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Wow.. I can't believe I'm posting in the "Acoustics" section, but here we go.

After reading the long detailed discussions on the spread octave issue common to many saxophones, I thought I'd try some experimentation.

First, I've always considered the intonation of the my Antigua soprano to be good. But after ending up with my awesome new alto prototype, I notice that the alto will blow just about every note close to the right pitch whether I am listening to myself play the note or not. Just like my son's Yamaha 62 tenor, you can finger a note, blow on the mouthpiece, and the tuner pegs on the pitch. Very little adjustment from the player is required.

Now, every other sax I own, including my soprano, will play in tune while I am listening to myself. But if I just finger a note and blow without listening, I'm often nowhere close to being on pitch. And worse, the octaves are spread to varying degrees with my soprano being the worst. D1 and D2 can be about 15 cents off from one another with D2 being sharp. Again, if I listen and play, pitch is okay.

To try and make my soprano play more like my alto and my son's tenor, I tried the technique that has been discussed here on SOTW. I tried pulling out until D1 and D2 were exactly one octave apart. And I tried several different mouthpieces of several different designs. I was never able to get the D1 and D2 to align. So I tried the G1 and G2. These did align with the mouthpiece pulled way out with Teflon tap on the end of the neck to keep the seal. Out of about seven different mouthpiece with very different designs, all did the about the same thing and ended up the same place on the neck. B1, B2 and B2, B3 would never align, no matter what. In all cases, the higher note was always sharp relative to the lower note.

Next, I took an old bent soprano neck. I drove a small socket into it to remove the dents and then continued to drive it forward expanding the neck about 1/16 of an inch at a time. The expanded neck showed a very small improvement on the D1 and D2. No positive effect on G or B was observed. By the time I had driven the socket forward all the way to the octave pip, the neck was now almost a straight cylinder from the tenon to the pip and the inside volume was appreciably increased. And still, there was only about a 3 cent improvement on the D1, D2 octave spread.

In conclusions, the methods being described to reduce the octave spread experienced on many saxophones does not appears to improve this issue on the Antigua Winds 590 straight soprano sax. However, listening to the pitch while I play and making apparently unconscious adjustments to my embouchure effectively addresses this condition.

I want to add that the techniques being discussed on this forum may possibly apply differently to saxophones with more severe octave spreads that cannot be easily adjusted by the player.

Next, I plan to try adding a few well-place crescents to see if this improves the observed condition.
 

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Radical EG! Exciting.

Good reporting, but what do the results mean? Those results are telling you something of utmost importance. Let's reveiw:

1. D1/D2 octave is wide - not enough volume
2. Can't get D1/D2 in good octave relationship - oooooh, something is wrong
3. B2/B3 is wide - frs is too high = chamber is too short

Everything says, "Pull out. Pull out. Pull out.". If the mouthpiece falls off the neck, lengthen the shank.

I don't know anything about the Antigua soprano. Perhaps you got a bad (too short) neck. Lengthening it or pulling out at the tenon would help some. Nederveen commented that intonation on the soprano could be dramatically improved by increasing the truncation ratio - lengthening the neck conically and using a smaller mouthpiece.

Neck expansion: Expanding the neck in that area (tenon to pip) to increase volume is not equivalent to enlarging the mouthpiece cavity. It's important to keep in mind the essential components of a conical, reed driven woodwind:

1. truncated body cone - the conical body tube including most of the neck
2. surrogate missing cone
a. cavity - mouthpiece + reed compliance​
b. constriction - neck opening (not the entire neck)​

Expanding the mouthpiece end of the neck will raise the upper register to the lower register, while raising the overall pitch.

I think soprano is just a horn where "listen then play" is essential.
 

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It's also interesting to note that in a couple of places it's mentioned that a contraction just at the truncation--on sax let's say the area under the cork (also called "necking in")--improves the intonational purity of the high notes, although no one explains why, how or how much. It would be interesting to test this with a Warburton neck with changeable ends.

