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Dave Dolson
04-18-2011, 08:50 PM
I came upon a thread today in the Bb soprano mouthpiece section discussing the best mouthpieces for a vintage curved Conn soprano saxophone. Among the posts was a comment by one poster that mentioned "big bore" vintage sops and "small bore" Yanagisawas as if that claim was fact.

I may not have gotten the quotes exactly right, but the assumption was that old sopranos had large bores while modern sopranos have small bores, thus one requires a different mouthpiece than does the other.

The assumption about bore sizes is one that will always get a rise out of me. The subject goes way back and as I recall, I challenged that assumption before and do so again. The terms BIG BORE and SMALL BORE are tossed around as if they were fact.

Just today, I have three sopranos out on their stands while I test reeds and mouthpieces. Two are Yanagisawas (SC902 and S992) and the other is a 1928 Buescher TT (straight). I am testing two mouthpieces - both Morgan Vintages in 6 and 7 tips.

After reading that post, I once again got out my calipers and measured the tubes of all three sopranos. True, the measurements weren't inside diameters, they were outside diameters.

All three measured roughly the same at three different locations on the tubes. The S992 was a millimeter bigger at a point just below the A tone-hole. Other than that, all three soprano measured the same at just above the high F and just below the low Bb tone holes.

This to me points out the fallacies involving bore sizes, at least on sopranos, and especially in the mouthpiece section where one poster alleged that the Yanagisawas were "small bore" horns, while the vintage sops were "large bore."

For the record, the Morgans play great on any soprano, regardless of the horn's age or shape. Same with my Super Session J pieces, although the SS-J's lack the warmth of the Morgans.

Throughout my playing career I've owned curved Conns, straight Conns, MKVI, Bueschers, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Rampone, King, and a few Taiwanese house-brands of various labels. ALL played well enough with my favorite mouthpieces. Some had intonation issues that I attribute to the horns, not the mouthpieces (because I played those with all sorts of mouthpieces, new and vintage) . . . and CERTAINLY not to their bore-size. DAVE

segaleon
04-18-2011, 10:32 PM
I always wondered about the physics behind the "large bore" vs. "small bore" discussion. For two different horns to play in tune, don't the bores have to be identical? Or do "large bore" horns have different distances between the tone holes, or different diameter tone holes?

Please, someone enlighten me on this matter.

Joe Giardullo
04-19-2011, 06:44 PM
True, the measurements weren't inside diameters, they were outside diameters.


Why would you make a judgement based on outside diameters ?

It took me all of 3 minutes to measure the inside diameter at the neck of 5 sopranos.

What a surprise. Some were quite different, between 5.8% and 8.8% variance in size from the smallest bore I measured, quickly figured.

And 1/1000th of an inch adjustment on a soprano mouthpiece can change everything in terms of response and playability. So, why is it difficult to comprehend that such a large variation in initial bore size affects the way a horn plays?

And it isn't hard to imagine that the tooling for one brand or model is different than another.

Actually, why in heaven's name would anyone expect them to be the same ?
That makes no sense to me.

museman
04-19-2011, 08:56 PM
I came upon a thread today in the Bb soprano mouthpiece section discussing the best mouthpieces for a vintage curved Conn soprano saxophone. Among the posts was a comment by one poster that mentioned "big bore" vintage sops and "small bore" Yanagisawas as if that claim was fact.

I may not have gotten the quotes exactly right, but the assumption was that old sopranos had large bores while modern sopranos have small bores, thus one requires a different mouthpiece than does the other.

The assumption about bore sizes is one that will always get a rise out of me. The subject goes way back and as I recall, I challenged that assumption before and do so again. The terms BIG BORE and SMALL BORE are tossed around as if they were fact. DAVE

Dave......afraid I am the party guilty of making the earlier post you've alluded to. In my defense, I can only say that I thought I had been clear in indicating this was my understanding based on what I thought I had gleaned from other's knowledge, not that I was making any individual claim to factual truth. I continue to see references to Rampone, Keilwerth, Couf, SML (I believe), and most of the true vintage sopranos (Buescher, Conn, etc.) as being 'larger bore', with Selmer and most of the more modern sopranos including Yamaha and Yanagisawa, and clones, as being of the narrower bore variety. Sorry my alluding to this understanding (or, misunderstanding) has perhaps upset you. Certainly, I wasn't meaning to start or feed into a controversy I didn't even know existed.

I'm a relatively new player still, w/ less than 2 years on soprano (Yani SC 902 and Buescher TT curvy), still sorting out my equipment and trying to learn from those farther advanced than myself as musicians and particularly so on soprano. I certainly consider both you, Dave, and Joe Giardullo, as being in that category. Am just trying to put 2 and 2 together, hopefully to gain a better understanding of the physics involved to attain an optimum fit in my set-ups....particularly the best overall matching of horn and mouthpiece. Final test, of course, is what works in experience, not in theory.

