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Just as there are mouthpiece refacers who can improve a mouthpiece to the point where it becomes a great playing piece, are there any technicians out there who have learned how to take an ok-playing neck and make it significantly better?

If so, I'd love to hear some recommendations.
 

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Music Medic made some claims and experiments in that direction.


What do you want to improve that you think will be improvable at neck level and why? What makes you think that the neck is the culprit for the OK playing and not other things?
 

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Well, intonation would be one area where the neck is known to have an influence.

Another reason would be that we often read here that when swapping necks between compatible horns, the “sound moves with the neck”. I don’t know if that is true really, but it could be nice to experiment.
 

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yes, but what makes OP think that there is someone whom can improve intonation of the whole horn by the neck alone.

Music Medic has conducted experiments and makes intonation corrections a part of its extensive überhaul program.

But they need the whole saxophone NOT only the neck (notice how in the video they say that intonation from notes from G and Above are addressed with the neck insert while they use other techniques for lower notes).

Also they have conducted experiments on necks , crescents and balanced venting.

Here for example they retaper the neck (in this case with a Yamaha, which makes me think that they infer that Yamaha doesn’t do what they can do with their saxophones, we are not talking of work on a saxophone made in the dark ages but a contemporary saxophone ).






READ THIS!

https://musicmedic.com/multipip-saxophone-neck-experiment
https://musicmedic.com/saxophone-intonation
https://musicmedic.com/tuning-a-saxophone-with-crescents
https://musicmedic.com/setting-key-heights-with-the-balanced-venting-method
 

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Not sure if it’s quite what you’re discussing, but Mark Aronson does phenomenal work at re-tapering necks. Albeit he does this more for older horns (e.g. buescher true tones) to improve intonation and what not.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Music Medic made some claims and experiments in that direction.


What do you want to improve that you think will be improvable at neck level and why? What makes you think that the neck is the culprit for the OK playing and not other things?
This is for a damaged neck (pull down, dents etc.) that after repair by a regular repairman, plays ok but not as good as the best examples of necks by the same manufacturer (this is for a Selmer Mark VI). I have swapped necks and tried them out, and find mine to be a bit more resistant than ideal.
 

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well, I still would take your neck to MM.

They will make some adjustments and improve intonation too.

In the end the better option (moneywise too) will probably be to sell your neck and to buy one of those necks that you have found to be less resistant.
 

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Just as there are mouthpiece refacers who can improve a mouthpiece to the point where it becomes a great playing piece, are there any technicians out there who have learned how to take an ok-playing neck and make it significantly better?

If so, I'd love to hear some recommendations.
Randy Jones at TenorMadness.com
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Well, intonation would be one area where the neck is known to have an influence.
Indeed it can have a huge influence, both due to (a) internal dimensions and in regards to upper notes(b) placement, dimension of the octave pip.

The latter (b) should not be an issue if the saxophone body and neck are designed to work well together from scratch, but I have noticed some issues here, mostly in regard to Taiwanese and Chinese instruments that are possibly "put together" from off the shelf parts. The octave pip issue manifest itself with notes A and higher - it's easy to check if that is the case, just compare the same upper A with and without octave key.

Of course this same issue can be caused by damage to or dirt/debris inside the octave pip which is fixable.

(a) should all not be an issue if the neck was designed for that specific body. Not really that easy to remedy but if the bore is too large it can sometimes be fixed by putting a piece of metal (wire or something) inside that effectively reduces the internal volume. Easy enough to experiment with and then get a good tech to do a more permanent fix.


Another reason would be that we often read here that when swapping necks between compatible horns, the “sound moves with the neck”. I don’t know if that is true really, but it could be nice to experiment.
Yes it is true. People tend to say the biggest influence on the sound (in order) is

  1. embouchure
  2. mouthpiece
  3. neck
  4. body of saxophone.

(Some might put ligature in there but I prefer not to)

I found an alternative neck for my Buescher alto, which both improved intonation (when used with certain mouthpieces) and changed the sound.

However I think this is all down to trial and error and a lot of like that any mouthpiece that was not specifically designed for your horn will actually have decent intonation AND a sound you prefer.

But experimenting with necks can be very costly, due to the luck involved you could try dozens and never get that combo of better sound without screwing up the intonation.

Even if you get lucky the sound may be less of an improvement compared to the improvement involved with practising tone control instead of faffing with necks.
 

