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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just purchased a late 30's Martin Handcraft tenor. It has one annoying issue, air hiss on the middle D and D#. I determined it was sounding from the body octave pip. After doing some research here, it seems some have done mods to the octave pips but I'm not sure I'm ready to go that route yet if there are other possibilities (I have a chance to return the horn of not satisfied). Is modifying the pip a big deal if done by a tech? Or could anything else (just a small leak elsewhere, for example) cause this? Some people say a different mouthpiece can cure it.....I have 2 I've tried and they both do it. One thing I've noticed is, if I depress the octave key just enough to barely open it (not even really "visible"), then I can play the entire octave register without hiss. But I can only accomplish this by depressing the octave key and then "backing off"...not practical under real playing conditions. The other "solution" is to hit middle D and D# through embouchure changes...again, not practical and not 100% effective.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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Is modifying the pip a big deal if done by a tech?
I wouldn't recommend that unless the tech is a very good one that has experience of the issue and knows exactly what he/she is doing.

One thing I've noticed is, if I depress the octave key just enough to barely open it (not even really "visible"), then I can play the entire octave register without hiss. But I can only accomplish this by depressing the octave key and then "backing off"...not practical under real playing conditions.
Aha! That is something your tech should be able to easily accomplish. Way simpler than dicking with the pip (which sounds like it should be illegal in some countries anyway)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had the exact same thought. I might even be able to "test" it at home by placing a much larger temporary pad or cork under the thumb octave key and depressing it....it needs to be quite exact though, if it opens just a little too much...."hiss". Maybe a combination of that and some adjustments to the mechanism itself (I'm no tech, it doesn't seem like there's much adjustment that can be made there, but hopefully I'm wrong). I have a call into my tech but he hasn't returned it as of yet...
 

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I had the exact same thought. I might even be able to "test" it at home by placing a much larger temporary pad or cork under the thumb octave key and depressing it...
Except that you;d mess with the body octave pip opening.
 

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JS Crescent, JS NOS, Selmer SBA, Couf Superba I, Conn, Buescher, King
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Agree with some comments already made....

It IS possible that hisses on middle D and G, in particular, when you can identify the source of the pip itself, can be helped by mods to the pip. Shortening the pip, as has been suggested by as particular tech years ago (no longer on the board, so this is probably not too controversial to share) as a stock improvement can actually introduce a hiss, among other undesirable side effects.

There are quite a few different changes that may help to reduce or eliminate that hiss (but again before exploring any of these you want to be sure that the hiss is at the pip itself, and usually if it is you will hear it vary according to how high the octave pad is venting.

Before listing them, if you want to change anything about the pip itself, the best way to do it is to first remove the old pip, save it (unchanged) and then make the mods to a second pip, instead, so that if the end result isn't desirable (is worse than before) you can always put the old pip back in.

Avenues of address:

- change dept that the chimney/stem of the pip intrudes into the body -- this will change that hiss, but it will also exercise other effects, for example (as mentioned above) intonationally. The voicings of some notes will also change. Some people will notice those changes, some will not, some will like/dislike exactly the same changes.
- mouthpiece/reed -- changing mouthpieces (and thus tuning spots -- not just the mouthpiece's facing and other physical changes specific to the mouthpiece) and the reed will affect that hiss.
- change the venting of the octave pad
- change the venting of the pip hole by any number of methods -- there are too many to go through right now (this is its own topic, and most of it has probably been covered at one time or another in forum archives), but a good way that doesn't require changing the existing pip, physically, in a way that's hard to reverse is the hosiery fix Curt Altarac has posted to this board in this past. That is a good first line of inquiry, the Curt Altarac fix (maybe someone else did it before he publicized it, his commentary was the first place I saw that fix, personally). The neck pips (four holes, as if the top were a button) on some old Buescher True-Tone tenor necks points at the variety of other options open to experimentation. Usually, for me, a baffle inside the pip itself, made of plastic (which will degrade less and more slowly than most metal types) helps, but it can require some trial and error to make a workable baffle that achieves the desired result. I have a sheet of stainless steel, but it's harder to work with than plastic, so I usually still go with plastic first, and never get around to the stainless.

There are other things that should be explored first (as Pete suggested above, I think -- I can't see the preceding posts at the moment in my browser), but that list is so long it doesn't make sense to discuss it, other than to say if your horn's not tight before exploring the pip question you may end up fixing something that "isn't really broken."
 

