support Tutorials CDs PPT mouthpieces

Beginner Sax Beginning alto sax - Advice on mouthpieces and reeds

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
You will be replacing the mouthpiece you start with, once you get going. How long will depend on how quickly you build your chops. This in mind I would go for the Bari Esprit II. It's a good starter piece, easy blowing, consistent and very cheap. When you find who you are on the saxophone and what you want and need, you'll be in a better position to decide for yourself what best fits you.

You will sound awful for quite a while, especially if this is your first woodwind instrument. There is such a lot to learn and coordinate.

Try several different reeds. Pick something that plays easily.
It will be several years before you develop a warm tone. It will be decades before you play fluent jazz. No rush. Enjoy the journey.

A great player will sound great on whatever they play. Four hours a day for a decade or two is a good base to build on but still may not get you there. Play because you like playing.

The saxophone demands that you be a better all round musician than many other instruments.

Thanks Colin, I went with your advice and got the Bari and several different reeds, I hope I can find a good combination.

I play several instruments, none particularly well and most shamelessly bad, but I am patient and,while I might shed from time to time with one or the other, I try to keep them all going for the fun of it. So the "the play because I enjoy it" approach should work well for me, it's wise advice, thanks :)

"The saxophone demands that you be a better all round musician than many other instruments"

Would you mind elaborating a bit on that? I am curious.
In general, I found that most instruments, at least when meant to be played in a competent, solid way, end up requiring a good appreciation of lots of different musical angles.
This is mostly a guess by observing good players, as I am myself quite mediocre, but still I found that for instance, for some reason concentrating on an instrument ends up giving me an edge on the others too.
Sometimes the reason is obvious. When I got fed up with my awful sense of rhythm, I did the thing that scared me the most and got myself playing percussions with an afro-cuban ensemble. Done that, and having survived some very embarassing moments, I found out that I could play some basic brazilian things on guitar which before blew my head right off.
Other times is less obvious to me. I concentrate on something seemingly very different, and then I feel it benefits other instruments or styles too.

So, I was wondering, in which way you feel the sax requires a more complete musicianship than many others?
I was thinking that, if I can wrap my head around that, perhaps I can use it to structure my practise, so to progress a bit faster..

By the way, I enjoyed a lot your video, I played it out loud and my kid was jumping all over the living room (he has a thing for blues).
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
As the embouchure begins to develop, mouthpieces designed for beginners work best. Yamaha 4C, Fobes Debut, and Hite Premiere are all good choices. These mouthpieces are more forgiving and allow a good tone right from the start with a 2 1/2 reed. Once control is achieved throughout the range of the saxophone, then it will be the time to look for a more open mouthpiece with more volume and flexibility.

Thanks for explaining why that kind of mouthpieces are preferable for a beginners, now I have a clearer idea, I think.
Out of curiosity, I read in some places that many tend and go higher and higher with reeds strenght as they get better. But also, I read elsewhere that many excellent players actually use very soft reeds with very light lip pressure, and they are actually louder and more expressive that way than if they used hard reeds.

Is it simply that different people develop radically different tecniques, so both approaches are equivalent?
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
Seeing as you're playing alto I'd swerve the runyon 22 from sax.co.uk as it's for tenor :D

Yamaha 5c are decent mouthpieces, nicer tone than the 4c. Reed wise a vandoren zz 2 has a good vibe to it. They are slightly softer than a rico 2 (equivalent would be 1.75).

Well spotted, thansk for pointing that out :D
It even says it clearly in the link I posted, "tenor".. That goes to show how confused I am. I think I found the runyon mentioned in a comparison with the bari for tenor, which also mentioned that the bari for alto was good, and I made a giant mixed salad of the whole thing...
For the moment I am going for the Bari, as many liked it, but at some point I will visit a shop and try some.
Are the ZZ very different from other vandoren? I saw them on sale on reedsdirect, but I think they only had number 3..
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
Straps: altos aren't too heavy, so I find a basic sling works OK for me. However for tenor, I need something with better ergonomics and use either a Cebulla or Jazzlab saxholder, which distribute the weight better

