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So I've had my Reference 54 alto for about a year now and just recently have I found out that my "gurgling" issue was not me, but rather the horn itself. I've searched the forums and figured that it may be the neck. So I wanted to know if anyone had any suggestions for necks that sound good on the horn. I'm looking to keep a rich warm sound for classical music.
 

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I've recently been experimenting with replacement necks for my Ref 54 which has, for me, a gurgling issue on the low end. (BTW I've seen a lot of post here refuting this problem, but as an experienced player, IMO the problem does exist and needs to be sorted one way or the other).

I have two early Ref 54 necks which are very similar, both of which gurgle. I have tried about half a dozen Series 3 necks including lacquered, solid silver and gold plated. I also also tried a more recent Ref 54 neck which has slightly different measurements to the early necks I own.

On the whole, the S3 necks solved the problem of gurgling on the low C, however some of them seemed to do so at the expense of stability on notes a a little higher up, say, the low E: I found that a diminuendo to zero became very difficult on the E, F & F# on one neck in particular. But the real deal breaker for me with most of the S3 necks was that the intonation was severely affected, particularly the octave relationships, which became much wider.

There was one Solid Silver that I tried recently that was a stand out, much much better than the others. It solved the gurgling and it only altered the octave relationships a little. This one I would have bought and worked on to get used to the differences, however the guy selling it expected too much money, unsurprisingly as silver has really rocketed.

The recent Ref 54 neck although substantially different to my originals, did not solve the gurgle, but did affect the octaves, so worst of both worlds!

So, as you can see I personally have had little success, although I know others on this forum who have made it work with the solid silver S3 neck although they seem to be highly variable in response and intonation. So for me it's back to my original neck which has good intonation and no problems in the main body of the horn and cope with the gurgle strategically.

My approach is:
1) Keep the neck swabbed out, the collection of condensation inside the neck decreases the bore dimensions and aggravates the problem. (Woodwind players do this all the time, sax players are lazy about this).
2) Keep a wine cork down the bell. This really sorts the gurgle out and after a while you just forget it's there.

FWIW I have tried a Yamaha G1 neck on several Selmer horns and it just completely eradicated all the usual problems, but something about it didn't sound quite right. Selmaha, Yamaher?
 

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If you love your horn that much to maybe spend around $650 on it, maybe a Gloger handcrafted neck would do the trick.

Maybe explain to Karsten that you've been experiencing a warble. I would imagine he's very familiar with the problem...

It seems from his website that he's got a curve for the Ref. 54 in his catalog...

http://www.gloger-handkraft.com/saxneck.htm
 

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If you love your horn that much to maybe spend around $650 on it, maybe a Gloger handcrafted neck would do the trick.

Maybe explain to Karsten that you've been experiencing a warble. I would imagine he's very familiar with the problem...

It seems from his website that he's got a curve for the Ref. 54 in his catalog...

http://www.gloger-handkraft.com/saxneck.htm
Yes, I have a Gloger neck that was made for a Mk6; it sounds good but disturbs the intonation on the Reference horn, so maybe I should try one specially made for the Ref.

I have a new Selmer neck and a Mac sax neck for my Selmer. Both get rid of the gurgle but brighten up the tone a bit for me.
Hi Steve, it was as a result of a previous post of yours that I tried the newer Ref 54 neck. I found that the one I tried actually did the opposite to yours, it warmed the sound a bit which I rather liked, but mine did not sort out the gurgle, it just reappeared after there was enough condensation in the neck to change the bore. It just goes to show how random Selmer manufacturing is (not necessarily a bad thing).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I had my tech guy put more tension on my D# spring and that helped a little. (he refused to replace it!) It works as far as simply playing the notes, but when it comes to fast passages or making the notes sing it simply isn't good enough. I'm also using a mute i made that helps center the tone down there a little but it also softens the sound a bit. It's just wire wrapped in felt so I may try using a thinner material.

