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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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It seems that many of the snake oil salesmen want us to believe their Klangbogen or dense metal lyre screw affects and enhances air flow inside the instrument. The reality is there is very little air flow in a woodwind instrument. The air is essentially sitting there inside the instrument and the molecules that make up the air are set to vibrating by the reed. When you blow into a sax or any other woodwind you don't really blow much air. It's just enough to make the reed vibrate and probably not enough to make a strip of paper, or a feather, move if laid across the end of a sax, clarinet, flute or bassoon. I'm sure if you used sensitive enough instruments you could measure the volume of air moving through the instrument over a given period of time but the flowing air is not what is making sound. It's the vibrating air molecules knocking up against each other, transmitting energy from one to the next, and causing a wave to spread out like ripples on the surface of a pond.
Unless I am mistaken:

We can talk about AC and DC electricity.
In exactly the same way, we can talk about air flow.

Sure, the "DC" air flow through a sax is small.

However the air inside the sax oscillates... fast. (And with increasing amplitude as we get to pressure antinodes, eg openings to the air column.)
That oscillation is air dashing up and down the air column, or in and out of a tone hole.
It might be laminar in its oscillatory flow, or turbulent. There is a lot going on... It could be seen as "AC" airflow.
Relative to a fixed spot in the bore, the air is dashing up then down, alternating very fast. It therefore encounters boundary effects (friction) against the walls that contain it. Turbulence is introduced where it encounters interruptions to the bore.
It changes direction to oscillate in and out of a tone hole. (And it is that oscillation in and out of a tone hole that is the initiation of the travelling wave that gets to the listener's ears.)

So it is rather misleading to say that there is negligible airflow. The "AC" air flow is very real and fast. It is responsible for making the sound.

That "AC" oscillation is different from "vibration of the air molecules". That vibration is at a molecular level and is what is responsible for heat/temperature.
While the molecules are vibrating, they travel one way then back, fast, repeatedly. That is the "AC" airflow I write about, that makes the sound.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Unless you're my drummer, in which case you just leave it on to resonate with every damned note that I play. :angry9:
I encountered that once in a pit. It turned out that the percussion player could not hear the snare accompaniment to my sensitive, exposed flute solo.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
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from sax.co.uk


"...What difference can material really make?

Well,
in theory, a whole load. The type of material you use when producing a saxophone should influence the Timbre, Resonance, Resistance and ultimately, Cost. Let's break these down and explore these areas more:..."

I'd like to hear where is this theory ( as in a scientific theory not speculations )

o_O:eek:
 

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Tenor, alto, Bb Clarinet, Flute
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The only time I've ever felt a saxophone actually vibrate, is a Martin Comm III, but the reason was a side Bb keycup not sprung properly. Once it was fixed, back to no more vibrating saxophone.
My 10M vibrates against my fingertips, especially on the low notes. I don't think those vibrations can be heard.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Technician.
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Bit of an old thread but a couple of points.
When you feel vibrations under the fingers, your fingers are on the keys. You tend not to touching the body. The keys are able to move and get pushed by the force of the air pressure inside. That's why they have to include a little bar to keep the G# pressed down. There's enough pressure to lift a sprung down G#. That comes from the vibrating air column. So when you feel vibrations it's coming from the air column rather than the body vibration.

Body vibration have been measured at about 5 microns. That's thousands of a millimeter.
If you get the low note of a sax the equivalent wavelength is 4 times the length of the tube. An alto is roughly a metre long and about 9 cm at the wide end of the bore. So do the math - what's the percentage of a 5 micron vibration compared to the air column?
The science reckons the body vibration doesn't couple with the air column vibration, so it's a bit irrelevant, but in terms of how much difference it'll make - not much.

As vibrating bodies bronze, brass and silver tubes have pretty similar properties. Plastic or wood are more different to metals and may not maintain the tube integrity in the same way as metal ones. If you compare a clarinet, it needs a much thicker wall thickness to have a stable bore than metal. Metal clarinets do not need thick walls. Wood and plastic clarinets do. You can get cheap clarinets in plastic with thinner walls. They don't sound so good - just as thin-walled plastic saxophones don't sound so good.
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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Bit of an old thread but a couple of points.
When you feel vibrations under the fingers, your fingers are on the keys. You tend not to touching the body. The keys are able to move and get pushed by the force of the air pressure inside. That's why they have to include a little bar to keep the G# pressed down. There's enough pressure to lift a sprung down G#. That comes from the vibrating air column. So when you feel vibrations it's coming from the air column rather than the body vibration.
A little bit OT, but I think I'm missing something here. Isn't G# sprung up (i.e., open) on most saxophones? On my horns, there are two "bars" keeping the G# down: one connected to the G# lever, which simply allows the G# to lift when the lever is depressed; and a second one connected the F# key, which keeps the G# from lifting when the LH spatula keys (for low C#, B, or Bb) are pressed. In both cases, its the sprung open nature of the G# key that leads it to lift, not the air pressure.

