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In engineering school we learned about turbulent and laminar flow. I wonder if these characteristics influence "resistance."
There is no laminar flow in a sax, but there are nodal points where the air molecules move with maximum displacement (and minimum pressure variation) as opposed to nodal points with maximum pressure variation and minimum displacement. Turbulence can affect the air movement and rob efficiency wherever there is a sufficiently sharp discontinuity in the bore, such as at edges of tone holes.
 

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Henri Selmer Paris Mark VII Tenor 316xxx
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Just for the record, neither lacquer nor ribbed vs. non-ribbed makes any difference. The body of the sax is rigid enough in any case to resist any vibrations that would be large enough to make any acoustic difference. The only factors that matter are geometry and smoothness of the walls.

"Free-blowing" is not a very precise term, but has, I think, two main components, and that is a correct bore taper (or actually series of bore tapes) that align the impedances in a way that they are near in harmonic relation. I could get more detailed if anyone wishes, but basically the farther the bore is from the theoretical ideal conical shape, the more the impedances are misaligned, causing a loss of energy when a note is sounded. So for a given cone angle, alignment of the tube impedances will cause that bore to be more efficient and thus more responsive.

But cone angle also makes a difference. A narrower bore, as a rule, will have a brighter sound weaker in lower partials, with more control at the top. A wider bore will have a more "rounded" sound with easier response at the bottom. Any sax, no matter how poor the bore, is going to be more free blowing than an oboe, due to the much larger cone angle.

There is another important factor, and that has to do with sharp edges in the bore, which cause turbulence and limit maximum output. However this is generally not an issue with saxes, where tone holes are extruded rather than cut in the tube.
I understand that you very likely have a scientific rationale on top of your own experience that support this view but I perceive a difference in response between different finishes and ribbed vs non-ribbed models. Over a long time, lots of horns. Lots of people have argued both sides of that one, so I don't think it's a straight-up "Just for the record" sort of thing.
If I coat something in a light density clear coat, versus say, baking a thick ceramic coating on top of it, or another type of thick coating like we see with the new era of matte finishes (think Reference saxes antique PAO or some Mauriat horns)... it could affect the response and sound. Taking it another direction - if I plate something with silver versus plating it with gold, or nickel... it's going to change the way that the whole thing vibrates, resonates.
What about different copper content in the brass let's say or different brass from different locations and time periods? It makes a difference. Materials are each their own "living" thing. One thing I can say I have a lot of experience with is playing student saxes compared to professional saxes from the same manufacturer. My Yamaha student horns had like no "resistance" and were incredibly free-blowing, whereas my 62II was resistant and "darker" sounding, and I believe the difference was the annealing of the brass. One of the most freely responding saxes I owned was a Keilwerth with post on body key work but regular tone holes. It also had an oxidized brass finish with a very light clear lacquer over top. Very close to an un-lacquered, bare brass idea.
I have owned and played several different Reference 54 altos and tenors and I could always hear the difference between the rose gold lacquered and antique matte finish lacquers. Same mouthpiece and reed. I actually don't mind whatever people want to think but I believe that densities, thickness, properties of the material and added mass can all affect resonance and tone quality. It's why a plastic saxophone, no matter how well designed, just never sounds like brass.
 

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Henri Selmer Paris Mark VII Tenor 316xxx
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Just for the record, neither lacquer nor ribbed vs. non-ribbed makes any difference. The body of the sax is rigid enough in any case to resist any vibrations that would be large enough to make any acoustic difference. The only factors that matter are geometry and smoothness of the walls.

"Free-blowing" is not a very precise term, but has, I think, two main components, and that is a correct bore taper (or actually series of bore tapes) that align the impedances in a way that they are near in harmonic relation. I could get more detailed if anyone wishes, but basically the farther the bore is from the theoretical ideal conical shape, the more the impedances are misaligned, causing a loss of energy when a note is sounded. So for a given cone angle, alignment of the tube impedances will cause that bore to be more efficient and thus more responsive.

But cone angle also makes a difference. A narrower bore, as a rule, will have a brighter sound weaker in lower partials, with more control at the top. A wider bore will have a more "rounded" sound with easier response at the bottom. Any sax, no matter how poor the bore, is going to be more free blowing than an oboe, due to the much larger cone angle.

