Technical Neck length

sax panther

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#1
a question for all you lucky people owning multiple tenor saxes - are the necks on your saxes the same size, or do they vary?

I have a modern tenor, bought about 4 years ago as an ex demo. It's nice to play, but I'm always fighting to not play sharp on it. It's manageable, but requires a lot of concentration on my embouchure which I don't have to do with alto, bari or sop. I'd always put it down to my poor technique/embourchure as I came to tenor later than the others.

It's poorly at the moment and until I can get it looked at, someone has lent me an older tenor - clunky keywork, but I play much more in tune on it. I compared the two necks, and the older one is quite a bit longer than my modern one. Is this normal/common?

I've played the older one with the modern neck, and as expected, I'm sharp. I can't try the other way round unfortunately as the old neck is too large to fit in the modern one.
 
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#2
I assume not all of the instrument is sharp, otherwise you will be just adjusting the mouthpiece. In which case some notes may be over-vented which can sharpen them. The person who is looking at the other problems it has could always see if the venting might be a problem......
Setting Key Heights with The Balanced Venting Method

Saxophone Intonation: Uppers, Lowers, Mids Cut-in-Half

If it is one note only, then a crescent in the tonehole the note comes out of (roughly the next one below the closed pad) may solve it.
Tuning a Saxophone with Crescents

Or have you reconsidered your reed (type/strength) / mouthpiece combination recently?

Chris
 

saxyjt

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#3
I don't have enough exemples to make a definitive case here, but for what it's worth, my Drouet tenor's neck is 1/2 inch longer than my Yamahas 62's:

IMG_20181008_133650840.jpg


The Drouet also has a bigger bore diameter as one fits into the other. :w00t:
 

sax panther

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#4
I assume not all of the instrument is sharp, otherwise you will be just adjusting the mouthpiece. In which case some notes may be over-vented which can sharpen them. The person who is looking at the other problems it has could always see if the venting might be a problem......
Setting Key Heights with The Balanced Venting Method

Saxophone Intonation: Uppers, Lowers, Mids Cut-in-Half

If it is one note only, then a crescent in the tonehole the note comes out of (roughly the next one below the closed pad) may solve it.
Tuning a Saxophone with Crescents

Or have you reconsidered your reed (type/strength) / mouthpiece combination recently?

Chris
Coincidentally, the person who kindly offered to take a look at it is also called Chris J from Southampton - I didn't know you were on here!

I've been playing the same mpc on tenor for a while now. I'm generally sharp with all mouthpieces - it's less noticeable with a guardala studio (which is kind of backed up by a guardala playing altoist that I play with being generally a bit flat), but I find the berg much more reed friendly so have stuck with that. The berg is marked a 110 but is actually a bit smaller, and I'm using rigotti 2 medium, so not likely to be the open tip/hard reed combo that might encourage biting. I play a 7 tip and use 2.5s on alto too, but don't have a problem there.

Maybe it is just me, and it is manageable - but playing the older sax with the longer neck, I'm enjoying the freedom of being able to concentrate less on my embouchure and more on the notes.
 

sax panther

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#5
I don't have enough exemples to make a definitive case here, but for what it's worth, my Drouet tenor's neck is 1/2 inch longer than my Yamahas 62's:

View attachment 11502

The Drouet also has a bigger bore diameter as one fits into the other. :w00t:
You don't have enough examples? Better go sax shopping...

That photo shows exactly the situation that I've got.
 

jbtsax

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#6
Try this experiment and see what you get---put your finger over the small end of one of the necks and fill the neck with water. Then pour the water into a "graduated cylinder". Do the same with the other neck and compare the results.
 

Colin the Bear

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#8
Some mouthpieces don't like some saxophones. I suspect this is what you are finding. The suitability of mouthpiece to horn. The trick is to use one that suits horn and player and pocket. I've seen @jbtsax explaining how the volume of the mouthpiece needs to match the volume of the missing cone. Is this what's happening here?

If the internal bore of one is larger than the external bore of the other, I'm surprised you got an airtight fit.
 

sax panther

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#9
Some mouthpieces don't like some saxophones. I suspect this is what you are finding. The suitability of mouthpiece to horn. The trick is to use one that suits horn and player and pocket. I've seen @jbtsax explaining how the volume of the mouthpiece needs to match the volume of the missing cone. Is this what's happening here?

