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A week ago I got a low A H. Couf Superba II from PM Woodwind. The horn is amazing! It has spent most of its 50 years not being played. On Friday I took it to my tech and had all the minor stuff sorted out that needed to be. Now I'm figuring out all the stuff that I need to learn in order to get the most out of this amazing horn. EG: How much more air I need to blow and support through its large bore to get a great, consistent sound.

The one thing I'm wondering about, is what you Superba bari--or equivalent JK bari--players are using for MPs?

I have 6 or 7 bari MPs, but of all of them, only 2 play in-tune over the full range of the horn, and of those, only one sounds decent.

The good-sounding MP is a vintage (likely late 60s or early 70s) SS Berg 110/2 M. The other one that works is a Runyon Quantum. I like the bottom end with the Quantum, but the 2nd octave and up the horn starts to sound really thin and brittle to my ears. (Not at all what it can sound like.)

With the rest of my bari pieces (including my main bari piece, a vintage HR Berg) the palm keys are 30 to 40 cents flat, and the entire horn loses it rich overtones. All the rest of my bari MPs including a Zinner, original Metalite, et al, all have have the same characteristics on the horn.

My tech looked at my 2 main bari pieces (the Bergs) and compared/contrasted them. As he looked at the bore opening of the 2 pieces, and at the sax's neck opening, he noticed something interesting. The neck opening is quite small, while the HR Berg's bore opening is wider, and more like what you would see in other baris. (Which is probably why it works so well on my Mark VI and my Committee III.) The SS Berg's bore opening is smaller though, and much almost a perfect match for for the neck opening. The chamber on the SS Berg is also smaller than that on the HR one.

All this leaves me baffled. :bluewink: Pun intended. :faceinpalm:

I am OK with playing my vintage SS Berg for now, and will continue to experiment with reeds to see if I can find something that I truly like. But I would like to find a sound that is better than the one I'm currently producing. I realize of course that as I get more familiar with the horn my actual bari tone will come through, but I'm not totally in love with this SS Berg's sound, and I know what it sounds like on my other baris. That's why I'm asking you good folks:

  • What have you found works on your JK-made baris?
  • What brings your entire horn's range 100% in tune, and gives you those rich overtones that the brand is known for?
 

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I played one of these years ago. I mostly used a Brilhart Personaline with it as it matched the horn quite well.
I vaguely remember playing a Runyon and not liking it on that horn.
 

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Metal Yanagisawa but, really it's down to getting used to a different horn,a 'new' voice. Most of the pieces you already play have been tried and tested over the years on a whole range of different makes/specs. of horn with satisfactory -if not perfect- results,lets face it what is perfect? it's all relative and compromise.
 

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I play a modern metal link that I got for a super low price on ebay. Suits the Couf bari really well!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I played one of these years ago. I mostly used a Brilhart Personaline with it as it matched the horn quite well.
I vaguely remember playing a Runyon and not liking it on that horn.
Interesting. Thanks for the idea.

Metal Yanagisawa but, really it's down to getting used to a different horn,a 'new' voice. Most of the pieces you already play have been tried and tested over the years on a whole range of different makes/specs. of horn with satisfactory -if not perfect- results,lets face it what is perfect? it's all relative and compromise.
Thanks, I'll have to check with my local Yani dealer to see if they such things in stock.

I am really picky when it comes to MPs. I do expect them to be perfect. My Selmer & The Martin both respond perfectly over their entire range, have spot-on intonation, and require no compromise when it comes to my MP choices. I have 3 or 4 MPs that I use depending on the circumstances, and all of them provide me with 100% reliable results.

The Couf is a different animal. I have an alto & tenor JK from 1957, so I know that they can be a bit fussier when it comes to MP's (the alto especially) compared to other brands. But once you find the right fit, the results are worth it. I don't doubt the bari will be the same. It's just a matter of trying different pieces until I find the one that works best for me, and gives me the precise--you know us Germans, we are big on precise :bluewink: --results I'm looking for.

I play a modern metal link that I got for a super low price on ebay. Suits the Couf bari really well!
Thanks for that. Interesting you mention a metal Link. The alto/clarinet player in the big band I play in brought his bari piece so he could try the horn, and he sounded really good. You guessed it, it was a modern metal Link.
 

