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Kazoo or rattle like tone?!

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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8,093
While we are anxiously waiting for a recording so we can hear the "kazoo-like" sound, I suggest you try playing with less of the mouthpiece in your mouth. When we put our top teeth on farther, it allows more of the reed to vibrate and takes away some of the "dampening" of the reed's vibrations by the lower lip which helps to control the sound. Different mouthpieces with different lays and tip openings can sometimes require a different approach to how we play on them to get the "best" sound.
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
Messages
3,201
Another possibility - although this one will sound a little odd. Nothing's changed except your perception.

Because you noticed something, you've started to hear it all the time now. This is something I first noticed when I was learning to be a sound engineer. Put a pop or rock record on and listen to the high-hats or the cymbals. Every time you've heard this song before it always sounded perfect, but concentrate on the cymbals or high-hats and within 30 seconds they'll suddenly sound like they're far, far too loud in the mix. Stupidly loud. So loud that you can't believe no one's noticed before how unbelievably intrusive they are.

I'm sure this phenomenon will have a scientific name, but it's a possible cause to your problem.

A recording would be really helpful.
 

eliotttanner

Member
Messages
43
HI everyone.

GOOD NEWS AT LAST!!!!

After playing around with the keys and being a bit experimental in shaking the sax about in all different ways I found something that i think is the source of the problem. On my sax (not sure if it is standard on all) there is a metal post extension that holds my g key in place. Obviously the rod had bent into it slightly more than usual causing the two to vibrate against each-other. I am beyond relieved. I had a feeling it was mechanical as this mpc has been so rewarding in the last couple of months. I am now wondering how I can approach fixing this? Perhaps some felt or cork? I dont have access to this so any makeshift suggestions appreciated. Pics below. Thanks so much everyone.

@Veggie Dave @jbtsax
 

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jbtsax

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8,093
Good catch! What I use in those "saddles" is a small piece of thin (.5mm) synthetic felt that is cut in an oval shape. I apply a small amount of contact cement to the felt and to the brass part using a cotton bud and let the parts dry. You can get thin felt or "ultrasuede" from Dawkes Music. Or, If you ask real nice perhaps @Stephen Howard would put a small piece in an envelope and send it to you.

Sometimes the material makes the rod fit too tight to turn freely. When that happens I take a drill bit slightly wider than the key rod and lay it over the "saddle" and give it a whack with a hammer to open up the sides a bit.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,088
I am now wondering how I can approach fixing this? Perhaps some felt or cork? I dont have access to this so any makeshift suggestions appreciated.

You can use fabric (following on from JBT's post) or even paper - but without removing the key it can be a fiddly job. An easy, though not neat, solution is to wrap a piece of masking tape around the key barrel where it sits over the key guide.
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Subscriber
Messages
655
Hi everyone,

Me again with yet another problem.

If you saw my last thread I spoke about mouthpiece problems. Since that post (if you care) I have purchased an otto link metal mouthpiece (8). At the beginning of using this I had an amazing experience with this mouthpiece as it has opened up a door to a whole new world of sound development and I am extremely happy with my purchase. When I purchased my normal box of reeds (that work with this mouthpiece setup) of vandoran trad no,3's,

I found a couple of good reeds which felt really good. I rotate my reeds so i knew how each one played. The ones that felt the best felt good however after a week of playing they became too buzzy. I thought immediately that this wasn't a usual amount of time for my reeds to last so I thought that I ought to move up a half size. However at this point I started having serious problems even with the other good reeds of that box. I started to get a consistent buzzy sound as compared to when you have a soft or bad reed in a box. On top of this I developed a sort of kazoo sound that sounds more like rattling and produces a sort of overtone feel that you can feel beneath your feet as it vibrates the room.

