with a long shank and with much effort with your embouchure and use of microtonal fingerings, you might be able to play a high pitch sax nearly in tune.... or you could just take the sane and sensible route...

A while ago I saw a high pitch vintage sax for sale on an American website devoted to selling vintage saxes at top prices and they claimed that you could just push the mouthpiece on further and play it a semitone higher than a regular sax... I think "poppycock" is the only polite phrase I'd be allowed to use by the moderators. The instrument's no longer for sale on that website, so they probably sold it to one of their unfortunate worldwide clients - an expensive ornament...
 

B Flat

Senior Member
Messages
447
Locality
Melbourne Australia
I contacted a local ebay seller who was selling an old Conn High pitched horn as a transitional alto.
I politely told him that the big H under the serial number indicated that this was a high pitched horn and he should make his potential buyers aware of this.
He basically told me to go jump and mind my own business.
It sold for $600 or so.
It was again up for sale by the same seller several weeks later, this time as a high pitched horn with no bids.
 

Popular Discussions

London
Paris
New York
Los Angeles
Sydney
Moscow
New Delhi
Top Bottom