As to sops: this is related, I think, to the thread about pitch slotting. I have an old Conn sop that like yours plays perfectly well in tune but is extremely sensitive to slight embouchure changes that hardly faze a newer Yani or a Mk. 6. The timbre of the Conn is also different; much sweeter. I wonder if this does not have to do with better partial alignment on the newer horns: if the higher partials are more harmonic due to the bore geometry, they will tend to lock the pitch into their common integer. OTOH if the partials are somewhat inharmonic, the pitch will be more sensitive to embouchure and dynamics, AFAIK.

This might also explain the tonal differences, since misaligned partials will not participate as strongly in the final sound--leaving it more like a sine wave and less like a sawtooth.
 

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It's also interesting to note that in a couple of places it's mentioned that a contraction just at the truncation--on sax let's say the area under the cork (also called "necking in")--improves the intonational purity of the high notes, although no one explains why, how or how much. It would be interesting to test this with a Warburton neck with changeable ends.
Nederveen deals with this some, and Dalmont in more detail in his study on tuning of conical woodwinds. What I gather, and it makes sense, is that though the higher frequencies benefit from this "necking in", the low end still requires the volume equal to the theoretical extension of the body tube taper to it's apex for correct alignment. With any "necking in" then, the frs test must include the low frequency volume and the length of the altered neck section. There seems to be some contradictions to this in the literature. IME, when the volume is based upon neck taper, the lower middle octave is always needlessly sharp to the first. I don't think Larry Teal had a matched mouthpiece. Ha, ha, ha.:bluewink:

Some interesting testing could be done with something like the Warburton system, though, for each basic taper shape, conical, reverse cone, etc., one would need a good number of finely graduated sizes. And then, ultimately, the mouthpiece would need to be matched to each different size for best performance results. Otherwise, you simply test the effects of volume/frs error, not the actual characteristics of that individual taper.

As to sops: this is related, I think, to the thread about pitch slotting. I have an old Conn sop that like yours plays perfectly well in tune but is extremely sensitive to slight embouchure changes that hardly faze a newer Yani or a Mk. 6. The timbre of the Conn is also different; much sweeter. I wonder if this does not have to do with better partial alignment on the newer horns: if the higher partials are more harmonic due to the bore geometry, they will tend to lock the pitch into their common integer. OTOH if the partials are somewhat inharmonic, the pitch will be more sensitive to embouchure and dynamics, AFAIK.
I find the idea of "locking" or "slotting", completely inapplicable to woodwinds, and very misleading. At best, "slotting" can be used to describe landing on the correct partial when doing overtone exercises. "Locking", has no relevance. The regime forms at integral frequency relationships period, or it doesn't form at all. Nothing is forced, pulled, locked, or slotted. To say "they will tend to lock the pitch into their common integer." implies that they (the regime) could do something non-integral! They (it) can't.:bluewink:

I know what you are trying to say however. We discussed this in another thread. It is FM and AM, if you recall, the degree to which the regime forms at continuously changing amplitude relationships due to minor embouchure fluctuations.
 

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First, I've always considered the intonation of the my Antigua soprano to be good. But after ending up with my awesome new alto prototype, I notice that the alto will blow just about every note close to the right pitch whether I am listening to myself play the note or not.
Interesting. Of course, in general, altos play more in tune than sopranos. Is this the new Ponzol Antigua prototype?

…my son's Yamaha 62 tenor, you can finger a note, blow on the mouthpiece, and the tuner pegs on the pitch. Very little adjustment from the player is required.
The opposite of my experience with 3 different 62s (2 tenors and one alto). They all had pretty good intonation except for the upper notes of the second octave and palm keys which were quite sharp. This seems to be the case also on yamaha Z (and 875ex not as severe).

…But if I just finger a note and blow without listening, I'm often nowhere close to being on pitch.
That's a good test. It works different for every player however since we all use different amounts of breath support and pressure on the reed.
Next, I plan to try adding a few well-placed crescents to see if this improves the observed condition.
You should have success with those. I've been experimenting with them too. They really work well on palm keys that play sharp. Crescents in the main stacks are not as reliable because they will have different effect depending on which octave you are playing. My main use for crescents has been curing sharpness in the upper octave of altos and fixing side Bb/C sharpness. Usually, you only have to put them in two of the palm keys to fix all four high notes (d3 thru f3). I sometimes put a small crescent in the high C# hole for altos that are sharp on high C and C#.