Had a quite recent phone conversation with Matt Aaron at 'SaxForte', discussing the difference in design concept of the R&C saxello and my Yani curved soprano, and how this might effect tonal quality and intonation. I understood Matt as describing the Rampone as being a larger bore design with which I might expect potentially a warmer, broader tone, but with intonation perhaps not so locked in, and especially so at the top end of the horn. According to him, the modern smaller bore geometry locked in intonation more reliably, but the price was loss of flexibility. (Don't wish to be creating any more controversy here.) But, this description was much in line with the understanding I thought I had already from many other posts read here on SOTW, and to a degree seemed to coincide with my own experience trying to best match up mpcs (both large chamber and squeeze throat types) w/ my own 'so-called' larger bore and smaller bore horns.

I find the topic to be quite fascinating, and apparently still very much open to any final conclusive agreement. Perhaps it's only one of many potential distractions on the journey. I haven't any personal axes to grind in this regard. Only am wishing to better understand how the effect of possible design differences of different components of my equipment either may help me, or make it more difficult, in obtaining the sound I wish to hear coming out of my horn.....and, I've still a long road ahead of me in that regard.

Sorry, if I've stirred the pot here....not my intention.

Peace,
Janusz ('museman')

Joe Giardullo
04-19-2011, 09:11 PM
Sorry, if I've stirred the pot here....not my intention.

Peace,
Janusz ('museman')

You didn't stir the pot at all, Janusz. You spoke about a pretty well known aspect of horn design.

Dave declared the reality of variant bore sizes a fallacy in his original post.
That was "the pot stirrer", for sure.

Matt at Saxforte is exactly right in his descriptions. These are real things that can be quite meaningful to a player in finding the right equipment.

soybean
04-19-2011, 09:26 PM
According to him, the modern smaller bore geometry locked in intonation more reliably, but the price was loss of flexibility.I think this is could be true, but most modern makers are not making larger bore saxes so we're usually comparing with vintage saxes. However, JK makes saxes with larger bores and their intonation is as good as any modern horn. In my opinion the bore is only part of the equation. Tonehole location and size is a huge determinate of saxophone intonation.

These ideas may have started with the clarinet, where it is now widely accepted that the old-style large bore instruments can never have as good intonation as the modern smaller bore horns.

museman
04-19-2011, 09:36 PM
Thanks, Joe. Always, good to hear your input

And so sorry, for murdering your name. 'Gargiola'......gads, what was I thinking!

11:11
04-19-2011, 10:22 PM
I dont mind stirring a pot! I have a day job.

As for bore size, I would certainly like to understand this better myself.

A respected vendor here told me that Selmer is a small bore horn, and that Yanis, their copies, and Yamahas were large bore. He also told me the large bore horns were easier to play (move air through).

I played several sops today: A Semler Series II, a Yani, and 3 Yamahas. It may just be my imagination but the Selmer felt different as in a little harder to move air through. It also felt the best and sounded spectacular to me. Someone who was with me who knows nothing about saxes or sops thought the Selmer sounded best as well.

That said, the Yani felt alive to me and just sung. Ive never experienced anything like it.

Not sure what that has to do with bore size. I only know what the vendor told me (instrument repair shop as well), and what Ive read here.

But I think that means there is more to it than old horns are lorge bore, and modern horns are small bore.

Dr G
04-19-2011, 11:00 PM
Why would you make a judgement based on outside diameters ?

It took me all of 3 minutes to measure the inside diameter at the neck of 5 sopranos.

Why would you make a judgement based on the ID at the neck? When I was trying to sort out the difference in response among a gathering of Selmer Ref 36 tenors, I measured neck opening IDs from .495 to .510". If those are the variations for tenors of the same model, why should similar measurements be the complete basis for characterizing bores?

There's gotta be a better way...

11:11
04-19-2011, 11:31 PM
Holy cow...I just got off the phone with a guy who has been repairing woodwinds for 30 years and he says he cant tell the difference!

Then he asked me why it even mattered.

Oh well....I was going to try and add something to this conversation but failed miserably-

Dave Dolson
04-20-2011, 12:06 AM
I'll stick by my original post. So many folks spread so many myths.

Why measure the outside diameters? Because I don't have the equipment to accurately measure the inside diameter of a saxophone tube from top to bottom. Given the thickness of a brass/bronze tube, why NOT measure the outside differences? It certainly would tell you whether or not one model of saxophone had a larger or smaller bore than another model of saxophone.

I asked noted repair-tech Rheuben Allen once to explain the differences if there were any. He said if there was a difference, it was only a few thousandths of an inch, hardly enough to make a difference. I know clarinets have various bore sizes, at least that's what their marketing information tells us . . . and they are just hundredths of an inch in difference. If anyone can show me the measurements from top to bottom and compare them to other models (as mentioned in these posts), then maybe I'll believe the big-bore/small-bore thing, but until that happens, I am doubting it.

