Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I've recently upgraded my baritone to a Selmer Mk VI (a late one, Mk VII period). Overall I'm extremely happy with it. However I can't get the palm key notes to speak easily (upper octave, D to F). They come out perfectly well if I am moving up a scale to them, but if I just try to start on anything between a D and an F the note wont speak.

I've tried embouchure adjustments, I've tried different strength reeds, I've tried a different mouthpiece (I usually use a Metal Link 8*, but I've also tried a HR Yanagisawa 7) and I can't get this bit of the range to work. I've put a leak light in to check for leaks and found no problems, but if there were anything like that going on I would expect it to affect other bits of the range as well.

On my previous baritone, a Selmer Cigar-cutter c. 1931, I had no problems with these top notes. Similarly I had no problems when trying out a Yamaha 32 & 62 and a Yanagisawa 901 when buying this horn. I have no problems with this range on other size saxes either.

Is there any precedent for this kind of a problem with a Mk VI? Or does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should do about it? I have put some hours in trying to sort it out for myself, but I'm not getting anywhere.

Thanks,

Crac
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Crac,

This is just a stab in the dark because I haven't had the problem you are experiencing. What is the response of the palm key fingerings an octave lower, without the octave key? The tone won't be very good, but do the notes sound the instant you blow. The first place I would look is at the upper octave key to make sure it opens when you go from high G to high A (and that the lower octave key closes completely at the same). I would check also that there is no obstruction in the octave vent. You can remove the key and clean the vent with a soft pipe cleaner. Another longshot is that there may be an obstruction in the neck of the sax. An old reed lodged in the bow of the neck can let the air flow around it so you don't notice the obstruction and still really effect the acoustics of the sax. The bottom line is that the VI bari with the proper set up should not have this problem with an experienced player. Good luck finding a solution.

John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi John,

I think the palm keys in the lower octave work OK, but I'll have to check to be sure. In general the action is pretty tight, but I'll check the octave key(s) mechanism to make sure it's doing what it should. I haven't checked the upper octave vent to see if there is anything obstructing it. I'll check that too.

I know the neck has no obstructions as I've swabbed it, but I haven't checked the paperclip bit. Should be an interesting challenge ...

Thanks for all the suggestions. The reassuring thing is that Mk VIs don't generally have this kind of problem. That means it is something I can sort out, once I work out what is going on.

Cheers,

Crac
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
57 Posts
Hi Crac.

I have the same problem with my MK6. It's a real pain. The sax is a dream machine with just this problem. If you find a solution please let me know. One thing I noticed with my sax is that the drain tube is loose, due to corrosion I guess. It leaked for a while after it moved when I was swabbing the bend. The leak came from around the tube rather than through it. I've tried all of the things that John suggested withot success except looking in the hairpin. I also thought that I was the only person with such a problem. Good luck with it.

Jim.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
OK, I tried a few things yesterday evening. There are no obstructions in either of the octave holes. The octave mechanism is working properly and both covering and clearing when it should. I've taken the top F key off and swabbed to there through the paperclip and from there through the rest of the horn - certainly no major obstructions. (I suppose very small obstructions like balls of solder are still a possibility ...)

The pad on the drain key is ratty, but I'm fairly convinced it's doing its job - pressing on it when trying to get the top notes makes no difference, and I would have thought that a leak there would cause bigger problems elsewhere on the horn. Jim, I haven't looked around the drain tube, but next time I have a minute I will ...

The palm key notes play perfectly in the lower octave, so I guess it's either something subtle to do with the octave mechanism that I haven't spotted, or it's something to do with me.

Any other suggestions anyone?

Cheers,

Crac
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Curt Alterac (MusicMedic.com) has done extensive work with improving the acoustics of some of the classic old saxes. Hopefully he will weigh in here with his experience with these. (We need one of those lights in the sky like the one that signals Batman to call Curt---maybe a lighted MM?):)

I am curious about the fact that you said the palm key notes play fine when you approach them from below going up a scale. Have you tried slurring up a D scale from D2 to palm D and holding it as a long tone, and then stopping the air and trying to restart that note without tonguing using exactly the same air speed and embouchure that worked to produce the note at the end of the scale?