Another problem is saxes which are flat in the lowest notes (E1 down to low Bb). Crescents won't help that problem and I don't think there is any other cure short of drastic measures.

There is an easy test to see if crescents will help your sax. You can use scotch tape on the top of the toneholes to test for size before you actually make the real crescents out of cork. I've found it best to make the actual crescents a bit smaller than the tape ones. Make sure to test the tone quality (not just the intonation) of a note with the tape and without. Sometimes the crescent will fix an intonation problem but the resulting note is too lifeless or dull. That can be a trade-off and only you can decide. Usually, the crescent does not negatively affect the tone quality unless it's more than half the size of the tone-hole chimney.

I've also experimented with painting the inside of the crescents with clear lacquer. My idea was to make them more reflective, like pad resonators.
 

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Crescents: You should have success with those. I've been experimenting with them too. They really work well on palm keys that play sharp. Crescents in the main stacks are not as reliable because they will have different effect depending on which octave you are playing.
Just a question. Why would you put crescents in the palm key tone holes to lower their pitch, making the tone weaker, when you could lacquer the mouthpiece throat walls or put a little cylindrical insert in front of the neck, and do the same thing, while leaving your tone unaffected? It seems counterproductive to treat just the symptoms via a tonal compromise rather than eliminating the cause and the symptoms while not compromising anything.

But. If you are going to use crescents, lacquering them to seal the pores is an excellent idea.
 

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In terms of "slotting"--I interpret this as a tube having impedances in which the maxima are at or close to harmonic relationships, meaning that the partials can more fully cooperate in the regime of oscillation. I'm sure you remember what Benade says about this--we 'discussed' it at tiresome length in the resonator thread.

And if you don't think that this is the reason that many modern sops seem to center on a pitch (whether correct or not) much more strongly than many of their vintage counterparts, what acoustic explanation do you have for this phenomenon?
 

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In terms of "slotting"--I interpret this as a tube having impedances in which the maxima are at or close to harmonic relationships, meaning that the partials can more fully cooperate in the regime of oscillation. I'm sure you remember what Benade says about this--we 'discussed' it at tiresome length in the resonator thread.
I should remember, for, as I recall, it was I that made you re-read Benade again was it not? at which point, after one year, you privately conceded that your idea of "mode locking" was not only wrong, but "very wrong", rendering your entire argument invalid.:bluewink: We needn't get back into that here, but you did bring it up.

Good resonance alignment makes a better, more stable instrument, I agree. Benade does not use the term "slotting", so why purport some senseless terminology coined by marketing schemers. Slotting is a term used in discussing brass instruments describing how they can slide from one partial to the next, the equivalent on the saxophone to doing overtone exercises.

And if you don't think that this is the reason that many modern sops seem to center on a pitch (whether correct or not) much more strongly than many of their vintage counterparts, what acoustic explanation do you have for this phenomenon?
I don't disagree with the principle, only the new terminology. Truncation ratio is another possibility. As Nederveen suggested. It would also explain why most modern instruments work well with modern, small chambered mouthpieces - a shorter missing cone.
 

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Why would you put crescents in the palm key tone holes to lower their pitch, making the tone weaker, when you could lacquer the mouthpiece throat walls or put a little cylindrical insert in front of the neck, and do the same thing, …
Honestly, I've never heard of your two methods. I'm basically following Curt's advice on using crescents (found at the Music Medic website). It works very well to flatten certain notes that are sharp. When you use them in the palm keys, they do not affect the pitch in the lower register. Surprisingly, the crescents have not made the tone "weaker" at all except in one case, and in that instance i made the crescent smaller than correct pitch dictated as a compromise. I play professionally and would not want any weakness in tone or volume.

If there is a good thread here about mouthpiece throat walls or cylindrical inserts, I'd like to see it.
 

