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Saxophones Bought a YAS275....

richard

New Member
Messages
6
I've been playing for about 6 months on my trusty hired John Packer JP41, when my teacher recommended that I get my own alto sax, namely a Yamaha YAS275.

This I have now done, but I'm feeling a bit disheartened as I seem to have gone back several steps. Although the instrument has much to commend it, its weighs less, the action is lighter, and has a far superior tone, I just can't play some notes!

The problem notes are D2, E2 and F2, particularly D2, (six fingers plus octave key, hope the naming convention is correct). What seems to happen is that I get some weird harmonic, completely unrelated (?) to the note I'm trying to play, which sounds awful. ALL other notes are fine. The shop checked it out and gave it a clean bill of health. When I started playing the Yamaha, I would fail on these notes about 95% of the time. Its now down to 50%, but I really don't know why. I would claim I'm playing the note the same(ish) each time, but the result appears to be random. I'm not pressing any other keys accidentally either. It appears particularly bad if going from C2 to D2.

Is this to be expected? Are these notes particularly difficult? It was such a relief to get back to the John Packer, after hours of persevering with the Yam.

I will get the opinion of my teacher this week and I have 7 days to decide whether to keep the instrument. Is this a one off or do they all do that Sir? I want to like it but I get a sinking feeling when I see a 'D' approaching on the music.

Hope you can help

Kind Regards
Richard
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
No, they don't all do that. Sounds like a leak, possibly a small one. Interestingt hat it's all lower stack, which points to a problem either with the octave mechanism or possibly G#.

Your teacher should be able to help you. Failing that get whoever sold it to you to play it properly, not just whitewash things.

Octave mech - identify the two octave pips, one's on the neck, the other's at the top of the body, usually quite well hidden. Press the octave key and finger A. Neck pip should be open, body closed. Now press G, neck pip should close and body pip should open. There's a short period when both are open, but after that the neck should be firmly closed for G and all the notes below it.

Look at the sax between the upper/lower stack. Press G. Then press G# as well. You'll see another key open. Check this is properly closed, except when you press G# or above. Get an assistant to press it closed while you're playing one of your bad notes, see if it helps. There's an adjuster for it, but it's probably better to let the dealer sort it out.

You may also need to check for leaks further up the instrument.

Assuming you/your teacher find a problem and the shop still won't/can't fix it, give it back and get one from somewhere else. No time for nonsense.

Stephen Howard's Haynes Saxophone Manual has a lot of help in it for these problems... Highly recommended.
 

davidk

Paints With Notes
Messages
359
Hi Richard

I've recently had a problem with misbehaving notes on a new saxophone too. I hope my diagnosis method and cure might give you some pointers.

The saxophone was "motorboating" (warbling) on the low D when played softly. I took it back into the shop, and they gave it a clean bill of health. I then spent time checking for leaks with a tapered cigarette paper feeler, as described in the Haynes manual, and didn't find any problems. I tried different reeds (harder and softer, in different cuts), a different mouthpiece (a 5* opening as opposed to my usual 9*) and a different ligature (metal rather than flexible), all to no avail.

I finally diagnosed the problem during long note practice of the offending note. I needed to push my saxophone away from my body more, so that the mouthpiece went into my mouth at a straighter angle.

I hope my experience helps you in some way. In summary, experiment with everything you can, and combine this with a good dose of practice.
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,336
Good points what has been said above,also just check that all you fingers are closing all the keys at the same time,if you are going over the break from C2 to D2 if your third finger on you left hand is not closing the key down at the same time you will get A2 which will sound bad as you are expecting to hear D.
This could be happening because the new sax keys might just be in a slightly different position to your old sax.

Brian
 

richard

New Member
Messages
6
Thanks for these thoughts so far.

Here are some more observations.

1. The octave key mechanism looks OK
2. The harmonic produced is indeed an A2 instead of a D2
3. If I get ready to play D2 and then gently start to blow, I can tell sometimes tell if its going to go wrong, and then re-position my embrasure slightly then I can sometimes get it to produce D2 correctly, but not always. Fingers have not moved at this point. What I cannot tell is what I am doing differently and how to make it repeatable.

Richard
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Apart from the real possibility / probability of a leak, it should also be said that D2 is a note that is more prone to squawk on an alto than most others. G2 on a tenor is the equivalent note. It's possible that you need to get accustomed to the Yamaha, in other words. It may even require a different mouthpiece / reed setup. But have the horn checked over first.
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Thinking about it a bit more, I reckon that the chances are that the sax is probably OK, and you're blowing the harmonics because the Yamaha is less resistant than the Packer. See if a harder reed helps.
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
Did someone at the shop play it? If they get the same/similar results (and they're a player) then it's the horn not you.
However, it does sound more like a case of you having to get used to the new instrument. We all get used to an instrument for better or worse.
 

richard

New Member
Messages
6
In reply to some comments:

I get the problem with both my old and the new mouthpiece.

It was played a bit in the shop and it sounded OK.

