Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm now the delighted owner of 1926 Conn C soprano. Musical instrument Reed instrument Saxophone Wind instrument Brass instrument It's drop dead gorgeous and feels like I'm playing a Swiss watch; everything is so tiny and precise.

My question is about the intonation. It had a wildly sharp G when I got it which my tech fixed with a crescent in the tone hole. So that's better now, but the horn as a whole is generally sharp in the lower stack and flat in the upper stack in both octaves. Not a huge amount; between 10 and 20 cents. But it seems weird that the bottom is sharp and the top is flat. I've never had that with a horn before.

Could this be a mouthpiece issue? Could something the tech did with getting the G in line have done this?

The piece that works best is the smallest chamber piece I have; a Runyon, and with that piece it 'tunes' at a what looks to be a pretty normal spot (about 1cm from the end of the cork). Other soprano pieces I have need to get shoved all the way on and are still flat.

I should also add that I'm an experienced soprano player, having played mostly soprano for the last couple decades. Never had a C soprano before though, and never had a horn this old.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,251 Posts
My Yamaha 3C or 4C is the best mouthpiece I have found for these, better than the stuffy originals BUT these C sopranos are a monster to play in tune and for me the Conns are impossible. I find the low C and below is so sharp that I need the mouthpiece in a lot and lip down the other notes. Middle C is really flat too. I say just live with the intonation issues and play it like an oboe, tune sharp and work from there. I have owned about 3 Conns and a dozen others in C and love the sound but a lot of work!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Bruce.

The sound really is something special. It's sweet and solid and...well, really just beautiful. Literally.

In your experience is the flat left hand/sharp right hand thing normal for these horns down? That seems so odd to me.

I'll likely take it back to me tech (who is really very good) and see what he can do. I'd like to be able to actually PLAY this one. But as it is, going A B C D E and back with any sort of speed require lip gymnastics that are...well...probably more than I'm willing to put up with.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
Joined
·
517 Posts
I have played vintage C sopranos for decades, including Buescher, Conn, Evette Schaeffer and others. Pitch will always be a big compromise in all registers if you are using anything other than a C soprano mouthpiece. With a C sop mouthpiece and good regulation, my Conn C soprano plays about as well in tune as it's Bb counterpart. A Bb mouthpiece, no matter what the facing or chamber, is impossible to use for critical tuning or for my classical playing.
Paul Cohen
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Paul.
I guess my question is specifically whether the situation of right hand sharp/left hand flat is 'normal' or 'typical' for these horns or not.

Sopranos are often pitchy; old ones more so. This is 'normal'. But slicing the horn in half, with the bottom half being sharp and the top half being flat; this is new for me.

Is that 'normal'??
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
Joined
·
517 Posts
In my experiences, your pitch issues are not normal. Start with the appropriate mouthpiece, and have the key heights, especially in the top hand and palm keys severely regulated (usually very closed, close to the original specifications). That should get you started with normal soprano pitch issues, which require control and flexibility, but no heroics or acrobatics.
Paul Cohen
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,614 Posts
Right hand sharp, left hand flat, is the classic issue with not being pushed in enough. Push in and play lower to get it in tune.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,130 Posts
Runyon Bb Sop MP’s have chamber volumes that are smaller than other Bb Sop MPs. But they still are a little larger than a true C Sop MP volume. You can try some putty in the chamber to make them smaller. But it does not sound to me like this will solve all your intonation problems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Right hand sharp, left hand flat, is the classic issue with not being pushed in enough. Push in and play lower to get it in tune.
That's the conclusion I've come to, although going back and forth across the C/D split still means ridiculous embouchure gymnastics.

I'm going to see if the two hands can be made a bit closer with key heights, etc.

