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New Player & New sax

Guisachan

New Member
Messages
12
Location
Gainsborough, Lincs, UK
Guys
I have recently bought a new tenor sax (Trevor James Classic). I have now had 2 lessons and my tutor says for me to get the sax in tune I have to have the mouth piece very near the end of the cork (about 1/4" onto the cork) and the crook has to be raised about 1/2" where it attaches to the main body.

Is there anyway I can get the sax altered or tuned to allow me to put the mouthpiece further on and have the crook sitting properly onto the main body.

Any advice gratefully received

Simon
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,555
Location
UK
There's something very wrong going on!

Firstly, the crook ( or neck ) must be fully inserted into the socket. It it isn't it will leak, and because the distance of the crook octave key tube from the body octave key tube is critical, it will throw the internal tuning off.

Secondly, the mouthpiece generally sits half to three-quarters of the way on to the cork.

Having the mouthpiece so far back, and the crook pulled out, will make the instrument very flat - which suggests that you are playing sharp.
BUT - you've only had two lessons, and to be frank it's good enough that you can get a note out of the horn. Tuning at this stage is really not that important - and if you try to play in tune on a horn that's incorrectly set up you'll just end up introducing bad habits.

Push the crook fully home, push the mouthpiece on to at least halfway - and to hell with the tuning ( for now )!

You might also consider changing the mouthpiece - the one supplied with the horn will probably be an unbranded one, and isn't likely to be much good. A Yamaha 3C or 4C is a good choice for a student and can be bought for around £30.

Regards,
 

Ben Cain

Member
Messages
108
Location
Essex, UK
hi

Hi
When I started tenor lessons 6 months ago I was playing way out of tune but my teacher insisted I kept the crook all the way in and the mpc half way in. Over time my playing has become more in tune as my embrouchure has developed and general control of the mpc and lisening to myself play. The use of a tuner has also enabled my to play more in tune (not all the time though!)
Keep playing at it will develop
Ben
 
OP
G

Guisachan

New Member
Messages
12
Location
Gainsborough, Lincs, UK
Thanks for the advice guys. The mpc is a yamaha MC4 which was suppied by the shop.

I will continue with putting everything to where you guys say it should be. I have also downloaded the iphone app "cleartone" which shold give me a better indication as to what note I am playing if I am playing too sharp.

Thanks again..

Simon
 
OP
G

Guisachan

New Member
Messages
12
Location
Gainsborough, Lincs, UK
Sorry. Forgot to say earlier that teacher is a sax player as well (alto).

I have put the sax back together as suggested and have utilised my iphone with the cleartone app and it says I am blowing flat.

Guess I will have to keep trying to get my technique right.

Any more advice still warmly received.

Simon
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,555
Location
UK
Sorry. Forgot to say earlier that teacher is a sax player as well (alto).
I should hope so!

I have put the sax back together as suggested and have utilised my iphone with the cleartone app and it says I am blowing flat.

Guess I will have to keep trying to get my technique right.

Any more advice still warmly received.

Simon
The tuner says you're flat - and the teacher has you pulling the crook off? Given that that would make you flatter it all seems a bit odd.

Don't worry about the tuner. If you really feel it'll help then push the mouthpiece three-quarters of the way on ( you might need to grease the cork up first ) and see how flat or sharp you are - then forget about the tuner altogether and stick to working on improving the tone and stability of the notes.
As you work on this, your embouchure will form and the tuning will swing into place ( more or less ).

Attempting to focus on tuning now is a bit like having your first couple of driving lessons and trying to do a reverse hill start without stalling. It'll come with time, but there are more important things to work on right now.

The mouthpiece is good, so that's one less thing to worry about.

Regards,
 
OP
G

Guisachan

New Member
Messages
12
Location
Gainsborough, Lincs, UK
Steve

Thank you so much for your time and advice. It is all very gratefully received. I will continue in the manner you suggest and keep plodding on.

Look forward to learning alot more from the forumn.

Thanks again

Simon
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,997
Location
Just north of Munich
Just so there's no confusion - when you play a C on a tenor, it will show as Bb on the tuner, unless you've got a tuner that you can set the instrument tuning. Similarly an Alto will play an Eb when you finger a C.

