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I recently bought a 1950's Conn Naked Lady sax and it works fine except the low D and E are, for lack of a better word, "bubbly", or unstable. It's not a leak because C and below sound fine. I've had it checked out and he found nothing wrong, so I assumed it was operator error. I mentioned it to a friend who asked what kind of mouthpiece I was using (it happens with both my metal and my hard rubber ones.) He said the problem was the shape of the instrument and suggested putting the plastic cap (or some other sort of foreign object) down the bell to create back pressure. That helped slightly, but not a lot. I've never had this problem on other saxes (Selmer Mk VI and Yamaha YTS-23), so I'm not sure what to do. What can I try?

EDIT: Here's what it sounds like: http://loami-windmill.com/Music/StackExchange-Bubbly%20Tenor%20Sax.mp3

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    Can you record that "bubbly sound"? It's very common for old saxophones to have trouble on the low end (even more so than for new ones). I've never played a Naked Lady, but I must admit that I've had a lot of trouble with Conn instruments (even those produced before the years the company went into decline). I played a 1937 no-name model, for example, and it had an issue that I assume is the same as the one you describe. Has the instrument ever been bent/refurbished? Are the pads new? Is there any saliva dried on the pads? Are the tone holes bent in any way? – Pyromonk Jul 8 at 14:45
  • To be honest with you, the only saxophones I've played that had a good low end are King Zephyr (not sure about the alto, I play tenor), Keilwerth SX90R and Trevor James Signature. 2 out of those have a large bell. On the other ones, it was always thin, out of tune or distorted in some way. Maybe @MattPutnam will know more about a possible solution to your problem. – Pyromonk Jul 8 at 14:56
  • See update to my answer – Carl Witthoft Jul 10 at 9:54
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I think you've just run into a "Cranky old Lady" model. Just as beginners have difficulty producing the lowest notes until they learn breath control, some saxes are less forgiving than others.
It is possible that the C-pad is too close to its hole, thus partially blocking airflow for notes above C. If so, then closing the C-pad to produce C would be fine.

Otherwise, I don't see any downside to putting things into the bell to modify the structure slightly. Try some soft cushions such as a Sax Mute (yes, they exist) to see how those work.

UPDATE

I talked with my brother, who's been a performing sax player for 40 years & a repairman for 30. He says this is a fantastic horn, and there should be no problem with those notes. In his words, "find a better repairman," as there is almost certainly a pad leak.

  • Ugh, he's the best guy I know in a town with not many options. Guess I'll have to look around. – Duston Jul 10 at 14:24
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    I had a friend (who is a much better player than I am) play it, and he said the same, "It's a great horn, if you ever think about selling it, call me first." So my conclusion is my problem is operator error. – Duston Jul 15 at 16:12

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