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Pitch Standards

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Does anyone know why some of the old German manufacturers stamped their saxes with pitches that are generally twice what we use today? e.g. 880Hz instead of 440Hz?
 

rhysonsax

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4,381
Good question and I don't know. But it's still an A, just an octave higher.

A = 440Hz is the A above middle C

and the frequency doubles for each higher octave, so the next higher A's are 880 Hz, 1760 Hz, 3520 Hz and so on. These all relate to exactly the same tuning standard as 440 Hz.

Rhys
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Thanks Rhys. Question came up because I saw an old german sax stamped 870 (i.e. 435). And others from the same maker are usually stampedwith the double frequency as well. We've a discussion going on about it at the woodwindforum.com, in case you want to follow it.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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Thanks Rhys. Question came up because I saw an old german sax stamped 870 (i.e. 435). And others from the same maker are usually stampedwith the double frequency as well. We've a discussion going on about it at the woodwindforum.com, in case you want to follow it.
Quite peculiar. 880 is 2nd octave B (H for the Alemans) on a soprano and high F# on an alto.
Could you please link us with woodwindforum?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Quite peculiar. 880 is 2nd octave B (H for the Alemans) on a soprano and high F# on an alto.
Could you please link us with woodwindforum?
No, 880 is the official pitch of the sax, it's equivalent to 440. i.e. standard low pitch. I was just looking (here) for info on why they use 880 instead of 440.

Sorry, I thought I'd posted a link, must have forgotten

http://woodwindforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4175
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
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5,545
Okay Kev, just proves that pitch is a black art.

Is that remotely humorous?
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Just to warp a few brain cells, my viols are usually tuned to A=415 which is roughly a semi-tone down on standard concert pitch of A=440.

I'm not entirely sure why we have the modern standard that "authentic" Baroque pitch is down at 415Hz
 

Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
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2,773
Martin Taylor tunes his guitar to 442Hz because it sounds better. Wish I didn't have cloth ears.
 

BigMartin

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3,904
Martin Taylor tunes his guitar to 442Hz because it sounds better. Wish I didn't have cloth ears.
As in "it's better to be sharp than out of tune"? The real problems start when everyone else thinks they must be flat and tune sharp themselves.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Martin Taylor tunes his guitar to 442Hz because it sounds better. Wish I didn't have cloth ears.
When guys do this they end up with a slightly different tuning that's not equal temperament any more (frets are too far apart). Many people can't hear the difference, but those who can....

My wife's guitar teacher does the same thing, although he sets the pitch by ear, not with a tuner, and seems to go a little higher than A=442.

Makes me wonder - Tv, if you were to tune up to A=440, would you adjust your frets as well? Methinks if you didn't it'd sound very strange indeed.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
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1,113
I often tune my guitar down one half step when I want to rock out, not so much for the sound but because it makes the strings a little softer thus makes playing bends and vibrato easier . It does thicken the tone very nicely too.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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When guys do this they end up with a slightly different tuning that's not equal temperament any more (frets are too far apart). Many people can't hear the difference, but those who can....

My wife's guitar teacher does the same thing, although he sets the pitch by ear, not with a tuner, and seems to go a little higher than A=442.

Makes me wonder - Tv, if you were to tune up to A=440, would you adjust your frets as well? Methinks if you didn't it'd sound very strange indeed.
If my frets were tuned accurately, I'm sure it would make a difference! [Frets on a viol, like a lute, are lengths of gut looped around the neck and tied with a weird knot (here). You then slide them down the neck to tune them.]

I have to play at both 415 and 440: 415 when playing with other viols; 440 when playing with just about anyone else other than a period instrument baroque orchestra. The strings being gut, don't like being tuned up and down and there's a very high risk of breaking a string - epsecially the top string - which is why I always carry spares. At least the top strings are fairly cheap at about £5, unlike strings 5 and 6 which are about £45 - £50 each.

I'm just beginning to get the point where I can think about adjusting tuning away from ET to make it more in tune - generally by narrowing the third.
 
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old git

Tremendous Bore
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5,545
Bit of a crossover here as weren't early guitars also gut fretted alongside the sitar?

Of course or coarse, early banjos and their African antecedents were fretless, so TV get your side cutters out and Andy, start digging with a sharpened screwdriver.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Hi OG
Obviously lutes and their relatives have tied on frets. I would suspect that early guitars did too. They evolved out of the vihuela (common ancestor of the guitar and the viol) into the vihuela de mano (see here ).

Fretting is a nuisance - they wear out, they have to be replaced, you have to taper off the diameter of teh fret gut as you move down the finger board, it is difficult to get the first fret to be a tight fit, and they go wandering. But they provide the tone of the instrument since in effect each stopped note is more resonant as it behaves more like an open string, with the fret in effect being the nut.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
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5,545
Never considered the damping effect of fingers on strings even if they did give me a cello to try out at school.

There were other problems with gut strings as a 1904 Model 4 Windsor (made in Birmingham, UK) Zither banjo once owned, had a split first fret with the top D string fret a little nearer the nut (in both senses of the word for banjo players) than the B, G and low D strings (open G Tuning).

These sax players don't realise how lucky they are and this aint an April Fool. Wonder if total lunacy can be achieved with a 14 string pedal steel guitar?
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
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5,946
Never considered the damping effect of fingers on strings even if they did give me a cello to try out at school.

There were other problems with gut strings as a 1904 Model 4 Windsor (made in Birmingham, UK) Zither banjo once owned, had a split first fret with the top D string fret a little nearer the nut (in both senses of the word for banjo players) than the B, G and low D strings (open G Tuning).

These sax players don't realise how lucky they are and this aint an April Fool. Wonder if total lunacy can be achieved with a 14 string pedal steel guitar?
Splitting frets is used by both lute and viol players to distinguish for exmaple between C# / Db
 
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