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PPT Mouthpieces

Hello from born again saxophonist of Michigan

Gar

New Member
Messages
8
Hello all,

I have been reignited to the saxophone after learning quite a bit about it on the internet. I started out with an alto when I was about 10 years old in our school music class. The teacher was a general music teacher who was also teaching flute, clarinet, recorder and violin. I don't think the teacher knew too much about saxophone specifically based on the new information I found out. Her biggest offense it seems was that she placed the mouthpiece on the neck as far as she could and told me "this is all set now, all you have to do from now on is to put the neck on the body when you want to play, and remove it when you are done." For almost 30 years, that cork underneath the mouthpiece did not see the light of day. Furthermore, when the pitch did no sound right, she adjusted it by not inserting the neck all the way into the body, and told me that is how the neck should always be positioned. She only stayed on a couple years after we started, and then It was left to me, so I fiddled with it on and off in the same manner for a while for another 10 years before I stopped altogether.

So recently I found out many new things like:
1. You should remove the mouthpiece when you are finished playing.
2. You should remove the reed when you are finished playing.
3. You should adjust the pitch by how far you put the mouthpiece on the neck.
4. Your top teeth should be directly on the mouthpiece, and not be covered by your upper lip.
5. There are different hardnesses of reeds.
6. You should experiment with how much of the mouthpiece is placed in the mouth, and the embouchure in general to effect pitch and sound quality.
7. I should clean the inside of the body of the saxophone by actually running some sort of cloth all the way through it, and also clean the mouthpiece.

After using some of this information, I was back at my alto, and after all these years it seemed a bit better sounding with a bit less effort. With the help of this forum, I hope to improve even more. Any recommendations, on what accessories are a must for an alto saxophone and other tips in general?

Thanks,
Gar
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,949
Big welcome from me.

Pretty much all you say above is correct, but not all players do all of it - many leave the mouthpice and reed on the sax so it's ready to go next time.... This also stops 7 from being done.

Teeth on the mouthpiece - this is the normal way, but there's a recognised double lip embouchure which keeps the teeth off the mouthpiece. It's by no means widely used and you'll find differing opinions on it ranging from I do it to bigotry saying it's wrong. But both lips curled over the teeth is an oboe embouchure. Saxes work and sound better with lips forward, seems to direct the airflow over the reed better.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
6,042
Hi - welcome from the Border Marches in Shropshire.

I'm a beginner alto player - been playing a few months. I'm glad my sax teacher is a bit more enlightened! Not sure if you've got a teacher? There are plenty of tutor books etc which cover the basic advice around instrument care and technique.

I'm sure you'll be fine.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Welcome to the caff©, Gar.

Ignited? Hope you aren't going to be a flaming nuisance.>:)

ENJOY!™
 

Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
Messages
2,773
Hi Gar,
Plenty of information on Pete's saxophone pages and in the old Breakfast Room archives. Once in there we may never see you again.
Michigan? I have a friend who lives there. You'll probably know her.
 

llamedos

Senior Member
Messages
431
Welcome, Gar. Sounds like you had the sort of music teacher that shouldn't be teaching music; come to think of it she probably didn't want to teach music in the first place. The advice given above is very sound and the main thing is to enjoy playing. Know your instrument, know what sort of music you want to involve yourself with and go for it with enthusiasm and the efficiency will come as if by magic. It's a well known fact that the more you practice the better you become - if you don't you must be doing something wrong.

Above all, enjoy yourself.

Dave
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,208
Welcome to the madhouse, Gar. I have to warn you that I have the unpleasant habit of going off topic quite easily, but this time....


1. You should remove the mouthpiece when you are finished playing.
Correct. The cork will last more.

2. You should remove the reed when you are finished playing.
You should, clean it and so on, but if you do not do it, you have a good reason for complaining about reeds next time.
If the bar is closing, you just stick everything in the case and go for the last order.

