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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

The title to this thread is the basic question: why is this happening?

But, I should set this in context.

I think i have about fifteen to sixteen years’ experience playing sax. But ive always been into jazz, and played wider tip openings until recently.

Recently I got interested in playing closed tip openings. I tried Yamaha 4cs on my Yamaha tenor and altos, and liked them: they are easy to play, I think I can get a good range of tonal colors from them. I bought a couple of classical mouthpieces for alto and soprano. -Rousseau mouthpieces.

I found i really like the ease of articulation with these rousseau pieces and the ease of getting high notes. Again, I thought I could get quite a wide range of colors.

But, when i tried checking with a tuner, i found i was a quarter tone flat. I already push the mouthpiece quite far on, and try to use a looser embouchure (dave liebman style). I found that pushing the alto rousseau on so far that it’s a bit over the cork, and using a harder reed, i can get closer to concert pitch, but i’m still playing flat.

Going back to yamaha 4cs, or jazz mouthpieces (in this case 10 m fans) , i’m back in tune.
, no problem.

I need to adjust mouthpiece placement - the Yamahas need to be pulled out, the 10MFans pulled out slightly further, but then they are in tune. The basic point is, even when I push the Rousseaus on as far as it’s possible to go, I still play flat, unless I ‘lip it up’ with a weird , tight embouchure.

Any ideas about what’s happening here?

P.s.

This is a sort of technical question, out of interest, because on a practical level, I’m going stick with the 10MFans. I’d just like to understand what’s happening.
 

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Are you using really soft reeds for the closed mouthpieces? You should go up in reed strength from the more open mouthpieces.........A really soft reed will make you flat. Also, if it too easy to blow, you won't blow enough air because you won't need to and that will make you low in pitch. What size is the tip opening and what size reeds are you using?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Steve.thanks for your answer.

I’ve been using 2.5 - 3 reeds on alto on tenor for the last year or two. I generally use 5s on alto (about 0.071 openings, I think), and 7*s (0.105) on tenor. Although, I did recently use an Ambika, which I think is a 6* and about 0.95, and used 3 reeds on that. I only recently got a soprano; I used a Gaia 6 with a 2.5 reed on that.

My problem here was with the Rousseau pieces on alto and soprano, actually. Both were a quarter tone flat if the mouthpiece was placed near my usual position, which is already quite far on.

I did notice that moving from a 2.5 to a 3 on the Rousseau alto piece, helped make the intonation nearer to concert pitch.

The alto is an RC 4, refaced by Brian Powell, and is marked 0.063, and the soprano is a Rousseau 3R, which is 0.053

The funny thing is that the Yamaha 4cs have similar tip openings, and tuning is fine with the same reeds. So I wonder if the issue is with facing length? If the Rousseaus have a longer facing length than the Yamahas, does that require a harder reed to get in tune?

Obviously I’ve googled this but there seems to be some debate: some people claim reed strength has no effect on intonation, but anecdotally my own experience suggests that it does.
 

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Hi Steve.thanks for your answer.

I’ve been using 2.5 - 3 reeds on alto on tenor for the last year or two. I generally use 5s on alto (about 0.071 openings, I think), and 7*s (0.105) on tenor. Although, I did recently use an Ambika, which I think is a 6* and about 0.95, and used 3 reeds on that. I only recently got a soprano; I used a Gaia 6 with a 2.5 reed on that.

My problem here was with the Rousseau pieces on alto and soprano, actually. Both were a quarter tone flat if the mouthpiece was placed near my usual position, which is already quite far on.

I did notice that moving from a 2.5 to a 3 on the Rousseau alto piece, helped make the intonation nearer to concert pitch.

The alto is an RC 4, refaced by Brian Powell, and is marked 0.063, and the soprano is a Rousseau 3R, which is 0.053

The funny thing is that the Yamaha 4cs have similar tip openings, and tuning is fine with the same reeds. So I wonder if the issue is with facing length? If the Rousseaus have a longer facing length than the Yamahas, does that require a harder reed to get in tune?

Obviously I’ve googled this but there seems to be some debate: some people claim reed strength has no effect on intonation, but anecdotally my own experience suggests that it does.
Maybe try a 3 1/2 or 4 reed and see what happens.......Longer facings usually do require a harder reed and I have had student with soft reeds play incredibly flat so maybe that is the reason. Do you have any used 3 1/2 or 4's in a shoebox somewhere you can try out?
 

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Going back to yamaha 4cs, or jazz mouthpieces (in this case 10 m fans) , i’m back in tune.
, no problem.

P.s.
This is a sort of technical question, out of interest, because on a practical level, I’m going stick with the 10MFans. I’d just like to understand what’s happening.
Until I got to your P.s., I was simply going to suggest you stick to the 10mFan mpcs. Good to see that's what you'll be doing! As to why those closed tip pieces play flat, I have no idea so can't help satisfy your curiosity on that point. I guess the reed strength could be a factor; I know I wouldn't switch to a mpc that required a #4 reed in order to stay in tune!

Stick with the 10mFan pieces since they work for you. In any case, I don't think it's helpful, musically, to jump all over the place on different mpcs.
 

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1. Tip opening can definitely affect reed strength requirement.
2. Reed strength definitely affects pitch.
3. Chamber size/shape MOST definitely affects pitch.
4. Some chamber size/shape combinations just won't work on certain horns, for a given player - or at all.

For me, close tips have worked best with fairly hard reeds. They need more resistance than I like to have with a bigger tip, in order to play right... I get that resistance from the strength of the reed.
You also have to put the right kind of air to them. You don't want to bring up the pitch by using your lip/jaw. I do it with a solid airstream from down low and with tongue placement/voicing, AND with placement on the cork.

For me, big fat round chambers generally need to get pushed in way far IF they are capable of playing in tune, even with the right resistance from the reed.

My soprano piece is about 0.055" and I use a LaVoz Hard reed. It tunes well at a normal location on the cork of my old Conn, because it has a fairly small, square chamber. I cannot get big fat chamber mouthpieces to work on this 1928 horn, even though I believe it was designed with those in mind. They just won't come up to pitch, even bottomed out ready to crash into the octave key.

I have a nice Woodwind & Co. alto piece that measures 0.067" and I can get a great sound and an even scale with a Rico 3 1/2 or RSJ 3M, but I have to tune it in WAY far on my Conn 6M because it has a big honking fat round chamber. It works, but it has to be WAY in... like, bottomed out. I think these Conns (1947) came with a Conn Comet mouthpiece which had a smaller, square chamber.
 

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For me, close tips have worked best with fairly hard reeds. They need more resistance than I like to have with a bigger tip, in order to play right... I get that resistance from the strength of the reed.
To clarify what I meant by this:
With close tips, a harder reed is typically needed, in order to feel the SAME resistance one gets with a more open tip.
I find that I need to go to an EVEN HARDER reed, to feel MORE resistance than I like to have with a more open tip.
That's how I get close tips to work for me.
 
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