The sound is really irritating and I have never really experienced a buzz anything like it. My first plan was to try a different brand of reeds and also a half size up to see if I could have a bit more room to break the reed in. I bought some selmer 3.5 reeds which are the equivalent in strength to a vandoren 3.5 so there was a half size up increase. I soaked 2 or 3 and did my usual breaking in of a new box of reeds. The reeds felt fairly good however this annoying buzzing sound did not go away. This then led me to think about the mouthpiece. I am inexperienced with mouthpieces so i tested to see if the reed was sitting on the table well or if there were any scratched however I felt that this probably wasn't the problem as I had not damaged it since the last time it played well. I then thought it could be the sax and because i needed a good clean anyway I took apart the whole thing and put it back together. After this took 2 or 3 hours I was hope full it was going to do the job, however now I am typing this in complete frustration and anger as I am desperate to practice but cannot get over this hugely annoying sound that will not go away.

I am sorry if my information is excessive but I hope this gives anyone willing to help a comprehensive understanding of what might be happening.
Any help would be hugely appreciated and as I am sure most of you can imagine, it is extremely frustrating not being able to practice with all this time on our hands.

Please ask any questions at all if it means you can understand the situation better.
Thanks
The reason you think that the leap from #3s to #3.5s was not the problem is that a reed changes dramatically over the first few days of playing and although at first it will vibrate well, it will become harder and unresponsive for a time before 'blowing in' - this is particularly a characteristic of Vandoren Blue Box reeds.

Sorry to be blunt about this, but no one apart from a very very seasoned pro should consider using a reed of the equivalence to a Vandoren Blue Box #3.5 on a #8 tenor mouthpiece. A Blue Box 3.5 is equal to a #4 Java - ridiculous for most players.

Although you think you can hack reeds of this strength, you are most likely lacking in basic embouchure strength and making up for it with a hard reed and unfortunately the harder reed you use, the harder you bite and the worse your sound will get. Not to mention the incompatibility of the Blue Box being a reed designed for classical playing (with a thin tip and thick heart and shoulders) on an Otto Link.

On a #8 Otto Link, you shouldn't be using anything stronger than a #3 Java (2.5 Blue Box) and judging by your inexperience, you should probably get some 2s or 2'5s Javas and work at developing you embouchure correctly.

I apologise if this seems harsh, and I certain do not mean any rudeness or disrespect ,but if you want to achieve the sound in your head, you must go back to basics and learn to make a good sound in the proper way - by developing the muscles in your embouchure and vocal tract. Without that you will always be frustrated.
 

eliotttanner

Member
Messages
43
The reason you think that the leap from #3s to #3.5s was not the problem is that a reed changes dramatically over the first few days of playing and although at first it will vibrate well, it will become harder and unresponsive for a time before 'blowing in' - this is particularly a characteristic of Vandoren Blue Box reeds.

Sorry to be blunt about this, but no one apart from a very very seasoned pro should consider using a reed of the equivalence to a Vandoren Blue Box #3.5 on a #8 tenor mouthpiece. A Blue Box 3.5 is equal to a #4 Java - ridiculous for most players.

Although you think you can hack reeds of this strength, you are most likely lacking in basic embouchure strength and making up for it with a hard reed and unfortunately the harder reed you use, the harder you bite and the worse your sound will get. Not to mention the incompatibility of the Blue Box being a reed designed for classical playing (with a thin tip and thick heart and shoulders) on an Otto Link.

On a #8 Otto Link, you shouldn't be using anything stronger than a #3 Java (2.5 Blue Box) and judging by your inexperience, you should probably get some 2s or 2'5s Javas and work at developing you embouchure correctly.

I apologise if this seems harsh, and I certain do not mean any rudeness or disrespect ,but if you want to achieve the sound in your head, you must go back to basics and learn to make a good sound in the proper way - by developing the muscles in your embouchure and vocal tract. Without that you will always be frustrated.


Hi


Many many thanks for your reply.

I am not quite sure what you are saying. I can only speak from personal experience and of course that experience is not entirely from trial and error but more from following advice of teachers. I am intrigued by what you are saying and am completely open to trying this out and delving deeper into this.

I am by no means a player that thinks the higher reed strength the better I am. I personally think it's whatever feels more comfortable. With a softer reed I couldn't get the volumes and dynamics I could with a harder reed. I admit the jump from 3's to 3.5 was unnecessary but that was only to fix my problem with the buzz. Now that I have realised the buzz was mechanical (which I am not sure you know as you never mentioned it), I feel the reed strength I am on now is still giving me the response I am looking for so therefore I will stick to it.