If this works for you, do it a few times and then try coming in keeping the air stream and the embouchure constant, but this time starting the note with the tongue. This exercise may reveal what is going on if something you are doing is contributing to the problem. Good luck.

John
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,260 Posts
I think this is a problem with the Mark VIs. I have heard of this problem often and the five or six Mark VIs I have played ALL had this very problem which is why I bought and play a Yamaha 62.

Is the joints of bari solid and sealed? I wonder if there are leakes where the body tube meets the upper bow, for instance. It sounds like you have tried everything and cleaned everything you can. Have you talked to the previous owner to see if he had this problem?

Those upper notes, from my experience, are nortoriously weak and hard to get on Mark VI baris. On my Yamaha, I can start on the G above these notes easily and consistently. On Mark VIs, I count myself lucky if I can get any note that utilizes the octave to speak. I have yet to play one that roared.

May be I am wrong in this, but I do hear this complaint a lot. I have never heard of any corrections.

For some reason, this does not occur with the Mark VI Tenors or Altos. I have always wondered if this is why Yamaha split the octave mechanism on their baris.

Good Luck. Let us know if you get this corrected.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,214 Posts
how far open are the the palm keys ? i have fixed this same problem by trimming the cork on the under side of the key. this will allow them to open a little more and could cure this problem. could be the cork is just too thick. try with the d, trim a little off,play it,etc... then work your way up the next two.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,214 Posts
if you want you can just pop off the cork on all three palm keys and try those notes. if that fixes it then put a very thin piece in their place.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I tried a few more things yesterday.

I've put a leak light through the paperclip to check the joints and found nothing. I can't ask the previous owner as I got it from a dealer. I've replaced the pad (well, it was cork actually) on the spit drain, which hasn't made any difference.

I've tried the things that jbtsax suggested - running up to one of the top notes, stopping and then starting the note again with the same mouth shape and airflow - and I find it very difficult to get the note to start again. When I have the note going I can tongue it to repeat it, but if the airflow stops I can't easily get it going again.

The problem is worse with the E and F than it is with the D and Eb.

I think that it is something to do with the upper octave hole. I'm sure the hole is opening properly and that there is nothing blocking it, but what seems to be happening is that the node in the air column that the octave hole is supposed to set up just doesn't happen when going directly to those notes. If you start from something lower, the node is already set when you get up to those notes.

The fingering I use for F# works fine - LH Octave key, 1, 3 & G# key, RH 1 - but this uses the lower octave key rather than the upper one ...

I know that the positioning of the octave holes on a saxophone is something of a compromise, with each note really needing the octave hole in a different position in an ideal world - but is there something that could be done to improve this (short of redesigning the octave mechanism a la Yamaha). Extending the tube for the upper octave hole further into the neck? Making the octave hole bigger?

I haven't had a chance to try saxxsymbol's suggestions yet - I'll have a go this evening if I get the chance.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

Cheers,

Crac
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
62 Posts
Do you know anyone else with a Mark VI or with a bari that uses a similar neck? If so, you can try swapping necks and seeing if that solves the problem, even if the swapped neck is not an exact match.

One long shot idea: are you sure you have the original neck? The serial number should match the body.

Glenn
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Glenn,

I don't know anyone else with a Mk VI bari or one with a similar neck. The only other one I have access to is a Cigar-cutter like my old one, which has the upper octave mechanism on the neck. The Mk VI neck is just a tube.

I don't think it would help though. The more I think about it the more I think it's the size and / or position of the upper octave hole.

Does anyone have a MK VI baritone that doesn't have the problem with the palm keys? I assume there are lots ...? If someone with such an instrument was willing to measure the size of their upper octave pip that might be really helpful.

Cheers,

Crac
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician
Joined
·
1,419 Posts
If I had to bet what the problem here is, I would say it's a leak in neck or at one of the joints between the neck and the top tone holes. Have you checked the neck to make sure that it is sealed? If you have, try the other joints, this can sometimes be done with water. We have a Mag Gauge and a stopper that we use. -Thanks to a very inventive tech named Dave Wilson.

I re-did a MKVI bari a little while ago. The Guy said the palm keys don't play and low notes are terrible. He was given the horn by a local band director that said it had 2 overhauls and never played right. That thing had leaks at every joint including the seams in neck and crook. There were pinholes all over the neck as well.

