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 Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: m1964 
Date:   2020-01-11 09:11

Hi,
My new R13 A has stuffy C#/G# - it does not sound "clean". A tech said he felt slightly more resistance from G# comparing to the G and suggested rimming the tone hole slightly but said he would not do anything on a new instrument and would wait at least 6 month.

Would a cork pad produce "cleaner" sound than Buffet's Gore-Tex pad?

Also, the chalumeau D is not as bright as the notes around it- it sounds slightly softer than E and C.
Can anything be done to improve this problem?

I am not in favor of doing anything "invasive" at this time, but the cork pad I can do myself if I knew it would help.

Other than the above two problems and slightly binding tenon (already taken care of), everything else seems good- intonation/tuning is good, altissimo is easy to play.
Someone working for Buffet probably reads this forums: the adjustment screw on the F/C key is right above the fulcrum of the left pinky F/C lever so the left F/C feels very "definite" in its movement.

I appreciate your help.



Post Edited (2020-01-11 09:14)

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2020-01-11 09:50

The low C# is often a slightly stuffier or airy note for reasons you can read about on this forum (or you already know about the compromise of this tone hole).

Can you remove and reassemble keys yourself?

First remove the C#/G# key (you need to first remove the D/A key/ring, then remove C#/G#, then mount back D/A) and check tone and intonation. Make sure to assemble the clarinet and not check just the upper joint. If tone is not better with the key off, probably no change to the pad would help. If it's significantly better, it might be possible to improve by changes to the pad and/or key height. Then consider intonation, it might be a compromise between the two (as far as best pad and venting).

>> Would a cork pad produce "cleaner" sound than Buffet's Gore-Tex pad? <<

It might. If the problem is partly from the pad "blocking" the hole, then a Goretex pad is stepped (assuming that's what they put there), which means it is larger than a (non-stepped) cork pad. A cork pad can also be shaped after being installed to taper towards the seat, making it even smaller (some new clarinets have a bunch of pads shaped that way).

>> Also, the chalumeau D is not as bright as the notes around it- it sounds slightly softer than E and C. <<

C and E are pretty much fully vented notes. D is a "half" vented note (not sure if it has a common term), so it is slightly different on many clarinets (including many Buffet clarinets). I'm wondering if they don't make the tone hole slightly larger and lower because of finger position...

>> ...so the left F/C feels very "definite" in its movement. <<

I'm not sure if you mean this is good or not. I'm not crazy about their design of this linkage, but their previous designs weren't that great either. For some years the angles were so off (sharp angle between lever and key linkage arm) that it seemed like the jig was defective, or someone was using it wrong (or the parts didn't come out correctly).



Post Edited (2020-01-12 13:04)

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: ruben 
Date:   2020-01-11 13:10

clarinetbass: what a fine and thorough analysis! The compromise often boils down to putting the note in tune...but making it stuffy. The throat register F (thumb) on a Selmer is less stuffy than on a Buffet, but way too sharp. I have to put my finger on the C hole to get it in tune. And then there is the problem of the 12ths. On a Selmer Recital, the throat register F is too sharp and the 12th C, too flat. Let's all get used to correcting fingerings by adding extra fingers.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: m1964 
Date:   2020-01-11 21:30

>> ...so the left F/C feels very "definite" in its movement. <<

"I'm not sure if you mean this is good or not."

Hi Clarnibass,
Thanks for your quick reply.

Re C#/G#:
Yes, I definitely can remove the key and check the quality of the sound and intonation. Don't know why I did not think of it myself.
The Gore-Tex pads are stepped. The key when opened seem to be at the height that should not produce resistance but I will check.
However, I practiced a little today and did not hear the fuzziness as much as before. The chalumeau D still feels a little softer but not that much compared to the C.
It felt like the clarinet is "opening up".

See, when I got it, I oiled it pretty heavily for a couple of days prior to playing it because I was afraid of it cracking. It is very possible that there was some excess oil in the C#/G# tone hole that now I wiped off. Or it got absorbed.
In any case, the instrument feels brighter compared to how it sounded for the first 2-3 days.

Re: F/C lever.
Yes, I meant that the left F/C feels good because it has the right balance between the travel distance and the effort required to push it down.
Unlike the same lever on my Bb where the adjusting screw is not above the fulcrum so originally it was very easy to push but it had very long travel distance. So on the Bb, I backed out the screw and glued a thin piece of leather under the right F/C linkage so the travel distance decreased and the effort increased slightly.

