PPT mouthpieces

low b on an Alto


I am having problems blowing a smooth low B on my trevor James alto. Bb and C are ok, as is the rest of the range, but the B seems to oscilate as I blow. My teacher calls it motor boating ! I have previoulsy been able to blow a smooth note so I am tempted to blame the sax rather than myself but you never know. Anyone have any ideas how to correct this?


Sounds like the sax could of taken a small knock (just from transport to and from lessons or similar) and you've got a slightly leaky B key. It would effect the low Bb but you might find that you're putting extra pressure on the Bb key because of the stretch and that's sealing the B key enough.

If you put normal pressure on the B key (close all other bell keys too) can you see a light poking though a gap by looking down the bell?

still can't?

Heard of the cigarette paper test? slide one between the key and it's cup and gently close the key, then slide it out. Hopefully you get a bit of resistance. Try it all round the key and see if it's loose anywhere.

You can try and fix it yourself or your teacher might be able to. Alternatively pop down to a local technician who will sort it out in a matter of minutes and probably for free if you ask politely.
from my experience- most of the time, the classic motorboat sound on low notes directly relates mouthpiece position on the crook- try pushing it further on and see if it disappears.....
This is exactly the fix people use for this problem on MKVIs. At some stage I think Selmer started to put a brass plate in the bottom of the bow to deal with it, sounds like a similar issue if the mouthpiece position doesn't fix it.
Thanks for the replies guys. I have checked for leaks but cant see anything obvious, so will try the cork trick later on today. To be fair to my wife she has been telling me to put a cork in it for a while, but I dont think she meant it quite this literally. Will let you know how it goes

check that your C# is being kept closed by the regulating screw on the low B.

you can do this by holding the sax on your lap so that the thumb rest is pointing toward the ground and you can get "eyes on" the C# pad.

1. press the low B paddle (key) and keep it pressed down and then press the C# key - does the C# open?

if so you could be inadvertently opening the C# when playing low B - the way to rectify this is to do the following:

look at the low C# key cup ( the bit the pad is glued into) attached to the cup is an arm which goes under the low B key arm - just at the 2 arms cross there should be a little regulating screw attached to the low B. get a screwdriver and turn the screw clockwise about a quarter of a turn - check the C# again by repeating the process at 1. adjust the screw until the C# no longer opens.

make sure that you do not over tighten the screw as this will stop the low B from closing fully.
The cork has done the trick, and what a difference. The low end sounds sooooo good now and my low B is so pure. I can even blow a variety of overtones off the bottom three notes. Never been able to do that before.

And I enjoyed drinking the wine to free up the cork...

(The C# key was fluttering slightly when pressing the B & C# keys, so I have adjusted that as well )

I am so happy!! Thanks for your help.


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