3. You should adjust the pitch by how far you put the mouthpiece on the neck.
Here comes my perversion:
Unless you play with weird instruments (i.e. accordion) there should be ONE correct position for the mouthpiece, in which you play A=440 (or 442) and your octaves are right.
If you have to move the mouthpiece (usually due to different weather conditions) you will probably play out of tune.

4. Your top teeth should be directly on the mouthpiece, and not be covered by your upper lip.
As Kev said, double embochure exists. I find it tiring, but sometimes my upper lip slips in (old school teacher).
Now I recommend the most relaxed embochure you can have.

5. There are different hardnesses of reeds.
And makes. That is why saxophone forums have been invented.

6. You should experiment with how much of the mouthpiece is placed in the mouth, and the embouchure in general to effect pitch and sound quality.
Correct and nice to do. Wives and dogs usually do not appreciate this form of experimentation.

7. I should clean the inside of the body of the saxophone by actually running some sort of cloth all the way through it, and also clean the mouthpiece.
Correct: it helps preventing mushrooms and small mammals from growing inside your instrument.


It is going to be big fun!
 

Pyrografix

Senile Member
Messages
1,026
How can I follow Aldevis's post (which raised a chuckle or 3!) ..... other than to say welcome aboard!

Cheers,

Amanda
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Hi Gar and welcome. Newbie myself here but a wealth of information freely given by a really nice set of ladies and gentleman. Regds N.
 

Taps Jamzz

New Member
Messages
2
Good luck it seems you are on the right path. For item 3 need to find a professional who will help you set you pitch permanently and mark it out so that you do not need to be adjusting all the time.

Item 7 is very important it is what keeps the sax in good condition.

I tend to remove the mouthpiece and just dry it with soft tissue without necessarily removing the reed.

I am also learning but I hope this is helpful !!
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,562
My saxes live on their stand all week between lessons, rehearsals and gigs.
However, I always take the reed off the mouthpiece, and then leave the mouthpiece cap off - I figured there might be better air circulation. :confused:

I use a pull through on my alto to dry it (and on the bari neck & mouthpiece) when the sax is going in it's case (so before and after lessons, rehearsals and gigs) and I put a padsaver down the alto when it's in the case (which is not usually for longer than an hour or so in transit) and I drain the bari on a regular basis during and after playing, usually politely into a hanky, but occasionally onto a colleague's foot or the floor! :)))

However, I was told none of this by my first sax teacher (whom I only saw for about 4-6 months as I didn't like him) my second sax teacher spent a goodly while helping me with set-up ... suitable reeds, mouthpiece, posture and is always willing to answer questions, however mad! :w00t:

If you find teeth directly onto mouthpiece uncomfortable, you can also use a mouthpiece patch. I use the top lip out embouchure. As with many things, there are variations, and to some extent it's what you find comfortable and what works for you.

Welcome back to the world of Saxophony, I hope you enjoy your journey even more this time.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,435
Hi Gar

Welcome aboard shame you started your sax journey with a useless tutor but at least your carrying on,the number 1 most important thing when learning is to get a really good tutor,one that is a sax player themselves and preferably plays professionally,they have so much more to pass on than someone who has only taught music generally.Find one that you really get on with and enjoy your lessons with,after all your doing this for the enjoyment the sax is giving you,get yourself a teach yourself sax book a good tutor will recommend one so you can have a go on your own at different things in between lessons.I wish you luck on your new hot journey but must warn you playing the sax can become addictive....All the best ....john
 

Gar

New Member
Messages
8
Thanks to all in welcoming me to this forum. What a great crowd:).

All: Any specific cleaning cloth types or brands that work better than others?

Kev: Based on that, I will not completely poopoo the idea of the double lip embouchure.

Tenorviol: I am planning to get at least a couple lessons from a tutor at a local music shop to get me going in the right path. As for tutor books, is that different from lesson books?

