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Beginner bad 2nd register G

ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
Guys,

Very early days in my lesson book but I need a little help please.

My instruction book (James Rae - introducing the sax) has just brought me the octave key.

Question 1:
Now that i am beginning to get the hang of rocking the thumb onto the octave key - I can hit all the simple notes in the second register but high G sounds absolutely horrible! its a sort of growly-warbly sound. G in the first register is fine and none of the other notes in the 2nd register do this. Why might this be please? I know I am not changing my embouchure for this one note...

Also second question:
I notice that the overall sound in the 2nd register is different, its... weaker / less full sounding? Is this normal? Granted my sax is brand new so the pads are not bedded in yet but this may be irrelevant - do I have to use more air or something?

Many thanks to any that reply
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,946
I'll let more experienced people comment on the main issue. With regard to sound - that is something which will develop as your embouchure strengthens and your technique develops.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,079
The thinness up top might be the way you are hearing the notes. The tenor is so rich and lugubrious down the bottom it's bound to sound different up top. The altissimo range almost whistles to my ears.

G to A with the octave key is where the mechanism switches from side octave to neck octave. Have a look to make sure it's switching and work all the side and palm keys to make sure they've relaxed and seated and not dried out of whack.

If all is well the recommended way to improve tone is by blowing long notes. Try opening your throat and try your tongue in different positions. More forward for high notes. Resist the temptation to squeeze with your embouchure or bite.

The rest is down to practice.

You'll see mention of developing your chops mentioned quite a bit on here so for where you are now it's a case of practice and let it come to you.

It will come, just practice and let it.
 

ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
Ooh tried a stronger lip (but not biting) and that was better as was moving my lip slightly towards the tip of the reed. What an interesting instrument this is. ;}

Getting there.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,079
Trying to make music by rattling a piece of overgrown panda food through a curved blunderbuss covered in little windows with shutters has it's challenges.

I'm not sure if it's a recognised or orthodox technique but I move in and out on the mouthpiece. Don't get too near the tip though, the reed needs room to do its dance.
 

TimboSax

Deputy junior apprentice 2nd class
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Messages
812
Hi Chris. Sounds like we're making similar discoveries :). I noticed exactly the same things, and when I asked about the g warbling my teacher said it was due to the octave keys switching (as Colin says above), and not to worry about it at this stage. Likewise with the octave notes sounding thinner, I know exactly what you mean, it can sound like two different instruments sometimes in terms of tone. I have occasionally got the higher octave sounding more similar to the lower, so also believe that with practice we'll crack it!
 

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
Messages
759
I know what you guys mean about the thinness of the upper register. I have found it sounds better if I make sure my embouchure is not too tight and as rounded as possible. Also I think I have been adjusting tongue position as well.... Not really sure about that though. Warm air is important too... Difficult in this weather though :)
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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8,009
Lacking good embouchure control, most reed instruments sound better in the low register than they do in the upper octave. I believe that this is why less experienced players tend to back off with the airstream as they go higher in an effort to sound better. The problem with this is that blowing with a weak airstream delays the development of the embouchure muscles which is the key to sounding good up high.

A concept I use with my students is to blow faster air as they go higher keeping the teeth apart and the throat open. The logic is that high G's vibration is twice as fast as low G and therefore the reed requires faster air. I tell them to make the saxophone "sing" in the high register by moving the air and pushing in with the corners of the mouth. You can't develop a good tone in the upper register by playing p or mp. You have to play f or ff while using the corners (think OO) to control the sound. It is much easier to refine and beautify a big open sound in the high register, that it is to take a pinched and lifeless tone an make it beautiful.

Listen to John Coltrane's first note (high C) on Say It Over and Over Again from his Ballads album to hear what it means to "sing" the high register on tenor sax.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,667
Are you working on long tones at all. 15 seconds or so per note. In doing this a. Your embouchure will strengthen and b. you can experiment with throat tongue mouth positions that get the best tone.

practice long tones with just the mpce and perhaps the neck attached. If you play around with different positions/combinations of the components of your embouchure over time you will find a sweet spot that brings the reed to life.

i use very very little embouchure pressure now...when i learned way back it was with a much firmer reed pressure. Two years ago I made the conscious decision to change to a very loose embouchure. Only over the past several months have I gotten the fullness of tone that I wanted in the upper registers and it still takes conscious effort on palm F and F# to be in tune and have the tone i want. I practise a few hours a day plus performances rehearsals etc.

be patient with yourself, start your long tones early and try and enjoy the voyage rather than becoming frustrated at not being at the destination. Pays off in the long run.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Messages
21,947
Some excellent helpful replies above. :thumb:

Just to add that this G is one of the hardest on tenor, and needs more air support than the surrounding notes. If you try going F to G and A to G, then FGA, you'll very soon get the feel for it.
 

ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
Many thanks to you all. It all helps and my wife has commented that the sound I am making is noticeably better than it was. I *AM* enjoying the journey and have just realised that I have now been playing for a whole 2 weeks!

Learning to read music is also coming along and I have DCBAG under my belt along with the foundations of musical theory. Interestingly on that note (sic) I soon picked out "oh when the saints" by ear starting from low C but kept missing a couple of notes however when I reached that tune in my James Rae instruction book (lesson 6) and reading the music, I nailed the tune first time even though it started from G and used the octave key to get to D. Nice. Learning... :)

As suggested by several of you, my virtual teachers, I will do more of the long notes at the start of my practice. If I can only get a short practice (10-15 mins) - i will do only the long notes as it would appear that will gain me the most benefit.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
One thing I just remembered from when I started - the G problems were much worse if the sax wasn't tuned properly, so use a tuner. It improved a lot in tune and even more with a better mouthpiece.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,553
Don't forget that when you're playing the upper octave, you are only using a few inches of tubing to get the sound, whereas when you're in the lower register, you are using much more tubing, so the notes will sound a little thin and weedy in the upper octave.
Also (and it may have been mentioned before, but I haven't scrutinised the whole thread) are you using your diaphragm to play all notes? It helps to keep the air column constant, and I know that I didn't truly develop this until I started playing Bari, where you have no choice.
Playing bari has improved my alto and tenor playing no end :D
 

Corona4007

Member
Messages
69
Hi Chris,

I was having a similar problem and my teacher diagnosed it as choking on the reed and trying to force the note out. Also I did not have sufficient air so the end result was somewhat of a sound likened to a squeaking duck noise................With sufficient practice on the basics I have seemed to overcome the problem. Good Luck
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
chris
Ditto what colin said
G to A with the octave key is where the mechanism switches from side octave to neck octave. Have a look to make sure it's switching and work all the side and palm keys to make sure they've relaxed and seated and not dried out of whack.

If all is well the recommended way to improve tone is by blowing long notes. Try opening your throat and try your tongue in different positions. More forward for high notes. Resist the temptation to squeeze with your embouchure or bite.

BUT
take comfort in knowing that one of the difficulties with the tenor can often be the high g
But here`s another tip
Try blowing and imagine your saying" DORE" while doing it as opposed to mouthing DEE or TEE.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.
Regards
Allansto
 
Messages
51
I have trouble with gs in general. They sound gross. Jumping the ovtive from a g to g, for me is not the best thing. I've tried long tones, but they don't work for me. So really, I have the same problem.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Messages
51
I've thought about the air flow before, but I was useing air all over the place, hoping it will come out. Centering your air is what I've been taught a lot. But I've never tried it. I'm having the same trouble with g and octive g. I think I'll try doing that.
 
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