SYOS

Beginner Naturally a Tenor player?

drrob7

Member
Messages
46
I've been learning/playing alto on and off for a few years now. Recently I hired a tenor as I've always loved the sound of them and was curious to give it a try. I took it to my lesson yesterday and after playing a couple of pieces my teacher remarked that he thought I might naturally be a tenor (rather than an alto) player. He said my intonation was naturally very good on it whereas on alto Ive been recently struggling a bit adjusting my embouchure to correct some bad habits (biting, loose mouth muscles).
As an average sized woman I'm finding the tenor quite cumbersome to hold but the action is fine and I do love how I sound on it.
Has anyone else had this experience of switching and it feeling/sounding more natural and 'right'?
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Yes, absolutely.

Although the sax is unrivalled (amongst wind instruments) at communicating the personality of the player, it's also true that the instrument is very transforming itself. I play nearly as much soprano sax as I do baritone - and the way I improvise on one is very different from the other. I've found over the years that I generally express better ideas on those two very different instruments.

I love all the saxes - I just do better away from alto and tenor. Some instruments just resonate (emotionally) differently with people and complement them differently.

It's just great to play them all!
 

Pauline

Senior Member
Subscriber
Messages
467
Yes it happened to me after I had been playing alto for three months. I only tried tenor out of curiosity but immediately preferred it. I was very surprised and have stuck to tenor ever since! As a small woman I did find it cumbersome at first but I soon got used to it.

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Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
I also started on alto and changed to tenor after about six months. It simply felt better. Sometimes I think I should get an alto, but I can't think of a good reason why. I had a baritone for some time. It really was a nice instrument, but evidently not for me.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
It would seem that the smaller the sax the harder the intonation etc. so soprano should be hardest to sound in tune etc. I would say that the alto is harder than the tenor to produce a good sound on, but that many players start on alto first and often talk about finding the switch to tenor a preferred one. Whatever our individual preferences I would have to say that the above must have some influence on our views. I started on Soprano first, then played Alto for several years before getting a Tenor. I play all three but still prefer the Alto.

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altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
I started off on tenor, but it only clicked for me when I got an alto.. I like all saxes, but the alto just feels more 'right' somehow, maybe my embouchure is more suited to alto?
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
Good for you DRROB7
I play a Tenor and started on Tenor.
I played a clarinet years ago, Id like to try an alto though
Ive got a feeling my emboucher would be better suited to an alto,
maybe because of the previous clarinet playing.
Allansto
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I picked up an alto after a year on tenor. Didn't feel right. Partly the mouthpieces, but also I think cos tenor felt right. My first impression of alto was that it sounded too much like a duck, or a constipated oboe.

Really enjoying the alto as well now, but it took a while (and a few mouthpieces).
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,300
Tom has a good point here that the higher the sax ( as in range) the harder it is to control,so the tenor will be a bit more forgiving with this,where as the soprano and nino are a lot about control.
Most people start on alto because its the right sort of size but its not the easiest sax to start on.
I do think though a player usually finds what is his/hers best instrument to call their main horn i.e. bari,tenor,alto,sop, it may be ease of playing or may be the sound it doesn't matter just enjoy.

Brian
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
Yep that'll be me too! I play alto too but spend 95% of my time on the Tenor - bugs me that it's heavier and I have to wear a harness cos of my dodgy neck but I just feel so much more at ease with it :happydance:
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
I started on alto and after a year or so got a tenor, and instantly thought this is the one. Although the right mouthpiece issues raised its head... Finally after testing a few in a shop I settled on one, learnt to hate it, bought the one I always though I should get, then someone introduced a PPT, got that, then made a daft ebay purchase - "make me an offer" which I did, sold the first two and now finally appreciating that any deficiencies are mine and sticking with what I've got until I start making a good sound. All set, I am a tenor man...