Again, thanks for your advice. I actually may try to shape the cork pad on the register key the way you suggested to improve that note.



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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: bsnake1956 
Date:   2020-01-12 02:03

Caveat.
I am a Buffet player.
However, Buffets do not play out of the box. They require setting up by a tech.
I KNOW, I KNOW, Yamahas are SO sensational out of the box. I don't believe it because I have experienced it.
If you love the wood (see a previous post) and the basic resonance, don't be distressed if you have to spend some money getting the horn really setup. I personally like cork pads on the entire top joint, and valentino pads on the bottom.
Contrary to popular opinion and myth, Buffets have ALWAYS needed adjusments, when you bought them, going back to when I started University in 1975, and through my professional years. They have NEVER been perfect out of the box.
All the above advice is legitimate, and I understand that they are trying to help through very good experience , but if you have a good tech, for a few hundred dollars the horn will play beautifully, and you don't have to mess around with it yourself.

There are many discussions about mouthpieces, ligatures, reeds (and a great many other things, most of it not very useful) on this Bboard, but remember practice and performance are the only equalizers. That way you understand your setup, horns, reeds, breath, interpretations and technique.
Remember, all the rest that you read here is merely opinion, not gospel.

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: m1964 
Date:   2020-01-12 19:56

bsnake1956 wrote:

> Caveat.
> I am a Buffet player.
> However, Buffets do not play out of the box. They require
> setting up by a tech.
> I KNOW, I KNOW, Yamahas are SO sensational out of the box. I
> don't believe it because I have experienced it.
> If you love the wood (see a previous post) and the basic
> resonance, don't be distressed if you have to spend some money
> getting the horn really setup. I personally like cork pads on
> the entire top joint, and valentino pads on the bottom.
> Contrary to popular opinion and myth, Buffets have ALWAYS
> needed adjusments, when you bought them, going back to when I
> started University in 1975, and through my professional years.
> They have NEVER been perfect out of the box.
> All the above advice is legitimate, and I understand that they
> are trying to help through very good experience , but if you
> have a good tech, for a few hundred dollars the horn will play
> beautifully, and you don't have to mess around with it
> yourself.
>
> There are many discussions about mouthpieces, ligatures, reeds
> (and a great many other things, most of it not very useful) on
> this Bboard, but remember practice and performance are the only
> equalizers. That way you understand your setup, horns, reeds,
> breath, interpretations and technique.
> Remember, all the rest that you read here is merely opinion,
> not gospel.

Hi bsnake1956,
thank you - I have no problems with doing some adjustments on a new clarinet- Buffet or anything else.
My Buffet was supposedly looked over by the tech in the store prior to it being shipped to me.
When I got it , I did not see any significant problems. The slightly binding tenon was addressed by an expert player/ tech, as well as a couple of pads.
I do like the clarinet and will keep it.
As we saw from the discussion about cheap Chinese- made clarinets, it's who is behind the clarinet what counts, not Buffet/Selmer/Yamaha, etc.
Although, it is definitely a pleasure to even hold my new R13P.
Regarding the pads: I am an amateur player, the instruments I have is absolute overkill because where I play I could use a pair of E11s.
So the original pads will do fine for now, and in a few years, if they need to be changed, I will consider your options.
Unfortunately, this is a common misconception that when we spend more money on a piece of equipment, be it a clarinet or a car, we expect better reliability and quality.
So Buffet vs. Yamaha discussion reminds me Toyota vs. Audi/BMW/MB discussion: cheaper Toyotas are much more reliable than german luxury cars.
Are the toyotas more enjoyable?
Yes and no- germans are much more pleasurable to drive...until they break and then Toyota is suddenly more enjoyable.
I toyed with the idea of going to a store and trying a Yamaha but I probably would not buy anything so why waste salesman's timeā€¦

Again, thanks for your advice.



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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2020-01-13 19:06

It's an easy fix. If you can't find anyone contact me and I can recommend some good places. I'm sure Steven can fix this. He's a member on this site.

A few things to check out is your mouthpiece bore, a cork pad and maybe undercutting on;y if needed. Also a barrel change.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: southron 
Date:   2020-01-13 20:40
Attachment:  lower-joint_top-covered-key.jpg (71k)

stuffy C#/G# - it does not sound "clean"... Also, the chalumeau D is not as bright as the notes around it- it sounds slightly softer than E and C...

By "chalumeau D" do you mean the D which lives just beneath the Treble Clef?

Traditionally the problem in clarinets is with the D an octave above there [in the clarinet's upper register, within the Treble Clef itself].

