All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Low B note on alto sax

agganitk

Member
Messages
111
I am having trouble in playing low b note on alto sax. I can play low b flat, c and c # with out any problem. My sax is OK. When I play low b, I get the fuzzy sound or note doesn't come at all.
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,533
Locality
West Midlands
I have found that the low B is a weak note on some horns and requires a bit more air and practise to perfect.
Not all horns have this problem but i have found a few that do.
 
Last edited:

Targa

Among the pigeons
Café Supporter
Messages
9,455
Locality
KIC 8462852
I think when I had a similar problem with low B I had knocked the spring off when cleaning the sax.
 

agganitk

Member
Messages
111
Low b flat is coming OK. I see one pad opening when going from low b flat to b. So I doubt about leak. If there is leak then I should have problem with b flat, but I don't have
 

Melissa

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,021
Locality
Northamptonshire UK
Not necessarily! I agree with Jazzdoh, but Griff is probably right, it need only be a cigarette paper leak.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,056
Locality
I live in Exmouth Devon.
Low b flat is coming OK. I see one pad opening when going from low b flat to b. So I doubt about leak. If there is leak then I should have problem with b flat, but I don't have

Not necessarily - you can play some notes in the lower register quite normally even with your octave key open - some notes you will find easier than others some will be difficult to achieve ( by having the octave key open you are effectively creating a leak. So having one note play below the note you are having difficulty with does not mean you don't have a leak above it.
It is to do with harmonics, fundamentals and acoustics.

Leak aside and without having the instrument, it is difficult to ascertain what's causing this, however there are a few options.

The link between your low B to low C# could be out of regulation. - There is a mechanism that keeps the low C# from opening when the low B spatula Key is pressed and the low C# key is inadvertently touched creating a leak.
You could for example when playing low B, be touching the low C# spatula (key button).

The Low Bb key may not be venting (opening)properly/fully. This could be caused by the spring coming loose in the post, or coming of off its latch , or lost its tension on your low Bb key, thus making it not open fully. It could also be that the Low Bb bumper is not regulated properly - thus restricting the key from opening fully.

The mechanism that keep your G# key closed when playing the bell keys could be leaking enough to affect the B but not the low C# and Bb. - Try playing a low D and then keep playing the D and press the G# paddle to see if there is a difference in tone and or resistance.

You could try playing each note on the sax and get someone else to press each key pad to see if you can find a leak.

Your best bet is to take it to a reputable tech, ask them to show you what the problem is (if any) and give you a price on how to rectify it.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.
 

Melissa

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,021
Locality
Northamptonshire UK
Not necessarily - you can play some notes in the lower register quite normally even with your octave key open - some notes you will find easier than others some will be difficult to achieve ( by having the octave key open you are effectively creating a leak. So having one note play below the note you are having difficulty with does not mean you don't have a leak above it.
It is to do with harmonics, fundamentals and acoustics.

Leak aside and without having the instrument, it is difficult to ascertain what's causing this, however there are a few options.

The link between your low B to low C# could be out of regulation. - There is a mechanism that keeps the low C# from opening when the low B spatula Key is pressed and the low C# key is inadvertently touched creating a leak.
You could for example when playing low B, be touching the low C# spatula (key button).

The Low Bb key may not be venting (opening)properly/fully. This could be caused by the spring coming loose in the post, or coming of off its latch , or lost its tension on your low Bb key, thus making it not open fully. It could also be that the Low Bb bumper is not regulated properly - thus restricting the key from opening fully.

The mechanism that keep your G# key closed when playing the bell keys could be leaking enough to affect the B but not the low C# and Bb. - Try playing a low D and then keep playing the D and press the G# paddle to see if there is a difference in tone and or resistance.

You could try playing each note on the sax and get someone else to press each key pad to see if you can find a leak.

Your best bet is to take it to a reputable tech, ask them to show you what the problem is (if any) and give you a price on how to rectify it.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Griff, you always put it in a more meaningful manner!:clapping: just what I wanted to say- yeah right! :D
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,723
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
It would help to know what make and model of saxophone you are playing on as well.
 

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
Messages
15,435
Locality
St. Mary's
I've often noticed this with low B. The first thing to check is whether there are any leaks, not just look at pads with a leak light but make sure there are no leaks that lights don't show, e.g. tenon or body/bow joint leaks.

If all that is OK, then some horns do seem to manifest this acoustical quirk. My MKVI tenor and BA alto had it (possibly why Selmer changed the bow design quite a lot during the production run)

I also recently noticed it on a modern Taiwanese instrument (one of the top price ones)

Sometimes can be solved by bunging a wine cork down the bell.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,723
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
What does the wine cork do?

It reduces the volume in that area of the saxophone which brings the harmonics more in tune with one another. A "warble" is created when there are harmonics stronger than the fundamental that are out of tune with one another and fight back and forth to control the mode locking or as Benade calls it "the regime of oscillation".
 

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
Messages
15,435
Locality
St. Mary's
It reduces the volume in that area of the saxophone which brings the harmonics more in tune with one another. A "warble" is created when there are harmonics stronger than the fundamental that are out of tune with one another and fight back and forth to control the mode locking or as Benade calls it "the regime of oscillation".
I told you...special acoustic things
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,723
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Here is a video representation of a warble recorded and greatly slowed down. "Snapshots" of the sound spectrum were taken at equal intervals throughout the sound clip and strung together similar to an animated cartoon. Notice how the fundamental is weaker than the 2nd and 3rd harmonic, which is true for the lowest notes on all saxophones. The 2nd harmonic is in tune and the 3rd harmonic is quite flat. As the 3rd harmonic takes energy from the 1st and 2nd to take over the "regime of oscillation", the pitch goes flat. Watch as all of the harmonics shift slightly to the left when this happens. This is called "mode locking" where the strongest overtone determines the pitch of all of the others.

C Melody Sax Warble in slow motion

This is the warble at regular tempo C Melody Sax Warble The warble was produced by using a tenor sax mouthpiece on a C Melody creating a mismatch of volume for the "missing cone" thereby creating inharmonicity in the lowest notes.
 
Last edited:

Alc.

Senior Member
Messages
737
Locality
High plains of N/W New Mexico.
Tried to watch the 'slow motion' video, but got 'page not available.' I was getting dizzy anyway from the 'special acoustic' thingies. I have a warble with low F on bari, if I linger on the note too long.
 

Members online

Popular Discussions

London
Paris
New York
Los Angeles
Sydney
Moscow
New Delhi
Top Bottom