Tone holes


Try Hard Die Hard
Just a thought, I know that the different notes on a sax are formed by having tone holes at various distances along the length of the sax,but while I have been stripping old saxes down I have noticed that the size of the various tone holes of the same note can be completely different from one sax to another is there a logical reason for this or is it just that this particular manufacturer thinks you get a beter note with the hole at this particular size or is it some mathamatical thing...john


ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Just north of Munich
The starting point for this is that the tone holes need to be a certain size, relative to the tube diameter at that point, to get the sound wave to behave as if it's come to the end of the tube and not rush past. So an extreme example - Bottom Bb is a lot bigger than top Bb.

Then on top of that the effectiveness is changed by whether the holes below the current one are open or not. If the holes below
the current one are normally open (e.g. F has E & D open below it) then you can get away with a smaller tone hole than would otherwise be the case. And vice versa, a tone hole tha normally has a closed one below it or two below it needs to be bigger.

Other factors as well.

So it's a complex exercise. and the only real answer is to start reading up the theory....


Well-Known Member
Interesting question. I have asked myself the same question. We know that the the size of the tube and the tonehole placement on the body is important for the tone/sound. But how do they know the right dimensions of the toneholes?

I asked Peter Jessen ( how he did the tubes and toneholes. He told me he copy a tenorsax that he knew was a good player. His G-mezzosprano is a complete new construction so he had to work it out from scratch. It's is a lot of work to do a prototype. Benedikt Eppelsheim helped him with this.

When LA Sax constructed thier straight tenor they took an old smallbell Martin with soldered toneholes so the could "move" the toneholes on the bell so the tonehole came in right position. I guess the neck and tube/body was a Taiwan construction but the bow and bell toneholes/keys were constructed in USA. I don't know if the sax was manufactoried in USA or Taiwan. I guess Taiwan because the toneholes were drawn on the bell.


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