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Why would you put crescents in the palm key tone holes to lower their pitch, making the tone weaker, when you could lacquer the mouthpiece throat walls or put a little cylindrical insert in front of the neck, and do the same thing, …
Honestly, I've never heard of your two methods. I'm basically following Curt's advice on using crescents (found at the Music Medic website). It works very well to flatten certain notes that are sharp. When you use them in the palm keys, they do not affect the pitch in the lower register. Surprisingly, the crescents have not made the tone "weaker" at all except in one case, and in that instance i made the crescent smaller than correct pitch dictated as a compromise. I play professionally and would not want any weakness in tone or volume.

If there is a good thread here about mouthpiece throat walls or cylindrical inserts, I'd like to see it.
 

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Honestly, I've never heard of your two methods. I'm basically following Curt's advice on using crescents (found at the Music Medic website). It works very well to flatten certain notes that are sharp. When you use them in the palm keys, they do not affect the pitch in the lower register. Surprisingly, the crescents have not made the tone "weaker" at all except in one case, and in that instance i made the crescent smaller than correct pitch dictated as a compromise. I play professionally and would not want any weakness in tone or volume.

If there is a good thread here about mouthpiece throat walls or cylindrical inserts, I'd like to see it.
They are spread about, by a couple of sources, Paul Coats and myself.

Mouthpiece mismatches account for much of what players attribute as the horn's intonation problems. Typical of a mouthpiece chamber that is too large, the mouthpiece plays a little flat and must be pushed further onto the cork to tune than a mouthpiece that is a good match. That makes the reed tip to tone hole distance shorter than it should be, especially for the short tube, palm key notes, so they play sharper than they should. If you fill the mouthpiece cavity in some, you will have to pull back out to tune. Fill in the right amount so you pull out the correct amount, and the palm key notes will be in tune.

This approach cures the cause - the mouthpiece mismatch, and improves the way the horn plays in every respect. Crescents only counteract one of the effects caused by the problem. There are many. The problem still exists, and affects other things that crescents can't fix. PM me if you want more detailed info.
 

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I should remember, for, as I recall, it was I that made you re-read Benade again was it not? at which point, after one year, you privately conceded that your idea of "mode locking" was not only wrong, but "very wrong", rendering your entire argument invalid.:bluewink: We needn't get back into that here, but you did bring it up.

Good resonance alignment makes a better, more stable instrument, I agree. Benade does not use the term "slotting", so why purport some senseless terminology coined by marketing schemers. Slotting is a term used in discussing brass instruments describing how they can slide from one partial to the next, the equivalent on the saxophone to doing overtone exercises.



I don't disagree with the principle, only the new terminology. Truncation ratio is another possibility. As Nederveen suggested. It would also explain why most modern instruments work well with modern, small chambered mouthpieces - a shorter missing cone.
Yes, I was indeed wrong and I don't mind admitting it. One who cannot admit to being wrong can never learn, or progress. If you don't like the term "slotting" for some reason we can call it "partial harmonization" or "Mickey Mouse" or "fornication" or whatever tickles your fancy. Certainly a higher truncation ratio would pull the partials out of line and lead to poorer Mickey Mouse. Interestingly, my obviously-highly-truncated Conn sop works best with the smallest-chambered pieces I could find, and even so the palms tend to be a bit flat (but nothing the trusty old embouchure can't handle easily).
 

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Honestly, I've never heard of your two methods. I'm basically following Curt's advice on using crescents (found at the Music Medic website). It works very well to flatten certain notes that are sharp. When you use them in the palm keys, they do not affect the pitch in the lower register. Surprisingly, the crescents have not made the tone "weaker" at all except in one case, and in that instance i made the crescent smaller than correct pitch dictated as a compromise. I play professionally and would not want any weakness in tone or volume.

