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Bb on tenor is very flat

RienButter

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Hello all,

I have a question regarding tuning.
I recently started with playing long tones and I use a tuning app (TE Tuner) next to it.

so far everything is going fine but I can’t get middle b-flat and with octave key in tune without hard pressure from my embouchure.
The G-Ab-A-B-C are all good but ones I play they Bb it’s flat and qui a lot as well.
When I play it as overtone on the low Bb key it’s in tune but as soon as a try to match it with the middle Bb it’s pretty big difference.

could this be the sax? It’s only this note that plays this hard out of tune.

it frustrates a bit since the other needs little no adjustments at all to play in tune.

Thank you in advance
 

jbtsax

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Two questions. What Bb fingering are you using, and how many cents flat is the note compared to A?
 

RienButter

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I have used the bis key as well as the A with the side key. Both are flat.

I can’t answer your other question right away since I am not at my practice space now. But I don’t know if your familiar with the app. But my A is a perfect green smiley face in the middle and the Bb is all way down in the red zone below. The Ab and G are perfect again
 

rhysonsax

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If you call the lowest note on the instrument (below the staff) Bb1, the middle Bb (on the staff) Bb2 and the top Bb (above the staff) Bb3, then what do you mean by "middle b-flat with the octave key" ?

Let us know what the instrument and mouthpiece is and how much the Bb2 and/or Bb3 are flat (in cents).

And how long have you been playing ?

Rhys
 
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RienButter

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Sorry I meant Bb3 with middle Bb with octave key. I am not that familiar with music jargon yet ;)

I play a Selmer SA80-II tenor sax with a 6*Ted Klum Hollywood mp (metal) and rigotti 2,5 reeds.
I play for 2,5 years now.

later today I will post how many cents I play flat with that note. I have to work first.

thank you for taking time to reply!
 

MarkSax

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For the majority of us amateurs there are only 3 Bb. The lowest one with the pinkie, the middle one on the staff and the Octave one we call the high Bb. My saxophone ends at high F.
 

RienButter

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For the majority of us amateurs there are only 3 Bb. The lowest one with the pinkie, the middle one on the staff and the Octave one we call the high Bb. My saxophone ends at high F.

Copy that!! I will start to use the terms as mentioned here to make it easier to understand and to be understood.

Thank you!
 

Guenne

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Hi!
It is easier to lower a note than to get it up to the exact pitch on the saxophone.
So you might need to first find your pitch center (where your octaves play in tune) - if your horn is ok....


I can get my notes down a minor third in this register, but I can lip or voice them up just a few cents.
So maybe you just need some headroom :)

Cheers, Guenne
 

RienButter

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Hi!
It is easier to lower a note than to get it up to the exact pitch on the saxophone.
So you might need to first find your pitch center (where your octaves play in tune) - if your horn is ok....


I can get my notes down a minor third in this register, but I can lip or voice them up just a few cents.
So maybe you just need some headroom :)

Cheers, Guenne

thank you!! I have printed the document. Will work with that
 

RienButter

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My Bb2 and Bb3 are between -30 and -35 cents on the bis fingering and A with side key.
My first overtone on Bb1 is between -2 and -7.
 

jbtsax

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My Bb2 and Bb3 are between -30 and -35 cents on the bis fingering and A with side key.
My first overtone on Bb1 is between -2 and -7.
Interesting. Where is the pitch in cents of the adjacent notes A2, A3, B2, B3? What note do you tune to?
 

RienButter

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Interesting. Where is the pitch in cents of the adjacent notes A2, A3, B2, B3? What note do you tune to?

from out of my head around the range of -2 and -7 as well.
I recently started with a long tone exercise from Taming the Saxophone which starts at E2 so I start from there and tune on that note.
 

Colin the Bear

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You're not accidentally closing something you shouldn't or have something stuck closed that should be open
 

rhysonsax

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Another fingering for Bb2 and Bb3 is the "long Bb" which uses the first finger of the left hand and first (or second) finger of the right hand. I believe that clarinet doublers like to use that one.

How does that tune for you ?

Rhys
 

jbtsax

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from out of my head around the range of -2 and -7 as well.
I recently started with a long tone exercise from Taming the Saxophone which starts at E2 so I start from there and tune on that note.

You have asked one of the most interesting questions about intonation I have read in a long time. I'll admit that I am stumped to come up with a definitive answer or solution, but these are a few thoughts.
  • Tenor saxophones in symphonic bands typically tune to A concert which is a B2 on the instrument.
  • E2 on some makes and models can be sharp as can D2.
  • Pulling the mouthpiece out affects the "short tube" notes (upper register & palms) more than "long tube" notes.
  • If you are tuning to a sharp E2, it can cause the "short tube" notes play flat.
  • Bis Bb vents through the A tonehole while side Bb vents through the side Bb tonehole.
  • Increasing the height of a key up to 1/3 the diameter of the tonehole can increase the venting and raise the pitch.
  • To see how increasing the venting of each fingering affects the pitch, open the G# key at the same time.
  • Playing too high on the mouthpiece input pitch can also affect the tuning. Check if the mouthpiece alone is no higher than G concert and the mouthpiece + neck plays an E concert.
Note: If B2 with the regular fingering is in tune and matches the 1st overtone of low B, the mouthpiece is probably in the right position.
 