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I play a Weltklang Bari, just once in a while, with an Otto Link STM metal, that sounds decent. Could be worth to try.
 

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Metal Yanagisawa but, really it's down to getting used to a different horn,a 'new' voice. Most of the pieces you already play have been tried and tested over the years on a whole range of different makes/specs. of horn with satisfactory -if not perfect- results,lets face it what is perfect? it's all relative and compromise.
What he said^^^.
That said, I play a SS Berg 100/2 on my Superba I. It plays well in tune and I love the sound. But note that I did have a really fine reface done by Jimmy Jensen. It measures 0.101".
The facing on a mouthpiece is easy to overlook as a source of problems, and I have a theory that it can even cause tuning problems... e.g. It doesn't blow well, but you've subconsciously compensated for that poor response, and as a result your embouchure contortions that you don't notice can throw off tuning...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What he said^^^.
That said, I play a SS Berg 100/2 on my Superba I. It plays well in tune and I love the sound. But note that I did have a really fine reface done by Jimmy Jensen. It measures 0.101".
The facing on a mouthpiece is easy to overlook as a source of problems, and I have a theory that it can even cause tuning problems... e.g. It doesn't blow well, but you've subconsciously compensated for that poor response, and as a result your embouchure contortions that you don't notice can throw off tuning...
Thanks SchlockRod. I know that my MP facings are OK, since my 2 Bb baris play fine with them.

Interesting you found anyone to work on your SS Berg. Most people won't go near them b/c SS is so difficult to work with.

My SS Berg is a very similar to yours. It is a 110/2, and I am starting to get the sound I want from it. I have had to change the way I approach the MP/embouchure on the horn to do so. This has also has brought all my tuning into a more consistent state, and really brought out the horn's natural overtones.

Overall the process in learning how to play this Couf has been/is an interesting one. Having never even played a JK bari before this, I had no idea of what I was stepping into when I got the horn. They are so different from their French and American contemporaries that how you approach them, and the amount of supported air you need in order to play them well, has resulted in an interesting learning curve for me. It is a fun ride. And I so much appreciate all of you out their who are sharing your experiences with me. It is very helpful in shedding some light on this quite remarkable instrument.

It is truly sad that very few companies out there are producing instruments like this--and in this quality--any more.
 

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  • What have you found works on your JK-made baris?
  • What brings your entire horn's range 100% in tune, and gives you those rich overtones that the brand is known for?
I use an RPC 125B on my 1970-ish King Tempo low Bb bari. But 100% in tune? Is there such a thing? I struggle with middle Eb & E being quite sharp, but the rest of the horn seems pretty well in tune with this setup.

If you find that the Couf low A horn isn't working out for you, let me know, I've been considering buying one, maybe we can meet at the border and perhaps I'll take it off your hands for you!
 

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Hi --

Somewhat off topic.... I played a fellow student's Couf Superba 1 bari for about an hour in 1977 and deemed it the best bari I'd ever played. I don't remember what mpc he was using, but he just got the horn and would not have had much time to experiment with mpcs....

4 years ago, I auditioned a JK soprano and the seller was nice enough to let me return it. As much as I wanted to love the horn (I have really big hands and the JK palm keys are great for them), I couldn't get it to sing, even with trying many mpcs. OOTH, my Yamaha Purple Logo soprano took all of 5 minutes of play testing before I handed the store owner a deposit. Instant top to bottom in tuneness, evenness of tone and ease of playing.

I deemed the large JK bore unsuitable for sopranos in the hands of me. How Lieb does it, I don't know. When I met him shortly thereafter, I explained the foregoing about my P/L. His response? "They play" (somewhat dismissively uttered).

Which brings me to this: I recently play tested a Mark VI bari and a Conn 12M bari. I deemed the Conn as requiring quite a bit more air than the Mark VI. I'm a long term (45 year) Mark VI tenor player. I was using a Berg HR 130 tip (I don't know the facing size).

I'm not exactly a wimp, I'm six foot six and in great shape for my age, 60 - gym and bicycling, etc.