Old Git: As you can see by the tardiness of my reply, with 4 tiny children, a dog , a cat and a wife, I unfortunately don't have the time to flame these boards:verysad.

Andrew: Thanks for the info on the pages. And what's your friend's name?

Dave: I just don't think she played any type of woodwind instrument. She did play cello, recorder and piano.

Aldevis: 1) How do you know when you need to replace the cork? 3) Which A is that for adjusting the mouthpiece? The concert pitch A, or the A you play on the alto saxophone? Does that mean that I should play a high G on the saxophone to make it to the pitch of an A=440? I plan to use a Yamaha keyboard to compare the pitch. 6) My wife was nice enough, and my dog too old to react in a negative way. However, my 2 and 3 year olds cried and gnashed there teeth as if it was the end of days. I like to think this was only because they never heard such a pure and powerful sound before, and it was too glorious for them to bear.

Taps: Thanks, thats a good idea about marking the position. I'll ask my tutor about doing that.

MandyH: Recently, after playing I have been standing the body upside down and the neck with the reed up to let gravity do the work. And ever since I started using my upper teeth on the mouthpiece, I have seen some marring on it. Is that normal? My mouthpiece is plastic.

John: The tutor I found does play the saxophone, but not sure which one if not all. But I did see her with a clarinet student as well. They are all woodwinds at least. I hope it should at least be good to start with.

Thanks again to all.
Gar
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,562
T Which A is that for adjusting the mouthpiece? The concert pitch A, or the A you play on the alto saxophone? Does that mean that I should play a high G on the saxophone to make it to the pitch of an A=440? I plan to use a Yamaha keyboard to compare the pitch.
Gar

In bands/groups with a piano, it is normal to tune to A concert pitch, which on an alto and bari is F# (I don't play tenor or sop, but I've a feeling it's B on those...but no doubt someone will correct me if I'm wrong)
So play A on your piano and F# on your alto and they should be in the same pitch. It doesn't matter much which F# you play as you should sound OK even if you are an octave adrift of the concert pitch.

If you're a bit flat, push the mouthpiece further onto the cork, if you're a bit sharp pull the mouthpiece off the cork a smidge.

When we play in the sax quartet and sax ensembles, we tune to the bari - so we are in tune with each other, but not necessarily in tune with concert pitch.

As my sax teacher often says - it's good enough for jazz :)))

Once you've got your sax warm and tuned, make a pencil mark around the cork to show where the mouthpiece should go each time you put it on, that way, you'll be pretty close to in tune next time from the start.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,208
1) How do you know when you need to replace the cork?
When it crumbles down (or when the mouthpiece is really wobbly, but there are few tricks to fix it temporarily)

3) Which A is that for adjusting the mouthpiece? The concert pitch A, or the A you play on the alto saxophone? Does that mean that I should play a high G on the saxophone to make it to the pitch of an A=440? I plan to use a Yamaha keyboard to compare the pitch.

A concert A should be 440Hz. This equals to an F# on the alto.
In civilized bands, an instrument that plays in tune plays a Bb, and the alto plays a G to tune up.

6) My wife was nice enough, and my dog too old to react in a negative way. However, my 2 and 3 year olds cried and gnashed there teeth as if it was the end of days. I like to think this was only because they never heard such a pure and powerful sound before, and it was too glorious for them to bear.

Just make sure they will not become drummers. Four young drummers in the same house is even worst than having tap dancers living in the flat above yours.

I am sure you will enjoy this forum.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,922
A concert A should be 440Hz. This equals to an F# on the alto.
In civilized bands, an instrument that plays in tune plays a Bb, and the alto plays a G to tune up.
Oddly enough, I find it more comfortable to tune to concert A (my F#) on the alto/baritone and concert Bb (my C) on tenor/sop. I think it's because the upper-octave G is a bit close to the switch-over on the octave mechanism and can be a bit stuffy, which makes it harder to check the octave between the two G's.
 
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