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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
These last few weeks, I have been playing my Selmer Super Balanced Action alto, serial number 44***, a lot. I love its sound and ergonomics. My only concern, though is the fact that the middle D is very sharp, and the middle D# - F# to a lesser extent. I compared this to my trusted old Couesnon Monopole II, serial number 17***, which plays in tune without the need to change my embouchure. Is this middle D issue something that can be adjusted by a good technician, or must I accept it and practice more?
 

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That note is sharp on most saxophones. It is one of the compromises that need to be made in the design of a conical woodwind. The last note in mode 1 is open C# which tends to be flat and the first note in mode 2 (with the octave key) is D2 which tends to be sharp. The low D's tendency to be slightly flat and D2's tendency to be sharp are partly related to the taper of the bore not being conical enough and "stretching" the octaves, and the fact that D2 is 3 half steps away from F for which the body octave vent is in the perfect location. The farther away from the ideal position, the sharper the octave vent makes the note using that octave vent. A few things you can do are: 1) make sure you are not playing too high on the mouthpiece pitch 2) tune your saxophone properly, and 3) lower the low C key as much as you can without the D sounding overly stuffy.

The problem with all mechanical alterations to lower the pitch of D2 is that they also lower the pitch of D1 which is flat to begin with, and low notes are difficult if not impossible to lip up. Fingerings that can help both the pitch and the timbre of D2 are to substitute the palm D for the octave key, and to add the low B key when the D2 is a long tone. The SBA's are great saxes. I have played mine for nearly 40 years. It is as well in tune as any saxophone made and better than most.
 

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Depress low B key while playing middle D will lower the pitch. It will sound stuffier to you than to an audience, so not to worry...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'd like to thank milandro, saxoclese and altosax for their tips. With my SBA, pressing the low Bb key offers a slight better result than the low B, and mercifully it takes little time to get used to the alternate fingering with B or Bb. Next week, I'll collect my trusted Yamaha YAS-23 and will then check its intonation versus the SBA's. To be continued.
 
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