Tutorials

Complete novice looking for advice, guidance and chat with like minded musicians

TBay

Member
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42
Hi all, I have just bought a Elkhart series 100 Tenor Saxophone from a band mate. I have been playing bass guitar for a few years and presently play in three bands. Always liked the tone of the saxophone so jumped at the chance when a band mate said he was selling his. I have (limited) experience of a harmonica and that is it for any wind instrument!

I look forward to listening to the collective experience and hopefully going from novice to beginner and beyond. I would love to hear your tips and in particular any pitfalls to avoid at the beginning as I appreciate bad technique takes a minute to learn and an age to unlearn!
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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7,788
Welcome to the Cafe and to the world of saxophone playing. My best advice is to take some lessons from a good teacher at the beginning. This is the best way I know to develop fundamentals of playing right from the start. These include: embouchure, tone production, tonguing and articulation, breathing, breath support, posture, correct hand and arm position not to mention the best way to assemble the instrument, put the reed on the mouthpiece etc.

If that is not possible at this time, I recommend studying the excellent information in "Taming the Saxophone" by Pete Thomas. Also see "Steps to Excellence" by master teacher Eugene Rousseau. Good luck on your journey. There are lots of members here who are willing to answer your questions and share their experience. You've come to the right place.
 
OP
TBay

TBay

Member
Messages
42
Thanks for the suggestions, sadly lessons are not possible at the moment for obvious reasons. I plan to check out the Pete Thomas stuff as it sounds ideal. I am quite happy learning off my own back and have self taught myself bass guitar and harmonica. Some lessons would have been good but they will have to wait.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
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25,541
Thanks for the suggestions, sadly lessons are not possible at the moment for obvious reasons. I plan to check out the Pete Thomas stuff as it sounds ideal. I am quite happy learning off my own back and have self taught myself bass guitar and harmonica. Some lessons would have been good but they will have to wait.
Plenty of sax teachers giving online lessons

Jx
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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1,537
Welcome to the Cafe. You have a good approach, knowing to avoid developing bad habits. If you can find an online teacher, that would be great. Good luck and stay with it. It can be frustrating at times, but so rewarding. Most of all, have fun!
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,812
Hi, welcome.

Unless your mate has had the sax serviced, probably worth getting it checked over once normality is restored. What mouthpiece and reed have you got? Also, tenors are heavy - you might want something more supportive than a basic sax sling to keep weight off your neck.
 
OP
TBay

TBay

Member
Messages
42
Hi, welcome.

Unless your mate has had the sax serviced, probably worth getting it checked over once normality is restored. What mouthpiece and reed have you got? Also, tenors are heavy - you might want something more supportive than a basic sax sling to keep weight off your neck.
It was new last year and was looked over by my friend’s teacher shortly after. Sadly he did not take to it at all and it has sat a few months unused.So hopefully it should be ok. It is an Elkhart 100 series which I understand is a reasonable ‘student’ starter saxophone. The mouthpiece is unmarked, I assume it’s the one that came with it originally. I have fitted a new Juno 1.5 reed, I have the square root of zero experience on these so no idea if this is a good reed or not, I presume they were recommended by his teacher but that’s just a guess. Any suggestions of whether it’s worth upgrading mouthpiece/ changing reeds would be gratefully receive.
Again, do you have any recommendations for support kit? I have a very long history of neck, back and shoulder problems so would rather avoid any issues right from the start. I don’t like the sling that has come with it as it only has a hook on which seems a recipe for disaster sooner or later.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,560
Thanks for the suggestions, sadly lessons are not possible at the moment for obvious reasons. I plan to check out the Pete Thomas stuff as it sounds ideal. I am quite happy learning off my own back and have self taught myself bass guitar and harmonica. Some lessons would have been good but they will have to wait.
This is how bad habits can form, tho (just saying).

More so with wind instruments than strings/percussion, even.

I'd investigate online/skype lessons....if even just for a few weeks worth of 'em....you wanna get some basic fundamentals down before you delve in too deeply.
Embouchure, blowing, breath support, proper fingering technique etc...One starts those out wrong or cavalierly, and it can be hard to reverse 'em later on.

From a fellow Bassist (as their first instrument), welcome.