I'm interested in play testing a Couf. I don't want low A. From the tenor of your thread (pun intended), I take it that the Couf bari is mpc picky. Is this correct? Also, that it takes more air than a Conn or even a Mark VI. Also correct? Did you find a matchable mpc? Thank you!
 

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try if you can the original Wagner piece. I had two and sold one recently but kept one with my Keilwerth LowBb bari especially because it sounds so good with the horn.
 

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try if you can the original Wagner piece. I had two and sold one recently but kept one with my Keilwerth LowBb bari especially because it sounds so good with the horn.
I agree.
(I bought the Wagner that Andre mentions).
Other options would include the slim Geo M Bundy rubber pieces as well as a number of others who used a similar blank.
When I had my King Tempo, I mostly used a RPC rollover 110 and a Stainless 1960’s Berg 120/2 piece.
Both tuned very well.
The only piece I recall being difficult to tune with was a Brancher B29 or something like that.
It was a high baffle narrow chambered piece that wouldn’t work on any of my older horns.
It was however fine on my Yanagisawa B6.
Meyer baritone pieces seem to be quite good on older horns from what I have read.
But I have no actual experience with them personally.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I've been so busy this year with stuff that I haven't look at SOTW for months. Wow, I had no idea it had been this long! Thank you guys for your replies!

I use an RPC 125B on my 1970-ish King Tempo low Bb bari. But 100% in tune? Is there such a thing?
Yes, yes there is. When I play I am usually 100% in tune over the entire range. Each horn tunes slightly differently, and b/c I have quite a few, this requires slightly different facial adjustments for each. Once I'm familiar with the MP/reed/horn combo the adjustments become automatic. In order to accomplish this I do long tones with a tuner.

I struggle with middle Eb & E being quite sharp, but the rest of the horn seems pretty well in tune with this setup.
Not sure what you mean by "quite sharp". By how many cents? Sharp is way easier to correct via embouchure adjustment than flat. BTW, what note do you tune to? Saxes seem to naturally tune best when warm to F#1 &2. Don't remember which of my teachers told me this 100 years ago, but I've done it like this forever.

If you find that the Couf low A horn isn't working out for you, let me know, I've been considering buying one, maybe we can meet at the border and perhaps I'll take it off your hands for you!
Yah, that's not going to happen. :bluewink: It has become my main bari in the big band I'm in. But thanks for the offer.


Hi --

Somewhat off topic.... I played a fellow student's Couf Superba 1 bari for about an hour in 1977 and deemed it the best bari I'd ever played. I don't remember what mpc he was using, but he just got the horn and would not have had much time to experiment with mpcs.... <snip>

I recently play tested a Mark VI bari and a Conn 12M bari. I deemed the Conn as requiring quite a bit more air than the Mark VI. I'm a long term (45 year) Mark VI tenor player. I was using a Berg HR 130 tip (I don't know the facing size).

I'm not exactly a wimp, I'm six foot six and in great shape for my age, 60 - gym and bicycling, etc.

I'm interested in play testing a Couf. I don't want low A. From the tenor of your thread (pun intended), I take it that the Couf bari is mpc picky. Is this correct? Also, that it takes more air than a Conn or even a Mark VI. Also correct? Did you find a matchable mpc? Thank you!
The Couf seem to have a very loyal following. The fact that mine was a closet horn is rather unusual. More often than not it turns out the Couf gets played, while its owners other sax sits in the closet.

Case in point, my first teacher just picked up a dead minty Mark VI from 1968. It originally belonged to a pro who bought both a VI and a Couf in 68. He played the Couf exclusively in recording sessions and other jobs, and sold the VI to his student. His student ended up never using it b/c it was so minty, and bought a top of the line Yamaha instead. Now the VI is happily being played regularly in swing bands by a pro who does prefer Selmer VIs. Go figure....

To answer your question, yes, the Couf is more MP picky than other baris I have come across. I own a low Bb Mark VI and Martin Committee III. Both of them will play with any MP you slap on them. Naturally some MPs sound better than others, but they can be played without their intonation suffering. The Couf... Well that is a different story.