If there is a good thread here about mouthpiece throat walls or cylindrical inserts, I'd like to see it.
Scavone recommends crescents for tuning in his thesis on single-reed woodwinds:

'While the various air column and tonehole design issues discussed briefly in this chapter and clearly stated by Benade (1976) may seem directed toward the instrument maker, it should be pointed out that performers have the ability to make many simple, yet significant, mechanical modifications to their instruments in order to improve response and intonation. Appropriate air column perturbations, as well as direct alterations to the position and height of a tonehole, are typically too difficult to be made by the performer. However, basic tonehole modi fications are reasonably straightforward and make it possible to lower the pitch of most notes on a woodwind instrument. Raising the pitch of a particular note via tonehole adjustments would entail removing portions of the instrument and thus are not considered viable in this context. One particularly effective technique involves the use of so-called tonehole liners (Caravan, 1979).A quarter-moon shaped wedge of material, or a tonehole liner, can be cemented to the upstream side of a tonehole to increase the effective length of the air column when that hole is open. Such a technique should be used only when the notes produced by a particular first open hole are too high in frequency in all registers, or when a tuning compromise between upper and lower registers is acceptable. The tonehole liner, of course, also reduces the e ffective diameter of the hole, which produces the same tuning result. Because tonehole liners form an extension of the air column wall, it is best to make them from a rigid material to reduce potential boundary layer losses. That said, tonehole liners are most commonly constructed from cork. Tonehole key heights can also be adjusted to make tuning corrections. Moving a key pad closer to a tonehole increases the e ffective length of the tonehole, which in turn, lowers the frequency of the note produced by the open hole. As mentioned in connection with air column adjustment principles, these modi cations should begin at the upper end of a bore and progress toward its open end. An oversized tonehole liner or a very low key pad height can cause a "stuffy" response.

Already hearing in my head the expected howls, let me point out that generally toneholes on the sax are large enough that reducing their diameter by 10% or so will not markedly change the response or make the resulting notes noticeably stuffy, although I know that the dedicated purist will decry such a barbaric solution.

Here's another hint from Scavone:

'Though slightly more ambitious, the response of a wind instrument may be improved by smoothing any sharp edges within its air column (Benade, 1976; Hoekje, 1995). Sharp edges can cause increased turbulence at lower blowing pressures, which in turn produces more internal damping. Rounding the corners of toneholes can signi ficantly postpone and regularize the onset of turbulence in a woodwind and allow the instrument to play well over an extended range (Benade, 1976, pp. 500-501).'
 

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Yes, I was indeed wrong and I don't mind admitting it.
Well, I would not have mentioned it had the intent of your reference to that thread not obviously been to imply that I didn't know what I was talking about, and you did.:bluewink:

YInterestingly, my obviously-highly-truncated Conn sop works best with the smallest-chambered pieces I could find, and even so the palms tend to be a bit flat (but nothing the trusty old embouchure can't handle easily).
Hmmm. Perhaps you need to match it to the horn better. Flat palms indicate it is too small of course. I'm happy I don't have that problem on my horns any longer. The less I have to lip around to get in tune, the more fun I have playing. Suite yourself though, and don't try it.:bluewink:

I'm curious. Scavone advocates using crescents. How much time/space does he devote to mouthpiece volume/frs matching? He acknowledges it's importance. Any practical tips (and that would not include incomplete theoretical models)?
 

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Aside from Scavone saying that the mpc should match the first resonance of the truncated cone no other hints, and he never did answer my inquiry for some clarification. I find it rather strange that he provides two models, says that volume was matched to the missing cone (and resonance not) and that there were negligible tuning differences between them, and then quotes Benade.

Ate you really sure about a small chamber flattening the palms? My experience has been the exact opposite in testing various mpcs on alto and CMel. The larger the chamber, the flatter the upper notes. I still don't buy the notion that a smaller neck-end to reed-tip distance has any effect in and of itself, especially after reading Wyman.

Basically the problem on the Conn is that the palms don't speak easily, and the problem is worse with larger chambered pieces. Very different from the King and Selmer horns of that vintage, where they respond quite easily.
 

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Aside from Scavone saying that the mpc should match the first resonance of the truncated cone no other hints, and he never did answer my inquiry for some clarification. I find it rather strange that he provides two models, says that volume was matched to the missing cone (and resonance not) and that there were negligible tuning differences between them, and then quotes Benade.