(If you like the Tenor....just WAIT until you try your first Baritone :D)
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,788
Thanks for the suggestions, sadly lessons are not possible at the moment for obvious reasons. I plan to check out the Pete Thomas stuff as it sounds ideal. I am quite happy learning off my own back and have self taught myself bass guitar and harmonica. Some lessons would have been good but they will have to wait.
The difference between guitar, harmonica, banjo, piano etc. is that the "tone" is produced by the instrument. That is far different than a woodwind like a saxophone where the player almost entirely controls the sound. Even if you could take a few lessons by zoom or skype, it would be a lot better than trying to learn how to produce a good tone entirely on your own.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,812
It was new last year and was looked over by my friend’s teacher shortly after. Sadly he did not take to it at all and it has sat a few months unused.So hopefully it should be ok. It is an Elkhart 100 series which I understand is a reasonable ‘student’ starter saxophone. The mouthpiece is unmarked, I assume it’s the one that came with it originally. I have fitted a new Juno 1.5 reed, I have the square root of zero experience on these so no idea if this is a good reed or not, I presume they were recommended by his teacher but that’s just a guess. Any suggestions of whether it’s worth upgrading mouthpiece/ changing reeds would be gratefully receive.
Again, do you have any recommendations for support kit? I have a very long history of neck, back and shoulder problems so would rather avoid any issues right from the start. I don’t like the sling that has come with it as it only has a hook on which seems a recipe for disaster sooner or later.
My first sax was an Elkhart 100 alto and it was fine as an inexpensive starter instrument. If it's a generic plastic mouthpiece that originally came with it, I'd consider spending around £30 and buying a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece - they're well made, reliable, and user friendly. Buy from a proper woodwind music shop rather than Amazon (which is over-priced). Reed wise you will want a 1.5 or a 2.0 strength reed to start with. Popular ones are D'Addario (used to be called Rico) and Vandoren. Vandoren reeds tend to play 'harder' than others for a given strength.
 
OP
TBay

TBay

Member
Messages
42
Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming! I would argue about the tone of a bass guitar coming from the instrument though! There are players and there are PLAYERS, 90% of the tone really is in the fingers! I am lucky to have a few professional music teachers as friends, one is a very accomplished flutist who dabbles in sax, that said I am looking for a local sax specialist to get me going.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,812
Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming! I would argue about the tone of a bass guitar coming from the instrument though! There are players and there are PLAYERS, 90% of the tone really is in the fingers! I am lucky to have a few professional music teachers as friends, one is a very accomplished flutist who dabbles in sax, that said I am looking for a local sax specialist to get me going.
I'm a novice on bass guitar and struggling to find a teacher. Guitar is an alien beast to me
 
OP
TBay

TBay

Member
Messages
42
I'm a novice on bass guitar and struggling to find a teacher. Guitar is an alien beast to me
As with any musical instrument the key is practice. I know people who spend thousands searching for the perfect tone but do not practice their techniques at all. It’s hard to generalise but the more relaxed you are the better you will sound (no poo Sherlock I hear you say), And obviously take time to learn your scale, and how you can play the same note in different places (drop a string add 7, drop 2 add 2 etc). Sometimes playing the same note in a different place seems to makes
the impossible possible. When it all works it’s brilliant.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 ⅓ years
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Messages
4,180
Welcome! If you're interested in playing blues or bluesy-rock or jazz, the harmonica is an excellent place to be coming from. There are many levels of online music earning. Beside Pete's site and some others with similar goals, there are so many very good YouTube video series out there.
I just found this:


There are many others, as you move forward. One of my favorites is Better Sax.



Nigel McGill has an online school and a free YouTube series to get an idea of it
 
OP
TBay

TBay

Member
Messages
42
My first sax was an Elkhart 100 alto and it was fine as an inexpensive starter instrument. If it's a generic plastic mouthpiece that originally came with it, I'd consider spending around £30 and buying a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece - they're well made, reliable, and user friendly. Buy from a proper woodwind music shop rather than Amazon (which is over-priced). Reed wise you will want a 1.5 or a 2.0 strength reed to start with. Popular ones are D'Addario (used to be called Rico) and Vandoren. Vandoren reeds tend to play 'harder' than others for a given strength.
Thanks, with the mouthpieces, is the number a size thing? I notice you can get the Yamaha one you mentioned in 4C-8C. I have used D’addario strings for many years and they are very good quality so I will check their reeds out.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,812
Thanks, with the mouthpieces, is the number a size thing? I notice you can get the Yamaha one you mentioned in 4C-8C. I have used D’addario strings for many years and they are very good quality so I will check their reeds out.
Yes, the numbers refer to the 'tip opening' - the gap between the reed and the end of the mouthpiece. Wider tip openings are harder to play. There is no 'standard' definition of these things, each manufacturer has their own views. But the 4C o the Yamaha is a middle value that most people, beginners included, get on well with.
 
OP
TBay

TBay

Member
Messages
42
I have signed up for an online course and have spent the day absorbing as much info as I can. A few short goes (will take a while to build up the face muscles) and pleased so far. I have been practicing the embouchure and getting nice consistent sounds now. Then did a few scale. I will keep doing that for a few days until the muscle memory is there and then shift onto learning some pentatonic scales.
 
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