A hint of a squeak!

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
When I get heated up on my (The Martin) tenor...I mean really belting it out, I’ve recently been getting a hint of a squeak preceding the intended note. This has been happening on tongued notes in the top end of the upper register. When I really want to punch a tongued note out, it can start with just a hint of a squeak, before the intended note comes. I don’t have this problem on my lovely new Yamaha alto or clarinet.

At first, I put it down to a dodgy reed. Putting a new reed on does cure it for about a week, then the nasty squeak starts creeping back in. I use plasticover or jazz select 2.5’s.

I’ve got two good mouthpieces: an RPC 115B and a PPT 9 star. I get the squeak less on the PPT, but it’s still there.

I changed three old looking pads on the left hand palm keys...no improvement. I’ve looked for other defective pads, but they all look OK.

I tried playing with less mouthpiece in my mouth...no difference.

My question is this: Is there some defect in my equipment set up that could cause this, or have I inadvertently developed a bad embouchure, perhaps belting out the notes too hard and with too little care when things get exciting? Generally, my tone is good.

Looking forward to your replies,
Martin
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,563
Location
UK
It's a tricky one to call.
Ordinarilly I'd have suggested a leak - probably due to misregulation - but as it's happening on the palm keys there's not a lot, mechnically, that can go wrong.

I would at least check that the octave key tubes are free from gunk ( use a pipe cleaner ), and that the crook is clean.

The RPC is quite a powerful piece, as is the PPT - though the PPT is a bit more refined, I feel. Both are top quality pieces and shouldn't throw up any issues - which only leaves you as the culprit!
You mention that the problem seems to clear up when you put a new reed on, but comes back soon after. It sounds to me like you're overblowing the reed, and that perhaps you might find that moving up half a strength will help.
It'll be tough going at first, but a stronger reed will be less likely to cave in under pressure.
Got to be worth a try, at least.

Regards,
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
Could be slow fingers, check the plases Stephen suggested for leaks. But these are both high baffle pieces with relatively short facings, that are more curved as they approach the tip. Both of these features can be tricky not to squeak with, even when there is nothing "wrong" with them. Try reeds with a thicker tip. Try taking a little more mouthpiece and using a little more lower lip.
 
OP
Martin

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
It's a tricky one to call.
Ordinarilly I'd have suggested a leak - probably due to misregulation - but as it's happening on the palm keys there's not a lot, mechnically, that can go wrong.

I would at least check that the octave key tubes are free from gunk ( use a pipe cleaner ), and that the crook is clean.

The RPC is quite a powerful piece, as is the PPT - though the PPT is a bit more refined, I feel. Both are top quality pieces and shouldn't throw up any issues - which only leaves you as the culprit!
You mention that the problem seems to clear up when you put a new reed on, but comes back soon after. It sounds to me like you're overblowing the reed, and that perhaps you might find that moving up half a strength will help.
It'll be tough going at first, but a stronger reed will be less likely to cave in under pressure.
Got to be worth a try, at least.

Regards,
Thanks for the reply Stephen. I'll check the crook and the octave key tubes when I finish work today.

You might have misunderstood my comment on the palm keys. I changed the palm key pads not because those notes give trouble, but because I thought a leak in that area could be related to the squeak on other notes in the upper register.

If I can't find something to blame on the sax, then I agree, I might be in need of a stronger reed...oh dear me...my jaw is going to ache...

Cheers,
Martin
 
OP
Martin

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
Could be slow fingers, check the plases Stephen suggested for leaks. But these are both high baffle pieces with relatively short facings, that are more curved as they approach the tip. Both of these features can be tricky not to squeak with, even when there is nothing "wrong" with them. Try reeds with a thicker tip. Try taking a little more mouthpiece and using a little more lower lip.
Thanks for the reply Morgan.

Yes, I think it could be worth experimenting with different reeds. When you suggest a reed with a thicker tip, can you suggest a brand? I've always used rico...originally rico royal and more recently plasticovers and jazz select. What reeds have a thicker tip?

Cheers,
Martin
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
Try Alexander NY, LaVoz, try Vandoren classical reeds. Try some synthetic reeds like the Hahns too. The Fibracells are really hard to squeak with but I don't care for the sound of them. Also make sure your reeds are balanced from side to side. Push the tip toward you with your index finger on the flat side and feel whether one side is stiffer than the other. Then scrape the stiff side down a bit until it's balanced. This might help.

The other thing is that high baffles can be hard to not squeak with. Try taking a bit more mouthpiece and covering up a little more reed with your lower lip. The thing that makes a squeak from a too-curved facing relative to the reed cut is too much vertical pressure. So make sure you're not biting too much. The fact that this happens when you're playing at full volume tells me that this might be the root of the problem. Also look at your tonguing technique. When I test pieces one of the things I do to test for squeaks is play really loud and tongue way too heavy.
 
OP
Martin

Martin

Member
Messages
212
Location
Grenada, West Indies
Try Alexander NY, LaVoz, try Vandoren classical reeds. Try some synthetic reeds like the Hahns too. The Fibracells are really hard to squeak with but I don't care for the sound of them. Also make sure your reeds are balanced from side to side. Push the tip toward you with your index finger on the flat side and feel whether one side is stiffer than the other. Then scrape the stiff side down a bit until it's balanced. This might help.

The other thing is that high baffles can be hard to not squeak with. Try taking a bit more mouthpiece and covering up a little more reed with your lower lip. The thing that makes a squeak from a too-curved facing relative to the reed cut is too much vertical pressure. So make sure you're not biting too much. The fact that this happens when you're playing at full volume tells me that this might be the root of the problem. Also look at your tonguing technique. When I test pieces one of the things I do to test for squeaks is play really loud and tongue way too heavy.
Thanks Morgan, I'll try the reeds you suggested, but I suspect I just need to concentrate on better technique. I followed Stephens suggestion of cleaning the register hole and crook, but it was clean, so I can't lay the blame there.

I've just received an RPC mouthpiece for my alto, so it'll be interesting to see whether the high baffle gives me a squeak on the alto. I've been using an old Berg Larson up until now...no squeak.

Cheers,
Martin
 
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