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Alto sax problem around open c#

chadders

Senior Member
Messages
314
I have a trevor James "Horn" alto which I have been playing for the 3+ years - I have it serviced once a year and play most nights. I have been using 2 and half vandoren java reeds for about a year, and all was going swimmingly. A few weeks ago during the later part of a practise I suddenly noticed that it was really difficult to get high open c# an the high c and b below it. This is most noticeable when doing descending sequences - I have taken the sax in to my normal tech and she could not find anything wrong - I have had the sax back for a couple weeks but I am not happy with it - I cant get any reed to settle and play well - and I dont usually have this problem. The problem is as if the reed stops vibrating. It just seals shut and its only really by increasing air pressure that I am able to get the note to sound.

Any ideas anyone as this is now driving me crazy?

Cheers
Chad
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
Messages
657
The problem is as if the reed stops vibrating. It just seals shut and its only really by increasing air pressure that I am able to get the note to sound.
Hi Chad,
the trouble could be that you have outgrown your 2 1/2 reeds. If it seals shut, chances are that your reeds are to soft. Have you tried a 3 or perhaps even a 3 1/2 reed?

Rune
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
Have you checked that the octave pip on the neck is clear? I've used pipe cleaners to clear mine.

Jim.
 

Randy Hunter

Member
Messages
34
I agree with others that you might want to try a slightly harder reed. Another thing to think about when playing, especially in the extreme registers (high and low), is to blow fast air. A lot of folks try blowing harder, and as a result end up clamping with the lower jaw. If you concentrate on keeping the jaw set and moving the air faster, you might have better luck, especially if your reed strength is appropriate.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Randy is right about the jaw IMO, relax it. Apart from that, I'm saying nothing ;}

John.
 

chadders

Senior Member
Messages
314
Still not resolved. - The problem seems most prevalent when moving from a note around high D / E down to high C. The upper d / e will play ok-ish but the upper C will refuse to sound.

My tutor seems to think it is probably dead reeds. I have tried different reeds and moved up to a size 3 - And perhaps she is right because sometimes the notes play ok, but I'm not entirely convinced becase I have been playing for three years and this never used to happen - It only started in March. up to that point I was able to play high notes no problem.

Having said that I know reeds / people account for more then the fair share of sax note production problems so I shall just carry on and buy more, and more reeds :)
 

saxyman

Member
Messages
267
Is this problem confined to just this one instrument, have you tried another sax to see if it could possible be you not the TJ. Alternatively has your tutor tried playing your sax and experiencing the same problem. A process of of elimination.
Dont forget to share the outcome if and when you find what the issue is.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
Hi Chadders

Now I'm no expert on this having been blowing a similar length of time to you, but I do know what my tutor would be telling me to do and that is to practice these problem notes individually doing long notes on each of them and varying the volume as you play them, perhaps starting low and building up to as loud as you can and back to soft again on each of the problem notes on their own, then if this is ok then move from that note up or down to the next note and back, and do this on all the problem notes.the reason for this is that if playing the note on it's own is ok then there is no reason that you can't play those notes in a sequence with other notes, it is all about being relaxed with what your doing and confident in your ability,could be your just tightening up and losing it a little, there is of course the reed strength thing but the chances are that you've got yourself a bit wound up about the whole thing

JUST RELAX AND ENJOY

Hope this helps you all the best ...john

ps can you get someone else to play your sax with your set up if they don't have a problem you know where the problem lies
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Randy Hunter

Member
Messages
34
If you're finding that sometimes the note play's okay, then I think you are going to be alright in the long-run. Often these types of problems don't resolve immediately, even if you think and feel that you are doing the right things. What you'll likely find is that with continued practice (and reed experimenting) and lessons with your instructor the problem will start to fade away as your consistency with the note production improves. One day you'll likely think back and remember the problem. Persistence and practice cure most issues.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
 

GsySaxMan

Member
Messages
91
Randy,

I read this thread and was interested on your comment about blowing air faster rather than harder on the upper and lower registers.

I am only a six month alto guy so I would appreciate some clarification on what the difference is between harder and faster, if I blow harder from my diaphragm the air is moving faster automatically. Is it trying to focus the airstream into a narrower area before entry into the baffle of the MPC?

Thanks.
 

