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Discussion Starter #1
Numerous trade-offs have been discussed in the Forum, such as sacrificing some intonation for tonal flexibility, or giving up some evenness of scale for other tonal characteristics.

I present another trade-off issue. Do sound production and sax design principles require that saxes with a booming bottom end give up some strength/thickness of notes up top? My Committee III tenor and Keilwerth superba alto give up some thickness up top relative to other horns I have played with a lessor bottom end.

I know horns can play strong top to bottom. I’m asking whether there is some trade-off at play.
 

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No.

Once you've adjusted your altissimo, it's more of a mouthpiece and reed problem.

Also, if you want a big sound, top to bottom, you have to work for it.

Long tones.
 

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I agree 100% with Mike T. I have a Keilwerth Tenor that has the fullest low end out of any horn I have ever played and the top end is just as rich and full and working on the altissimo along with long tones makes all the difference in the world
 

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Depending on your horn, your neck might also play a role. I recently got a Heritage neck from Boston Sax Shop for my Mark VI, and it really strengthened the palm keys and altissimo. Bottom and mid range remained full and strong as before.
 

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Numerous trade-offs have been discussed in the Forum, such as sacrificing some intonation for tonal flexibility, or giving up some evenness of scale for other tonal characteristics.

I present another trade-off issue. Do sound production and sax design principles require that saxes with a booming bottom end give up some strength/thickness of notes up top? My Committee III tenor and Keilwerth superba alto give up some thickness up top relative to other horns I have played with a lessor bottom end.

I know horns can play strong top to bottom. I’m asking whether there is some trade-off at play.
Here are some sources to read. https://www.syos.co/en/blog/science
 

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Numerous trade-offs have been discussed in the Forum, such as sacrificing some intonation for tonal flexibility, or giving up some evenness of scale for other tonal characteristics.

I present another trade-off issue. Do sound production and sax design principles require that saxes with a booming bottom end give up some strength/thickness of notes up top? My Committee III tenor and Keilwerth superba alto give up some thickness up top relative to other horns I have played with a lessor bottom end.

I know horns can play strong top to bottom. I’m asking whether there is some trade-off at play.
No. It's just an embouchure thing to even out the intonation, timbre and scale.
 

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When you learn how to blow through the thing, not AT it, you will discover that strength in the low register is not contradictory to strength in the high register.
 

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Ditto on the long tones. If you are sacrificing anything then you aren't doing it right, if I'm speaking honestly. Control your horn, don't let it control you.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 

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Yes....

Have 2 tenors....my Conn Shooting Star.....so awesome and easy to play at the bottom.

.......my Selmer Mark VII great to play at the top........but try a staccato Bb that is not mezzo forte or louder on this one, and I had better not be doing a solo!

But I suspect that if I trained up everything perfectly, I could make both horns play top to bottom without flaw. (But I only have 1 hour per day to practice). For today, it is very, very clear to me which one plays what better (regardless of what mouthpiece I throw on it).....and I select my equipment based on either the music I am playing, or the skill I am trying to develop.

I know I will be lectured on bad techniques......but the reality is that I have essentially the same technique on the Conn and the Selmer, yet I get different results.......and it is not just the airflow; the layout of the keys, size of your hands and how your fingers move have a big impact on what you can nail every time.

The horn matters......as confidence is what allows us to make a Booming, Full, High Quality sound. Each horn has its strengths and weaknesses.
 

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I dont think you can really answer that question since the horn makes no noise by itself.

Even before the player which introduces infinite variables there is the sound generating device of the mouthpiece and reed.

Its nice to think of a world in black and white, either or but there are multiple dialectics working in at least 3 dimensions.

I get what you are trying to find out but I dont think you can arrive at a reasonable conclusion as the problem is stated.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I appreciate all the responses: those addressing how practice techniques can thicken notes at the top, those addressing sound/horn design "physics" and those providing other insights.

I play with a double-lip embouchure and open throat and practice overtones and long tones. I work at keeping notes thick at the top, while recognizing this a lifelong quest. But it's been my experience that the horn/neck does matter and that each horn has its unique playing characteristics that we sometimes can consider strengths and weaknesses.

My tenors include a 1916 Buescher True Tone and a 56 Martin Committee 3. When I play both with the same mouthpiece/reed setup the response it like day and night. The true tone is very resistant whereas the Martin is very open playing. While I appreciate and take pleasure in the the differences, the Buescher's high note remain very thick while the Martins tend to thin out in comparison. This got me to wondering if there are is some science at play whereby a saxophone/neck design that produces a big/easy bottom end will require some sacrifice of big/easy notes at the top. An analogy with mouthpieces it that a mouthpiece with a short curve will play easier up top and harder at the bottom than a mouthpiece with a long curve, which has reverse characteristics.

Given all the variables, Phil is probably right in thinking there can be no reasonable conclusion to the question as stated .
 

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……...I play with a double-lip embouchure and open throat and practice overtones and long tones. …….

Good luck on getting advice using that embouchure. It's rare anybody uses it, and getting advice. [Why not learn the proper lip positions, then go from there?]
 

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Just blow in it until it sounds like you like, then wiggle the appropriate fingers.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Numerous trade-offs have been discussed in the Forum, such as sacrificing some intonation for tonal flexibility, or giving up some evenness of scale for other tonal characteristics.
Before answering the actual question, some observations on the opening statement:

I would disagree that intonation needs to be sacrificed for tonal flexibility, however I agree that it is possible to sacrifice evenness of scale for other tonal charateristics - but having said that if you have enough command of flexibility you can have both.

