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Beginner low b on tenor

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
480
Locality
Frankston Victoria Australia
Hi everyone
I`ve just got a query about some difficulty Im having blowing my low B on tenor sax
I seem to really have to give it a bit of a shunt of air when starting the note.
actually its the same for low A# too.
Its almost like my reed is too stiff on these note but its fine for the others.
I can get it but I have to adjust my embouchure and open my throat a lot and take more MP.
Is this normal or am I just being lazy and expecting the note to come easy.
Any tips would be welcome
Regards
Allansto
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,964
Locality
Manchester, UK
You shouldn't need to adjust your embouchure. Throat, maybe, but not embouchure. What happens if you adiust your embouchure and mouthpiece position for the low B or Bb and then play up a scale without changing it back? It could be that you're a little tight normally. Try opening your jaw a little, too and just squeezing with the lip muscles.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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Messages
8,733
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
It is an acoustic fact that stiffer reeds make the lowest notes more difficult to play than they usually are. You may want to try a #2 or #2 1/2 if you are playing on a harder reed. Some techniques I use with my students are:
  • Sing "AWW" on the lowest note you can sing and/or do the first half of a yawn before the swallow reflex
  • With that shape inside the mouth and throat slur down a scale to the low note using lots of air.
  • When you reach the low note, sustain it as a long tone for as long as you can
  • Repeat several times, and do the same on other low notes
  • When you can comfortably play the note slurring down to it, then practice coming in on that note.
Do not:
  • Loosen the embouchure
  • Change the amount of mouthpiece in the mouth
  • Change the angle of the mouthpiece in the mouth
  • Resort to using a "subtone"---it is a style, not a "substitute"
Do:
  • Increase the amount of air (the lower you go, the harder you blow)
  • Keep the embouchure firm
  • Keep the oral cavity and throat open and relaxed
  • Use the concept of blowing the airstream down toward your LH thumb.
 

MikeTerry_bari_icon

New Member
Messages
18
All of the above, plus SOAK THE REED WELL (cut end and blank end) in tepid water. Also, make sure all fingers are down firmly. If all this fails, have the horn checked for leaks.
 

Corona4007

Member
Messages
70
Locality
Cambridge NZ
Hi everyone
I`ve just got a query about some difficulty Im having blowing my low B on tenor sax
I seem to really have to give it a bit of a shunt of air when starting the note.
actually its the same for low A# too.
Its almost like my reed is too stiff on these note but its fine for the others.
I can get it but I have to adjust my embouchure and open my throat a lot and take more MP.
Is this normal or am I just being lazy and expecting the note to come easy.
Any tips would be welcome
Regards
Allansto
I learned to "think" low and give it plenty of air
 
Messages
167
Locality
australia
also,saxophone may be out of adjustment somewhere,a small leak,which happens often...
before or after all that practice and changing things,take the horn to a quality tech and see if he can find a pad leaking somewhere....
also,leaks in the neck tenon/receiver....,big problem if theres a small leak there too....
cheers,philip
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
480
Locality
Frankston Victoria Australia
thanks for all the tips guys
I will try all of the above and get back to you
Allansto
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,777
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
And don't forget.....Some days the bell notes will play with a whisper and some days they will only honk. I think the weather affects mine.
 

Reed Warbler

Senior Member
Messages
617
Locality
Marciac, France
Try letting your lower jaw hang forward more. Might help if you have an overbite.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,871
Locality
Costa Blanca Spain
Hi, I used to ask the very same question, and got all the answers. I still cannot reliably come in on B or Bb. C is ok now, but I have to be careful and prepare my internals to make that note. But, I expect it breaks all the rules, I know its against the good advice from jbtsax, but I do take in more mpc and I do also, if I know I am going to be fooling about with those notes, swap to a close mpc and weaker reed. I guess I dont have that much choice really, if I have to produce those notes for a song. If I have been playing or practicing for an hour or two with the band, all things are much easier, but I will still change the set up if I know I am going to need the low notes and not so much high. What I really wish is that my teacher, when I started, had brougth the low notes in just like any other note and that we have practiced the full range. I am sure it is not good to treat them as separate things and ignore them for a year or two. Good luck
Mike
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
If you're still struggling with these low notes, chances are there's a leak. They're not that difficult. Could also be non-leak leaks like not closing a key properly, regulation issues. Another possible candidate is a leak from badly fitting parts like neck - or if you've a removable bell/bow, leaks from there.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,871
Locality
Costa Blanca Spain
Its a pretty much accross the board thing on three tenors. I have just been trying with the tenor I keep at work and yes, I am pretty sure it does have a problema. I had to mess with a piece of cork the other week but I think that was the tip of the iceberg. I am pretty sure my regular tenor is ok. I am in fact, pretty sure its me. I get better all the time though and when I move out of my flat and back into the boonies at the end of this month I will be back to practice practice practice. How I have missed it!
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,432
Locality
Sweden
When you play the low tones on a tenor I think there is a difference between saxes. It's just one manufactor that plays well in low register: Martins. I can play in the low tones in a way that is not possible on other saxes I played/tried. And I got an even scale as well.

I play some soul/rock songs where I'm playing low Bb to B, B to C# ..... . My Martin HC Comm I -38 does this very good. Better than other horns. Even than my The Martin Tenors. When I'm playing down low I take my Martin HC. And if you can use baritone reeds on our tenor mpc the low tones just "pope out"!

I also think like Corona4007: Think low! But don't think to much. Just nail it. But practising is also important when it comes to the low tones on the sax.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,871
Locality
Costa Blanca Spain
I often change to a soft read and even close mpc when piece is predominently low. Its much easier for me, but I cant stand the thin nasty noise I make up higher so my regular reed is #3 rico plasticised. I have just ordered some bari reeds, plasticised 2s, and I will certainly give that a go too. Wonder why they make a difference. My norm tenor is a Martin and of them all, its the easiest, but maybe cos I play it most.
 

kernewegor

Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
Messages
1,736
Locality
cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
Practising low notes is great, but hitting them for real when playing is something else - there is little or no time to prepare yourself, and your mind is on other things, especially if you are not playing from the dots.

After doing the usual practice routines to the stage of hitting low B reliably and with good quality sound, make a tune which uses low B a regular part of your practice.

I'd suggest "Just One of Those Things" which on tenor opens with a low C down to B and can legitimately be played slowly or quickly - so play it slowly until you have it nailed, then start to speed it up. The tune is a good exercise in memorisation, too, and has one of the more interesting harmonic progressions.

Another good low(ish) note song to practice on tenor is "Nature Boy" in three sharps, the first two notes being a jump from low C# to its octave - so the song has a built-in 'getting your open C# in tune" excercise... a nice number to get comfortable with improvising in F# minor, too, for when the guitarist insists on playing in E minor..... and some pretty descending chromatic stuff, as well.
 
Last edited:

Reed Warbler

Senior Member
Messages
617
Locality
Marciac, France
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered in G starts with Bb B F# G. You cant play it all through in G because it would need a low A but it's a good extract to work on for low notes. Do it in Ab and it fits all the way.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,871
Locality
Costa Blanca Spain
Just an observation. Practising the other day the bass player was absent so I tried to fill the gaps on some numbers, first being Route 66. When you have to make the note, again and again and again, you dont half get better at it in short time, but still had to use closer mpc and softer reed.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,777
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
The position of the reed on the mouthpiece can affect sound production. Moving the reed away from the tip makes it feel a little softer. Try moving it back 0.25mm. Tuning can also give problems. Use a tuner and check the position of the mouthpiece on the neck.
 

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