That said, I would be checking the neck, around the pip, anywhere for leaks.

If that does not work, maybe the pip is a little too big, too small or too long. In a MKVI, it's not likely too long. If a pip is too big (diameter) the highest notes in the range of that pip will not want to play. If it's too small, many of the notes for that pip will not want want to speak.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi Curt,

Thanks for the suggestions.


I've put a leak light all the way through from the high F hole, through the paper clip and into the neck. No visible leaks. I specifically checked the neck joint, the joint that allows you to remove half the paper clip, around the upper octave pip and around the spit drain. I haven't got the kit to test sensibly with water, but I'm pretty convinced there aren't any leaks.

The upper octave pip extends maybe 1.5 mm into the tube. What would be too big a hole diameter? I haven't got my drill bits here so I can't use them to work out how big the hole is, but I'll try to remember them tomorrow.

Cheers,

Crac
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The best measurement I can get for the upper octave hole is that it is on or just under 2 mm diameter. It's a bit difficult to judge without removing that bit of the instrument. I'm OK with taking keys off but a bit more nervous about separating joints.

Does that help with the diagnosis?

Cheers,

Crac
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
The easy way to check the vent-holes for a too big size (also when tones are 'sizzling'in the octave registrer) is to tie a slice of a panty (with a lot of little holes) over the venturi. If the sizzling is gone, the hole is too big.
It's a trick I learned from an Old-Timer who saw and played it all, It may give a conclusion for your top-tones, I never used it for that, but then again, it's too simple not to try..Like the potato in the under bow to correct rolling tones in the low register
Good luck;

Brassman.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi Brassman,

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll certainly try it out.

I've had a friend of mine who also plays baritone (although not as his main horn) try it out, and he doesn't have the same degree of problem as I do. The thing he suggested was to use a harder reed and have more mouthpiece in my mouth. This does make the notes easier to get, although it's not how I normally play so I haven't quite got to grips with doing this seamlessly. Still not sure whether this is just showing up a weakness in my technique (of which there are many ...!) or whether the reed / mouthpiece trick is just a workaround rather than the solution.

Anyway, I'll try to find someone who will lend me a pair of tights ...

Cheers,

Crac
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
109 Posts
Hi,

I play a Yanagisawa B901 and have the exact same problems as crac1967. I also had the same problem with a Yamaha 52 bari when I was in high school. However, I have also played on a Buescher 400 and a Conn 12M, and had absolutely no problems with the high register. So I'm thinking it might be a design problem with the Mark VI bari and Mark VI-style bari's.

One thing I noticed is that the upper register speaks easier with my metal Berg Larsen 120/1 compared to my Meyer 8. I think this is because of the higher baffle in the Berg, which creates a faster airstream. So maybe you can try out a mouthpiece with more baffle and maybe a smaller chamber (Berg, Dukoff, etc.).

Andrew
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,675 Posts
crac1967 said:
Hi Glenn,

I don't know anyone else with a Mk VI bari or one with a similar neck. The only other one I have access to is a Cigar-cutter like my old one, which has the upper octave mechanism on the neck. The Mk VI neck is just a tube.

I don't think it would help though. The more I think about it the more I think it's the size and / or position of the upper octave hole.

Does anyone have a MK VI baritone that doesn't have the problem with the palm keys? I assume there are lots ...? If someone with such an instrument was willing to measure the size of their upper octave pip that might be really helpful.

Cheers,

Crac
I have Mark V1 Bari. I only have a problem with the upper register(palm key notes) if I use too soft a reed. I you have a reed clipper, clip just a hair width off the tip. IF you don't have a clipper, try a half strength harder
reed. There is nothing in the design of the Mark V1 to cause that problem.
If you use too hard reed the low notes will not speak easily so be careful.
I hope this helps.
Martin
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/ Forum Contributor 2009
Joined
·
434 Posts
Sorry to kick up an old thread, but I'm struggling with this exact problem on a King Tempo low-A bari. Wondering, crac1967, if you ever figured anything out. I know it's not necessarily me or my mouthpieces, as my prior bari, a Rene Dumont low-Bb, gave me no such problems whatsoever. But on the King Tempo if I play up into the palm keys from, say B3, they all speak fine. If I jump up to, say, E3 from B3, however, it speaks E2. Very frustrating.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top