Museman and Janusz (did I get that spelling right?). No one is blaming you for what you posted. But these things are continually talked about as if they are fact. Rampone a big-bore soprano? Yanagisawa a small-bore soprano? Etc. - Beware of marketing. Large chambers, small chambers, vintage vs. modern mouthpieces? Finishes matter? Those things go on and on here on SOTW and if you want to believe all of that, enjoy it. But based on MY experiences with these various things, it ain't necessarily so.

When this subject came up before, I asked anyone to post their measurements - and no one did. Sure, I've been told about big-bores and small-bores many times throughout my playing life, but no one has backed it up. That stuff about Rampone vs. small-bore new horns . . . I don't buy that at all. I owned a Rampone tipped-bell, I own several modern sopranos and have owned many more, I've owned vintage sopranos and still have two. I haven't experienced any of those things you guys describe (as you were told). True, some of those horns played better than others, but not because of bore-size, and certainly not consistent with what you've been told by salespeople.

My supposedly large-bore Buescher sopranos don't have as big of a sound as my supposedly small-bore Yanagisawas, nor do comparisons bring out the things that supposedly are indicative of how you guys described bore-size results. That's because they all are basically the same diameters and lengths. And over all the models I've owned, I have not seen or heard the differences that supposedly come with small bores and large bores. And whoever claimed that it took more air to play a large-bore soprano than a small bore . . . what?! DAVE

Dave Dolson
04-20-2011, 01:03 AM
It appears that Joe and I disagree. He listed some measurements taken at the neck of five sopranos and claimed up to an 8% or so differential. I measured all of my sopranos using a dial-calipers and their alternate necks just now. Here's what I discovered . . .

Yanagisawa S992 straight neck .49"
Yanagisawa S992 curved neck .42"
Yanagisawa S901 fixed neck .49"
Yanagisawa SC902 curved neck .50"
Yanagisawa aftermarket solid silver straight neck .50+"
Yanagisawa aftermarket solid silver curved neck .50+"
Antigua 590LQ straight neck .505"
Antigua 590LQ curved neck .51"
KUSTOM (Taiwanese MKVI clone) fixed neck .51"
Buescher TrueTone serial 237XXX .365"
Buescher TrueTone serial 233xxx .39"

I am not convinced that the neck opening alone means much if anything, especially when discussing "large bore" vs. "small bore." And for sure, they vary, even among the same brands. But what does it all mean? Do my measurements conflict with the stories going around about vintage vs. modern (mainly that the vintage horns were "big bore" and the modern horns are "small bore")?

Another for sure - my two TrueTones are vintage alright, yet they have smaller neck openings (but inconsistent with each other) than any of my more modern sopranos. I regret any animosity that has arisen from this - all I want is proof that (and not that someone told me) this all means something in the overall scheme of things. DAVE

hakukani
04-20-2011, 01:18 AM
I'm probably going to show my ignorance here, but isn't it more the taper of the bore that would give a different sound than the relative size of the bore?

davsoprano
04-20-2011, 02:06 AM
I don't know if this helps but my S6 and the TT measures EXACTLY the same perimeter below the Bb tone hole. BUT the distance below the tone hole to the flare is larger in the TT by 7mm. I just want to add that the TT is 7mm. larger than the S6, and of course the mouthpiece end is smaller in the TT.
Cheers.

jicaino
04-20-2011, 02:27 AM
It's wrong to talk about "bore" on a saxophone... we use that term loosely here.

There's 2 variances as for "bore" of a saxophone, that's taper angle (conicity) and effective "bore" as in internal volume of a cone. Why internal and not external: beacuse you can't know if the sidewalls are coherend all over the horn. Presumably they aren't since the sheetmetal gets heavily worked on and then buffed. There's no way in wich measuring OD's can render accurate results. In order to asses internal volume you need to measure and preferably plot the inner shape of the horn/horn part, using 2 variables: lenght and ID, related in a continuous way. It would be nice to take at least 2 measures radially. This will give us both variables at a glance, Internal Volume and Taper (conicity angle)

"big bore" horns are more sensitive to air pressure. Meaning the intonation is less locked in. But you can work on stability of intonation sheddin', wich gives you a lot of room for microinterval exploration. A "small bore" horn will sound more locked in, with a stronger core all other things being equal. Here's where it gets tricky: a smaller conicity angle (a more "straight" horn) will be more spread and less nasal than a larger conicity angle. You'd end up with 4 types of horn: small(er) internal volume, larger conicity angle (early HN White kings, some italian Orsis) large(r) internal volume, larger conicity angle (Conns especially NW, Martins, True Tone bueshcers, Aristocrats up until 310k or so, Balanced Actions and SSS's, ) small(er) internal volume, small(er) conicity angle (Yamahas, Yanis, Selmers from SA80's on, etc) and large(r) internal volume, small(er) conicity angle (Conn Artists, Bueschers 400's TH&C, SBA's, 2nd series VI's ~100 to 140k)

The horns compared are not all equal, they share a design characteristic and not the exact same shape/size.

