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I have learned by reading Benade and other saxophone research that the "harmonicity" of an instrument due to its internal geometry makes a difference in how the instrument feels to the player. For those not familiar with the term, "harmonicity" has to do with how close to whole number multiples the frequencies of the harmonics are to the frequency of the fundamental. When these harmonics are well aligned, they share energy with the fundamental and the player gets more volume and intensity for the amount of energy put into the instrument. When there is not good "harmonicity" on a note, the harmonics are moved away from their peak energy in order to lock in with the fundamental in what Benade calls the "regime of oscillation". The result is that energy is lost in the process which means the player has to create more input energy (blow harder) to get the same volume and intensity of sound.

An instrument with good "harmonicity" is called free blowing. An instrument with less than ideal "harmonicity" or leaks is termed resistant. The vibrations of the reed control the amount of air that goes into an instrument. Once you reach about mezzo forte, the reed starts to "beat" which means that it actually closes the aperture once each cycle. Once this happens, the volume of air going into the mouthpiece is as large as it can get. Trying to blow more air will simply close the reed off. Some may argue with this, but when we say one sax takes more air than another, what we really mean is it takes more air "pressure" to get the same volume or intensity.

We hear a lot about bore size from brass players. It is commonly understood that large bore instruments take more air than ones with smaller bores. The main difference between the brass instruments and a saxophone is that the saxophone "bore" is chock full of holes, making the actual diameter inside less critical. The other main difference is that the sound of a brass instrument is produced by the vibrations of the "lip reed", which understandably the player has more control over than the saxophone player does over his "cane reed". Brass players talk about "back pressure" which is another way to say "resistance". The long narrow tube of a brass instrument actually does create a resistance of its own, even without the effects of "inharmonicity". Just putting one's lips over a trumpet leadpipe and blowing confirms this "back pressure". When sax players put their lips over the end of the neck and blow the result is quite different.
saxoxlese- can you touch on harmonicity, etc. with the flute the way you did saxophone and also related to brass please?
 

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A friend, here on the Forum, and I were having a small debate about the effects of different horns, and we were hoping someone could help to sort out what the right line of thinking is.
Using the same 7* Link piece on two different horns, I seem to run out of air faster on one horn, than the other. Is that because the horn I run out of air on is more "free-blowing?" (Note: this horn was just completely overhauled, and has no leaks).
I ordered a smaller NY Link (5*) to combat this issue.
I think the bore of the sax and the mouthpiece tip opening make a difference. If I compare blowing through a coffee stirrer and blowing through the widest straw I can find, I will be able to blow a lot longer with the coffee stirrer because there is more resistance and my air will last longer. Blowing through the huge straw will end quickly because there is no resistance. I think anything that affects the resistance will affect the air flow. I might be wrong here but that is my perception over the years. I have played a more open mouthpiece and all of a sudden I'm running out of air half way through my line and am winded.

The other thing that can affect it on the different horn is the neck. If the bore opening on the new neck is bigger or the angle of the curve is different then I think that would affect resistance also. If the whole bore of the sax is larger that would also obviously..........
 

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I have played a more open mouthpiece and all of a sudden I'm running out of air half way through my line and am winded.
With wider tips this can be countered by using an embouchure closer to the tip, as you are then closing the reed off more. If you think about it the closer your jaw is to the ligature, the more the air just rushes into the gab between reed and facing.

So many factors can influence "perceived" resistance. But I still say changing mouthpiece radically is not the answer to dealing with what seems to be a more resistant horn.
 

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saxoxlese- can you touch on harmonicity, etc. with the flute the way you did saxophone and also related to brass please?
All I know about flute acoustics is that they are much simpler than saxophone acoustics, due to the fact that the body is cylindrical, and the fact that all of the tone holes are a uniform diameter. In a saxophone the natural resonant frequency of the length of the body tube determines the frequency of the reed's vibrations. The only time the player's oral cavity takes over is when the natural frequency of the tube has been weakened by using altissimo fingerings, permitting the playing of harmonics and multiphonics. I simply don't know if and how the natural frequency of the air column in a flute interacts with the "air reed". If a player on flute fingers low C and overblows each of the harmonics with good embouchure control, the pitches of the various harmonics may indicate the "harmonicity" of the instrument. I really can't say one way or another. A member who goes by the name Kymarto is much more knowledgeable than I am in the area of flute acoustics and even acoustics in general. You might want to send him a pm and invite him to participate in the discussion.

As far as brass instruments are concerned, all I know is that instruments with good harmonicity are said to "slot well" which means when the player's buzz is close to the frequency of harmonic the note "locks in". One would think that a brass instrument that "slots well" would be a good thing, but some players claim that it limits their flexibility to bend notes and pitches.
 

