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Heya guys,

I recently purchased a brand new Taiwanese alto, which is very similar in construction to a Cannonball, and the sax feels and sounds great (but could be better? Could it?)

I've always been a stickler for good neck fit, and this horn appears to have so. No wobbling, and only a quarter turn or less before the neck is secure. I do not overtighten, as I'm aware of the bubble effect that can happen underneath. The sax has no appreciable leaks when putting a leak light through, and a pop test (see sax technician Matt Stohrer's videos on YouTube) make for a pretty darn good seal.

However, the horn doesn't "sing" with extreme clarity, and it responds like an old Keilwerth I had that had a tight fitting neck, but a surefiredly leaking one (out of round). There's an ever slight stuffiness to the instrument throughout the whole range, but underneath if I push it, I can hear the depth of tone I'm looking for.

Taking the neck out, I'm seeing these weird high spots, especially after rotating the neck out gently. 3 shiny lines, where the tenon meets the receiver, Inside the receiver, it's just as strange a story.

Is this indicative of a leaking neck? Considering however that there is a clear and defined contact at the bottom 3/8th of the neck tenon, I'm assuming that's all the real sealing I'd need, but I just want to reassure myself that it's not a leaking neck.

I'm looking for input, so I can weigh my options. I'm pretty OC about the condition of my horn and leaks, so this will keep bothering me till I know for sure.

I've copied below the link to my Google Drive folder with pictures of the neck tenon and receiver. I'm not really sure if this is the right way to show my issue, or if there's a better way, please let me know.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/13GBnkPJX2gysdL0Tyal9EbQ-LJlIELls?usp=sharing

Cheers guys! Pictures attached!
 

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For diagnosis to see if it is leaking, without specialised equipment, plaster a layer of grease on the socket and tenon and see if it plays better.

If it is leaking, it looks as if dealing with it may involve both lapping and expanding the business end of the tenon.
 

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You say there's contact at the bottom, but don't say how you've established that. Cover the tenon/receiver with ink using a marker and insert the neck without twisting - where there is contact, the ink will rub off and expose the metal. If there's no contiguous metal exposed around the tenon (not necessarily circular), there will be a leak.

The 3 equally spaced rings on the tenon seem to indicate a wobbly z axis of the lathe (assuming the tenon was made on a lathe). They are high spots that have rubbed against some high spots in the receiver when rotating the tenon in the receiver.

Actually, looking at the receiver photos, I'd say it's out of round and has uneven high spots, which would make the fit tight, but not air-tight, like the Keilwerth you've mentioned.
 

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+1 to Gordon's comment, but be sure to clean the grease off afterwards. I too, looking at the photos, think it's leaking. Take it to a good tech - emphasis on the good. It's not expensive, getting your tenon fitted well, but it's an easy job to do badly.
 

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I recently purchased a brand new Taiwanese alto, which is very similar in construction to a Cannonball
You should always name the specific brand and model of horn when posting a complaint or question like yours. It may enable someone here to provide a concrete reply rather than a more speculative or general one.
 

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You should always name the specific brand and model of horn when posting a complaint or question like yours. It may enable someone here to provide a concrete reply rather than a more speculative or general one.
Indeed!
 

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JS Crescent, JS NOS, Selmer SBA, Couf Superba I, Conn, Buescher, King
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This is a bigger topic than probably will come out, here. But the most direct responses to your practical question are:

- I agree: tenon fit is crucial, and more complicated/subtle than you've stated.

- today's good ROC tenors usually have a tenon that is better fitted from the factory than the vast majority of saxophones produced before 2005 or so, maybe a bit earlier. The tolerances are *almost* as accurate as the most recent Ref 54's, and more accurate than many non-ROC and longer established top (top quality, top price) brands. Ref 54's have very close tolerances in some areas, closer and more consistent than in previous generations, and keytubes and screws in most cases have made advances are far as how closely and consistently they're fit is. Good ROC makes are almost on that level, certainly better than most of what was out there in 2000 and much of the big name offerings out there today. But the (now widely) recognized importance of tenon fit was once looked at mostly as an air-tight question, of having or not having air leaks, only. Now some but not all look at it as a more detailed consideration, largely thanks to discussions on this board over the years, and presumably other online forums. BUT, maybe 15 years ago, it was extremely rare to have a horn come in that had had its tenon fitted at all, let alone fitted well. Now, in the CA Bay Area, when horns come in every now and then one has had a pretty good tenon fitting done. Just as often -- more often -- one comes in with damage to the sleeve from a bad fitting. In most cases, the most cost effective way to correct a bad fitting is just to replace the sleeve. To me, there are considerations there, too, that are not likely to appear on this board, but it gets into controversial topics.

- you are correct that you can basically gauge fit by looking at dull and shiny spots on the sleeve. If you have shiny spots and dull spots, you have an uneven fit. This could be more caused by something amiss with the sleeve or with the tenon (i.e. one may be more out of round than the other), but for sure it is due to the relationship of the sleeve to the tenon. If you have shiny spots and very patinaed spots, the patinaed spots are of course low spots.