saxtek
04-20-2011, 03:48 AM
What is the size of the bore? The neck opening at the tip? The diameter at the neck Joint? The bell diameter?
What about the degree of the taper?
Why do Keilwerths with their large bells have a smaller neck joint than most other saxes?
Why do Selmer Modele 22 and Modele 26 altos with their smaller bore at the neck have such a big sound?
How many people posting here have any concept whatsoever of how to design a saxophone?
Why not play the saxophone and decide whether you like it or not?

stormott77
04-20-2011, 03:50 AM
I have a Cannonball big Bell tenor and a Barone Classic tenor. The Classic is a smaller bore than the Cannonball and I can say with out a doubt that I can play longer lines on a breath with the Classic. The Classic takes less air for sure. I find the smaller bore of the Classic make it respond to slight changes in air stream and embouchure more than the Cannonball which to me makes the Classic more flexible.

saxtek
04-20-2011, 04:00 AM
Having measured the bores of several dozen saxophones for research, I can say that it is very difficult to measure the bore of any saxophone. Also, the rate of taper is very important and must be considered in the discussion of bores.
Without being a complete jerk, I can confidently state that over 90% of all saxophone players have absolutely no idea how big the bore of their saxophone might be.

Joe Giardullo
04-20-2011, 04:26 PM
It seems to me that any conical shape that starts out with a wider aperture at the narrow end will continue to be proportionately larger as the conical shape proceeds to develop. Is that a wrong expectation? I don't think so. The small imperfections that may arise are not material to this discussion, in my opinion.

Dave's ID measurements posted above indicate a variance of over 20% between some horns, far more than the 8+% with the horns I measured.

The idea that this amount of variance likely doesn't mean anything in terms of how a horn plays is really counter-intuitive to me, and contradicts everything I've learned from playing a zillion sopranos. It's not that one is better or worse than the other. They are just different.

If you have a 20% bigger tip opening on your mouthpiece, it definitely means something. That's going from .065 to .078.
If you have a 20% bigger chamber in your mouthpiece, it definitely means something. Try swapping your Super Session for vintage Buescher piece.

Why then would a 20% bigger neck opening not "mean much of anything"?

Dr G
04-20-2011, 05:00 PM
It seems to me that any conical shape that starts out with a wider aperture at the narrow end will continue to be proportionately larger as the conical shape proceeds to develop. Is that a wrong expectation?"

Yes, it is a wrong expectation. It might be correct if all instruments have the same taper angle (conicity).


If you have a 20% bigger tip opening on your mouthpiece, it definitely means something. That's going from .065 to .078.
If you have a 20% bigger chamber in your mouthpiece, it definitely means something. Try swapping your Super Session for vintage Buescher piece.

Why then would a 20% bigger neck opening not "mean much of anything"?

It does - but as a single characteristic, it is an incomplete measurement. Consider your mouthpiece analogies - are either tip opening or chamber volume the only characteristic that determines the response of the mouthpiece?

As to Stormott's two data points concluding that the smaller bore takes less air - that can all change with a single leak.

Joe Giardullo
04-20-2011, 05:17 PM
Dr. G

Your point about proportionality is certainly correct. It was a bad choice of words on my part. My intention was to say that it would just be larger as it develops,regardless of the taper angle, because larger and smaller (and the possible implication) are the subject here.

I didn't say that my examples regarding mouthpieces were all encompassing, just examples of what 20% increases can mean all around and right up to that neck opening.

Do you really find this proposition to be at odds with your experience?

And I would hope that we all know that we are speaking about horns in good setup. If the subject was leaks, I could understand your last comment.

Dave Dolson
04-20-2011, 05:27 PM
All of the replies have been fun, if not a bit contentious. I'm beginning to think we are dealing with semantics here, lacking a common definition of "bore".

Being a firearms guy, I've always interpreted BORE to mean the entire length of the tube (as in a pistol or rifle . . . the bullet enters the barrel and exits the muzzle and that entire length is the BORE, e.g., .355" for 9MM's, etc.). So also I have viewed a saxophone or clarinet bore as from the top of the neck to the bell. And yes, I also realize that a mouthpiece adds to the overall volume.

So what does a saxophone's BORE mean to you? If it is merely the opening inner diameter of the neck, I understand where you are coming from. A LARGE BORE would measure more than a SMALL BORE. But if one is not stopping at the neck opening and instead considering the entire length of the saxophone, then we have different issues.

My position is that it is VERY difficult for almost all of us (yes, there are exceptions - those who studied conical tubes volumes, etc.) to determine the bore size of a saxophone unless you limit yourself to the neck opening. And to tell the truth, just by merely eye-balling my sopranos necks, I would be hard-pressed to tell you which one was larger than the other.