And now to speak about embouchure. I think I understand what you are saying. Developing an embouchure through strengthening muscles in throat cheeks or diaphragm comes before anything. I know this and I have not at all skipped over this. I spend at leas an hour on Overtones and long tones. High notes going from no sound to the loudest sound and back again. For me I feel this is exercising my embouchure in a very good way. However when using a softer reed, this isn't exercising or strengthening my embouchure at all because the ease of playing is so much smoother and doesn't give me the space to go loud and soft. How will reducing the strength help my embouchure? Perhaps my logic of exercising the muscles through being challenged is false? I don't know.

Anyway I could go on challenging everything you say for hours. Let me make one thing clear above all of this. I am in no position whatsoever to undermine anyone in this forum. You are all smarter, more experienced and better players than I am. However I am a firm believer of challenging opinions. This doesn't matter if you are Trane or a beginner. This is my way of learning. This strips everyone of their ego's and forces everyone to question themselves and their opinions. It may seem like I have an ego but let it be clear; I don't know what I'm talking about. I don't know that you know what you are talking about. This is the beauty of learning. I am open to anything at all, if it means going back to a strength I feel painfully uncomfortable on then lets do it. If I was speaking from a position of more experience then I'd be open to trying as well.

So far, before your recommendation, I tried a lower strength, however this was in order to fix my problem. Now I am being faced with a new challenge to develop perhaps a better embouchure. Please guide me with what I could do next. I am excited. Let us learn together.

Sorry for the length and perhaps annoyance of this. I am here to learn. I have nothing to lose so lets discuss.


Thank you
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Subscriber
Messages
655
Hi


Many many thanks for your reply.

I am not quite sure what you are saying. I can only speak from personal experience and of course that experience is not entirely from trial and error but more from following advice of teachers. I am intrigued by what you are saying and am completely open to trying this out and delving deeper into this.

I am by no means a player that thinks the higher reed strength the better I am. I personally think it's whatever feels more comfortable. With a softer reed I couldn't get the volumes and dynamics I could with a harder reed. I admit the jump from 3's to 3.5 was unnecessary but that was only to fix my problem with the buzz. Now that I have realised the buzz was mechanical (which I am not sure you know as you never mentioned it), I feel the reed strength I am on now is still giving me the response I am looking for so therefore I will stick to it.

And now to speak about embouchure. I think I understand what you are saying. Developing an embouchure through strengthening muscles in throat cheeks or diaphragm comes before anything. I know this and I have not at all skipped over this. I spend at leas an hour on Overtones and long tones. High notes going from no sound to the loudest sound and back again. For me I feel this is exercising my embouchure in a very good way. However when using a softer reed, this isn't exercising or strengthening my embouchure at all because the ease of playing is so much smoother and doesn't give me the space to go loud and soft. How will reducing the strength help my embouchure? Perhaps my logic of exercising the muscles through being challenged is false? I don't know.

Anyway I could go on challenging everything you say for hours. Let me make one thing clear above all of this. I am in no position whatsoever to undermine anyone in this forum. You are all smarter, more experienced and better players than I am. However I am a firm believer of challenging opinions. This doesn't matter if you are Trane or a beginner. This is my way of learning. This strips everyone of their ego's and forces everyone to question themselves and their opinions. It may seem like I have an ego but let it be clear; I don't know what I'm talking about. I don't know that you know what you are talking about. This is the beauty of learning. I am open to anything at all, if it means going back to a strength I feel painfully uncomfortable on then lets do it. If I was speaking from a position of more experience then I'd be open to trying as well.

So far, before your recommendation, I tried a lower strength, however this was in order to fix my problem. Now I am being faced with a new challenge to develop perhaps a better embouchure. Please guide me with what I could do next. I am excited. Let us learn together.

Sorry for the length and perhaps annoyance of this. I am here to learn. I have nothing to lose so lets discuss.


Thank you
Everything you say is valid of course, and I'm pleased you sorted out your rattle!