There is another important factor, and that has to do with sharp edges in the bore, which cause turbulence and limit maximum output. However this is generally not an issue with saxes, where tone holes are extruded rather than cut in the tube.
 

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Why do people on the forum say fwiw? I mean I could add 'fwiw' at the start of every sentence i write. The term has no place in the English language. It's he only term more useless than "It is what it is", IIWIS.
Well, in my opinion, I’d like to say this about that, for what it’s worth. It is what it is. At least that’s my belief. So, you know, like just chill, dude. 😌
 

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There is another important factor, and that has to do with sharp edges in the bore, which cause turbulence and limit maximum output. However this is generally not an issue with saxes, where tone holes are extruded rather than cut in the tube.
What you wrote is all very interesting and I'm inclined to believe you are correct in everything except this last paragraph is surprising. You obviously know more about the subject than me so I'm not saying you are wrong.

The two big manufacturers with sharp edged toneholes (cut & soldered chimneys) are King and Martin. Both I believe are generally perceived as examples of the more freeblowing saxes, no?

This impression of mine is mostly based on what I have read here on SOTW. My personal experience with sharp chimney saxes is limited to one Martin Comm III tenor I briefly tried, it was very nice sax but not particularly freeblowing in my opinion. And one King bari that I own, which I would indeed characterize as very freeblowing.

The amount of rounding in pulled toneholes is typically quite small, the visual difference in sharpness is not huge so I would be surprised if tone hole construction method was an important factor at all. Depicted in my profile picture is the interior of an Amati soprano, it is perhaps on the smoother side, my Grassi has slightly more sharp angle at the root of the pull but the differences are very minimal.
 

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What you wrote is all very interesting and I'm inclined to believe you are correct in everything except this last paragraph is surprising. You obviously know more about the subject than me so I'm not saying you are wrong.

The two big manufacturers with sharp edged toneholes (cut & soldered chimneys) are King and Martin. Both I believe are generally perceived as examples of the more freeblowing saxes, no?

This impression of mine is mostly based on what I have read here on SOTW. My personal experience with sharp chimney saxes is limited to one Martin Comm III tenor I briefly tried, it was very nice sax but not particularly freeblowing in my opinion. And one King bari that I own, which I would indeed characterize as very freeblowing.

The amount of rounding in pulled toneholes is typically quite small, the visual difference in sharpness is not huge so I would be surprised if tone hole construction method was an important factor at all. Depicted in my profile picture is the interior of an Amati soprano, it is perhaps on the smoother side, my Grassi has slightly more sharp angle at the root of the pull but the differences are very minimal.
The turbulence that kicks in with sharp edges in the bore and limits maximum dynamic is a limiting factor, and does not affect anything under a certain threshold. And then too, there is a precise formula for the radius of the edge and the effect it has. With saxophones and their large tone holes, there is less effect than there would be in a flute or clarinet with small tone holes, even if the edge is very sharp. And my Martin and King horns, both with soldered tone holes, do not have sharp enough edges to really affect the sound output.
 

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I understand that you very likely have a scientific rationale on top of your own experience that support this view but I perceive a difference in response between different finishes and ribbed vs non-ribbed models. Over a long time, lots of horns. Lots of people have argued both sides of that one, so I don't think it's a straight-up "Just for the record" sort of thing.
If I coat something in a light density clear coat, versus say, baking a thick ceramic coating on top of it, or another type of thick coating like we see with the new era of matte finishes (think Reference saxes antique PAO or some Mauriat horns)... it could affect the response and sound. Taking it another direction - if I plate something with silver versus plating it with gold, or nickel... it's going to change the way that the whole thing vibrates, resonates.
What about different copper content in the brass let's say or different brass from different locations and time periods? It makes a difference. Materials are each their own "living" thing. One thing I can say I have a lot of experience with is playing student saxes compared to professional saxes from the same manufacturer. My Yamaha student horns had like no "resistance" and were incredibly free-blowing, whereas my 62II was resistant and "darker" sounding, and I believe the difference was the annealing of the brass. One of the most freely responding saxes I owned was a Keilwerth with post on body key work but regular tone holes. It also had an oxidized brass finish with a very light clear lacquer over top. Very close to an un-lacquered, bare brass idea.
I have owned and played several different Reference 54 altos and tenors and I could always hear the difference between the rose gold lacquered and antique matte finish lacquers. Same mouthpiece and reed. I actually don't mind whatever people want to think but I believe that densities, thickness, properties of the material and added mass can all affect resonance and tone quality. It's why a plastic saxophone, no matter how well designed, just never sounds like brass.
There is a lot here to answer, but the fact is that you are incorrect. There are only two things that can affect the sound output based on wall materials and their vibrations, if the material is of the same smoothness. The first is how the vibrations affect the geometry of the bore, and the second is whether the vibrating walls produce a sound of their own, which is added to the sound produced by the vibrating air column. If you think about it a minute, you will see that there are no other physical mechanisms of sound production. \