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This is for a damaged neck (pull down, dents etc.) that after repair by a regular repairman, plays ok but not as good as the best examples of necks by the same manufacturer (this is for a Selmer Mark VI). I have swapped necks and tried them out, and find mine to be a bit more resistant than ideal.
Before I’d let anybody mess with an original Mark VI neck, unless it’s been damaged, I’d try some aftermarket stuff.
I bought an $80 Chinese neck off eBay for my BA and it’s definitely brighter than the original. It looks just like the ones the other guys stick a different badge on. I’ve also got a Mark VI neck fitted to it that plays really well, but a little darker and rounder.
I read somewhere where Oleg pooched Breckers original MarkVI neck with some experiments. That’s why he went with the silver neck
I know on my Mark VI I need the neck fitted properly. It still has a very slight rocking even after I had it fitted by my local guy.
That could be your issue.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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This is for a damaged neck (pull down, dents etc.) that after repair by a regular repairman, plays ok but not as good as the best examples of necks by the same manufacturer (this is for a Selmer Mark VI). I have swapped necks and tried them out, and find mine to be a bit more resistant than ideal.
This is slightly different, or rather more info, than your opening posts and useful info.

Pull down and dents - neither should be a challenge to a competent repairer unless really really so severe that repair causes more damage. I have heard of people interchanging Selmer necks, although they not be the same, but if you get the chance try some necks off more modern production Selmers, you may find one that does improve the sound/response with adversely affecting intonation - alternatively it could just be the tech you went to didn't do quite such a good job as another might if the internal is still distorted or it doesn't fit too well.
 

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Thanks Pete, useful info!
 

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I have had good success making a sax neck play a bit brighter and more responsive by giving the brass inside a good cleaning using "The Works" toilet bowl cleaner. You tape the octave vent shut and put a rubber stopper in the small end. Then you pour undiluted cleaner into the large end and give it about 10 seconds. Then you rinse it out with water followed by two or more baking soda and water chasers to neutralize all of the acid. Then it is cleaned using flexible brushes and warm soapy water until there is no longer a scent of the cleaner left. You could probably achieve a similar effect by using vinegar and leaving it in several hours, but I have not tried that method to compare.

This is also a common technique repair techs use to clean the inside tubing of brass instruments that have not been cleaned or well maintained. The acoustic principle involved is that when there is some type of deposit on the surface of the brass, it taps energy from the soundwave. Any surface that is porous will take energy from the pressure aspect of the soundwave. Any surface that is rough will take energy from the flow aspect of the soundwave. The ideal is a hard smooth surface which is hopefully found inside necks that are new.

On this topic I might add that Cannonball has a small group of musicians they call "acoustic customizers" who play test all of their professional models and have the knowledge and technique to put "scratches" inside the necks to affect the pitch and response of individual notes. Those who have a Cannonball sax may have seen these "scratches" inside. I have seen and heard this demonstrated in person and the difference in the sound of the saxophone before and after is significant. I was told the "highly proprietary" technique was developed and perfected by the company owner Tevis Laukat by trial and error over a period of time, who then taught it to two other employees.
 

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Ken Beason and Dell Knickerbocker do solid neck work. I've sent horns and necks to them for fixing the intonation etc. You can't go wrong!
 

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Just as there are mouthpiece refacers who can improve a mouthpiece to the point where it becomes a great playing piece, are there any technicians out there who have learned how to take an ok-playing neck and make it significantly better?

If so, I'd love to hear some recommendations.
In my opinion, there’s not much you can do to an existing neck to change it significantly at all, there’s to enough material to work with so you can make the note bigger and you can’t make it smaller. Any perceived change will be psychological. Don’t waste your time and money. Phil Barone
 

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In my opinion, there’s not much you can do to an existing neck to change it significantly at all, there’s to enough material to work with so you can make the note bigger and you can’t make it smaller. Any perceived change will be psychological. Don’t waste your time and money. Phil Barone
Even when you remove metal and make the bore smaller as in the video above?
If what you say is correct then maybe it's more the length of the tube and not the diameter of it that controls pitch?
 

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This is for a damaged neck (pull down, dents etc.) that after repair by a regular repairman, plays ok but not as good as the best examples of necks by the same manufacturer (this is for a Selmer Mark VI). I have swapped necks and tried them out, and find mine to be a bit more resistant than ideal.
Hold the neck in your hand and blow into it as hard as you can. I'll bet your lungs empty within half a second, much faster than if you were actually playing. That proves the neck is NOT the source of resistance. Rather what's perceived as resistance is some interruption in the air column (leak). The neck is not the culprit.
 

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Indeed it can have a huge influence, both due to (a) internal dimensions and in regards to upper notes(b) placement, dimension of the octave pip.

