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Saxophones Longer=Flatter?

Reed Warbler

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617
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Marciac, France
Just bought a new Jericho soprano and ordered a Graftonite m/p at the same time, having heard that cheaper saxes usually come with dud accessories. Also borrowed a Selmer Super Session m/p to see the difference.
Using the same reed on each piece I preferred the Graftonite for its variety of tone, capable of soft and breathy, but when I checked the pitch it was very low even with the m/p almost at cork's edge. The other two m/ps were up to pitch. Standing all three on a table I can see the Graftonite is longest, then the Jericho, Selmer is shortest.
I'm pretty certain its not a question of my chops; should I send it back? Any one else had simslar issues?
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
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Longer can mean flatter - and also the chamber shape. There's a thread on here where guys have suggested adding material into the mouthpiece (could change the way it plays too of course), or even shortening the sax neck for a sax that is constantly flat. No good in your case as you can't add it back on when you change mouthpiece! You could ask for a replacement and see if you get the same problem.
 

Colin the Bear

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Not all mouthpieces will play on any instrument or by any given player for that matter. Why struggle to find solutions for a mp that doesn't work when you have one that does? Stick it in the drawer. Your opinion of tone will change as your chops adapt and settle on the mp that plays in tune.
 

rhysonsax

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Maybe the Graftonite just has the longest shank. If you can, just keep pushing it further onto the neck, beyond the cork if necessary, and see if it comes into tune.

There is no rule that says the cork has to be a particular length or that the mouthpiece can't go beyond where the cork finishes.

If you really like the sound of the Graftonite and can play it in tune, you have the option of cutting down the length of the shank - it is there to ensure secure fit on the neck cork and serves no acoustic purpose.

Rhys
 

kevgermany

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I agreew ith Rhys. Push it on further. Just make sure it doesn't go sharp at the top. If this happens pull it off a little until it's even, then lip up.
 

BigMartin

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I play graftonite B7's on S, A, T and B and they all need pushing on a long way, especially the sop.
 

Reed Warbler

Senior Member
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Marciac, France
My opinion of tone is independent of tuning issues. I like the sound of the Graftonite and the possibility of a husky tone at a cheap price. I'm just wondering why it's so flat. Sound is of prime importance, fundamental. I'm enquiring about length/pitch, am not about to settle on a piece just because it's in tune and hope it will sound better later.
 

rhysonsax

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Have you pushed it further on, beyond the edge of the cork if necessary, and does that bring the Graftonite into tune ?

In my opinion, Arnold Brilhart who designed the Graftonite and Metalite, was a real genius. His mouthpiece designs in the 40s, through to the 70s were great and they were used by many top players. But interestingly he didn't make a soprano mouthpiece until the Graftonite and Metalite for Rico.

Rhys
 

aldevis

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My opinion of tone is independent of tuning issues. I like the sound of the Graftonite and the possibility of a husky tone at a cheap price. I'm just wondering why it's so flat. Sound is of prime importance, fundamental. I'm enquiring about length/pitch, am not about to settle on a piece just because it's in tune and hope it will sound better later.

Actually tone and tuning are unfortunately related. I m not familiar with the Graftonite, but my favourite sounds on soprano come from mouthpieces that tend to be sharp on top. A good balance is the solution, with no need to constantly lip up or down notes.

Push it in and see what happens to the octaves.
Many modern instruments seem to be designed to play in tune with Selmer-like mouthpieces, but don't worry too much: soprano is not supposed to play in tune anyway:)
 

Linky Lee

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Salisbury, UK
Potentially the piece could be a harder blow, helping you achieve the breathier sound and this is also effecting your embouchure and therefore tuning. There are so many variables that it's almost impossible to isolate these kind of issues.

Play with different mouthpiece positions on the crook and if you can't find a balance where you can play it in tune across the range, I'd forget about it personally.
 

Reed Warbler

Senior Member
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617
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Marciac, France
Hardly any probs keeping in tune across the range.Only prob is that it is flat to concert pitch. Alarming posts about sawing a bit off the crook. Sanding the cork and perhaps sawing a bit off the piece are more attractive propositions for this DIY non starter. If I push the piece on further it will collide with the octave pip!
Upside of having a flat soprano is that my tenor now needs to show a bit more cork, result of lipping up practice on the soprano.
Many thanks for the advice, keep it coming but please keep it positive, a "no" I already have.
 

jbtsax

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If the chamber inside the mp will allow it to go on farther, but the shank is up to the octave vent then cutting 1/4" off the end of the mp is a viable option. There is no acoustic reason for that material to be there other than to give the mouthpiece more "grip area" on the cork.

Have you checked your pitch on the mp alone? C concert is the pitch generally prescribed for a soprano sax mouthpiece, same as the soprano clarinet, and oboe reed on its staple. This may give you a clue if the embouchure is working to your advantage.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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If it's flat by the same amount across the range of the sax, and the octaves are in tune, then the mouthpiece is in the correct position and you just need to lip up more and a touch more breath support. Experimenting with reeds may help. Experimenting with other mouthpieces may help as well, but it's more likely you. Don't let the need to lip up on sop make your tenor embouchure too tight. Keep the long tones going there and listen carefully to how tone changes as you tighten your embouchure.
 