Recently I've been through a bit of an extended blip on the old motivation level and needed to kick myself back into practicing. At about this time a chance curiosity in the yard sale area resulted in me getting a new alto mouthpiece and I decided to focus on that for the time being. I've always found the Alto a bit of a challenge tonewise, never being able to pitch it right, wanting it to be full sounding with clarity, instead I tend to be either stuffy or grating!

So now I'm back on the alto and loving it, it's faster, sharper, a little more forward and pushing me all the time as the tone quickly suffers if I loose focus. All set then, I am an alto man...

If only it were so easy, in essence I like to think of myself as on the journey to being a saxophone player and will always want to keep an alto and tenor close at hand, I don't think I'm naturally inclined to either, as I have to work hard with either one.

The biggest deciding part is often dictated by what I've just listened to, for example if I listen to Wilton Felder's solo in this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMI3INBzVIA

Want to pick up my tenor and yet if I watch David Sanborn in this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYnF2eDIuHI

I want to pick up my alto, it's not the best example of a Sanborn solo, but the smile that he shares with Mr. Clapton at the end of his solo says a huge amount.

So after all that I think I will probably just go back and forth between the alto and tenor as my mood and desires change. I don't think one being easier than the other is necessarily a deciding point. Before the sax I played guitars and if you take two classics, the Gibson Les Paul and and Fender Strat, both are exceptional instruments that have stood the test of time. The Les Paul is easier to play than the Strat, the Strat is just a little more awkward, you need to fight it a bit, and that is part of the personally of the instrument, it's needed for it to be what it is, just like the alto and the tenor.
 

jthole

Member
Messages
229
Tom has a good point here that the higher the sax ( as in range) the harder it is to control,so the tenor will be a bit more forgiving with this,where as the soprano and nino are a lot about control.
A former teacher of mine (years ago) said that tenor was the easiest sax to play badly ;}
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
The biggest deciding part is often dictated by what I've just listened to, for example if I listen to Wilton Felder's solo in this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMI3INBzVIA

Want to pick up my tenor and yet if I watch David Sanborn in this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYnF2eDIuHI

I want to pick up my alto, it's not the best example of a Sanborn solo, but the smile that he shares with Mr. Clapton at the end of his solo says a huge amount.

Does tend to influence me the same way, have been a big fan of Wilton's for a long time.

On the second track, the girl singing (was it Sheryl Crowe?) - see the look she gives Clapton when he keeps singing out of time.... She's a Sanborn girl, look how she enjoys his playing.... Really gets a smile on her face! Clapton keeps wanting him to shut up so he can get on with it, but Sanborn's on his own planet...
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,093
Does tend to influence me the same way, have been a big fan of Wilton's for a long time.

On the second track, the girl singing (was it Sheryl Crowe?) - see the look she gives Clapton when he keeps singing out of time.... She's a Sanborn girl, look how she enjoys his playing.... Really gets a smile on her face! Clapton keeps wanting him to shut up so he can get on with it, but Sanborn's on his own planet...

Isn't that the wonderful thing about music, we each hear and see different things in the same performance. The concert was Clapton's, raising money for his Crossroads alcohol & drug addiction treatment center. Sanborn and Sheryl Crow were his guests and I suspect they had had very few rehearsals before the gig. That is why I like it, it has a slightly rough feel but they were all having a bit of fun and I think Sanborn wanted to raise the bar!
 

trimmy

One day i will...
Messages
10,275
2 years playing alto, iv'e never tried any other sax :( (yet) but i'm very tempted to try tenor soon.

Love the playing of Sanborn in the clip Chris (thanks) and must also say the guitar with Clapton, just awesome :thumb:

just watched the clip again and Sanborn from 3.10-3.30 is just wowwwww !!
 
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ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
On the subject of Clapton and Sanbourn (and lots of other great musicians!) I've been trying to put a band together for a couple of years now to play this number and other similar rock blues style numbers but can't anyone brave enough to tackle the chord progressions! :(

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8VKW9oeRH8 :mrcool
 
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