Lastly, I see no real problem with measuring the outside diameter of a saxophone at various common points and comparing them. True, the rolled sheet metal that forms a saxophone tube may be a few thousandths of an inch thick - and that material may measure a thousandths less or a thousandths more at any one point, but overall, it will give you a relative size at any point on the tube. Lacking most everyone's ability or tools to do inside diameters from top to bottom, what is the choice? Maybe seal the tube and fill it with water, then measure the volume, but beyond that being impossible to do for most of us, it still wouldn't tell us the taper of the cone.

As far as warmth of tone or stability of intonation, or any of those factors based on bore size, I'll offer that the variety of sopranos in my closet (and the many I've owned and played before) puts that concept into question in MY mind. My sopranos certainly do not exhibit those characteristics as described. Maybe the theory is defensible but the practical results aren't, at least with my sopranos.

So, it boils down to what you think the BORE is (not what is the meaning of IS - is, Bill). On either definition (neck opening or entire tube) I think it is silly to call a soprano saxophone a "large bore" or a "small bore". DAVE

jicaino
04-20-2011, 05:32 PM
The neck opening is correctly referred to as Port IIRC from acoustician's essays.

segaleon
04-20-2011, 09:04 PM
It appears that Joe and I disagree. He listed some measurements taken at the neck of five sopranos and claimed up to an 8% or so differential. I measured all of my sopranos using a dial-calipers and their alternate necks just now. Here's what I discovered . . .

Yanagisawa S992 straight neck .49"
Yanagisawa S992 curved neck .42"
Yanagisawa S901 fixed neck .49"
Yanagisawa SC902 curved neck .50"
Yanagisawa aftermarket solid silver straight neck .50+"
Yanagisawa aftermarket solid silver curved neck .50+"
Antigua 590LQ straight neck .505"
Antigua 590LQ curved neck .51"
KUSTOM (Taiwanese MKVI clone) fixed neck .51"
Buescher TrueTone serial 237XXX .365"
Buescher TrueTone serial 233xxx .39"

I am not convinced that the neck opening alone means much if anything, especially when discussing "large bore" vs. "small bore." And for sure, they vary, even among the same brands. But what does it all mean? Do my measurements conflict with the stories going around about vintage vs. modern (mainly that the vintage horns were "big bore" and the modern horns are "small bore")?

Another for sure - my two TrueTones are vintage alright, yet they have smaller neck openings (but inconsistent with each other) than any of my more modern sopranos. I regret any animosity that has arisen from this - all I want is proof that (and not that someone told me) this all means something in the overall scheme of things. DAVE

Dave: I don't know about bores, but you sure have too many sopranos... I'm happy to offer my services of keeping some of them for you, should you run out of space.

captain blowhard
04-20-2011, 10:02 PM
I think it is more useful to talk about the bore profile rather than "big" or "small". I took bore measurements of horns I owned a while back and plotted the results on a graph. The y axis had the bore diameter and on the x axis was the distance of that diameter from a fixed point, the cork end of the neck.

Using digital calipers, I took my measurements from the outside on the horn, on the assumption that the body metal thickness is uniform. You can confirm this yourself if you measure the tone hole wall thicknesses which are usually extruded out of the body of the horn. In any case the body thickness is not a significant dimension compared to the bore diameter. To measure the bore length around curved sections I used a draftman's flexible curve and then straightened it out to get the developed length.

From this I found that all my horns (sop, 2 altos and 2 tenors) were not strictly conical but rather comprised a series of cones and cyclinder of different length and taper. The sections were: Neck, tenon (cyclindrical), main body (conical), bow (conical) and bell. The neck itself is not a true cone and has a complex taper all of its own. The bell has something of a flare as it ends.

I concluded that most of the bore variation in the horns I owned was in the neck, bow and bell. The body tubes were virtually identical on horns of the same pitch.

I can post the file if anyone is interested.

All my horns were Japanese or Selmer rather than "vintage" so I cannot offer any conclusions in that direction. But for someone with access to a better range of instruments, it would be a simple exercise to take the measurements and make some wider comparisons.

Dave Dolson
04-21-2011, 10:00 PM
segaleon: You may have a point. I just can't give 'em up, though.

captain blowhard: I've heard of that before, about the inconsistency (hope that is the correct word) in the conical shapes of saxophone tubes. Apparently it isn't a simple task to measure it all, though. No one seems to come up with anything solid (other than the neck measurements). I suppose we could refer to the patents, hoping there would be measurements there. But even if there were, it seems obvious that each horn of the same model and maker may show variables in their individual measurements (e.g., my two TTs have different neck opening). DAVE

Dr G
04-22-2011, 01:09 AM
Dr. G

Your point about proportionality is certainly correct. It was a bad choice of words on my part. My intention was to say that it would just be larger as it develops,regardless of the taper angle, because larger and smaller (and the possible implication) are the subject here.

Joe,

I don't know if we're on the same page yet. A horn could have a larger neck opening ("Port" - thank you, Juan) yet, with a milder taper, have a smaller or same size bell as a horn that starts with a smaller port and whose body has a great taper. One other fly in the proverbial ointment results from a horn with the SAME taper and bell diameter but whose neck was trimmed shorter.

