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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, each time i play, i tune my sax in concert A first, then the whole horn is in tune, except the low C, B, Bb, they are 30 cents sharper, what' s wrong with my horn, and what can i do to fix it?
I am using a big chamber mp. and it's a soprano.

thank you in advance.
 

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Selmer Balanced Action Tenor Saxophone, Powell Flute
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That's pretty standard on a lot of saxes especially vintage saxes. Just know that it's sharp and lip it down. If you want to take it to a reputable tech and get him to put crescents in your tone holes to bring the pitch down. I don't like crescents as I feel they change the resonance of my horn, but you can pretty much fix the C,C#, and B like that. The Bb is impossible to fix unless you make the horn longer.
 

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BTW. If you sub tone the low notes will go flat! I don't know if you do a lot of sub-toning or not, but if you do and you get the crescents put in you will have the opposite problem just to let you know. Good luck!

Also, a Crescent if you are wondering is a piece of cork glued in to your tone hole to make it smaller and thus drop the pitch.
 

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Another thing to watch out for is loosening lower lip pressure when you go low. We tend to drop the floor of our oral cavity a bit when we go low and that can take the lower jaw with it. The embouchure needs to remain firm.
 

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Joe - I respect your opinion about the embouchure thing, but I tend, now a days, to disagree. I find that my jaw pressure is constantly changing depending on what type of sound I want. If I want a more direct sound or a sub tone or a fluffy sound, and this will happen constantly while playing. I guess it also depends on what type of music you are playing. I play mostly jazz, but if you were playing more legit stuff I could see leaving your embouchure more firm. BTW, I've heard your soprano MPC's are great and can't wait to try one sometime! Here is a video of don menza talking about embouchure if you want to check it out (amazing video!!!), and it talks about this firmness theory.

 

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Hmmmmm.....before lipping it down or installing crescents (a relatively extreme although reversible mod which very, very few horns actually need)....it could be that the keycup heights on the B and Bb. Altering those should improve the C at least.

Funny, because my first thought (before you said Soprano) was that it could be that the bow piece is actually pushed too deeply into the body tube ferrule, thus 'shortening' the distance from mouthpiece to the lowest holes.

I agree with Simon.....if the low Bb is dramatically out of tune...there isn't much you can do with horn adjustment to alleviate that (as in...nothing).

Now...it could be something completely different. What if these 3 notes aren't out of tune ? It could be that the low notes are actually adjusted/located correctly and your stack notes are adjusted flat, so you are actually pushing in the m'piece too much; therefore, a tech would need to open the key heights of the stack cups to sharpen the rest of the horn.

(Do I believe that 100% ? No. Is it an odd possibility ? Yes....)
 

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Joe - I respect your opinion about the embouchure thing, but I tend, now a days, to disagree. I find that my jaw pressure is constantly changing depending on what type of sound I want.
We may not mean the same thing by 'firm embouchure'. I'm not taking about that "vise-grip" approach at all.

I agree about working the sound but on soprano especially I feel it is a much more subtle 'touch' of the lower lip, without really getting the lower jaw involved.That's when the intonation issue comes into play ( I offered the thought about firm embouchure to see if the OP could get the lower horn in tune ). Once he has it in tune, he can start to "work" the tone.

The kind of impact that the "dropped jaw" can have on tenor is easily done with the tongue on soprano, and that leaves the reed orientation unaffected (which is what "moves"), the way I picture or feel it.
 

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It could be that your pitch centre is a bit out. If you're tuning to middle B (concert A) that's a pretty flexible note on sop sax. I would suggest tuning to low G (concert F) instead. That might bring the low notes a bit closer to the mark.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
you guys are very helpful! i will try to tune to low G first, see if it helps !!
: >
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
i tried to tune to concert F, still the same...

i guess i have to get a tech to sharpen the upper stack of the horn to make the whole sop in tune.
It could be that your pitch centre is a bit out. If you're tuning to middle B (concert A) that's a pretty flexible note on sop sax. I would suggest tuning to low G (concert F) instead. That might bring the low notes a bit closer to the mark.
 

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Hi guys, each time i play, i tune my sax in concert A first, then the whole horn is in tune, except the low C, B, Bb, they are 30 cents sharper, what' s wrong with my horn, and what can i do to fix it?
I am using a big chamber mp. and it's a soprano.
What model/brand mouthpiece and horn? Some combinations have predictable and known issues.
 

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Another thing to try, though it might not work if your horn is really out, is tuning your horn to itself. You still use B2 to tune (concert A), but use both short and long fingering. By that I mean, tune the horn first so that your middle line B (B2) is in tune with the same pitch fingered as low B (B1), but overblown to sound B2. Just switch the fingering back and forth, keeping the embouchure and throat constant and adjust the mouthpiece so that the "upper" B is in tune with the "lower" one. (BTW this works on all horns, though on alto and bari it's concert D...)

Then learn to play in tune with your mouthpiece at that position :) . Your horn will be "in tune with itself" and you will be more easily able to adjust the pitch to match other players.

Since the low notes are sharp, it may be your embouchure is too tight, and you are really tuning the horn too low. A looser grip may free up your sound, too.

Finally, you said the notes are "30 cents sharp". I take that as an indication that you might use a tuner... If that is the case, I recommend not using it (for a while at least), and tuning with a piano or other keyboard instrument. Use your ear to play in tune, don't look at a tuner.
 

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That's pretty standard on a lot of saxes especially vintage saxes. Just know that it's sharp and lip it down. If you want to take it to a reputable tech and get him to put crescents in your tone holes to bring the pitch down. I don't like crescents as I feel they change the resonance of my horn, but you can pretty much fix the C,C#, and B like that. The Bb is impossible to fix unless you make the horn longer.
Hehe... Maybe put a crescent across the low Bb's tone hole as well, i.e. across the bell opening itself!
 

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Some horns simply have poor intonation. My first soprano, a BM Champion made in GDR was like that. All the notes from low D down were about 20 cents flat. And the upper register was somewhat uneven too. Must of been why I sold it . . .

Playing a Yanagisawa now which has a much more even scale. Even so, you still need to use your ear.
 
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