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You should also keep in mind that no one out front can hear this, so the issue is purely an issue of the horn creating a minor annoyance to you. Some of mine do this, some don't; I don't even notice it unless I concentrate on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I actually thought of this and tested it. Last night I recorded myself, and as I suspected, I didn't hear it at all. The bad news is, I thought I sounded better haha. I suspect this was more mic placement, it was just a quick and dirty test. So as you say, it all boils down to how much it annoys me hearing it from behind the instrument. To be honest, less, the more I play it. And the amount of hiss fluctuates a bit even during one practice session, which tells me (as many have confirmed on this and other threads), it's also about your air pressure, embouchure, mouthpiece set-up, basically everything connected to the horn at any given time. I think even the "mood" of what I am trying to evoke effects it to a small degree. Now that I know this is not all that uncommon, my inclination is just to deal with it as one of the many idiosyncracies of playing a woodwind instrument. I wish it wasn't there, but it is. I may still have my tech go over stuff when I can get it to him.
 

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A solution that works most of the time is to take a small piece of panty hose and drape it over the pip hole. I do this on many of my vintage alto and tenor saxes. It eliminates the hiss and lowers the pitch. It's an easy experiment to try.
Paul Cohen
 

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Or it may be as simple as slightly chamfering a the sharp edge at the top end of the hole, to reduce turbulence of the air vibrating in and out.
 

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I have had Music Medic (Curt Altarac's shop) perform the panty hose trick on my Mark VI and Martin tenors and it 100% worked. I highly recommend this fix. You can test it yourself by stretching some panty hose over the octave pip and tying it around the neck or body tube (I had it placed on both pips on the Martin). If it works, find a tech who can properly glue a small piece over the pip.
 

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This thread begs the question, why is there a hissing sound on some notes that use the octave vent and not others, and what exactly produces the "hiss". Also, what effect does covering the opening of the vent with a cross grid of stretched fibers have on the air coming through the opening?

Guessing and "trial and error" solutions are fine as far as they go, but I think understanding the physics underlying the phenomenon would better equip players and technicians to transfer what is known to work in one situation to other situations that may be slightly different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm going to try the panty hose trick in the next night or two. I guess I could use thread to tie a small patch and secure it around the backside of the outer pip. For a permanant solution, I had no idea glue would be an option or that the nylon would last....but if so I'm sure my tech could do that for me.
 

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This thread begs the question, why is there a hissing sound on some notes that use the octave vent and not others, and what exactly produces the "hiss". Also, what effect does covering the opening of the vent with a cross grid of stretched fibers have on the air coming through the opening?

Guessing and "trial and error" solutions are fine as far as they go, but I think understanding the physics underlying the phenomenon would better equip players and technicians to transfer what is known to work in one situation to other situations that may be slightly different.
My physicist's guess would be that the hiss depends on the flow velocity and on the Reynolds number.

"why is there a hissing sound on some notes that use the octave vent and not others" - the octave vent will be positioned differently with respect to the pressure nodes and anti-nodes, depending on the note, and, flow velocity will be different.

"what effect does covering the opening of the vent with a cross grid of stretched fibers have on the air coming through the opening" - this radically lowers the Reynolds number of the flow out of the octave vent, and thus may change the flow from a turbulent regime to a laminar regime.

Note, I didn't actually estimate the Reynolds numbers for the flow in the octave vent, maybe Nederveen has some calculations on this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I tried the panty hose trick this morning but apparently it wasn't stretched tight enough over the hole so once I tried playing I couldn't even get a note to sound - the pad was off of the hole probably because the material was slightly "bunched". I was late for work so it was a rush test. I'll probably try again tonight. What I am reading here are "some horns do it, others don't". So there's no guarantee if I returned this horn and got another it wouldnt do it as well, or, I might actually be trading in one relatively minor (although "annoying") issue for a set of worse problems. I really like this sax, other than this one thing.
 

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I'm going to try the panty hose trick in the next night or two. I guess I could use thread to tie a small patch and secure it around the backside of the outer pip. For a permanant solution, I had no idea glue would be an option or that the nylon would last....but if so I'm sure my tech could do that for me.
Just cut a strip of the panty hose about 1" wide by 6" long. Stretch the mesh tight over the pip and then tie it off tightly on the other side of the mouthpiece. No string needed. If this works, you can get a more professional job from a technician.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
If what you mean by "the other side of the mouthpiece" is the front side of the horn, that is exactly what I did. (This is the body pip, not the neck pip). Maybe it just wasn't tight enough. I'll give it another shot tonight.
 

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I have no idea where the word "mouthpiece", that I used, came from. I need to proof read more. I guess I spend too much time thinking about mouthpieces. :scratch:
 
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