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I wanted to seperate discussion that was muddling up the tenor thread.
Many of us have had problems with low notes (D1 down) to gurggle like a motorboat. This tends to happen more with more modern high baffle and small bore mouthpieces. I first had this problem with a Chu soprano in the 1960s. My Selmer Soloist D just would not hold a tone from about C1 down. If I pushed it way in (quarter tone sharp) the problem would disappear. Once a month I would venture up (from Miami) to the Otto Link shop in Pompano where Ben would always help us with mouthpieces. He handed me a HR Tone Edge 5* and the Chu played perfectly. These were rather large bore mouthpieces with scooped sidewalls similar to the original Conn Eagle that did not have any problems except sounding like a duck.

Over the years I have found ways to cure the problem:
1 - change mouthpieces
2 - insert a baffle of sorts in the bow of the horn
3 - push in and really loosen your chops

I prefer to baffle the bow. Not every horn has this problem and seems to have gone away by the 1930s although there have been reports of Selmers having some horns with this problem in the past 10 years.

Solution: Drop an object down the bell to rest in the bow. Try to use the smallest item you can. If the problem remains, try something a bit larger. Once you have established the size of the item, find a rounded item (small wooden egg from a craft store, flute head cork, wine bottle cork) and remove the low C key, drop in some (hot) glue and drop the item down the bell and press it into the glue on the bottom of the bow. I have heard of people filling a pool of parafin inside the bow which sound good although I have not tried it.

Side effects: It may make some notes a bit stuffy but as yet I have found having a mouthpiece to horn combination I like to be the most important result and it can easily be reversed.

Horns I have had this happen on:
Conn, Buescher and King altos prior to about 1932
Conn curved sopranos
Conn C Melodies

Cause: I feel it is a mismatch of the inside of the mouthpiece to end of neck combined with the shape of the bow. Keep in mind that when these horns were made, an alto mouthpiece was usually under .065" which is pretty closed by todays standards.
 

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Good post. Another remedy which I have experienced is actually having the neck extended just a bit...like 1/4"-1/2".

IMHO you are correct, it seems to be that the intrinsic shape/design of the bow when combined with the volume displacement inside the mouthpiece can cause problems. Indeed, oftentimes pushing WAY in and having the horn play significantly sharp alleviates the problem, like you said.

The neck extension idea is really doing the same thing (i.e. more neck inside the mouthpiece) which results in the same displacement inside...except due to the extended neck the horn actually still plays in tune.

I have seen this work many a time. I have also seen it NOT work occasionally. Besides the above mentioned makes/models, I have experienced this occasionally with some German and French made horns as well...usually split-bellkey horns.
 

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The bows on many New Wonder altos is too deep (also an issue with certain Mark VI altos). Usually, it's the low B that motorboats like crazy. I added a round plate to the bottom of my New Wonder's bow, which decreased the volume of the lowest part of the horn. The "baffle" as such did not cause undesired effects in the rest of the horn's range. That, in addition to a good overhaul and a mid to large chamber mouthpiece, eliminated the issue. Actually, the low B on my horn has a particular overtone heavy "zing" that I can't get from any other alto. It's a very rich sounding note, even at low volumes. Even when blowing the fundamental pitch, you hear plenty of overtones ringing in the background. It's kind of like hitting the lower octaves on a grand piano.

BTW, I know that it isn't as commonly discussed as the bow issue, but couldn't a leak in the microtuner cause trouble in the lower register?
 

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I found that switching to a larger chamber mouthpiece cures the problem quite nicely. Old STMs or even some of the new STM NYs just work on the older Conns.
 

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BTW, I know that it isn't as commonly discussed as the bow issue, but couldn't a leak in the microtuner cause trouble in the lower register?
Actually, leaks in a number of places can also cause this motorboating of the low notes. Good point...

....if one starts getting that phenomenon....they should not automatically assume there's an intrinsic problem with the particular model. It could be there's just a leak somewhere and it needs a servicing. But if the horn is leak-free and the problem persists, then you have to go to other remedies....

May I ask....you said you put a plate in the bow....how large is it ? Was it shaped to follow the contour of the bow, or is it flatter and not necessarily following the curvature ?

Actually, for a stretch there the great selmer was sending out of the factory with a 'selmer band-aid': similar to what you may be describing....a factory installed piece of sheet brass soldered to the inside of the bow. There are a couple of threads here on that, where folks discovered (years after owning the instrument) that the bow had this extra piece inside.
 

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Everything Bruce said coincides with what I've found with my NWII. Smaller chambered mouthpieces aren't good for it, but baffling the bell (I find a champagne cork to work well) can eliminate the gurgling. I'll have to experiment with what Jay said, pulling the microtuner out a little bit, to see if that might resolve it. Having the chamber of my Selmer Larry Teal isn't a good idea..is it? Could that make tuning better with the horn?
 

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My worst horn for motorboating was a conn chu alto, but after several trips to the tech it is now a solid low end horn. I do not know what all he did to fix it, but the neck is really tight now.

I have a Malerne Artiste tenor that motorboats or wants to start with every mouthpiece in the collection except the Brilhart Special (5 digit serial no.) that came with the beast when I bought it. No hint of the gurgle with that one mpc. So that one stays with that horn.

For both horns a champagne cork or mpc cap dropped into the bell solved the problem.
 

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It fixes my problem until I turn the sax over and it drops out. Of course by then you've drunk the champs so it's not as if you really care.. :)
Just get another bottle! :mrgreen:

FWIW, I've always relied on mouthpiece choice to solve the problem. In my experience, you can have a high baffle with a large chamber and it will still work pretty well. Even a short, high baffle with a large chamber will give you extra edge. An Otto Link, as Bruce suggested, fits the bill nicely.