But if you really do mean the D just beneath the Treble Clef, then you're having problems with two consecutive notes, C# followed by D, and you simply cannot write that off as a coincidence.

It could be a gazillion different things [to include a design flaw in that series of Buffets], but one obvious place to start looking would be the covered key at the very top of the lower joint.

See the attached picture.

That covered key [and its pad] could be sitting a few tenths of a millimeter too low, and might not be leaving a large enough opening for good airflow when notes are played at the bottom of the upper joint.

PS: Anything on the upper joint involving further undercutting of the C hole or the C# hole, or on the lower joint hole beneath that top covered key, is going to be VERY PERILOUS, because you're so close to the end of wood, and further undercutting is just begging for a crack to develop.

I wouldn't authorize undercutting that close to the end of the wood unless it were someone who knew precisely what the heck he was doing.

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2020-01-14 00:25

D/A (which issues from the LH3 tonehole) is effectively a forked/not fully vented note as the C#/G# tonehole immediately below it is closed.

Reform Boehms and some others have a D/A vent in the form of a small pad cup soldered to the LH3 ring key or a vent or side key linked to the LH3 ring or fingerplate on some larger clarinets (eg. Buffet Prestige and some other basset horns**** see below).

The note C/G issues from the lower joint ring key vent (as shown in the above reply) and the RH ring key pad should open by around 3mm to clear both the lower register C and also the E which will suffer from stuffiness if the RH ring keys aren't opening enough. This is also exacerbated by using a reed that's too strong and most noticeable in the lower register.

Fully vented notes on regular Boehm system clarinets are (from lowest to highest):

E/B
F/C
F#/C#
Ab/Eb
Bb/F
B-F# when played with the xxx|xo/o fingering*
C/G
C#/G# (although compromised by the tonehole size/location)
D/A
Eb/Bb with the keyed fingerings (long Bb fingering does add some resistance)
E/B
F/C
F# with the side key fingering
G (open G)
Throat G#, A and Bb (although throat Bb is better quality using the trill key)

Therefore the 'forked' or not fully vented notes which have one or more toneholes closed below the one the note issues directly from are (lowest to highest):

G/D (F#/C# tonehole is closed below it)**
A/E (Ab/Eb tonehole is closed below it)***
B/F# with the xxx|oxo fingering (RH2 tonehole is closed below it)*
D/A (C#/G# tonehole is closed below it)****
F# with regular LH1 only fingering*****

* The Acton vent fitted to some B&H 1010 clarinets and reform Boehms effectively fully vents B/F# with the xxx|oxo fingering and also allows altissimo D#/Eb to be well tuned with the oxx|oxo Ab/Eb fingering.

** Some clarinets have the F/C key fitted with two pad cups which effectively vents the G/D.

*** Some basset horns and others have a vent key linked to RH3 to fully vent the A/E.

***** Some basset horns have a twin tonehole for the left thumb to fully vent F# when played with LH1 only

Chris.

Post Edited (2020-01-14 00:26)

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2020-01-14 02:44

Thanks Chris for your in-depth explanation.

As has been said, the C#/G# tone hole is placed too high. To compensate the tone hole size is reduced and the sound is stuffy. Some older clarinets actually have it going though the tenon and the socket. Clarinets without a middle tenon have the option of placing the tone hole lower.

To see if anything can be done, you can remove the key entirely. If this helps, you can increase the amount the pad vents and/or replace the pad with one (cork or synthetic) that can be beveled on the outer edge.

The issue with the chalumeau D is not one that my customers have had a problem with. Usually the problem is a stuffy C which is easily corrected.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: r small 
Date:   2020-01-15 03:57

The chalumeau C# has been a little stuffy on every 17/6 clarinet that I've ever played. I believe the reason for this is the position of the tone hole requires it to made a little smaller than adjacent notes to keep it in tune. If it was made large enough to vent properly the note would be sharp. Clarinets with articulated G#/C# have the tone hole placed in the socket and tenon. Then it can be made large enough for proper venting without affecting the pitch.



Post Edited (2020-01-15 03:59)

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: m1964 
Date:   2020-01-16 15:29

Thanks a lot to everyone who replied to my post.
Special thanks to Clarnibass: your suggestion to try C# without the key resulted in a completely clear sound, without any stuffiness.
Accidentally, I also noted the strong "focused" stream of air coming out from the tone hole so the theory that the stepped pad is obstructing the air flow seems to be correct.
So it's time to order a cork pad.
However, if I was to change the C#/G# to a cork pad, are there any other pads that would benefit from changing to cork?
Also, is there any difference in fitting cork pads compared to bladder/leather pads?

