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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Four mos. ago I purchased a Mark VI. After playing it for 2 mos, an interesting event took place. While in the middle of practicing a piece, I struck a note and no sound was produced. It was as though someone pulled the wall plug out. Several attempts at simply repeating the note (and others) were fruitless. It felt as though something was blocking air entering the moutpiece (no, I wasn't chewing gum at the same time). Eventually, sound resumed, but at a very diminished quality (airy sound and hard to blow). Brought the horn to the best tech in town (7 wks ago) who made some adjustments, seated a few pads, replaced a few, and away we went. The VI has been great 'til yesterday. Guess what. Same phenomena! Tried single and double embouchure; changed out reeds (3X) and even changed mouthpiece and reeds together to no improvement. I'm bringing the horn back to the tech today for re-eval. In the meantime, has anyone else had this experience and, if so, what was the outcome?
 

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Hi,
...and welcome to SOTW!
It sounds like the problem is no the horn...it sounds like there´s something with the mouthpiece or the reed...
 

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Brought the horn to the best tech in town (7 wks ago) who made some adjustments, seated a few pads, replaced a few, and away we went. The VI has been great 'til yesterday.
So the tech did something to make it work again. Sounds like a recurring problem. I'd take it back to the tech, explain exactly what happened, and hopefully he can diagnose and fix the problem.
 

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Mabey pads that were not replaced are now leaking.

As well, see if you can produce a strong sound with only the mouthpiece and neck. The tenon and neck seal might have a leak, try wraping teflon tape around the neck tenon to seal it and see if that makes a difference but don't force anything. Check the octave key on the neck mabey it was bumped and is out of alignment or is leaking. Check the neck screw and see if it actually tightens the tenon or is it stripped? Is there something loose in the sax case that could be getting into the sax like a piece of cigeratte paper,messing with the air column in the sax or in the neck.
 

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One of the main reasons for something like this is when the back of the reed is not sealing with the mouthpiece table.
Easy fix is to flatten the back of the reed with a few scrapes of a sharp knife or using sandpaper on a flat surface or whatever.

I usually wet the reed and then using a sharp knife at a bit of an angle I then hold the reed by the sides and just do a few knife edge motions or swipes from near the centre of the reed towards the back of the reed and stop when the knife starts taking the excess water off the whole back of the reed ie the reed back is flat when the knife starts collecting all of the excess water covering the back of the reed and not just collecting the excess water from the sides of the back of the reed.

If the knife is collecting the excess water from only the sides or only the middle of the back of the reed, then the reed wasn't/isn't flat.

Even if the sax had a pad leak, a noise of some sort should come out.

I would think that a neck problem would be more of a permanent unchanging problem and not intermittent like this problem, so it looks like a reed/mouthpiece sealing problem to me but diagnosing problems over the net is hard to do and sometimes not very accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks to all for your feedback!

DonPedro: Changed the reeds 3 times using broken-in proven reeds. Also, changed mouthpiece along with reeds just to rule that out.
JL: Scheduled to return horn to tech tomorrow. We'll see what he says.
Saxland: Good recommendation! Did it, and all check out fine.
Saxpiece: I'll use your technique in the future. Good advice. However, if it were the reed/mouthpiece table interface, why would it have manifested itself right in the middle of a practice session and not at the beginning? I had already played for about an hour before this occurred.
 

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However, if it were the reed/mouthpiece table interface, why would it have manifested itself right in the middle of a practice session and not at the beginning? I had already played for about an hour before this occurred.
It could if the reed swelled up while playing. But I would think it more likely to be a problem with the horn. Does it happen on all the notes, or only some? Maybe one of the octave vents isn't opening properly. I'm no tech, though. I do know it doesn't take much, a key out of alighnment or certain leaks, to make a horn behave very badly. Hope your tech can sort it out.
 

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It could be that the neck octave vent is opening on notes where it shouldn't. First check to see if there is about 1/16" space between the metal post coming from the sax and the neck octave ring. Next finger G and hit the thumb octave key hard several times and then press it as hard as you can while watching the neck octave pad. It should not lift, bounce, or move at all. If it does, take the neck off your sax and put your thumb between the ring and the neck tenon. With the other hand carefully press the octave pad down. Then check the adjustment again. If you have gone too far and the pad doesn't open when you play high A, just put a flat object like a popsicle stick under the neck pad and bend the ring back towards the neck tenon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
JL: No, it doesn't happen on all the notes. It appears to be random as far as the no-sound notes are concerned. However, at the instant that the no-sound occurs, all the notes become difficult to blow. Certainly, feels as though, suddenly, there's an air escape issue. Pretty damn frustrating - fortunately, it hasn't happened during a gig, but clearly, until we resolve it, the horn is a liability on a job. Thanks again for your interest in this!
 

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JL: No, it doesn't happen on all the notes. It appears to be random as far as the no-sound notes are concerned. However, at the instant that the no-sound occurs, all the notes become difficult to blow. Certainly, feels as though, suddenly, there's an air escape issue. Pretty damn frustrating - fortunately, it hasn't happened during a gig, but clearly, until we resolve it, the horn is a liability on a job. Thanks again for your interest in this!
Well, as jbtsax says, one thing that could cause just this sort of thing would be a malfunctioning octave vent (the one high on the side of the horn). I had a similar problem when that vent was either sticking closed or open (can't remember which it was) when it shouldn't. But lots of other possibilities I guess. It shouldn't be hard to diagnose by an experienced tech.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
jbtsax: Followed your instructions. There was a very small gap between the post and the neck octave ring of perhaps 1/32". In fingering the G and pressing the octave key hard, the neck octave pad DID move slightly once. On susequent tries, it seemed to have stayed motionless. However, I did perform the next recommended step. And the sax now seems to play OK. In fact, the low C, which under the best of circumstances was difficult to hit, now seems to play more easily. You may have saved the day! I"ll play on into the evening to see if the quality sounds prevails. Assuming the best, I thank you for your sage advice and willingness to share your expertise with those of us less experienced. It's pros like yourself who make this such a valuable site.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
JL, As posted, I think jbtsax may have solved my problem. As I mentioned to him, I also want to express my sincere thanks for your willingness to share your thoughts and experience, and your perseverence in hanging in there with me. You guys and gals are the greatest!!
 

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Another variable that players sometimes overlook is that the neck ring is sometimes not symmetrical and putting the neck in a slightly different rotation will cause the neck octave key to go out of adjustment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
jbtsax;
You did it!!! Played for hours last evening producing the best tone since purchasing the horn. It's amazing how something so small can make such a dramatic difference. Can't thank you enough for your expert help. I'll certainly add this lesson as well as the great advice offered by others to my cerebral data bank. Merci beaucoup!!!!!
 

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Brought the horn to the best tech in town (7 wks ago) who made some adjustments, seated a few pads, replaced a few, and away we went.
If jbtsax's diagnosis is right then if it was my sax I wouldn't go back to that tech who should have picked up such a simple problem straight away IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
That's certainly something to think about. In all fairness to him, after the tune-up it did play well for 7-8 weeks> It probably sounded OK to him when he tested it. Perhaps I unknowingly mishandled it causing the octave key to misalign. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I have the corrective piece of info in my constantly accumulating back of tricks right alongside your sage advice regarding ensuring the "flatness" of reeds. I've already started practicing that behavior. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me!!
 
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