Body vibration have been measured at about 5 microns. That's thousands of a millimeter.
If you get the low note of a sax the equivalent wavelength is 4 times the length of the tube. An alto is roughly a metre long and about 9 cm at the wide end of the bore. So do the math - what's the percentage of a 5 micron vibration compared to the air column?
The science reckons the body vibration doesn't couple with the air column vibration, so it's a bit irrelevant, but in terms of how much difference it'll make - not much.
I'm not sure whether this was meant to address the idea that the body material has a negligible effect on sound (in which case I agree), or that players cannot feel the body vibrations (in which case I disagree). On a smooth surface, humans can reliably detect individual dots raised as little as 1 micron (and "wrinkles" a couple of orders of magnitude smaller) , so it's not implausible for humans to be reliably sensitive to high-frequency vibrations from the saxophone body (note: in the human somatosensory system, "high-frequency" is anything > ~50hz).
 

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The only time I've ever felt a saxophone actually vibrate, is a Martin Comm III, but the reason was a side Bb keycup not sprung properly. Once it was fixed, back to no more vibrating saxophone.
Wow, I am astonished to hear that. I can most definitely feel the horn vibrate as I play it. Not rattle, vibrate. (note - I'm not saying that means the material effects the sound). I'm just really surprised to hear a pro player say that.
 

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Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
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Wow, I am astonished to hear that. I can most definitely feel the horn vibrate as I play it. Not rattle, vibrate.
As I mentioned earlier, the one time I could feel a vibration I took the horn to my tech, who conformed there was an issue and he fixed it so that the horn no longer had the vibration problem. It may not have affected the sound, but i did find it disconcerting.

So when you feel the horn vibrating, is it a particular part of the horn?
 

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Frustrating that so many experienced, high-level players may cast shade on horn vibration. Or in a larger sense, player perceptions and playing experience other than sound only.
All my horns--alto and tenor--vibrate to some degree. I sense it more or less depending on my focus while playing. I feel it on my lips, especially on my tongue, on my fingertips, on my thumbs. Occasionally, I can feel air across the top of some fingers, and moisture as it strikes my skin. With some low notes, I may even be using vibration as feedback to help shape my sound.
I believe greater or lesser awareness (or significance to the player) of these non-sonic perceptions clearly accounts for the varying reports of the effects of material, post vs. rib, finish, and high-mass devices.
I don't know if some high-level players have such dialed-in sound and concept as well as fully-occupied music processing cognition that they can exclude all else from their sensorium. For example, some claim that ergonomics matter for naught after a short period of adaptation to a new horn. I accept that their facility enables them to beautifully play leaky, mis-timed wretches that would give me screeching fits.
Me, at my intermediate level, and as a vocational observer of human factors and mechanical things--I'm aware of the force of each finger, of sensation of keys both closing and opening, of finger span and location.
And of course the vibration and air and moisture mentioned above.
 

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Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
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Frustrating that so many experienced, high-level players may cast shade on horn vibration.
All I said was I don't normally feel any vibration. I'm not casting shade, just genuinely surprised if people can literally feel a saxophone vibrating.

I don't know if some high-level players have such dialed-in sound and concept as well as fully-occupied music processing cognition that they can exclude all else from their sensorium.
I'm not sure if you are including me (if so many blushing thanks for the refernce to "high-level players"), but but I think I can say with me there is no fully-occupied music processing cognition that would stop me noticing. I can say that because after reading about mention of people feeling the vibrating saxophones, I specifically played and concentrated on attempting to feel actual vibrations, and I failed.
 

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A little bit OT, but I think I'm missing something here. Isn't G# sprung up (i.e., open) on most saxophones?
No. The G# key is sprung closed - i.e. the bit with the pad.The lever that operates it is separate. The F# bar ensures it keeps closed. If it isn't adjusted properly so the G# can open you'll get it opening up when you get to D and below. .

I'm not sure whether this was meant to address the idea that the body material has a negligible effect on sound (in which case I agree), or that players cannot feel the body vibrations (in which case I disagree). .
It's about the amount of effect that it can have. The air column resonance is quite big. The body resonance is very small. Differences between brass and silver is even smaller. So whatever effect potential there is, it's going to be in the realms of very, very, very, very, small. So even if there is some difference it is unlikely to be a useful difference.
 

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It may depend on how you hold your horn, I have felt the horn (not the keys) vibrating many times, especially subtoning on low notes , when the horn touches my body.

Similarly, I think, all kinds of other things vibrate all around it too they are passive sympathetic vibrations. After all this is what makes a vibration tuner , if the horn wouldn’t vibrate the tuner wouldn’t work.

For practicality the tuner is set on the neck , but it works anywere because the entire saxophone vibrates. Feeling it, or not, is a personal matter, but my horn, vibrates ( and nothing is rattling!)
 
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