- that said, the best result -- this involves taste, so what's "best" is subjective and individual to the player -- is not always the one where the sleeve looks the best fitted, or where it is either the snuggest or loosest. Even among different examples of the same make/model, in the same shipment by whatever factory, the best result for any given player between two examples might not have the same type of tenon fit.

- the best result, performancewise, will be done in person, with a tech that has obsessed over tenon fit (I am not trying to glorify my own obsession, I just know that if one hasn't obsessed over it one is very unlikely to draw the same conclusions as someone who has -- discussions on this board bear this out). When you have the final fitting done in person, you can play -- it is NECESSARY to play during the fitting, to settle on what is optimal for you -- while the tech makes changes. The tech can do a lot for you without you being there, especially if s/he is good at understanding what you're likely to want, knowing your taste/style/sound, but the better the player is the more I want them to be on hand if possible to get the best possible, most optimal response.
 

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ptung Could you elaborate on "more complicated and subtle"? You seem to be alluding to something more than a good mechanical and air tight fit. I read an article a while back written by a tech by the name of Gilcrist or something similar which brought up a lot of acoustic claims that I had not heard before. I would like to know your thoughts on this. And I am getting old and forgetful so we may have had a similar conversation on this topic before.
 

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That's Bob Gilchrist I think, he adjusted the tenon on my Mark VI tenor in 1982 or 83. He listened to me play, specifically around the F2 - A2 area and then did something to the middle of the tenon. It did somehow improve the G2 response (a notoriously bad note), but I can't be sure that it wasn't a result of the fact that a few of us were just sitting around and smoking weed. The horn did play better after that though, so maybe he was onto something. I think he's dead now. His claim was that certain areas of the tenon and how it fit made certain areas of the instrument sound better. I don't know if this is true or not, but I suspect not. If the tenon fits well in the socket, and both are completely round, I think it's going to play all right. As long as it fits sungly well below the slot cut into the receiver.
 

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My current understanding of the acoustics of the saxophone is that its main characteristics come from its conical shape.

Now, the saxophone is split into a few pieces, and therefore leaks between these pieces (once assembled) are to be avoided. That seems quite obvious and probably the main issue to solve.

However, the conical shape cannot be respected at the neck connection: this part is, at best, a cylindrical segment in the general shape of the saxophone.
I have no idea if this has truly a real impact on how the saxophone behaves, or if this is completely irrelevant to tone production and saxophone acoustics in general.

Given the relative small dimensions of the tenon/socket size compared to the whole length of the saxophone, maybe it is indeed negligible (except maybe for sopranos and up).
But maybe not ?
 

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Lance Burton also known as "Martin Mods" has done extensive work and study of this issue. In a communication a while back he indicated that he made a neck tenon that continued the taper and in his opinion it improved the sound. The illustration below shows the measurements of my Selmer SBA neck and what the proportion the "cylindrical" portion is to the entire neck. Measurements were taken every 25mm. It should also be noted that the area of the neck that receives the cork is closer to cylindrical than the rest of the neck.

 

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ptung Could you elaborate on "more complicated and subtle"? You seem to be alluding to something more than a good mechanical and air tight fit. I read an article a while back written by a tech by the name of Gilcrist or something similar which brought up a lot of acoustic claims that I had not heard before. I would like to know your thoughts on this. And I am getting old and forgetful so we may have had a similar conversation on this topic before.
I appreciate being asked, but this is one of those things that isn't worth the potential hassle.
 

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The change in bore diameter from neck to mouthpiece is a massive interruption to the cone compared with the tenon area.

When is a cone not a cone, or a cylinder not a cylinder?
I read once that a trumpet is basically a CYLINDRICAL bore instrument, closed at one end. So the overtones should be like those of a clarinet - only every second overtone sounding.
But the design has so much dodgy acoustic stuff happening at the mouthpiece and at the bell, that it has all overtones like a cylindrical tube open at both ends, eg flute, or a configuration like a sax.
 

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For diagnosis to see if it is leaking, without specialised equipment, plaster a layer of grease on the socket and tenon and see if it plays better.

If it is leaking, it looks as if dealing with it may involve both lapping and expanding the business end of the tenon.
A wrap or two of teflon tape around the tenon will likely accomplish the same thing without the mess.

Some players play on horns with necks that are extremely loose and have no issues. Me on the other hand like my neck to be snug without any play/movement however it's difficult to achieve this on a Martin Comm III tenor neck. Obviously it can be done but one would have to remove the ( Silver soldered ) tightening screw mount so the tenon can be made round and fit properly. I've used a small layer of teflon tape for this and it works fine.
 

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I agree, but if the "thickness" of the leak is less than double the thickness of teflon tape, then it may be difficult to get the tape where it is needed at the business end of the tenon.
 

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