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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wow!
Um I mean wow!

Either it's me (returning from a long sax layoff), the horn or the mpc/reed, but the intonation on this thing is all over the place.

The horn: Buescher TT (1922-23), Silver plate, curved neck.
Mpc: Original Buescher C-Mel mpc
Reed: Rico Bass Clarinet 3
Me: Well, old and out of shape.



The horn blows easy over the entire range. There is no damage save one tiny little ding on the neck about an inch past the octave pip. It is really a beautiful horn.
I spent a few hours tuning then playing up and down then tuning then playing up and down...

Whichever note I tuned (C, G, F#, Bb, D) was fine. Move off that note and then it was all over the place. Sharp or flat, no rhyme or reason that I could see. No pattern (gets sharp as you go higher?). Nope.

I'll have to try this exercise with my alto to make sure it's not me. I hope it is me. I can fix me. :D
 

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I could be your pad heights. Mine is exactly like yours and it plays pretty well in toon. Thoughs old mouthpieces are very buzzy. You might try a good alto or tenor piece on it and see what you get. The best I've found is a metal Selmer #6 for alto.
 

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Rowka - there is (also) really only one 'sweet spot' for tuning, and unless the sax is in tune with the outside world, then all the other tuning is off..... If that mouthpiece isn't on the cork at the right distance for that sax (and it does vary across C-Mels !) then you could be in trouble.

So, the big question is - what notes do you tune to the outside world ? Try getting (e.g.) a balance between the A (or G) without the octave key, and the E (or F) with the octave key. The low note(s) could be a tiny bit flat, and the high note(s) a little bit sharp - but unless you tune something like those to a piano/organ/tuner, then the rest could be way out.

Pad heights look reasonable , from what I can see. Some players advocate tuning so (e.g.) a closed C is the same as an open C - but whatever notes you chose, unless you're in that 'sweet spot', tuning/intonation can be dire..... 'Specially if you haven't played for a while - was it all OK before you quit ?

A sure sign of either 'outside the sweet spot' or bad mouthpiece, is that the higher you go, the sharper it gets, and the lower you go, the flatter it gets - but that's too general a statement, because it also varies according to length of air column. It may be that you'll have to compromise, and that, whilst most of the sax is in tune, ther'ell always be a couple of 'rogue' notes - that's when you've isolated the problem enough to start adjusting some heights etc.

Good Luck ! When you do get the right mouthpiece/tuning/setup combination, it really does come together, I don't want this to sound too negative.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies.
There is a little nick on the inside top of the mpc chamber where it looks like a previous player would put the mpc all the way until it bottomed out on the neck tube.

I won't panic about this whole thing. I'll just try to find the A-E balance point and keep checking as my lips get back into shape.
BTW, the tuner I was using is a Peterson VS-II virtual stroboscope.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Almost...
nah, the pic was an afterthought. Besides, I've polished all the key work since that pic. It's much prettier now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Okay. I got a pretty good compromise between a G and an E. The horn was much better overall, but not great. I pulled out my alto MPC and gave it a spin. The horn became extremely difficult to blow, but the intonation was vastly improved.

I can understand supplying the horn with a "stuffy" mpc if that tone was the fashion of the day, but I can't imagine why Buescher would send the horn out with a mpc that makes the instrument impossible to play in tune.

Am I missing something?
 

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Rowka said:
I can understand supplying the horn with a "stuffy" mpc if that tone was the fashion of the day, but I can't imagine why Buescher would send the horn out with a mpc that makes the instrument impossible to play in tune.

Am I missing something?
Rowka - just think of the 20's target 'market' for C-Mels - All the adverts (more or less) said "Buy one of these, and become the life and soul of the party..." So, I suspect, that the mouthpiece was primarily designed (..?) to easily make a gentle'ish sound, and intonation and/or quality of sound was secondary. Knowing the amount of time it takes for a beginner to become 'listenable' these days, I wonder how many C-mels were bought on a whim, and then quickly discarded when the aspiring player found it wasn't quite that easy ?

