Beginner Help!! My Tenor feels and sounds like it's full of stuffing lately.


New Member
Brisbane, Australia
Granted, I'm a novice - I've had my YTS62 for about a year now and I play in a community band once a week.

During the past year that I have been playing I have been happy with my progress and after having had my sax serviced the low notes were always right there and really used to resonate.

Quite suddenly (well, it felt like it) the sax seems harder and harder to play. It's like I've hit a long snake (snakes and ladders) and slid right back to square No.1. I'm squeaking and squawking like crazy again and the sax is so hard to blow it feels like it is full of stuffing. I've tried new reeds, harder reeds, softer reeds etc. - same problem.

I was convinced there was something wrong with it (a major leak or something) so took it in for a service but they could find nothing wrong.

I do about 15 mins of mouthpiece exercises every day on my way to work in the car (I have a Silencer mouthpiece mute - wonderful thing!!) and have felt my embouchure muscles strengthening. I try and get in a couple of practices a week between band practice too.

I'm stumped!! Is this something that happens? Do I just keep at it and work my way through it?
Any advice or comments will be most welcome - thanks.
Possibly you need a mouthpiece now with a larger tip opening. If you do this you'll also need to consider your reed strength in relationship with the mouthpiece (and possibly reed type). I'd be surprised at this though as your signature shows you using an Otto Link TE 6*. It is possible there is a leak still and to a more experienced player it doesn't effect them, this in fact happened to me but it was on a Selmer MK VII (an older sax). Finally it might be you are tightening up too much over the pressure of this issue, try and relax the embouchure and see if that helps.
Hi SansSax,

Wow, you could have just described my tenor there too, stuffy and uninspiring to play! I have even jumped back onto the alto for my lessons and the tenor is left in its case.

But I know what's wrong with mine, I've got a leak on the pad the goes down when you play a G, I think there might be a few others elsewhere too. I just need to get it to a professional now.

But you say they've checked your sax out and no leaks! Stumped then, your neck cork is still good I presume, you've got a good seal there?

I'd suggest having a go testing for a leak yourself, I've got a leak light and couldn't see anything, but using a cigarette paper I was able to find the one on my G key, it is at the back of the pad, I guess these things don't always show up with a leak light.

My hunch is it's a leak, why else would it suddenly stop responding?

I hope you get to the bottom of it.

Did it play OK for the tech?

Maybe there's a pull-through or something else stuck inside.

May be an idea to try another tenor with your mouthpiece and see if the problem is still there. If it is, it's the mouthpiece or the player, otherwise it's the sax... Trying another mouthpiece may helps as well.
I'd go with the leaky pad too, a while ago I struggled for a few weeks before Stephen Howard looked at it, found a leak, quick tweak and was all fixed, difference in before and after was amazing. He however blew it with no problems as I'm only learning too.
Did it play OK for the tech?
Now that's something that surprised me - he didn't "blow" the sax himself. He did put the light down it and tweaked and fiddled with a couple of the pads etc. He seemed quite happy that the visual inspection was all that was necessary to confirm it was OK. Being the novice I am I accepted that. I would have thought that playing the sax would have been the ultimate test. Perhaps because good players can blow right past the little flaws that hobble novices such as myself, it wouldn't have helped? His inspection seemed very thorough, he very kindly offered me lots of advice and didn't charge me for his time but very tactfully indicated that I probably needed to put in a bit more practice (which is true but hasn't really helped resolve my issue).

Maybe there's a pull-through or something else stuck inside.
Can happen - an Alto playing friend of mine found his spare neck strap inside his sax after a night of "bad playing" at a gig. But, no - checked for "foreign objects".

May be an idea to try another tenor with your mouthpiece and see if the problem is still there. If it is, it's the mouthpiece or the player, otherwise it's the sax... Trying another mouthpiece may helps as well.
That's my plan - I'm going to get someone else to play the horn and see what they think. In the mean time I'll persevere with the practice time and endure the frustration :-(

Thanks to all for the input and advice.
Last edited by a moderator:
Can you take the sax to someone else for a second opinion? You are describing a sax with a leak somewhere. Is the octave pad on the neck closed? The sax neck mechanism is easily upset. Have you found any bits of cork in your case? Check over your springs and make sure they are all connected.

Can you take the sax to someone else for a second opinion?
Definitely will do that, thanks Jim.

I put in a solid hour and a bit of practicing on Sat and tried a number of reeds. I found a new 1 1/2 Rico and that helped quite a bit. Lots of long notes and some of the lower still need coaxing. Oh well ...... soldier on.
Make sure the octave mechanism is working properly -- sometimes if you rotate the neck to a different position it can make the difference between playing great and not playing at all. If your tech plays in a bit different position to you it could work for him and leak for you. Just make sure there is a little bit of clearance between the neck mechanism and the lever that operates it.

If that's not it, try new reeds.

Similar threads


Shop at

Books & DVDs

Books & DVDs

Saxophone tutorials - beginners to advanced. Beginners DVD and our now famous Beginners Starter Pack with huge discounts.



PPT mouthpieces. The best mouthpieces. PPT hand made in the UK.

Pete Thomas CDs

CDs and Audio Tracks

Pete Thomas CDs and recordings. Mr Lucky, Big Midnight in the Naked City and more...

Beginners starter pack

Beginners downloads

A huge collection of tutorials & guides in PDF format. Over 80 backing tracks (mp3). Free when you order books, DVDs or CDs

Top Bottom