First, let's consider sound output of the vibrating walls. It has been measured that the pressure of the standing wave causes the walls to expand about one millionth of a meter (a micron). This is equivalent to a sound output 10,000x times weaker than that of the air column, or about -40 dB. This is simply not enough to make a perceptible difference in the final sound. Guitars and other instruments that depend on wall vibrations all have walls that couple and resonate at playing frequencies. In order for a wall to vibrate at an appreciable amplitude, it must have resonant frequencies that allow it to produce sympathetic vibrations. A flat metal plate the thickness of a saxophone wall will have many such frequencies, but once you curve it into a circular shape, it raises the resonant frequencies of the metal well above any playing frequency or significant partial thereof. It has been shown that there is no part of the saxophone, at least one made and played normally, that can couple and vibrate in a way that would affect the output sound enough to make any difference.

The other way that vibrating walls could conceivably change the sound is by changing the geometry of the bore. Geometry is the--by far--major determinant of sound and response in a woodwind or saxophone. If the walls were to vibrate, that would equate to a local enlargement of the bore at the point of vibration. But again, there is not enough vibration for this to happen, even if the walls were to be made twice or three times as thin as they are now. There is no single scientific study that points to the possibility of wall materials being significant. Even plastic is plenty rigid enough to fit the bill.

So, we have to ask ourselves, why do so many people report, as you do, that they are confident that they can tell the difference between saxes in various metals and/or finishes. This can be explained in errors of perception, based on expectation. There have been numerous studies where very experienced musicians, who claimed to be able to discern differences based on wall materials and finishes, have been completely unable to do so under controlled, double-blind conditions. I am happy to post links to those studies if you are interested.

This is not to say that there are no differences between instruments, but those are always based on differences in dimensions. There are secondary effects of materials that can come into play, such as the fact that different metals do react differently to manufacturing processes, and so subtle differences caused by how the metal springs off the mandrel, for instance, could conceivably cause enough geometrical differences to affect the sound or response. But this is certainly not true of any kind of exterior coating.

Arthur H. Benade, a quite accomplished player himself and one of the most noted acoustic scientists of the 20th century, and who was a consultant of Conn and many other instrument manufacturers, had this to say about it:

"A fable, all the more remarkable since it is always discussed, is that the material of which a wind instrument is made has an influence upon the sound of the same. That this is not so rests upon incontrovertible acoustic laws, about which there should be absolutely no more discussion."
 

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I'd agree that all smooth metal surfaces probably are virtually perfect reflectors, independent of which metal is used.

... but there is the nuance that certain materials (plastic and wood, for example) absorb part of the sound energy, they are not perfect reflectors. The absorption is frequency-dependent. At what point it becomes detectable is a question - but, to cite an extreme case, leather pads without resonators (reflectors) do sound measurably different from pads with reflectors, see Pauline Eveno's thesis.
 