Without some work then yes there can be trade offs but by no means inevitable.

One thing I always advise against is using a hard reed in order to get the high notes. In that case yes there is usually some sacrifice of the low notes.

BUT

If you can work hard enough to be able to get the high notes without a hard reed, or get the high notes with a quite soft reed, then there is no reason for the low notes to suffer as (for me at least) those low notes love a soft reed along with plenty of lung and air support control (call it diaphragm if you like)
 

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before answering the actual question, some observations on the opening statement:

I would disagree that intonation needs to be sacrificed for tonal flexibility...
Now this is an interesting topic in itself, which might shed some light on the original inquiry, as well.

In saxophone history, we seem to see two major paths to design and tonal concept.

1) "more open" sound, which also is usually paired with what I would call "more flexible" intonation. By "more flexible" I don't mean that there are more notes more out of tune, but rather that the pitch of any given note is more easily moved than on saxes in group 2. (Examples: Conn, Martin)

2) "More focused" sound, which also is usually paired with what I would call "more slotted" intonation. (Examples: Selmer Mark 6 and later, Yamaha)

Now we can recognize that just the fact that these two elements, "focused/open" sound and "flexible/slotted" intonation are linked the way they are does not BY ITSELF mean that "focused" has to be paired with "slotted" and "open" has to be paired with "flexible".

The question for saxophone acousticians would be: "Is the above linkage driven by the actual laws of physics as related to saxophone acoustics, or are they just design choices that have been made by successive generations of saxophone designers?" I don't believe this question has ever been positively answered.
 

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I appreciate all the responses: those addressing how practice techniques can thicken notes at the top, those addressing sound/horn design "physics" and those providing other insights.

My tenors include a 1916 Buescher True Tone and a 56 Martin Committee 3. When I play both with the same mouthpiece/reed setup the response it like day and night. The true tone is very resistant whereas the Martin is very open playing. While I appreciate and take pleasure in the the differences, the Buescher's high note remain very thick while the Martins tend to thin out in comparison. This got me to wondering if there are is some science at play whereby a saxophone/neck design that produces a big/easy bottom end will require some sacrifice of big/easy notes at the top. .
Well, if we assume that setup (pad type, key heights, no leaks, etc.) is not in the equation (and your mention of a Buescher True Tone as "resistant" makes me question that), clearly there are design choices that could result in varying tonal qualities of the upper and lower registers of a given instrument. I don't think there are any clear answers as to whether there is a true trade-off or whether these are simply a series of design choices that have been made by designers.

For that matter, I would be surprised if the designers of the Buescher True Tone and Martin Committee saxophones had access to a body of knowledge that said "for a thick lower end do this and for a thick upper register do this and if you do this the upper register will have a thinner sound". Rather, I expect they tried to get the tone holes in the right place and the taper right to give the best intonation and to fit with the available manufacturing processes.

As an example, let's consider two different Conn soprano saxophones made at almost the same time, the regular New Wonder and the "Stretch". In this case the designers of the first one made certain choices about the tube design that drove tone hole positions and mouthpiece design. In the case of the "Stretch" the designers chose a very different tube taper, which drove different tone hole positions and mouthpiece design. Now, by all accounts, the "Stretch" plays very well indeed with its own mouthpiece (though the reports are that it plays poorly with other ones). The "Regular" Conn soprano also plays very well indeed with a mouthpiece that suits it. I am willing to bet that there ARE some tonal and response differences.

It just happens in this case that the "Regular" one was very close to all the other soprano saxes and the "Stretch" was very different, and the industry declined to follow the "Stretch". So the Conn "stretch" ended up kind of as the saxophone equivalent of the Betamax videotape; a product that works very well but did not get adopted as the standard.
 

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A soft reed and a long facing curve can give you responsive low notes at the expense of high note response. Usually the challenge is to select a mouthpiece and reed that centers up the response so that you can play soft low note easily and loud high note easily without the reed closing off. If you only want booming honking low notes, a harder reed will do that and play high notes fine.
 

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A soft reed and a long facing curve can give you responsive low notes at the expense of high note response.
This is my main point, that although this is generally true for most people at first, I find that it is possible to work at making softer reeds better for high notes, whereas working to make hard reeds better on low notes is not usually as successful. This is why I have switched down in strength.

But it's also worth pointing out that it is good to look beyond the equipment to solve problems. Yes finding the right mouthpiece/reed can go a long way to solving these issues and should probably be the starting point, but I think we'd all agree that the more work the player does, (air support - long notes) the better.

= Usually the challenge is to select a mouthpiece and reed that centers up the response so that you can play soft low note easily and loud high note easily without the reed closing off.
This is a challenge, it's a case of finding that exact combination that gives you a bit of each. It may never be ideal though, but it means balancing the trade-off so it isn't wighted one way or the other. ie two smaller trade-offs versos one bigger one up high or down low. But there is still a compromise.
 

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Usually the challenge is to select a mouthpiece and reed that centers up the response..
It's likely you can find a mpc that in general will help with this, but the fact that reeds vary considerably, even among those brands of reeds that are fairly 'consistent' makes it quite a challenge in terms of reeds (aside from finding the right strength reed). So I agree that while the equipment is important, it's mostly down to the player to work this out.
 
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