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Tuning tárogató with mpc insert.

Discussion in 'Tárogató' started by kymarto, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Because tárogató is a conical instrument, mpc volume is an important determinant of overall pitch. And since the mpc is generally in a fixed position, unlike sax, where it can be moved on the neck, changing the volume is the only practical way of tuning the horn (other than pulling the mpc slightly out to flatten it somewhat).

    My Remenyi horn was playing slightly flat, about 438, except in very warm weather, and I wanted to have a little room for adjustment. I took a small ball of epoxy putty, about the size of a pea, and smoothed it into the area just at the back of the baffle, just in front of the cylindrical throat of the mpc. This raised the nominal pitch to about 442 with only a minor effect on the blowing or sound.

    If you want a thinner, brighter sound, the putty can be inserted farther forward, raising the baffle. In any case it is important not to constrict the throat too much, so better to distribute it rather than bunching it up in one place.

    You can experiment with placement and volume easily with ABC (already been chewed) gum :)

  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    I tuned my tárogató like I do in extreme cases with the clarinet (usually based on temp of venue) by pulling out at the mouthpiece joint. Is that not a good way to adjust. BTW, I did finally sell my tárogató to QuinnTheEskimo when I moved to a *much* smaller place.
  3. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    While clarinet players seem quite anal about pulling out their mpcs to tune, I don't find it a big problem on the tárogató. I did some experiments using spacers when I pulled the mpc out as opposed to not doing so, and it did not seem to make much difference in terms of intonation. On my Stowasser I have the mpcs pulled off about 4-5 mm and the octaves and octave break are fine. The problem with the Reményi was that it was flat, and adding material in the mpc brought it up where I wanted it.
  4. Good to know, thanks for the tips Toby.

    My unnamed Hungarian tárogató was an entire step flat, but only in the second octave - so in other words, the octaves were short. I'm not second-guessing my altering the bore at the time (which according to calculations was too narrow in the upper joint), but do you think MPC volume adjustment could ever only affect the 2nd octave and not the first? I'm assuming not - it's all or nothing.

    In any case, this is a good method to go up/down a few cents.

  5. Tuning tárogató with mpc insert (again)

    I'm new here and am very interested in this subject. I've played clarinet and sax on and off for 45 years and have just recently found a use for a tárogató. Ebay to the rescue, or so I thought.

    My unnamed, possibly Romanian tárogató has the same problem as George's. The bore is slightly rough but not unreasonable. The keywork is strong but pathetically misfitted. After some sawing, silver-soldering, and milling cups into the undersides of the spatulate padholders, clarinet pads work well. (I read every word of JBTSAX's posts about rebuilding one of these beasts.) I've fixed leaks until it will keep pressure in the upper joint and the leaks in the lower joint are really minimal.

    On the subject of short octaves: I've put clay into bore of the original mpc until the upper octave has come up in pitch but only when tightening the embrochure more than I think is necessary, relative to the embrochure necessary for the lower octave. This mouthpiece had been damaged before I got it and has been "refaced". The bore at the top of the upper joint is about 9mm diameter, but the mpc bore is about 11mm. I had to reduce the bore to about 9mm with clay to raise the pitch of the second octave. The roof of the mpc gets farther from the reed almost linearly from the tip-rail to where is meets the bore. Putting a little clay at the junction of the roof and the bore has had no benefits.

    These are (some of) my problems, which might be related to the clay-in-the-mpc fix; a) with the original mpc, the tárogató has a severe tendency to jump to the upper octave without using the octave key(s). This happens both below g (possible small leaks in the lower joint) and above g (although there are no leaks in the upper joint) b) I can play low c only if I put only the tip 1/2" of the mpc in my mouth. With this embrochure, hitting the octave key results in a note at least 1/2 step flat, less than an octave higher, no matter which note I start on.