Have you read Eugen Herrigel 's 'Zen and the Art of Archery'? I mention it because - to my mind - he explains that the traditional route of study of this art in Japan is/was based on the philosophy that its pedagogy was immutable. By which I mean that the student of Archery does not start with a light bow, but with a full strength one and trains the body to be able to draw it correctly through many years of toil and frustration, culminating hopefully in an acceptance of the reality oneself in relation to the bow and arrow.

Now I apologise if this seems a tad over dramatic in relation to the sax, but what I mean to say is that in the long run any method of study is OK if your heart is in it.

However in regards to archery, that discipline uses muscles that we use in everyday life, not to the extent required to draw a full sized bow, but nonetheless we do use the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, back muscles etc regularly and strongly. Conversely, the embouchure muscles are not used to anywhere near the extent involved in playing the sax (or trumpet, clarinet etc etc) in normal daily life.

The famous American teacher Joe Allard made the statement that even a small child has the musculature to blow the saxophone correctly, and although I am not entirely a fan of the Allard school of players, I am very aware that he was correct. The mere act of making a sound on a saxophone mouthpiece and reed combination can be done with a fraction of the effort most people involve.

I was recently practising on my 7* mouthpiece (made by Ed Pillinger) with a #2 Vandoren Java reed. Now I would not use a reed as soft as that professionally - I'm simply not used enough to such a soft reed - but the occasional bout of practice on a #2 makes playing a 2.5 or 3 an entirely different experience. When returning to a 2.5 or 3 reed, I find my tone much more open and full because the #2 prohibits me from biting and demands better breath support.

So in sax playing although there is a comparison to a sporting discipline such as Zen Archery, there is also a fundamental difference, mainly in the way the body is used.
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
687
Top pro Roxy Coss, a Vandoren-sponsored artist, explains (at 2minutes to 3 minutes) why moving from T9 and ZZ 3.0 to T6 and ZZ 2.5 made her a better player. Kindof what David said: it forces you to have better breath control, giving you more flexibility, a more nuanced embouchure, rather than simply more one-dimensional strength.
 

eliotttanner

Member
Messages
43
Everything you say is valid of course, and I'm pleased you sorted out your rattle!

Have you read Eugen Herrigel 's 'Zen and the Art of Archery'? I mention it because - to my mind - he explains that the traditional route of study of this art in Japan is/was based on the philosophy that its pedagogy was immutable. By which I mean that the student of Archery does not start with a light bow, but with a full strength one and trains the body to be able to draw it correctly through many years of toil and frustration, culminating hopefully in an acceptance of the reality oneself in relation to the bow and arrow.

Now I apologise if this seems a tad over dramatic in relation to the sax, but what I mean to say is that in the long run any method of study is OK if your heart is in it.

However in regards to archery, that discipline uses muscles that we use in everyday life, not to the extent required to draw a full sized bow, but nonetheless we do use the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, back muscles etc regularly and strongly. Conversely, the embouchure muscles are not used to anywhere near the extent involved in playing the sax (or trumpet, clarinet etc etc) in normal daily life.

The famous American teacher Joe Allard made the statement that even a small child has the musculature to blow the saxophone correctly, and although I am not entirely a fan of the Allard school of players, I am very aware that he was correct. The mere act of making a sound on a saxophone mouthpiece and reed combination can be done with a fraction of the effort most people involve.

I was recently practising on my 7* mouthpiece (made by Ed Pillinger) with a #2 Vandoren Java reed. Now I would not use a reed as soft as that professionally - I'm simply not used enough to such a soft reed - but the occasional bout of practice on a #2 makes playing a 2.5 or 3 an entirely different experience. When returning to a 2.5 or 3 reed, I find my tone much more open and full because the #2 prohibits me from biting and demands better breath support.

So in sax playing although there is a comparison to a sporting discipline such as Zen Archery, there is also a fundamental difference, mainly in the way the body is used.

Wow.
That is very interesting. The comparison makes complete sense. I think that maybe the act of placing yourself in a state of discomfort whether that be a reed strength under or over your comfort zone...this may force you to consider various things relating to embouchure that you may not have though of when practicing within your comfort zone. I'm probably missing the point here but Its sparked interest.

