All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Strange intonation problem.

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
I've started having problems with lower notes on the G4M alto. I noticed when playing outside for the last few days, that the lower notes, D and down (bell and bow notes), weren't speaking properly. I had a look expecting to find a leak of some sort but I couldn't find anything. A quick blow and everything seemed fine but when playing with a backing track for a new piece the problem returned. I checked against the tuner. Everything is fine till I hit low D which is showing as a very sharp E on the tuner. The best I can get from the bell notes is about 20c flat but the low D is over 50c flat. If I try to push it up it jumps the octave but plays in tune.

Could it be the cold weather that's giving me this problem?
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Café Supporter
Messages
9,455
Locality
KIC 8462852
Could be G# leaking a bit, that's the first thing I look at and tighten when the low notes go off.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
Yes, sounds like a leak, cwould also be regulation causing the leak.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,056
Locality
I live in Exmouth Devon.
I've started having problems with lower notes on the G4M alto. I noticed when playing outside for the last few days, that the lower notes, D and down (bell and bow notes), weren't speaking properly. I had a look expecting to find a leak of some sort but I couldn't find anything. A quick blow and everything seemed fine but when playing with a backing track for a new piece the problem returned. I checked against the tuner. Everything is fine till I hit low D which is showing as a very sharp E on the tuner. The best I can get from the bell notes is about 20c flat but the low D is over 50c flat. If I try to push it up it jumps the octave but plays in tune.

Could it be the cold weather that's giving me this problem?

I'm confused when you say your low D is showing a sharp E on the tuner - which means its way too sharp, over a semitone, perhaps is showing a very flat D. Can you confirm which it is? I'm guessing the latter.

Re the cold weather, in an ideal world concert A is 440 hertz at 20ºC so tuning is always a compromise and yes very cold temperature will definitely affect tuning. I'm confused when you say your low D is showing a sharp E on the tuner - which means its way too sharp, over a semitone, perhaps is showing a very flat D. Can you confirm which it is? I'm guessing the latter, particularly as you go one to mention low D is flat.

If you're playing the notes below D cleanly but out of tune then you can discount a leaky G# IMHO. Easiest way to test if the G# is leaking is to play a low D and whilst playing press the G# spatula key with your left pinky and release. If theres a change in resistance or a weakness of tone then theres a leak on the regulating mechanism between the G# key and the regulating screw which sits on the bar above the G# key.

Key heights can affect tuning to a certain extent, but in this case if the Low Bb is flat then there are no more keys to raise to bring it up into tune.

I suspect that the cold weather is the overriding factor here.Try playing indoors and see if your tuning is acceptable.

Let us know how you get on.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
There's no leaks. I've given it a thorough check and I can play the the bell notes loud or soft..

Low D is showing a sharp concert E on the tuner. (Should be concert F).

I do hope it's the temperature. I've left it in a heated room overnight and will try it later. It's funny that the tenor doesn't suffer and the old weltklang baritone will blow in tune regardless, with a little assistance. apart from the ubiquitous flat palm keys.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Up date.

I've let it warm up and changed the reed. It's mostly in tune now. A few anomolies of a few cents here and there but it's within an acceptable range. The low D is still the worst culprit. Best I can get is 10c flat. I suppose It's been like that since I bought it and I've just noticed. I remember taking the old Lafleur on the continent busking in August back in the 80's. It didn't like the heat and wouldn't play in tune. The cold never seemed to bother it. I may have to resurrect it for the winter lol
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,723
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
You can check the opening of the low C key. If it opens less than about 1/3 the diameter of the tonehole, opening it a bit more can raise the pitch and make the D less stuffy. Another trick is if you play low D as a long note you can open the low C# with it to help the venting. I have found it quite common on saxes for the low D to be flat and the middle D to be sharp. In other words the octave is too wide.

Just one more observation. Cold air affects "long tube" notes more than short tube ones because there is a longer column of air for the speed of sound to slow down in. If that makes any sense.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Thanks for that jbt. It does look a little low so I've backed off the bumper for C# and I can feel the difference. I'll see if I can get into the habit of adding the C# key to low D. It's 2 in the morning here so I'll leave the long loud notes on the tuner till tomorrow.
 

Members online

Popular Discussions

London
Paris
New York
Los Angeles
Sydney
Moscow
New Delhi
Top Bottom