A thicker reed does help. I am currently trying it with a Vandoren 3 rather than my more normal 2 or 2.5

My fear is that it is me rather than the instrument, but I am clueless as to what to do about it. Hope my teacher can help tomorrow.

Thanks again to all

Richard
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,561
As an observation - you said you dread seeing a D appear on the music - then it may just be you!
If the bum note bothers you that much, you'll always tense up before playing it, making the bum note even more likely.
I had a similar problem in a piece I was playing which required me to go B-D (that same D you are having trouble with) and without fail I'd hit a bum D. Then it became self perpetuating.
My teacher forced my to play on, not stopping, not hesitating, if the bum note sounded, ignore it and just keep playing.
Eventually I cracked it, and haven't looked back.
It was a confidence thing - I was afraid of playing the bum note, so would blow less, or tense up or whatever, encouring the bum note to happen.
If others can play the instrument OK, maybe you just need time together??
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,992
As an observation - you said you dread seeing a D appear on the music - then it may just be you!
If the bum note bothers you that much, you'll always tense up before playing it, making the bum note even more likely.
I had a similar problem in a piece I was playing which required me to go B-D (that same D you are having trouble with) and without fail I'd hit a bum D. Then it became self perpetuating.
My teacher forced my to play on, not stopping, not hesitating, if the bum note sounded, ignore it and just keep playing.
Eventually I cracked it, and haven't looked back.
It was a confidence thing - I was afraid of playing the bum note, so would blow less, or tense up or whatever, encouring the bum note to happen.
If others can play the instrument OK, maybe you just need time together??
You get this type of probs with all instruments. On the tenor viol it's playing the top G string - which is very thin - and not getting it to 'burble' - bit like motorboating. To avoid it doing that, you tense up and it gets tentative, whic surprise surprise, makes it worse!

You just have to play through it - your technique will sort itself out - eventually :D
 

richard

New Member
Messages
6
Well just before my lesson last night, I had another look at the octave key mechanism after two people had mentioned it. It appeared that if I played a G with the octave key lightly pressed, the top pip stayed closed, but if extra pressure was placed on the octave key then the the top pip would start to open.

This was confirmed by my teacher, who did some gentle bending on the top pip mechanism, and all now appears to be well.

After the lesson, during which the sax played fine, I played with the wind band for a couple of hours and although it is sometimes difficult to hear yourself, especially with trumpets sitting behind, the sax felt right. I will confirm this to myself with a good practice session this evening.

I am slightly annoyed with myself for not making more of a fuss in the shop and at least asking to try a few other saxes, even if the others they had were well out of my price range, but trying new instruments in a shop is a daunting experience, especially for a beginner. Perhaps I am starting to be able to tell when the bad playing is me and when it is the instrument.

Thanks to everyone who has helped, we got there in the end

Richard
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Good that it's sorted!!!!

Pity about the shop. Only takes a slight leak to mess things up, and often these leks can't be seen without a leak light, or cigarette paper investiagtion.

While you're at it, make a mental note not to lightly touch the palm keys with your left hand whilst playing. Can give similar annoying problems...
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,992
Well just before my lesson last night, I had another look at the octave key mechanism after two people had mentioned it. It appeared that if I played a G with the octave key lightly pressed, the top pip stayed closed, but if extra pressure was placed on the octave key then the the top pip would start to open.

This was confirmed by my teacher, who did some gentle bending on the top pip mechanism, and all now appears to be well.

After the lesson, during which the sax played fine, I played with the wind band for a couple of hours and although it is sometimes difficult to hear yourself, especially with trumpets sitting behind, the sax felt right. I will confirm this to myself with a good practice session this evening.

I am slightly annoyed with myself for not making more of a fuss in the shop and at least asking to try a few other saxes, even if the others they had were well out of my price range, but trying new instruments in a shop is a daunting experience, especially for a beginner. Perhaps I am starting to be able to tell when the bad playing is me and when it is the instrument.

Thanks to everyone who has helped, we got there in the end

Richard
Glad it was an easy fix - do you know how to fix warbling top strings on a tenor viol?:headscratch:
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,992
Get a 'cello? >:)
....Got one....:veryhappy:
DSCN0429-1.jpg
 

ElectricHaze

New Member
Messages
1
I have the exact same saxophone and it serves me well, but it always makes this squeaking sound when i change octaves, and when i play deeper tones (d2,e2,c1) it's sorta 'vibrating' and my teeth hurt afterwards. my teacher tells me to hold it tighten my facial muscles, but when i do so it sounds terrible. but i've been playing for little less then a month, so i guess i just need to practice more
 

richard

New Member
Messages
6
The squeak, when an octave change occurs e.g C2 to D2, still happens very occasionally. However, this is down to me! I suspect this is because if the left hand hits the keys fractionally before the right hand then the top pip may open when it shouldn't, but if I concentrate and practice hitting all the keys simultaneously then I rarely get the problem.

Interestingly, I get better results with the low notes if I loosen the facial muscles!
 
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