Tightening your embouchure will sharpen the note.

But I agree with the others, forget the tuning for now and concentrate on playing.
 
OP
G

Guisachan

New Member
Messages
12
Location
Gainsborough, Lincs, UK
Once again thank you for that vital piece of information. It was something I was not aware of and makes me far happier as I believe I am getting closer to where I need to be.

Do I take it that my tuner will always be one note and a half lower than my tenor.

Forgive me if I sound like a complete idiot but just trying to get my head round this.

Thanks

Simon
 

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
What sort of tuner have you got? With some you can set it so that it corresponds with the instrument you are playing, in your case you will need to set it to Bb for your tenor.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,997
Location
Just north of Munich
See Lloyd's comment. Som tuners allow you to set the instument's pitch, so that they display the note as it appears in the music. More basic ones don't (advantage is that you get used to the transpositions early on).

But the answer is yes-ish. Saxophones (like many others) are transposing instruments - they play a different note to the note printed in the music. In the case of the tenor and other Bb instruments, like the clarinet, trumpet and so on, when you play the C that's written in the music, the sax plays a Bb. However Bb is one full tone or two half tones below C, not one and a half notes. Take a look at a keyboard if it doesn't make sense.

Bass, Tenor and Soprano saxes are usually in Bb. Baritone, Alto and Sopranino are usually in Eb. However there are others around, such as C soprano and C melody tenor.

Just so there's no confusion, the tenor C plays the Bb one octave and one tone below middle C.

This might be contra-intuitive, but it came about to allow a musician to play tunes in different keys - ie. at different pitches - without having to change their fingering or the way they play. The tin whistle and harmonica probably take this furthest, with many different pitches available. I have whistles in Bb, C, D, for instance.
 

Howard Long

Member
Messages
51
Location
London
I had a similar problem when I first had my TJ tenor: I was sharp (measured with a tuner and accounting for the instrument's transposition), so I pulled out the crook about 3/8" so I could sound OK with backing music. The supplied mouthpiece I used at the time was an unnamed plastic one, and it was already hanging off the end in an attempt to flatten the tone. A few months later I switched to an Otto Link 7*, and miraculously I no longer had the tuning problem.

Now it's been some months since I switched mouthpieces, so I guess I should try the original mouthpiece again and see if I'm still sharp with it.

Cheers, Howard
 

Lupifaro

Member
Messages
200
Location
Wales
I had a similar problem when I first had my TJ tenor: I was sharp (measured with a tuner and accounting for the instrument's transposition), so I pulled out the crook about 3/8" so I could sound OK with backing music. The supplied mouthpiece I used at the time was an unnamed plastic one, and it was already hanging off the end in an attempt to flatten the tone. A few months later I switched to an Otto Link 7*, and miraculously I no longer had the tuning problem.

Now it's been some months since I switched mouthpieces, so I guess I should try the original mouthpiece again and see if I'm still sharp with it.

Cheers, Howard
Interesting paragraph on Tone production and Tuning in "Saxophone" by Paul Harvey. Quote " You should get the following concert pitch note by blowing just the mouthpiece and reed"
Top C Soprano
Top A Alto
Top G ALto
Middle D Baritone
worth checking out
 

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
Interesting paragraph on Tone production and Tuning in "Saxophone" by Paul Harvey. Quote " You should get the following concert pitch note by blowing just the mouthpiece and reed"
Top C Soprano
Top A Alto
Top G ALto
Middle D Baritone
worth checking out
Didn't know that Pete, but I presume there's a typo above; what concert pitch should tenor and alto be (you've listed alto twice)?
 

Howard Long

Member
Messages
51
Location
London
Pete

Coincidentally I think I've seen that (or similar) elsewhere: when I had that soprano from you a couple of months ago I went through this while I was figuring out an intonation problem. That turned out to be that the mouthpiece wasn't on far enough, but I had to sand the cork to avoid excessive force before it'd go on far enough - there's barely 1/8" or so left showing.

Cheers, Howard
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,997
Location
Just north of Munich
Tenor is G.

It's an interesting exercise to blow the mouthpiece/reed and check with a tuner... Took me a good few weeks when I started to be able to blow that G consistently... Family loved it :)))
 
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