Anyways, like I said before, the low register itself will respond with this setup, but playing passages efficiently just plain sucks. The horn itself is amazing and it sucks that Selmer has not sufficiently addressed the problem.

When it comes to purchasing a new neck for the horn, I'm looking for something reasonably affordable as I am still in college and yada yada. lol college hurts the wallet. I think I'll order the silver Series III and try it out.


DaveR I completely agree with you. It is definitely a problem that needs to be sorted it out. I love my sax and so does my professor but playing in juries and concerts becomes difficult when the horn doesn't respond like I need it to. At first, like many others I assume, we thought it was my air support and so I've been spending my summer trying to get my support to super human levels. If it weren't for sotw, I would have never known that it wasn't me.
 

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A friend of mine recently got a Yamaha V1GP neck for his Series II, and is really happy with the G and V series necks on his Selmer horn.
Could be something to try out.
 

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I had my tech guy put more tension on my D# spring and that helped a little. (he refused to replace it!) ... I'm also using a mute i made that helps center the tone down there a little but it also softens the sound a bit. It's just wire wrapped in felt so I may try using a thinner material.
Original springs are always better. Most repairmen avoid replacing springs that don't absolutely need it, especially when you can adjust the tension so easily.

Throw away the donut. It won't help or hinder you in this particular problem you're having, but I think your playing will benefit in the long run if you don't rely on the mute. You don't need it, and I don't think anybody does.
 

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DaveR I completely agree with you. It is definitely a problem that needs to be sorted it out. I love my sax and so does my professor but playing in juries and concerts becomes difficult when the horn doesn't respond like I need it to. At first, like many others I assume, we thought it was my air support and so I've been spending my summer trying to get my support to super human levels. If it weren't for sotw, I would have never known that it wasn't me.
Try the wine cork down the bell, it will really help; it's also invisible and easily removable.
 

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Try the wine cork down the bell, it will really help; it's also invisible and easily removable.

Whether on purpose or accidentally. My case/rehearsal hall has eaten numerous corks, but then you just have to pop open a new bottle of wine to get a new cork! :bluewink:
 

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Try the wine cork down the bell, it will really help; it's also invisible and easily removable.
It does help, but my low register Bb, B, C still sounds too harsh on the Ref 54. No more gurgling, but the sound still isn't nice. On my Keilwerth Shadow, the same notes sound creamy and soft. On the rest of the horn, I do prefer the 54, tough.
 

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Throw away the donut. It won't help or hinder you in this particular problem you're having, but I think your playing will benefit in the long run if you don't rely on the mute. You don't need it, and I don't think anybody does.
Those of us that use a mute do not claim it is "necessary," but simply convenient. I'm perfectly capable of voicing the lower tones downward - I prefer to forgo the oral gymnastics.
 

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Those of us that use a mute do not claim it is "necessary," but simply convenient. I'm perfectly capable of voicing the lower tones downward - I prefer to forgo the oral gymnastics.
Just an opinion. I wouldn't think less of a player that has a mute in, but I also wouldn't encourage mutes for my students.
 

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Throw away the donut. It won't help or hinder you in this particular problem you're having, but I think your playing will benefit in the long run if you don't rely on the mute. You don't need it, and I don't think anybody does.
Wallace said:
Those of us that use a mute do not claim it is "necessary," but simply convenient. I'm perfectly capable of voicing the lower tones downward - I prefer to forgo the oral gymnastics.
When I owned a Buescher alto, I never felt that the mute helped much if at all. The low B-flat on that instrument felt quite centered without any aftermarket help. Modern Selmer and Yamaha altos, however, are a different story. The mute makes a significant and positive difference in response, intonation, and tone color of the low B-flat. Any flexible player would not find a mute necessary, but it certainly makes my life a little easier down there.

My students are given mutes only after mastering basic voicing skills. Some opt to not use the mute, and I don't really care as long as they are executing.
 
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