Tutorials

very sharp Eb

cannonballer

Member
Messages
38
Hi guys,

While doing longtones, I use a tuner and find that most of the notes chromatically up from low Bb to high F# are relatively in tune and require minimal adjustment of my embouchure. When i get to middle Eb, however, I find that this note is about 20 cents sharp. What can I do to fix this problem now that I have found it? I know I can lip it down and alter my throat to make flatten it, but it seems like I should have to do THAT much adjustment for this note. I am playing on a 4 year old selmer reference 54. Let me know if you guys have any suggestions!

Thanks,
JB
 

spike

Old Indian
Messages
2,279
You say most everything else is in tune, check how much that Eb key is opening, and try not opening it all the way, may just be wear on the felts allowing the pad to open too wide, I'm no sax doc but key heights do make a difference to tuning. shot in the dark but worth a try - gruss - spike
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
If it's key opening, it's going to be opening too little. Check D for full opening as well.

May be just the way this is. May also be the mouthpiece, is it the same with other mouthpieces?
 

spike

Old Indian
Messages
2,279
I just like to add this before any confusion sets in:

Although there is a point of diminishing returns, the basic rules of key heights are as follows: As a pad is raised farther from the tone-hole (venting is increased), the note becomes less resistant, more free blowing and the pitch becomes more sharp. As a pad is set closer to the tone-hole, the tone becomes more resistant, less free blowing and more flat.
 

cannonballer

Member
Messages
38
You say most everything else is in tune, check how much that Eb key is opening, and try not opening it all the way, may just be wear on the felts allowing the pad to open too wide, I'm no sax doc but key heights do make a difference to tuning. shot in the dark but worth a try - gruss - spike

That definitely might be the problem. Before it into the shop, can I ask if you might know what the average range of key heights is for the Eb key on an alto?
 

cannonballer

Member
Messages
38
Thanks for the response... Ive tried 2 different mouthpieces on it and both yield to the sharp Eb. Do you happen to know what an average key opening might be for the D and Eb keys on alto?
Thanks,
Jake
 

spike

Old Indian
Messages
2,279
Hi Jake, I've got no idea whatsoever, - the fact that one single note is 20 cents out, sounds like a job for the sax doc. Adjusting a key height can put tuning on the rest of the horn out of whack. A trip to the sax doc recommended. gruss - spike
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
If you look along the keys you can eyeball the height. It should be in a line with the keys on either side. If the tops of the keys are in line, check that the pad is properly seated in the cup and not sitting proud, which'll have the same effect.

However that's only an indication and the best fix is a technician. I'll also add the 20 cents isn't that much out. Many saxes are a lot worse.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,845
You say most everything else is in tune, check how much that Eb key is opening, and try not opening it all the way, may just be wear on the felts allowing the pad to open too wide, I'm no sax doc but key heights do make a difference to tuning. shot in the dark but worth a try - gruss - spike

Do this.

Your Selmer has adjustable keyfelt on the Eb key so if it's the keyheight it's easy to fix. You can also try, while you're blowing, to slightly press the E and F key and see hear/look if the pith is changing. If do longtones in various voloume, are you still sharp?
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,054
As was mentioned, adjusting key heights of "independent" keys whose travel is determined by the position of a felt bumper is relatively easy. In the case of the Eb which is normally a closed key, making changes will have no effect upon other notes.

I like to check the tuning of the 4th line D and while sustaining that note with a full tone, open the Eb key and compare. The target I shoot for is to have both the pitch and timbre match as closely as possible. Typically D2 on most saxes is slightly sharp. The pitch of the Eb can be adjusted by lowering the key opening by turning the bumper. You will find a sweet spot where the pitch can be lowered as much as possible without affecting the clarity of the note. If the note is still too sharp for your taste, lowering the key more will make the note sound "stuffy". This is where you investigate putting a crescent into the tonehole to lower the pitch further without hurting the tone.

Since the Eb also vents to a lesser degree out of the open low C tonehole, closing that key's opening can have a slight effect upon the pitch of the Eb as well. It also may help bring down the pitch of the D which it serves as the primary vent. Again it is a tradeoff between pitch and clarity of the note and going too closed can create other problems with the sound and response.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
If you look along the keys you can eyeball the height. It should be in a line with the keys on either side. If the tops of the keys are in line, check that the pad is properly seated in the cup and not sitting proud, which'll have the same effect.

However that's only an indication and the best fix is a technician. I'll also add the 20 cents isn't that much out. Many saxes are a lot worse.


Oops, just realised it's the Eb, which isn't in line with the others.... Try blowing a steady Eb checking against the tuner, releasing the key slowly. It'll drop into tune. You can probably adjust the opening by screwing in the adjuster in the keyguard. Just make a note of where you started.
 
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