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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It seems to me that the major design difference in saxophones is the alignment of the tones holes. Conn, Buescher, King and early selmers have in-line tones holes like a flute or oboe. Selmer eventually redesigned and re-drilled the holes for ergonomic reasons and significantly changed the intonation, response and tone color. Most modern manufacturers have copied the newer Selmer design. The debate about vintage vs modern seems to be better framed by "in-line or not". I currently play a '58 TH&C Buescher 400 tenor (in-line) and love it. I've also owned and gigged with altos and tenors from Selmer, Guardala, and Buescher (aristocrats). I'm now thoroughly in the in-line camp and prefer any in-line horn to any modern (selmer-type) design. I wish we had a category for In-line instruments as I think it reflects the reality of the situation better than brand names. Is this too weird? Peace, T-dog
 

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If you want to play an in-line Selmer you need look no further back than the Balanced Action.

I think that the bore, bow, and neck differences between Selmer, Buescher, Conn, and others make a bigger difference than if the tone holes are in-line. Look at a modern example like Keilwerth. They have off-set tone holes as well but no one will confuse you playing a Keilwerth with a Selmer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hurling, Are you sure JK's are not in-line, I'm not sure. I think if they are off set, they're more in-line than the Selmer design. Any JK pros out there to help? I play/tested a JK in a store about a year ago. It played bigger and more robust than a Ref 54, but paled in comparison to my TH&C. Peace, T-Dog.
 

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I don't know a lot about accoustical science, but I am very sceptical about whether tonehole alignment on the body makes any significant difference with respect to intonation, tone, and response. Since we're talking about just a few degrees, my guess is that in itself makes no difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you play horns of both designs, the difference is immediately apparent. The difference in alignment is more than slight and even slight changes can make huge acoustical differences. Many older pros swore by in-line horns and wouldn't play the post-war Selmer design (Cannonball Adderly is the most famous example ... okay, he played Selmer briefly, but returned to King). Check out the rave reviews of Buescher aristocrats (in-line) on the Buescher thread for those who think it makes a difference. Any imput from JK players? More Peace TD
 

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The Balanced Action altos and the Super Balanced alto and the Mark VI altos all have the same core Selmer sound. The Balanced Action altos are in line tone holes. The other two have offset tone holes. I'm only going to speak to the altos because I haven't played any Balanced Action tenors.

My JK straight alto with off set tone holes sounds very different than my VI alto. It sounds more similar to my vintage Aristocrat alto (straight in line tone holes).

Tone hole placement is going to have an effect on intonation (which is why we have so many examples of companies slightly shifting them during production runs or every model. My opinion is that neck design, main tube bore, bow design, and to a lesser extent the bell design is going to have a much greater influence on how a horn sounds.
 

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And then of course the TH&C has the two lower tone holes placed on top of the bell. I don't know if this makes any real difference or not.
 

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Talldog said:
If you play horns of both designs, the difference is immediately apparent. The difference in alignment is more than slight and even slight changes can make huge acoustical differences. Many older pros swore by in-line horns and wouldn't play the post-war Selmer design (Cannonball Adderly is the most famous example ... okay, he played Selmer briefly, but returned to King). Check out the rave reviews of Buescher aristocrats (in-line) on the Buescher thread for those who think it makes a difference. Any imput from JK players? More Peace TD
but there are so many distinctions between those horns that you mention ranging from bore size and design, to metal composition, to finish, to resonators. Why is narrowing it down to hole alignment supposedly the standout? It's almost like saying one's horn will sound different if you tilt it to one side when playing anything below the 'G'.

From what I recall, the inline holes were put that way for ease of manufacture, and having nothing to do with tone. The pre-WW2 greybeards of the time were likely suffering from the same "ain't as good as it used to be" sydrome that has plagued saxophone players ever since Adolph manufactured his second horn.

:)
 

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Acoustically it would be impossible to prove that there is a difference, as there are too many other variables. Ergonomically, the offset totally changes the experience. While I play both equally well (or badly), I can play longer without my wrists tiring on a offset horn.
 

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mostly alto guy said:
Acoutically it would be impossible to prove that there is a difference, as there are too many other variables.
Truer words were never spoken. It is possible that this sort of thing could make a small difference, but to isloate its effects would be nigh to impossible.

(And the same thing goes even more strongly for merely cosmetic features, such as type of finish, but that's another thread.)
 

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We have all been thinking about trying to compare 2 existing horns to see if there is a difference.
Why not take an old Bundy and cut it in half. Solder on a slip-ring and some sliding posts for the bell keys (or just leave em be and not worry about anything lower than a D). True, the horn would be a mess and probably not play in tune, but it could be the basis for a test.
So, anyone have an old Bundy, a hacksaw, soldering torch and a few days to burn?
 