    After temporarily giving up on the original mouthpiece, I bought a Rico Metallite sop sax mpc, shortened the socket end about 1/4 inch and rebored the last bit to a taper that fit the tárogató's tenon. It also required using clay to narrow the bore above the socket to about 9mm to raise the pitch of the second octave. Although the tone with the Metallite is more aggressive than I wanted, it is much easier to get the notes below a, all the notes in the lower octave are more stable than with the original mpc, and it does jump closer to an octave when hitting the octave key. There is some discussion elsewhere about the "baffle height" of the Metallite being extreme. It does come rather close to the reed, except right near the tip. I'm tempted to attribute the better lower octave response to this feature.

    (If anyone is interested in how I aligned and held the mpc in the lathe for turning the enlarged socket, I can post some photos.)

    Does anyone have any suggestions about the lay length, the opening, or the baffle in the original mpc that might give me a more playable lower octave? Does anyone have any insight why the Metallite mpc works better than that original? Is it the smaller distance between the reed and the roof of the chamber at all positions? (I find the "high baffle" vs "low baffle" nomenclature rather confusing, in part because there is disagreement over where the "baffle" ends.)

    - Captain Simion (there is a reason for that spelling - it has nothing to do with apes)
  6. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I for one would be very interested in some photos. As far as getting the low notes to respond, all I can tell you is a reed that is not too stiff, a mouthpiece without a baffle, and a leak free instrument all tend to help. Nothing makes the low notes "easy". These things make the low notes "possible". :-D

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Is this one of those situations where the workpiece is held stationary and the cutting bar is rotated by the lathe?
  8. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Is this called "thinking outside the chuck"? :)
  9. No, but you are on the right track - the trick is holding the sort-of-conical mouthpiece. I've written a description, but need to take the photos.
  10. How to hold a mouthpiece in the lathe. Part 1 of 2

    Thanks for the input on getting the tárogató to play the low notes more easily. There was interest in how to hold a mouthpiece in a lathe, so here is some info on how I managed it.

    To enable turning a new socket in a soprano sax mpc to fit a tárogató, the mpc was held so the axis of the socket was coincident with the lathe's axis. The same technique can also be used, for instance, for enlarging the bore on a clarinet mpc, or for moving the shoulder on a clarinet mpc so the tenon is effectively longer. We will use a low-melting polymer to hold the mpc inside a metal cylinder that keeps it aligned in the lathe. A mandrel will align the mpc in the lathe while the polymer freezes inside the cylinder and supports the mpc during the turning process.

    Measure the inside diameter and taper using telescoping ID gauges. The mpc to be modified had a taper of 1/2% or 0.30 degrees on each side of the axis. This was found be determining the ID at the opening and the ID as far as possible inside the mpc. While the gauge is at its deepest position in the mpc, put a pencil mark on its shaft. Remove the gauge and measure the distance between the pencil mark and the contact line of the gauge, which is where it actually touched the ID of the mpc. The difference in IDs, divided by the distance between the two IDs, divided by 2.0 is the tangent of the taper angle. The ARCTAN of this number is the taper angle in degrees. I obtained ARCTAN( 0.005) = 0.30 degrees.

    Make a mandrel that fits the original mpc socket. This piece will be used to align the axis of the mpc in the lathe and to provide a handle. Take a piece of aluminum or brass rod larger in diameter than the largest original ID of the mpc socket, [dimensions] chuck it in the lathe and set the angle head slide on the cross feed of the lathe to that same value - in my case 0.3 degrees. You probably can't determine this very accurately, but you can get a better fit by trial and error. Cut a taper on the metal rod, using the angle head slide, that is at least as long as the depth used to determine the angle of the mpc taper. Smooth the surface of the taper with a file and emery paper - any ridges left on the surface will act like barbs and the mandrel will stick in the mpc. Trial-fit the mandrel to the mpc. It should go in nearly all the way to the chamber/bore junction in the mpc. In my photo, the other end of the mandrel was reduced to 1/2" to fit inside the tailstock chuck. The mandrel will appear in Part 2.

    Sop Sax MPC in metal tube.JPG
    Mouthpiece standing in metal tube.

    Lathe angle head set to 0pt3 degrees.JPG
    Lathe angle head set to 0.3 degrees.