What thickness should cork pads be, esp. if installing them on the side keys?

In my experience, the side keys pads were more difficult to fit than the rest, trying to achieve even tone hole coverage and a good seal.

Is there any difference between cork pads from Musicmedic, Ferrees or JL Smith?

Thank you



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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2020-01-16 19:49

All pads of any kind should be of a thickness where there's equal amount of pad sidewall showing around the pad cup when installed. If they look like horse hooves in they sit uneven, then they're the wrong thickness.

The advantage of cork pads over many other types is you can make cork pads any thickness you require and chances are in some places (eg. side Eb/Bb and F# keys) you may not be able to get the pads to sit evenly in the pad cups as they don't always sit level with their respective toneholes, so you'll have to compromise there.

All cork pads sold by any supplier for instruments should be of the highest quality cork with no visible grain running across the face or any holes or hard lumps embedded where they seal against the toneholes. Typically cork pads have the grain running parallel with the face, layered like pages in a book. Waterkey corks are poorer quality and often have visible grain and other imperfections on the surface of them.

Even so, do expect there to be some pads that don't pass muster as cork pads are more wasteful than other types due to the nature of cork and buy more cork pads than you need to cover your arse. Also large diameter cork pads are expensive due to finding such a relatively large piece of cork with as few defects as possible. Smaller pads can be cut from rejected large diameter ones, so they don't all go to waste.

Chris.

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2020-01-16 20:03

>> ...so the theory that the stepped pad is obstructing the air flow seems to be correct. <<

It was more that the pad is obstructing it rather than the stepped pad...
What I mean is making the key open more might solve it. This can be done by either bending the touchpiece up (usually more adjustment possible), or thinning the bumper material (amount possible depends on its thickness).
Buffet usually use their gummy synthetic cork which is next to impossible to sand and it's better to just replace it anyway.

A non stepped pad might allow more venting for the same key height. First check that the seat marked on the pad is in a location that would allow a non-stepped pad i.e. inside the pad cup. Unlikely but still possible they botched the soldering alignment to the front or back which is usually unrealistic to repair for a DIY.

You can also use other non-stepped pads, it doesn't have to be cork.

>> What thickness should cork pads be, esp. if installing them on the side keys? <<

The usual pad for this key on this model is 9.0mm diameter and about 2.9mm thick (2.8mm to 3.0mm should be ok). You can always sand it thinner if you need.

>> However, if I was to change the C#/G# to a cork pad, are there any other pads that would benefit from changing to cork? <<

Only if you prefer them for whatever reason (feel for open keys, type of noise for any key, anything else if you believe in it...). I don't particularly like cork pads but don't anything against them. I almost always use them for the register key and when someone asks for them.

>> Also, is there any difference in fitting cork pads compared to bladder/leather pads? <<

Before installing, sand the sharp edge around it on the back side (the side you decide to put into the pad cup).
Be careful not to burn them, but IME they are not really more sensitive to heat than other pads.

Check that the tone hole is good with no tiny (or not tiny) chips missing. Use a magnifier. Cork pads are the worst at compensating for wavy tone holes i.e. when they are not level in a sort of waves or a gradual way. Contrary to what is sometimes posted, they are not necessarily worse with tiny chips, depending on their size (even a "perfect" tone holes isn't really perfect to a microscopic degree). I've done real tests and found that (good quality, relatively firm) bladder pads are the worst when it comes to small chips (tested against a mock tone hole made especially for this test).

Most leather pads and some bladder and other pads are easier to install and not sure what you used before.
If you say how you install other pads maybe it will help to have other suggestions.

>> Is there any difference between cork pads from Musicmedic, Ferrees or JL Smith? <<

Yes, very significant. Is your email the one in your profile? If you want I'll email you about it.

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2020-01-16 21:35

Cork pads from JL Smith and Ferrees are from the same supplier and are excellent. Music Medic may have a different supplier. Listen to the side F, F# ring (first finger left hand and B/F# (right hand). They tend to be stuffy. Simply increasing the pad height may be enough to remedy the situation.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: m1964 
Date:   2020-01-16 21:48

Chris P. and Clarnibass,
Hello and thanks a lot for your help.

"First check that the seat marked on the pad is in a location that would allow a non-stepped pad i.e. inside the pad cup. Unlikely but still possible they botched the soldering alignment to the front or back which is usually unrealistic to repair for a DIY".

