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Well, the topic says it. My alto sax's c# (without the octave key) is plays quite flat. I can make it play in-tune but that needs a bit work (too much in opinion). My question is, what things I can do to make the c# play better in-tune? Alter key heights? Mouthpiece is a HR Meyer 6M with Vandoren Java #2,5's.

Thanks!
Tuomas
 

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This is a common problem on alto, and unfortunately is not easily redressable with key height adjustments, namely because to play C#, you don't press down any keys. (Shocker).

I brought this problem to a tech once and he said just finger the alternate C (the middle right side key, just above the Bb key) while you are playing middle C#, and it should bring it up in tune. It works for me when I have to sustain a C# for more than a beat.
 

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middle c# is always flat on alto. the easiest solution is finger the RH side C key only. it is a normal alternate fingering that will bring the pitch up and help the timbre at the same time.
 

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Another one that works on most saxes, and has the added benefit of sounding a little less harsh than open C#, is to press the octave key and the third finger of the left hand (G finger). This octave+G fingering, makes transitioning from C# to D smoother as well.
 

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A fingering I use in classical playing occasionally is low C# with the octave key pressed. Usually the pitch is higher and the tone of the note more closely matches its neighbor D. On some horns the tone of this fingering is enhanced by removing the first finger of the left hand. On others it makes the note sound worse.

You might have your sax checked by a tech who knows such things to see if your upped stack keys are too closed. This could be contributing to the problem. This is a bit complicated to fix since changing the upper stack openings has to be compensated for in the lower stack and in the Bis adjustment.

What I do in slow passages is use the "long C#" or the added middle side key. In fast passages the slightly flat C# is usually not an issue.

John
 

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after 30 years I never knew about this . One of the coolest things Ive learned here . good for long C#s on alto.
 

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I can usually get that middle C# in tune by lowering other pitches selectively.

I agree that the flat C# is a tricky one. If the whole rest of the instrument is in tune and the C# is the only flat note (that would not be common) than you may be stuck. However, if there are several sharp pitches like, :line4: to :space4: and the palm keys, it may be possible to bring these pitches down and get the whole instrument under control. This is not something I can explain in a forum post, I'm not that smart, but there may be a solution out there.

What kind of Alto is this?
 

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I also use (and recommend the use of) the 'long C#' fingerings wherever possible (with the 8ve key, oox|xxx or oox|xxxEb or oox|xxo or oox|xoo or oox|oxo or oox|ooo) to add substance and raise the pitch of the open C#, and the fact it keeps the right hand fingers down when going over the break to smooth out slurred leaps between open C# and D,Eb,E,F,F# and G.


Though it won't work on some sopranos that have the split open C# vent where part of it is closed by the 8ve key (except on the Yamaha YSS-475, 675 and 875 sopranos which have done away with it completely), and also the Selmer Series III altos with the open C# vent - which isn't much of an improvement of the open C# anyway, and more likely to be a headache when it goes wrong (and means C# is best played as an open note as opposed to being played with any other fingers held down - for people like me that like to put fingers down in advance when crossing the break on certain intervals it makes things very ermmm... interesting).
 

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jbtsax said:
On some horns the tone of this fingering is enhanced by removing the first finger of the left hand. On others it makes the note sound worse.

I use this a lot on my alto and tenor to create a better timbre for the pitch, however on some horns the G key (ring finger left hand) closes the C as well as a helper, so check with some things. blow your C# then continue to blow as you piddle through some strange, non-traditional key combinations and see what falls into place. Then practice that on occassion during scales so that it stays fluent...=)

- Pat
 

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Migraine777 said:
I use this a lot on my alto and tenor to create a better timbre for the pitch, however on some horns the G key (ring finger left hand) closes the C as well as a helper, so check with some things. blow your C# then continue to blow as you piddle through some strange, non-traditional key combinations and see what falls into place. Then practice that on occassion during scales so that it stays fluent..
I have played and worked on quite a few saxes and have never come across a G - C key connection. Does the G have some sort of "tab" that closes the A key with it and therefore the C (small top key) as well? I can't imagine what use that connection would have unless maybe for some altissimo fingerings.

