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Saxophones Is my sax out of tune?

RandomFX

New Member
Messages
7
I was wndering about the sound from my sax, so I took my guitar tuner, which works off of the viberation frequency of the strings on the head to tune your guitar. it works great for that as far as I can tell, but I clipped it on my sax, and when I do a 'C' with primary fingerings, ie just holding the middle top pearl button, it reads a A# however if I use the secondary fingers, the first pearl button, and the middle tone brass key, it is adjustable to perfect tune C. any ideas? is it right, or sdo I need to be concerned? is it just the totally wrong way to see if it is in tune even, or should I take it in and ask a technician what the deal is?
This is a jupiter tenor sax
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,063
All fingerings for C should produce a Bb/A#. Check you're not accidentaly fudging any keys/buttons you shouldn't be.
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
Tenor sax is a transposing Bb instrument so your C is not a concert C but instead an A# or Bb :)
 

RandomFX

New Member
Messages
7
oh.....is there a way to figure out how it transposes with all notes on it? just know this has something to do with musical theory, and really am feeling stupid for not knowing it already, but heck I decided to have no shame when I came here....am I guessing right that a Bb instrument refers to what is in the middle of the scale for the instrument, and pushing the 'C' key is really not the 'C' note per say but rather just the middle of the scale key? I just found it weird they call it a 'C' note if it is a A#/Bb... and the 'B' key isn't B either. it is good though that this would mean my tuner works on it, so I can potentially use it to know when I am in the right tone/etc. maybe.
thanks to both of you, if there are more things you can add and more areas for me to learn about this, it would be appreciated.
 

Big-Al

Member
Messages
32
oh.....is there a way to figure out how it transposes with all notes on it? just know this has something to do with musical theory, and really am feeling stupid for not knowing it already, but heck I decided to have no shame when I came here....am I guessing right that a Bb instrument refers to what is in the middle of the scale for the instrument, and pushing the 'C' key is really not the 'C' note per say but rather just the middle of the scale key? I just found it weird they call it a 'C' note if it is a A#/Bb... and the 'B' key isn't B either. it is good though that this would mean my tuner works on it, so I can potentially use it to know when I am in the right tone/etc. maybe.
thanks to both of you, if there are more things you can add and more areas for me to learn about this, it would be appreciated.
There are a number of instruments that are transposing instruments. In the sax family there are two keys Bb and Eb so the soprano is Bb the Alto is Eb the tenor is Bb and baritone a Eb.

The advantage is that once you learn the fingering it is same on all the saxophone types. The downside is that if you are playing in a group or with a backing track you need to make sure that you are playing from music that has been transposed to the key of your instrument.

Cheers Al,


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
 

RandomFX

New Member
Messages
7
Have a look here:)

Jx
Thank you for this chart, this clears it up pretty well. so in other words if I want to play a E I actually have to play a F# or Gb keying on my saxophone? The weird part of this is, back when I used to play music from all the other music books I got, from like keyboard/etc. When I played them as they were written in the book, they sounded badly, so I automatically started to play the other notes, to make them work. heh guess I was transposing without even knowing it.
Why would they do this though, why not just call the 'C' key a B flat and a B key a A/etc? is there a specific reason? maybe I am thinking of this wrong but isn;t a 'c' a specific freq. multiplier of sound, so if that key isn't producing that frequency multiplier, then why name it a 'C' key?
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,943
Hi

This is a complex issue with a lot of history attached to it, and it is to do (mostly) with the history of the development of instruments, especially wind instruments (brass and woodwind).

The sax was invented late enough (1840s) for it not to need to be a transposing instrument, but it is (you can look up on wiki/google why this was).

Before modern key mechanisms (woodwind) and valves (brass) were invented, these instruments were limited to the notes of the natural harmonic series (the natural harmonics/partials/overtones produced when a column of air of a given length is made to vibrate). It's too big a subject to detail further here... but basically, you needed a different instrument, or some removable/changeable plumbing, to be able to play in different keys.

Suffice it to say, we now have a number of instruments such as French horns, trumpets, clarinets, saxophones, which are said to be "in" a particular key. If that key is "C" then the note that is written on the page and the note that is sounded are the same. If your instrument is not in C (and most saxes are in either B-flat or E-flat) then the note written is not the note sounded.

This means, that if you wish to play with other instruments which are non-transposing (e.g. piano, guitar, violin etc) then the sax part needs to be transposed into the correct key so that you can play with them.

Hope that helps.

PS when using a tuner, you either need one that handles transposition, or you need to know if you finger a note on a tenor, it will sound one whole tone lower (C will be B-flat/A-sharp etc)
 
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RandomFX

New Member
Messages
7
Thank you for taking the time to answer, your answer gave a lot of information to really clarify it, and good information on how to help find yet even more specific information for myself. google is my freind, I'll search it well. probably about time I got more into music , history and theory anyways. thanks all for the replies.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,658
Also, be aware that My experience with clip on tuners is that for some reason in clip mode they can be off whereas in mic mode (if they have) are bang on.

my peterson strobe tuner with clip doesnt like the vibrations of the bell at all wont settle easily and if it does often on some odd node or harmonic note.....but in mic is accurate and stable.
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
Yes, I only use mic mode on tuners myself - clip mode isn't very stabile with saxes it would seem.
 

RandomFX

New Member
Messages
7
Hmm. nice to know....my regular tuner is only a clip on, but I do have a tablet with a tuner app, and a pc, with a professional mic with a tuner app. I've always thought they were fairly accurate, but do not know for sure.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
No-one's said it, but each note on tenor is one octave and one tone below what's written.

Simplest and easiest transposers are mouth organs and tin whistles. There you learn a single fingering/key sequence and blow the instrument in the key you want to play in. No mental gymnastics... One blues player used to come on stage with what looked like a machine gun belt around his neck - but it had a set of harps (harmonicas) in it.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I thought the original post was concerned that one fingering for C produced A# and the alternate produced a C.
Yes, but he said he was able to adjust the mouthpiece position enough to bring it to concert C, but not for all. Which is why we strayed into transposing instruments..
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,943
Something to watch out for is that how you attack a note will affect its pitch. The initial 'push' on a note (and this applies to string instruments as well as wind) can be slightly sharp - so always check the tuning of the 'steady-state' note, not the initial attack.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
LOL....another thread about the wonders of transposed instruments!!!

experience players please read:
hey Kev...before you start to delete my messages for corrupting "minors" (read "beginners") start thinking why even using a system which is supposed to take care of saxophonist fingers (e.g. when switching from Alto to Tenor) doesn't work as some more experienced players appears to get confused with that too.
Message to all: convert to the god C. Eb and Bb instruments are doomed - there's no escape. :thumb:

for the "beginners":
find about "detransposing" it might be interesting....there is very little in here though. Some more info can be gain if you can read Italian.
 
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zannad

Member
Messages
410
LOL....another thread about the wonders of transposed instruments!!!

experience players please read:
hey Kev...before you start to delete my messages for corrupting "minors" (read "beginners") start thinking why even using a system which is supposed to take care of saxophonist fingers (e.g. when switching from Alto to Tenor) doesn't work as some more experienced players appears to get confused with that too.
Message to all: convert to the god C. Eb and Bb instruments are doomed - there's no escape. :thumb:

for the "beginners":
find about "detransposing" it might be interesting....there is very little in here though. Some more info can be gain if you can read Italian.
(at least my messages aren't deleted in there - people like to be informed and understand that there is a genuine alternative).
 
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