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Tone Mouthpiece only pitch possible problem

TheCureFan

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westcountry England
Been playing for about 10 months and was doing some mouthpiece only (Alto) exercises and checked the pitch and was surprised to see it was a concert C when previously had always been an A. Tried with 3 different mouthpieces and checked with 3 tuners but always a C. However when I put them on the neck and check, all 3 mouthpieces produce spot on Ab/G# and all play 'relatively' in tune when on the sax.

question is should I be worried?
 

Ads

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Just wondering what you`re Worried about ? . the neck lengthens the "tube" so the note is lowered accordingly , in this case to a G#
 

jbtsax

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The mouthpiece doesn't set the pitch, you do. The mouthpiece pitch will be wherever your embouchure, airstream, and voicing (shape inside the mouth) set it. The "A Concert" on the alto mouthpiece is a general starting point, the basis of which is to insure that you are playing somewhere close to the center of the range of pitches easily produced on the mouthpiece. If your embouchure is set to consistently produce a C concert, 1 1/2 steps higher than A, that means you are playing closer to the top of the pitch than the center. It is quite possible to play the mouthpiece and neck with the mouthpiece pulled out a bit and get the Ab Concert to sound on the mouthpiece and neck with this mouthpiece "input pitch". However, there is a strong possibility that your octaves are not going to be as in tune as they could be.

My suggestion would be to try the Larry Teal test which is to play a low A and with the free hand flick the neck octave key open momentarily and let it close. If the note stays on high A for any considerable length of time, it means the embouchure is too tight. If the note pops to high A and momentarily drops back down, the embouchure setting is correct.

A common symptom of playing too high on the mouthpiece pitch and then pulling the mouthpiece out to bring the sax down to pitch on your tuning note(s) is that the palm key notes tend to be flat since the notes closest to the mouthpiece are affected more by moving the mouthpiece in or out.
 

Ads

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Thanks JBT, I couldn`t get what he was worried about (I must be having a Blond evening) . excellent explanation of the Embouchure check :)
 

TheCureFan

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westcountry England
Thanks JBT. What you've said makes sense. Will try the octave test tomorrow. Regards rest of notes, especially palm key, they all appear to be 'in tune' give or take 5 cents or so, or is that too much sharp or flat. My tutor never says there's a problem with intonation or anything. Can't check with him until my next lesson on the 23rd as he's on holiday.
 

Colin the Bear

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There might not be a pitch problem but if you're at the extremes of your embouchure your tone will be suffering . Try playing tunes on just the mouthpiece to see how flexible you can be.
 

TheCureFan

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207
Locality
westcountry England
Must have been tired or something yesterday as all seems well in the world of sax playing today. Revisited what i was doing yesterday and got the following

mouthpiece only - concert A give or take a little (5 to 10 cents or so)
mouthpiece & neck - spot on G#
Larry Teal test - spot on jumped to high A then straight back down (closed my eyes and got wife to flick the octave)
played palm key notes - if anything they're a couple of cents sharp
played full range of sax - all notes within 5 cents (hope thats acceptable at my stage of learning)

thanks to all for your input and help
 
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TheCureFan

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westcountry England
out of interest would mouthpiece length make a difference to the note produced when blown on its own.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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I don't think you've got anything to worry about. Just get on and play!
 

jbtsax

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out of interest would mouthpiece length make a difference to the note produced when blown on its own.
In the case of a longer tube, the natural resonance frequency of the tube itself couples with the reeds vibration and determines the frequency. This is why when you close an additional key on the sax blowing the mouthpiece the same way the longer tube makes the reed vibrate at the new lower frequency.

In the case of a mouthpiece, the "tube" so to speak is so short that there is no cooperation with the frequency of the reed and so the pitch is very flexible depending upon your embouchure, airstream, and voicing. When the "tube" represented by the neck is added, there is still some flexibility of the pitch but it is greatly reduced from that of the mouthpiece alone.
 

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