If the internal bore of one is larger than the external bore of the other, I'm surprised you got an airtight fit.
I stick with one regular mouthpiece, but have tried several - old ones, new ones, high baffles, low baffles, ebonites, metals.... I'm always tending towards the sharp side, so assumed the problem was me - until I played this other horn with the longer neck, and played wonderfully in tune without having to concentrate on it. The short modern neck fits fine in my modern horn. It doesn't get an airtight seal when I put it in the old horn. Ideally I'd like to try the old neck in the new horn, but this isn't possible.
 

nigeld

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#11
@sax panther - I don't understand what you mean when you say you play sharp on the modern tenor - if all the notes are sharp, can't you just pull out the mouthpiece a bit?
 

JayeNM

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#12
First off...do not fall into the trap that "I will play in tune on a horn with a longer neck than my horn". Or, "I am in tune on a horn with a long neck as opposed to a 'not long' one...."

I I'm always tending towards the sharp side, so assumed the problem was me - until I played this other horn with the longer neck, and played wonderfully in tune without having to concentrate on it. The short modern neck fits fine in my modern horn. It doesn't get an airtight seal when I put it in the old horn. Ideally I'd like to try the old neck in the new horn, but this isn't possible.
Be careful. It isn't that simple.

Next, as already noted, it could be your horn's current keyheights are off, thus causing the problem.

If the keyheights get set for proper intonation by your tech, and it is checked for leaks and all of that....and other sax players can play your horn in tune.....but you still cannot....THAT is the fair point where you can think "it must be me".

Thirdly (!)....if one examines a variety of Tenor necks, or Alto, Baritone, etc) they are in NO WAY the same length, bore, or taper. They may be more similar looking nowadays than 50 years ago, but there is no 'standard' length. The neck should be designed for the particular horn body. As JBT notes, internal volume may be more important than the length.

Digression: In an instance of hunting for replacement necks, one will (should) try to match up natural pitch of the neck with the horn, most importantly.

People tend to think they found a 'match' just because the tenon sizes are the same or the necks appear to be the same 'length'. Sometimes people fail to take into account that the curvature of the neck and the taper of the neck may in fact be different, but visually the necks appear the 'same length'.

I end digression with one of my favorite neck vids (again, apologies, I know this isn't EXACTLY the subject of your question). But it is a method which has always for me, produced a good match (intonationally) for 'unoriginal neck to original body':

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1d3ACFPGzU



Back to subject: report back to us after the tech work has been done. There's a fair chance the adjustments will resolve the issue.

IF you still play sharp, but your tech played it in tune, and perhaps a third player played it in tune....then it's probably you and/or your setup.
 
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jbtsax

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#14
A few more thoughts to add to the mix:

Key heights set too low throughout will cause the overall pitch to be flat which can be offset by pushing the mouthpiece on farther. It is unlikely that the key heights set "too high" would cause the sax to play sharp overall because opening the keys beyond where the notes are well vented has no further effect upon the pitch.

In the video, the "natural resonant frequency" of the neck determined by its length by the formula Frequency = speed of sound/(length x 2) is only one of the criteria a second neck needs to be a good match. The other is the degree or rate of taper, often called the slope. This can be calculated by subtracting the small diameter from the large diameter and dividing by the length.

Matching the physical length of the original neck gets one in the "ball park" and insures the fundamental of each tone will be the same as the original neck. Matching the taper goes the rest of the way and insures the tuning of the harmonics will match those of the original neck as well. Of course the taper of the neck is determined by the taper of the body tube which it is a continuation of.

Generally speaking, a neck with less taper than the original ie. a larger diameter at the small end will cause the octaves to play sharp. A neck with more taper than the original ie. a smaller diameter at the small end will cause the octaves to play flat. On necks we assume the large opening is the same, otherwise it would not fit well in the neck receiver.

Another important variable that is sometimes overlooked in these discussions is the "input pitch". On the tenor sax the mouthpiece pitch should be no higher than a G concert. The mouthpiece + neck pitch should be close to E concert.
 
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JayeNM

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#15
It is unlikely that the key heights set "too high" would cause the sax to play sharp overall because opening the keys beyond where the notes are well vented has no further effect upon the pitch.
Unless I am misunderstanding something....I actually do not understand this comment.

In final adjustment phase, I have had to drop keyheights many, many, many a time to bring a horn into a nicely tuned zone where one need not pull the mouthpiece way out to get the horn tuning to be acceptable.
Usually one can get it to a nice place where the keys are still open enough so as not to make the sax sound stuffy or feel too low, but dropped in height sufficiently to significantly improve a sax which is playing sharp.


My general assumption is always that, really, the horn didn't leave the factory with an intrinsic tuning issue throughout which was so bad as to render it 'always sharp' when the mouthpiece is set at an acceptable location (i.e. not hanging off the end of the cork).