A few 'pro' quality mouthpieces were around (e.g. Otto Link once had C-Mel mouthpieces in their range) for the serious players. It is possible to play in tune throughout the entire range on a stock C-Mel mouthpiece, but it needs a really good embouchure to have any real control at the extremes....

Like Dan, I've found happiness with a tenor mouthpiece (Couf, in my case - no pun intended...), other players prefer alto mpcs, or the modern C mouthpieces from Aquilasax, Beechler, Runyon, Zinner or Morgan (to name but a few..). It can be a bit of a voyage of discovery, or sometimes you can hit the perfect mouthpiece first time. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So, I grabed me a Couf J9*S.
The tone is much sharper (tone, not pitch) than the original mpc, but it's instant squeaksville.
I don't know if it's the baffle or the large tip opening...
 

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I had intonation problems with my Conn C-mel and it turned out to be the pad heights. Once they were adjusted by J and J Woodwinds, that resolved the problems. I use a Morgan C-mel mouthpiece and it has none of the stuffiness of the vintage piece that came with the horn. JunkDude has them. I always tune to F# with the Tuner.

Good luck!
 

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Rowka - here's a quick clip of me doodling "Moonlight in Portland Bill", with, coincidentally, an H Couf 'Artist' J9*S :shock: and Rico Royal #3, on my Martin C-Mel. You can hear that I do prefer the 'mini-tenor' sound and feel...

http://www.cmelodysax.co.uk/saxophones/sounds/slim-couf-1a.mp3

I've always preferred a 'baffled' mouthpiece, but I've heard that with some players they can chirp or squeak. There is a different technique with baffled mouthpieces, you can concentrate more on the tone and let the baffle worry about edge - whereas ways used to increase edge on mellower mouthpieces can often promote squeaks on baffled pieces.


Bruce - I just love to play scales on C-Mels and C-Sops in front of a tuner, and watch the needle whizzing back and forth...:cry: Can get a bit dizzy or seasick if so inclined. I know I've got a good mouthpiece when it only goes (e.g.) up to 20% each side, obviously not on all notes, and without any lipping - just an 'average' embouchure (that's the hardest part, stopping automatic lipping). Some really unsuitable mouthpieces can sound nearer to the adjacent semitone, than to the note I'm supposed to be playing. But then, so can the odd C-mel or two :( - I guess I just love a challenge !
 

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bradshawm said:
I use a Morgan C-mel mouthpiece and it has none of the stuffiness of the vintage piece that came with the horn. JunkDude has them. I always tune to F# with the Tuner.

Good luck!
I also have a Morgan C-mel mouthpiece, and it is wonderful. I bought mine through JunkDude, but there was a long wait (this was a couple years ago). I was under the impression that Ralph Morgan was making the C-mel mouthpieces when they were ordered, so that's why it took a while. If JunkDude has them in stock, that is great. Since Ralph Morgan has reportedly had health issues recently, production of new Morgan mouthpieces might be unpredictable.
 

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Greg - lovely sound (soul eyes), was that really the original 20's mouthpiece ? You were working it amazingly well, the smoky sound really suits it.

Like your new website as well, I assume your Buescher C-Mel samples will be back up there soon, sad to lose the link to them on the old site.
 

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cmelodysax said:
Greg - lovely sound (soul eyes), was that really the original 20's mouthpiece ? You were working it amazingly well, the smoky sound really suits it.

Like your new website as well, I assume your Buescher C-Mel samples will be back up there soon, sad to lose the link to them on the old site.
Thanks!

Sorry about the c mel links, I did wipe them out, but "This Masquerade" will be back up soon.....

The mouthpiece appears to be original, it has THE Buescher Elkhart, Ind stamp on it with "C".......
 

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Yes, that seems very much the original mouthpiece, getting a sound like that from it, you could start a trend ! I can see ebay prices for old C-mel mouthpieces rising rapidly.

But then, lets not forget your excellent musical skills, which have a lot more to do with the sound than the mouthpiece.......... I look forward to hearing more !
 
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