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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My main alto is a pre-war Keilwerth, a New King Series I stencil. I have been looking for a while for a great horn that I am never even tempted to trade or sell, and this is it. Previously, I looked for the same in an alto mouthpiece and found it with the Morgan 3C.

Now for the sad part: my Morgan burbles low C on the horn when playing softly. Now I drove myself insane for the first year or so after overhauling my Keilwerth- redoing and quadruple checking and spending hours in the pitch black with my leaklight, resoldering octave pips just to be sure, resoldering the bow to the body, isolating the neck and just be sure expanding and lapping the neck tenon in. Long tones. Lots of long tones. Different embouchures. Then I hit the sauce pretty hard, and woke up in a different state without my clothes realizing something had to change.

OK the last part is a fabrication.

I finally just came to terms with the fact that for some reason my mouthpiece on that horn burbles on low C. I've tried other New King Series I altos, some in very bad repair, and never had the problem. I've tried other mouthpieces on my horn, and only had the problem on maybe 1 out of 20 other mouthpieces. I have two Morgan 3Cs, and one of them is a little better than the other. Every other variable has been checked (including my Morgans on other horns, and other people on my horn) and its just has to be the mouthpiece combined with the horn combined with me.

Now if I put something in the bow that is large enough the burble goes away, but then D becomes unbearably stuffy.

So now I am back on the mouthpiece hunt, which sucks, because I thought I had the alto piece squared away.

Pieces I tried today that worked (as far as the burble- some had intonation problems, others just weren't "my sound"): Brilhart Tonalin, Selmer C*, Swing Club New York (vintage medium-large chamber piece), Otto Link early Babbitt HR, Steve Broadus Perfected Model

Pieces that didn't work because of the burble: two different Morgan 3Cs, vintage Martin HR

Now I'd blame it on chamber size, but the Morgan chamber is about the same as the Brilhart, and smaller than the Martin HR.

So my question is: what are the acoustics behind something like this? What is is about this combination that could be causing the issue? What things can I learn to recognize when the problem is acoustic vs. leaks/bad mouthpiece facings/bad reeds, if there are any?
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

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I had a similar situation with my Hohner (Similar to your stencil). Making sure the cork on the very end of the neck was a snug (SNUG - VERY END) took care of most of it. I had been dealing with it old school - it's me and not the horn - but when I played Chicago there was a lick that was unplayable because of this problem. After a week of intense leak checking and long tones I used teflon tape to make a tight fit between mouthpiece and cork. By the end of the run of the show I had it down to the very end of the neck and the mouthpiece being the culprit. The seal of the cork to my mouthpiece was air tight, but there was space at the end of the neck where the cork was undersized relative to the internal dimension of the mouthpiece. This was somehow interfering with only low C.

YMMV
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Super interesting. The cork on the end of my neck is indeed a bit loose, but just at the end. Since I push it on all the way to play (microtuner neck on my horn) I hadn't even thought about it. Argh! Midnight and I live in a small apartment building. Will have to wait until tomorrow morning... I'll let you know what I find.
 

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I've actually had the same problem with my Morgan 4L, but not my 3C. One thing I noticed is that the 4L is noticeably longer than my 3C (maybe 1/4" longer), with the 4L having a serial number of 15055 and the 3C having a serial number of 25233. I'm not sure if this is a function of the different models, different ages, or both model and age. Oddly enough, I noticed a similar burble using a Penzel Mueller, which I hadn't expected considering that it's shorter and seems to have a larger chamber than either Morgan. My (highly uneducated) guess is that it's dependent upon the ratio of length to chamber volume for the burble, while intonation is dependent upon each individually depending upon what region of the octave is being discussed (for example, mouthpiece length relating to palm keys intonation, and chamber size relating to bell keys intonation).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Carl, you are a genius. Worked like a charm. Amazing how little things like that can sometimes be the answer. Thanks again!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Joe, is your neck cork also loose at the end? If so, you oughtta bring it by the shop and I'll redo it for you.
 

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My mouthpiece is pretty snug with the neck cork, and combined with the very short shanked 3C, I haven't had any trouble with burbling. I was curious about the burbling though and noticed that the 4L I had was a little bit loose with the cork, which might explain the burbling with that piece. Since I pretty much use only the 3C and the whole setup is working fantastically, I don't think I'll mess around with it, but it does add another case of anecdotal evidence for a loose neck cork causing low note burbling.
 

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I have come to believe that the neck/mouthpiece junction
is important. My guess is that turbulance is the culprit. It is
also a place for moisture to collect.

So, yes, no air-spaces at the end of the neck, but also
a smooth transition into the MP. Doesn't that mean that
the end of the MP bore should be large enough so that
it requires only thin cork here? I always include
my neck when I send in my MP for rework.