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I had always thought my Selmer Super series Tenor was incredibly resistant until I had it overhauled.
Now I realise it was just leaking causing the resistance.
Adding and reducing resistance is something I do with mouthpiece and reed choices.
I’m sure not all resistance in a horn is due to leaks, but I’m also fairly sure that a lot of what people refer to as resistance is caused by leaks.
Neck tenon leaks are an often overlooked cause for a resistant horn.
Key heights may even be something that has an effect on a feeling of resistance.
Resistance and stuffiness are also something that could be confused with one another.
You're on the beam with that, Bb. 'Free-blowing' simply means 'more bang for the buck', or greater level of sound produced per unit of effort on the part of the player. 'Stuffy' is the opposite - you feel like the horn is working you to death to get anything out of it. Now, this is not to say that 'free-blowing' is what everyone should look for, because it isn't. Some look for stuffy horns because it makes them work harder and thus helps get that 'strident' sound of the 'Trane school'. A player looking for a more 'lush' sound or simply easier playing will seek a free-blowing set-up.
Leaks or the absence of them are pretty much the cause for whatever degree of playing difficulty you experience, all other things being equal (mouthpiece/reed, etc.). The most common thing that happens is you get a horn that has been repaired and it plays great. As time goes by, little by little it builds up resistance, but you are blaming it on the reeds or even the mouthpiece. I've done this myself many times before it dawned on me what was happening. 'Reed-friendly' is often the same thing as 'free-blowing' and 'reeds sure suck these days' is often 'stuffiness' from leaks. Some horns are more sensitive than others to neck tenon fit and sometimes that's the whole problem.
 

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Henri Selmer Paris Mark VII Tenor 316xxx
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There is a lot here to answer, but the fact is that you are incorrect. There are only two things that can affect the sound output based on wall materials and their vibrations, if the material is of the same smoothness. The first is how the vibrations affect the geometry of the bore, and the second is whether the vibrating walls produce a sound of their own, which is added to the sound produced by the vibrating air column. If you think about it a minute, you will see that there are no other physical mechanisms of sound production. \

First, let's consider sound output of the vibrating walls. It has been measured that the pressure of the standing wave causes the walls to expand about one millionth of a meter (a micron). This is equivalent to a sound output 10,000x times weaker than that of the air column, or about -40 dB. This is simply not enough to make a perceptible difference in the final sound. Guitars and other instruments that depend on wall vibrations all have walls that couple and resonate at playing frequencies. In order for a wall to vibrate at an appreciable amplitude, it must have resonant frequencies that allow it to produce sympathetic vibrations. A flat metal plate the thickness of a saxophone wall will have many such frequencies, but once you curve it into a circular shape, it raises the resonant frequencies of the metal well above any playing frequency or significant partial thereof. It has been shown that there is no part of the saxophone, at least one made and played normally, that can couple and vibrate in a way that would affect the output sound enough to make any difference.

The other way that vibrating walls could conceivably change the sound is by changing the geometry of the bore. Geometry is the--by far--major determinant of sound and response in a woodwind or saxophone. If the walls were to vibrate, that would equate to a local enlargement of the bore at the point of vibration. But again, there is not enough vibration for this to happen, even if the walls were to be made twice or three times as thin as they are now. There is no single scientific study that points to the possibility of wall materials being significant. Even plastic is plenty rigid enough to fit the bill.

So, we have to ask ourselves, why do so many people report, as you do, that they are confident that they can tell the difference between saxes in various metals and/or finishes. This can be explained in errors of perception, based on expectation. There have been numerous studies where very experienced musicians, who claimed to be able to discern differences based on wall materials and finishes, have been completely unable to do so under controlled, double-blind conditions. I am happy to post links to those studies if you are interested.

This is not to say that there are no differences between instruments, but those are always based on differences in dimensions. There are secondary effects of materials that can come into play, such as the fact that different metals do react differently to manufacturing processes, and so subtle differences caused by how the metal springs off the mandrel, for instance, could conceivably cause enough geometrical differences to affect the sound or response. But this is certainly not true of any kind of exterior coating.

Arthur H. Benade, a quite accomplished player himself and one of the most noted acoustic scientists of the 20th century, and who was a consultant of Conn and many other instrument manufacturers, had this to say about it:

"A fable, all the more remarkable since it is always discussed, is that the material of which a wind instrument is made has an influence upon the sound of the same. That this is not so rests upon incontrovertible acoustic laws, about which there should be absolutely no more discussion."
Here's the thing, you can't really help or save me on this one, I'm in the experience if you understand what I mean. <smile> Thanks for trying, your post was a thought-provoking read anyway, I particularly like the Benade quote.
Is there a bankable, published package of information about the time or times when well-constructed and controlled experiments were conducted with saxophones, on such a scale that would actually scientifically prove the things that you stated unequivocally? If there is such a thing. Again, it would have to be of significant scope and it would have to be saxophone playing, not just the science of acoustics.
Regarding the fact that the material has to be of the same smoothness - that's one of my main points that the different materials to make different saxophones and even the way they are finished must not always result in the same smoothness. Beyond that, I don't know what to say except, despite how patently incorrect it is, saxophones of the same design and geometry and such, made of different materials, sound different to a great many players and listeners. Interesting phenomenon.
Perhaps the human hearing system perceives subtleties that aren't picked up by scientific equipment. I can’t buy the perception from expectation placebo effect, people do blind listening tests.
 

