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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey!

Just occurred to me that after a while I got a The Martin Tenor at the shop. It's been a while since I had the opportunity to do a premium overhaul on such a fine horn.

Since this is a proper place to exchange (more like asking, in my case, since my knowledge about acoustics is limited by the time I want to put on persuing the full deal) about this matters, and since we have an Acoustics AND Martin horns expert here...

Lance, have you ever done anything about the sharp edge on the underside of Martin's tone holes? It's by far the sharpest I've ever seen on any modern make saxophone. I mean you can cut your fingertip pressing against those... I understand that Benade says that ideally shouldn't be sharp edges because they cause turbulence and consequent perturbations, right?

Since getting rid of the protruding octave pips, conical neck tenon, non protruding resonators, no sharp edge at the port and many other suggestions you've made I share, have tried and I agree they make a difference (and a big one) I was wondering if you ever looked at that (I'm sure you have) and what have you done about them edges.
 

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very interesting plight ............ and how does the horn play in its present state? If it plays well, regardless of any sharp edges, would you or your client be risking changing its sound (for better or worse ) by altering this part ?
 

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... good point Milandro:is our (saxophone) world to be super-clean and perfect everywhere ? clean sax, clean sound, clean mouthpiece with "perfected" rails and baffles, etc.. Isn't the charm of these vintage pieces to be found in their being individually manufactured with various imperfections which give them their personality and their specific sounds ? If you look for cleanliness and perfection, buy a Yamaha...
J
 

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I like this apology of imperfection............coming from Switzerland! :) there is some message in this!

Jokes aside. I think that technical perfection is means to an end and the end is not the perfection itself but what the results of what we perfect. So if this horn plays great and there a re no problems it might be playing better if perfected.........and yet, it might not.

Only 36 Ferrari GTO were ever made, all by hand, none is exactly like any other some engines are more powerful than others (for no apparent reasons but no one is thinking of perfecting any of them) and at least in one case the driver's door is 1cm larger than the passenger door .........
 

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Fully agree with you: I gave up having my 3 GTOs being modified... and I should have said with "various differences" instead of "imperfections". And, of course, if the sound of this Martin is lousy (what I doubt), a try should be given to improve it.
BTW, I eat excellent matjes yesterday.
All the best
J
 

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Yes. They are pretty sharp. According to A. Benade, the radius of the corner should be no smaller than 0.05mm or something like that. It should be sufficient to take off any burr with emery paper. The formula for determining the critical radius is:

r = 0.1 X square root of (250/wave length (mm) of lowest note)

Like on a clarinet, if you round the corner too much, the pitch becomes excessively variable and un-centered.

I reamed out the throat of a mouthpiece the other day, that played really well. After the work, I tested it again, and it barely played at all. It felt like the reed wasn't sealing. I check the reed and the seal was fine. Still it barely worked. I actually checked to see if I had made a hole through the mouthpiece wall, that's how badly it responded. Then I noticed that I had made a small ridge, with a sharp burr on the edge, just past the end of the window. When I rounded off the burr, the piece played great.
 

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so you would advise to smoothen the tonehole in any case?
 

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I asked the question about rounding the edges of soldered toneholes directly to Peter Hoekje and he replied that it is always a good idea. I did it with my main flute and it does seem to have made the sound a bit smoother and darker. The idea is that turbulence forms at sharp edges and increases acoustic losses, soon reaching a point where it limits the maximum achievable dynamic. Benade calls variations around tonehole edges the largest determinant of differences between otherwise identical instruments, and says that microscopic changes in edge sharpness are significant.

I used 1200 grit emery paper wrapped around the soft plastic handle of a needle file to do the inside edges of the flute chimneys. With sax I might go with 800. Benade also suggests rounding sharp edges on the pad seats st the top of the chimneys, inside and out.
 

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....... Benade calls variations around tonehole edges the largest determinant of differences between otherwise identical instruments, and says that microscopic changes in edge sharpness are significant.



this, together with the MartinMods consideration about the radius of the tonehole being influenced by the type of metal used might be a very important explanation of the difference between the sound of similar horns or the difference with same horns made of different metals.
 

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I asked the question about rounding the edges of soldered toneholes directly to Peter Hoekje and he replied that it is always a good idea. I did it with my main flute and it does seem to have made the sound a bit smoother and darker. The idea is that turbulence forms at sharp edges and increases acoustic losses, soon reaching a point where it limits the maximum achievable dynamic. Benade calls variations around tonehole edges the largest determinant of differences between otherwise identical instruments, and says that microscopic changes in edge sharpness are significant.