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I think the bore of the sax and the mouthpiece tip opening make a difference. If I compare blowing through a coffee stirrer and blowing through the widest straw I can find, I will be able to blow a lot longer with the coffee stirrer because there is more resistance and my air will last longer. Blowing through the huge straw will end quickly because there is no resistance. I think anything that affects the resistance will affect the air flow. I might be wrong here but that is my perception over the years. I have played a more open mouthpiece and all of a sudden I'm running out of air half way through my line and am winded.

The other thing that can affect it on the different horn is the neck. If the bore opening on the new neck is bigger or the angle of the curve is different then I think that would affect resistance also. If the whole bore of the sax is larger that would also obviously..........
I certainly feel a big difference in resistance when comparing different necks on the same horn using the same mouthpiece an reed. A a Yamaha C1 neck feels far more resistant than a V1 neck and a Selmer Series III neck feels more resistant than a the ref 36 neck I have. Is it possible to switch necks between the horns you are comparing?
 

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One day I'd love to try a bunch of necks on my 61 to see the difference. Although many people have said the original neck that came with the 61 is better than the modern necks. I'd just like to see for myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I certainly feel a big difference in resistance when comparing different necks on the same horn using the same mouthpiece an reed. A a Yamaha C1 neck feels far more resistant than a V1 neck and a Selmer Series III neck feels more resistant than a the ref 36 neck I have. Is it possible to switch necks between the horns you are comparing?
No can do, Claxton. The 10M has a double socket neck. Steve and I am on the same page. I spent 17 yrs working for a company that excelled in flow instrumentation (amongst other types). Orifice size and pipe bore size are everything, when it comes to flow rate (speed) and volume (amount of media being moved).
A smaller tip (orifice) will definitely speed up the air, while adding to the resistance (cutting down the volume [amount] moving into the horn.
 

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Other than at the tip of the mouthpiece, the size of the bore of the instrument and mouthpiece is so huge compared to the very slow air speed that it will not have any effect on a feeling (or actual) resistance to air flow. That doesn't mean that it won't affect "harmonicity" and its effect on a feeling of resistance; but there are no significant pressure drops due to air flow restriction anywhere in a saxophone except at the mouthpiece tip. If you doubt me, take the MP off and blow straight into the end of the neck. How much resistance do you feel (NONE!)

Frankly I suspect that a lot of the discussion of larger or smaller sax bores takes place without actual knowledge. I suspect that if you actually measure a bunch of sax bores you would find that some instruments that are often called "large bore" aren't really, and vice versa. Furthermore I suspect the biggest differences and the most important ones are around the details of the taper rather than just the size of the bore.
 

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Yes, the bore is huge. Essentially zero
Actual resistance to air flow.

And very low flow rate besides.
 

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No can do, Claxton. The 10M has a double socket neck. Steve and I am on the same page. I spent 17 yrs working for a company that excelled in flow instrumentation (amongst other types). Orifice size and pipe bore size are everything, when it comes to flow rate (speed) and volume (amount of media being moved).
A smaller tip (orifice) will definitely speed up the air, while adding to the resistance (cutting down the volume [amount] moving into the horn.
Although Dexter Played a 5* with a lollipop stick for a reed and got one of the loudest/ biggest sounds around.
 

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I think you automatically get a big sound that way.
I Played for many years on #4 Plasticovers in loud bands.

The thing was a cannon. Mostly on metal Bergs. 110 and 130.
Loud like trumpets. The volume was "all reed".

dsm
 

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I don't think bore has much affect on air flow. If I took my mouthpiece off and blew as hard and fast as I could directly into the neck of one sax versus another with a larger bore, I wouldn't feel much of any difference in resistance. Both would be very low. Same goes for mouthpiece chambers. Blow through the open end (that goes on the neck) of a big chamber piece versus a small chamber (but same tip opening). You'll get the same flow because the orifice (tip opening) has the same area. Necks might have a very tiny effect since they're the smallest part of the pipe, but not enough to determine if you run out of air sooner on a given note.

What does have a significant effect is tip opening and frequency. Larger opening = more air flow, obviously, and lower frequency = more air flow because the pipe is open longer in the same time slice.

What I think is happening in this case is that the horn that's taking more air has a leak. So it takes more air pressure and volume to generate a stable tone. The player automatically compensates for this without thinking, but the net effect is it takes more air not because the pipe is bigger, but because it has a defect which is causing instability that has to be overcome with more flow.
 

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I don't think bore has much affect on air flow. If I took my mouthpiece off and blew as hard and fast as I could directly into the neck of one sax versus another with a larger bore, I wouldn't feel much of any difference in resistance. Both would be very low. Same goes for mouthpiece chambers. Blow through the open end (that goes on the neck) of a big chamber piece versus a small chamber (but same tip opening). You'll get the same flow because the orifice (tip opening) has the same area. Necks might have a very tiny effect since they're the smallest part of the pipe, but not enough to determine if you run out of air sooner on a given note.