Randy Hunter

Member
Messages
34
I read this thread and was interested on your comment about blowing air faster rather than harder on the upper and lower registers.

I am only a six month alto guy so I would appreciate some clarification on what the difference is between harder and faster, if I blow harder from my diaphragm the air is moving faster automatically. Is it trying to focus the airstream into a narrower area before entry into the baffle of the MPC?
You are correct in that you blow faster air when blowing from the diaphragm. The reason I say blow fast rather than hard is that when you think about blowing hard, things tense up as if you're about to lift a heavy weight, or perhaps blow up a balloon. If you think about blowing fast, it seems much easier to relax the throat and just let the air flow from the gut. I learned this by working with a number of high school bands and hearing other clinicians and band directors use the "blow fast air" reference.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
Hi Chadders

Since my last post I've started doing it too,you don't think it's catching do you.Now I've been playing on 2.5's max and really struggled with any thing stronger,so I tried a rico select 3 that I got for free from the nice lady on the RICO stand at the RNCM sax day.I believe you went too didn't you, shame we didn't bump into one another.Any way back to the reed and it played really well and that's a first for me so maybe just maybe the sax is telling you to move up your ready for the next size up like a few others have been saying in their replies.My tutor has been telling me for ages to move up but I hadn't felt ready and it didn't seem to work when I tried a harder reed but this time it was OK,hope it's the same for you.

All the best and good luck....john
 

chadders

Senior Member
Messages
314
Well I have now moved back to a rico graphtonite mouthpiece and the problem seems to have resolved itself. I bought the rico a couple of years ago but could'nt get on with, so concentrated on the berg Larsen student that came with the sax. I always found the rico difficult to blow, very straight and difficult to scoop and bend with. My embouchure has toughened up since I last played the rico so I can play it ok. I prefer the berg but cant put up with the problems so will stick with the rico for the next few weeks and see how it goes. I have looked for signs on the berg but cannot see anything.

John, I didnt go to the sax day this last time but have been on previous years. Its a really good day isn't it - highly recommended

Cheers
Chad
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
John, I didnt go to the sax day this last time but have been on previous years. Its a really good day isn't it - highly recommended

Cheers
Chad[/QUOTE]

I think I must have missed it this year,can't remember when it was last year exactly,and although I get regular e mails from RNCM I must have missed it.

I went last year and really enjoyed it but have to say that a lot of the workshops were beyond my capabilities unfortunately,but it didn't stop me enjoying it all the same...john
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
I think I must have missed it this year,can't remember when it was last year exactly,and although I get regular e mails from RNCM I must have missed it.

I went last year and really enjoyed it but have to say that a lot of the workshops were beyond my capabilities unfortunately,but it didn't stop me enjoying it all the same...john
Hi John. The sax day was in November last year. RNCM don't seem to have any publicity up for this year's event yet.

I think you need to take the plunge and start playing with other people. If you're finding it hard to keep up (as I was some of the time last year) you can learn a lot by following the person next to you (assuming they have a better idea of what's going on). And if you get really stuck you can just stop playing, especially if you're in a large group like they have at the Sax Day, and no harm done.
 

trimmy

One day i will...
Messages
10,272
Hi John. The sax day was in November last year.
I attended the sax day last November (day before my birthday):) and thought it was a very good event, agreed some of the workshops where above my level and i did as Martin suggested and stopped playing but still enjoyed the experience.
Some of the staff playing was awesome by the cafe, one who stood out for me was a young man named Sam Healey he done a few (alto) solo's just brilliant, he also teaches sax (only time i wish i lived in manc land to take lessons with him) :))) sadly driving 70 miles return is a bit too much :(
Also thought that Johan van der Linden's recital was amazing, how quiete he could play the sax :shocked:
I'll be attending again this year when it is announced :)
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
Hi John. The sax day was in November last year. RNCM don't seem to have any publicity up for this year's event yet.

I think you need to take the plunge and start playing with other people. If you're finding it hard to keep up (as I was some of the time last year) you can learn a lot by following the person next to you (assuming they have a better idea of what's going on). And if you get really stuck you can just stop playing, especially if you're in a large group like they have at the Sax Day, and no harm done.
I have this dread of doing a Lisa Simpson where every one else is in the zone and I stand out totally wrong...john:w00t:
 
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