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If the butchered horn didn't play in tune the entire purpose of the exercise (to compare tonal characteristics between in-line and off-set tone hole placement ) would be negated and rendered pointless. The off-setting of the tone holes (Selmer's idea early 70s I believe) was to modernize the ergonomics and create a saxophone that was more comfortable to operate and not for some tonal improvements.
 

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Hurling, Are you sure JK's are not in-line, I'm not sure. I think if they are off set, they're more in-line than the Selmer design.
Modern JK's (e.g., SX90's and SX90R's) are definitely offset, same as Selmers. The horns from the early 80's and earlier (e.g., Tonekings, New Kings, Couf Superbas and other stencils) have inline tone holes. I own examples of both (one Toneking and two SX90's).

I don't believe the tone hole orientation makes any discernible acoustic difference, though, as others have said, it's hard to tell because many changes were introduced between these models.

The ergonomic differences aren't too noticeable either, except on soprano. I didn't realize it, but several manufacturers (including Yanagisawa) still produce their sopranos with inline tone holes. The ones on the modern SX90 sopranos are offset, and it took me a while to get accustomed to the different hand positions.
 

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The ergonomic differences aren't too noticeable either, except on soprano. I didn't realize it, but several manufacturers (including Yanagisawa) still produce their sopranos with inline tone holes. The ones on the modern SX90 sopranos are offset, and it took me a while to get accustomed to the different hand positions.
Just how different did you find the ergos on an off-set / in-line soprano?
 

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Modern JK's (e.g., SX90's and SX90R's) are definitely offset, same as Selmers. The horns from the early 80's and earlier (e.g., Tonekings, New Kings, Couf Superbas and other stencils) have inline tone holes. I own examples of both (one Toneking and two SX90's).

I don't believe the tone hole orientation makes any discernible acoustic difference, though, as others have said, it's hard to tell because many changes were introduced between these models.

The ergonomic differences aren't too noticeable either, except on soprano. I didn't realize it, but several manufacturers (including Yanagisawa) still produce their sopranos with inline tone holes. The ones on the modern SX90 sopranos are offset, and it took me a while to get accustomed to the different hand positions.
If the butchered horn didn't play in tune the entire purpose of the exercise (to compare tonal characteristics between in-line and off-set tone hole placement ) would be negated and rendered pointless. The off-setting of the tone holes (Selmer's idea early 70s I believe) was to modernize the ergonomics and create a saxophone that was more comfortable to operate and not for some tonal improvements.
Sixteen year old thread? Doubt if anyone you guys may be speaking to are even around
 

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Just how different did you find the ergos on an off-set / in-line soprano?
It was different enough that it took me at least a full month to get used to the offset configuration. I think it makes a bigger difference on soprano for several reasons:

1. The tube is smaller, so that the rotation imposed on your wrists by the offset causes a larger position change relative to the tube's center of mass
2. Balance is more important on the soprano, since it is supported mainly by your thumbs (rather than by the strap, as on alto and tenor) and small changes in the wrist position have a larger effect on technique
3. The key touches are closer together, so slight changes in the positions of the stack keys have a more dramatic effect on the relative positions of the palm and pinky keys

Items (1) and (2) were what gave me the most trouble. I had to relearn how to balance the instrument in a way that did not impair my technique. Item (3) was basically all upside, especially for the right hand palm keys. The rotation of the stack keys moves your palms toward the palm keys, so that they are much easier to hit without moving your hands out of position. I have large hands and, as a result, I've always had to build up my RH palm keys (LH too, but they are adjustable on SX90's) to be able to reach them without moving my fingers out of position (i.e., far from the stack key touches). But on the SX90 soprano, due largely to the effect of the offset stacks, they are perfectly positioned.
 

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Sixteen year old thread? Doubt if anyone you guys may be speaking to are even around
Ah, thanks. I hadn't noticed. It just popped up on the new posts list and seemed like an interesting topic, so I responded without checking out the OP date.
 

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Thank you very much for that gracious elaboration - greatly appreciated :)
 

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I would have supposed that the distance from the mpc to the tone hole was the deciding factor on the note that resulted, rather than where on the circumference of the tube the hole appeared.

My thinking is that the column of air, or standing wave, is measured flat, straight across more or less, based upon the distance from the mpc.

Are there any studies of sonorous tubes that involve placing the tone holes around the tube in differing positions, rather than in a line, or near a line?
 
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