    Get a piece of metal tubing that will just enclose the mpc. I'll call it a form. In my photo, the tube is not quite large enough to accept the entire mpc, but it is close enough. It should be about as long as the mpc. Clean the tubing up with the lathe.

    Purchase, beg, or borrow (don't steal any - it is cheap) some polycaprolactone ("PCL") beads. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycaprolactone . This polymer is available under various names including "Friendly Plastic" and "Instamorph". McMaster-Carr calls it "Mold-Your-Own Grips." See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycaprolactone . It is a biodegradable plastic that melts at about 60C (just uncomfortably hot) and refreezes to a very tough white solid. It does not stick well to metal, but I found out the hard way that it sticks VERY well to the Rico Metallite plastic mpc. Cover the ENTIRE mpc, where it might touch the melted PCL, with thin transparent tape so the PCL won't stick to it. The PCL is reusable indefinely. Because you don't need much, people might want to purchase some, divide it up, and share.

    Stand the mpc upright on its socket end on a piece of scrap sheetmetal and place the form over it. Drop in enough PCL beads to cover the beak end of the mpc plus a little. Place the sheetmetal, form, mpc, and PCL in an oven preheated to 70C (158F). My home oven has a digital thermostat that can be set that low. A hot air gun will work if you are patient. Another way that might work is to close the socket end of the form/mpc combo with tape and set the combo in a dish of hot water on the stovetop. Do not boil the water, but watch the PCL beads in the top of the form to see that they melt - they will turn from cloudy white to clear when they melt. The PCL melt is very very viscous, but the the beads will droop and fuse, and in about an hour the melt will conform to the shape of the mpc. Push the melt down gently, if necessary. You are just trying to fill a lot of the space between the form and the mpc where the table and beak are. It is so viscous it probably won't run out the socket end of the form.

    Remove the form/mpc/PCL assembly from the heat and, While the PCL is still melted, put the mandrel into the socket and place the form/mpc/PCL/mandrel assembly in the lathe. Clamp the chuck jaws lightly onto the form and move the tailstock chuck into place, then tighten the tailstock chuck lightly on the mandrel. If your tube did not completely slide down over the mpc, as in my photo, pull the mpc out of the form slightly so it is not touching the form. The two chucks will keep the form and the mandrel aligned on the lathe axis simultaneously, and the mandrel will keep the mpc's original socket on the axis while the PCL refreezes. Wait about an hour so the PCL has completely solidified.

    Sop Sax MPC in metal tube with yellow tape and PCL.JPG
    Mouthpiece with yellow tape (beak end) and frozen PCL polymer.

    End of Part 1 of 2.

    -Captain Simion

    Attached Files:

  11. How to hold a mouthpiece in the lathe. Part 2 of 2

    Here is the rest of my article.

    This photo of the form/PCL/mpc assembly in the lathe shows the mandrel in the chuck, but it is not really inserted into the narrow part of the original bore, because the bore was, at that moment, lined with clay and I didn't want to do it over.

    Sop Sax MPC with mandrel in lathe.JPG Mouthpiece in metal tube aligned by brass mandrel held in tailstock chuck.
    Sop Sax MPC ready to rebore (already enlarged).JPG Mouthpiece in lathe with mandrel removed, ready for reboring.

    Voila! The mpc is now held correctly for reboring. In my case, the PCL stuck well enough to the metal form that the gentle force of turning the plastic did not dislodge the PCL/mpc from the form. After reboring, remove the mandrel and place the form in the freezer for an hour. The PCL will shrink and pull away from the metal form. The PCL also does not stick to common tape, so peeling it away from the mpc should be easy. The temperature of the entire operation will not be high enough to damage the tape, so it should also peel off easily.

    Sop Sax MPC with PCL removed from tube.JPG
    Mouthpiece with form-fitted PCL polymer removed from metal tube. The yellow tape has been removed and the PCL replaced over the mpc.

    Sop Sax MPC replaced in tube with clay.JPG
    Mouthpiece after reboring, with green clay inside, showing socket rebored to fit tárogató.