I guess I've seen too many of the same model that were different in measurement and performance to put much credence in single data points. "How to they play and why?" is the bottom line.

Do we need to ask a different question to sort this out?

I'm guessing that we'd all be happy with the measurements of the mandrel that these horns were made from.

Joe Giardullo
04-22-2011, 01:58 AM
Joe,

I don't know if we're on the same page yet.

I guess my use of the term "bigger bore" has more to do with how a given soprano accepts the air column. Some models tend to take more air easily and some just seem to shut down quickly when pushed. Those characteristics seem to jive with my measurement right at the port opening (yes, thanks Juan). To me, that is the point of interest where the air column first enters the horn, where it may be open or tight, constricted or free, or somewhere in between.

It's never been a vintage vs. modern issue for me; some modern horns just are tighter and some are more open.

Same is true with the vintage horns: all the Bueschers I've had were rather tight compared to any Conn I've had. My old King was way more open than any of them in terms of accepting the air column.

Those differences really affect the way horn plays, not that someone can't get used to one or the other. But the difference certainly is real, not imagined.

Thanks for all the ideas about this subject. I hope that it helps some folks in thinking about the horns they play and why they play as they do.

jicaino
04-22-2011, 03:07 AM
Joe, The Buescher sopranos are "tighter" because they have a larger internal volume. Plus they have less taper. Not to mention, most conns and kings have a restriction at the port (a piece that deliberately reduces the port for clearing up intonation and other bore and tone hole desing flaws). So they speak more instantly (if that makes sense, you don't have to "push in" that much for getting them to speak) but also they kind of choke when you push harder and harder (wich the Buescher's don't, they will happily take ANY amount of air you'd like to put thru the horn)

Dave Dolson
04-22-2011, 04:37 AM
I'm wondering if the overall condition (call it set-up if you like - the way the pads seal and the way the interconnected mechanisms close vents) of a saxophone (specifically a soprano in this thread) is what we are feeling when we play it, then conclude it is a "big bore" or a "small bore." I think that we would have to play a ton of each model before we could reach any conclusions about the brand and its playing characteristics. I agree with Dr G about single data points - and that the bottom line is "how do it play?"

For instance, I have two TT's from 1928 (if we are to believe the various serial number charts floating around) and they are different from each other. Both play well, but anyone would be hard-pressed to pass judgement on the whole TT line based on these two horns. Same with all the Conns, Selmers, Yanagisawas, etc. that I've owned. Every one of them has been different from the others.

So I made choices when I came to one I really liked and those I didn't. Not because of their bore size (and I still contend that is a myth, at least to the extent of predicting how a horn will play) but because it all came together with this particular saxophone. And that was the point of my original post - we toss around the terms yet they have no bearing on what we like and what we play. DAVE

jicaino
04-22-2011, 05:41 AM
I've played many different brands many different models and serial range can be used to predict some things. Of course older horns with more hand labor hours on them has some kind of personality thing going on, but serial ranges are useful. As you say Dave, you have to have played a lot of different horns. More often than just coincidentally I have found that when an instrument plays significantly different than what's to be expected, you have to break it down to bits and pieces and inspect everything. The numbers of horns that were pronounced "lemons" by reputable colleagues that I have turned into players after double and triple checking everything is more than just "a few".

I'm asuming we're talking about instruments in perfect working order, as I believe it was implicit from the thread start. There's no point in comparing differences if the horns ain't tip top shape and setup.

As far as myth vs. truth, if you want to think that a difference in shape means nothing be my guest, but just for the record, you're wrong about that and as Joe Giardullo points out, it's counter intuitive. Most of guys thinking that plating makes a big difference and bore is a myth would fit the ignorance profile and claim EG that you ruined their vintage sound just because you straightened out a bent body tube or leveled tone holes by filing less than .1% of the top of the tone holes. Implying that a 20% difference in shape doesn't matter, you could easily say that filing the toneholes by 20% of their height makes no difference. Doesn't that seems and sounds preposterous when you read it this way?

What I agree with is that tossin around terms just because folks use them terms is a double edged sword. Bore, port, taper angle or conicity, cone lenght and angle, are all highly specific terms in the musical instrument industry "jive". Using them loosely is like calling "valves" to sax keys, or "mouthpiece" to a sax neck or "crook" (brit for neck) and so on.

kymarto
04-22-2011, 06:30 AM
OK, there are four balls in play here. The first is the cone semi-angle, which is the amount the bore widens per unit of length. The second is truncation ratio, or how complete the cone is. The third is the measure of cross-sectional area at a given distance from the (missing) conic apex, and the fourth comprises variations in the cone angle along the length.

All these are interactive and all have effects on tone, response and intonation.

Because the intonation of the horn depends to a significant extent on how well the mpc volume matches that of the missing conic apex, different horns will tune differently with a given mpc--but basically it will be possible to tune any horn with any mpc by moving the latter on the cork (which changes the internal volume). This might, however, still change the intonational relationship of the highest notes with the rest of the horn, which depend to some extent on the relationship of the internal volume of the mpc to the neck opening.