The Couf does take more air, but b/c it is a low A horn, it is naturally going to take more. Now that I'm used to it, I don't even notice it anymore. Don't forget I'm a bass sax player, so air is really not an issue for me. I just got lazy from playing my low Bb horns. Compared to the B&S Medusa that it replaced? Yes, it does take more air, but probably it's just a case of the Couf having more resistance, as well as the larger bore that JKs are known for.

Yes, I did find a a great MP. More on that in the post in this thread.

try if you can the original Wagner piece. I had two and sold one recently but kept one with my Keilwerth LowBb bari especially because it sounds so good with the horn.
Thank milandro! I had no idea that Wahner pieces were what was shipped with the horns. I'm guessing those were what was shipped with JK baris.

I agree.
(I bought the Wagner that Andre mentions).
Other options would include the slim Geo M Bundy rubber pieces as well as a number of others who used a similar blank.
When I had my King Tempo, I mostly used a RPC rollover 110 and a Stainless 1960’s Berg 120/2 piece.
Both tuned very well.
The only piece I recall being difficult to tune with was a Brancher B29 or something like that.
It was a high baffle narrow chambered piece that wouldn’t work on any of my older horns.
It was however fine on my Yanagisawa B6.
Meyer baritone pieces seem to be quite good on older horns from what I have read.
But I have no actual experience with them personally.
Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well my MP search appears to be over. So here is what works for me:

SS Berg 110/2 M with Harry Hartmann's Onyx reed. Works great, but then I bit the bullet and tried...
Theo Wanne Durga 3.

I just got the Durga 3 yesterday, and only have a couple hours on it, and haven't yet experimented much with reeds, but this MP does it all.

With both Onyx and (good) Rico Plasticoat it plays in tune over the entire range; can make everything in your house rattle with volume; yet can whisper with a richness that a bari ought to have; and bring out all the natural overtones over the full range of your horn without being obnoxious--unless you want it to be.

These MPs are remarkable. I figure it will take me a good 2 to 4 weeks to figure out everything this MP can do.

Theo Wanne designed the Durga 3 bari pieces for vintage and modern low Bb baris, and what it does to the Martin Committee III is simply remarkable.

As I said, I just got the piece yesterday, so I can't write any kind of review yet, but I already know that the Durga works great on the low A Couf, and without a doubt, its sound on the Martin is beyond belief.

If you have a chance, try a Theo Wanne piece at a local dealer near you. I think the sound that comes out of your horn will knock you on your ***.
 

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Eastern Music unlacquered power neck tenor and a Jean Paul AC-400.
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Sounds like a really nice mpc but wow, those Durgas are not cheap! Not quite there yet with my 12M but I'm ready to drop $795 on a new mpc.
 

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There is no concern about matching mouthpieces to this horn. Any style of well made mouthpiece will work on it.

My Keilwerth stencil Bari needed some major mods in order to get it to play well. Had a new neck receiver machined and the bow-to-body connection was barely soldered and leaking like a sieve. Charles Gray saved the day. Here is the thread.

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...ray-for-working-on-my-Low-A-Conn-DJH-bari-sax
 

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“Not quite there yet with my 12M but I'm ready to drop $795 on a new mpc.”

Meant to say “I’m not quite ready to drop $750...”
 

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On my JK Sx90R baritone, I find the modern metal otto links do quite well. Also, it really does well with a cheap rico graftonite b5 or b7... Though fast articulation i find is not so clean with the weird, thick graftonite rails. But it is quite flexible. TW Durga 3 seems to work well in many horns, but they ought to for the price. I am thinking of trying a vandoren v16 b7 or a vandoren v5 b75 for an upgrade rubber piece, or maybe spring for an RPC...
 

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On my JK Sx90R baritone, I find the modern metal otto links do quite well. Also, it really does well with a cheap rico graftonite b5 or b7... Though fast articulation i find is not so clean with the weird, thick graftonite rails. But it is quite flexible. TW Durga 3 seems to work well in many horns, but they ought to for the price. I am thinking of trying a vandoren v16 b7 or a vandoren v5 b75 for an upgrade rubber piece, or maybe spring for an RPC...
+1 on the Rico
I've also had good luck with both hard rubber and metal Brillharts, as well as Dukeoff pieces.
 
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