SYOS

In Tune or Not

Screamin Wind

Member
Messages
77
Location
Halesowen, West Midlands
Hello Good People & a Merry Christmas to All...:)

I've been reading over the years, is your horn in playing in tune or not?

It's probably a daft request question but;...:confused:

What is the best method a player can use, besides his ear & experience, to check if a sax plays in tune from bottom Bb through the scale to top F#

Have a Great New Year.

Mike
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
Guys like Korg make inexpensive electronic tuners. These will tell you note by note how accurate the intonation is on your sax - and you'll also be able to see just how accurate your playing is - the tightness of your embouchure has a big effect on the pitch of the note, and is used by experienced players to bend notes for effect, and to compensate for intonation issues on their saxes.

It's worth checking out the different models available. Some have a metronome built in. Others allow you to set the pitch of the instrument and so will read out the note you've keyed, rather than the note you played in concert pitch. Some have a clip on mike attachment that is designed for tuning instruments like guitars when you're in a noisy area.

On the metronomes, these are often too quiet to be of much use for sax players as the metronome isn't loud enough to be heard without headphones. If there's a visual display on the metronome, as flashing LEDs or a moving needle on an LCD screen, this can work, but it's difficult if you're reading music at the same time...
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
What is the best method a player can use, besides his ear & experience, to check if a sax plays in tune from bottom Bb through the scale to top F#

Mike
There is no better method than your ear and experience. But you can do this -- you need a piano or at least a tuner that will generate a number of tones. Push the mouthpiece in until middle B is in tune or a hair (<5%) flat. Then check middle E -- it should be in tune to a little sharp (<5%). If there is a big spread between these two, there's a problem. Play a few octaves, with and without the octave key, listen for whether they're in tune -- play a note on the piano, play the note in the lower octave, play the upper octave. Notice whether the upper octave needs lipping up or down. It shouldn't.

Then play anything, scales, songs -- listen for notes that don't sit where the should.

The one big key to this is being able to play very well in tune yourself. If you can't do that, let somebody who can double check the scale for you.

Looking back at this post, I realize I don't usually go into this much depth. I just put the moutphiece on, shove it in until the B sounds pretty much in tune, and play some stuff -- bits of tunes, bop lines, exercises, whatever. I'll notice the horns tendencies -- whether there are any bad notes or if the octaves are too wide or short.
 

SteveK

Member
Messages
149
Location
Guildford, Surrey
I have an iphone and there's a whole host of musical applications you can buy for a couple of pounds including chromatic tuners and metronomes. I use two applications for these purposes - 'Cleartune' and 'Metronome' - they were £1.99 each, but of course you need an iphone. I use the iphone earphones to solve the 'being able to hear the metronome' problem.

I also have a Korg tuner that I have had for some years that I used for guitar before I got an iphone. This type of tuner retails for between £30 and £60

While I think that using a tuner all the time is a bad thing I believe that the occasional check up to make sure you are on target is a good idea. The tempered scale is not a natural distribution of intervals and has to be learnt by comparison to a reference whether it be a tuner, a piano etc. If you play with 'hard tuned' instruments (e.g pianos, keyboards) regularly then there is less need but if you always play with other horns or on your own a check-in to a tuner from time to time is not a bad thing.
Steve
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
I'd forgotten, but the iphone post jogged my memory - there's a pc app called tune!it that does the job. there are some others with similar names which I haven't looked at.
 

ukwoody

Member
Messages
81
Location
Milford Haven, Pembrokshire, Wales
with reference to electronic tuners, I was about to buy the Korg one, when Lidl had some in for 9.99. Really good. Metronome is reasonably loud, clip on mike, eb, Bb and concert c tuneable. Uses digital needle and also written letter to show note being played.

Well worth the money.

woody
 

Stu

New Member
Messages
3
I push the mouthpiece on as far as it will go and am still 1/2 step or more flat (tenor - old conn stencil - all new pads). Where is the problem?

Thanks for advice.
Stu
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,772
Location
Minster On Sea
How far is, "as far as it will go"? Can you still see cork? If the problem is the thickness of the cork then you could try sanding it down a bit so you can push the mouthpiece further on. Can you get somebody else to play it to see they have the same problem? Is the crook inserted in the body correctly? Have you tried another mouthpiece? Is it flat over the whole range?
 

Stu

New Member
Messages
3
I don't have a tuner but use a tone generator on my computer. B sounds to be between C and C#. I haven't tried C. However, at my last lesson, the horn seemed more in tune. Perhaps embouchure training has improved my ability to create and hear proper tonality?
 

Stu

New Member
Messages
3
How far is, "as far as it will go"? Can you still see cork? If the problem is the thickness of the cork then you could try sanding it down a bit so you can push the mouthpiece further on. Can you get somebody else to play it to see they have the same problem? Is the crook inserted in the body correctly? Have you tried another mouthpiece? Is it flat over the whole range?
Only 1/8 to 1/4 inch cork visible. Crock inserted correctly. However, recent practice to improve embouchure seems to result in enabling me to better be in tune. As a result, I think now it was more me than the horn. Using Selmer C*, RICO Select 3M, Rovner ligature.

Thanks all for the help (I can use all I can get :) )
 

Neffmusic

New Member
Messages
12
Location
New Hampshire
There is no better method than your ear and experience. But you can do this -- you need a piano or at least a tuner that will generate a number of tones. Push the mouthpiece in until middle B is in tune or a hair (<5%) flat. Then check middle E -- it should be in tune to a little sharp (<5%). If there is a big spread between these two, there's a problem. Play a few octaves, with and without the octave key, listen for whether they're in tune -- play a note on the piano, play the note in the lower octave, play the upper octave. Notice whether the upper octave needs lipping up or down. It shouldn't.

Then play anything, scales, songs -- listen for notes that don't sit where the should.

The one big key to this is being able to play very well in tune yourself. If you can't do that, let somebody who can double check the scale for you.

Looking back at this post, I realize I don't usually go into this much depth. I just put the moutphiece on, shove it in until the B sounds pretty much in tune, and play some stuff -- bits of tunes, bop lines, exercises, whatever. I'll notice the horns tendencies -- whether there are any bad notes or if the octaves are too wide or short.
This is exactly what I do. I tune middle B to be a tad flat. Middle E is a little sharp but the rest of the notes kind of just fall into place. I just have to lip middle B,C and C# up a little so they aren't flat and then lip a few of the other notes down but I'm used to that.
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,983
Location
The Athens of The North
If you set your tone generator to concert Bb you should play a C to be in tune. A lot of bands use concert A as a tuning note and Bb instruments play a B natural. Concert B = C# on your tenor.

Jim.
 

814jazzer

Member
Messages
55
Location
Pennsylvania
Always remember two things:

"My horn was tuned at the factory"

and

"Better to be sharp than out of tune"

But you didn't hear it from me... :)

~ Rick
 

stefank

Member
Messages
368
Location
Hobart, Tasmania
Interesting stuff. When I play with a concert band, we tune to a concert B flat, so that's C for me on tenor, and I use the "middle" one (in the range) to tune. The problem is that's the second most likely note (after the C# immediately above it) that I'm likely to play flat on the instrument. For practical purposes I'm best off having that note played comfortably marginally flat (but within "pushing up" range), rather than struggling to keep most of the rest of the notes down to pitch. I think this relates to what Morgan and Neff were saying above.

In the end pitch is a relative thing, and it either "sounds right", or it doesn't. Practising with a point of reference (pitch wise) can be valuable - play alongs or Band in a Box can be useful here, provided you use your ears.
 
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