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Here's the thing, you can't really help or save me on this one, I'm in the experience if you understand what I mean. <smile> Thanks for trying, your post was a thought-provoking read anyway, I particularly like the Benade quote.
Is there a bankable, published package of information about the time or times when well-constructed and controlled experiments were conducted on such a scale that would actually scientifically prove the things that you stated unequivocally? If there is such a thing. Again, it would have to be of significant scope.
Regarding the fact that the material has to be of the same smoothness - that's one of my main points that the different materials to make different saxophones and even the way they are finished must not always result in the same smoothness. Beyond that, I don't know what to say except, despite how patently incorrect it is, saxophones of the same design and geometry and such, made of different materials, sound different to a great many players and listeners. Interesting phenomenon.
Perhaps the human hearing system perceives subtleties that aren't picked up by scientific equipment.
ADMINS if you see this one please delete... accidental and redundant. Thanks.
I also don’t buy the perception-expectation placebo effect.
 

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Discussion Starter #52 (Edited)
One of the most interesting phenomenon related to this topic is the number of highly skilled professional players who claim to be able to tell a difference when a: 1) klangbogen, 2) heavy mass screw, 3) weighted bell brace, 4) lefreque etc. is attached to their saxophone in spite of the fact that there is no scientific evidence that adding weight or mass outside the body tube can affect the soundwaves inside. This has led me to conclude that one possible explanation might be that the device actually does change the player's perception through what is called "bio-acoustic feedback" while not having any effect whatsoever upon the soundwaves emitted from the saxophone that travel to the listener's ears. While the change in the player's perception would be impossible to prove, any changes in the soundwaves coming from the saxophone can certainly be ascertained using a well controlled double blind study in which neither the player nor the listeners know which randomly selected trials use the device and which do not. To quote an old Charlie Brown cartoon: Adding a lefreque etc. to your saxophone is like peeing your pants wearing a dark suit. It may give you a "warm feeling" but nobody else notices. :)
 

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One of the most interesting phenomenon related to this topic is the number of highly skilled professional players who claim to be able to tell a difference when a: 1) klangbogen, 2) heavy mass screw, 3) weighted bell brace, 4) lefreque etc. is attached to their saxophone in spite of the fact that there is no scientific evidence that adding weight or mass outside the body tube can affect the soundwaves inside. This has led me to conclude that one possible explanation might be that the device actually does change the player's perception through what is called "bio-acoustic feedback" while not having any effect whatsoever upon the soundwaves emitted from the saxophone that travel to the listener's ears. While the change in the player's perception would be impossible to prove, any changes in the soundwaves coming from the saxophone can certainly be ascertained using a well controlled double blind study in which neither the player nor the listeners know which randomly selected trials use the device and which do not.
Exactly. The extra mass or brace or whatever is dampening or conducting the inaudible vibrations of the instrument itself that the player feels through fingers and bone conduction. There is still no effect on the soundwaves inside. A mouthpiece patch or gloves would have a similar effect. I can definitely feel a difference when more stuff is attached to my horn. But that difference is still inaudible.
 

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Exactly. The extra mass or brace or whatever is dampening or conducting the inaudible vibrations of the instrument itself that the player feels through fingers and bone conduction. There is still no effect on the soundwaves inside. A mouthpiece patch or gloves would have a similar effect. I can definitely feel a difference when more stuff is attached to my horn. But that difference is still inaudible.
What needs to be explored are the cues that musicians get from weight that make them perceive the horn differently. There was a study I can post where a scientist was trying to see if ten top pro trombonists could tell the difference between some different trombone bells. Brasswinds are different from saxes, because their large flaring, unsupported bells actually do vibrate significantly when being played, and can add sound components to the generated sonic spectrum. Anyway, then ten players tried different bells in a double blind test and were able to "tell the difference". Then the researchers realized that there were subtle weight differences, and once they counterweighted the bells so as to remove the weight cues, the players suddenly lost their ability to tell the bells apart. Not only that, but the bells had clearly different sonic profiles, with differences of up to 2 dB at certain frequencies as measured at the players' ear position. 2 dB is just at the threshold of perception, and you would think that top professional players would be able to hear the difference while playing, but none of them could.

