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Distinguished Member, Forum Contributor 2012-2015
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Discussion Starter #1
Last Christmas, I switched from my regular Ted Klum Standard Model on my tenor to a Ted Klum solid Silver Handcrafted model. The main reason was that the brass of the worn out Standard Model piece was leaving stains on every reed, which led me to assumed that I was ingesting chemical components as I played; the solid silver seemed like a healthier solution. But this is not what I want to discuss. I love the tone of this new Handcrafted. It's a superb TK piece. However, since the switch, I began experiencing intonation problems that I never experienced before. I've always been complemented by my perfect intention on the sax. But now it seems that every note is a struggle for me (by the way, I'm on the same sax, a 1957 Mark VI). Now as I play I am constantly trying to adjust the intonation, which makes it hard to focus on the music exclusively, as I did before. So my question is: have any of you experienced this? And did the problem go away with more time on the piece? Wouldn't three months be enough time to stabilise the intonation? I really wouldn't want to go back to the previous piece, which is also extraordinary, but this new one's tone and playability is perfect for me.
I have an important concert next Saturday and this is making me feel uncomfortable, as I feel intonation is key in any performance.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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Sorry to hear of this hassle. Are you tuning the mouthpiece to the horn, or putting it in the same position as the previous piece? I recall there may be a slight difference in chamber volume between models, so you may need to move the new piece to its own correct position.

Beyond that, what are the issues? Certain notes, certain ranges of notes? Have you had any other changes on your horn? Are you using fresh reeds? I know that when I don’t pay attention to my favorite set of reeds, they may drift toward softer, and issues such as intonation may creep in slowly. (It’s interesting to me that you and I play similar tip openings and the same reeds.)
 

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Is the fundamental interior design of these two mouthpieces different? If one has a dramatically different interior volume than the other, its correct position on the neck is likely to be different.

As far as an unplated brass mouthpiece, you certainly can have them replated. I don't know about who does it but it can be done. The facing might need to be touched up before replating, because you don't want to do it afterward (I think).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Dr. G, I always rotate reeds (at least 8 of them any time), so that's probably not the problem. I did change to position of the mouthpiece in the neck, tuning it to middle B as the optimal position. This one piece sits a little more outer on the cork than the previous one.
No other changes in the horn. Certain ranges sound sharp, especially in the area around low G, while others play flat, particularly in the second octave.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Is the fundamental interior design of these two mouthpieces different? If one has a dramatically different interior volume than the other, its correct position on the neck is likely to be different.

As far as an unplated brass mouthpiece, you certainly can have them replated. I don't know about who does it but it can be done. The facing might need to be touched up before replating, because you don't want to do it afterward (I think).
It's hard for me to tell how different the interior design is. The bore is definitely tighter on the cork.
I know that Ted Klum does great replating work. I just don't want to mess up the piece. Changing anything in the facing is totally out of the question for me. I am afraid it won't play as well as it did before. I know that slight changes can make a huge difference.
But the replating is something that I will need to consider, if the problem persists. I am just hoping (perhaps too optimistically?) that with more time (maybe another three months) I will learn the new piece's intonation tricks and adjust my playing accordingly.
 

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Wow that seems very strange. If those two mouthpieces are reasonably close to the same design, you shouldn't be have such wild inconsistency with intonation up and down the horn.

My first thought is that maybe your horn is out of adjustment or that you need a different reed strength, probably harder.

Dr. G, I always rotate reeds (at least 8 of them any time), so that's probably not the problem. I did change to position of the mouthpiece in the neck, tuning it to middle B as the optimal position. This one piece sits a little more outer on the cork than the previous one.
No other changes in the horn. Certain ranges sound sharp, especially in the area around low G, while others play flat, particularly in the second octave.
 

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It's hard for me to tell how different the interior design is. The bore is definitely tighter on the cork.
I know that Ted Klum does great replating work. I just don't want to mess up the piece. Changing anything in the facing is totally out of the question for me. I am afraid it won't play as well as it did before. I know that slight changes can make a huge difference.
But the replating is something that I will need to consider, if the problem persists. I am just hoping (perhaps too optimistically?) that with more time (maybe another three months) I will learn the new piece's intonation tricks and adjust my playing accordingly.
FWIW, that brass is lead free unlike a number of production type mouthpieces (Link, Yanagisawa etc). The bottom of the reed is reacting a little with the brass but I really don't think that the end result would be harmful to your health in any kind of way.

How recent is your silver piece? It may be smaller overall inside than the standard which was a close to as big as a TK design got. I think the first Precisions and the cast models labeled River Edge are definitely the biggest.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
FWIW, that brass is lead free unlike a number of production type mouthpieces (Link, Yanagisawa etc). The bottom of the reed is reacting a little with the brass but I really don't think that the end result would be harmful to your health in any kind of way.

How recent is your silver piece? It may be smaller overall inside than the standard which was a close to as big as a TK design got. I think the first Precisions and the cast models labeled River Edge are definitely the biggest.
The silver piece is quite recent. I bought it new from Ted last Summer. It’s a superb piece I’m not blaming it for any of the problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wow that seems very strange. If those two mouthpieces are reasonably close to the same design, you shouldn't be have such wild inconsistency with intonation up and down the horn.

