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I would, at the very least, ask other people to play my neck against theirs (in a blind test) to make sure that I am not convincing myself of something that might not be there.

Can we see pictures of the neck? If the volume ( put water in it and measure it ) and the angle and round shape ( feel with your hands or painstakingly measure) is not different chances are that the neck was perfectly repaired
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
I would, at the very least, ask other people to play my neck against theirs (in a blind test) to make sure that I am not convincing myself of something that might not be there.

Can we see pictures of the neck? If the volume ( put water in it and measure it ) and the angle and round shape ( feel with your hands or painstakingly measure) is not different chances are that the neck was perfectly repaired
I will take pictures today and post them. I have only the SBA neck to compare it against, so I will try to do some measurements comparing these two.
 

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the SBA is a neck for a different saxophone (there were also different runs, if I am not mistaken) so comparisons wouldn鈥檛 be very meaningful other than very generic.

To make any sense of geometric comparisons you need to find a horn of the same generation and compare volume, angle and general conditions. Then you need to ( which the assistance of someone) try the horns without you knowing which is which and hopefully do the same with someone else.
 

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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.
You know, I think I would just spend more time learning how to voice those notes than fiddling with special fingerings. That's just me, though. I feel like every musical instrument on earth has some wonky notes and you learn to deal with them (as long as it's not too severe).
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
An update on my neck issues - I decided to try out some aftermarket necks local to me in New York City. Specifically, JL Woodwinds necks, which are made by John Leadbetter. He had a bunch of really nice playing necks that I was able to try and pick out one that worked well with my Mark VI. The horn he makes is a hybrid SBA/Mark VI type horn (body geometry of an SBA, keywork from the VI) and he has also used the transitional SBAs/early Mark VI's as the basis for his necks. I will get someone to look at my Mark VI neck in the future but don't feel the need to do so now that I have a good replacement neck.
 

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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.
I've done the same thing with vinegar quite a few times. It's very efficient, and you finish the job by flushing the neck with warm water. I usually let the neck sit for 30 minutes to an hour. This usually clears mineral deposits (calcium?) from the neck. In more extreme cases, it will pull out sugar deposits and gunk that build up on the tubing wall. Keeping the neck and mouthpiece clean will certainly improve the sound insomuch as you're allowing the horn to operate as the engineers designed it. Any foreign object or build up in the neck will affect how the horn plays, usually negatively.
 

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You know, I think I would just spend more time learning how to voice those notes than fiddling with special fingerings. That's just me, though. I feel like every musical instrument on earth has some wonky notes and you learn to deal with them (as long as it's not too severe).
That is a valid point. However due to the acoustics involved, on notes below A2 it is difficult to lower the pitch by just using the oral cavity (voicing). This means that in order to lower the pitch of notes below A2 it requires loosening the embouchure a bit (lipping down). In many cases the tone quality goes down along with the pitch. Using fingerings to "mechanically" lower the pitch eliminates the need to "lip down" as much, thereby helping the tone quality of the note---especially on longer tones.
 

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You know, I think I would just spend more time learning how to voice those notes than fiddling with special fingerings. That's just me, though. I feel like every musical instrument on earth has some wonky notes and you learn to deal with them (as long as it's not too severe).
Having spent too much time trying to get intonation "perfect," my list of things to try doesn't usually need to go so far as worrying about my neck. I find that the an intonation problem is often what sits atop my neck.

A complete cleaning is a good place to start. As noted, any reputable manufacturer spent a lot of time getting intonation as "perfect" as possible. Give them the benefit of the doubt by getting the horn back to like new condition (or better). I generally work on grungy saxophones and have found little things stuck inside. Not just crust and dust. Here are some unappetizing pictures of cleaning out an older saxophone. The third picture is just the stuff from the neck, including a little plastic tube that was probably originally on the octave pip lever.

Make sure that things are sealing correctly. Not just the pads by using a leak light. Give it a vacuum test. A leaking upper octave pip caused by failed solder can make a new neck sound different, but that isn't really necessary for a fix. Here is a Conn 10M that had neck problems causing intonation issues. It took a while to find the issue, and it wasn't really the neck. Same with this "neck" issue. A different Buescher neck would "fix" the problem, but there was a better solution.

Changing the volume and length of the neck will have an effect. But much the same result can be achieve with changing the length and volume of the mouthpiece, i.e., using a different mouthpiece. Altering the neck to work with your mouthpiece seems a bit radical and expensive. I would work a long time with mouthpiece selection before deciding to go custom neck shopping or altering the neck. Of course it helps to have 30 mouthpieces sitting around (I know, that is also expensive).

And working a long time is often the solution. I've read enough posts here to have seen intonation issues disappear over time. Warbling bell notes often seem to resolve themselves. Stuffy D is another one. I'm not a fan of "practice, practice, practice" if the real issue is mechanical or acoustical, but it is interesting how something like a stuffy D can resolve itself (probably through embouchure and breath support alterations becoming unconsciously routine for that note).

I'm not saying that these few items are the solution, and I have altered a neck to address a problem. I'm just noting that there are a list of things to rule out before surgery. And often just the time required to run through these issues resolves what seemed to be a problem.

Mark
 

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To the questions about why the extra tube inside the neck octave vent helps things, I couldn't find where anyone considered the possibility that the vent had been drilled out larger at some time in the past to 'fix' some other problem but creating new ones. I know it was very popular a few years ago to ream out the body octave vent on MK VI tenors.
 

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Kim Bock of 'KB Sax' in NYC is a neck specialist and just tweaked my original MK VI tenor neck. He found the tube was generally oval and the cork end was larger than usual, which affects high register intonation. He is a good player too so he plays the necks and gives you the results before and after the work. I just sent the neck, not the whole horn. He rounded-out the whole neck and shrank the tip closer to what it should be. I had previously traced this neck over the traces of two other Selmer necks (MK VI replacement and Series III, which are identical) and discovered it was a little shorter, maybe 1/8", and the reinforcing ring had been removed and re-soldered. KB noticed this too but did not propose any extension, and the result of his other work really improved the sound and intonation. We don't know what happened to my neck before I got the horn but it was a lush, warm-sounding neck before so I'm really looking forward to playing it (will be here tomorrow). The neck being cut shorter for some reason is why the opening was too large. Anytime you get a used horn you really have no idea what it may have been through, and you really can't tell without looking for specific things. My VI has never had a proper overhaul but its going to happen soon. I simply did not trust anyone else with the neck and I'm glad I sent it to KB. He's like me - first, do no harm; second, respect the instrument and the owner by doing the minimum needed and without radical changes.
 
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