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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have a Selmer Series 3 alto- plays well except it goes very sharp-(25-30 cents) on octave A,B and C. Well in tune otherwise. Have tried numerous mouthpieces including Selmer S80-E, Meyer 6 medium chamber and the new Selmer Spirit Jazz- all give about the same results. Have lowered the neck octave key with minimal effect. Lowering the upper stack pads just made it very stuffy. Has anybody got suggestions as to where to go next?
Jerry
 

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What you may find is that if you regard the 1st octave A, B & C as being a little flat, and tune the horn down a bit, the upper reg will fall in to place. You will then need to use some extra fingerings to sharpen those notes below the break. This is how the French classical players view that situation - I believe.
 

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On the Series III altos you can't successfully use the C# fingering of 8ve oox|xxx (to make going from C# up to D smoother) due to the double C# vent they fitted, so will have to use open C# instead.

In some ways the SA80II was better in this respect as you could at least use this C# fingering to effectively sharpen the very flat open C# on them and keep fingers down for smoother transitions across the registers.

Lowering the venting of the crook key won't do anything to the tuning of the upper part of the upper register.
 

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On the Series III altos you can't successfully use the C# fingering of 8ve oox|xxx (to make going from C# up to D smoother) due to the double C# vent they fitted, so will have to use open C# instead.

In some ways the SA80II was better in this respect as you could at least use this C# fingering to effectively sharpen the very flat open C# on them and keep fingers down for smoother transitions across the registers.

Lowering the venting of the crook key won't do anything to the tuning of the upper part of the upper register.
Yes, true, I used to use the side C or Bb key to sharpen middle C#.
 

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On the Series III altos you can't successfully use the C# fingering of 8ve oox|xxx (to make going from C# up to D smoother) due to the double C# vent they fitted, so will have to use open C# instead.

In some ways the SA80II was better in this respect as you could at least use this C# fingering to effectively sharpen the very flat open C# on them and keep fingers down for smoother transitions across the registers.

Lowering the venting of the crook key won't do anything to the tuning of the upper part of the upper register.
Normally, the second open-C# (i.e. above the stave) is quite sharp compared with the first. Almost all sopranos have a correction for this. And the SIII has a correction - the extra vent you mention. (I trust that this is all operating correctly on the sax in question. Earlier specimens especially, were pretty dodgy!)

So a possibility is that the player has become used to playing other saxes where he subconsciously lips that note (and possibly others in that area) to flatten it to pitch. Then when changing to the SIII, where correction is built in, that same lipping makes them flatter than they should be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Gentlemen- perhaps I have misled you with my description of the problem- the instrument plays well in tune thru middle C- the area of sudden sharpness is A,B, C in the UPPER octave ( octave key depressed ). I have thoroughly examined the additional C# pad for proper operation- it works as it should and is completely closed while playing these notes. I play in tune on my other horns, and it wasn't till a new alto player joined the band that I noticed my sharpness here. So. I repeat my original question- thanks for your kind responses.

Jerry
 

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My above post addresses your original question.
 

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All altos are prone to going sharp from high A upwards - some more than others and some mouthpieces will only make this worse, so we all as sax players have to be conscious of this and do what we need to do to prevent it.
 

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All woodwind instrument require some adjustment for certain note, and working out how to adjust the embouchure to get them right is part of forming the close relationship with your instrument. For the notes that are sharp lip them down so they're in tune. Eventually how much to lip down will become automatic and you won't even know you're doing it, that's when you and your instrument become one.
 

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Gentlemen- perhaps I have misled you with my description of the problem- the instrument plays well in tune thru middle C- the area of sudden sharpness is A,B, C in the UPPER octave ( octave key depressed ). I have thoroughly examined the additional C# pad for proper operation- it works as it should and is completely closed while playing these notes. I play in tune on my other horns, and it wasn't till a new alto player joined the band that I noticed my sharpness here. So. I repeat my original question- thanks for your kind responses.

