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Beginner low c and beyond

paul2610

Member
Messages
42
OK so I've only been playing/practising properly for a few weeks but have hit a wall with this low C. Have been trying it for a week now and making quite abit on the side as a fog horn, but enough is enough - the dogs howling the wifes screaming and the kids are just laughing their socks off.

I know proberly practise will eventually make it come right but wondered apart from getting new reeds (others were 2 years old) tightening the mouthpiece on more and checking the cup seals, is their something else I should look into trying.

I do wonder if its mostly to do with the size and volume of my chest, being a beginner its still unstretched (so to speak) but am trying going up and down the knots keeping them as long as possible to help this.

cheers for any advise.

Paul
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,418
Do check out that the pads are sealing. The pads down that end of a sax get pretty saturated as, obviously, moisture collects in the bow, so they can degrade quicker than the rest. Also try taking in a bit more of the mouthpiece - not that you'll need to do that once you've got your "chops", but it might help at this stage.
 

Clivey

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,029
Same as Bill + Try and get an experienced player to try your horn. they should be able to tell you if they are compensating for leaks.


I`m a great believer in making Low C the very 1st note learners try to play. It`s the logical starting point of the C major Scale and there are not many other notes lower to learn.
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,302
Concur with above. Low notes are harder and in my experience require more air support, preferably warmer air and a relaxed embouchure and of course plenty of practice - unless you have a leak which will make life much more difficult.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
:)))

I'm laughing with you not at you...
We've all been there abouts..
Most of us get stuck on this or that note. For me D2 used to be the big problem. For others it is high G. and so on. Assuming you have done what the earlier posts suggested and all is in order, the one sure way is to play long tones, possibly starting with E then D, then C. In no time at all people will talk about the great C you produce.
 

thehunt

Member
Messages
785
I agree with all the above as well, something that helped me is not to tighten up too much as you restrict the airflow, but do prepare your diaphragm to get the air through the horn.
Wait till you have to start on low Bb!! Or try the mixolydian scale in B!! eek!!
Good luck, you will get there, then there will be something else that you can't do. Like high F#.
Let us know how you get on. Good luck Phil
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Agree with the rest. Would be worth checking your mouthpiece/reed combination - hard reeds will make those low notes very difficult.

Might be worth giving the vey low notes a rest for a month or two, then come back to it.. Can work wonders.
 

Mikec

Member
Messages
196
A piece of advice (from here of course) that worked wonders for me was the "warm air" approach. Blow on your hand, the air is cool. Breathe on it and the air is warm. It's the warm air you want for saxophone playing, especially the low notes. Think "yawn" for your throat configuration, too. A week is no time at all, by the way.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
I`m a great believer in making Low C the very 1st note learners try to play. It`s the logical starting point of the C major Scale and there are not many other notes lower to learn.
This is worth bearing in mind. One reason is that at that stage learners are still very keen, and they will try anything and succeed if the target is within reason. Normally the only problem could then be (assuming that the instrument is in good order) that the right pinkie may have difficulty reaching the C key.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
But the books, and my teacher, say leave it for later - isn't there the problem of putting a beginner off if Low C is tried too early and doesn't come?

I was lucky - once I could blow a few notes I started experimenting and could get all the notes, right down to low Bb easily. They still don't come cleanly every time yet... And foghorn is often the method.
 

