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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

Recently I've had the chance to play lead alto in a wind band/concert band. Sometimes we play big band arrangements and I have the feeling that I need to cut through more. So, I have a couple of mpc's on trial, Aizen JM 6, Meyer New York 5M and a Vandoren V16 A5 S+. Like the sound and the way the first two cut through but these mpc need to sit really far out on the cork and are much harder to play in tune. If I tune to 442 it helps with the tuning but still they are very far out on the cork. Worst of all three is the Vandoren and I suppose it has the smallest chamber, too.
Am I right to assume; large chamber mpc goes further in, smallish chamber stays further out on the neck?

Btw my setup is a vintage Buffet S1 and a refaced Meyer 6 (Morgan Fry). I like the sound but need to push it really hard to carry through. Anyone playing lead with a S1 that can point me in a direction mpc wise - not interested in high baffle pcs, though.

C
 

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Thanks for your reply, yes I've read that article some 15 years ago, think he was endorsing Yamaha at the time. I have this "far-onto- the-cork" problem only on this horn, not on any of the other four I own and frequently play, in fact I have a soprano where the mpc is pushed on as far as it goes....
 

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The pitch of the mouthpiece + neck off the saxophone should be close to Ab concert on an alto saxophone. Those who play higher on the mouthpiece input pitch (tighter embouchure) will need to pull the mouthpiece out more to achieve this pitch. Those who play on a lower mouthpiece input pitch will push the mouthpiece farther onto the cork. Vanessa Hasbrook's Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Pitch Study compared the tone qualities of jazz and classical mouthpieces with a mouthpiece pitch of A=880 and Eb three whole steps below. It is common that a mouthpiece with a long narrow chamber needs to be pulled out more to be in tune than a mouthpiece with a large chamber, but it also depends upon the bore and taper of the saxophone and neck as well.
 

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My Buffet alto also tunes with the mouthpiece more pulled out than my other altos. It's not a problem for me because with the mouthpieces I use the mouthpiece is still stable.

@Saxoclese: on a Buffet alto the neck is longer (and has an indentation for high F#, because the high F# hole is higher on the body: the difference with my SA 80 is 2cm!). So, "Ab concert for an alto saxophone" for the mouthpiece+neck is not a universal rule.
P.S. Congratulations for your 2000th post!
 

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My Buffet alto also tunes with the mouthpiece more pulled out than my other altos. It's not a problem for me because with the mouthpieces I use the mouthpiece is still stable.

@Saxoclese: on a Buffet alto the neck is longer (and has an indentation for high F#, because the high F# hole is higher on the body: the difference with my SA 80 is 2cm!). So, "Ab concert for an alto saxophone" for the mouthpiece+neck is not a universal rule.
P.S. Congratulations for your 2000th post!
Interesting. The measured length of my SBA alto neck is 19.7cm. When I calculate the taper of the missing cone using the taper of the neck and using that taper to calculate the length of the missing cone, I get 22.53cm. That length added to the measured length of the neck gives 42.23 cm and since the the wavelength of a note produced on the saxophone is 2 times the length, the result is 84.46 cm which roughly corresponds to an Ab concert that is about 30 cents flat. Of course, none of this is exact science.

My experience teaching scores of saxophone students has been that when they set the embouchure to produce an Ab concert on the neck and mouthpiece that it results in an improved tone and intonation throughout the instrument. I have found that the same is true in my own playing which is why I am an advocate of that approach which I first learned from a university teacher who was a student of Eugene Rousseau.
 

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Interesting. The measured length of my SBA alto neck is 19.7cm. When I calculate the taper of the missing cone using the taper of the neck and using that taper to calculate the length of the missing cone, I get 22.53cm. That length added to the measured length of the neck gives 42.23 cm and since the the wavelength of a note produced on the saxophone is 2 times the length, the result is 84.46 cm which roughly corresponds to an Ab concert that is about 30 cents flat. Of course, none of this is exact science.