John
 

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jbtsax said:
I have played and worked on quite a few saxes and have never come across a G - C key connection. Does the G have some sort of "tab" that closes the A key with it and therefore the C (small top key) as well? I can't imagine what use that connection would have unless maybe for some altissimo fingerings.

John
This is the first horn I've EVER owned/played that had this issue, and it's my Conn curved soprano, early vintage, probably mid 20s....lemme check the keys and I'll get back to you in a sec....currently waiting on an ebay auction to steal a sax stand for less than 2 bucks...=P

- Pat
 

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Now that I'm holding the horn in my hands, what is happening is that the G finger pearl is overlayed on top of the A key, which is purposefully overlayed onto the bis-B key. So when I use the 00x|xxx fingering for c# on this particular horn, it closes the tone holes to 0xx|xxx which is a ****** and flat altissimo E fingering...=P Oh well...I guess the keys are too damn close together...=)
 

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And on most old sopranos (Conn, Buescher and MkVI sopranos as well as the older cheapo Taiwanese/Chinese ones) keeping any RH fingers down when playing open C# will give C natural instead - so it's all fingers off for the C# and all fingers on for the D - unless you use the palm keys for the D, or low C# with the 8ve key for C#.

Were Yamaha the first to feature fully independant keys on their sopranos?
 

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Now that I think about it, I have seen that G - A attachment on sopranos and even some altos and tenors in which the arm of the G touchpiece goes across the A key cup and can be adjusted or built up with cork and/or felt to close that pad cup as well when the G key is closed. Does anyone know any reason or possible use for this 0 0 X | 0 0 0 fingering on the sax. Surely it didn't have an altissimo use on the early vintage sopranos.

John
 

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With the oox|ooo fingering and the 8ve key pressed, it keeps the lower 8ve vent open so making altissimo notes easier using fingerings where LH3 is held down (oboes also use the lower 8ve vent for the high notes above altissimo E, and also the 3rd 8ve key if fitted which has it's vent hole below the lower 8ve vent, but only opens a smidgin as it's venting is controlled by an adjusting screw).

Yamaha (23, 32, 62 and onwards) and Buffet S1 tenor saxes moved the LH touchpieces down the instrument so LH 3 is completely independant in it's action (ie. doesn't close any other pads apart from the LH 3 pad - as well as the lower 8ve vent when it's at rest).
 

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Yea I guess it's just assumed that people aren't strange like me and keep the LH G key pressed down when playing a C#...oh well. Old skool horns for the win...=)

But he's right about the altissimo, the G key keeps the octave vent open and I can "hop" easier, maybe that's why I use it, I've never really thought about it....I just instinctively do it now...

- Pat
 

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-TH said:
Well, the topic says it. My alto sax's c# (without the octave key) is plays quite flat. I can make it play in-tune but that needs a bit work (too much in opinion). My question is, what things I can do to make the c# play better in-tune? Alter key heights? Mouthpiece is a HR Meyer 6M with Vandoren Java #2,5's.

Thanks!
Tuomas

I cured a similar problem by switching from a mouthpiece with scooped sidewalls, like your Meyer, to one with straight sidewalls, although I cannot say why that might be, given all of the variables involved. An area for experimentation, perhaps.
 

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Mouthpiece bore size affects the tuning on clarinets - though I've never experimented with saxes in this respect to see how tone chamber size (volume) affects the pitch.

Only just this week I was working on a Uebel basset horn, and with the original Uebel basset horn mouthpiece with a large 16.8mm bore it played a quarter tone flat - so I bunged on an unaltered Selmer C85 120 Bb clarinet mouthpiece with a 14.7mm bore and this brought it all up to pitch.
 
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