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HI all, long time player, but I am not a gear nerd and want to make sure I understand this. What is meant when someone says a neck has 'more resistance' than another neck?
CHeers
 

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Alto sax, Tenor sax, Clarinet
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As I understand it, a more resistant necks feels like it takes a little more air pressure to get the same volume level.
 

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There is a term used by brass players that means an instrument is "harder to blow". That term is "back pressure". I have heard the term mistakenly used to describe the "resistance" felt when playing the saxophone. They are nothing alike. If one puts his lips over the leadpipe of a trumpet and blows as hard as he can without pressing any valves there is actual "resistance" to the air stream. When that is done into the end of a saxophone neck fingering low Bb the air flows freely through the instrument.

My understanding of "resistance" in a saxophone has to do with its interior geometry and "harmonicity". Benade in Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics on page 446 writes:
"Anything that works against the maintenance of oscillation (such as the reduction of the heights of air-column resonance peaks by frictional or radiation dampening, or the misalignment of these resonances so that they fail to set up strongly cooperative oscillatory regimes) requires the player to operate the reed on the more steeply falling portion of its flow-control curve. In order to produce this increased steepness, the musician is required to exert more blowing pressure and greater embouchure tension. . . .This explains why instruments having either heavily damped or grossly misaligned resonances are usually described as "hard blowing" and why the player is likely to find them physicaly tiring to play.
The illustration below taken from the UNSW website shows the mouthpiece "flow control curve" Benade is referring to.

unsw mouthpiece curve.GIF
 

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Hey, that's pretty cool. But to the player, it simply means that particular set-up is 'stuffy'. 'Set-up' includes the mouthpiece and reed, of course, which could easily be the problem. 'Stuffy' means more than not being 'loud' - it has to do with tone quality too. In short, if you have never experienced a 'free-blowing'/reed-friendly sax, you have no way of knowing if your sax is stuffy - IOW, you don't have the experience to know the difference.
When your set-up is good on one sax, you can use it as a gauge to weed out other saxes. For example, in 1966 I was playing a Berg Larsen 130/0 and had a big sound. I got into an Army band and they issued me a MK VI tenor - I played a few notes on it and put it away - I never played it again. It was stuffy. I don't waste time trying to 'cure' a horn like that - there are too many good ones out there.
With all that, some resistance is necessary, or else you will blow all your air out too quick.
The trick for you is getting a grip on how resistance affects your playing and determining if your set-up is too resistant. Just keep in mind that different players like varying degrees of it. For example, those who chase Coltrane/Bird want it because they want that 'tension' in their sound. Players who like a more lush tone want lower resistance.
You can also control it to some extent by reed selection. Anytime you want to get a more 'reedy'/strident sound, go up a notch or two, and vice-versa.
So, when trying a different neck, you're hoping for more of what you like. If you don't get it, that neck should go away. The same for mouthpieces, reeds and whole saxes. And don't forget to use the tuner when doing trials of any component to your horn.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all. Makes sense. I am more a free blowing kind of guy, so I don't want a neck that makes things stuffy...but as mentioned, the proof is in the pairing of all elements...including player. Just on the lookout for a backup neck for my Ponzol Keilwerth tenor (nothing wrong with original neck), just want a spare.
Thanks
 

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Thank you all. Makes sense. I am more a free blowing kind of guy, so I don't want a neck that makes things stuffy...but as mentioned, the proof is in the pairing of all elements...including player. Just on the lookout for a backup neck for my Ponzol Keilwerth tenor (nothing wrong with original neck), just want a spare.
Thanks
A spare neck? Have you ever lost or damaged one before?
 

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Stuffy isn't exactly the right word either because it has a negative connotation. There will always be some sort of resistance to air pressure while playing the sax. If there was no resistance, you couldn't play long phrases without stopping to take a breath. If you compare a Mark VI to a modern Yamaha, the VI will have more resistance and the Yama will be more "free-blowing". Compare a Berg Larsen mpc to a typical Link and the Berg will have more resistance.
 

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Stuffy isn't exactly the right word either because it has a negative connotation. There will always be some sort of resistance to air pressure while playing the sax. If there was no resistance, you couldn't play long phrases without stopping to take a breath. If you compare a Mark VI to a modern Yamaha, the VI will have more resistance and the Yama will be more "free-blowing". Compare a Berg Larsen mpc to a typical Link and the Berg will have more resistance.
I agree. A neck (or horn or mouthpiece or combo of all of those) can blow with resistance and sound really, really good (many do). Just because there's some blowing resistance doesn't mean the tone quality is adversely impacted.
 

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If you could play my 10M, and then follow it by playing my Cleveland using the same mouthpiece and reed, you'd know what resistance feels like. It's not a bad thing. It's just a totally different blow.
 