Ate you really sure about a small chamber flattening the palms? My experience has been the exact opposite in testing various mpcs on alto and CMel. The larger the chamber, the flatter the upper notes. I still don't buy the notion that a smaller neck-end to reed-tip distance has any effect in and of itself, especially after reading Wyman.

Basically the problem on the Conn is that the palms don't speak easily, and the problem is worse with larger chambered pieces. Very different from the King and Selmer horns of that vintage, where they respond quite easily.
The smaller chamber doesn't flatten the palms. Pulling out to get it to tune to A440 usually does though, if the chamber is too small. You will be in a compromise between too little volume and a low frs, and cork placement can't fix it. Baffle height also plays a roll.

It's not just about being large or small, it's about being right in both volume and frs at the same place on the cork, with your middle of the road embouchure.

Scavone: As you have seen from the Rocaboy study, the static (same period for any fingered note) reed closed phase makes up anywhere from 18% to 50% of each complete cycle, and it's duration is entirely dependent upon frs.
 

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...[Are] you really sure about a small chamber flattening the palms? My experience has been the exact opposite in testing various mpcs on alto and CMel...
The key is that the smaller chamber design allows you to pull out the mouthpiece to make the palm keys flatter in relation to the rest of the sax range. You actually get back to a similar chamber volume but more distance between the mouthpiece and the palm keys. The distance also changes for all the other sax notes but to a smaller (percentage) degree.

A few players report opposite results. It could be that they do not pull out enough or they change their embouchure to get back to a tone they want to hear. Try some temporary putty in your mouthpiece throat or chamber to test the effect. I would keep the putty away from the tip to avoid changing the sound a lot.
 

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I have found that, all other things remaining equal (mouthpiece, mouthpiece volume, horn, dynamics, reed, etc.) the high baffle, small chambered mouthpiece has a higher frs than a low baffle mouthpiece. Pulling out with an extremely high baffle mouthpiece, to match the volume, can still result in an frs that is too high. Small chambered Roll-overs and lower baffle designs (large tip openings) will characteristically result in a low frs, when pulled out to match volume, if they aren't well balance.

Toby: Back to Scavone's models - You are well read enough to know that such modeling portrays the properties of the passive air column, at one dynamic level. As soon as the excitation impedance is added (reed effects) and varied under playing conditions, the behavior of the air column changes dramatically. You give these unplayable mouthpiece models too much significance.
 

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The key is that the smaller chamber design allows you to pull out the mouthpiece to make the palm keys flatter in relation to the rest of the sax range. You actually get back to a similar chamber volume but more distance between the mouthpiece and the palm keys. The distance also changes for all the other sax notes but to a smaller (percentage) degree.

A few players report opposite results. It could be that they do not pull out enough or they change their embouchure to get back to a tone they want to hear. Try some temporary putty in your mouthpiece throat or chamber to test the effect. I would keep the putty away from the tip to avoid changing the sound a lot.
It is not at all clear that the physical length of the substitution after the truncated end of the neck has any effect on tuning; in theory it should not. However if the substitution is a quasi-cylinder, then a longer mpc should lower frs and therefore the palms. But life is made a bit more complicated by the fact that the mpc is not a cylinder, so frs is not a simple function of length.

I'm guessing that in the case of the flat palms on alto using the CMel piece, it was caused by the huge chamber causing a very low frs. As the chamber gets larger the cylinder changes to a Helmholtz resonator, in which the extra volume lowers the resonance.

My past experimentation indicated that reducing the chamber size and pulling out did indeed lower the palms, but not by much.

It's also worth remembering that Wyman found minimal tuning differences in mpcs of length differences of 2 cm. If tuning were based on length, this would have been impossible.
 

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Lance,

While Scavone's models clearly didn't include reed and player effects, this is in fact an advantage in exploring their intonational tendencies. Consider that impedance measurements establish the intonational baseline to which reed and player effects will add deviations. Those deviations are more or less constant; i.e., they will do the same things to the intonation of different designs, given similar rail geometry and baffle. And as I mentioned to Mojo Bari, Wyman found only small intonational differences in a group of mpcs with a maximum length difference of 2 cm.
 
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