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Forum Contributor 2010, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a tenor player mainly, but I have a Conn 6M alto that I like quite well; I play it with a RPC mouthpiece and it speaks. However, being yet another obsessive sax player -- endlessly and tediously curious about all aspects of the instrument -- there is something that I'd like to hear others' opinions about. This Naked Lady (serial number 334xxx, @1950) has the tuneable neck that Conn used for awhile. That means that the neck has a big heavy object sitting out near the business end. I don't use it for tuning; it seems redundant to me. But surely it changes the mass of the neck, and therefore affects responsiveness. At least that seems logical to me, but I can't prove it. However, if the tuneable neck is less responsive than a "normal" neck would be, then it might be worth it to invest in a new neck. Are there any 6M owners out there who have blazed this trail already? What do you think?

Thanks!
 

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The air column creates the sound, not the brass. <ducks quickly>
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That may well be absolutely true. It may even be the whole truth. I admit that I am prone to distrust that kind of categorical statement, though. I ran into a tenor player at a jam session who had a very pretty tone; to be friendly, I asked him what kind of axe he played (didn't recognize it); he said, "It's not the horn." I said, "What kind of mouthpiece setup do you play," and he said "It's not the mouthpiece." I said, "OK, why don't you just play a stick, then?" Seemed a reasonable question at the time. Which is to say: if it's true that the air column and not the brass produces the tone, then you could make a neck out of anything, and it wouldn't matter, right? Nor would the thickness of the neck wall. But don't the characteristics of the material affect the behavior of the air column? <puts his head quickly in a lead-lined hole and screams like a chicken>
 

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The reason I ducked is that this is a variation of the 'does the lacquer affect the sound' sorts of threads, which are quite controversial.

Yes, different material sounds slightly different. Tim Price, and a few others play on specially crafted wooden necks.

That being said--your sax playing friend is right. At a certain level it's the archer not the bow.

If you want to modify your lady, by all means go ahead--she's your lady. But , IMHO there's not going to be a significant difference in the sound.

I'm in the camp that believes that it's the geometry of the bore of the horn that most affects the sound, not material or thickness.
 

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I'm going to agree with hakukani on this one. I tend to believe that the majority of sound is created with your oral cavity and mouthpiece. The reason different materials of ligatures can make a difference in response is because a reed actually vibrates and that actually creates sound. A neck however, does not modify the sound by vibrating. You can make a neck out of metal, wood, plastic, whatever, and it will still sound similar. Variations will be in small differences between the necks. I tend to believe that aftermarket necks made out of special materials don't play better because of the material, but because of design differences.
 

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The neck was designed for the horn just like it is. Even if changing the mass at the mouthpiece end changed the sound, that doesn't mean it would be better to remove it. It could just as well be worse.

It is wrong to think that more mass means reduced responsiveness. The mouthpiece mass itself can vary a lot. What about a metal mouthpiece? It has more mass than a HR one, but that doesn't make it less responsive, does it?.

Now, if you add a semi-precious stone to the neck, that's a whole different story. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Darn: I was planning to encrust the microtuner with cubic zirconium!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm inclined to think you guys are right; I hope you are, because not buying a new neck is the cheapest solution! Thanks for the feedback.
 

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The whole idea of the microtuner is to put the mouthpiece all the way on the cork and adjust with the tuner. This way the "pocket" that is between the tip of the neck and the chamber of the mouthpiece is reduced improving the overall playing. Shove the mouthpiece all of the way on and adjust the tuner. If it is stuck, there are threads here on how to fix it.
 

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try sticking a weight at the opening of a normal neck. All that extra weight slows the response on those microtuner necks. I don't find that it's even a subtle difference. To the listener of course there is no difference. Like plating there is no acoustical difference but the way the horn feels when it responds is different. This is why there are a myriad of mouthpiece makers and and brands/models of saxophones. Try using a non-microtuner neck and you will likely notice a difference in response.

