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Beginner breathy A note


Senior Member
hi everyone its been a while since I posted a thread,
anyway Im looking for advice please.
When playing my tenor in the upper register the "A" note sounds very breathy as if its got a leak
the bottom "A" sounds ok. the "G,s" are ok and so are the "B,s" in both registers.
the pad on the "A" appears to be in good condition and appears to be sealing on the hole.


Nick Wyver


You're probably hearing the sound of air going through the octave hole. The hole's really in the wrong place for A. One of the consequences of this is that a lot of air passes through it.


Well-Known Member
Fuzzy upper G And G# are a common problem on saxes, but not just upper A. You can check so there is no dirt in the octavepipe and that the octavekey open enough. 1-2 times the diameter of the octavehole. Also check that the octavekey pad is flat, not to much impression. This is what I learned when I tried to become a saxtech!! But again it's use to be upper G and G#.



Well-Known Member
I have found this solution by Curt Altarac at Music to work on a tenor brought into our shop with a stuffy sounding high A. The neat thing is that you can "tie it on" and compare the sound with and without the nylon screen over the octave hole without making any permanent changes to your instrument.

If it does correct the problem---making it a permanent repair with epoxy following Curt's instructions is also very easy to do as well.


Old Indian
Hi jbt - Sounds a bit odd to me, I've played gigs at Fat Gypsy Weddings, Strip joints and whore houses but I've never heard of the panty hose trick before, the mind boggles. Absolutely no offense intended jbt. :) chuckle, chuckle!

Allansto - You say that B and G and I'm assuming G# are okay. How is Bb with the bis key? Try playing an A with LH1 on the C#, LH2 on the bis key and LH3 on the A key, at the same time just adjust the pressure on the LH2 bis key. If the bis key isn't spot on adjusted then that might be the problem, since the A key also closes the bis key. It's one of those tricky pads that can go out of alignment because of wear on the felt or cork under the A key.

And if it's not a mechanical issue then try to tighten up your airflow by pulling yer cheeks in and tightening the sides of your mouth, **do not alter your embouchure in any way** just try to think "concentrated airflow" through the mouth cavity.

I've never heard of this problem before - it puzzles me.

gruss - spike


Among the pigeons
I had this problem with the upper A not sounding clean.
I decided it might be the octave hole being partially blocked so I put a needle in it and waggled it round.
That fixed it, I assume it might have been fibre off the pull through caught inside if the surface is not completely smooth.


Hello. Not intending to contradict any of the comments given above, but I find on my tenor that the breathy-ness depends greatly on the reed I'm using. My favourite Vandoren Java Jazz 3 doesn't do it much on my setup, but a Rico Royal (for example) is, to my ear, unbearable with the amount of air leak.
Saxholder Pro

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