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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
Does anyone have some advice on voicing middle D (and, to an extent, middle C, although I think I've improved on that one quite a bit)? My middle D consistently plays around 30 cents sharp and is much stuffier/airier than the notes around it; i.e. E and F and middle C with the low C fingering.
Thanks.
 

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This is a question for a technician. However, a recent restoration of a G.H.Huller tenor had very sharp D and C. Half an hour with the technician, altering venting, had flattened these notes to a manageable level.
 

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For years even through college as a music major I played alto too high on the mouthpiece pitch because I didn't know any better. A few years later I took a few lessons from an accomplished player/teacher and he pointed that out. Once I brought the input pitch down, D2 had a better tone and pitch than it ever did even without lipping it down, and A2 wasn't nearly as sharp. Now when I play D, I automatically increase the volume inside my oral cavity which helps as well. On alto the mouthpiece pitch should be no higher than A=880, and the pitch of the mouthpiece and neck should be Ab concert (the same as played F2).

Lowering the height of the low C key is a "double edged sword". Yes, it can help the bring the pitch of D2 down, but it can also make the note more stuffy than it already is. Another negative effect is that it can make D1 excessively flat, and "lipping up" low notes as we all know is difficult. The pitch of D2 can be lowered in extreme cases without making the note "stuffy" by putting a "crescent" in the mouthpiece side of the tonehole, but again it will lower the pitch of D1 as well.
 

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That note is usually sharp, and middle C# usually flat. That's why Selmer made a special mechanism for that (which also helps with the sharp high C#) for the Series III model.

My take, without knowing how long have you been playing, is practice. Usually the middle D, Eb, E, require a bit of a more open oral voicing, like the palm notes, for example. We are talking of minimal adjustments that make a huge impact in the tuning of playing. You might be pressuring the reed a little bit more than necessary at that note and that's why the note goes sharper than it usually is.

Also, without knowing, what mouthpiece and reed do you use?
 

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Well, actually, on pre-Selmer Mark 6 horns, my experience has been that the middle C# is well in tune and the upper one is sharp; then Selmer went too far in correcting the upper C# sharpness and made the middle one flat. None of my Conn Buescher Holton or Martin saxophones has a flat middle C#.

As to the sharp middle D, I'd experiment with low C key height, because it's dead easy to do so - if you've got a modern sax just turn the adjustable bumper; if not, jsut stack masking tape on the key. You may well be able to find a good compromise. If you've got the low C pad as low as it can go before it starts adversely affecting the tone quality and responsiveness of D (especially low D), then the rest will have to come from practice. Interval exercises, played very slowly, with great attention paid to matching tone and staying in tune, will repay the effort many times over.

OP, what instrument are you playing?
 

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yo are right, Mark VI did not do what you comment, at that extent, in my experience, of course. I love Series II far way better than any other Selmer (must confess I use a Series III Solid Silver Neck) and the flat C# is somehow there.... I am not the OP, so.... let see what he plays.


Well, actually, on pre-Selmer Mark 6 horns, my experience has been that the middle C# is well in tune and the upper one is sharp; then Selmer went too far in correcting the upper C# sharpness and made the middle one flat. None of my Conn Buescher Holton or Martin saxophones has a flat middle C#.

As to the sharp middle D, I'd experiment with low C key height, because it's dead easy to do so - if you've got a modern sax just turn the adjustable bumper; if not, jsut stack masking tape on the key. You may well be able to find a good compromise. If you've got the low C pad as low as it can go before it starts adversely affecting the tone quality and responsiveness of D (especially low D), then the rest will have to come from practice. Interval exercises, played very slowly, with great attention paid to matching tone and staying in tune, will repay the effort many times over.

OP, what instrument are you playing?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Right now I’m playing a later model Mark VI and my two mouthpiece setups are a Meyer 5M with a RJS 3S and a Selmer Concept with a Reserve 3. I’ve gotten to be able to get it to around 10 cents sharp at a comfortable level and strong tone but beyond that if I try to get it lower the tone goes down the hole. That and the E are the only sharp notes; C#, C, Eb and F all speak great.
 
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