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Check out Dave Pollack’s recent video where he covers his entire horn with tape, stickers, etc., all much thicker than lacquer. Zero audible difference.
Lacquer is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about body material. Your comment is completelly out of topic. BTW if the guy covered the body completelly with thick layer of bitumen, which really could dampen the vibration of the body efectively, the result would be dead sound.

Yesterday I read an article, link to which was posted here, about measurement of vibrations of the the tube made from different materials. I cannot find it now. The results were:
1) the vibration patterns were very different.
2) the amount of vibration dependent heavily on metal density, with stainless steel vibrating the most.

And it was a just a simple thin tube. What would a very large complex object like saxophone do? You can guess yourself.

You know, there is a reason why no wind instrument are made of steel. They would be extremelly shrill, some notes being completelly out of control and extremely loud, etc.

There is also a reason, why many saxophonists in popular or jazz music do not like saxophones made completelly out of solid silver - it is a very dense metal, it does not want to move much and the instruments simply do not speak as much as those players want them to. On the other hand, classical players may like such a level od taming the sound.

Another thing - have you read some story on internet about Yanagisawa saxophones? They needed to make saxophones of thicker metal, when they wanted to export them, because they made them originally from thinner metal for their local japanese customers, because they liked saxophones which produced sound more easily, but that was not acceptable for foreign customers.

There are many examples why material and its treatment in production matters available.

People claiming that material does not make a difference are out of touch with reality.
 

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Honestly, there are so many variable that contribute to the sound that I think it’s not so much the material (say of a mouthpiece) but the over all weight and shape that affect most. That being said I do not think it perceptible by someone listening but the musician playing. At that point it is a combination of tactile perception and aural to “hear” yourself. Accordingly you make modifications but some of those are imperceptible to an audience. Now, if we could record what you hear as a player vs what the audience hear and compare them... that would be more useful.
 

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As a scientist, I'm still waiting for those references on saxophone measurements that I'm supposedly out of touch with...and of course you know science isn't perfect and evolves as our understanding improves. Nothing is black and white in science. Mathematics, yes. Science, no.

If you point me to some actual quantitative studies on saxophones in the last 50 years, I will read them objectively. I don't think they exist...but if they do, I would love to see them. Otherwise, this is a bit dogmatic.

As I said, in general, I will agree that the shape of the air column dominates, but it seems clear that other factors also influence the sound. What those factors are and to what extent, and whether measurements can support what we think we hear is not clear. The belief that the material an instrument is made of affects its sound goes back centuries and I don't think it came out of nowhere.

Here are some relevant threads by @milandro (not conclusive on this particular question, but interesting):

Wooden Soprano
What if? A saxophone morphing and modification tale

In the second examples (first video), the similarity in spectrograms, even with very different instrument bodies but similar sound generators, is striking. Of course there are differences in the spectrograms, but in some cases the sound is very similar and the spectrogram is similar between the soprano saxophone version of the instrument and the instrument itself.
 

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As a scientist, I'm still waiting for those references on saxophone measurements that I'm supposedly out of touch with...and of course you know science isn't perfect and evolves as our understanding improves. Nothing is black and white in science. Mathematics, yes. Science, no.
What is your field of science? Just curious about your perspective. I am founded in applied physics (B.S.) and materials science (M.S., Ph.D.).

If you point me to some actual quantitative studies on saxophones in the last 50 years, I will read them objectively. I don't think they exist...but if they do, I would love to see them. Otherwise, this is a bit dogmatic.

As I said, in general, I will agree that the shape of the air column dominates, but it seems clear that other factors also influence the sound. What those factors are and to what extent, and whether measurements can support what we think we hear is not clear. The belief that the material an instrument is made of affects its sound goes back centuries and I don't think it came out of nowhere.
If you adhere to the belief that the material affects the sound, aren’t you the one that is being dogmatic?
 

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As a scientist, I'm still waiting for those references on saxophone measurements that I'm supposedly out of touch with...and of course you know science isn't perfect and evolves as our understanding improves. Nothing is black and white in science. Mathematics, yes. Science, no.

If you point me to some actual quantitative studies on saxophones in the last 50 years, I will read them objectively. I don't think they exist...but if they do, I would love to see them. Otherwise, this is a bit dogmatic.
I don't know of any studies on saxophones per se, but if you read the actual Backus paper that I linked above (i.e., rather than just the abstract) you'll see that he measured the sound energy radiated by the walls of several other instruments (including flutes, oboes, and bassoons) in addition to the clarinet and model pipes. None of these generated sufficient energy that they would be audible over the sound energy produced by the air column.

