• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.
sax.co.uk

Technical Pan-Am tenor flat high notes.

Messages
176
Location
Hastings, East Sussex
#1
Hi all, I have an old Pan-American tenor from around 1937. This is almost identical to a 10M, according to my tech who had just overhauled two 10M's, but lets not open that debate again! The horn has been well sorted, and plays well with no leaks, sounds great. Tuning and intonation is not as locked in as my more modern horns, but is fine until high F/F#. These notes are flat, regardless of fingering, mouthpiece or reed. The F I can just about get up with my throat, but the F# is noticeably flat. When the neck was re-corked, we saw that it had been extended, presumably to allow the use of more modern mouthpieces. My pieces are Ben Allen 20TD, a large bore piece, and I've tried my old metal link, which you would think would work well. Both these pieces need pushing well onto the cork, the link actually needing to be pushed beyond the cork. My Guardala high baffle screamer is being borrowed by a friend, so I haven't tried it. The F key seems to open a good amount, but I haven't got anything to accurately measure it. Any ideas? Key height? A neck issue seems unlikely cos everywhere else on the horn is o.k. Discuss :headscratch:!
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
Subscriber
Messages
5,714
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#2
I assume you are referring to the front high F fingering since you mention F# as well and vintage saxes don't have a high F# key. The opening of the F palm key when operated using the front F key can be adjusted to be as high as the key opens when played as a palm key. Doing so would make the note more clear and raise the pitch as high as possible. Beyond this the only other solution would be to push the mouthpiece further onto the cork, however this may result in other "short tube" notes being made sharp.

I might add that some players prefer the front F opening to be very small which facilitates playing altissimo G. As with most other saxophone adjustments in this area, everything involves a "trade off".
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
#3
We're talking about front F and F#? Try other fingerings, altissimo doesn't line up the same on every horn, especially one with an altered neck like yours. Start by adding the G# key. FWIW the front F is essentially using the F as another octave key, small opening works better on most horns IMO. Using the vent for manipulating pitch feels wrong to me, OTOH whatever works works.
 
Messages
176
Location
Hastings, East Sussex
#5
Thanks for replies-yes, I'm talking about front F/F# fingerings. Adding the G# to the front F does take it up a nads, thanks. The best high F# fingering I've tried is front F, right 1, side Bb, and Eb key, but even that has a tendency to blow flat. I know some of you say you don't miss the high F# key, but I do! Sonically, I can't hear any detriment, and it does give you more options.
 

spike

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,380
Location
Half way up a hill
#6
Just check the front/fork F mechanism that the F key is opening and venting sufficiently. There's nothing worse than having to play altissimo with complicated "grips". I had a problem on my horn with the F# using the fork F fingering and had to add the G# to bring it into tune until I noticed that the corks and felts had worn and become compressed so the F key wasn't opening quite as much as it should consequently F# was flat. G wouldn't pop at all unless I added all kinds of right hand acrobatic finger busters. As soon as I sorted that fork F key mechanism everything was fine and dandy again and I could play F# and G without any hassle. The more fingers that are involved in producing a note the more laborious it is playing fluidly in the altissimo register. I'm well aware that every horn is different and I've played on quite a bunch over the years.
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
Subscriber
Messages
5,714
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#7
We're talking about front F and F#? Try other fingerings, altissimo doesn't line up the same on every horn, especially one with an altered neck like yours. Start by adding the G# key. FWIW the front F is essentially using the F as another octave key, small opening works better on most horns IMO. Using the vent for manipulating pitch feels wrong to me, OTOH whatever works works.
Lowering the front F key opening generally makes the F a bit stuffy but acceptable. However it makes the front E unplayable.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
#8
Lowering the front F key opening generally makes the F a bit stuffy but acceptable. However it makes the front E unplayable.
Sure, but these are fingerings I all but never use. Palm keys have a better tone so it takes an unusual passage that the front fingering makes much more than playable to warrant a their use. In these cases it's always fast so a bit pitchy you can get away with.
But yeah there's an ideal height somewhere in the middle.
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
Subscriber
Messages
5,714
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#9
Sure, but these are fingerings I all but never use. Palm keys have a better tone so it takes an unusual passage that the front fingering makes much more than playable to warrant a their use. In these cases it's always fast so a bit pitchy you can get away with.
But yeah there's an ideal height somewhere in the middle.
In classical playing the front F is often used in the F arpeggio. The front E is used in the A minor or C arpeggio. When playing a written work there are certain note combinations that require alternate fingerings to be played smoothly up to tempo. When improvising the player can generally choose the combination and patterns of notes.
 