Keyheight openings can be quite variable from horn to horn....

OP states he has used many a different mouthpiece with no improvement in result. It could be the neck to body relationship was poorly conceived/executed on a given model....but IMHO this is far down the list of "probably's"

This leaves poor keyheight adjustment, possible leaking, or user error as the likely culprits.

Also in my experience....an example Conn NW necks vs. Conn Artist necks (Tenors): they actually work quite well when swapped off of their respective horns, yet the neck specifications (particularly tapers if I recall correctly) are not the same; I would call them significantly different.
The tone changes somewhat, in nice and interesting ways....but the intonation remains darn good with the other's neck. Their natural neck pitches are quite close.
 
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saxyjt

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#16
Matching the physical length of the original neck gets one in the "ball park" and insures the fundamental of each tone will be the same as the original neck. Matching the taper goes the rest of the way and insures the tuning of the harmonics will match those of the original neck as well. Of course the taper of the neck is determined by the taper of the body tube which it is a continuation of.
Now I guess that would explain why modern horns tend to have a shorter neck. To allow for an F# key at the top of the tube. :confused2:
 

sax panther

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#17
@sax panther - I don't understand what you mean when you say you play sharp on the modern tenor - if all the notes are sharp, can't you just pull out the mouthpiece a bit?
can't pull it out enough. I'm still a bit sharp even if it's dangling off the end. I'm going to try recorking the neck, as all of my mouthpieces naturally want to slide down quite far on it.
 

saxyjt

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#18
can't pull it out enough. I'm still a bit sharp even if it's dangling off the end. I'm going to try recorking the neck, as all of my mouthpieces naturally want to slide down quite far on it.
I tend to have the same, having to always pull the mouthpiece so far it doesn't hold very well, when playing in an ensemble.

Could it be our internal taper that doesn't fit the horn?

So the question may be, what is your temper? Mental, Brass, Earth, Wind or Fire??? :rolleyes:
 

jbtsax

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#19
Unless I am misunderstanding something....I actually do not understand this comment.
Let me try to explain. Without going into too much detail there is an "end correction" when the soundwave of each note travels past the leading edge of the first open tonehole before it is reflected back toward the mouthpiece. The generally accepted value of this "end correction" is roughly 30% of the diameter of the tonehole. As the key height is raised starting with the key's closed position, the note vented through that tonehole will gradually become more clear and raise in pitch up until the height reaches approximately 30% of the tonehole diameter. Raising the key beyond this height has no further effect upon the pitch or the timbre of the note.

In final adjustment phase, I have had to drop keyheights many, many, many a time to bring a horn into a nicely tuned zone where one need not pull the mouthpiece way out to get the horn tuning to be acceptable.
My experience has been that when a mouthpiece needs to be pulled way out to the end of the neck to bring the saxophone down to A+440 it generally occurs when a vintage saxophone designed for a large chamber mouthpiece is played with a modern mouthpiece with a long narrow chamber. In order for the "effective volume of the long narrow chamber piece to be increased to match that of the "missing cone", it must be pulled out excessively. Lowering all of the key heights to bring the pitch of the overall saxophone down so the mouthpiece can be pushed farther onto the neck, in my opinion is not the best solution because it treats the symptom rather than the main cause of the problem which is the volume mismatch. I would prefer recommending the player switch to a mouthpiece with a larger chamber, or if that is not possible, to add an extension to the shank of the mouthpiece so to allow more of the mouthpiece to be in contact with the cork.

Keyheight openings can be quite variable from horn to horn....
I have not made this observation myself. It is challenging to find vintage saxes that are exactly the same as when they came from the factory so it is hard to compare those "original" makes and models. The more contemporary saxophones I have worked on tend to have key openings that are very similar to one another. A more likely possibility for widely differing key heights would be that some tech adjusted them that way out of personal preference or to accommodate a customer. The only reason I can think of for vintage saxophones to come from the factory with lower key heights would be that they have a narrower bore which translates to toneholes that are not as large, having a shorter "end correction" etc. I enjoy having these discussions with you (except for the part where I have to keep changing the font color back to black, when doing a multi-quote response :) )
 

