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Discussion Starter #1
I am trying to figure out some intonation issues on an old Selmer tenor that sometimes feels a bit out of tune.

As reference, I tune the saxophone so that the middle C (oxo,ooo) is in tune (the tuner is set to A=440).

When the C is in tune the A1, D2, D#2, E2, F2, F#2, G2 and A2 are sharp.
B1 and B2 are more or less in tune, or small percentage flat.
The Bb1 and particularly the Ab1 are flat. The Bb2 and Ab2 possibly a little flat also, but not as much as the Bb1 and Ab1.

Can anyone identify what is the problem? Is it possible to fix this by some adjustments? This tenor has a beautiful tone, and I hope I can reduce these intonation issues. Using a Berg Larsen 110/1 ebonite mouthpiece seems to make the intonation slightly worse, while the Link STM 8* seems to make it a little better. BTW, I don't have this problem with my other tenor (Yanagisawa T992), which seems to play in tune all through the range. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Greetings
Bjorn
 

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A440 is B natural-not C on the tenor
 

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HE can still tune with C. I would recommend tuning with your B natural as Thomas mentioned. Or try tuning with your C to a Bb
 

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I am trying to figure out some intonation issues on an old Selmer tenor that sometimes feels a bit out of tune.

As reference, I tune the saxophone so that the middle C (oxo,ooo) is in tune (the tuner is set to A=440).

When the C is in tune the A1, D2, D#2, E2, F2, F#2, G2 and A2 are sharp.
B1 and B2 are more or less in tune, or small percentage flat.
The Bb1 and particularly the Ab1 are flat. The Bb2 and Ab2 possibly a little flat also, but not as much as the Bb1 and Ab1.

Can anyone identify what is the problem? Is it possible to fix this by some adjustments? This tenor has a beautiful tone, and I hope I can reduce these intonation issues. Using a Berg Larsen 110/1 ebonite mouthpiece seems to make the intonation slightly worse, while the Link STM 8* seems to make it a little better. BTW, I don't have this problem with my other tenor (Yanagisawa T992), which seems to play in tune all through the range. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Greetings
Bjorn
http://www.steveduke.net/pdf/steve_duke_mouthpiece_placement.pdf
 

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I wouldn't use middle C (oxo in the left hand) as a tuning note, it's slightly flat on almost every tenor I've played. To test it you can play the first overtone from low C and the pitch will usually be higher than the regular fingering. using B (concert A) as a tuning note would probably be better. using side C might help too.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I wouldn't use middle C (oxo in the left hand) as a tuning note, it's slightly flat on almost every tenor I've played. To test it you can play the first overtone from low C and the pitch will usually be higher than the regular fingering. using B (concert A) as a tuning note would probably be better. using side C might help too.
Thanks for this info, I have been wondering what it the best note to tune to, i.e. which one is on average most in tune on any saxophone. The tenor C (natural Bb) seems to be common, but as you say maybe it is not inherently the best to tune to.
 

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Thanks for this info, I have been wondering what it the best note to tune to, i.e. which one is on average most in tune on any saxophone. The tenor C (natural Bb) seems to be common, but as you say maybe it is not inherently the best to tune to.
If you checkout the link I gave the ideal note may be low B. The higher notes are more flexible and when they are in tune the rest of the horn may not be.

The low B is less flexible so you tune with it.

Here's the link again.

http://www.steveduke.net/pdf/steve_duke_mouthpiece_placement.pdf
 

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Sounds like you have a horn that has a lot of intonation problems. My selmer also got some troubles, especially g# and a# wich are flat. First, get your horn to a tech for a complete set up key heights. The key heights has influence on the intonation. Also leaks cuses wierd intonation tendencies.
 

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I wouldn't use middle C (oxo in the left hand) as a tuning note, it's slightly flat on almost every tenor I've played. To test it you can play the first overtone from low C and the pitch will usually be higher than the regular fingering. using B (concert A) as a tuning note would probably be better. using side C might help too.
every horn is a case, tuning with C for me is better than B... so there you go
 

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Agreed. Each sax has its own special intonation thing going on. You've got to find a spot in the middle. Working with a tuner for a while will let you identify what embouchure changes you need to make by note. As your ear gets better, it becomes automatic. This is not to say a tech can't make some adjustments that will bring the whole thing closer in line, but in my limited experience, all saxes have at least one or two quirky spots. For example, I opened up the low c pad a bit on my SA 80II to fix a stuffy D. This fixed it, but caused the note to play a bit sharp. After a few days of conscious compensation, it became natural to "lip down" that note a bit. it's not even something I notice anymore...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If you checkout the link I gave the ideal note may be low B. The higher notes are more flexible and when they are in tune the rest of the horn may not be.

The low B is less flexible so you tune with it.

Here's the link again.

http://www.steveduke.net/pdf/steve_duke_mouthpiece_placement.pdf
Thanks so much. This article contains a lot of interesting stuff. I think I read it hear on SOTW once previously, but had forgotten the issue with the low B. Will do some more experimentation.
Bjorn
 

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Agreed. Each sax has its own special intonation thing going on. You've got to find a spot in the middle. Working with a tuner for a while will let you identify what embouchure changes you need to make by note. As your ear gets better, it becomes automatic. This is not to say a tech can't make some adjustments that will bring the whole thing closer in line, but in my limited experience, all saxes have at least one or two quirky spots. For example, I opened up the low c pad a bit on my SA 80II to fix a stuffy D. This fixed it, but caused the note to play a bit sharp. After a few days of conscious compensation, it became natural to "lip down" that note a bit. it's not even something I notice anymore...
I really found this interesting. it kind of leads to a repair tech question. Do repair techs attempt to adjust key heights to get uniform intonation? If the tech plays a particular horn regularly and is adjusting others, wouldnt that cause them to try to adjust to be like the horn they are accustomed to?
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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If I have to tune (which has been known occasionally) I like to tune a few notes. On tenor I find G and B are good, because I can play them with my left hand only and play piano notes with my right. After that I might hold each note and only then look a tuner to double check.

Alternatively I play a B, then up and down a G scale and back to the B, then play the piano A or look at a tuner. I find this a much more realistic way to tune.

I certainly don't worry about being spot on to a tuner, chasing equal temperament with a tuner would drive me nuts.
 
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