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(Selmer) Pennsylvania tenor middle D problem

ArielDave

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Malvern, UK
Hi folks. I'm a newbie on this site, although I have visited without registering quite a few times over the years. I have a small problem with a tenor... maybe one for Stephen Howard! First let me say that I have been playing sax off and on since 1965, which puts me in my mid 60's! I started on a brand new Lafleur alto which I had for Christmas 1965 when I was 11. I had weekly lessons for the next five or so years from an ex-pro who had recently retired from the cut and thrust. In 1968 I got a Grade 4 result and also switched to tenor. My dad bought me a Selmer Pennsylvania in the spring of 1968 and I still have it! I have no idea how old it is but it was old when I got it. Half the lacquer had gone in 1968 and not much has left it since! I struggled with the supplied Selmer 4C mouthpiece at the time and bought a Berg Larsen Slimline off my teacher, which I still have also. I got a Grade 6 in 1969, and continued playing through most of the 70's. I'm afraid that for various reasons over the years I have abandoned and then returned to blowing this old horn a few times, and I have made a new year resolution that now I am free of the shackles of work, a wife, and parent caring, I will once more dig out the Penn from it's recent 12 year slumber. (I must find a teacher, blowing alone is a bit lonesome). Anyway, introductions dealt with, here's the problem. Ever since I've had it (1968) the middle D blows as a middle or upper G if you lightly blow the note. If you attack it, it blows in pitch. Circa 1969 I had it looked at via my local music shop - no result. I was blowing it again in between 2003 and 2007 and during this time took it to MIRS (Musical Instrument Repairs and Sales) in Birmingham, UK. One of their guys looked at it and said he could only tell after a re-spring and a re-pad. I was a little sceptical, but as money was a little more plentiful by then I gave the man his cash and collected it a week or two later. Still the same! Somewhat crestfallen, the guy said, "A lot of those old saxes are like that mate. There's nothing more we can do." So there we have it. Is this true, or does someone know otherwise. On another note (ta-da!) I'd like to know more about the old hooter. I know it's nothing special, or worthy of the Selmer badge, but not much more. I have researched it in the past and got nowhere. It has the inevitable FOREIGN stamped on the bell. Studying photos suggests it may be a Kohlert but what age? Considering it was old when I got it I'm inclined to think it's late 40's or early 50's, but perhaps even late 30's. I doubt many were made 1940-46... Anyway, if you're still with me - thanks for reading this. Cheers!
 

jbtsax

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Are you sure it's a G and not an A?
 

Stephen Howard

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"A lot of those old saxes are like that mate. There's nothing more we can do."
Ah, that old chestnut.

Quite honestly almost anything could be wrong with it. I suspect very strongly that it's leaking. Anyone who repads a horn and then fobs you off with 'They're all like that, guv" probably hasn't done a decent job. 'Blowing through the leak' is a classic symptom.
There's also a strong possibility that the octave mech isn't working properly. If you fancy a hour's innocent entertainment you could always run through my Octave Troubleshooter:

The SHWoodwind F.O. Guide To Octave Key Mech Problems

Another possible cause could be leaks in the body tube - specifically around the crook joint.
And there's also the possibility that the wrong crook is fitted.
 

ArielDave

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Malvern, UK
Replying to 'jbtsax' - yes I'm very sure.

Replying to Stephen Howard - Thank you Stephen. May I say I've long admired your website.
I suspect it is fixable. I also have long suspected the octave key, but I have run through the mech before and actually bought your 'Haynes' manual on the strength of it. So far unfixed, but I'll look again.
I'd be surprised if the crook was a wrong 'un. Could be, but it looks correct in every detail, even to the point of a similar patina in the lacquer. Question is, is it worth my pursuing this, or am I throwing good money after bad?
I shall keep it whatever. Apart from 2 Teddy bears and a Christening spoon (!) it's probably the thing that's survived with me longest! Writing this thread makes me realise I've had it a few months short of 50 years... Strewth!
 

Stephen Howard

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Hard to say whether it's a keeper, a great deal depends on what work is needed to make it functional again - but with a bit of luck it'll be something small but pernicious.
Otherwise it's a pretty decent horn, given its 'humble' origins.
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
That is most unusual that a fingered D would produce the pitch of a G a 4th higher. It is quite common that the fingered D "overblows" to the 2nd harmonic above low D which is A2. Some saxes have a tendency to do this---especially tenors. The solution is usually to learn to "voice" the D in such a way that you control which harmonic sounds. There is no acoustic principle that I am aware of that would cause a D to produce a tone a 4th higher. I'm going to experiment on my tenor to see if I can "bump" a key somewhere that creates a G.

It may be something akin to a "Texas Shake".
 

InWalkedBud

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Canada
Does it have full pearls? I for one would love a Kohlert-built Penn tenor with full pearls someday.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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New Mexico, US
Question is, is it worth my pursuing this, or am I throwing good money after bad?
It is worth pursuing, the question becomes: is there a tech available to you who would share your interest in solving the puzzle ? Because when it comes to vintage horns with puzzling conditions, the vast majority of techs really have no interest in that sorta thing. Thus, the

"A lot of those old saxes are like that mate. There's nothing more we can do."

:confused:

If this is a Kohlert.....Kohlerts are NOT "like that".

So...it could be a lemon...but likelihood is there's still something yet discovered/resolved.
 

ArielDave

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4
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Malvern, UK
Thanks for the answers on here guys.
Excuse my ignorance, but I'm not sure what 'full pearls' are. I can imagine though... and I would say no, they're not.
I don't know that it's a Kohlert. I have been told it is likely that it is a Kohlert by the tech who repadded and sprung it in 2004. Looking at photos of other Kohlert's I see a few resemblances.
To answer Stephen Howard's suggestion that the crook may not be original, I can now assert my assumption that it is as I have found the same serial number stamped on the male ferrule of the crook as is stamped on the body of the sax just below the right hand thumb hook. In 50 years ownership I have never noticed that, or if I have I had forgotten long ago.
No I don't really have a tech near me. The 2004 overhaul was done by an outfit called MIRS (Musical Instrument Repairs and Sales) who were the 'go to' people in Birmingham (UK) for woodwind and brass over many years. They are now defunct, but one of their number is still operating, but I may travel further afield, maybe down to Stephen of this parish.
 

GCinCT

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Oneonta, NY
Thanks for the answers on here guys.
Excuse my ignorance, but I'm not sure what 'full pearls' are. I can imagine though... and I would say no, they're not.
I don't know that it's a Kohlert. I have been told it is likely that it is a Kohlert by the tech who repadded and sprung it in 2004. Looking at photos of other Kohlert's I see a few resemblances.
To answer Stephen Howard's suggestion that the crook may not be original, I can now assert my assumption that it is as I have found the same serial number stamped on the male ferrule of the crook as is stamped on the body of the sax just below the right hand thumb hook. In 50 years ownership I have never noticed that, or if I have I had forgotten long ago.
No I don't really have a tech near me. The 2004 overhaul was done by an outfit called MIRS (Musical Instrument Repairs and Sales) who were the 'go to' people in Birmingham (UK) for woodwind and brass over many years. They are now defunct, but one of their number is still operating, but I may travel further afield, maybe down to Stephen of this parish.
Full pearls are mother of pearl on all key touches including the side, palm, G#, and chromatic F#keys. I have full pearls on my Super 20. I like it very much.
 

ArielDave

New Member
Messages
4
Locality
Malvern, UK
Hi GCinCT. Thanks for the info. I imagined wrongly then. I didn't know it was possible to have pearls on the side keys. You live and learn don't you!
 
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