Thanks, I just found out that the sax I boght does actually come with a standard sling, so I'll give that a go first. As you say, the alto is not that massive, and the jazzlab thingy surely looks like it can hold a sax or two, but is also quite expensive unless you know you will need it.
Is back or neck pain a common thing with tenor players?
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
As a beginner I'm comfortable with a Yamaha 4c and vandoren blue #2, as for a sling I use the one supplied with the sax, as the alto isn't too heavy it's reasonably comfortable and you quickly get used to the weight, enjoy your new sax

Thanks so much! I found out the sax comes with one sling, so I'll give it a go.
 

garrobito

Member
Messages
131
Locality
Alameda, CA, USA
Thanks!
I am in London, albeit quite far from the center and close to Surrey.
I might check first if there is any good sax shop around Sutton.
For my reference, what is typically the cost of a setup, provided not major fixing is needed?
The lady I am buying from said tha tthe instrument has been used very little, but it was perhaps never serviced, so it it probably still setup like it came from the maker.
I followed your advice for the reeds, and steered clear from the synthetic ones for the moment, thanks for that :)

Yes. the Vandoren AL serie is more "classical" oriented.. Honestly I think maybe because you can have more control than with a jazz type..
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
Yes. the Vandoren AL serie is more "classical" oriented.. Honestly I think maybe because you can have more control than with a jazz type..

Thansk for explaining. I noticed on the description of some reeds references to "Jazz cut", perhaps it has something to do with that?
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,321
Locality
leicester
I really liked my Runyon 22 alto mouthpiece, but so did the bloke I lent it to and I never got it back.
Runyon went out of business a few years ago, but a few shops may still have some old stock.
A Yamaha or Bari will do the job nicely, if you've got something decent then it's one less variable and one less thing you can blame...
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,390
Locality
Just north of Munich
On the setup, one of our members, @griff136 is available in Croydon a day or two a week. This may be easier for you than central London, not sure.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,076
Locality
I live in Exmouth Devon.
On the setup, one of our members, @griff136 is available in Croydon a day or two a week. This may be easier for you than central London, not sure.
Thanks @kevgermany . I'm currently available at justflutes/Jonathan Myall Music on Thursdays until 1 O'clock and I'll shift to Fridays from the second week of October.
@McAldo If you want to pop along to the shop I'll give your sax a health check for you ( free of charge) and whilst your here you could try some mouthpieces.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,049
Locality
Cheshire UK
@McAldo - Griff is a really good repairer and a nice chap. I can heartily recommend him.
As do many others here :)

By the way, congratulations on the forum interface, it's very usable compared to your average forum (sorry, random, non sax related, thought).

Thanks it is all down to @Pete Thomas he works really hard to keep the forum user friendly and up-to-date.

Jx
 
Messages
372
Well spotted, thansk for pointing that out :D
It even says it clearly in the link I posted, "tenor".. That goes to show how confused I am. I think I found the runyon mentioned in a comparison with the bari for tenor, which also mentioned that the bari for alto was good, and I made a giant mixed salad of the whole thing...
For the moment I am going for the Bari, as many liked it, but at some point I will visit a shop and try some.
Are the ZZ very different from other vandoren? I saw them on sale on reedsdirect, but I think they only had number 3..
They are a hybrid of the Vandoren V16 and Java Reeds. I found they gave a warmer tone than Java reeds. I used them a lot last summer, into Autumn, until I got my Meyer mouthpiece and found the Rico LaVoz reeds worked better with that mouthpiece.

I now have 3 Morgan alto mouthpieces and the Vandoren reeds match the tip profile better than the LaVoz (which seemed to overhang the mouthpiece at the sides) so have reverted to ZZ and V16 reeds.

Matching mouthpieces and reeds is good fun once you progress. As a beginner you just need something that works easily.
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
I really liked my Runyon 22 alto mouthpiece, but so did the bloke I lent it to and I never got it back.
Runyon went out of business a few years ago, but a few shops may still have some old stock.
A Yamaha or Bari will do the job nicely, if you've got something decent then it's one less variable and one less thing you can blame...