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My Selmer Super was resistant until it was overhauled and there were no longer any leaks.
The only resistant neck I owned was one that didn’t fit and therefore leaked.
I tend to put the two together, Resistance = Leak.
This may not be true all the time, but I’ll bet it’s true many of the times that a set up is described as resistant.
 

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Thanks for this conversation. As a 30+ year brass player, I find this quite insightful as I try to make sense of the difference between resistance on trombone (my primary instrument) and tenor sax.

I'm just going to read along as the conversation develops.
 

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When I worked in the repair shop of a music store lots of poorly maintained school saxes and rental returns came across my bench. After getting a sax leak free I would sometimes do a play test. If the inside of the neck looked "grotty" I would plug the end of the neck and put tape over the octave pip and fill the neck with "The Works" toilet bowl cleaner for about 15 seconds. Then I would give it a baking soda chaser and vigorously clean the neck with a flexible shaft brush and soapy water until all of the scent was gone. Looking inside the neck with a light, the brass looked as if it had just come from the factory. Without exception, the neck played brighter and more free blowing after the cleaning. This was a technique I learned from brass techs to quickly clean and restore the inside of a bore. "The Works" contains a relatively weak 9.5% solution of hydrochloric acid. One could possibly achieve the same result soaking the interior of the neck several hours using a weaker acid such as vinegar, but the quickness of the method described is a real advantage in a busy shop. I would not do this to a customer's saxophone without first discussing it and getting their permission.

If anyone tries this technique, use thick rubber gloves in a well ventilated area, and avoid breathing the fumes which can be harmful.
 

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It’s actually crazy how much difference necks make!! Don’t want to spur you into some spending spree, but having a good neck can really (or not) bring a horn to life! I had the most smoking mkvi tenor (1957) about a year ago, and although it was a very special horn, it didn’t GO when you put your foot down.. I tried it with a different neck just before I sold it, and it just blew me away how much more power and core it had! I mean it was beautiful in the first place, but that neck just accentuated every bit of personality the horn had!!.. don’t go spending now


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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When I worked in the repair shop of a music store lots of poorly maintained school saxes and rental returns came across my bench. After getting a sax leak free I would sometimes do a play test. If the inside of the neck looked "grotty" I would plug the end of the neck and put tape over the octave pip and fill the neck with "The Works" toilet bowl cleaner for about 15 seconds. Then I would give it a baking soda chaser and vigorously clean the neck with a flexible shaft brush and soapy water until all of the scent was gone. Looking inside the neck with a light, the brass looked as if it had just come from the factory. Without exception, the neck played brighter and more free blowing after the cleaning. This was a technique I learned from brass techs to quickly clean and restore the inside of a bore. "The Works" contains a relatively weak 9.5% solution of hydrochloric acid. One could possibly achieve the same result soaking the interior of the neck several hours using a weaker acid such as vinegar, but the quickness of the method described is a real advantage in a busy shop. I would not do this to a customer's saxophone without first discussing it and getting their permission.

If anyone tries this technique, use thick rubber gloves in a well ventilated area, and avoid breathing the fumes which can be harmful

The product CLR does the same thing
 

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My Selmer Super was resistant until it was overhauled and there were no longer any leaks.
The only resistant neck I owned was one that didn’t fit and therefore leaked.
I tend to put the two together, Resistance = Leak.
This may not be true all the time, but I’ll bet it’s true many of the times that a set up is described as resistant.
Exactly.

Take the mouthpiece off of any horn and blow through the neck as hard as you can. No resistance. Replace with a "free blowing" neck and repeat. No resistance.

High resistance means a leak that should be fixed. It takes more energy and air pressure to make a leaky horn speak, hence the resistance that the player feels.
 

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HI all, long time player, but I am not a gear nerd and want to make sure I understand this. What is meant when someone says a neck has 'more resistance' than another neck?
CHeers
Everything has some resistance. When I tried out clarinets, there were Selmer Series 9's and 9*'s.
The 9* is a smaller bore. I didn't want that much resistance, because it was harder to blow (there was more resistance). You can also call this back pressure. It doesn't matter. You have to work more to play against the increased resistance. For me, Buffets had more resistance, and I didn't want that.

All mouthpieces have resistance. You have to work harder to play a mouthppiece than when you're just breathing.
Some horns have more resistance. A harder reed has more resistance. You may not like a mouthpiece that's more closed because it takes more work to play it.

Same can be said for necks. It's probably more likely that you'd only perceive a neck as having more resistance, but some may actually have more.
It's not a question of what they say, but what you notice! If you can't tell the difference, don't spend the money. Figure out what you like, and act accordingly.
The science behind it doesn't matter. Play or don't play.
 
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