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One of the hardest things to deal with when trying to stay in tune is the temperature of the playing environment. It's always been a drag to play outside and have to deal with extremes of hot and cold. I have noticed since I switched to a JK Shadow (made of nickel), the effect that temp has is even more dramatic. I played a gig last weekend and could not lock into the pitch the entire set. It was outside, well into the 90's and in direct sun. I guess playing a black sax adds a bit to it all in that regard. even pulling out 1/4 to 1/2", the horn was still sharp. Or mostly flarp. My questions are as follows:

1. Why would Nickel be more effected by the temp with regard to pitch then my brass saxophones?
2. Which material would be least effected? (Copper, Brass, sterling silver, etc)

Since material doesn't effect the sound:argue:, wouldn't it be best to make one of a material that isn't so effected by the temp?
 

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The material isn't what affects the pitch, it's the temperature of the air.

As it gets hotter the metal expands, so you'd think the note would be flat, but no. It's the temperature of the air
 

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"flarp" that's a great word.
 

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The material isn't what affects the pitch, it's the temperature of the air.
The material type or finish could potentially affect the air temp inside if the instrument is in direct sunlight. For example, a dull black finish might heat up more quickly than a mirror finish, thereby passing heat more quickly to the air column inside.
 

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I think you are confusing the finish with the main metal that your sax is made of, which I would imagine is brass. I doubt very much it would be solid nickel. That would be like solid steel, not the friendliest metal to build an instrument from.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The material isn't what affects the pitch, it's the temperature of the air.

As it gets hotter the metal expands, so you'd think the note would be flat, but no. It's the temperature of the air
So it's not the expansion of the material that makes it sharp or flat? Simply the temperature of the air stream? All I know is if I pick up a cold horn in a cold room (say 55 degrees F ), the pitch is very flat until the temp of the horn warms up from me blowing in it, then the pitch rises. More so in the upper notes as that area warms up quicker. The bottom notes may be flat since it's colder down there. The opposite occurs in a hot environment. I always assumed it was the temperature of the air changing the temp of the horn, in return effecting the pitch. For added craziness, guitars go the opposite of the sax. Sharp in cold and flat in heat.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I think you are confusing the finish with the main metal that your sax is made of, which I would imagine is brass. I doubt very much it would be solid nickel. That would be like solid steel, not the friendliest metal to build an instrument from.
Well, according to Keilwerth, the Shadow is made from nickel, not brass, and then burnt nickel plated. They also make a copper horn as well. My question to material is that the pitch change due to temp is exaggerated on the Nickel Shadow as compared to my brass horns (Mk VI, Ref 54, Series III). Another thing I've noticed about the horn being nickel is that it lighter then my VI (about 8 oz lighter) and that it is definitely more durable.
 

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I think we're both wrong. According to Kessler's literature, the Shadow is made from solid nickel silver, which is an alloy of 60% copper, 20% nickel, and 20% zinc. it is plated with black nickel and has a clear coat of lacquer.
 

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I think we're both wrong. According to Kessler's literature, the Shadow is made from solid nickel silver, which is an alloy of 60% copper, 20% nickel, and 20% zinc. it is plated with black nickel and has a clear coat of lacquer.
I'm assuming your referring to me shortening nickel silver to nickel. Sorry, I do know nickel silver is an alloy. But you had originally thought it was brass. Although similar alloys, the shadow is for sure not brass. So. now that the material is straight, why does Nickel Silver react so differently then brass in these temperature situations?
 

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I always assumed it was the temperature of the air changing the temp of the horn, in return effecting the pitch.
Yes, but the intermediate step is that when the outside air changes the horn temp, the horn changes the temp of the air inside the horn, thereby affecting the pitch.

For added craziness, guitars go the opposite of the sax. Sharp in cold and flat in heat.
Probably because heat causes the metal strings to get longer, thereby lowering their pitch.
 

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Yes, but the intermediate step is that when the outside air changes the horn temp, the horn changes the temp of the air inside the horn, thereby affecting the pitch.
So it has nothing to do with the metal changing size in the temp? Hmmm, did not know that. So, and idea why the nickel silver horn reacts differently?
 

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So it has nothing to do with the metal changing size in the temp?
Temperature does affect the size of the metal tube, which in turn changes pitch. However this effect is completely overwhelmed by the effect of temperature on the speed of sound through the tube, which changes pitch in the opposite direction. Here is a document written by a physics graduate student for a music graduate student. It clarifies the principles involved. Although it pertains to brass instruments, the basic principles apply to woodwinds also (although perhaps not exactly in the same way).

So, and idea why the nickel silver horn reacts differently?
It may not be the material of the horn that makes a difference, but rather just that it's a different horn that behaves differently.
 

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I'm assuming your referring to me shortening nickel silver to nickel. Sorry, I do know nickel silver is an alloy. But you had originally thought it was brass. Although similar alloys, the shadow is for sure not brass. So. now that the material is straight, why does Nickel Silver react so differently then brass in these temperature situations?
Well, ummm, actually, nickel silver is a type of brass. It has copper, zinc, and probably a little lead in it, and could have a variety of other metals in it including nickel. Just has a little more nickel than normal.
 

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The material isn't what affects the pitch, it's the temperature of the air.

As it gets hotter the metal expands, so you'd think the note would be flat, but no. It's the temperature of the air
How does the air temp affect pitch?

you dont think the length of the air column matters? it seems thats why we have different holes to let the air out
 

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What horn are you coming from? I feel your pain. I hate sounding more foolish than I all ready do because of the temp. The worst is when you are playing more than one horn. Once you have one figured out a little you have to switch horns and now you are back to square one again on both horns.
 

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the length of the column of air would change as the metal temperature increases nickel grows the most with each degree of temperature change .000017 in/in degF the others are .000010 (CTE)

if it really is the temperature of the air, it seems the air coming out of your lungs wont vary as much as that or the air around you because it heats in the lungs only relative to the difference between outside air and 98.6.

the third variable i see is how fast the horn metal transmits heat to the air inside the horn. brass transfers heat about 3 times faster than nickel. copper and nickel conduct heat more than twice as fast as brass. when you take a horn out of the case, copper and nickel with stabilize to outside air fastest, followed by brass and nickel last. this is based on the thermal conductivity of the metal.

if you want to look up the properties yourself, i got them from www.matweb.com.

I wonder how the humidity affects it. since it changes the effective density of the air, it probably changes the resonant frequency as well. maybe that doesnt change much because when you suck it into your lungs, it picks up moisture and becomes more humid. Maybe the huidity comming out is relatively constant.

edit. i forgot one. the temperature of the air would affect the density. hot air is less dense. that might change resonant frequencies too. i think i was off by a 10 factor so i corrected it
 

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i see a couple of things in that paper id have to spend some time to check out and i dont have all the facors. keep in mind it also uses the length of a trumpet not sax.

but speed of sound is more dependent on density of the medium. sound is faster in water than air. sound is faster at sea level that at altitude. at altitude the air is less dense.

the paper also was relating pitch to temperature but the equation also accounted for the length change over temperature. it does affect it. this was done for only a single material. its not clear to me that he accounted for air density changes at temperature but may have.

I can see that temperature and speed of sound likely affect it more than metal expansion but it doesn't mean that it isn't a contributor.

so is getting sharp what yall experience?
 

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"so is getting sharp what yall experience?"

Yes, sharper with a rise in temperature. The conclusion of the article posted by saxmusicguy was that "the increase in the speed of sound dominates over the increase in length when temperature rises."
So, instead of going flat, which is the result of increase in length, it goes sharp, the result of increase in speed of sound.
 
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