Reed Warbler

Senior Member
Messages
617
Locality
Marciac, France
If the chamber inside the mp will allow it to go on farther, but the shank is up to the octave vent then cutting 1/4" off the end of the mp is a viable option. There is no acoustic reason for that material to be there other than to give the mouthpiece more "grip area" on the cork.

Have you checked your pitch on the mp alone? C concert is the pitch generally prescribed for a soprano sax mouthpiece, same as the soprano clarinet, and oboe reed on its staple. This may give you a clue if the embouchure is working to your advantage.
Just checked the Graftonite's pitch without listening to anything else first, got an unbiased C. Then blew a Selmer piece and had difficulty lipping down to a C, it wanted to give me Eb!! The piece that came with the sax also blows around C. So why does the Graftonite make the sax about a semitone flat when the others play in tune?
It's hard to be objective about m/p pitch because we use our chops to adjust in either direction. My test was made first thing in the morning, before I'd heard a note of anything. That's why I called it an unbiased C.
Will try sanding down a reed to see if softer gets a better result. If that doesn't work I'll chop 1/4" off the shank and report back.
Breath support isn't an issue, I've played trombone for decades and my bellows are in good nick.
The Graftonite is the piece that sounds least like an oboe for me, am after a mellow, breathy sound, not harsh and piercing.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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Will try sanding down a reed to see if softer gets a better result.

A softer reed should be even flatter.
Try to push the piece further in. If it opens the octave pip, close it with blue tac or with anything. At least you should be able to check if the lower octave is still in tune with itself. If it goes sharp around ABC, there is no point in cutting the shank.

P.S. My mouthpiece-only test is always all over the place. It is a good clue, but not a proof.
 

jbtsax

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Just checked the Graftonite's pitch without listening to anything else first, got an unbiased C. Then blew a Selmer piece and had difficulty lipping down to a C, it wanted to give me Eb!! The piece that came with the sax also blows around C. So why does the Graftonite make the sax about a semitone flat when the others play in tune?

The mouthpiece pitch checks your embouchure tension, not the mouthpiece per se. The difference in pitch of your various mouthpieces at the same position on the cork has to do with the volume inside the mouthpiece. If you are interested in comparing the geometric (physical) volumes of your mouthpieces, here's how I do it.

- Stretch duct tape over the opening to make it water tight.
- Fill the mouthpiece with water using a large graduated syringe.
- Calculate the amount of water expended by how much is left in the syringe.

Or you can:

- Fill the mouthpiece with water.
- Pour it into a graduated cylinder.

Please realize this gives only the geometric volume of the mouthpiece when the reed closes off the tip and the mouthpiece is off the neck. The mouthpiece "Equivalent Volume" is the volume of the mouthpiece in front of the neck with the reed opening and closing as it is actually being played. For those who are interested I have attached a pdf file showing the procedure and math used to determine a mouthpiece's "Equivalent Volume". It is this "Equivalent Volume" that must replicate the volume of the "missing cone" for the saxophone to play its best.
 

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Reed Warbler

Senior Member
Messages
617
Locality
Marciac, France
Thanks everyone, cork now sanded sufficiently to allow the Graftonite to completely cover it and almost touch the pip. The sax is now pitched in concert. It does mean that any other pieces may wobble on the cork but, for now, am well satisfied with the Jericho/ Graftonite combination and will stick with it.
I still find it strange that pieces should vary so much in length, makes them less interchangeable fitting on a cone. The bumpers (fenders) on minis are higher than those on Rolls Royces, same kind of weird, why not all the same height!?!?
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,957
Locality
Manchester, UK
Thanks everyone, cork now sanded sufficiently to allow the Graftonite to completely cover it and almost touch the pip. The sax is now pitched in concert. It does mean that any other pieces may wobble on the cork but, for now, am well satisfied with the Jericho/ Graftonite combination and will stick with it.
I still find it strange that pieces should vary so much in length, makes them less interchangeable fitting on a cone. The bumpers (fenders) on minis are higher than those on Rolls Royces, same kind of weird, why not all the same height!?!?
So that, if you get hit by two cars, there's a good chance your leg won't break in the same place?
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Thanks everyone, cork now sanded sufficiently to allow the Graftonite to completely cover it and almost touch the pip. The sax is now pitched in concert. It does mean that any other pieces may wobble on the cork but, for now, am well satisfied with the Jericho/ Graftonite combination and will stick with it.
I still find it strange that pieces should vary so much in length, makes them less interchangeable fitting on a cone. The bumpers (fenders) on minis are higher than those on Rolls Royces, same kind of weird, why not all the same height!?!?

I am happy that you found a solution that works. If I interpret your "fitting on a cone" statement correctly, you are referring to the cork being tapered like the neck itself. All of the corks I install on necks are sanded to be a cylinder to match the inside of the mouthpiece shank. In fact, when the cork is well lubricated, the mouthpiece goes completely to the end of the cork. I use the end of the mouthpiece as a guide to trim the back of the cork into a perfect circle with a straight edge razor blade.

 

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