    Speaking of clay: When the mpc was in the lathe, I shortened it about 1/4" and kept the ring of plastic. The material used was FIMO brand polymer "clay." I put a small piece on the ring of mpc plastic and baked them both in the oven at 110C (230F) for 30 minutes. The FIMO hardened, the mpc plastic did not deform, and the clay did not stick to the plastic. These observations make me think that I could make a permanent insert for the mpc by just baking the mpc/clay combo, once I have the shape modelled to where it works to improve the tárogató's tuning. The hardened clay could be pulled out because it doesn't stick, then glued back into the mpc.

    I will probably try another mpc with a different chamber and/or lay, so I will probably, eventually, have more photos to post.

    -Captain Simion
  12. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

  13. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  14. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Generally speaking, higher baffle pieces make the low notes more difficult, so something else is in play here. My guess is that the facing curve of your original mpc is bad and/or the rails are unbalanced. This is a much more common culprit for poor response than the internal geometry of the mpc.

    The internal volume of the mpc is critical to correct intonation; if it is too large the horn will play flat in general and flatter in the second register, and if it is too small the horn will play sharp and sharper in the second register. To make a second register flatter, it is necessary to actually reduce inner volume and pull the mpc further off the cork--this both restores the correct internal volume in the upper part of the bore and makes the horn slightly longer, which tends to flatten the second octave in relation to the first.

    The facing curve is rather critical. For instance, I have three original Stowasser mpcs, and they were all horrendous in their original form. Mostly they had extremely closed tips, around .04". I opened them all up to around .07-.075", and now they play very decently. They tended to have very hollowed out chambers, so I filled that in with epoxy wood putty. Putting putty in the chamber can change the blowing characteristics, so I did some experimenting and found what the best shape and distribution of the putty was--playing around with this before letting it harden. Putty in the chamber will not change the tone of the mpc much, but as you move up the baffle it will, especially in the last centimeter or so ending at the tip rail. This is because putty there changes the aero-acoustics of the mpc by altering the Bernoulli forces acting on the reed just before it closes. If you are happy with the sound of your mpc, don't play with the baffle. I like a mellow sound, and so kept the original baffle height. I also have a modern mpc that was too bright for my tastes, so I took the baffle down quite a bit near the tip, which also makes for better response and less tendency to squeak or chirp.

    It is very important to have a good facing curve--getting this wrong by a few thousands of an inch can render a mpc either unplayable or very poor. Likewise, it is generally a good idea to have the tip rail reasonably thin, as a thick tip rail will make the mpc stuffy and hard to blow. Evenness of the facing is also a critical factor, as is a flat table, so that the reed does not leak air at the bottom of the rails.

    Poor low note response might be partially due to your bore profile: 9mm is awfully small. My Remenyi is 9.5 and the low notes are relatively difficult compared to my Stowasser, which is 10mm and very responsive in the low end. I do not recommend enlarging it, as this will throw your top notes out unless you change the entire bore profile.

    To be honest, most Romanian tarogatok are not all that well in tune, but having a decent mpc match is a prerequisite to getting as close as possible. You should definitely check your horn for leaks, but a poor bore profile can make the low notes burble or otherwise be very stubborn. If the bore is rough, you are well advised to oil it well to seal micropores which reduce efficiency, and/or sand with fine sandpaper (800 to 2000 grit depending on the wood and how rough it is). Also (as JTB knows), the tone hole workmanship is often very poor, even on higher-end horns, check carefully that you don't have uneven tone hole rims, or rims with small dips or chips that can cause leaks.
  15. Captain,

    That was EXACTLY the case with my instrument. I'd have to squeeze the crap out of the reed in order to get anywhere close to correct pitch in the 2nd register (but still flat). The lower register played in pitch with quite relaxed embouchure. That was prior to my upper joint alteration:)

    Separate topic: how high can you get? On my instrument and original MPC, the high B (written) is still the limit, and that is with some difficulty.