In one of my previous threads I was experiencing issues with a mouthpiece that came with my horn. My teacher wasn't letting me upgrade but I went against his advice which I do not regret. However I do regret hiding this new mpc from him( I mainly bought the new on because it was a bargain but a big part of me wanted a shiny new piece). during our lessons I'd return to the ****ty one and it was practically impossible to play after using the otto link. However maybe this was a good thing. I stuck to the ****ty one as I had auditions coming up and it was uncomfortable and wasn't as expressive. After the auditions I returned to it. It was as if my whole world opened when using the link. It felt like I was truly able to express through it but also gave me so much flexibility but most of all I fetlt it gave me room to develop.

I will definitely switch back to a softer reed for a week and see what I can do . This is very enlightening.
 

eliotttanner

Member
Messages
43
Top pro Roxy Coss, a Vandoren-sponsored artist, explains (at 2minutes to 3 minutes) why moving from T9 and ZZ 3.0 to T6 and ZZ 2.5 made her a better player. Kindof what David said: it forces you to have better breath control, giving you more flexibility, a more nuanced embouchure, rather than simply more one-dimensional strength.

Interesting. Thats a huge change coming down in both tip opening and reed strength.
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Subscriber
Messages
655
Top pro Roxy Coss, a Vandoren-sponsored artist, explains (at 2minutes to 3 minutes) why moving from T9 and ZZ 3.0 to T6 and ZZ 2.5 made her a better player. Kindof what David said: it forces you to have better breath control, giving you more flexibility, a more nuanced embouchure, rather than simply more one-dimensional strength.
Exactly. And the surprising thing is that she doesn't sound a great deal different, it's still 'Roxy Coss'.
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Subscriber
Messages
655
Wow.
That is very interesting. The comparison makes complete sense. I think that maybe the act of placing yourself in a state of discomfort whether that be a reed strength under or over your comfort zone...this may force you to consider various things relating to embouchure that you may not have though of when practicing within your comfort zone. I'm probably missing the point here but Its sparked interest.

If you think practising properly with a soft reed is staying 'within your comfort zone', think again. Of course if you just noodle around without focus, then yes, it's pointless.

The point is to develop the subtle musculature around the lips and the stamina and flexibility of the whole larynx, tongue, lip mechanism as a whole. There is a real danger that playing on a hard reed without any real development of the musculature can cause problematic imbalances, or at worst complete loss of muscle control due to over-stressing underdeveloped muscles. Like trying to run a marathon without training. Some players get away with it, but I have known people who just ruined their playing - loosing flexibility and sensitivity.

In one of my previous threads I was experiencing issues with a mouthpiece that came with my horn. My teacher wasn't letting me upgrade but I went against his advice which I do not regret. However I do regret hiding this new mpc from him( I mainly bought the new on because it was a bargain but a big part of me wanted a shiny new piece). during our lessons I'd return to the ****ty one and it was practically impossible to play after using the otto link. However maybe this was a good thing. I stuck to the ****ty one as I had auditions coming up and it was uncomfortable and wasn't as expressive. After the auditions I returned to it. It was as if my whole world opened when using the link. It felt like I was truly able to express through it but also gave me so much flexibility but most of all I fetlt it gave me room to develop.
Yes, this is all a problem. You have been dishonest to your teacher which is a major sin IMO, but let's move on.
It's great that you felt your world had opened up, but absolutely everything has an equal and opposite reaction, as you have discovered. No reason you should play a ****ty mouthpiece, but it will benefit you to understand why your teacher wasn't advising you to upgrade.


I will definitely switch back to a softer reed for a week and see what I can do . This is very enlightening.
The results you achieve will be commensurate with the effort you put in.
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
687
I used to be a distance running coach. There is a running analogy here. In Winter, distance runners do cross country over slow, muddy, uneven grass. They do this to build strength in assisting muscles so that they don't get injured in Summer when they want to run their fastest. Fast races stress the main running muscles but as you tire, the assisting muscles have to help. If the little assisting muscles aren't strong, you get injured.

But there's more. With correct training, a solid cross country season leads to acceleration and sprinting skills that win championship races.

So it is with soft reeds. Proper practice can train all the factors to create subtle control over the many colours of sax sound. Hard reeds only train the main muscles for a loud but relatively colourless sound.
 
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