Do you have a specific informed scientific hypothesis (i.e., something other than a "gut feeling") for why the sound-radiating characteristics of saxophones might differ so dramatically from those of the instruments listed above?

Note that flutists, oboists, and clarinetists are at least as likely as saxophonists to believe that wall material matters, and the manufacturers of those instruments exploit those beliefs as much as saxophone manufacturers do.

As I said, in general, I will agree that the shape of the air column dominates, but it seems clear that other factors also influence the sound. What those factors are and to what extent, and whether measurements can support what we think we hear is not clear. The belief that the material an instrument is made of affects its sound goes back centuries and I don't think it came out of nowhere.
There are many centuries-old beliefs that have no basis in fact. The overwhelming current scientific consensus is that wall material doesn't matter. You're correct that this consensus could well be wrong, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Where is that extraordinary evidence? Anecdotes and assertions that "It seems clear" and "people say" are not sufficient evidence to counter more than a century of work in acoustics.
 

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What is your field of science? Just curious about your perspective. I am founded in applied physics (B.S.) and materials science (M.S., Ph.D.).

If you adhere to the belief that the material affects the sound, aren’t you the one that is being dogmatic?
Don't want to post my specific field here (but you can read earlier in the thread or elsewhere that I do have experience in acoustics, electronics, electrical engineering, audio equipment design and construction, recording, and of course saxophone playing). I have a EE degree and a PhD in physics, and completed work in two other fields, but that is too identifying. My actual research deals with problems much more subtle and sophisticated than this type of question, where supercomputer simulations and fluctuations measured in experiments are quantitatively compared in a very rigorous way, spanning several orders of magnitude in frequency and intensity.

The difference here in acoustics is that human perception comes into play. This is just a hobby type of thing -- I have always been interested in acoustics. I didn't say what beliefs I hold or what I adhere to, by the way. I am just interested in this question and am seeking whatever real information exists. I have cited results supporting both sides...so certainly I am not engaging in dogma. I just suspect there is probably more to it than the shape and dimensions of the air column. I can do my own literature search using databases I have available, but if members here have references available, that would be useful. This is just a curiosity.

Do you have a specific informed scientific hypothesis (i.e., something other than a "gut feeling") for why the sound-radiating characteristics of saxophones might differ so dramatically from those of the instruments listed above?
I have mentioned some speculations about the large surface area and thinness of saxophone walls, the idea that frequency-selective absorption could come into play which would not have been isolated by the experiments discussed, and there are several different approaches to measuring the contributions of materials that could be explored with more modern instruments, such as laser imaging the wall vibration intensities and spectra (others have mentioned this -- and I have seen it done for mouthpieces). These are the start of a scientific hypothesis (which, by the way, leads to inherent bias in the "scientific method"). I would not consider anything I've said to have enough substance to argue either side (and I really don't see sides here anyway)...certainly I agree that centuries-old beliefs are often fallacies...in the end the role of wall material could be quantified more accurately or relevantly, and then the argument will be about what level can be perceived and why that supports or contradicts this longstanding belief.

I have seen an evolution of knowledge in my field of physics that has developed as measurements became more detailed, their resolution improved, simulations became more realistic, etc. Now simulations match experiments in a way that could not be imagined 20 years ago. There are often debates about the role of this or that in the overall result or effect. Typically it depends on other variables just how important a particular aspect is. But it is useful to distill the most important phenomena, because that guides us in extrapolation. I digress...
 

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I wonder why my posts are still waiting for mod approval, is moderator on vacation?

I posted a bunch of examples why material matters as a last message in the 6th page, I am not sure who can see it, while it is still not approved.

I will add one more example:

Manufacturers can easily make clarinets or other woodwind instruments from some exotic expensive plastic material, so that they could sell them
expensive as pro instruments, yet they still FOR SOME REASON make them from wood, which is very impractical material. What is the reason?
 

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Manufacturers can easily make clarinets or other woodwind instruments from some exotic expensive plastic material, so that they could sell them
expensive as pro instruments, yet they still FOR SOME REASON make them from wood, which is very impractical material. What is the reason?
Because people BELIEVE material makes a difference or they like the way it looks or feels, tradition, quality, etc., etc.