Generally speaking, a horn with more internal volume in the bore or a greater cone angle will be louder but this depends on many factors, so it is not easy to generalize. Timbre also depends on many factors, including what is happening near the reed and tone hole size.

The slipperiness of intonation, and intonation itself (not to mention tonal quality), depend heavily on the impedance profile of the bore, and that is affected by all the factors above, in concert with the mpc.

In an ideal theoretical world, any complete straight cone will have impedances in integral, harmonic relationships, but this all goes to hell in a handbasket in the real world: factors such as reed dynamics, air mass, composition and temperature, truncation ratio, viscous and thermal losses across the bore, bore smoothness, end corrections, bend in the bore, tone holes, and a bunch of other factors all play a part in screwing everything up. Therefore, all manufacturers empirically tweak certain areas of the bore--increasing or decreasing local diameters or cone angle in different places, in order to try to nudge things back into some sort of reasonable alignment.

So it is a big soup with lots of ingredients, and it is really not possible to say with certainty what factor causes what effect in isolation--it is all these factors and more working in concert which give a horn its unique tonal character, response and intonation.

The whole idea of "big bore" vs. "small bore" is meaningless in and of itself. "Big" what? "Small" what?

More doctors recommend....

twocircles
04-22-2011, 06:44 AM
I'm glad that Juan was finally recognized for having nailed the sax physics.

One would think that tone hole placement on a cone would be simple, but there are lots of problems in the real world as Kymarto points out, so there are tradeoffs. Another tool of sax designers has been to change the diameter in certain sections of the cone to change the intonation. Part of Buescher's claim to fame was that they used a parabolic cone, which created more volume in the upper cone and cured some intonation problems. Finding a balance is an interesting combination of art and science. But never doubt that a few hundredths of an inch in diameter will make a difference.

Most manufacturers make different bore profile for different models, but this is such a technical issue and hard to understand, all physics and calculus, that the marketing people avoid this issue except in the most general terms.

I was on the Yamaha site the other day looking at their sopranos. In their FAQ section, I found this question.

Is there any classification in saxophone such as orchestra (classical) use or jazz use?
There aren't classifications such as a "classical saxophone" or a "jazz saxophone" for the way a saxophone should be used. But the characteristics of an instrument desired by players in each genre differs a little. A saxophone with a wider taper is generally preferred for jazz because it has a very expressive color. In contrast, a saxophone with a more conservative taper suits classical play because the taper allows for more precise control over intonation. Yamaha puts "Z" in the end of the model name, like the YAS-82Z, to indicate it is well suited for jazz. However, this doesn't mean this model is only used for jazz because musical taste varies from player to player. When you choose an instrument, choose one which you feel comfortable to play and meets your musical taste.

In the YSS-675 section is says, They [YSS-675] offer a clear focused tone, and excellent playability as well as extremely accurate intonation and comfortable response.

This is the most I've seen anyone talk about the science of the sax since the old Buescher ads. They are saying there are differences related to taper, but play the horns to hear the timbre before you make up your mind. What you think you the specs say may not be what you are really seeking. This is really frustrating to us who love technical specifications, but its also why two hand-made horns of the same model sound and feel a little different.

While we are talking about bore profiles, I think a critical issue is to match the mouthpiece to the horn, but this may be less about chamber and tip sizes as distance of the reed from the cone of the sax. /for example, Rheuben Allen's G-Series soprano saxes used a bore as identical to the Selmer Mk VI as possible with a few intonation tweaks. It was great with short-shank mouthpieces of the day, but not so hot with today's longer shank mpc. This makes some sense. His, not so obvious, redesign solution was to shorten the sax from the bell end. I'm sure the he had to tweak the diameters somewhere, but he says his G-series II and E-series II sopranos play equally well with long of short shank mpcs. The point is the mouthpiece really affects the intonation and that the mouthpiece has to work with the bore to get it right..

There's a great site to understand the physics of saxes better. I'm sure most of you have been there, but for those who haven't. Start here.
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/basics.html#woodwind

Dave Dolson
04-22-2011, 05:36 PM
Interesting recent posts, too.

Juan, I am not claiming that the shape of the cone makes no difference (I know, sort of a double negative). I fully understand that small measurements can create differences. But what I am contending is that 1), very few of us, if any, really knows what a "large bore" horn or "small bore" really is, if those are valid terms (see comments below). And 2), I've found no significant differences in the shape of the cones in MY sopranos, vintage and modern.

Even with horns I've owned in the past and since moved on, while I didn't measure them, I have put them next to other sopranos and saw no differences in tone-hole placement, overall lengths, and other issues discussed already. True, there could have been a milimeters' differences here and there (and technically, that could make a difference), but as pointed out above, many models will have differences at some points of the tube, even among the same models. But because so many factors go into making a saxophone's sound and intonation and response, it would be difficult to say that the shape/size of the cone at any one point created that playing characteristic.

