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So, it's possible to get a tech to fix intonation issues?

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
I've been meaning to post this question. I've googled "key lift saxophone" but not really getting any results. I have intonation issues on certain notes on my SA5,
  • low Bb is quite sharp (5-10 cents)
  • Middle D, E are very sharp (10-15 cents)
  • High C plays flat, but with effort to adjust my throat, it's possible to get it right.

So, if I get my key lift adjusted, it's possible to fix these intonation issues? I think the Middle D and E are most critical for me, I can adjust the intonation by adjusting my embouchure (I think overtones & mouthpiece exercises help), however the D and E are just very sharp, no matter how much I try to bring it in tune.

Thanks!

Alvin
 
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Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
My high C# is also flat, but I think, like my C, it's more down to my embouchure than anything. I need to really concentrate to get both just right. Cheers for the info!
 
Messages
69
I know you're concerned about being in tune, however, 15-20 cents is not a lot, and a general audience is not going to notice it. I wouldn't worry about it too much, especially not the low Bb. You have to have a very good ear to hear that fine of an intonation issue.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I wish my saxes were as accurately tuned as that.
Adjusting the key heights can help and is worth a try, but a lot of it is down to the player....
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Hi Aubrianna Merry! Thanks for that, I didn't realize it was not too big a deal. I'm having a tough time getting say high C in tune with embouchure, but middle E and D would just drop to the base register if I adjust the embouchure super low, and that's with the octave key down :( Probably doing something wrong.

Hi Kev! I'm not sure if my sax is in tune or not really, but these are the keys my seiko tuner says is not green lol.

Cheers all!

Alvin
 
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jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
Hi Alvin

I'd suggest you lock the tuiner in the loft and don't look at it for six months. Play in tune by ear - if it sounds in tune, it will be. All saxes are out of tune to some degree, and learning to play what is, essentially, a flawed instrument is all part of the process of learning to play a sax. As long as nothing is dramatically out of tune (and if it is, it does need fixing) I suggest you forget the idea of trying to tweak the sax.

Jon
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Hi Jon!
Playing without the tuner I just think that the D and E are somewhat off tune to me, else to my ear the rest seem to be alright. Are these kind of issues also experienced by players with more expensive horns as well?

Alvin
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,924
You can check if there is any differences by playind D2 and E2 with the palm keys without octave key. So play a D3 and E3 without octavekey. Try some other mouthpieces and reeds as well. Otherwise I agree that you shouldn't look at the tuner too much.

What kind of sax are you playing?

Thomas
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Alvin, you should have no trouble playing in tune with this setup, just embouchure changes will bring it right. If you follow Jon's advice, you'll not only identify when something's out of tune, but also be able to correct it as you play, and this becomes automatic. However when the high C/C3 are flat, it points to pads being set a touch low.
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
@Thomas: Thanks for the suggestion! However I'm a little lost about the D2/E3 and palm keys, are those the notes at the highest register? I assume C1 is the lowest C on the Alto, C2 is the middle C? C3 is highest C (octave key + C key)? I haven't experimented much beyond the C key + octave Key (apart from C#)

I'm currently playing on a Hanson SA5, Vandoren Optimum Al4 and 2.5 Legere Signature

@Kev: I'll ditch the tuner then :) It's just those two notes that bug me the most. Can hear 'em being slightly off.

So back to my original question, it's actually possible to adjust "key lift" to help with a horn's intonation?
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,924
@Thomas: Thanks for the suggestion! However I'm a little lost about the D2/E3 and palm keys, are those the notes at the highest register? I assume C1 is the lowest C on the Alto, C2 is the middle C? C3 is highest C (octave key + C key)? I haven't experimented much beyond the C key + octave Key (apart from C#)

I'm currently playing on a Hanson SA5, Vandoren Optimum Al4 and 2.5 Legere Signature

@Kev: I'll ditch the tuner then :) It's just those two notes that bug me the most. Can hear 'em being slightly off.

So back to my original question, it's actually possible to adjust "key lift" to help with a horn's intonation?

You're right about the C3. If you are not familiar with these tones I think it's better to wait and concentrate on your D2 and E2. Try to play the tones even and play them in various volume. Try to blow the tones with full timbre. So from C2 - C#2 - D2 - D#2 -E2 in differnt patterns.

You can adjust the pitch on your sax with the keyheigts, by open up or close down the keys. It's done by thickness of the corks. How much depends on how you play, saxophone, mouthpieces and reeds. This is a job for a tech. As it goes for the tones D2 and E3 these tones can be hard to get at the right pitch on a lot of saxes. My The Martins are a little bit flat on these tones and so was my King Super 20's. Most keys are closed when you play these tones. D2, just the bow C+belkeys and the oktave key are open.

Thomas
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,335
Hi Alvin

I'd suggest you lock the tuiner in the loft and don't look at it for six months. Play in tune by ear - if it sounds in tune, it will be. All saxes are out of tune to some degree, and learning to play what is, essentially, a flawed instrument is all part of the process of learning to play a sax. As long as nothing is dramatically out of tune (and if it is, it does need fixing) I suggest you forget the idea of trying to tweak the sax.

Jon
I agree with this this 100%,all saxes are out of tune on some notes by varing degrees,if you learn not to use the tuner you will be able to correct this by lipping up or backing off certain notes by listening to your ear and adjusting where you need to.
Also be careful tweaking the sax as this might throw other notes out that were ok.

Brian
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Alvin, I'll go with the others in saying that all saxes are out of tune throughout their range a bit and you have to learn to compensate with embouchure.

