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I came upon a thread today in the Bb soprano mouthpiece section discussing the best mouthpieces for a vintage curved Conn soprano saxophone. Among the posts was a comment by one poster that mentioned "big bore" vintage sops and "small bore" Yanagisawas as if that claim was fact.

I may not have gotten the quotes exactly right, but the assumption was that old sopranos had large bores while modern sopranos have small bores, thus one requires a different mouthpiece than does the other.

The assumption about bore sizes is one that will always get a rise out of me. The subject goes way back and as I recall, I challenged that assumption before and do so again. The terms BIG BORE and SMALL BORE are tossed around as if they were fact.

Just today, I have three sopranos out on their stands while I test reeds and mouthpieces. Two are Yanagisawas (SC902 and S992) and the other is a 1928 Buescher TT (straight). I am testing two mouthpieces - both Morgan Vintages in 6 and 7 tips.

After reading that post, I once again got out my calipers and measured the tubes of all three sopranos. True, the measurements weren't inside diameters, they were outside diameters.

All three measured roughly the same at three different locations on the tubes. The S992 was a millimeter bigger at a point just below the A tone-hole. Other than that, all three soprano measured the same at just above the high F and just below the low Bb tone holes.

This to me points out the fallacies involving bore sizes, at least on sopranos, and especially in the mouthpiece section where one poster alleged that the Yanagisawas were "small bore" horns, while the vintage sops were "large bore."

For the record, the Morgans play great on any soprano, regardless of the horn's age or shape. Same with my Super Session J pieces, although the SS-J's lack the warmth of the Morgans.

Throughout my playing career I've owned curved Conns, straight Conns, MKVI, Bueschers, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Rampone, King, and a few Taiwanese house-brands of various labels. ALL played well enough with my favorite mouthpieces. Some had intonation issues that I attribute to the horns, not the mouthpieces (because I played those with all sorts of mouthpieces, new and vintage) . . . and CERTAINLY not to their bore-size. DAVE
 

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I always wondered about the physics behind the "large bore" vs. "small bore" discussion. For two different horns to play in tune, don't the bores have to be identical? Or do "large bore" horns have different distances between the tone holes, or different diameter tone holes?

Please, someone enlighten me on this matter.
 

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True, the measurements weren't inside diameters, they were outside diameters.
Why would you make a judgement based on outside diameters ?

It took me all of 3 minutes to measure the inside diameter at the neck of 5 sopranos.

What a surprise. Some were quite different, between 5.8% and 8.8% variance in size from the smallest bore I measured, quickly figured.

And 1/1000th of an inch adjustment on a soprano mouthpiece can change everything in terms of response and playability. So, why is it difficult to comprehend that such a large variation in initial bore size affects the way a horn plays?

And it isn't hard to imagine that the tooling for one brand or model is different than another.

Actually, why in heaven's name would anyone expect them to be the same ?
That makes no sense to me.
 

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I came upon a thread today in the Bb soprano mouthpiece section discussing the best mouthpieces for a vintage curved Conn soprano saxophone. Among the posts was a comment by one poster that mentioned "big bore" vintage sops and "small bore" Yanagisawas as if that claim was fact.

I may not have gotten the quotes exactly right, but the assumption was that old sopranos had large bores while modern sopranos have small bores, thus one requires a different mouthpiece than does the other.

The assumption about bore sizes is one that will always get a rise out of me. The subject goes way back and as I recall, I challenged that assumption before and do so again. The terms BIG BORE and SMALL BORE are tossed around as if they were fact. DAVE
Dave......afraid I am the party guilty of making the earlier post you've alluded to. In my defense, I can only say that I thought I had been clear in indicating this was my understanding based on what I thought I had gleaned from other's knowledge, not that I was making any individual claim to factual truth. I continue to see references to Rampone, Keilwerth, Couf, SML (I believe), and most of the true vintage sopranos (Buescher, Conn, etc.) as being 'larger bore', with Selmer and most of the more modern sopranos including Yamaha and Yanagisawa, and clones, as being of the narrower bore variety. Sorry my alluding to this understanding (or, misunderstanding) has perhaps upset you. Certainly, I wasn't meaning to start or feed into a controversy I didn't even know existed.