The closest I get to motorboating is on my NW I alto when I use my Jumbo Java (large chamber with a long, high baffle); low B, as mentioned earlier, is the fussy note for me. If I need to play delicately down there, I don't use that mouthpiece...
 

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My NW1 alto has been giving me a bit of trouble ever since I got it — motorboating on some low notes and the the odd unexplained squeak. Finally I got around to handing it over to my tekky for a service. He replaced a few pads, did a job on the low D tonehole which was out of true, and I was supposed to collect it from him this morning (Saturday). At 8 am he rang me to say that he'd given it a test blow last night, and the squeaks were still there; so he took the microtuner apart (the only thing he hadn't done) — and discovered that some one had drilled six small holes inside it under the sleeve. Neither he nor I can imagine WHY anyone would do this. He's going to solder them up, but it might not be such a good idea to use the microtuner for tuning in future…

Strange.
 

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I had a gold plated Conn 'Chu' Alto that exhibited this phenomenon...I never could get past it and I traded it (with some cash thrown in) for a Selmer Cigar Cutter Alto, after I had first also bought a Mark VI Alto.
 

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I don't know if this is the same but after I started doing subtone ALOT... I tried to go back to normal.. When I would play low notes, it would motorboat. I find I could fix this by putting my tongue under the reed. My tongue usually recedes while playing. My reed had a lot to do with it aswell..
 

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Actually, leaks in a number of places can also cause this motorboating of the low notes. Good point...
Apparently, it also causes squeaks, as per Mike T's experience.

JayePDX said:
....if one starts getting that phenomenon....they should not automatically assume there's an intrinsic problem with the particular model. It could be there's just a leak somewhere and it needs a servicing. But if the horn is leak-free and the problem persists, then you have to go to other remedies....
Agreed. Start with the basics, such as neck cork, spring tension, and pads. If everything is in good regulation, the bow and microtuner should be the next culprits. Ummm...providing that you aren't playing on a small chambered mouthpiece to begin with. ;-)

JayePDX said:
May I ask....you said you put a plate in the bow....how large is it ? Was it shaped to follow the contour of the bow, or is it flatter and not necessarily following the curvature ?
Actually, I did not put that level of thought into the plate. I was in high school when I first picked up my NW, and experienced a low B gurgle. The horn was in pretty decent repair, so I rolled the pads out. After running a few Google searches, I stumbled upon a few articles that stated New Wonders with dented in Bows played better. The reasoning was that the lower bow was too steep, and the dent would knock the bow back into a more usable shape. Not wanting to actually dent the bow, I looked for a piece of metal that would simulate the dent by decreasing the overall volume in the bow of the horn. The plate is actually a flattened out quarter that was placed on railroad tracks. I dropped it in the bell, and moved it around until I found the location with the best results, then removed the Low C key and locked the plate into position with a small amount of epoxy. I can't really measure the quarter without removing the bow from the bell and body tube, but by making a very rough estimate, I'd say that the plate is a 1.5" long by 1" wide oval. So it is flat, does not follow the curvature, and was the easiest way to get the desired results.

After learning a little bit about electrolysis, which I'm still hardly an expert on, there was a concern that my placing a different metal into the bow may have a negative effect on the brass. I suppose it was dumb luck that I chose a nickel plated piece of copper for the plate. The horn itself is nickel plated, so I would hope that it doesn't corrode brass, and you can't make brass without copper. The plate has been in the bow for a decade now, and both the plate and bow look fine. So, if you plan on making this mod, be mindful of what material you're using. The wrong metal, mixed with an electrolyte and mild acid (water/saliva) will start a galvanic reaction that will deteriorate either the plate or bow itself.

JayePDX said:
Actually, for a stretch there the great selmer was sending out of the factory with a 'selmer band-aid': similar to what you may be describing....a factory installed piece of sheet brass soldered to the inside of the bow. There are a couple of threads here on that, where folks discovered (years after owning the instrument) that the bow had this extra piece inside.
Matt Stohrer has a video of this on his youtube channel. The horn in question was a Mark VI alto, and the concept is very similar to what I did, but the location of the brass plate is completely different from where I placed mine. Selmer's curved plate is attached to the top of the bow, while mine is on the bottom. Both succeed in cutting down the volume of a bow that is too large. Now I'm not sure if the bows of the VI and New Wonder are too large in the same area. With the Conn, I'm fairly confident in stating that the issue is in a lower bow that was too steep. With the Selmer, I'm not entirely sure where the actual problem area is.
 

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Agreed. Start with the basics, such as neck cork, spring tension, and pads. If everything is in good regulation, the bow and microtuner should be the next culprits.
The neck tenon and socket also need inspection. Besides a loose fit, check for a cracked tenon or receiver, as well as leaking solder joints. Vintage horns have had many years to accumulate these sorts of problems.
 

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The neck tenon and socket also need inspection. Besides a loose fit, check for a cracked tenon or receiver, as well as leaking solder joints. Vintage horns have had many years to accumulate these sorts of problems.
Ah, the joys of a body that is soldered together! Well, at least us Conn users don't have to worry about soldered on tone holes.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I always rule out the leaks first and if the microtuner is suspect, it can be disassembled and packed with cork grease to check for leaks. Same with the neck.
The reason for pushing the mouthpiece way in is to check for acoustic problems but won't solve leaks. If the horn is leaking, pushing the mouthpiece in should not change the low end response all that much.
 

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Fascinating discussion, folks. I get the occasional gurgle on my Vito (Jupiter stencil) tenor - and it picks up noticeably in softer stretches, and towards the end of a show when the reed (and, um, this hack amateur player) start to go soft. Worse, too, with a Brillhart 5 vs. a semi-junky LeBlanc Educator mp. Go figure ...

May try that champagne cork trick. Let the drinking commence ... ;-)
 
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