Der Wikinger

Member
Messages
180
One should always shield relatives and small animals from the beginning saxophonist. That being said, after 5 years of playing I am still not a fan of the notes below the staff on my tenor. The D is ok, and many times I can get the low C ok, but the low B and Bb tend still to blatt. The blokes I try to jam with insist on playing Body and Soul in Db major, putting me in Eb, and the bridge is 1/2 step higher, so it is in D and me in E. On the bridge there is a low B that I can very rarely play sweetly. I have better luck with the high F# way above the staff. And I think my pads are ok, but I will have my repairman take a look (I still doubt the pads are bad, I just think its me somehow.)
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,953
I know proberly practise will eventually make it come right but wondered apart from getting new reeds (others were 2 years old) tightening the mouthpiece on more and checking the cup seals, is their something else I should look into trying.
Yup, practice is the thing. Nothing wrong with 2 year old reeds - unless, of course, you've been playing on them for 2 years. The reeds I'm playing on soprano at the moment are about 25 years old. Fiddling with the mouthpiece position affects the tuning so it's best avoided - assuming you're in tune to start with. If the pads aren't sealing then it's a job for a technician. I agree with whoever it was upthread said get it checked by someone who knows what they're doing.
I do wonder if its mostly to do with the size and volume of my chest, being a beginner its still unstretched (so to speak) but am trying going up and down the knots keeping them as long as possible to help this.
No. I've known a number of very small ladies, possessing relatively small lung capacities, who specialize in baritone sax.

Keep playing the long knots (notes?).
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Main thing is to take your time so that your playing is relaxed. Most books/teachers do emphasise a gradual development of your range of notes - your confidence develops and you ease at playing such that your note production becomes very good and your air support and embouchure develop apace. Low notes require a well developed embouchure held loosely, and excellent air support. It is likely that you have not yet developed those sufficiently to be comfortable at that level - hence foghorn like sounds.

So take your time, be in less of a rush, and your capacity to play well, and in a relaxed manner will emerge. Equally the bottom 6 notes on a trumpet are very challenging, and are reliant on the same combination of embouchure/air support. In music exams you are only required to play certain notes per grade, and both notes above and below the 2 octave C1 to C3 only gradually make their appearance.

Hope this helps
Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

paul2610

Member
Messages
42
Cheers for everybodies advise.
Have had a few times in the last days when I could feel it coming but, as have many of you said - I'll take my time, no rush. So I will keep at it now and again during the times I go up and down the scales.

Instead I'm gonna concentrate of timings etc and just generally trying to get the sounds rightish!!

cheers
 

jthole

Member
Messages
227
One should always shield relatives and small animals from the beginning saxophonist. That being said, after 5 years of playing I am still not a fan of the notes below the staff on my tenor. The D is ok, and many times I can get the low C ok, but the low B and Bb tend still to blatt.
Given that I play mainly bari, this made me laugh a bit ... ever looked at a typical bari score? :p

This might sound like a strange advice, but try this: drop a wine cork in the bell of your sax, and play the low notes again. On some saxes it seems that disrupting the air flow a bit makes the lowest notes come out much more stable.

Apart from that; practice, open throat, loose embouchure and breath support.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,048
kepp at it and practice practice. More than often the low notes below C are hard to play properly as a beginner, due to insufficent support (breathing) it can also be due to a leak on the articulated G# ( Basically the low C/B/Bb keys when pressed open the G# pad. there is a little arm that stretches from the pad below the G# (F# pad) and its regulated by either cork or in most cases a screw)

to check that this is not leaking play a D and then still fingering D and blowing press the G# paddle - if there is a change in tone or the feeling of stuffyness then the likelyhood is you have a leak. you can keep the G# pad from opening by adjusting the screw on the over the G# pad very gingerly until the stuffyness disappears - be careful no to over adjust as this will create a leak on the Fkey/F#key.
 

Der Wikinger

Member
Messages
180
I'm gonna tell you a secret! shhhhh! don't tell anyone! The bow of the tenor sax is the only part that is really universally hand made because there is a solder joint there. If you drop your mouthpiece or your plug into the bell (careful if it is metal not to scratch anything) and then try the low c, b, Bb. You will find it better and much easier to play. Why? because it breaks up the sound waves, and it then goes easier. Oops! I just posted it in public!! Oh well. just a good trick to know. :welldone :)))
 

jthole

Member
Messages
227
Oops! I just posted it in public!! Oh well. just a good trick to know. :welldone :)))
That's why I mentioned the wine cork ;) ... exactly the same effect.

Just don't forget to take it out before pulling a cleaning cloth through the instrument ;)
 

Der Wikinger

Member
Messages
180
Just don't drink the entire bottle of wine before trying to perform! hik! or you'll be wearing your wine headset! (similar to beer goggles) :))) :sax:
 
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