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Hey, everyone. I've been running into a tenor sax problem which I think is being caused by my mouthpiece. I play a 1935 Buescher Aristocrat silverplate tenor with a Morgan 6L mouthpiece. If I put the mouthpiece on just far enough that it's not wiggling around, the entire horn plays about 30 cents sharp.

I picked up the tenor about a year ago after having played alto for eight years. My alto is also a Buescher Aristocrat (1941) and I've played a Morgan 5L and 6L on it with no problems. So at first I thought it was just a matter of getting acclimated to the tenor, but at this point I'm not so sure. I've tried wrapping a small piece of paper around the cork to be able to have the mouthpiece farther out, which works okay in terms of getting me in tune, but the mouthpiece does wiggle around a bit since it's so far out on the neck. Plus I sometimes get an odd warbling/pulsing sound on some notes (particularly the lower G# and A) which I suspect might be related to the mouthpiece issue.

So I guess the main question is: would this problem be best solved by trying out new mouthpieces (i.e. are my horn and mouthpiece just incompatible?), or is there anything else I can do about it? What do y'all think?

P.S. I generally use 3.5 V16 reeds, although I've also tried lower strengths of the same brand.
 

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How about putting some paper on the neck cork and then figuring out where it plays in tune. Just because the mouthpiece isn't wiggling around doesn't mean that is where the mouthpiece needs to be.
 

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How are your key heights?
 

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You're probably aware that the tenor requires a much looser and relaxed embouchure than the alto. Put your mouthpiece on the cork to where it is a least stable, not wobbling, and begin practicing with a looser embouchure until you get to the point where the tenor is in pitch. Those old Bueschers are very good horns and usually play quite in tune but also check for mechanical problems too.
 

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You're probably aware that the tenor requires a much looser and relaxed embouchure than the alto.
Not sure I agree with this, TBH. I play just as loose on alto and soprano as tenor. Sure, you have to voice it higher, but you can do it with your vocal tract and keep a loose embuchure and let the reed work freely on any horn. That said, yeah, sometimes guys will have the problem you allude to when first playing tenor after playing only alto.


rshorn, first thing to do is get your neck recorked to fit the mouthpiece then see how it works. That Morgan is a relatively conservative design, it shouldn't have any huge pitch issues on your Buescher.
 

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sometimes guys will have the problem you allude to when first playing tenor after playing only alto.


.
This was the primary point I was making.
 

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Interesting...I went to a Morgan 'EL' to help with pitch problems (sharpness, primarily) on a 1940 Balanced Action Tenor...it's the best match I have found so far...in fact once I got the Morgan 'EL' I pretty much quit looking for anything else.

I have also successfully played Otto Links and Selmer Soloists (long shank) on this horn too but the tone of the Morgan 'EL' is what I am looking for.

Anyway...I am surprised to hear of sharpness problems with a Morgan 'L'. I wonder if you have a leak somewhere that is driving your pitch up ?
 

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I think there may be an issue with the throat or chamber on the MPC as it relates to 'bigger bore, horns. I experienced something similar on a Morgan ML on my Keilwerth tenor. It tuned sharp and even when I thought I had it out far enough there were intonation issues in certain notes of each register. It was frustrating at the time because there was so much potential in the piece that I could hear. I just sent mine to Phil of Phil-tone mouthpieces to modify for me and it came back spot on. It looked like he took some material out of the throat area which solved all my intonation issues. It is a kicka$$ mpc for sure, perfect for R&B and rock stuff! Can be very loud in deed! Consider sending it to Phil. He will sort you out.
 

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The Buescher you have is generally considered to be fairly mouthpiece friendly. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that every mouthpiece piece will work on it with you playing it.

I don't have a tenor of that vintage, but my series 1 alto of that vintage doesn't have any trouble with small chamber pieces and it does seem to care which small chamber piece I put on it. A combination, I presume, of the horn, the piece, and me.
 

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Hey tenorblack, is that all Phil did to your ML, was open the throat a little - nothing to facing or baffle? If you enlarge the troat of the ML, wouldn't that give you an L?
 

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Hopefully one of our members with better understanding of acoustics will jump in and improve my explanation, but this is my layman description of my experiences with vintage horns:

Assuming that there are no leaks, the warbling/pulsing sound you describe is tipical of a mouthpiece that needed to be pulled to far out on the neck to be in tune.
It happens when the chamber is too small for what the horn likes, and you pull it out to compensate for it. Then the total lenght of the horn on the low notes is not correct and you get the warbles.

I guess trying a few other mouthpieces can help. I am playing a Link STM on my 1928 TT and it works...
 

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I agree it's probably too thin a cork. I just began playing a 7L occasionally on 1932 and '40 Buescher tenors with no serious intonation issues. The easy response and projection of the piece particularly impresses me.
 

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Hey tenorblack, is that all Phil did to your ML, was open the throat a little - nothing to facing or baffle? If you enlarge the troat of the ML, wouldn't that give you an L?
Hey Carr, He did modify the facing and baffle. I had him close it down a little. It started out as a 7* and I had him move it to about a *102. In terms of it turning into a L chamber, probably not. I have a Large chamber morgan too and It feels different and sounds different than the ML. It has (the ML) more power, is more direct and tunes and controls better.
 

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I've Morgan L's and ML's and it's as if they're completely different brands of pieces. I have noticed the same issue Tenorblack cites. I actually prefer the ML.
 

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As far as rshorn's tuning issues go, I've an almost identical problem with my tenor, but it's a 1936 vintage 10M. I spent hours discussing it with tech today and the point I've come to is this: These 20's and 30's vintage horns were born, raised, and played with mouthpieces that fit the acoustic parameters of horns of that vintage. For example: I've a perfectly brilliant and marvelous Barone Hollywood I've played on Selmers, etc. Even on the 10M, it plays with an astonishingly warm conversational voice WHEN I push it 1" onto the cork to reach the acoustic sweet spot marrying that Hollywood and that 10M. I mean "lush" only hints at how great it is. Frankly, I'd prefer playing the Barone Hollywood forever and nothing else. But the problem is that in the sweet spot (great for playing by myself or with another instrument like stand up bass that can tune to me) the piece plays a full half note sharp (I'm aiming for C, and getting Db). To get it in tune I've got to pull it back to a mere 1/2" of cork.....and that's wobblesville.
 
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