• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.
sax.co.uk

Fluttering sound when I try playing certain notes

Messages
13
#1
Greetings everybody, I have an alto saxophone and I have been getting a weird noise whenever I try playing the notes E 5,F 5, and D 5. Sometimes it sounds like I am not pressing the octave key, sometimes they sound great with no problems, and quite a few times when i have tried playing those notes I get like a weird fluttering sound. I am not doing anything with my tongue or trying to make it sound like that on purpose. It happened when I was playing with a Fibracell 1.5 synthetic reed, so I started using a Rico strength 2 reed and it sounded better, but that fluttering was still there. I have taken my saxophone to get looked at and repaired like 4 times. The last time was a few days ago. When I went to go pick it up I tested it out and those notes that I mentioned sounded perfect, but when I got home I started having problems. Like I said, sometimes those notes sound perfect, and other times they do not.

This is quite frustrating and I do not know what i am doing wrong. Any help would be immensely appreciated.
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Cafe Moderator
Messages
10,233
Location
Sunny Southampton
#2
First thing would be to get the horn checked out by a competent technician.

BTW for reference, we usually name the notes counting up from the lowest, so the low D is D 1, upper register D is D2 and top (palm) is D 3

I think you are using another method counting from keyboard notes or you would be talking about extreme altissimo.

I presume you mean D2 etc
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
10,578
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
#4
Before you play, open and close all the keys. Some pads dry funny and look closed but aren't

Check G# and C# are working. G# is prime suspect for sticking and leaking. While checking G# is opening by pressing that key, Finger F and press the G# key. Watch for any movement of the G# pad. There should be none visible.

Don't forget the palm and side keys and the F/ F# trill. Open these and let them close.

Check the octave mechanism is working properly. A bump in the case can affect how far the neck octave opens. While you're there, check the octave mechanism is switching between body and crook by fingering G2, G with octave key, and alternating this with A2, A with octave key. You should see the crook pip opening and closing and the body pip doing the same.

Go through this procedure every time before you play. The saxophone is a very imperfect instrument. Precise movements are regulated by organic materials, leather and cork. These are affected by moisture and wear.

Always use a pull through after playing. Wash your hands and clean your teeth before playing. Many drinks and beverages gum up the works and make playing difficult.
 

brianr

Senior Member
Messages
850
#5
Firstly, just to check which notes are "dodgy" ?

Is it the D E and F with the octave key on? (But not the palm keys)
So, the written notes from the d on the fourth line up,of the written stave, up to the F on the top line of the stave.

Is it only on these notes. So, from g to c in either octave is ok ?

as Pete says, you need to have this looked at by a competent repair person.
Is the person who has looked at it 4 times competent. what are they saying about the problem?

If the G is ok, I feel it is unlikely to be the octave mechanism, but could be the G sharp mechanism mentioned by Colin, opening when it shouldn't.
but more likely that it could be that this mechanism is working in the other direction, ie too tight, causing the lower stack not to close properly.
does your instrument have two little screws at the top of the right hand stack. One for the bis key and the other related to the g sharp key.
If you dont know what I mean, dont start fiddling. take it to someone.

But to give you a better idea of where the problem is, play a G as a long note. Once established as being fine, move to F sharp. Is there a big difference?
Work down chromatically, to see if you can identify the problem.

Best advice. Take it to someone who knows what to do.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,114
#7
Lay the sax down horizontally with the bottom bow on the right and the bell pointing away from you. You can place it on your lap or on a table - doesn't really matter, just as long as you're able to look straight across the toneholes (the sticky-up tubes that the keys come down on).
Close the left hand keys with your left hand (it'll be a bit tricky as your finger positions will be in reverse).
Now, press the F key down....but press it down very, very gently.
As it closes, keep an eye on the key above it (to the left). This is the auxiliary F - and this key will close whenever you press any of the lower stack keys (F, E or D).
Ideally the Aux.F should close at exactly the same time as the F key closes. You should also feel a very definite stopping point when the F closes....as though the key is hitting something solid.

If, however, the Aux.F key closes before the F key does, you've got a problem. You've also got a problem if the F key closes and leaves the Aux.F key open. It might not be by much, so take a good look at it.
Repeat with the next key down (E) and the next (D). It's not such a big deal if the Aux.F doesn't close when the D key is pressed, but it's still a problem if it closes before the D key.
 
Messages
13
#8
Thank you all for your help!! I took my saxophone back to the shop and told them what was going on, they they did some adjustments and everything seems to be sounding good again.
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
Subscriber
Messages
5,714
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#9
Good diagnostics @Stephen Howard. The key you call the Aux F, I call the F#. The system (I think) is that the key you close to produce a note gets its name from that note. To play the regular F# the key above the F closes (along with the key below F because it is a "cross fingered" note). For the spring closed keys, it is the key that you open to produce the note.

I didn't respond to the question, not knowing what "fluttering" meant.
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
Subscriber
Messages
5,714
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#17
No bleedin' 'ope whatsoever.
On a related topic...
In a forthcoming short film (2017?) I have to sound like a 1940s horn player from New York. This is something I shall have to work on.
What a fun assignment. Do you have any vintage mouthpieces with a small tip opening short, lay and open chamber? To get the characteristic sound of that era (before be-bop) you almost need the set-up those players were using. Who are you going to try to emulate? If on tenor my choice would be between Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. It would be cool if you could post a recording here.
 

Alice

Psychedelic
Subscriber
Messages
4,289
Location
Kent, the Garden of England
#20
What a fun assignment. Do you have any vintage mouthpieces with a small tip opening short, lay and open chamber? To get the characteristic sound of that era (before be-bop) you almost need the set-up those players were using. Who are you going to try to emulate? If on tenor my choice would be between Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. It would be cool if you could post a recording here.
I've just been doing some research quickly and I think maybe they might be after a bebop style because that's what was new at the beginning of the 40s and New York was where it originated led by Charlie Parker. Lester Young from Kansas marked a transition from traditional big band to bebop..
I've never read about the history before, I've only discovered the music, listening to it and enjoying it. My knowledge of its origins is slim but I want to change that.
 
Last edited: