Mark Sowakis' intonation solution

My homeboy Mark Sowlakis just wrote me this email with some very interesting information about how to solve the upper register problems that are so common on Selmer Mark VIs. My alto could definately use something like this. Lee Kramka is one of the most respected repairmen in the Bay Area. Lee's Sax Workx web site

Hey man, guess what? I solved the intonation problems on my Mark VI. Well, I didn't solve 'em, but Lee Kramka did. You know how the left hand just gets sharper and sharper as you go up? Well, turns out the by putting a smaller diameter octave pip (the small circular bump with the hole in it on the neck that the octave mechanism sits on), about half the original diameter, drops the second register into incredibly perfect tuning. My octaves are bang on the money now, all the way up, and the sound is fantastic. Lee had been noticing that the newer horns all had smaller diameter octave pips, and thought this would work. As long as your pip is soft soldered it is easy to remove, and mine was. Now this thing tunes even better than the Yamaha and sounds great, it's amazing. He also put some cork in the low C tone hole to bring down the middle d and e, and now it's so great. I'm gonna have him do my tenor as well. Cost was $250 and it was well worth it. I thought I'd pass this on as so many people are chucking their old VI's trying to find better pitch, and this is totally the answer. You might want to post this info you your blog. Also, I have some MP3's here of you that someone passed me, something like Ghengis or thereabouts. Haven't heard them, although I did hear one that was a rehearsal with Charlie Hunter. What was that all about? What's new up there? Markos

Thanks Markos,
That does sound like something worth a try. Seems like a better option than cranking open the action on the upper and lower stack to bring down the relative pitch of the palm keys.

You must have MP3s of a four horn band + Charlie Hunter called Quintet D'Gengis (don't ask, only Charlie knew what that meant). That band featured Kenny Brooks on tenor, Adam Beach on bari and Scott Jensen on trumpet, along with me and Charlie. That was Charlies brainchild and his first foray into arranging. I think you may have our demo that was produced by Spearhead's Micheal Franti. We played around the Bay Area in the mid 90's. Keep in touch buddy, David Carlos Valdez


MonksDream said...

Woah! I've just been suffering enormous problems up there after having my mouthpiece refaced, etc. I had my high D key lowered a smudge with pretty good results. I guess that what you could do is to fill the hole up completely with epoxy and then slowly drill it out, for the po' man's fix.

cheers, Bill

Adam said...

I don't remember doing a session with Michael Frenti back then. I must have been massively stoned.

David Valdez said...

Well just about every recording I've ever done with KB has involved massive amounts of the chronic, to my detriment.
You were definately there my man. You were pumping out bass lines on 'Shining Star'. I'll try to remember to send you a copy of it.