Jerry
Jerry, I really do not want to patronize you since you say that you have no problems on the other horns, but........under the circumstances you might possibly be over pitching these notes; the S3 Alto, in my experience, has an entirely different octave relationship to any other alto I have played and indeed to the other horns in the S3 family. If you play middle C and then middle E is the interval in tune easily? Or do you have to open your throat a lot to get it to match the C? Generally altos require some flattening of the middle E to get it in tune. If that is the case play slowly up the scale holding the throat position for the middle E and see if the upper A, B & C fall into tune. Many folks have found the S3 alto not to their taste because of it's intonation, but drakesaxprof here on the forum plays one and seems to get on well with it; a PM to him might be in order.
 

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Also try playing those notes by voicing them in your throat and NOT using the octave key to see if there is any difference. If so, you *may* be able to modify your octave adjustment or pip diameter (how exactly will be found through experimentation) to make improvements.
 

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Have a Selmer Series 3 alto- plays well except it goes very sharp-(25-30 cents) on octave A,B and C. Well in tune otherwise. Have tried numerous mouthpieces including Selmer S80-E, Meyer 6 medium chamber and the new Selmer Spirit Jazz- all give about the same results. Have lowered the neck octave key with minimal effect. Lowering the upper stack pads just made it very stuffy. Has anybody got suggestions as to where to go next?
Jerry
You could try lowering the right hand stack slightly, but sharpness in the upper register is a problem we have to deal with.
These notes are very flexible and can be easily played sharp, flat or in tune. Practise with a tuner
 

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Have a Selmer Series 3 alto- plays well except it goes very sharp-(25-30 cents) on octave A,B and C. Well in tune otherwise. Have tried numerous mouthpieces including Selmer S80-E, Meyer 6 medium chamber and the new Selmer Spirit Jazz- all give about the same results. Have lowered the neck octave key with minimal effect. Lowering the upper stack pads just made it very stuffy. Has anybody got suggestions as to where to go next?
Jerry
Jerry, This is a problem I've noticed in SerieIII Altos many times. It's not generally a problem on an Alto that we have set up but one that exists on horns from the factory. In my experience, although it is definitely inherent in the instrument, it can be mostly corrected with key heights alone.
 

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I am surprised no one here mentioned what has been hashed out here for years- you need to push your mp down almost all the way to the end of the cork, to get the Series III alto to play in tune.
The number of people with intonation problems on the Series III has been large, and many found this to be the fix.
I know I have played many III altos and without exception, I had to do this.
Give it a try.

If that doesn't fix your problem, and the horn is in perfect adjustment, then I would tend to say the problem is with the player. It is not inconceivable that the horn is faulty, but I have yet to play a bad III.
 

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I am surprised no one here mentioned what has been hashed out here for years- you need to push your mp down almost all the way to the end of the cork, to get the Series III alto to play in tune.
The number of people with intonation problems on the Series III has been large, and many found this to be the fix.
I know I have played many III altos and without exception, I had to do this.
Give it a try.

If that doesn't fix your problem, and the horn is in perfect adjustment, then I would tend to say the problem is with the player. It is not inconceivable that the horn is faulty, but I have yet to play a bad III.
With respect Randall, if the horn is playing the lower register in tune already, then the instruction to push the mouthpiece in to the end of an unmeasured of piece cork is hardly a helpful one, as this will only make the instrument sharper! Saxlite's original post states that the upper octave A, B & C ONLY are sharp; this indicates a problem in voicing (or just possibly a technical problem within the neck). Since he has no problems with his other horns, we can presume that he is - at the very least - a reasonably experienced player and a reasonably reliable judge of his problems. If he had complained that the middle A, B & C were flat, then I would agree with you, but in these circumstances I do not.
 

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Dave, I think your assumption of the player is wrong (no offense to the player!)

