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Any tips on how to check the intonation of vintage horns? How spot on should a Super Balanced Action be?
 

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tune your two As then play a very slow chromatic scale with someone other than you checking the tuner so you don't adjust. Ive passed on a few horns with bad intonation in the palms K
 

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there are lots of general threads on intonation, please do use the search function to find thme, they will tell you lots of things.

There are also specific threads on SBA intonation issues (real or supposed, your choice).

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?92349-Balanced-Action-Intonation-Issues
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?11333-intonation-on-super-balanced-action-selmer
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?239979-Sba-tuning


Anyway, the saxophone is obviously not like a piano (you depress a key and it comes out the sound of the instrument) and your embouchure, in combination with the mouthpiece is as much a component of the intonation as it is the one of the saxophone itself.

To some extent, no saxophone, vintage or otherwise, is playing everywhere along the scale “ in tune" but we players play it in tune (and what that measn is way more complex than playing against a tuner, that’s why you should read the body of work constituted by lots of previous threads that goes under the chapter intonation ) by continuously adjusting the ear-embouchure co-ordination.

When you buy a new horn or you test a new horn, your body has yet to discover how to do this and you have yet to find the best mouthpiece to facilitate the operation (for you, these things don’t exist “ per se”).

Some of the best players that I know play on a SBA and their tuning is second to none, but that’s because they are tuned to the horn as much as the horn is well tuned.

Music Medic promises also to adjust tuning with compensated venting and the use of crescents.

I am sure this would improve intonation but , to me, the process can only be carried out with the player present during the entire phase of the tuning and only after he has extensive experience on that specific horn.

http://musicmedic.com/setting-key-heights-with-the-balanced-venting-method

http://musicmedic.com/tuning-a-saxophone-with-crescents

 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Any tips on how to check the intonation of vintage horns? How spot on should a Super Balanced Action be?
As we all know , any saxophone is unlikely to be spot on - my test is to tune to a note somewhere around the middle of the registers where the tuning is likely to be most reliable. I find a G to be good, partly because I can play it with one hand while playing a corresponding note on a keyboard.

First I will check the octaves - if they are out it could mean several things including horn being inherently out of tune or badly set up or mouthpiece mismatch.

If the octaves are close enough then I check the notes chromatically, ideally against a keyboard but a tuner will do as long as you don't get too anal about it being "spot on"

Make a note of tendencies, e.g if it seems to be a bit flat overall, then it's worth pushing the mouthpiece on and relaxing your embouchure and be aware of trouble spots which are likely to be D in the second octave, B or C#. If notes from A and above are sharp it can point to a mouthpiece mismatch or neck octave issue.


tune your two As then play a very slow chromatic scale with someone other than you checking the tuner so you don't adjust. Ive passed on a few horns with bad intonation in the palms K
All good advice but is also worth checking with other notes to tune to, e.g. concert A is B on tenor which can sometimes be slightly out with many of the other notes.

I agree pay special attention to palm keys, but be aware if they can sometimes be fixed easily with key heights. If not then yes, it is just bad intonation and a horn you may struggle with forever.

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What is important to know is that it can take a while to "learn" a specific horns quirks, within a few minutes you may know if the instrument is going to OK with time or not.

re: SBAs , they can be a bit variable - my SBA alto seems to be reasonably spot on enough. I originally had a couple of issues (low B gurgle) which were sorted with set-up, mouthpiece choice and general approach to embouchure with that horn.
 
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