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sax.co.uk

Reeds Going backwards in strength

ptg

Member
Messages
96
#1
After 2 years of playing, I thought my main problem was not hitting high notes and certainly not altissimo.

All of a sudden I started squealing (almost always a very high D) whenever I reach for a high note. This has never happened before!

I am using a Meyer 6 and La Voz mediums. I tried higher strength reeds (Vandoren 3 and even 3-1/2) to no avail.

Out of desperation I pulled out a Rico Royal 2 and...no more squealing. Of course now the F and F# are even harder to play so I can't win.

I did a search and followed the recommendations by @jbtsax to check the instrument. (using just the tone producer and checking for pitch, etc.) and the sax seems fine.

Any suggestions would be appreciated and thank you!
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
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5,714
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#2
You might try playing an F scale slowly starting on F2 and going to F3 and finding where the tone production breaks down. A chromatic scale in the same octave would be even better. My guess would be that you are subconsciously "biting" as you "reach for" a high note. You may need to firm the embouchure slightly to play the palm key notes, but most of the work should be done using a faster airstream
 

ptg

Member
Messages
96
#3
You might try playing an F scale slowly starting on F2 and going to F3 and finding where the tone production breaks down. A chromatic scale in the same octave would be even better. My guess would be that you are subconsciously "biting" as you "reach for" a high note. You may need to firm the embouchure slightly to play the palm key notes, but most of the work should be done using a faster airstream
As always, thanks! I will try that tonight and see how it goes as the week progresses. What a tricky instrument this is!
 

Ivan

Undecided
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Messages
4,777
Location
Peeblesshire
#4
After a long, long time of playing and thinking about embouchure I no longer bite high notes, but I firm up just as @jbtsax says. That makes for a fuller sound too

As for altissimo, if anything, I seem to relax, or at least there's no extra firming up.... it seems to be more about mouth and tongue position coaxing the note...

And the much repeated idea of thinking the note seems more or less essential
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
20,493
Location
Cheshire UK
#5
I've gone up a half strength on my reeds which has improved something in the tone but I now find I am biting more, to the point I can't play for long....Not sure what is happening

Jx
 

spike

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,380
Location
Half way up a hill
#6
Don't bite !!! - You'll simply need more air pressure and a faster air stream for a harder reed.
I changed to Rico Select Jazz a few months ago, they increase by increments of 33% instead of half strengths.
I'll quite often go up a step on gigs to compensate for the band volume and the adrenalin.
Sax playing isn't weight lifting - you don't win prizes for playing hard reeds.
 

jbtsax

old and opinionated
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Messages
5,714
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
#8
I've gone up a half strength on my reeds which has improved something in the tone but I now find I am biting more, to the point I can't play for long....Not sure what is happening
Jx
There are sets of muscles that form the embouchure. A stiffer reed makes them work harder, hence the fatigue. With practice the muscle tone/strength improves and the harder reed becomes less taxing. To prevent "biting" emphasize pushing in at the corners more and opening the teeth as you play. This is something we all deal with.
 

ptg

Member
Messages
96
#10
Everyone says not to bite but I see a lot of players use those little mouthpiece protectors because they bite!!! ???
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
10,578
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
#12
@ptg Biting is with the lower jaw. Many players plant their top teeth firmly on the mouthpiece, hence the patch. This is not biting. I almost rest my head on the mouthpiece, from time to time.

Biting is using the lower jaw to support the embouchure. Very different
 

ptg

Member
Messages
96
#13
@ptg Biting is with the lower jaw. Many players plant their top teeth firmly on the mouthpiece, hence the patch. This is not biting. I almost rest my head on the mouthpiece, from time to time.

Biting is using the lower jaw to support the embouchure. Very different
I never knew that! I can't ever imagine exposing my lower teeth to the mouthpiece though...
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Cafe Moderator
Messages
20,550
Location
Just north of Munich
#14
Everyone says not to bite but I see a lot of players use those little mouthpiece protectors because they bite!!! ???
Biting is when you have your bottom lip curled over your teeth and instead of the lip muscles providing the grip, you use your teeth and they dig/cut into your lips.

In the common embouchure, top teeth rest on the mouthpiece. And most mouthpieces that I've seen either have indentations from them, or a patch protecting the mouthpiece. Some teachers encourage wearing a groove in the beak that matches the front teeth, this means the mouthpiece is always in the same place as your teeth locate into it. This place may or may not be correct.
 

ptg

Member
Messages
96
#15
Biting is when you have your bottom lip curled over your teeth and instead of the lip muscles providing the grip, you use your teeth and they dig/cut into your lips.

In the common embouchure, top teeth rest on the mouthpiece. And most mouthpieces that I've seen either have indentations from them, or a patch protecting the mouthpiece. Some teachers encourage wearing a groove in the beak that matches the front teeth, this means the mouthpiece is always in the same place as your teeth locate into it. This place may or may not be correct.
Very interesting, indeed. Maybe I'm not biting enough! :confused: :)
 

spike

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,380
Location
Half way up a hill
#16
As above - Don't bite !!! use the muscles in your lower lip and learn to control them.
Sorry - but It takes time, I've been blowing down the long and curly tube for over 50 years and I'm still learning.
Patience you must have young Padowan.
Play with the setup that you have and are most comfortable with and master it.