I'm a relatively new player still, w/ less than 2 years on soprano (Yani SC 902 and Buescher TT curvy), still sorting out my equipment and trying to learn from those farther advanced than myself as musicians and particularly so on soprano. I certainly consider both you, Dave, and Joe Giardullo, as being in that category. Am just trying to put 2 and 2 together, hopefully to gain a better understanding of the physics involved to attain an optimum fit in my set-ups....particularly the best overall matching of horn and mouthpiece. Final test, of course, is what works in experience, not in theory.

Had a quite recent phone conversation with Matt Aaron at 'SaxForte', discussing the difference in design concept of the R&C saxello and my Yani curved soprano, and how this might effect tonal quality and intonation. I understood Matt as describing the Rampone as being a larger bore design with which I might expect potentially a warmer, broader tone, but with intonation perhaps not so locked in, and especially so at the top end of the horn. According to him, the modern smaller bore geometry locked in intonation more reliably, but the price was loss of flexibility. (Don't wish to be creating any more controversy here.) But, this description was much in line with the understanding I thought I had already from many other posts read here on SOTW, and to a degree seemed to coincide with my own experience trying to best match up mpcs (both large chamber and squeeze throat types) w/ my own 'so-called' larger bore and smaller bore horns.

I find the topic to be quite fascinating, and apparently still very much open to any final conclusive agreement. Perhaps it's only one of many potential distractions on the journey. I haven't any personal axes to grind in this regard. Only am wishing to better understand how the effect of possible design differences of different components of my equipment either may help me, or make it more difficult, in obtaining the sound I wish to hear coming out of my horn.....and, I've still a long road ahead of me in that regard.

Sorry, if I've stirred the pot here....not my intention.

Peace,
Janusz ('museman')
 

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Sorry, if I've stirred the pot here....not my intention.

Peace,
Janusz ('museman')
You didn't stir the pot at all, Janusz. You spoke about a pretty well known aspect of horn design.

Dave declared the reality of variant bore sizes a fallacy in his original post.
That was "the pot stirrer", for sure.

Matt at Saxforte is exactly right in his descriptions. These are real things that can be quite meaningful to a player in finding the right equipment.
 

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According to him, the modern smaller bore geometry locked in intonation more reliably, but the price was loss of flexibility.
I think this is could be true, but most modern makers are not making larger bore saxes so we're usually comparing with vintage saxes. However, JK makes saxes with larger bores and their intonation is as good as any modern horn. In my opinion the bore is only part of the equation. Tonehole location and size is a huge determinate of saxophone intonation.

These ideas may have started with the clarinet, where it is now widely accepted that the old-style large bore instruments can never have as good intonation as the modern smaller bore horns.
 

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Thanks, Joe. Always, good to hear your input

And so sorry, for murdering your name. 'Gargiola'......gads, what was I thinking!
 

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I dont mind stirring a pot! I have a day job.

As for bore size, I would certainly like to understand this better myself.

A respected vendor here told me that Selmer is a small bore horn, and that Yanis, their copies, and Yamahas were large bore. He also told me the large bore horns were easier to play (move air through).

I played several sops today: A Semler Series II, a Yani, and 3 Yamahas. It may just be my imagination but the Selmer felt different as in a little harder to move air through. It also felt the best and sounded spectacular to me. Someone who was with me who knows nothing about saxes or sops thought the Selmer sounded best as well.

That said, the Yani felt alive to me and just sung. Ive never experienced anything like it.

Not sure what that has to do with bore size. I only know what the vendor told me (instrument repair shop as well), and what Ive read here.

But I think that means there is more to it than old horns are lorge bore, and modern horns are small bore.
 

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Why would you make a judgement based on outside diameters ?

It took me all of 3 minutes to measure the inside diameter at the neck of 5 sopranos.
Why would you make a judgement based on the ID at the neck? When I was trying to sort out the difference in response among a gathering of Selmer Ref 36 tenors, I measured neck opening IDs from .495 to .510". If those are the variations for tenors of the same model, why should similar measurements be the complete basis for characterizing bores?

There's gotta be a better way...
 

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Holy cow...I just got off the phone with a guy who has been repairing woodwinds for 30 years and he says he cant tell the difference!

Then he asked me why it even mattered.