JayeNM

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#20
Let me try to explain. Without going into too much detail there is an "end correction" when the soundwave of each note travels past the leading edge of the first open tonehole before it is reflected back toward the mouthpiece. The generally accepted value of this "end correction" is roughly 30% of the diameter of the tonehole. As the key height is raised starting with the key's closed position, the note vented through that tonehole will gradually become more clear and raise in pitch up until the height reaches approximately 30% of the tonehole diameter. Raising the key beyond this height has no further effect upon the pitch or the timbre of the note.
I absolutely agree with this.
My experience has been that when a mouthpiece needs to be pulled way out to the end of the neck to bring the saxophone down to A+440 it generally occurs when a vintage saxophone designed for a large chamber mouthpiece is played with a modern mouthpiece with a long narrow chamber. In order for the "effective volume of the long narrow chamber piece to be increased to match that of the "missing cone", it must be pulled out excessively. Lowering all of the key heights to bring the pitch of the overall saxophone down so the mouthpiece can be pushed farther onto the neck, in my opinion is not the best solution because it treats the symptom rather than the main cause of the problem which is the volume mismatch. I would prefer recommending the player switch to a mouthpiece with a larger chamber, or if that is not possible, to add an extension to the shank of the mouthpiece so to allow more of the mouthpiece to be in contact with the cork.
I also agree ...with 2/3 of this. In most instances, yeah, this sorta dynamic the OP seems to be having is more typical with old horns/newer mouthpieces.
(I had a funny/embarrasing situation with this myself where I had gotten a new mouthpiece as a tester, and was simultaneously working up a 50's 10M and a 40's Boosh. Didn't really know all the specs of the mouthpiece, just looked at it inside and out and made a quick visual determination.
When I playtested the Conn, she was way sharp. I made a note I'd have to get back to the keyheights in a few days; then I shifted my attention to the Boosh, which needed to go out first. When complete, I play tested her and again...way sharp. For a few minutes I was whacking my head against the wall trying to figure out how I had so badly regulated two horns in a row; was the old boy losing his touch ?...when it struck me : the new tester. I switched back to my Meyer 6 tester, and then my old backup tester ...and there ya go.


But in this instance, are we certain this is what the OP is dealing with ? Because his replies regarding failure of mouthpiece changes to improve the situation intimates otherwise, to me.
Also OP noted his horn is a modern one, not vintage.
Those 2 bits of info suggest to me it is either keyheights or the player...


But back to our discussion...I don't see why 'treating the symptom" as you put it....is necessarily a solution which falls short. If a player cannot get his horn to stop playing dramatically sharp and a tech can drop the keyheights without sacrificing clarity in tone; and end up getting intonation up and down registers which are in a nice, acceptable range , doesn't this solve the problem. ? Because to me...it's "problem solved". Nothing negative would come of this adjustment in such an instance that I can think of, and indeed customers have not reported any jack-in-the-boxes popping up later...

Mouthpiece shank extension, while an interesting mod, again seems to me to be something one does not resort to before giving keyheights a try....


I have not made this observation myself. It is challenging to find vintage saxes that are exactly the same as when they came from the factory so it is hard to compare those "original" makes and models. The more contemporary saxophones I have worked on tend to have key openings that are very similar to one another. A more likely possibility for widely differing key heights would be that some tech adjusted them that way out of personal preference or to accommodate a customer. The only reason I can think of for vintage saxophones to come from the factory with lower key heights would be that they have a narrower bore which translates to toneholes that are not as large, having a shorter "end correction" etc. I enjoy having these discussions with you (except for the part where I have to keep changing the font color back to black, when doing a multi-quote response :) )
Interesting comment and again I am not sure I have misinterpreted you. I do agree that by the time an older horn gets to ourhands, its optimal height regulation may well be far, far gone...simply because most work done on horns was likely concentrating on more pressing issues at the time (such as "Ohmigod ! why can't I play any notes below G ?!" and the like). You get a few decades of those sort of repairs to acute issues (without a past servicing addressing the more 'holistic' servicing steps)...and yeah, eventually that horn is far out of balance in a number of respects.

But I am not talking about keyheights when they 'come in' to the shop...I am talking about keyheights when they leave the shop.
From horn to horn, refurb to refurb, IMHO there can be quite a bit of variance in the keyheights.


But were you saying you have not observed that different models of saxes, some from different eras , some from similar - when set up nicely for that particular horn, can have different keyheights ? In your experience do such optimal keyheights remain pretty consistent ?

I ask because that hasn't been my experience. Most Martins, for one, tend to do well with lower keyheights than a Conn or Yamaha, for example. If I were feeling bold I might even say this is what they were designed with in mind. I also have found this with several other brands....setting them up to a pre-prescribed/standard keyheight schedule didn't get them quite dialed in where I wanted 'em to be. As I write this I am looking across the room at a Vito-Yamaha alto next to a 70's R&C, and indeed their respective heights are set at what I would consider to be significantly different. Not crazy dramatically so, but not negligably, either.

(Yeah, the color...just always thought it was a cool and underused feature on these chatboards...)
 
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