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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Forgive me if someone else has already come up with this... and I'm sure I'll soon get a link if someone has... but here is what I propose as far as a sort of Mythbusters test to deal with this topic:

First we need to have a one piece saxophone built without any toneholes or keys; one that will play low Bb only. Sure, that one note makes for a boring test, but that's why we have overtones and that's how we'll test the upper range notes. We'll need one mouthpiece and reed set solidly which will be kept intact during the trials and one player per horn made. First the horn is played in bare brass, then the same horn is gold lacquered and tested. Next, we chemically strip the gold lacquer and use black lacquer for testing. After that, it's stripped again and silver plated, tested and then gold plated and tested. You could set up a variety of sound measurements, both objective and subjective, and of course record everything. Without keys and toneholes, stripping and refinishing the horn should be rather easy. Now several of these horns could be made and tested with one player testing the same horn as it's refinished and then have others do the same with the other horns. It would be easier to make one in each finish to be tested accordingly (as without toneholes and keys, many variables are removed), and that could be done as well, but to be thorough I wouldn't forego the first method.

Anyhow, maybe set up this way the Mythbusters might take it on. They do seem rather desperate for ideas these days.
 

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Good idea Grumps - and the test instruments would be so rare that they would acquire cult status, even though they only played the Bb harmonic series. You'd probably find that the most sought after was the prototype that had never been lacquered, "because somehow the tone is more spread/focused/warm/edgy/dark etc"!
 

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I like your idea Grumps, but I already know what the results will be.

-Should the test show that lacquer makes a difference in the sound, those whose long held belief that it doesn't will question the methodology of the experiment and dispute the results. They'll complain that more blind people should have been used in the experiment or something to that effect.

-On the other hand if the test shows that lacquer doesn't make a difference in the sound, those who believe it does will assert that the wrong kind of lacquer was used and that it was applied incorrectly. They will also claim that the player's preconceptualpsychobabbleacousticfeedback got in the way of them being an unbiased listener and therefore the results are invalid.

-The younger members of the forum will want to know if they can get the keyless saxophone in black nickel with cool engraving and want to know which mouthpiece sounds best on it (and which chord changes it will sound good on).

-And Uncle Phil will p*** and moan about how everone is wasting their time with this test and not practicing more and/or reading ads for his saxophones and equipment. :)

John
 

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The only flaw I can think of is how do you make sure the finish removing process does not effect the outcome?
 

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No need for players or listeners. Eliminate the slight differences and biases they might introduce into the tests. Build an automatic horn blower that always blows exactly the same way.

Record the tones with the best digital equipment. Do an FFT on the waveforms at each stage of finish variation. Compare the frequency domain data. The computer will spot any audible differences in partial frequencies at each step along the way.

Mythbusters can do this. But who would understand it or even care? And where there are differences, who will say which sound is better?

To anyone who might be taking me seriously on this: Not!
 

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test

How about purchasing a cheap alto in need of work, strip all keys, strip all lacquer, close off all tone holes

Play test

-bare,
-lacquer (spary can type)
-paint (why not), spray it with crinkle paint
-foam insulation (why not?)
-anything else you can think of? Duct tape? :D

Up the covering layer each time using a product that is a bit heavier. Use the same player reed ect. ect. The key would be that it would not take too long to do each step

Record the sax at each step.
Submit the recordings to SOTW in no particular order

Sounds like a fun non scientific project. Maybe I can get one of my kids in school to an independent study.

Hutmo
 

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Wouldn't that be a sin against the saxophone. I have a alto sax that i got for free and im fixing it up for a profit. I could always just repad it record it, take the laqour off record it, then relaqour it and record it. But that might effect the profit i could get from it. but i could always publish a book about my studies and become rich.
 

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While Al said he wasn't being serious, I actually think he has the right idea. A machine will be reproducible, and measuring it with equipment is more objective than ears, and can actually quantify differences.

I'd add a few other things:

- Use a fibracell reed, to minimize reed effects over time and moisture issues.
- Need to control acoustics, with a jig set up to ensure that all other things are exactly the same in the recording environment except the lacquer.
- Another variant would be to buff the hell out of the keyless sax (obviously after the chem-strip/relac variants) then test it again.
- You could also do other things like solder additional metal on, put on some "resonance" stones, etc., etc.

Pete
 

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We should all send this idea to mythbusters if we all keep sending our request eventually they would have to do it. At the end they could just bow the sax up so the stupid viewers would watch to.
 

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musicteen098 said:
We should all send this idea to mythbusters if we all keep sending our request eventually they would have to do it. At the end they could just bow the sax up so the stupid viewers would watch to.
You can take it from me that blowing up a sax makes no difference whatsoever to the sound. I've been playing a blown-up MkVI tenor since 1967, when it was very fashionable to leave a hand-greanade in the bell, and it sounds identical to my Selman soprano... etc etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If Mythbusters were to take an interest, you'd have to post the issue on their forum (meaning join it) and clue them in to the pages and pages of argument here on the site about it. They could make it part of a musical instrument myth show and include other myths for other instruments. So if anyone wants to join their forum, and take the time to gather all the links... never know.
 

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Grumps said:
If Mythbusters were to take an interest, you'd have to post the issue on their forum (meaning join it) and clue them in to the pages and pages of argument here on the site about it. They could make it part of a musical instrument myth show and include other myths for other instruments. So if anyone wants to join their forum, and take the time to gather all the links... never know.
Even better! You could solve the Stradivarius varnish question too: just get an old Strad, record it as is, then sandblast it and give it a coat of polyurethane, then sandblast it again and use house paint, then...
 

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The purpose of the test is to determine if coating makes a difference - not to evaluate the subjective qualities of the difference.

Take a body tube with sealed tone holes and perform two tests:
  1. band-limited impulse response
  2. two-tone intermod test
Perform the tests on the modified body tube with three coatings:
  • lacquer
  • bare
  • truck bed liner (that ought to do it)
To do the measurement don't use a reed/mouthpiece. Excite the body tube with a calibrated low-frequency transducer, 50Hz to 2 kHz should work. Measure the impulse response of the body tube using colored noise and/or swept sine. Measure the intermod distortion using a well-selected, probably low frequency set of tone pairs.

Edit: Added bare finish. It should be easy enough to evaluate in the order shown.
 

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Any well equipped university physics lab would be able to measure the acoustic impedance of the instrument with and without lacquer to do a spectrum comparison on several of the notes. This would remove the variable of the player completely and focus just on the acoustic properties of the instrument itself.

John
 

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Bub99 said:
[/list]
Perform the tests on the modified body tube with three coatings:
  • lacquer
  • bare
  • truck bed liner (that ought to do it)
Truck Liner.... Cool idea. I also like the idea of stripping the sax and buffing the bejeezes out of it after all of the testing is completed
 
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