Messages
176
Location
Hastings, East Sussex
#10
I use both fingerings-there's a time and a place for both, I think. The F key opens the same amount whether using the palm key or front fingering-it is certainly a good few mm, around the same as the other palm keys. I've tried another couple of mouthpieces and the issue persists, so I'm sure it's the horn. High F# seems flatter than the F, but the side Bb key works fine for playing Bb-I don't understand the workings sufficiently to know how that key is supposed to give high F#! Thanks for all replies-I'm constantly fascinated by how these complex contraptions work at all!
 

spike

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,380
Location
Half way up a hill
#11
My very first tenor was a battered old King something or other.
Have you tried playing LH1 + RH 1 and 2 for F#. ?
Also in my experience your Guardala Studio should be ideal for altissimo regardless whether it's an original hand-made DG or a laser copy. Incidently I wouldn't describe the DG Studio as a high baffle screamer, the opening is "only" .117 and the chamber is fairly average.
 

ellinas

Senior Member
Messages
705
Location
Athens, Greece
#12
I would play horns of that vintage only with a large chamber vintage style mouthpiece ..... my ny stm and a couple hours of long tones seems to "cure" the flatness up there when I switch to a vintage sax. Just my .02
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
Subscriber
Messages
5,714
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#13
I use both fingerings-there's a time and a place for both, I think. The F key opens the same amount whether using the palm key or front fingering-it is certainly a good few mm, around the same as the other palm keys. I've tried another couple of mouthpieces and the issue persists, so I'm sure it's the horn. High F# seems flatter than the F, but the side Bb key works fine for playing Bb-I don't understand the workings sufficiently to know how that key is supposed to give high F#! Thanks for all replies-I'm constantly fascinated by sihow these complex contraptions work at all!
Rousseau in his book "Saxophone High Tones" states that the front F fingering is basically high A with the added opening of the F palm key. He writes that this fingering acts like an altissimo fingering producing the 3rd harmonic of A which is E natural, except that it is extremely sharp sounding closer to an F natural. The front E fingering produces the 3rd harmonic of G which is D and is even more sharp sounding a whole step higher up to an E natural.

Since the front F is based upon the A fingering, it makes sense that adding the side Bb would raise it a half step to high F#.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
#14
My very first tenor was a battered old King something or other.
Have you tried playing LH1 + RH 1 and 2 for F#. ?
This is sometimes a good one, there is some Bb fingering that ought to workl
Incidently I wouldn't describe the DG Studio as a high baffle screamer,
I do. It's pretty far from average -- I don't even make a piece that bright, even for the pop/ R&R players.
 
Messages
176
Location
Hastings, East Sussex
#16
Thanks, all, I've tried airstream and stuff, makes no difference. I tried your fingering, Spike, but I couldn't get the note to speak. I'll keep at it and try and work it out. Out of curiosity, is there a reliable way of measuring the length of the neck? A couple of others seem to have Pan tenors of similar vintage-would be interesting to compare neck length!
 
Messages
269
#17
Thanks, all, I've tried airstream and stuff, makes no difference. I tried your fingering, Spike, but I couldn't get the note to speak. I'll keep at it and try and work it out. Out of curiosity, is there a reliable way of measuring the length of the neck? A couple of others seem to have Pan tenors of similar vintage-would be interesting to compare neck length!
what reeds are you using/strenght ?
 
Messages
176
Location
Hastings, East Sussex
#18
It varies-I generally use RJS 3S, but I had a few 2.5 Ricos kicking around which seemed to work well. I'm actually using a RJS 3M at the moment, which sounds great. They're so variable, I've got loads of reeds kicking about, sometimes they seem to come back to life if you rest them for a while. I try to have several usable reeds at any one time, but they could be of varying strengths and brands!
 

sdt99

Member
Subscriber
Messages
180
#19
"When the neck was re-corked, we saw that it had been extended, presumably to allow the use of more modern mouthpieces."

That sounds like bad news to me, because it's messing with the relationship between chamber volume and the length of the cone so tuning will suffer at the extremes. I think determining the correct length of the neck is the priority.

Neck extensions seem like butchery to me. If players insist on playing a small chamber piece on an old horn they should get a mouthpiece shank extension before potentially ruining the neck. Or just play a large chambered piece.
 
Messages
269
#20
when i tried my Pan Am and found the position for my link on the neck, it is exactly the same position in distance on the cork as my Sequoia, i think you need to find out how much the neck has been extended and put it back to stock?