Thanks!
Sorry to hear about the kidnapping of your mouthpiece, may his reeds dry prematurely with alarming frequency :)
My new Bari just got shipped and the sax is with royal mail too, I am really looking forward to start :)
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
They are a hybrid of the Vandoren V16 and Java Reeds. I found they gave a warmer tone than Java reeds. I used them a lot last summer, into Autumn, until I got my Meyer mouthpiece and found the Rico LaVoz reeds worked better with that mouthpiece.

I now have 3 Morgan alto mouthpieces and the Vandoren reeds match the tip profile better than the LaVoz (which seemed to overhang the mouthpiece at the sides) so have reverted to ZZ and V16 reeds.

Matching mouthpieces and reeds is good fun once you progress. As a beginner you just need something that works easily.

Thansk for explaining, it does sound a bit like a puzzle, albeit a fun one :)
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
Thanks @kevgermany . I'm currently available at justflutes/Jonathan Myall Music on Thursdays until 1 O'clock and I'll shift to Fridays from the second week of October.
@McAldo If you want to pop along to the shop I'll give your sax a health check for you ( free of charge) and whilst your here you could try some mouthpieces.

Thanks so much Griff, it's really kind of you to offer.
Normally my Thursday morning is crammed with work shifts, but I am trying to arrange with my company to move things around so to come and visit next week, if that's ok with you. By that time I should have received the sax already.

Also, I have a cheap Venus flute which was bought several years ago and never serviced, so I might bring that along, if the flute technician is around to give me a quote for whatever needs to be done.
 

garrobito

Member
Messages
131
Locality
Alameda, CA, USA
Thansk for explaining. I noticed on the description of some reeds references to "Jazz cut", perhaps it has something to do with that?

Could be.. honestly I don't know... I use vandoren zz jazz and are very flexible... fit perfectly my (poor) level of playing...
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
I would like to again thank everybody for all the advice.

The Bari mouthpiece came along with the reeds yesterday, so I spent some time reading about embouchure and breathing and squeaking through it.
The Jericho came today, it looks in very good conditions, as far as I can tell, and I like the tone very much, within the limits of what I could test for myself.

I was kind of surprised of how easily it switches to overtones, ending up playing the second octave without the thumb key (octave key?) pressed, compared to my bamboo instruments.
And I found the low Eb kind of hard to get.
So basically I need to work on the basic embouchure, chances are I am not doing it right at all.
And even with grease the mouthpiece does not really go in more than much and I felt I sounded bit flat, but that's probably my lips.

But I did manage a few basic tunes, kind of, even if I have no clue about the million keys and I do the chromatics by leaving one hole open and closing the two under, like on an open flute o_O

So I am really happy, thanks so much again :)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,390
Locality
Just north of Munich
The cork can be thinned down by careful sanding with a strip of sand paper, not too coarse, 240 grit. Make sure you wrap masking tape around the neck from cork to octave pip/key in case you slip off the cork.

Playing up an octave like that may mean your embouchure is too tight, may also mean a leak.
 

McAldo

Member
Messages
82
Locality
Carshalton
The cork can be thinned down by careful sanding with a strip of sand paper, not too coarse, 240 grit. Make sure you wrap masking tape around the neck from cork to octave pip/key in case you slip off the cork.

Playing up an octave like that may mean your embouchure is too tight, may also mean a leak.

Thanks Kev.
I might be able to show it to Griff next week, so I'll wait until that time before considering sanding it. It is possible that I did something wrong assembling it, or perhaps it is already in enough.
I understand that it is normal to fit them halfway or so to get the right tuning, but, are mouthpieces supposed to be able to go all the way in if you need to?

I surely hope there are no leaks and it is my embouchure instead. The instruments I am used to required perhaps more pressure and they definitely go in the mouth way more than a sax, so perhaps I am just doing it wrong.
The instrument can play the first octave though, by slacking the lip a lot and slowing the air a bit, which I find a bit tricky right now, so perhaps it's just me having to figure out how..
 
Top Bottom