  16. George;

    After reducing the bore of the mpc with clay until the diameter essentially matched that of the body, the upper octave is much closer to the right pitch. It still requires a lot of lipping-up but it can be done. I'll look through the earlier posts to see what you did to the bore that helped, and think about doing that to this tárogató-shaped-object ("TSO").

    As for range: with the original mpc, it played "G" (left three fingers ) easily, "A" usually, but never "B" or above, whether using clay or not. With the adapted Rico Metallite and clay reducing the mpc's bore, it plays "A" and "B" easily. The "C" is not reliable and flat when it sounds. Maybe that will change with more clay in the chamber.

    ----- C.S.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  17. Thanks, Kymarto, for the discussion!

    I'll continue with the hunt for leaks. All the tonehole rims had chips that were covered by factory original black lacquer - the makers just didn't care. I've built up the rims with rosewood dust and CA, then sanded back flat with fine rotary grindstones moved by hand.

    The original mpc is bad in all the respects you described except that the roof is not very close to the reed near the tip. The Rico mpc still has a lot of volume that can be reduced with clay without getting any near the tip rail - more experimentation is necessary!

    The bore is rough enough that I'd have to start with 400 grit just to get the fuzz off. There is a step-reduction in the bore going from the upper joint to the lower joint that must be 0.1" in diameter (real measurements will come later, including the taper). I saw someone comment that even a Stowasser had a small step, but this seems excessive.

    Any thoughts about the fuzz and sharp edges between the toneholes and the bore? McDonald ( http://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/4378 ) suggests that a very slight rounding of this edge might be beneficial. The issue was non-linear dynamics and turbulence caused by sharp edges. That big step in the bore might be causing some of the same troubles.
  18. kymarto

    kymarto Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Yes, absolutely--remove all rough edges and splinters in the bore. Undercutting toneholes--the more the better, although slight rounding will already be enough for most cases.

    On my tárogató I can get up to high F (written), although the F is weak. High E plays perfectly. However there is a caveat here--those high notes are playable only using saxophone altissimo techniques, which are hard to describe, but involve forming the vocal tract into a specific shape that actually forms a resonance that supports the note in question. Also, the fingerings are not straightforward, and they take some experimenting--but mostly it has to do with embouchure control. I did post fingerings for the highest notes in this forum some time ago. On my Stowasser, high C is already a bit tough using the normal fingering with the second octave key. On my Remenyi, which is a single octave key model, I already have to use altissimo fingerings on notes above Bb, but I can play all the way up (sometimes to something like a G) using them. They are in tune on both horns, although the fingerings vary slightly between them.
  19. The short octaves: I did the unthinkable (to an instrument I spent $1250 on), and widened the top part of the upper joint bore. I took measurements across different parts of the instrument and calculated what the taper should be (1:17something). Back then I was under the impression that it should be a perfect cone, whereas today I realize that it's not and a part of the upper joint is cylindrical as opposed to conical. I turned a cone out of maple to match the calculated part of the cone in the upper joint, wrapped 400 sandpaper around it and chucked up the cone on a lathe, and gently removed some wood from the bore.

    I was in a situation where I determined that the octaves were hopelessly short and no amount of embouchure adjustment corrected this. In the best case, I was still 20 cents flat, and that got worse from 2nd E and up. In retrospect, I would have probably explored MPC adjustments that you and Toby described - but at the time, I did not have this information, and there was absolutely nothing available on the web regarding this.

    Anyway, after my adjustment, it became immediately easier to flip from the 1st to 2nd octave without using octave keys - which tells me the octaves were more closely matched (short of leaks that is). Before, the jump wasn't that easy. The second octave was now in pitch, and I was able to switch to softer reeds, required for the type of music I play.

    I would not recommend this modification unless the MPC adjustments don't get you there and/or the instrument was really cheap:)

    I just cancelled a trip to Hungary where I was supposed to play in a large folk festival. Had I gone, I would have tried to buy a brand new tárogató from a maker in Budapest. What I have is playable, but I feel things are still more difficult on it than they need to be.

  20. My middle finger top C is also unreliable but the side key C is fine.
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