If the mp is in the right position to start with (all the way down, for the Series III, which has been proven to be the fix to the problem for many, if not most of the posters I have seen) then the whole scale of the horn should be relatively in tune IF the player is able to control the horn, has no embouchure issues, intonation adjustment habits, etc....

As a teacher, I can only tell a players problems after seeing them and hearing them and putting them on a tuner. A description of one persons issues is not enough to make a really good judgement. However, in the case of the III altos, this (what I talked about originally) is the known fix for people experiencing intonation issues.

Since the III is a tried and true horn made by Selmer, I still go with the player being the problem rather than the horn, if the horn is in adjustment. (read the last 6 words again ;) )
 

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Dave, I think your assumption of the player is wrong (no offense to the player!)

If the mp is in the right position to start with (all the way down, for the Series III, which has been proven to be the fix to the problem for many, if not most of the posters I have seen) then the whole scale of the horn should be relatively in tune IF the player is able to control the horn, has no embouchure issues, intonation adjustment habits, etc....

As a teacher, I can only tell a players problems after seeing them and hearing them and putting them on a tuner. A description of one persons issues is not enough to make a really good judgement. However, in the case of the III altos, this (what I talked about originally) is the known fix for people experiencing intonation issues.

Since the III is a tried and true horn made by Selmer, I still go with the player being the problem rather than the horn, if the horn is in adjustment. (read the last 6 words again ;) )
Fair comments Randall, and of course, empirically, it has to be the player that is the problem.

However, in my experience, many players - good professional players at that - have passed their S3 altos on (or passed on the S3 alto) because they did not feel comfortable with the scale, which is very different from say the Reference Alto. If the player is experienced and basically has the 'correct' things going on in their embouchure and throat, the position of the mouthpiece is then dictated by the overall pitch of the instrument when warmed up. True the S3 has a short cork to help 'general resonance' and this fools a lot of people when they first pick the S3 alto up, but this is not a very scientific way of determining the correct mouthpiece position.

I am working on the presumption that saxlite has checked the basic pitch of the horn with a piano or a tuner - if not, well, then we're all wasting our time!
 

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Have a Selmer Series 3 alto- plays well except it goes very sharp-(25-30 cents) on octave A,B and C. Well in tune otherwise. Have tried numerous mouthpieces including Selmer S80-E, Meyer 6 medium chamber and the new Selmer Spirit Jazz- all give about the same results. Have lowered the neck octave key with minimal effect. Lowering the upper stack pads just made it very stuffy. Has anybody got suggestions as to where to go next?
Jerry
saxlite: Have you checked the tuning of this S3 alto with a tuner? I would assume that you have, but this discussion can't really progress to help you in a practical way if we don't have all the facts. Thanks, Dave.
 

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I agree with all that Randall wrote.

Many players, on an SIII, will put the mouthpiece on with an amount of cork showing that they are used to, then get (most) notes up to pitch by embouchure/breath changes. No wonder they are not comfortable with the tuning, and pass their instruments on, as Dave says..

With respect Randall, if the horn is playing the lower register in tune already, then the instruction to push the mouthpiece in to the end of an unmeasured of piece cork is hardly a helpful one, as this will only make the instrument sharper!
It will affect the notes in question a lot more than the others, which is what we want.

Saxlite's original post states that the upper octave A, B & C ONLY are sharp; this indicates a problem in voicing (or just possibly a technical problem within the neck)...
Indeed. And the position of the mouthpiece on the neck is probably the most important aspect of voicing.

.. Since he has no problems with his other horns, we can presume that he is - at the very least - a reasonably experienced player and a reasonably reliable judge of his problems...."
And even very experienced players can make the assumption that a certain amount of cork must be showing.

IMO the mouthpiece position should be the first parameter addressed.
 

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At the risk of sounding like a broken record, as I've posted this in reply to other threads several times in the past, may I suggest a careful read of this fantastic article by Steve Duke, as it addresses exactly this issue, and its most typical root cause.
 
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