Oh well....I was going to try and add something to this conversation but failed miserably-
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'll stick by my original post. So many folks spread so many myths.

Why measure the outside diameters? Because I don't have the equipment to accurately measure the inside diameter of a saxophone tube from top to bottom. Given the thickness of a brass/bronze tube, why NOT measure the outside differences? It certainly would tell you whether or not one model of saxophone had a larger or smaller bore than another model of saxophone.

I asked noted repair-tech Rheuben Allen once to explain the differences if there were any. He said if there was a difference, it was only a few thousandths of an inch, hardly enough to make a difference. I know clarinets have various bore sizes, at least that's what their marketing information tells us . . . and they are just hundredths of an inch in difference. If anyone can show me the measurements from top to bottom and compare them to other models (as mentioned in these posts), then maybe I'll believe the big-bore/small-bore thing, but until that happens, I am doubting it.

Museman and Janusz (did I get that spelling right?). No one is blaming you for what you posted. But these things are continually talked about as if they are fact. Rampone a big-bore soprano? Yanagisawa a small-bore soprano? Etc. - Beware of marketing. Large chambers, small chambers, vintage vs. modern mouthpieces? Finishes matter? Those things go on and on here on SOTW and if you want to believe all of that, enjoy it. But based on MY experiences with these various things, it ain't necessarily so.

When this subject came up before, I asked anyone to post their measurements - and no one did. Sure, I've been told about big-bores and small-bores many times throughout my playing life, but no one has backed it up. That stuff about Rampone vs. small-bore new horns . . . I don't buy that at all. I owned a Rampone tipped-bell, I own several modern sopranos and have owned many more, I've owned vintage sopranos and still have two. I haven't experienced any of those things you guys describe (as you were told). True, some of those horns played better than others, but not because of bore-size, and certainly not consistent with what you've been told by salespeople.

My supposedly large-bore Buescher sopranos don't have as big of a sound as my supposedly small-bore Yanagisawas, nor do comparisons bring out the things that supposedly are indicative of how you guys described bore-size results. That's because they all are basically the same diameters and lengths. And over all the models I've owned, I have not seen or heard the differences that supposedly come with small bores and large bores. And whoever claimed that it took more air to play a large-bore soprano than a small bore . . . what?! DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It appears that Joe and I disagree. He listed some measurements taken at the neck of five sopranos and claimed up to an 8% or so differential. I measured all of my sopranos using a dial-calipers and their alternate necks just now. Here's what I discovered . . .

Yanagisawa S992 straight neck .49"
Yanagisawa S992 curved neck .42"
Yanagisawa S901 fixed neck .49"
Yanagisawa SC902 curved neck .50"
Yanagisawa aftermarket solid silver straight neck .50+"
Yanagisawa aftermarket solid silver curved neck .50+"
Antigua 590LQ straight neck .505"
Antigua 590LQ curved neck .51"
KUSTOM (Taiwanese MKVI clone) fixed neck .51"
Buescher TrueTone serial 237XXX .365"
Buescher TrueTone serial 233xxx .39"

I am not convinced that the neck opening alone means much if anything, especially when discussing "large bore" vs. "small bore." And for sure, they vary, even among the same brands. But what does it all mean? Do my measurements conflict with the stories going around about vintage vs. modern (mainly that the vintage horns were "big bore" and the modern horns are "small bore")?

Another for sure - my two TrueTones are vintage alright, yet they have smaller neck openings (but inconsistent with each other) than any of my more modern sopranos. I regret any animosity that has arisen from this - all I want is proof that (and not that someone told me) this all means something in the overall scheme of things. DAVE
 

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I'm probably going to show my ignorance here, but isn't it more the taper of the bore that would give a different sound than the relative size of the bore?
 

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I don't know if this helps but my S6 and the TT measures EXACTLY the same perimeter below the Bb tone hole. BUT the distance below the tone hole to the flare is larger in the TT by 7mm. I just want to add that the TT is 7mm. larger than the S6, and of course the mouthpiece end is smaller in the TT.
Cheers.
 

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It's wrong to talk about "bore" on a saxophone... we use that term loosely here.