One of the things that make this tricky is that the horn does not produce sound by itself, it is a player/instrument system. If a player perceives some difference (which can be real or imaginary, or some difference relating to feel rather than sound) it causes him to play differently, which changes the sound, which s/he then perceives. So if you can get a player to believe that something changes the sound, it will change the sound.
 

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What needs to be explored are the cues that musicians get from weight that make them perceive the horn differently.
I have posted on this issue probably dozens of times. Many of the "heavy mass" purported secrets to better tone really do make the horn heavier, as designed, and thus inevitably detectable by the player. Generally, a weight difference needs to be only about 2% to be felt by an average person when dealing with objects within the normal human lifting range. Just Noticeable Difference. As applied to a typical saxophone, this can translate into as little as two ounces. And for a skilled player who is finely attuned to the feel of an instrument that he/she plays all the time, the "just noticeable difference" is probably even less than that.

While I believe that an external add-on weight can have no direct, acoustic impact on the sound of a saxophone, I would not say it has no effect at all on the instrument or the player. A slightly heavier horn is a slightly different horn, and it will feel slightly different in the hands, in the mouth, and perhaps in the player's ears as well.
 

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I'd agree that all smooth metal surfaces probably are virtually perfect reflectors, independent of which metal is used.

... but there is the nuance that certain materials (plastic and wood, for example) absorb part of the sound energy, they are not perfect reflectors. The absorption is frequency-dependent. At what point it becomes detectable is a question - but, to cite an extreme case, leather pads without resonators (reflectors) do sound measurably different from pads with reflectors, see Pauline Eveno's thesis.
It's important, I think, to understand how sound is produced in a wind instrument. There is no reflection as you picture it. A standing wave in a tube is produced that presses equally on all parts of the tube, like air in a balloon. It's not like when you blow up a balloon, the air molecules are bouncing all over the inside of the balloon. The air pressure causes an equal expansion of the walls at all points. In a woodwind, though, there is some movement of air molecules, because both ends are open, but it is not a laminar flow like air over a wing or wind. There is a standing wave set up in the tube, such that for each note there are a number of nodal points where the pressure is varying without the air molecules moving much, and other nodal points where the air is moving and the pressure remains constant. The mouthpiece is a point where the pressure is changing, and the end of the instrument is a point where the pressure is constant (since it it open to the outside air) and the air is moving.

The air molecules near the walls lose a lot of energy, because the walls exert a drag on their movement, so they slow down and their energy is lost as heat. If the walls flex at all, then that is another source of loss, as the energy of the air is transferred to the walls as they flex and can't add to the output sound. In fact, even in the most efficient instrument, 99% of the energy input is lost to the walls (and mechanical losses at the reed), only 1% emerges as sound.

The wave becomes periodic and regenerates because as the wave hits the end of the sax, or the first open tone hole, the discontinuity creates a reflected wave which inverts and travels back up to the bore to the end of the mouthpiece, where it pops the reed open so that with the player's air input the cycle can start again.

So the question for the flexing of the walls becomes: how much difference is there between the flexing of the various materials that might affect sound losses. It's quite clear that pads flex, and not only that, they have rough porous surfaces that steal a lot of the energy of the molecules that are near them. So it is kind of a no-brainer that adding hard, smooth resos is going to have an effect on the sound. As to smoothness, there is really not much difference in isotropic materials such as metal or plastic. Wood is a different story, where wood grains and micropores can cause a loss of 2dB in the radiated sound. The fact is that both rigid plastics and most metals are rigid enough that there are no major differences in the flexing of the walls under the pressures generated inside the bore.

