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Is my octave key working?

wyocollins

New Member
Messages
12
Good morning from Jackson Hole everyone. I am very much a beginner sax player and play a vintage C.G. Conn alto and I have a question concerning the octave key. When I depress the key, I don't actually hear a difference in the tone of the note.:confused: I am not experienced enough to explain what I see when I depress the octave key, but when I play a 'G' note, a different pad opens instead of the one on the crook of the neck.
I hope this makes sense. I do, however, hear a higher pitch when I play a 'B' or 'C' with the octave key engaged.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers.

Danny
:confused:
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,551
When you have the octave key held down and finger top G (3 finger left hand and octave key) the octave pad on the body should open and the octave pad on the neck should stay closed, when you finger A (2 fingers left hand and octave key) they should swap.

Can you play up a scale from C (middle finger left hand only, no octave thumb key) and hear each note getting higher?

If you are a beginner, you may not yet be able to tighten your embouchure that little bit that is needed to jump an octave, but you may be able to step up an octave gradually.

And finally, do you play your notes tongued (tuh, tuh, tuh....) or slurred (tuh-uh-uh-uh...) as to play an octave jump at first may require you to tongue every note clearly.

Any help?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,947
Another thought - your embouchure may be so tight that you're already playing up an octave. It's easy to do, especially with soft reeds. Try loosening off on the lip pressure and air, cna you get the notes to drop an octave, no octave key?

If you've got something to compare to - like a piano, try playing middle C on your sax (middle finger left hand only), this should be the Eb above middle C on the piano.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,000
Remove the mouthpiece and neck from the saxophone. With the mouthpiece approximately halfway onto the cork play the mouthpiece and neck and see what pitch comes out. Adjust the embouchure so that this pitch matches an Ab on the piano or chromatic tuner. When you can do that, assemble the saxophone and play low G with a loud clear tone using the same embouchure tightness. As the low G is sounding loud and clear press the thumb octave key. The note should leap to the G an octave higher. If it does not, it means there is an obstruction in the body octave pip (vent). Sometimes it is possible to clean the body octave vent without removing the key by carefully inserting a bent pipe cleaner through the opening.
 

wyocollins

New Member
Messages
12
When I play a C scale, I hear the notes change in pitch but I don't know if I would describe it as 'higher'. I tried tightening my embouchere and did notice a difference in the sound of my playing.

Thanks for your help!
 

wyocollins

New Member
Messages
12
Thanks for replying. I am using a #3 reed because that is all that can be found in Jackson. It is possible that I am tightening my embouchere too much. (Clarification: embouchere is my tightened lips around the reed and mouthpiece, right?!):confused:
I do not have access to a piano here, but can probably drop by my in-laws and and play against theirs.
Thanks for the advice.
 

wyocollins

New Member
Messages
12
Hello and thank you for your advice. This is why I really love this website: knowledgable folks sharing their experience with those of us who lack it. Play it forward....

Anywho, your advice is probably a tad out of my frame of experience but did bring to mind another question. Does it matter how much of the mouthpiece I slide onto the cork to get different sound ranges? Currently, I have my mouthpiece about 2/3 of the way down the cork.
Thanks again!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
mouthpiece on cork - yes, it's made that way so you adjust the position of the mouthpiece to tune the instrument. Best is to find a simple electronic tuner, they're not that expensive and use that to tune the sax. Mouthpiece further on the cork means higher pitched, further off is lower pitched. Remember it's a transposing instrument, so for alto you should see an Eb on the tuner when you play a C, F for D and so on.
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
Yes, it does matter in terms of tuning. The further you push the mouthpiece on to the cork, the sharper the sax will become.

I don't always do it, but if you have an electronic tuner, or an instrument that is already in tune to provide a reference note, you can adjust the sax tuning by moving the mouthpiece on the neck cork. I tend to finger C on mine -just the second finger of my left hand - and adjust for that. I have a vague recollection of a thread that discussed which note to use for tuning, but I don't suppose it matters that much..
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,551
Whilst this is not perfect advice .... I have tuned each of my saxes using a tuner, after playing them for a while (so they are warmer) Once they were tuned, I placed a pencil mark on the cork where the end of the mouthpiece sits.
This is only truly valid for that room and environment at that time, but it's a good starting place to always put your mouthpiece on in future. You will be broadly in tune each time.

Also, if you will be playing in a band in future, it's useful to know that they generally tune to concert pitch A, which is an F# on and alto and baritone and a B on a soprano and tenor.

And finally.... If you are a beginner, my gut feeling is that a 3 is a rather hard reed to start on. I appreciate what you've said about it being the only one available locally, but a 2 or possibly even a 1 1/2 might be a good place to start on. Maybe you can find a web supplier that can sell one of a reed (rather than a pack of 3 or a box of 10) and you could buy one each of every reed - 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2 ?
 
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