There's 2 variances as for "bore" of a saxophone, that's taper angle (conicity) and effective "bore" as in internal volume of a cone. Why internal and not external: beacuse you can't know if the sidewalls are coherend all over the horn. Presumably they aren't since the sheetmetal gets heavily worked on and then buffed. There's no way in wich measuring OD's can render accurate results. In order to asses internal volume you need to measure and preferably plot the inner shape of the horn/horn part, using 2 variables: lenght and ID, related in a continuous way. It would be nice to take at least 2 measures radially. This will give us both variables at a glance, Internal Volume and Taper (conicity angle)

"big bore" horns are more sensitive to air pressure. Meaning the intonation is less locked in. But you can work on stability of intonation sheddin', wich gives you a lot of room for microinterval exploration. A "small bore" horn will sound more locked in, with a stronger core all other things being equal. Here's where it gets tricky: a smaller conicity angle (a more "straight" horn) will be more spread and less nasal than a larger conicity angle. You'd end up with 4 types of horn: small(er) internal volume, larger conicity angle (early HN White kings, some italian Orsis) large(r) internal volume, larger conicity angle (Conns especially NW, Martins, True Tone bueshcers, Aristocrats up until 310k or so, Balanced Actions and SSS's, ) small(er) internal volume, small(er) conicity angle (Yamahas, Yanis, Selmers from SA80's on, etc) and large(r) internal volume, small(er) conicity angle (Conn Artists, Bueschers 400's TH&C, SBA's, 2nd series VI's ~100 to 140k)

The horns compared are not all equal, they share a design characteristic and not the exact same shape/size.
 

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What is the size of the bore? The neck opening at the tip? The diameter at the neck Joint? The bell diameter?
What about the degree of the taper?
Why do Keilwerths with their large bells have a smaller neck joint than most other saxes?
Why do Selmer Modele 22 and Modele 26 altos with their smaller bore at the neck have such a big sound?
How many people posting here have any concept whatsoever of how to design a saxophone?
Why not play the saxophone and decide whether you like it or not?
 

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I have a Cannonball big Bell tenor and a Barone Classic tenor. The Classic is a smaller bore than the Cannonball and I can say with out a doubt that I can play longer lines on a breath with the Classic. The Classic takes less air for sure. I find the smaller bore of the Classic make it respond to slight changes in air stream and embouchure more than the Cannonball which to me makes the Classic more flexible.
 

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Having measured the bores of several dozen saxophones for research, I can say that it is very difficult to measure the bore of any saxophone. Also, the rate of taper is very important and must be considered in the discussion of bores.
Without being a complete jerk, I can confidently state that over 90% of all saxophone players have absolutely no idea how big the bore of their saxophone might be.
 

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It seems to me that any conical shape that starts out with a wider aperture at the narrow end will continue to be proportionately larger as the conical shape proceeds to develop. Is that a wrong expectation? I don't think so. The small imperfections that may arise are not material to this discussion, in my opinion.

Dave's ID measurements posted above indicate a variance of over 20% between some horns, far more than the 8+% with the horns I measured.

The idea that this amount of variance likely doesn't mean anything in terms of how a horn plays is really counter-intuitive to me, and contradicts everything I've learned from playing a zillion sopranos. It's not that one is better or worse than the other. They are just different.

If you have a 20% bigger tip opening on your mouthpiece, it definitely means something. That's going from .065 to .078.
If you have a 20% bigger chamber in your mouthpiece, it definitely means something. Try swapping your Super Session for vintage Buescher piece.

Why then would a 20% bigger neck opening not "mean much of anything"?
 

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It seems to me that any conical shape that starts out with a wider aperture at the narrow end will continue to be proportionately larger as the conical shape proceeds to develop. Is that a wrong expectation?"
Yes, it is a wrong expectation. It might be correct if all instruments have the same taper angle (conicity).

If you have a 20% bigger tip opening on your mouthpiece, it definitely means something. That's going from .065 to .078.
If you have a 20% bigger chamber in your mouthpiece, it definitely means something. Try swapping your Super Session for vintage Buescher piece.

Why then would a 20% bigger neck opening not "mean much of anything"?
It does - but as a single characteristic, it is an incomplete measurement. Consider your mouthpiece analogies - are either tip opening or chamber volume the only characteristic that determines the response of the mouthpiece?

As to Stormott's two data points concluding that the smaller bore takes less air - that can all change with a single leak.
 
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