The latter (b) should not be an issue if the saxophone body and neck are designed to work well together from scratch, but I have noticed some issues here, mostly in regard to Taiwanese and Chinese instruments that are possibly "put together" from off the shelf parts. The octave pip issue manifest itself with notes A and higher - it's easy to check if that is the case, just compare the same upper A with and without octave key.

Of course this same issue can be caused by damage to or dirt/debris inside the octave pip which is fixable.

(a) should all not be an issue if the neck was designed for that specific body. Not really that easy to remedy but if the bore is too large it can sometimes be fixed by putting a piece of metal (wire or something) inside that effectively reduces the internal volume. Easy enough to experiment with and then get a good tech to do a more permanent fix.




Yes it is true. People tend to say the biggest influence on the sound (in order) is

  1. embouchure
  2. mouthpiece
  3. neck
  4. body of saxophone.

(Some might put ligature in there but I prefer not to)

I found an alternative neck for my Buescher alto, which both improved intonation (when used with certain mouthpieces) and changed the sound.

However I think this is all down to trial and error and a lot of like that any mouthpiece that was not specifically designed for your horn will actually have decent intonation AND a sound you prefer.

But experimenting with necks can be very costly, due to the luck involved you could try dozens and never get that combo of better sound without screwing up the intonation.

Even if you get lucky the sound may be less of an improvement compared to the improvement involved with practising tone control instead of faffing with necks.
Dear Pete: exactly , that is the problem I am having with my Selmer Tenor Mark VII with its original neck. ( M280827)
when playing upper A with octave key it is out of tune ( higher ) than without the octave Key . I removed the octave key and tried to clean the octave pip , without any difference ... Is there any solution , different to buy another neck ? In other post they talk about cleaning the neck, but not to fix this problem with upper A , but to get a more brilliant tone...
What could I Do ? I went to a technician , but he did not solve the problem...
If any of you, technicians here at the forum, has solved this problem, please tell me the solution.
Many thanks in advance.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Dear Pete: exactly , that is the problem I am having with my Selmer Tenor Mark VII with its original neck. ( M280827)
when playing upper A with octave key it is out of tune ( higher ) than without the octave Key . I removed the octave key and tried to clean the octave pip , without any difference ... Is there any solution , different to buy another neck ? In other post they talk about cleaning the neck, but not to fix this problem with upper A , but to get a more brilliant tone...
What could I Do ? I went to a technician , but he did not solve the problem...
If any of you, technicians here at the forum, has solved this problem, please tell me the solution.
Many thanks in advance.
Well you could try this:

https://musicmedic.com/fixing-a-saxophone-octave-hiss

Although that is kore for the hiss I think rather than sharpness.

Before trying other necks (or other mouthpieces) I think there are a few things to try such as opening the key less, narrowing the octave pip,by puttinng something across the top or down the pip itself. Widening the pip hole seems like it might work but somewhat destructive.

Then, as above try to get hold of other Selmer necks to try, MKVI, Series I, II, III Ref 54 etc.
 

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Dear Pete: exactly , that is the problem I am having with my Selmer Tenor Mark VII with its original neck. ( M280827)
when playing upper A with octave key it is out of tune ( higher ) than without the octave Key . I removed the octave key and tried to clean the octave pip , without any difference ... Is there any solution , different to buy another neck ? In other post they talk about cleaning the neck, but not to fix this problem with upper A , but to get a more brilliant tone...
What could I Do ? I went to a technician , but he did not solve the problem...
If any of you, technicians here at the forum, has solved this problem, please tell me the solution.
Many thanks in advance.
AFAK there is no good solution. The location of both the body octave vent and the neck octave vent are a compromise. The body octave vent is at the "ideal" location for the note F. The neck octave vent is in the "ideal" location for the note B. The farther away from the ideal note, the sharper the note is made by opening the octave vent. The D and G# are the farthest from F that use the body octave vent, and both tend to be sharp notes. The C# and A are the farthest from B that use the neck octave vent, and both are sharp notes.

The "workaround" some players use when the D is held as a long tone is to add the low B key, or substitute the D palm key for the octave key. Both lower the pitch and change the "timbre" of the note a bit. When playing high A, adding RH 3 lowers the pitch on most saxes. Playing C# adding all 3 keys of the right hand lowers the pitch. The G key opening can also be lowered to bring down the pitch of the high A, but the trade off is that it can make the note sound "stuffy" and make low A too flat. The low C key can be lowered to bring down the pitch of the D, but it can make the D stuffy, and make the low D too flat to be usable. Everything seems to be a trade off.
 
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