RienButter

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lots of great tips!! Thanks all.
I will be in my practice room later today and I will answer all your questions then.

@Colin the Bear

funny you mention that. My Ab key didn’t work properly a couple of weeks ago so I brought it to the shop.
Turned out that that was a small issue that prevented the vent to open-close correctly, there was a small part that got in between the vent-hole.
I might be wrong in the explanation here since I got told by the repair man and my knowledge is not so great so I can easily misinterpreted what he said.

You have asked one of the most interesting questions about intonation I have read in a long time. I'll admit that I am stumped to come up with a definitive answer or solution, but these are a few thoughts.
  • Tenor saxophones in symphonic bands typically tune to A concert which is a B2 on the instrument.
  • E2 on some makes and models can be sharp as can D2.
  • Pulling the mouthpiece out affects the "short tube" notes (upper register & palms) more than "long tube" notes.
  • If you are tuning to a sharp E2, it can cause the "short tube" notes play flat.
  • Bis Bb vents through the A tonehole while side Bb vents through the side Bb tonehole.
  • Increasing the height of a key up to 1/3 the diameter of the tonehole can increase the venting and raise the pitch.
  • To see how increasing the venting of each fingering affects the pitch, open the G# key at the same time.
  • Playing too high on the mouthpiece input pitch can also affect the tuning. Check if the mouthpiece alone is no higher than G concert and the mouthpiece + neck plays an E concert.
Note: If B2 with the regular fingering is in tune and matches the 1st overtone of low B, the mouthpiece is probably in the right position.

what a great reply! Thanks for this. Happy to read I got your interest peaked hahaha. Sad a bit as well since your a pro and it got you wondering as well.
But your tips are going to hopefully help me to adres the issue.

if not. I think a visit to the repair man might give me more answers. It’s a bummer that nobody around here I know plays saxophone so I can’t ask for a better player then me to check it out.
 

ellinas

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Have you checked the bore for foreign bodies? You'd be surprised what finds its way in there. Lost anything? Mouthpiece, cap, sling, hamster...

It has happened to me .... I borrowed a YTS-62 from a a friend for a gig because mine was at my tech. At the sound check I get on the scene ...I open the case ... put my mouthpiece on and with great confidence try to blow some notes... and all the low notes were garbling .... A million thoughts come to my mind ... Does the saxophone have a problem ? Is it me? The reed? ... What can go wrong .... And the sound guy comes puts his hand in the bell .... and "fishes" a pouch full of small accessories ..... oh man .... what a relief and ... shame at the same time HAHAHAH ..... :)
 

Pete Thomas

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I agree with jbt that tuning to E is not ideal it is often a sharp note. As mentioned concert A is conventional but I prefer transposed G (F on tenor)

It is unrealistic to expect evey not to be bang on with a tuner - I am happy for +/- 10 cents (sometimes more)

I also tend to tune slightly sharp to the tuner (that is if I am going to actually tune up) So two things to try are:

  • Tune slightly sharp to a more stable note. This way that Bb will be a lot less flat. More notes will be a bit sharp but it is possible to relax your embouchure on those (based on what you are hearing) or else just live with them being a bit sharp (it's better to be sharp than out of tune)
  • Tune the Bb to the harmonic of the bottom Bb. As above this will probably mean you are sharper than before (probably more so) but your Bb may well be more in tune, and again relax your emouchure to deal with the sharper notes.

It is usually easy to relax and make a note flatter (aka lipping down) but difficult to lip a flat note up. Impossible in some circumstances.
 

RienButter

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Netherlands
Okay I have some answers.

When played with the mp on the neck alone I get a E concert (a bit sharp but in the green zone).
when assembled on sax I didn’t have have to do much to get B2 in tune.
The Bb2 however was still way too flat but I did won a bit since it now plays -15/-20.
The Bb3 was much easier to get in tune.

what I did next was pushing (gently) the mp further on the corke. Now my Bb2 is almost in tune, just a tiny bit of upwards pressure necessary. Now I have to lip down the other notes more. I don’t think I can put the mp any further tho.

do you recommend to keep playing like this until I take her to repair shop coming Saturday? Or do you think a visit isn’t necessary and keep on going. I couldn’t see anything wrong with the keys and vents but my knowledge isn’t worth that much
 

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