The mouthpiece is a Runyon Smoothbore (I think -no markings other than "Runyon" and "8") and I'm using it with the spoiler which makes the chamber even smaller. It's interesting that the tone is still lovely and isn't particularly bright even with the pea shooter piece with a spoiler.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
Joined
·
517 Posts
Sorry to say, any modifications to a Bb soprano mouthpiece, no matter how one thinks it creates a more appropriately sized chamber, will not work. There are too many other variables in this most sensitive area of measurement and proportion, for the pitch to begin to respond like other well-regulated and reasonably tuned sopranos.
Start out with a C soprano mouthpiece, then check the pitch tendencies. Adjust from there.
Paul Cohen
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,614 Posts
I am hesitant to disagree with Professor Cohen, but my experience has been that my Rousseau 4C soprano mouthpiece plays well in tune on my Bb Buescher soprano and plays well in tune on my C Holton soprano. Of course I had to cut off the shank to get it to go far enough onto the cork (there are posts for the octave mechanism in the way).

It may be (probably is!) that his standards are higher than mine.

If I had not had good results (well, good at my level of playing) with the Bb soprano piece, I certainly would have sought out a real C soprano mouthpiece.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,130 Posts
Buescher C Sop mouthpieces use the same exterior shape and length as their Bb Sop mouthpieces. They use use a smaller core to mold a smaller interior. I have copied the shape of this C Sop MP interior into a Bb mouthpiece using epoxy putty with good playing results on a C Sop. It is not easy but with some good tools it can be done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
245 Posts
I have copied the shape of this C Sop MP interior into a Bb mouthpiece using epoxy putty with good playing results on a C Sop. It is not easy but with some good tools it can be done.
How did you mold the epoxy? with a dowel? If so, how thick?
Or what is the chamber width?


thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,130 Posts
I own a MP made from a Buescher C Sop blank. I measure the interior using calipers and telescoping “T” bore gauges.

I use black Apoxie Fix-It and stainless steel putty sculpting tools sold to Dentists but also sold in craft stores. I used a wood dowel too.

I could get you a throat diameter and backbore depth if you plan to try this. A mouthpiece length and internal volume target would also be needed.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Technician, Forum Contributor 2
Joined
·
1,760 Posts
I own a MP made from a Buescher C Sop blank. I measure the interior using calipers and telescoping “T” bore gauges.

I use black Apoxie Fix-It and stainless steel putty sculpting tools sold to Dentists but also sold in craft stores. I used a wood dowel too.

I could get you a throat diameter and backbore depth if you plan to try this. A mouthpiece length and internal volume target would also be needed.
Keith, it would be a great help if you could provide these measurements. I've taken several NOS "Woodwind" branded soprano mouthpieces and refaced them for use on C-soprano. It would be great to know what the original Buescher C-soprano's dimensions were and compare that to what I've been doing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Watching this with great interest. Mojo, do you ever sell these modified for C sop pieces?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
245 Posts
I bought an old C sop once, and loved it for a day - until I realized the tuning was hopeless with a Bb mouthpiece. If C sop mouthpieces were available, I'd start hunting for another such horn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,130 Posts
Watching this with great interest. Mojo, do you ever sell these modified for C sop pieces?
I modify them for clients who contact me to do the work.

Having a “correct” C sop mouthpiece helps, but it will not usually fix all the intonation issues with a vintage C sop sax.

Smallest Bb sop MP chamber volumes I have measured have been in Runyon mouthpieces. Sawing off some shank on them can get you close to a C sop chamber volume.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,614 Posts
When I bought my C soprano from Bruce Bailey he said that in his experience many of the vintage C sopranos have serious intonation issues not mouthpiece related. My Holton was referenced as one of the "better" ones. So I wonder if some of the issues are not MP related but horn related. As I noted above my Holton C plays well in tune, at least to my standards, with a Bb piece, a Rousseau 4C. I think it also played well in tune with my S-80 Selmer C* but I wouldn't swear to that without getting it out and testing.

I generally tend to downplay the supposed "bad intonation of old sopranos" but I wonder if such a thing might actually be happening here.

Of course, Prof. Cohen says the exact opposite and I would take what he says quite seriously as well.
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top