My first thought is that maybe your horn is out of adjustment or that you need a different reed strength, probably harder.
I am doing that right now. Went up to a Rigotti Jazz 3 hard this afte4noon. It seems to be helping. Time will tell if it will fix the issue.
 

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I am doing that right now. Went up to a Rigotti Jazz 3 hard this afte4noon. It seems to be helping. Time will tell if it will fix the issue.
Cool. I hope it helps. Take a good look around your horn. If anything is leaking significantly, even from something as simple as a spring that isn't seated, crazy response and intonation can be the result.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Cool. I hope it helps. Take a good look around your horn. If anything is leaking significantly, even from something as simple as a spring that isn't seated, crazy response and intonation can be the result.

Good luck!
Thanks for all the help!
 

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Don't assume its not the mouthpiece. In a nutshell, when you try a new mouthpiece that doesn't work for you, try something else. Keep using your other piece but remember to always remove the reed after you're through with the sax and keep the reed in a Reed Guard. Wipe the mouthpiece dry and put it in a padded mouthpiece pouch. There are also several products at the grocery store or hardware store that will safely clean a metal mouthpiece, taking out any tarnish and discoloration without harming the plating. One that I use a lot of is 'CLR' (calcium, lime, rust).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Don't assume its not the mouthpiece. In a nutshell, when you try a new mouthpiece that doesn't work for you, try something else. Keep using your other piece but remember to always remove the reed after you're through with the sax and keep the reed in a Reed Guard. Wipe the mouthpiece dry and put it in a padded mouthpiece pouch. There are also several products at the grocery store or hardware store that will safely clean a metal mouthpiece, taking out any tarnish and discoloration without harming the plating. One that I use a lot of is 'CLR' (calcium, rust, lime).
Thanks for the feedback.
When I bought my old piece, it was already well worn out. I take very good care of all my gear. Do everything that you mention ,(except the CLR thing - I use sanitary alcohol).
For now, I am assuming it’s not the mouthpiece. I think I was so used to the old one that I am probably uncounciously trying to make it play like the old one did. In other words, the other piece had become second nature to me and I was surprised that this new one reacted so differently. This is what I am guessing, but I am not sure.
 

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For now, I am assuming it’s not the mouthpiece. I think I was so used to the old one that I am probably uncounciously trying to make it play like the old one did. In other words, the other piece had become second nature to me and I was surprised that this new one reacted so differently. This is what I am guessing, but I am not sure.
FWIW, I've had that happen too. Try to keep coming back to neutral when you're practicing - harder to do if you're taking right into a performance context. Slow down, listen a lot, and consider leaving a tuner ON while practicing where you can glance at it every once in a while if in doubt.
 

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I've tried fighting with mouthpieces that others said were great, until I realized that it's not worth the struggle. IMO, if it's not working for you, move it on and try something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Maybe the new mouthpiece is more open which can always make intonation an issue when changing.
Actually, it's a little more closed, but the difference is not that big (.108 to 0.102). I have played mostly .105s to 0.108s (TKs, 99.9 % of the time), but this .102 doesn't feel that different.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I've tried fighting with mouthpieces that others said were great, until I realized that it's not worth the struggle. IMO, if it's not working for you, move it on and try something else.
I won't give up on a great piece before I am confident that the issue cannot be solved. It probably can. I have heard other experienced players mention intonation problems after switching to a new mouthpiece. It seems that your body (lips, throat) silently settles in a certain way on a piece that you use for a long time and it has problems adjusting to something that requires a different approach. I suspect that I am in the middle of this process right now. In the first weeks the problem was much more salient. I CAN play in tune on the piece right now; it just requires too much attention, while I need to focus on other issues (I'm playing improvised music in a jazz quartet, so my mind needs to be free from these technical/mechanical hassles).
 

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I won't give up on a great piece before I am confident that the issue cannot be solved. It probably can. I have heard other experienced players mention intonation problems after switching to a new mouthpiece. It seems that your body (lips, throat) silently settles in a certain way on a piece that you use for a long time and it has problems adjusting to something that requires a different approach. I suspect that I am in the middle of this process right now. In the first weeks the problem was much more salient. I CAN play in tune on the piece right now; it just requires too much attention, while I need to focus on other issues (I'm playing improvised music in a jazz quartet, so my mind needs to be free from these technical/mechanical hassles).
To what end? Is this piece going to give you something that another high-quality piece couldn't? It shouldn't take you more than a day or so of time to get a handle on any quirks a piece has intonation-wise, if you're a good player (which I believe you are). I guess I don't understand why you'd choose to struggle with a piece that would cause you to change the way you blow in order to play it in tune... it just sounds like this particular piece isn't a good match for you.
 

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tuning it to middle B as the optimal position. This one piece sits a little more outer on the cork than the previous one.
I'm not sure tuning to middle B is your best way to go....I've always suggested tuning to a G....
 
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