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Beginner 'Burbling' on second octave G when played softly

RayL

New Member
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20
The situation (tenor sax): I'm playing B, then A, then G, softly in the second octave. B and A play OK, but when I close the G key it 'burbles' (the reed vibrates at a low frequency which modulates the G note) instead of playing a clean note. I continue down to F and the burbling stops. My embrochure has not changed through this succession of notes.

I can overcome it by a) blowing harder and b) moving my lips nearer the end of the reed so less of it is available to vibrate. This of course changes the character of the note.

Now I realise that for G in the second octave the octave hole on the crook closes and a different octave hole opens at the top of the body but if it was that that was causing the burbling, why does it stop when I play F?

It is not a function of a particular reed or mouthpiece - I've changed both but the effect is still there.

As I say, I can overcome it by blowing harder, but that's not really the point - I don't want to have to play a soft passage loudly just to get one note to work properly.

Any thoughts?

Ray
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
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5,949
Pretty normal actually. Stick with it - it'll go eventually as you learn to control it properly. I believe it's to do with the octave hole being in a position somewhat less than optimum for the note being played. Middle D has a similar problem. It often overblows to the A above. As always, some saxes are worse than others. It's probably worth getting your sax checked as well.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Supporter
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13,975
The situation (tenor sax): I'm playing B, then A, then G, softly in the second octave. B and A play OK, but when I close the G key it 'burbles' (the reed vibrates at a low frequency which modulates the G note) instead of playing a clean note.
Try pushing the mouthpiece on a bit further. Then relax your embouchure to conterract any sharpness of pitch.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Ray
You don't say how long you've been playing but if you're fairly new to it, Nick and Pete are right and you just need to keep at it. Also make sure that the G pad is closing properly and has nothing round the rim or pad that's stopping it doing that. A careful clean with a cotton bud and lighter fluid might help, or when it's dry, draw a cigarette paper or a clean £5 note through the closed pad.
The other thing is to keep it out of the River Wandle. If you come across any old Zimmers in there they belong to Old Git.
YC
 

RayL

New Member
Messages
20
Thanks, YC. The G pad seems to be seating correctly so I'll continue investigating. This low frequency flutter starts from the reed so since my embrochure is not changing there has to be some sort of feedback force (a standing wave up the tube?) that occurs when the particular acoustic condition is set up. The nearest analogy that I can think of is the low frequency that happens in a car when someone in the back winds down a window while travelling.

No zimmers in Carshalton Ponds (one of the sources of the Wandle) when I passed them yesterday. Just the usual ducks, geese and swans.

Ray
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Have you tried Pete's tip of pushing the mouthpiece further on? I was having problems with my new sop burbling until I thought to check the tuning and found I was playing about a quarter tone flat. Adjusted the mp and solved both problems at once.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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I've had a lot of problems with the G on my tenor - but they don't exist when it's tuned properly, not sure why...
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I've had a lot of problems with the G on my tenor - but they don't exist when it's tuned properly, not sure why...
Most novices suffer that :))) where as experienced players adjust! :p ***Just kidding***
 
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RayL

New Member
Messages
20
Have you tried Pete's tip of pushing the mouthpiece further on?
Yes, I did try that but the effect was still present.

As a guitar player, I can see an analogy with a string that buzzes on a particular fret. For that there are a number of practical fixes - check that the fret hasn't lifted in its slot, adjust the height of the string at the bridge, adjust the neck curvature using the truss rod, adjust the neck angle with packing pieces, etc. All very practical.

It's interesting that in the saxophone world a change in blowing technique is seen as a possible fix, rather like advising the guitarist to push the string sideways across the fret every time he wants to play that one note that buzzes.

Ray
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,947
Most novices suffer that :))) where as experienced players adjust! :p ***Just kidding***
Just thinking some more, the official pitch of a tenor mouthpice is G. So if it's not in exactly the right place you'll get beats and so on. Including squeals. Tuning the tenor to G gets rid of most of it (rest is down to breath support and lip support of the reed). And I guess the reason it goes away with practice is that you learn to tune the mouthpiece to the sax as you play more, so these things go away.

Fits with Pete's suggestion as well...
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
It's interesting that in the saxophone world a change in blowing technique is seen as a possible fix, rather like advising the guitarist to push the string sideways across the fret every time he wants to play that one note that buzzes.
Ray
See my other reply, but the embouchure has a huge effect on the sax pitch as well as tone. There's a video on ebay of someone playing a keyless alto and getting the notes just by changing his embouchure. Just as guitarists can bend notes by sliding the strings sideways (I always think of David Gilmour when I think of this), so sax players change pitch and tone with their embouchures.
 
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