Taming The Saxophone

Getting a sop up to pitch...

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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OK so I've now got a nice soprano, but I'm not used to playing it...

I mostly play tenor, I started on alto, and I now play a bit of bari... I've never really had tuning issues until now. I am inconsistent and woefully flat in places, some more than others and I'm struggling to get notes above the A above the treble staff to play in the upper octave (i.e. octave key is depressed).

This is obviously flawed technique... By pushing the mpc right on I can get the concert A just about there... But if I play mpc+neck the sounding note is more like an F than an E.

So... do I need to be looking at airflow, tightness of embouchure, or several things?

The instrument is my new Yani WO10 with Yani mpc. I'm eating humble pie over reeds and gone from 2.5 ==> 2 (Vandoren Java) ==> 1.5 Rico
 

Halfers

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I'm in a similar position, but at the other end of the Sop price scale, with a Sakkusu straight sop. I'm back to square one and struggling with higher notes in the second Octave, as well as consistency with the lower notes. I'm putting it entirely down to player input. Part of me is quite pleased that tuning is perhaps not just the fault of my el cheapo sax and perhaps more to do with the Soprano as a whole.
 

The Z

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So... do I need to be looking at airflow, tightness of embouchure, or several things?
I would say a good airstream and support from the diaphragm is the key here. I*m always sceptical about recommending a tighter embouchure, because this might lead to biting. So try imagining breathing to the area of your navel and then blowing from there. Also you could try a higher tongue position than on tenor, like an "eeee".

The instrument is my new Yani WO10 with Yani mpc. I
I'm playing an Yani WO1 and this soprano is amazingly in tune, more so than my older yani s800 and much more so than my even older mk vi. These are amazing sopranos.
 

Colin the Bear

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We assume because the first one was fairly straight forward and the second one went to plan that the third and fourth will be straight forward to add. If only it was that true.

Don't go down the path of trying to play what should work. Use what does work. Soprano was a difficult add for me. The break through was a wide tip mouthpiece and a soft reed. It wouldn't have been my choice on paper. G selmer with a french cut 1.5.

Try a softer reed. It will be a shock to see how far you need to push the mouthpiece on. It's easier to bend down.

Each saxophone needs a slightly different embouchure and approach.

Soprano was very difficult for me. The success with a wide tip on soprano guided me to the wide tip for clarinet which was a revelation.

So... push in and try softer reeds.
 
OP
tenorviol

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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I think the shock is all the other saxes have been 'similar' and not required much adjustment in terms of reeds, embouchure, or anything else... evidently, this will take a while to sort out...
 

jbtsax

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The mouthpiece pitch on soprano is said to be a C concert. I don't know a recommended mouthpiece + neck pitch. The upper register does require a "firm" embouchure. Faster air when playing in the upper register of all saxes seems to help. A teacher of mine used to say that the more work you do with the pressure and speed of the air, the less work is required of the embouchure.
 

Daniel37

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I have an old Yani that I bought in 1978. Don't know the model # it just says " made by yanigisawa " on it. I have had the best response with a fairly open mouthpiece (.065) I have played for years with a Guy Hawkins #6 and a Rico Royal#2. Also very good is a Rico Metalite M7,Rovner lig and again a RicoRoyal#2. This would be the cheapest way to try an open mouthpiece. The upper register should respond very well. I can even play a high G without too much trouble




i
 

Daniel37

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We assume because the first one was fairly straight forward and the second one went to plan that the third and fourth will be straight forward to add. If only it was that true.

Don't go down the path of trying to play what should work. Use what does work. Soprano was a difficult add for me. The break through was a wide tip mouthpiece and a soft reed. It wouldn't have been my choice on paper. G selmer with a french cut 1.5.

Try a softer reed. It will be a shock to see how far you need to push the mouthpiece on. It's easier to bend down.

Each saxophone needs a slightly different embouchure and approach.

Soprano was very difficult for me. The success with a wide tip on soprano guided me to the wide tip for clarinet which was a revelation.

So... push in and try softer reeds.[/Q
I totally agree. I will post my personal preferences.
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
Welcome to the world of the soprano sax. It is a difficult instrument to play well especially if you started playing on the bigger horns and requires practise and patience. It took me a good 12 months to get to grips with playing the soprano and it was bloody frustrating at times to the point where I considered giving up the soprano or throwing the thing out the window. You need to play with a firmer embouchure, faster airstream and more precise playing for want of a better word - no margin of error for playing these smaller saxes. For many years I was a subscriber to Saxophone Journal magazine and I went back and read and re-read some of the articles specific to soprano playing - Dave Liebman had written a series of articles and he had stated he found the soprano difficult to play more so than playing the flute. Long tones are essential and also experimenting with various reeds and maybe try some different mouthpieces. It takes time to master the "fish" horn but well worth the effort - nowadays the soprano is my second favourite sax to play after the alto.

Forum member Dave Roach has commented several times recently about playing the soprano sax it maybe worthwhile reading or re-reading Dave's postings.

Good luck,

Greg S.
 

MandyH

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I can’t help, sorry!

From experience you need a more consistent embouchure and it will fade fast!

But I had no problem getting my soprano in tune. I have a Yani 992 (the bronze one) and a Selmer C* mpc (which it came with)

Maybe just practice quite a lot for a few days/ weeks and then make a decision if the problem is you, or the sax!
 
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