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. . .And I don't mean a drab, oval-shaped conversationalist!!

Supposedly the vintage Buescher horns have a "parabolic bore" akin to how Mssr. A. Sax himself originally made his horns. I hear in some circles (the legit crowd, I think) there's fractious disagreement and controversy over this subject & the effect it has on tone. :shock:

So -- Anybody know the lowdown on Buescher's Bore? Paulwl, perhaps?
 

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There are at least two schools of thought on this.

1) Buescher always used a parabolic bore (at least up till the 1950s).

2) Buescher only used a parabolic bore on the earliest, handmade saxes (due to the difficulty of making a parabolic mandrel).

No one, however vocal they are on the subject, has to my knowledge provided any attempt at proof beyond "Look down the horn, hold it up to the light, and watch the toneholes disappear." Sounds good until you realize that a bowed body tube could have the same effect.

Like so much else concerning Sax's intentions, this may ultimately be an issue of faith.
 

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According to Benade (Horns, Strings, and Harmony, pp. 209--215), only the cylindrical pipe and simple cone satisfy the requirements of a woodwind bore: ``These two familiar ones are the only Bessel horns with integral multiple frequencies, and therefore are the only musically useful bore shapes for use in reed-driven woodwinds.''

In other words, a parabolic bore, either convex or concave, wouldn't have the volume with frequencies 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., times its lowest mode frequency, which Benade finds critical.

Seems to me a parabolic bore, to the extent it's more than just marketing hype, is a Bad Thing.

Geo
 

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parabolic bore

paulwl-You're very correct about no one producing any solid scientific proof. That being said, I suggest that, having tried many various saxophones, the proof is in the way the saxophone plays. You've played modern saxophones and vintage Buescher (Aristocrat and before) horns alike, haven't you? Do you agree that there is a significant difference between them? I'm speaking of your overall tone being different, as well as easier-to-define physical aspects of playing, such as a noticeable vibration of the saxophone. I'm not suggesting that this is undeniable proof, but it certainly suggests a difference of some sort, right? What, if not a parabolic bore, would you suggest this is? If you perceive any difference at all, that is.

Until someone actually maps out the interior of them, you're right that it's just a matter of faith, although John Kelly would probably disagree. He had a .pdf article posted on his website for sometime that was very convincing, but it isn't there anymore and I can't quite recall it. Did you see that one?

p.s. We may have discussed this before on Classicsax. Forgive me for reliving it if we have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Aha!! No wonder there's a fractious debate. No one can agree whether or not it exists!!

Well, they sure do sound different, so it must be somethin'. It does seem like the curve in a parabola would do more to hinder than help sound waves, but then it seems like the curve in the bell would foul things up as well.
 

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parabolic bore

geo,

In Benade's Fundamentals of Musical Accoustics, he says that in order to preserve a desireable frequency ratio, woodwinds are limited in the types of air columns (bores) that are musically useful. He then names the "cylindrical pipe (e.g. clarinet) and the straight-sided cone (e.g. saxophones)..." So...you could be correct, but there isn't an arguement that even a supposed parabolic bore Buescher has for one side a straight-sided cone. The other, key-holed side of the bore is the point of contention. Also, it's possible that Benade a) didn't know of the possibility that early saxophones supposedly had said parabolic bores, or b) used modern straight-sided cone saxophones.

Also, to address your point that curved bore walls might be a "Bad Thing", Benade, in that very same book, says, "The net result [of having curves and bends in tubing] is that the speed of sound is increased within the bend, and it also has a slightly lowered wave impendence. Moreover, at the junction of the curved and straight pipe segments, one can have several types of wave reflections." This would include the entire bore of a saxophone with one side a straight cone and the other a parabolic cone and herein lies the reason why vintage saxophone purist like playing older horns. All of this is resting on the thoery that vintage instruments have a parabolic bore, but I firmly believe that they do. Sorry about the lengthy post.
 

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begging the question

Eric, great to see your name pop up here...Yes, we did sort of address this on classicsax.com forum, but IMO it generated more heat than light. The topic is ripe to be explored.

I dimly remember reading something by Kelly on this, but you're right, it disappeared quickly, and in any case it struck me as more of a screed than anything else.

Yes, I do notice a difference in vintage saxes vs. new ones. And between makes as well. But I wonder if anyone with enough experience to really know vintage hardware can even be a truly impartial user. It tends to re-map your mind's ear to prefer that sound (it certainly has mine).

Given that, I'm not comfortable with the idea that just because the player perceives a difference, it's due to the bore. It begs the question.
 

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Only one way to know for sure. Measure it.

Next time someone has all the keywork off their horn, take an inside bore micrometer like machine shops use and mesure away.

1 bore measurement every inch should tell the tale.

Until someone does, all we have is mouth noise.
 

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Parabolic Bore

Everyone is talking about measuring the inside diameter of the horn but would not the outside measurement of the tube reveal the curve of the bore also?
 

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In an ideal world a perfect cone makes the best saxophone bore. However, the mouthpiece/reed system prevents the possibility of the perfect cone coming to a point at the small end.

Also, it ain't an ideal world. The column of air inside the bore is warmer and denser near the mouthpiece due to body temperature and humidity. The "bulges" from tone holes also mess up the perfection of the cone.

The most obvious deviation from a perfect cone is the different slope of the taper from the tip of the neck to the open C# tone hole. Almost all saxes exhibit this characteristic, and the variations are numerous:

A. A "faster" taper from neck tip to C#, or

B. The entire neck is smaller than the rest of the horn (Benade calles this "necking in"), or

C. Inserts in the first part of the neck (common in sopranos), or

D. Most common, a combination of two or more of these deviations from a perfect cone

Before 1867, Adolphe Sax also deviated from a perfect cone starting around the bottom bow to the bell. None of this stuff really makes a parabola, but 19th century instrument makers used the term "parabolic" loosely. Theobald Boehm used it to describe his flute head joint before Sax, and those flute heads weren't parabolas either.

Using the term "parabolic bore" in a rather unscientific way has one important benefit - it confuses those who would steal an instrument design. Maybe that was the best reason for Adolphe Sax to use the term.
 

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Everyone is talking about measuring the inside diameter of the horn but would not the outside measurement of the tube reveal the curve of the bore also?
Presumes that the thickness of the metal + plating/lacquer is constant. Presumption pays off so litle in these matters, it just ain't worth it.

My guess is that the base of the parabola in the "parabolic bore" correspnds to the neck, like a previous poster implied.
 

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saxtek wrote:

"In an ideal world a perfect cone makes the best saxophone bore."

Please email me your technical references for this statement. Thanks.
 

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References

Horns, Strings, and Harmony. Arthur H. Benade.
Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1960

The Physics of Music, Readings from Scientific American. (Various Authors)
W. H. Freeman and Company (May be out of Print)

Fudamentals of Musical Acoustics. Arthur H. Benade.
Oxford University Press, Inc., 1976
 

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Went to look up the parabolic bore...
found this, which has sax's patent.

http://lachesis.caltech.edu/jayeaston/galleries/sax_family/sax_history/adolphesax history.html

The Saxophone is able to change the volume of its sounds better than any other instrument. I have made it of brass and in the form of a parabolic cone to produce the qualities which were just mentioned and to keep a perfect quality throughout its entire range.

Seems to me that the parabolic bore, more of a truncated parabola starts from the top ( maybe even the neck ) down... if its similar to the flute's parabolic headjoint which tapers out slightly in a parabolic curve. but the curve would only be obvious if you kept on for another half metre(?).
my opinion is that it is similar to the parabolic headjoint except on a cone not a cylinder.

Perhaps someone can run a computer simulation of a parabolic cone and a normal cone and see if the air slows down/???/...?...

As to whether buescher are parabolic... can someone take a high quality pic and try and fit it into a LARGE parabola? Then what about current saxes?...

Just my 2 cents :)
 

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picture

Hammer said:"As to whether buescher are parabolic... can someone take a high quality pic and try and fit it into a LARGE parabola? Then what about current saxes?..." --I think a side x-ray could possibly do the trick. One where you could see the straight-sided cone on one side and the (supposed) parabolic key-holed side on the other. I wonder if this would work? Anybody a medical doctor? :wink:

Good reference, BTW, Hammer. It's important to realize where our instrument came from, and its inventors true intent.
 

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The science angle is fun to think about, but it might not ultimately be all that informative.

Too, it strikes me that maybe the pro-parabolic forces are not even all that interested in looking into the question with precision instruments. There's so little to go on (except Sax' rather terse word) that they might very well be proven wrong about the parabola in Bueschers and other middle period saxes. This would leave them in the precarious position of having to defend their choices on purely esthetic terms.

This is something that their spiritual leader, Rascher, was opposed to. He believed there should be a higher dimension to it than esthetics -- in this case, doing justice to the intent of the inventor. The rationale is that the sax is one of the few invented, rather than evolved, instruments. (Of course you don't see people harrumphing over what they've done to Mr. Moog's synthesizer, but never mind that now.)

For chapter and verse on that topic from John Kelly, go here:
http://www.johnedwardkelly.de/texts/rascher.pdf
Most interesting reading, as are Kelly's "aphorisms" and "why art is not entertainment." He is quite the pamphleteer (as well as a phenomenal classical virtuoso). He even manages to fetishize "Resistance" (a quality Rascherians look for in a sax and mouthpiece) as a metaphysical essential of Art! The guy is hard, hardcore.

Note to Eric: Kelly now offers his acoustics essay only by snailmail, on application, at a charge of $5. Hmm... :?
 

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Oh, here's Eric now. Looks like we crossed in the mail...if "mail" is the word. :wink:

It's important to realize where our instrument came from, and its inventors true intent.
In so far as that "true intent" can be determined, intuited, or interpreted, anyway...Whatever one's saxophonic convictions, it would give a sense of grounding and roots to an instrument that sometimes seems to be almost anti-historical.
 

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In the end, wether it is a Parabolic bore or not wont affect the choices of those who play Buescher saxes. We play Buescher saxes because they are exceptional well made instruments, have great sound and intonation. This is what should matter to those of us who play Buescher saxes.
 
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