Does Steve's "Mach 6 Neck Enhancer" address this
junction problem?

jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've seen the "Mach 6" and while it looks nifty, it is IMHO flawed. I met the guy who said he designed it (not Goodson- it was his apprentice at the time Jagon Eldridge- at least according to Jagon) and while it looks like something that was designed to channel air, anybody will tell you the airstream is moving pretty slow and the actual SOUND comes from sound waves, which adhere to different rules than the airflow. It is also fairly large, so you would be changing the bore size fairly significantly at a pretty important spot. It also won't be an exact fit in your mouthpiece anyways, which to me defeats the intended purpose! It also costs $100 for something that takes about 5 minutes to make on a lathe...

Again, IMHO. I could be wrong.

More here: http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=18264
 

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Benade was emphatic about the detrimental effect turbulence has
on performance. I'm pretty sure he was talking about sound waves.

I need to understand more about the difference between air flows (DC)
and sound waves (AC).

jim
 

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Unless I am mistaken, in which case somebody will surely correct me, or I can delete this to avoid confusion. However, if I am corrected, it would be nice if the correction could be made in lay terms that the majority of people understand. :)

Woodwind instruments create sound by creating "standing waves".

A standing wave consists of a defined column of air (defined by the shape of the bore containing it) which has certain regions where the air pressure rapidly increases and decreases (in sync with the frequency of the note being played).

For this air pressure to change in a certain region (or regions) of the air column, air must very rapidly travel towards that region and away from it, many times per second. (This oscillating movement is superimposed upon the general slow flow of air down the instrument, which is relatively irrelevant, being merely a byproduct of the method used to initiate the sound - at the reed.)

This rapid, oscillating flow of air is over only short distances, but is very fast. It is turbulence associated with THIS flow that has the potential to affect the way a sax plays.

A location where there is always great flow of this kind is at a tone hole. The air whizzes in and out of a tone hole in an effort to maintain stable air pressure in that part of the bore. This air, whizzing in and out, has to negotiate a tortuous route around the tone hole wall, and between the pad and the tone hole edge. To make this easier, we have the pad lifting a decent amount above the tone hole. For saxes and flutes, we have large tone holes top assist the flow. For clarinets we undercut the tone hoes, so the tortuous bend from the bore into the tone hole is made less tortuous.

Now for another question... Could it be that some turbulence at CERTAIN locations is actually DESIRABLE? It could reduce the flow of air in the locations where pressure changes are NOT desired.
 

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Gordon, basically right on AFAIK. Consider, though, that at pressure nodes the air molecules are not moving, and it is the pressure that is changing at the frequency of oscillation. At displacement antinodes the pressure remains constant but the air molecules are moving rapidly back and forth at that frequency. You can also picture this (perhaps more easily) with a string: if you anchor a string at both ends, the string cannot move at those points--the string displacement is at max in the center of the string, but there are tension changes at the anchor points that provide the "kick" to get the string to move back towards the center to try to equalize the tension. Newton's first law causes the string to overshoot the center point, at which point the tension again builds in the anchor points and the process starts again.

So you seem a bit confused in the last sentence: where there is airflow there is no pressure change, where there is pressure change there is no airflow. Where there is no airflow there is no possibility for turbulence.

The "torturous" bend is not really a problem for the air, since air is not solid. There is an effect for a bend in a tube, but the effect is relatively small. The killer is always sharp edges, which create reflections which travel back up the tube, robbing the sound radiation efficiency and creating different types of interference with the main standing wave. It is always about lessening the efficiency of the standing wave. Undercutting flute toneholes or sax toneholes, insofar as it is possible, should be just as efficacious as doing the same with a clarinet.

Toby
 

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Hmm. I thought you would resort to acoustic jargon. Even reading "nodes" constitutes reading frustration for most readers. Even I have forgotten which are the noes and which are the antinodes terminology many times over the decades. I deliberately avoided the term.

".. at displacement antinodes the pressure remains constant but the air molecules are moving rapidly back and forth at that frequency. "

I think this is altogether too simplistic. It is an ideal model. In reality, air being a flexible medium, air is sloshing/swirling about all over the place in the vicinity, in order to attempt to maintain this pressure-neutral state. If this was not so, then why would the standing wave have to extend beyond the beginning of the first open tone hole. Even that first open tone hole does no manage to completely create a pressure node, which is surely why the venting of the next tone hoe has some influence.

I like your string analogy. But the tension also is changing to some degree along the whole length of the string, including the centre. Our tidy models gloss over the messy detail.

"... So you seem a bit confused in the last sentence: .... where there is pressure change there is no airflow... "

So take that second (or third or whatever, depending on the pitch) open tone hole. Somewhere around there is a theoretically and possibly idealised location of constant pressure, but in order to get that pressure constant, air is rushing in and out of the FIRST open tone hole, which is actually neither at a node, nor an antinode.

"... Where there is no airflow there is no possibility for turbulence...."

So in view of what I wrote above, at this first open tone hole, there most certainly is a lot of oscillating airflow.

"... The "torturous" bend is not really a problem for the air, since air is not solid."