I used to think that I could get a clue about how instruments would play by tapping them and feeling how they responded. Some feel dead, and others kind of vibrate. The same when playing, in some the keys feel lifeless and on others there is a feeling of vibration under the fingers. This is quite real. In the same way, if you make a bell out of brass, it will ring, whereas if you make it out of nickel it will just sort of make a thunk. Metals do have different elasticities, but it is important to realize that such elasticities come into play only with so-called deformational stresses, where a metal is tapped at one point, and a resulting deformational wave travels through the material. This is how idiophones and string instruments work. But this kind of vibration is not caused by the sound wave, which like a puff of air into a balloon, pushes equally against all parts of the walls. As long as the material can resist expansion, it doesn't matter if it is french brass from exploded shell casings, aluminum or plastic, or whether it has clear lacquer, black lacquer or honey gold lacquer...
 

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Here's the thing, you can't really help or save me on this one, I'm in the experience if you understand what I mean. <smile> Thanks for trying, your post was a thought-provoking read anyway, I particularly like the Benade quote.
Is there a bankable, published package of information about the time or times when well-constructed and controlled experiments were conducted with saxophones, on such a scale that would actually scientifically prove the things that you stated unequivocally? If there is such a thing. Again, it would have to be of significant scope and it would have to be saxophone playing, not just the science of acoustics.
Regarding the fact that the material has to be of the same smoothness - that's one of my main points that the different materials to make different saxophones and even the way they are finished must not always result in the same smoothness. Beyond that, I don't know what to say except, despite how patently incorrect it is, saxophones of the same design and geometry and such, made of different materials, sound different to a great many players and listeners. Interesting phenomenon.
Perhaps the human hearing system perceives subtleties that aren't picked up by scientific equipment. I can’t buy the perception from expectation placebo effect, people do blind listening tests.
What, you think that saxophones don't obey the laws of physics?

Even more than with sax players, flute players believe that the metal that their instruments are made of affect the sound and response, and with reason. If you pay an extra $30,000 for a gold flute, you damn well have to believe that it plays better than the silver one of the flutist seated next to you. There have been some pretty compelling studies done with flutes. One thing that is vital is that all the instruments be identical except for the metal. If another factor is coming into play, then the experiment is worthless. With saxes, you would have to make sure that the instruments came off the assembly line from exactly the same machines at the same plant at the same time, and only afterwards got their different lacquers or body metals. This is pretty much impossible, as there is always more than one assembly station, and bore variations that are barely measurable (in the tenths of millimeters or less) can make a significant difference in the sound and response.

It has been done, however, with flutes, and here is one of the most cited studies:


Read the whole thing, it is easily understandable. Here is the spoiler:

"Tests with experienced professional flutists and listeners and one model of a flute made by Muramatsu
from 7 different materials showed no evidence that the wall material has any appreciable effect on the
sound color or dynamic range of the instrument. The common stereotypes used by flutists and flute
makers are exposed as "stereotypes".

I would further direct you this classic experiment by Coltman with flute bodies:


If you think that studies of flutes don't apply to saxes, write your arguments and let's discuss them.
 

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@kymarto fair point, the reflection happens in the longitudinal direction of the cone, not in the lateral direction... so we're just talking about losses due to drag, and these depend on surface smoothness only.
 

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Talking about reflections and coming back on-topic: there are some really interesting articles (in French) on the site of Joël Eymard, la.trompette.free.fr. He has written articles on trumpet acoustics (as the name of the site would suggest), but also on the saxophone, the (baroque) hautboy, etc.

Relevant to the question of "what makes an instrument free-blowing", Joël differentiates between what I'd call "steady-state efficiency" where the input impedance peaks are sharply defined (high and narrow) and well-aligned over the harmonics (Impédance et ouverture subjective.), very much like @kymarto mentioned a few posts ago; and "quick and clean response" with respect to transients (La réponse d'une trompette and Tout est dans la perce). An interesting point in the last two articles is that he indicates that parasitic reflections on bore imperfections lead to worse response. Now, a trumpet bore is obviously a lot smoother by design than a saxophone bore, but I could imagine that his analysis does provide clues for saxophone response.
 
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What needs to be explored are the cues that musicians get from weight that make them perceive the horn differently.
I can tell you that a change as small as a mouthpiece patch messes up how I perceive the horn. The feedback just isn't the same, and I can't produce the same tone quality with a patch as I can without. I'm not saying the patch changes the sound at all, just the feedback I get, not unlike the difference between playing with or without earplugs. For this reason, I won't use a thick mouthpiece patch.
 
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