As you can see I prefer the 6M's with no micro tuner. A small but dedicated following.
 

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Chu-Jerry said:
The neck was designed for the horn just like it is. Even if changing the mass at the mouthpiece end changed the sound, that doesn't mean it would be better to remove it. It could just as well be worse.

It is wrong to think that more mass means reduced responsiveness. The mouthpiece mass itself can vary a lot. What about a metal mouthpiece? It has more mass than a HR one, but that doesn't make it less responsive, does it?.

Now, if you add a semi-precious stone to the neck, that's a whole different story. ;)
I have always found metal Links slower responding than similar faced rubber equivalents. Ralph Morgan wrote a six page article discussing the different response levels/characteristics of mouthpiece material. In his ads for his line of mouthpieces, Ralph claims a certain percentage more of volume and harmonics for rubber over metal. It's all about FEEL.
 

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I like the microtuner. I find it very handy, and my horn's response is just dandy- better than its predecessor, a mk. vi.
 

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Okay, here's what I have discovered in the course of playing hundreds of 6m's.
The 6m's with the tuner neck play better. I don't know why and I don't care. I'm not an acoustician, I'm a player and repairman. There is a caveat though. You have to push the mouthpiece all the way in and use the tuner neck to tune the horn (like Bailey says). Pulling the mouthpiece in and out on the cork does not have the same result.
I first discovered this when I did an alto job with the Brian Setzer Orchestra (I play mostly tenor) and they wanted me to play lead on one tune in particular (I don't remember why). The alto I'd been playing at that time was a beautiful 277xxx 6m with the "New York" neck (No tuner). A friend in Pittsburgh (where the gig was) was interested in a silver 6m (283xxx) I had for sale. It had the tuner neck.
I decided to take the silver horn to Pittsburgh, play it on the gig and, if he wanted to buy it, sell it to him and come home without it.
Not being an altoist, I took my lead alto responsibility very seriously. I practiced on that silver 6m day and night. I worked quite a bit on intonation also, sitting at the piano for hours matching pitches. In the process of all this practice, I experiminted with tuning using the old method (put tuner all the way in and pull in or out on the cork) and the method for which the tuner was intended–– push the mouthpiece on as far as it will go and use the tuner to tune. The results amazed me because I had always thought that the tuner was "jive." I assumed it was an experiment that failed because no other company ever made a tuner neck. If it was a good idea everybody would copy it, eh Selmer?
To make a long story longer....it was easier to play in tune and it sounded better when I used the tuner neck. You may all posit theories as to why this is so but, being a practical sort of guy, it doesn't really matter to me WHY the 6m's with the tuner neck play better, they just do.
In Pittsburgh my friend bought the horn, I returned to Boston and sold my beautiful 277xxx and got one with the tuner neck. The gig was nice, especially the well-endowed girl in the front row pulling her shirt up.
And we lived happily ever after.
Disclaimer: this should not be construed to mean the "New York" model horns don't play good, they do. For those looking for a brighter sound they may even be preferable to the "tuner neck" 6m's. But for me, the tuner neck rules. Dude
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This is exactly what I was looking for: particulars from someone who's spent time with the axe. I appreciate the detailed information, and will approach the horn just as you say. A thousand thanks!
 

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I should state that as Les says, the neck roller tuner work best when it is used to tuen the sax. They are a little brighter than the NY neck models. I keep my mpc 5 mm off the end of the cork next to the roller and use the roller to fine tune the sax to pitch. Intonation and sound has always been easy when using the neck rollers like this. It works as easily on the C Melody roller neck models too.
 

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Maybe this is why Conn made both the "standard" model and the "New York" models. Different players will like different things and the Idea was to sell more saxophones.

Thanks for your info Les.
 

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If anyone has enough time or curiousity try wrapping your neck with something like plastic wrap. An nice tight 1/4 inch or so and see what if anything it does to the sound.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The whole neck? Hmm. I predict it will prevent my octave key from venting properly. . . .
 
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