Saxophone Forum


by sofos
(2 posts)
10 years ago

Accompany old piano

I have an old piano that is adjusted to 430 Hz. It is a 1920 piano designed for 430Hz and is not possible to get higher. Now the problem: I can not accompany this piano with my tenor sax. I have tried to pull out the mouthpiece which seems to work, but this is an extreme case. The mouthpiece is not that stable on the neck even though I put some paper on the cork. I thought of having a neck extension made but I am not surre I will get the desired result. Recently I have heard that by putting a string (rope) in the main body of the saxophone will lower the Hz. Does anybody has faced this case at all? All answers appreciated Best Sofoklis

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  1. by connsaxman_jim
    (2336 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Accompany old piano

    I've never heard of the rope trick before. I don't see how it could work. If anything, it seems as if it would make the horn platy sharp, not flat. It seems as though that piano should be able to be set to 440. I play piano also and I have NEVER heard of a piano that could not be tuned to standard 440. Even older pianos. Find another piano tuner! Pulling your mouthpiece out isn't going to work either. Your sax was designed to play in 440, and although some of the notes might play in tune after pulling the mouthpiece out, this is going to through your intonantion off.

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    1. by wvujazzman
      (48 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Accompany old piano

      I suppose it's theoretically possible that this piano is indeed a low-pitch piano, but that would surprise me. I agree with Jim - I've never seen or heard of one, only read about them. The modern pitch reference of A=440Hz took hold around the turn of the century (1900), and by 1915-1920, all of the mainstream piano makers were using this pitch center. I play on a 1920 Mason&Hamlin grand that is certainly 440. Is is possible that the piano is in fact just so old that it won't hold a tuning at 440? That would seem more likely to me... I'm not sure how one would build a piano that couldn't be tuned up 10Hz. Of course, none of this helps you with your dilemma... I don't know of any way to lower the pitch of your tenor that much. If you can't get the piano somewhere close to 440, you may be out of luck.

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    2. by sax_maniac
      (984 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Accompany old piano

      Does the piano have sentimental value? If not, you should get rid of it. The piano, theoretically, can be tuned up to 440Hz, but it is a prolonged process - much more than tuning up a piano that has been at 440. Also, if the piano strings are old, you could have an issue with tensioning up all the strings (breakage). Depends on when it was dropped to 430. As far as dropping the tuning on your sax, you could try gutting out a mouthpiece to make the chamber larger, but there's no guarantee of how the intonation will fare. Have you tried pulling the neck out of the body some? That will get you a few cents, though maybe not consistently through the whole range of the horn.

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      1. by johnsonfromwisconsin
        (767 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Accompany old piano

        I would noy mess with the horn as it is not the problem. Retune the piano or find another. The saxophone cannot accomodate such problems with another instrument, unless you start moving toneholes!

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        1. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Accompany old piano

          You should be able to tune the piano to 440hz. I think it was probably intended to be tuned to 440hz. If you can't retune it to 440hz, get rid of it. Old pianos are a pain in the ass! After a while, they won't hold a tune, the hammers on the keys get brittle and start breaking or the felts start coming off, and whatever the case, they're just more trouble than they're worth! Not to mention they're heavy to try to move around. I had one given to me a couple years ago. I took it home, had it tuned and played it for about a month and it was out of tune, 3 of the keys were broken and it sounded like CRAP! I pushed the damn thing out of the house myself and pushed it off my deck. I fired up my Homelite chain saw and cut it up into pieces!!! Now, A nice little Yamaha digital piano sits in it's place.

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      2. by sofos
        (2 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Accompany old piano

        Thank you all for the useful replies. Unfortunatelly the piano tuner told me that this piano has been originally designed for 430 and if he would 'push it' higher, it's wooden base might break. It is a pitty because even though this piano can stand alone producing a very sweet and unique sound, it can not accompany my saxophone. Yesterday I tried to pull the neck out and it seems to work well. Best Sofoklis

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