By tortuous bend, I refer to air oscillating up and down the bore towards that first open tone hole, and then suddenly turning a right angle to exit/enter the tone hole (in order to equalise the pressure a little further down the bore.) I called it a tortuous bend; I believe you called it a sharp edge. Same thing. A lot of turbulence. Turbulence drastically reduces fluid flow, be it air or liquid.

"... Undercutting flute toneholes or sax toneholes, insofar as it is possible, should be just as efficacious as doing the same with a clarinet."

Sax/flute tone holes offer far greater venting than clarinet tone holes. This is how I, in a simplified way, picture sax tone holes:

Take a 20 mm radius tone hole. Imagine it is really only 17 mm radius. That extra 3 mm made of air, effectively constitutes some undercutting and overcutting, with some relatively stagnant air half way up the tone hole wall, acting as tone hole wall. A clarinet or oboe does not have the luxury of this region of air that stands in as under/overcutting, because it is so small in diameter, for the needed oscillating airflow.

So yes, I agree with you, but any large-tone hole (wrt the bore diameter) effectively has its own built in undercutting, as I described. In lay terms, we could simply say it has better venting. (So it does not need further undercutting to maximise the venting by reducing turbulence.)
 

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Carl H. said:
The seal of the cork to my mouthpiece was air tight, but there was space at the end of the neck where the cork was undersized relative to the internal dimension of the mouthpiece. This was somehow interfering with only low C.

YMMV
1. I don't understand "somehow". Is the implication that the mouthpiece is "rocking" on the cork and that causes the gurgle?

2. A repairman pointed out to me that a good neck cork is tapered and fat at the end so the end of the mouthpiece pushes against it. Is this because it prevents gurgling? (In that case neck corks out to be longer on alto necks.)

3. If #2 is correct then 1.2 mm corks (which I buy from MusicMedic) is too thin on tenor. However, 1.6 mm cork is rather difficult to mount. Any tips? Although, I am not a repairman I have no problem replacing a neck cork (1.2mm that is), and it is quite practical not to have to rely on access to a repairman for something this minor.

4. I do experience a gurgle on low notes on my Peter Jessen tenor. I have ascribed to my lack of abilities because Peter has no such problems when playing his horn (he is a pretty darn good saxophonist). It happens when I play soft, subtone, and/or am tired (which is often the case as I work really long hours). I can always eliminate the problem by playing loud. Should I replace the cork?

Sorry for the trivial questions. I think I largely understand Gordon's and Kyomarto's discussion but I am not sure how it pertains to the original question. Maybe I am missing something. I would appreciate answers.
 

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A close to ideal solution for ensuring a nice airtight seal right at the end of the neck cork is teflon tape. (Plumbing supply section at most any hardware store) Clean the end of the cork with alcohol or lighter fluid on a paper towel and then wrap a couple of inches about the end of the cork. I smear a bit of cork grease on the tape (and of course on the rest of the just cleaned cork) and then emplace the mouthpiece. Works perfectly, can be easily removed, can easily be adjusted for different sized mouthpieces......

In deference to the concerned techs; you should be careful not to run with the scissors you use to cut the tape and don't smoke about the towel with the lighter fluid on it........

And yes, of course you can carefully do the neck cork right in the first place- though a cork starts to compress and lose adjustment long before becoming scroungy enough to beg for replacement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
brasscane said:
1. I don't understand "somehow". Is the implication that the mouthpiece is "rocking" on the cork and that causes the gurgle?
My neck cork before I changed it looked a lot like a new Selmer neck cork with the ring of metal around the end, except mine was almost as large as the bore of the mouthpiece. I had to file the metal down and soften the edges a bit to allow the cork to adhere better and allow for enough cork for a stable fit.

My GUESS is that the small amount of volume that changed with the neck cork sealing all the way into the mouthpiece is what did it, since I didn't have the problem with other mouthpieces on the same cork before I changed it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
brasscane said:
4. I do experience a gurgle on low notes on my Peter Jessen tenor. I have ascribed to my lack of abilities because Peter has no such problems when playing his horn (he is a pretty darn good saxophonist). It happens when I play soft, subtone, and/or am tired (which is often the case as I work really long hours). I can always eliminate the problem by playing loud. Should I replace the cork?
I assume its been gone over for leaks, including solder leaks and the neck tenon. If so, does the problem happen on any mouthpiece? If it does, I think its a horn issue. If it doesn't, then there is something going on with the volume/length of the mouthpiece you are using relative to the horn. Try changing the cork if it isn't snug all the way to the end. Try dropping a neck plug in the bow of the horn. The main thing I think is altering the volume of the bore in the specific spot where it is needed- but as far as figuring out what specific spot, at least for myself I find it to be mostly trial and error and educated guesses.
 

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Mr. Fixit said:
...though a cork starts to compress and lose adjustment long before becoming scroungy enough to beg for replacement.
Let's see, a compressed cork that no longer has the right adjustment does not need replacement just a band aid. Hmmm. I'm glad you don't work on any of my instruments. :)

A Concerned Tech
 
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