Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I recently had a major breakthrough! I bought a very nice VI, a tenor in the 90K serial range with great original lacquer back in January. I did a record, my first and struggled with pitch. My ears are very sensitive to intonation and I just felt nervous and uncomfortable throughout the entire session. Anyhow, I just thought, "I need to get back to working on pitch when I get home", it's gotta be me, especially since no horn plays "perfectly" in tune. Well months later, after a gig, a fund raiser, someone gave me a hug and my horn fell of my shoulder and hit the floor. It was in the case, and the strap moved just enough to come off my shoulder. It dropped about three feet. My heart sank, but I went into denial mode. "Oh, it's a good case"... "It didn't drop that hard"... I didn't open the case for a day. When I finally opened it, my worst nightmare came true, the horn was bent near the top of the body. Some keys wouldn't even open or close. S*&t! Well, off to the shop.

The tech confirmed the issue and said he would take care of it, don't worry about it, it will be okay. I thought at that point I would have them go ahead and put the kangaroo pads in with the new resonators and see how it goes, along with a complete overhaul.

Well, remember that in the beginning of my diatribe I mentioned my pitch problems? I was BLOWN away at how much better my horn played. I had been told twice that the key heights were too low. My tenor was setup almost like an alto by one of the previous owners. When I bought the horn, the low key heights were seductive, but I realize now, that the low key heights were the evil of all evils. Ultimately, it doesn't really increase your speed that much anyhow. I now know that the horn has to be properly ventilated! This is amazingly critical!!! I cannot say this enough. Before this realization, I was online looking for reasons why vintage VI's would be out of tune. I even played along with other recordings to see where I was after many hours of working on pitch. I was simply working way too hard to play in tune. It wasn't my fault. Now, it is hard for me to play out of tune and a major bonus is the altissimo! The altissimo sings and is much much easier now and consistent with my hard rubber mouthpiece.

Don't get me wrong, there is great value to practicing and paying attention to intonation, but it may not be you. If you work on pitch and still can't get it together, get your horn checked for proper venting/key height before you drive yourself crazy like I did.

By the way, a plug for Steven, my tech in Houston, TX for bringing my horn to life! He works at Fleming Instrument Repair. I am moving to L.A. in a couple of weeks, but will still let him do all of my work from this point forward.

Best of luck to my sax mates!
-Sal Crocker-

P.S. - I will never sell this horn!

From the album:
View attachment 59855
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
·
7,570 Posts
Re: Inotonation Fixed - Kudos to Steven at Fleming Repair (Houston, TX.)

Interesting; I was just commenting somewhere the other day about Selmer key opening heights. IIRC, the lower stack keys open about 9mm. I usually do my own set-ups and just go by eye. You're exactly right, they need to be like the original set-up to play right. How could anyone think that making gross adjustments on the stacks could possibly be better than what Selmer shipped? Obviously you make very small adjustments for tuning sometimes but mostly on the non-stack keys. In order to keep the key touches level on the stacks, if that matters to you, you have to add felt/cork when making spot adjustments. The felt compresses so you then have lost motion which is irritating.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
This is all very revealing, and I hope it will help others as they pursue perfect pitch! Thanks for sharing, Sal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
774 Posts
Re: Inotonation Fixed - Kudos to Steven at Fleming Repair (Houston, TX.)

Now that you've got the pitch situation corrected, you may want to check your spelling. Inotonation? :>)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
HaH, that's the version of what I had, it was so bad that I had to call it inotonation, now it's intonation! Thanks for the laugh.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
Re: Inotonation Fixed - Kudos to Steven at Fleming Repair (Houston, TX.)

Interesting; I was just commenting somewhere the other day about Selmer key opening heights. IIRC, the lower stack keys open about 9mm. I usually do my own set-ups and just go by eye. You're exactly right, they need to be like the original set-up to play right. How could anyone think that making gross adjustments on the stacks could possibly be better than what Selmer shipped? Obviously you make very small adjustments for tuning sometimes but mostly on the non-stack keys. In order to keep the key touches level on the stacks, if that matters to you, you have to add felt/cork when making spot adjustments. The felt compresses so you then have lost motion which is irritating.
What is the original set-up???

Some time ago I went with a friend, each to buy a Selmer SA80 tenor, from an importer who opened the just-arrived carton from Paris.
There was a huge difference between the venting on these two saxes.

BTW, for Yamaha, who does supply key opening specs, the difference between alto and tenor is very small. For most keys the difference is between 0 and 0.5 mm more for the tenor. Hardly visible by eye.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,123 Posts
Yet another anecdote that illustrates the importance of having a horn in top playing condition. I'll bet it wasn't only the intonation that improved after that overhaul!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,166 Posts
I had similar issues with my bari - lower stack key heights were too high and the horn was sharp in that area. I took off all of the corks on the lower stack, redid them with synthetic cork (I do all of my own maintenance short of pads and metalworking/solder), and the sax plays much better now.

I've found this to be a good rule of thumb, at least for the notes that can use the octave key:
If a note is out of tune in only one octave, but the same note is in tune when you switch the octave (press or release octave key), it is one of three things:
- Biting
- Incompatible mouthpiece
- The nature of the instrument (for example, I've found that most altos and a lot of baris have middle E 5-10 cents sharp)
If a note is out of tune by a similar amount in both octaves, it is probably the horn.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top