I know Juan said that taking outside diameter measurements is not accurate, but I think they are to the extent that an outside measurement at various points could define the expansion of the cone. While an outside measurement doesn't account for the thicknesses of the tube's wall (on both sides of the circle), it will certainly tell you the relative widening of the cone as the inside diameter increases down the tube. And, when I measured my various sopranos, I found almost no variances at three different-but-similar (e.g., below the Bb vents, etc.) places on the tubes. I'd have to go back to earlier posts to pull up the one difference I found, and it was slight.

I've always appreciated Kymarto's posts on such issues and his technical skills far outshine mine (of which I have none, just years of playing the darned things), but he seems to have summed up nicely what I was attempting to point out from a layman's perspective.

Twocircles also posted comments that should help us all to understand semantics better. To me, the use of terms like "large bore" and "small bore" to describe a saxophone is meaningless. DAVE

soybean
04-23-2011, 11:33 PM
Jicaino, kymarto and twocircles, thanks for some very interesting comments. It's obvious that the physics involved in saxophone design are complicated and building them require many compromises.

ratracer
04-24-2011, 03:51 AM
...the physics involved in saxophone design...

This I find I can actually follow. It's the physical nature of playing the blasted thing and playing it well is what gets me! :faceinpalm:

maddenma
04-24-2011, 04:06 AM
It appears that Joe and I disagree. He listed some measurements taken at the neck of five sopranos and claimed up to an 8% or so differential. I measured all of my sopranos using a dial-calipers and their alternate necks just now. Here's what I discovered . . .

Yanagisawa S992 straight neck .49"
Yanagisawa S992 curved neck .42"
Yanagisawa S901 fixed neck .49"
Yanagisawa SC902 curved neck .50"
Yanagisawa aftermarket solid silver straight neck .50+"
Yanagisawa aftermarket solid silver curved neck .50+"
Antigua 590LQ straight neck .505"
Antigua 590LQ curved neck .51"
KUSTOM (Taiwanese MKVI clone) fixed neck .51"
Buescher TrueTone serial 237XXX .365"
Buescher TrueTone serial 233xxx .39"

I am not convinced that the neck opening alone means much if anything, especially when discussing "large bore" vs. "small bore." And for sure, they vary, even among the same brands. But what does it all mean? Do my measurements conflict with the stories going around about vintage vs. modern (mainly that the vintage horns were "big bore" and the modern horns are "small bore")?

Another for sure - my two TrueTones are vintage alright, yet they have smaller neck openings (but inconsistent with each other) than any of my more modern sopranos. I regret any animosity that has arisen from this - all I want is proof that (and not that someone told me) this all means something in the overall scheme of things. DAVE

I'll add a TT to the list: 217xxx - 0.339", 8.63mm ID -- smaller yet than the OP's TT measurements.

Of course, there's overall bore, and there is taper. It is a cone after all. Could it be that taper has more meaning?

maddenma
04-24-2011, 04:09 AM
I'm probably going to show my ignorance here, but isn't it more the taper of the bore that would give a different sound than the relative size of the bore?

Of course, being late to the conversation and replying without reading the entire thread first gives me a unique opportunity to contribute absolutely nothing other than reiterating the obvious.

Jazzaferri
04-24-2011, 06:54 AM
I think where it is ending up is big bore = air hog with no resistance felt and small bore = air mouse with some resistance.


Way too many variables for this little black duck and math skills that have gotten rusty.

:mrgreen:

kymarto
04-24-2011, 12:15 PM
Here's an interesting point to consider: it is known that the smaller the truncation ratio (the less of the cone tip is removed) the less the mode relationships are affected and the better the horn plays in tune. A "bigger bore" (in the sense of a bigger neck AND bell opening with a similar cone angle as compared to another with smaller diameter openings), would have a larger truncation ratio and thus intonation would be harder to control. Maybe this is Yamaha's point.

However, a horn with a greater cone angle would actually have a smaller truncation ratio for a given neck opening (sorry Juan, it is not ever called a port) and would conceivably be better in tune--but would make the low notes more difficult to sound.

In practice, many horns are comprised of two main conic sections, with the neck area being of a greater angle than the body. I believe the point of this is to improve intonation while keeping the internal volume reasonable. Also, of course, tone holes increase the compliance and make the bore effectively larger, so a narrower tube diameter compensates for this. In modern straight sops you will see a widening at the top, which I guess serves the same purpose.

There is often a constriction also under the cork, called "necking in" which improves the intonation of the highest notes.

In any case, because of tone holes, bore areas are never really represented by the cross-section of the main tube.

R2D2
04-24-2011, 12:57 PM
Would seeking volunteers willing to fill their non-leaking sops with water help determine the relative volumes? :twisted::twisted::twisted:

Jazzaferri
04-24-2011, 10:33 PM
Yes