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My Saxophone Has a Wubber in the Low Notes

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#1
The title of this thread comes from a note found inside a saxophone sent to our shop for repair. The funny thing is that I understood exactly what they were referring to.

The "warble" or "motorboating" on low B and C on saxophones is well known by most players of the instrument. Being curious I began to investigate some time ago what the "warble" actually is, what causes some saxes/mouthpieces to do it and not others, and to look at solutions to the problem.

I have finished the first installment of a web page that shows the results of my investigation so far and the detail of the methods and equipment involved. Without going into too much detail a warble was recorded on a C-melody saxophone playing low C and slowed down electronically. Each 1/2 second slice of the slowed recording was analyzed on a spectrum analyzer and an image saved of each graph. Using windows movie maker, I synchronized the sound file with the "snapshots" of the wave's harmonics to see how the harmonic spectrum changes as the tone goes through each warble cycle.

The link for this site is here: http://jbtsaxmusic.homestead.com/Warblestudy.html

Questions, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

John
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#3
That is an excellent observation

Although many repair techs believe that leaks somewhere in the body can cause a low note warble, that has not been my experience. I am leaning toward the conclusion that the warble is created by a mismatch of the mouthpiece volume to the length and taper of the body at the area of the toneholes that vent the low notes.

A case in point is that any soprano can be made to warble if the mouthpiece is pulled out too far on a sax that is completely air tight. I discovered just the other day that the soprano warble goes away when one switches to a subtone embouchure. I don't understand why this works, but it provides another interesting piece of the puzzle.

I suspect there are quite a few jazz players who have never played their low tones with a "legit" sound, and therefore have never heard a warble on saxes that have that tendency.

John
 

Carl H.

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#4
Check the fit of the cork on the very end of the neck to the mouthpiece. Loose here often leads to a warble IMHO.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#5
The bit about the straight soprano is definitely interesting. I wonder if the same can be accomplished with a straight alto, tenor or baritone (or a Tubax, for that matter).

So, considering that tossing a plastic mouthpiece cap or (I've heard) a rubber ball or wine cork in the bell can make the warble go away, is it that these oddments are changing the harmonics or are they doing something to the air stream?
 

jbtsax

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Distinguished Member
#6
So, considering that tossing a plastic mouthpiece cap or (I've heard) a rubber ball or wine cork in the bell can make the warble go away, is it that these oddments are changing the harmonics or are they doing something to the air stream?
That is a good question. The common wisdom is that the object inside the bell bow reduces the volume in that portion of the air column. There is really no "air stream" per se, but a standing wave that is affected by the shape and diameter of the tube along its path. Selmer for a time on their Mark VI's soldered a brass patch onto the top of the bell bow curve to help eliminate the warble. I have heard of some players who stick a patch of Dr. Scholl's foot pad inside the bell at that location.

John
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#7
I have heard of some players who stick a patch of Dr. Scholl's foot pad inside the bell at that location.
New or used? And what wine cork? Would a Château Margaux cork add some style to my playing?

Really interesting project. I love your way of combining egineering and empirical methods, very inspiring.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#8
Selmer for a time on their Mark VI's soldered a brass patch onto the top of the bell bow curve to help eliminate the warble.
Inside the bell? That's interesting. Can anyone confirm that?
 
#9
Hmm ... I didn't know this had anything to do with Models of saxophone - I look forward to looking into it. :)

I personally never have a warble (or whatever we are calling it tee hee hee). The odd time it does occur, for me anyways, it comes from one or a combination of the following... 1) poor support, 2) soft (aka old and past it's prime) and/or 3) Leaky low end.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#11
That's kewl. Learn something new every day. Makes me wonder why they used it on such late models, though.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#13
While I have the gurgle problem on my Conn alto, I've always been able to keep things under control on every baritone that I've ever played. I tried the mouthpiece cap on the alto, and things calmed down immediately.
 
#14
I have that same gurgle but it doesn't exist with a closed MP such as my Selmer from 30's. I tried the cork down the bell thingy and had no luck until I went to a closed facing large bore MP. Large bore MP like a Rascher came close but the Selmer is sweetest.

Could it be the wave length gets muffed up with too much wind of a more open mp?
 
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