To Clarnibass:
The pad cup on my R13 looks relatively even in relation to the tone hole.
However, I did see the exact problem you described recently, when I re-padded bandmate's Selmer. The C#/G# cup was off the center of the tone hole and the pad coverage on one side was about 1mm or even less.

Re: bending the touchpiece.
The opening height appears to be right and opening it more would lead to the greater key travel. You are right that the material Buffet uses under the touchpiece is not sandable (and is very thin on that key). I will try putting even thinner cork or felt instead.

However, I believe that the stepped pad not only obstructs the air flow but it may cause some of that air to be reflected back into the clarinet.

I checked Ferrees and JLSmith and did not see non-stepped pads except for Greenback which I do not like because, in my experience, they "dull" the sound.
I should be able to fit a cork pad there, which I would prefer to key bending, if a thinner bumper does not help.

I used to use white shellac but now use pellets of glue instead as pad adhesive.
I remove the old pad and clean any dirt inside the cup.
I use a pistol-style soldering gun to heat the cup. Usually 20-30 seconds is enough to melt the pellets in the small pad cups.
Using 1-2 pellets, I melt them inside the cup, with the cup upside down, trying to get the glue at level. Then I refit the key and place the pad in. I then level the pad trying to achieve good seal- usually I use "suction method" to check the seal.
Then I heat the glue allowing the spring to bring the key down first and then I press the key cup down.
I do not press Eb/Bb side key because it may move it too much down.
Since the pad in question is relatively flat on the body I would not expect major problems if there is no damage to the tone hole.

So, my plan is to remove the key, fit a thinner bumper and also check the tone hole.
If the thinner bumper helps, I'm done.
If the thinner bumper does not help and the tone hole looks good, then I get a few 9mm cork pads and refit both Bb and A clarinets.
In any case, I'd like to know a good source for cork pads.
Thank you.



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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2020-01-16 23:48

Pisoni are one of the main suppliers of pads to the industry, but I'm sure there may be some Portuguese companies you can buy cork products directly from.

https://www.musiccenter.it/en/pad/pads-and-accessory-for-wind-instruments/cork-for-wind-instruments/cork-pads-for-wind-instruments_sucu_328_0_2,5_1

Chris.

Post Edited (2020-01-16 23:49)

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2020-01-17 14:06

>> The opening height appears to be right and opening it more would lead to the greater key travel. <<

Having it open more in any way would increase travel regardless of method used, as long as lever is the same (which it will be). Only if the new cork pad solves the problem at the same key opening the travel will stay the same. Just because this is how it came it doesn't mean the amount of opening or travel is the best either for tone or for feel.

>> Then I heat the glue allowing the spring to bring the key down first and then I press the key cup down. <<

With stepped pads, unless the pad is aligned exactly with the full support of the key cup rim, and always with non-stepped pads, since the key is coming down at an angle, there is different pressure at the front and back. This causes more force at the front (usually), so seal harder at the back.

>> In any case, I'd like to know a good source for cork pads. <<

Emailed you about the suppliers you asked about.

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: m1964 
Date:   2020-01-17 18:37

Clarnibass,
Thanks for your help- I did what you suggested and it worked very well.
I lifted the touchpiece (by bending because the original bumper is thin) and the C# has improved a lot.
If the clarinet came like that from the factory I probably would not even have noted the stuffiness. While the C# is not as clear as it was without the key, it sound fine now.
Also, I realized that even the key travel has increased, the other left pinky keys have a lot of travel as well, so the travel of C# key still is less than the 3 other keys.
While I was at it, I also shaved the bumper under the lower tenon's 3-ring key which improved the C slightly.
The chalumeau D seems to have improved as well, maybe because I am adjusting my breath..?
Also, I shaved the edge of the cork pad on the register key to make it slightly round which, I think, improved throat Bb.
If, in the future, this clarinet will need overhaul, I will change some of the upper tenon pads to cork, probably C#, both Eb/Bb, and 2 throat keys.

Again, thanks for your help,

m1964



Post Edited (2020-01-17 21:29)

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 Re: Is there a solution for stuffy notes?
Author: m1964 
Date:   2020-04-01 07:38

Resurrecting an old topic: I changed the C#/G# pad to cork - first on the A , and, after seeing how well it worked, on the Bb clarinet as well.
The cork pad fixed the stuffy C# and now it sounds no different than C or D (tone-wise, of course).

Again, thanks to every one who replied to my original post.

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