What does have a significant effect is tip opening and frequency. Larger opening = more air flow, obviously, and lower frequency = more air flow because the pipe is open longer in the same time slice.

What I think is happening in this case is that the horn that's taking more air has a leak. So it takes more air pressure and volume to generate a stable tone. The player automatically compensates for this without thinking, but the net effect is it takes more air not because the pipe is bigger, but because it has a defect which is causing instability that has to be overcome with more flow.
Maybe a leak, but I suspect differences in "responsiveness" or "free blowing" among horns are due to different degrees of inharmonicity.

The saxophone bore is far from perfect; the end is cut off at the mouthpiece; there are varying numbers of bends; at least one cylindrical portion where the neck joins the body; and varying numbers of closed and open tone holes down its length, depending on which note is being played. All these things mean it takes more energy to set the air column into resonance at the intended frequency than if the bore were a perfect cone.
 

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Maybe a leak, but I suspect differences in "responsiveness" or "free blowing" among horns are due to different degrees of inharmonicity.

The saxophone bore is far from perfect; the end is cut off at the mouthpiece; there are varying numbers of bends; at least one cylindrical portion where the neck joins the body; and varying numbers of closed and open tone holes down its length, depending on which note is being played. All these things mean it takes more energy to set the air column into resonance at the intended frequency than if the bore were a perfect cone.
No no no, it's way too early in the thread to have a perfectly rational explanation !
 

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Maybe a leak, but I suspect differences in "responsiveness" or "free blowing" among horns are due to different degrees of inharmonicity.

The saxophone bore is far from perfect; the end is cut off at the mouthpiece; there are varying numbers of bends; at least one cylindrical portion where the neck joins the body; and varying numbers of closed and open tone holes down its length, depending on which note is being played. All these things mean it takes more energy to set the air column into resonance at the intended frequency than if the bore were a perfect cone.
Your point is well taken, and you have given me an idea. I have a "keyless" alto saxophone that plays effortlessly down to low Bb. In fact that is the only note it can play without producing harmonics. I am going to compare that with playing low Bb on my leak-free alto and report back about the tone and "resistance".
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
After playing around with the 5* today, the size of the reed, as usual, seems to have the most effect on ease of playing. I can play it with a 3.0, but it's a LOT of work. A 2.0, though soft volume-wise, sounds really nice, but I get a burble on C1 that's pretty hard to get rid of. So, it's back to the 2.5's, which gives the best response, top to bottom. The 5* does allow me to not run out of air as quickly as the 7*, which was my original hypothesis.

As for bore size, if you had sensitive enough measurement equipment, I'm sure you could detect a difference, from one horn to another, so that's still up in the air, as to whether it really affects a player, enough to contribute to running out of air on one versus another.
 

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No no no, it's way too early in the thread to have a perfectly rational explanation !
LOL. Ok, now's the time (for rational thinking).

Darrell, you have a different horn. It will play and feel a bit different to your other one. There will be some subtle adjustments to be made as you get used to the different horn. Over a period of time, you'll adjust. Regarding air supply, air support, etc, the solution is to keep playing and practicing. Work with long tones, ballads, and air support with the diaphragm. That is what will solve air stream issues. There is also the fact that when playing long passages, you have to learn to breath in at the right time between phrases, and sometimes take a very quick deep-as-possible breath when you might only have a half beat to get that breath.

Just my 2 cents, but I don't think the horn or mpc is the real issue when it comes to 'air supply.' But you do have to allow a period of adjustment whenever changing horns or mpcs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Thanks JL. I was pretty surprised that the 10M makes me feel like I've taken three steps backwards every time I pick it up. It's getting better, though. This morning I made some real progress with the high register. That has been my weakest area with this horn. I hear ya, on catching breaths when you can, to keep things going.
That's something I realize will take some time to become second nature. I do like the NY Series tone I get with the new piece, though I'm not sure I gained much air supply help, going to a smaller tip with such a large chamber. It still takes a fair amount of air.
But trust me, I'm working on the problems, systematically, figuring out how to solve them by keeping at them, till I get it right. It's encouraging when you see progress happening......and it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Well, much as I hate to say, the STM NY is on its way back to WWBW. For starters, it wasn't the new piece I paid for, it was used. Next to that, it caused a gurgle in the low end that took two wine corks to quiet down, and even that wasn't enough, at very low air.
On my end, I just plain sound better on the HR 7* Tone Edge. I was beginning to hate the 10M, and it was all due to that piece. Once I put the TE back on, I was looking at life through rose-colored glasses, again. I don't think I'll ever again think I can do better, than what I get from that HR piece! Playing is a joy, again, and the M is back to sounding great, and problem-free!
Slap me, next time I talk about changing my set up, will ya?!!
 
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