I used 1200 grit emery paper wrapped around the soft plastic handle of a needle file to do the inside edges of the flute chimneys. With sax I might go with 800. Benade also suggests rounding sharp edges on the pad seats st the top of the chimneys, inside and out.
I recall you informing me of this in an email. You also rounded the tube edge of the embouchure hole, which explains your results. Altering the air-reed mechanism will of course, overshadow the effect of anything done at the tone holes.
 

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Thanks! .05 is about what I radius them on the top inner edge.
Good. The areas of potential turbulence at the tone holes are:

1. the bore/tone hole chimney junction
2. the surface of the overhanging pad (e.g., resonator edges)
3. the inner and outer tone hole rim edges

...but, don't forget about the body couplings, especially on the baritone.
 

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very interesting plight ............ and how does the horn play in its present state? If it plays well, regardless of any sharp edges, would you or your client be risking changing its sound (for better or worse ) by altering this part ?
That is the issue that the tech must be able to answer, according to A. Benade:

https://ccrma.stanford.edu/marl/Benade/documents/Benade-Practical-1985.pdf

"On customer's horns, whatever it is - DON'T DO IT! - unless you can say BEFOREHAND,

1. exactly what effect it will have on all playing behavior,​

2. exactly what evidence you have for doing it,​

3. exactly when this change should not be made, and​

4. exactly how to recognize when the "dosage" is enough.​

Learn the answers to these questions on your own Guinea Pig horns."
 

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thanks for the link and the words of wisdom.........I think that if the customer comes with a horn that he is happy with , unless one is positive that you can improve the horn in a manner that the customer would appreciate (and not one that would please you as a tech and perhaps a musician ) would be really unwise to suggest a modification that could have some far reaching effects. I remember a friend re-putting a dent in his mark VI's neck after a tech had taken it out without consulting him first.......
 

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I recall you informing me of this in an email. You also rounded the tube edge of the embouchure hole, which explains your results. Altering the air-reed mechanism will of course, overshadow the effect of anything done at the tone holes.
I did it to both my headjoints and one of the two flute bodies, so at least I have a sort of control, even though the flute bodies are quite different. It does seem to improve the clarity of the tone at higher dynamics in the body I did, which is most likely a result of the rounding of the toneholes (if it isn't simply my imagination).
 

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That is the issue that the tech must be able to answer, according to A. Benade:

https://ccrma.stanford.edu/marl/Benade/documents/Benade-Practical-1985.pdf

"On customer's horns, whatever it is - DON'T DO IT! - unless you can say BEFOREHAND,

1. exactly what effect it will have on all playing behavior,​

2. exactly what evidence you have for doing it,​

3. exactly when this change should not be made, and​

4. exactly how to recognize when the "dosage" is enough.​

Learn the answers to these questions on your own Guinea Pig horns."
Words of wisdom. Improvement is sometimes a subjective thing. Somebody might like the added resistance, or windy tone that turbulence causes, and may have gotten used to the way the turbulence affects the dynamic growth of a note. I took a Berg piece of mine and smoothed the baffle/chamber edge and the edge on the window. The piece got much smoother IME, but I'm not sure I didn't like that little bit of rastiness that was lost.
 

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thanks for the link and the words of wisdom.........I think that if the customer comes with a horn that he is happy with , unless one is positive that you can improve the horn in a manner that the customer would appreciate (and not one that would please you as a tech and perhaps a musician ) would be really unwise to suggest a modification that could have some far reaching effects. I remember a friend re-putting a dent in his mark VI's neck after a tech had taken it out without consulting him first.......
Perhaps you could contact the customer and tell him that you could do a procedure which would probably smooth out the tone of the horn some, and possibly make it slightly more free-blowing and a bit louder. See what he says. AFAIK there are no real bad side effects to getting rid of edges. See if he is interested in the possible benefits. Of course this is always dangerous, as the customer can blame anything on you afterward....
 

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thanks Kymarto, my " customer" was a purely hypothetical one ..........nevertheless I think that the approach of a technician should be exactly the one of suggesting this modification while being very clear as to the profound effect which could modify the sound in a way that, although perhaps predictable, Could manifest itself as shocking (one way or another) for the customer.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
so you would expect a tech to ask you, the customer who brought in the horn because of being either untrained, unwilling or unaware, to actually consult with you before, EG, adressing a bent body or post, or whatever? If for some reason the tech decides on the fly that the binding LH stack keys are due to a body being bent instead of other damage and he decides that he's straightening it for the same charge he estimated for disassemblying the top stack and file them hinges, would you expect him to call you?
 

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I would expect a tech to consult me before carrying out any type work on my saxophone that we haven't being discussing when I brought the horn to him to be fixed or for maintenance .

I would definitely expect a tech to double check with me before carrying out any work that is bound to have an effect not on how mechanically my saxophone plays but on how it acoustically plays.

I would be very angry (although I might be pleased with the results but that is beside the point ) that any such work would be done without previous consultation.
 
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