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Lately, I've been having some major trouble with the low notes on my soprano. I can play everything down to low E with ease, but all notes lower than that are very difficult to play, and I get a really stuffy tone. I know it wasn't like this a few months ago. I've tried putting a leak light in it and examining it in a dark room, but all the pads appear to seal correctly, and I couldn't find a leak at all. Any tips?
 

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If this has a detachable neck make sure it is properly fitted.

Toneholes can also leak where the chimney attaches to the body.



Sent from my LGUS997 using Tapatalk
 

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'Toneholes can also leak where the chimney attaches to the body.'

This is only on older mostly American saxes like King and Martin where the much thicker 'tone rings' are soldered into the body. All other saxes have 'drawn' tone holes which are extruded from the body by a machine, so there is no seam.
 

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It could be anything. Low-end response problems can often come from high-end problems. I take my horns into good light (sunlight) and routinely check the octave mechanisms to see if somehow they are not opening/closing properly; check the tone holes in good light for a hair or other small debris stuck on the edges or on the pads; check to see that your G# is not opening ever so slightly; same with bis-Bb; check to see that a pad isn't loose in the cup and moving when it shouldn't be moving; check to see if the side keys (both hands) are not slightly bent off-center.

Go top to bottom and closely watch each pad open and close as you finger notes.

Even a bad reed can cause problems on certain notes - those that are the most difficult to blow when there is a problem - and that means the low notes. Notes higher than E1 can often be blown well enough even when there is a problem elsewhere. DAVE
 

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If you're not a certified tech, take it to a certified tech. They should be able to diagnose the problem quickly.

- Saxaholic
 

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Make sure that you're not pushing too harder on the keys when you use the leak light than when you actually play the horn. Have you had someone else try your horn?

Probably best to take it to a decent tech.
 

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- Play low D and open the low C# key. Is it still stuffy and hard to play?

- Play middle D and add the G# key. Does that note go stuffy when you do?

- Play low C and then go to low C#. Do they have the same resistance, or is one better than the other.

- Are low B and Bb harder to play than the low C or about the same?

- Do any of your low notes tend to "warble"?

- Is your mouthpiece loose on the cork or is it snug?

- If your soprano has a neck, without tightening the screw does it wobble slightly in the receiver?

- After opening your side C how much play left to right is there in the key cup?

- After opening your side Bb how much play left to right is there in the key cup?

- Does changing to a different mouthpiece or a softer reed make the problem better?
 

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It could be helpful if your audience knew the make/model & possibly the year of your instrument. Also the mouthpiece and reed you were using at the time the problem occurred.
 

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It sure won't hurt anyone to first do their own inspection before taking the horn into someone. I can't count the number of times I solved (or at least identified) the issue before making the trek and spending the money for repairs. DAVE
 

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If you're not a certified tech, take it to a certified tech. They should be able to diagnose the problem quickly.

- Saxaholic
I am a tech, and have been for several decades. I am not certified. Does that mean I cannot diagnose a problem?
BTW there are probably plenty "certified" techs who are not good at diagnosing.
 

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+1,Yep. You can find leak lights for under $30. Basic tool everyone should have and know how to use.
http://musicmedic.com/products/repair-tools/leak-detection/18-457-2mm-flexible-leaklight.html
Yes. However using one validly, to pick up less obvious leaks, is not really that straightforward, especially for keys linked to others.
I suspect that most non-tech players who have bought a leak light would not have the awareness/experience to trust the results they find.
That is fine, but they should be aware of that.
 

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- Play low D and open the low C# key. Is it still stuffy and hard to play?

- Play middle D and add the G# key. Does that note go stuffy when you do?

- Play low C and then go to low C#. Do they have the same resistance, or is one better than the other.

- Are low B and Bb harder to play than the low C or about the same?

- Do any of your low notes tend to "warble"?

- Is your mouthpiece loose on the cork or is it snug?

- If your soprano has a neck, without tightening the screw does it wobble slightly in the receiver?

- After opening your side C how much play left to right is there in the key cup?

- After opening your side Bb how much play left to right is there in the key cup?

- Does changing to a different mouthpiece or a softer reed make the problem better?
Excellent list! I’m going to print this out
 

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Better than a leak light, especially if you have done this test when the sax is playing great so that you have a benchmark.

http://stuffsax.blogspot.com/2014/05/finding-leak-when-leak-light-doesnt.html

You can find oddball leaks that a leak light can't.

http://stuffsax.blogspot.com/2015/02/another-saxophone-leak-that-light-cant.html

It's not just soldered tone holes that can leak.

http://stuffsax.blogspot.com/2016/10/yet-another-weird-leak.html

Even drawn tone hole chimneys can leak, as with the Dolnet the first blog. Fixing that tiny leak turned the low end into a power house. That's a sax that I'd like to play again, except it weighed about 76 pounds.

Mark
 

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I am a tech, and have been for several decades. I am not certified. Does that mean I cannot diagnose a problem?
Pretty much :bluewink:

Steve
 

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LOL! Funny man.
:)
 

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Excellent list! I’m going to print this out
Thank you. This may be even more help.

- Play low D and open the low C# key. Is it still stuffy and hard to play?
If the D is better this indicates it is a venting problem. Try opening the low C key to see if that helps.
- Play middle D and add the G# key. Does that note go stuffy when you do?
If so it indicates that the G# closing screw adjustment from the F# is not set properly.
- Play low C and then go to low C#. Do they have the same resistance, or is one better than the other.
If the C# is better the C# pad may be leaking, if the C is better check the G# closing adjustment.
- Are low B and Bb harder to play than the low C or about the same?
If they are it is also an issue with G# closing screw adjustment.
- Do any of your low notes tend to "warble"?
If they do it could indicate that the mouthpiece is not far enough onto the cork. Check the tuning.
- Is your mouthpiece loose on the cork or is it snug?
If it is loose this could cause stuffiness throughout the sax which may be intermittent.
- If your soprano has a neck, without tightening the screw does it wobble slightly in the receiver?
If it does it could indicate there is a leak at the neck tenon causing stuffiness throughout.
- After opening your side C how much play left to right is there in the key cup?
If there is play it can cause the pad to close differently at times producing an intermittent leak.
- After opening your side Bb how much play left to right is there in the key cup?
If play is found this play can produce an intermittent leak affecting the low notes the most.
- Does changing to a different mouthpiece or a softer reed make the problem better?
If the problem gets better, it may not be just be a mechanical problem with the sax, but a combination of issues.
 

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Lately, I've been having some major trouble with the low notes on my soprano. I can play everything down to low E with ease, but all notes lower than that are very difficult to play, and I get a really stuffy tone. I know it wasn't like this a few months ago. I've tried putting a leak light in it and examining it in a dark room, but all the pads appear to seal correctly, and I couldn't find a leak at all. Any tips?
Have you tried any of the suggestions ? Waiting for the weekend ? It’s always nice to know the outcome. Please post, that’s how we all learn.
 

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How's the neck cork? Nice and tight?

My True Tone Alto was giving me fits, and, same as you, the leak light said EVERYTHING was perfect.

When I was adjusting my mouthpiece one day, I could feel the movement of the cork - just that slight loose twist where it's beginning to come loose.

I could feel the air escaping from under the cork when I held the brass of the neck. It was acting like some super-secret vent, I guess.

Had my tech guy just replace the cork (I didn't have the materials at hand) and everything was awesome again.

Then again, maybe it was just me. :)
 
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