My experience teaching scores of saxophone students has been that when they set the embouchure to produce an Ab concert on the neck and mouthpiece that it results in an improved tone and intonation throughout the instrument. I have found that the same is true in my own playing which is why I am an advocate of that approach which I first learned from a university teacher who was a student of Eugene Rousseau.
I guess that with an alto in the Selmer tradition (Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa,...) your thumb rule would be valid. But not with a Buffet alto. The palm keys tone holes on the Buffet are higher on the body and the neck is longer (I've not done a measurement but a side by side comparison of the neck of my Buffet and the neck of my Selmer shows that the Buffet neck is at least 1cm longer).
It may be a singularity of Buffet (at least, the "French" modern ones: I've no experience of the ones produced in China, and also no experience of the ones before my transitional SDA...). I've not checked precisely, but it seems that on my Buescher True tone and on my Leblanc-Vito model 35 the palm keys tone holes are also lower on the body than on my Buffet. On the Buescher the high F tone hole is quite small and I would have to compare the positions of the E or Eb tone holes.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My Buffet alto also tunes with the mouthpiece more pulled out than my other altos. It's not a problem for me because with the mouthpieces I use the mouthpiece is still stable.
I see, just what I suspected. Have you tried to tune to 442?
When I do that I get a more stable horn all over and the notoriously sharp g above the staff gets in tune easier.

C
 

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I see, just what I suspected. Have you tried to tune to 442?
When I do that I get a more stable horn all over and the notoriously sharp g above the staff gets in tune easier.

C
I usually tune to A=442Hz -but the difference is quite small, about 2mm for the mouthpiece position on the neck, and smaller than the adjustments you have to do when the weather is cold or hot.
 

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I think I read somewhere here, that you may get a stronger tone by tuning sharp, and playing flat with your embouchure. I remembered having some great tone once with my mouthpiece pushed further on, because the cork was loose, and leaky, and I needed to get thru a long gig. I've since repaired the cork, but recently started pushing the MP further on, and I am getting more cut with my tone. Not sure why, if its loosening my embouchure, or if there's something with respect to the MP-horn-volume-cone relationship.
 

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It's also much easier to bend a note down than up, so if you tune on the sharp side, you'll be able to play more expressively with less effort...
 

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I think I read somewhere here, that you may get a stronger tone by tuning sharp, and playing flat with your embouchure. I remembered having some great tone once with my mouthpiece pushed further on, because the cork was loose, and leaky, and I needed to get thru a long gig. I've since repaired the cork, but recently started pushing the MP further on, and I am getting more cut with my tone. Not sure why, if its loosening my embouchure, or if there's something with respect to the MP-horn-volume-cone relationship.
Vanessa Hasbrook's Thesis linked to above found that the spectrograph of tones played with a lower mouthpiece pitch ie. more relaxed embouchure showed a greater number of harmonics and harmonics that were stronger than tones played with a tighter embouchure. In addition playing with a looser embouchure does not close the reed as much producing the same effect as playing on a mouthpiece with a wider tip opening.
 

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Vanessa Hasbrook's Thesis linked to above found that the spectrograph of tones played with a lower mouthpiece pitch ie. more relaxed embouchure showed a greater number of harmonics and harmonics that were stronger than tones played with a tighter embouchure. In addition playing with a looser embouchure does not close the reed as much producing the same effect as playing on a mouthpiece with a wider tip opening.
Also easier to to play flute right after sax if the embouchure is relaxed.
 

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Also easier to to play flute right after sax if the embouchure is relaxed.
I'm still waiting for that to kick in. :)
 

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I play very little alto these days I'm sure I'm not typical but for me it's "far enough in so the Low B stops gurgling" and then maybe a bit further if I'm still flat.
 

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My low D was flat and had the C# key opened a bit, a compromise between middle D sharpness and low D flatness.
 

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It's determined by the size of your lips. The smaller your lips the farther you should push the mouthpiece on.
You can compensate by changing the color of your socks. :shock:

Seriously. What does the size of one’s lips have to do with it? Once again, it’s not the size, but what you do with them.
 
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