Where is your example showing where the vibrations of the instrument itself are audible?
 

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Are you serious?

So all those people who can hear difference between plastic and wooden clarinet are just victims of collective hysteria?
Kind of, mostly. Suggestion can be very powerful (have you never heard of the placebo effect?).

It's actually a bit more complicated in this case because different models of clarinets (which may have different bore and tonehole geometry) are typically made either in plastic or in wood, but not both. So the sound of the two models could differ just based on those bore differences.

But the key is to ask people to tell the difference when they cannot see the instrument being played. For example, I bet you'd have a really hard time telling apart a standard (wood) R13 from a Greenline (plastic) R13 from a pair of unlabeled recordings.

I don't know whether this sort of perceptual experiment has been carried out in a rigorous way using clarinets, but it's been done many times with Stradivarius violins, for example. Players and expert listeners insist that they can tell the instruments apart (from modern professional violins), but when asked to do so during blinded listening, they fail to distinguish them above chance levels.
 

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Strad is a bad example because the material actually does make a difference in string instruments. It may be difficult to tell the difference between two very good violins. But you would certainly hear a difference between a wood and metal one, just as a banjo sounds different than a guitar.

The point about density in saxophones and other woodwinds is also a good one. If you made a sax out of a very soft material like fabric or a very thin material like tissue paper, both of those would indeed sap energy from the vibrating air column and dampen or enhance certain frequencies and affect the amplitude. When we say material doesn't make a difference, we're talking about relatively thick, rigid materials, i.e., bronze versus brass would sound the same assuming the geometries are absolutely identical.
 

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Manufacturers can easily make clarinets or other woodwind instruments from some exotic expensive plastic material, so that they could sell them
expensive as pro instruments, yet they still FOR SOME REASON make them from wood, which is very impractical material. What is the reason?
Except, that is, for the following and others that don't come to mind right now:

Haynes metal clarinet
Silver King metal clarinet
Conn double wall metal clarinet
Conn ebonite
and nowadays: Ridenour;
Buffet Greenline

These are all regarded as top quality instruments.
 

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Kind of, mostly. Suggestion can be very powerful (have you never heard of the placebo effect?).

It's actually a bit more complicated in this case because different models of clarinets (which may have different bore and tonehole geometry) are typically made either in plastic or in wood, but not both. So the sound of the two models could differ just based on those bore differences.

But the key is to ask people to tell the difference when they cannot see the instrument being played. For example, I bet you'd have a really hard time telling apart a standard (wood) R13 from a Greenline (plastic) R13 from a pair of unlabeled recordings.

I don't know whether this sort of perceptual experiment has been carried out in a rigorous way using clarinets, but it's been done many times with Stradivarius violins, for example. Players and expert listeners insist that they can tell the instruments apart (from modern professional violins), but when asked to do so during blinded listening, they fail to distinguish them above chance levels.
Actually this sort of experiment has been done many many times with items of subjective perception. I know it's been the case for beer and vodka.

In double blind experiments people are almost invariably unable to distinguish amongst beers of similar type (as, all lagers, all IPAs, etc.) It's also common for testers to rate the cheap stuff higher than the expensive stuff.
 

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Strad is a bad example because the material actually does make a difference in string instruments. It may be difficult to tell the difference between two very good violins. But you would certainly hear a difference between a wood and metal one, just as a banjo sounds different than a guitar.
My point about Strad had nothing to do with the effect of materials. I was just giving an example of people claiming to hear a clear difference between labeled instruments that disappears when the instruments are unlabeled.
 

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Selmer made some excellent metal clarinets. Here is a little test between metal and wooden clarinets for your weekend amusement:

I certainly heard a difference. I heard more of a difference between wood and metal than wood and wood. I have heard that clarinets tend to have only odd harmonics, by the way. I don't know if that's true. Anyway, this is not a controlled test of material.
 

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I certainly heard a difference. I heard more of a difference between wood and metal than wood and wood. I have heard that clarinets tend to have only odd harmonics, by the way. I don't know if that's true. Anyway, this is not a controlled test of material.
GIven the number of variables that can influence the acoustic spectrum of a saxophone (Player, reeds, mouthpiece, pads, resonators, pad heights, etc.), I doubt there will ever be an indisputable test of materials for a sax.
 
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