But much more importantly, is that a bottle of Chateau Guiraud next to the sax in your picture? One of the very best Sauternes. A man of impeccable taste obviously!
YC
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
Hi Jon!
Playing without the tuner I just think that the D and E are somewhat off tune to me, else to my ear the rest seem to be alright. Are these kind of issues also experienced by players with more expensive horns as well?

Alvin

Yes, to a certain extent, although modern pro-level saxes usually have very good intonation. My Yanagisawa T992 is pretty much spot on, but when I play my old Buescher Aristocrat Tenor, it's a bit out. Funny thing is, though, after an hour or so of playing, the tuning issue disappers. It's not the sax getting better, it's just me getting used to it, and correcting without even thinking about it, just as Kev says.
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Hey everyone!
Just finished an hour's practice, without the tuner :)

@Brain: Cheers for the insight. And I don't think I'll be tampering with my baby after all these advice :)

@YC: Ah, I only drink dessert wine, one of my friends got me that for new years :D I don't know vintage of wine really :D

@Jon: Cheers for that. I think sometimes when I'm in "the zone", that happens, but usually I kinda tire out about the 1hr mark so :-/

Thanks for all the insight everyone!

Alvin
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,924
Hi Thomas, thanks for the clarification. Question: What does it mean by "full timbre"?

Sorry, I just translate words from Swedish to English. I guess there is an English word for this. In Swedish I use to say ”full klang ” so I translated it to ”full timbre”! I’ll try to explain it to you. This is my own way to achieve a full tone on the sax. So please take it for what it is.

When you’re blowing try to make each tone ”sing”. Bring out the tones as good as you can. Listen and let the tone sing in your head as if you’re singing. When the tones are singing in your head/body you have the right tone. I do different excersises to get a ”full tone” In every excesise try to make your sax sing as good as possible:
1. Long tones in variuos volume. Chromatic, different patterns, keys ….. Start with forte and in the middle pianissimo and back to forte. Hold the tone as long as you can. Start pianissimo – forte and back to pianissimo … .
2. ”Egalitate” excersises. Try to play each tone with same/even strenght. Every tone on your sax should have the same strength. Play in certain intervalls, patterns and keys.
3. Overtones excersises ( flageolet). These excersises are good for everything.

Timbre is in Swedish ”klangfärg” which we can say is tonecolour? Every tone has a groundtone and then a couple of overtones. So if a groundtone has for sample a frequency of 620, the first overtone is 2 x 620, the third is 3 x 620 … and so on. Overtones has different strenghts. The tones relative strength to each other decide how an instrument or human voice timbres. So when I say a saxophone has differnt overtones it means that the tonecolour is different. It sounds different. The tone of most modern saxes are ”clean”. So ”clean” that I often find them boring!?!?! Thats why I like older saxes, they sound different and I let them sound different too .

The other month the Swedish tenor Jussi Björling should have turned 100 years!! I could read , hear and see him a lot in media. We all think he is among the greatest tenors ever. At least I do. Maybe the best? But what made him so special? A person did an anlyse of his voice in a computer. The results was that his overtones was almost out of tune (sharp). If he sang a (ground)tone his overtones were pretty sharp. It was like that all the time. Differnt to other male singers. So what we think is good/great can in some way be nearly out of tune?

Back to the D2 and E2 that’s out of tune on your sax. You can turn something good out of this. My saxes are a bit flat on these tones. So I sometimes play the fingerings for E3 without octave key. The E2 comes out better this way. I like to play the song ”Paradise By the C” (B.Springsteen). It’s in E major and I use to play the long ending tone wtih E3 fingerings and then E2 regular fingerings and back to E3 without octave key. There is a difference between the E2’s but they are still E2 (it’s not that flat!). A good way to give some tension to a tone.

Sorry about my English.

Thomas
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Hi Thomas!
First, I think your English is perfect! No apologies needed. Thanks for the clarification on Timbre, I'm doing some of those as much as I can (overtones, long tones). I am pretty sure I have not spent enough time on volume control and even strength of tone, I will try to incorporate that into my practice :)

This is veering off topic, but I've been practising my overtones, I can get low Bb to low G to jump to the next register purely through throat changes, low A to B I need to tongue to get to the next register. Can't really do the overtones for middle C unless I slur up from B to C. So whilst I can do these... I'm not sure what their direct effect is on my sound? It's cool to be able to play most of the middle register without the octave key though :D

Thank you very much for the long detail explanation!

Alvin
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
I've been meaning to post this question. I've googled "key lift saxophone" but not really getting any results. I have intonation issues on certain notes on my SA5,
  • low Bb is quite sharp (5-10 cents)
  • Middle D, E are very sharp (10-15 cents)
  • High C plays flat, but with effort to adjust my throat, it's possible to get it right.

So, if I get my key lift adjusted, it's possible to fix these intonation issues? I think the Middle D and E are most critical for me, I can adjust the intonation by adjusting my embouchure (I think overtones & mouthpiece exercises help), however the D and E are just very sharp, no matter how much I try to bring it in tune.

Thanks!

Alvin

These problems (sharp middle D and E, flat C and higher) are typical of a mouthpiece with too small a chamber for that particular saxophone. I wouldn't worry about your key heights. Once the pad clearance is over 1/3 the tonehole diameter (not 1/2), it doesn't affect intonation anymore. If your pads are all set up very low, maybe it's something to look at, but the problem you describe doesn't sound like a pad height problem at first. What kind of horn and mouthpiece and reed is this?
 
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