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new sax= harder to play?

john in fla

New Member
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Just the other day I bit the bullet and purchased a Cannonball Raven alto sax to replace my $400 beginner sax. Ive only been playing about a month and was pretty comfortable with the cheap sax but it did have a couple minor mechanical issues.
This new sax is quite different in that it is actually harder to play. I assume this is because of a "better" mouthpiece and reed setup. my B note is particularly hard to play and sometimes is just air. Does it make sense for the mouthpiece and reed to cause this? Is a better quality sax inherently harder at first to play?
Thanks for your input, John
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
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2,047
It's pretty common for new saxes (especially form China, Vietnam and Taiwan) to have very poor quality mouthpieces. I'd be trying another mouthpiece first to see if that made a difference.

It's not clear from your post whether the keys are difficult (high pressure springs) or you're having any other mechanical issues. If notes only play with extra pressure, then it's likely to be leaks form the pads.

If a better mouthpiece with appropriate reed strength doesn't fix the problem I'd be going back to whoever you purchased the horn from.
 
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john in fla

New Member
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22
thanks wade. I see now that my post was unclear. The keys in my new sax are actually easier to press and that is one thing that drew me to it. Mechanically its a dream to play. Its a professional quality sax. It just takes more effort to makes tones. (more lip pressure, more air, harder blowing) I don't know the specs on the mouthpiece but Im certain its a higher quality than the one from my $400 sax. Maybe this is why all the cheap saxes claim "easy to play".
 
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john in fla

New Member
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22
oh yea, the reed is a van doren 2 from their variety pack. I think its called V16
The mouthpiece seems to have a larger tip opening than the cheap one.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,875
Any info on the mpc especially the tip opening? It could be it's too wide a tip to manage at the moment. I struggle with wide tip openings and I've been playing a while.

You can experiment by opting for an inexpensive but reliable option of the Yamaha 4C mpc.
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,228
First of all try a different reed, for now go down to a 1.5 until you get used to a different mouthpiece then if that's ok work up to 2.
If that doesn't work you could get a Yamaha 4C which is very reasonably priced and then work up to your Cannonball mouthpiece.
How new is the Raven,I might be wrong but it's not one of the current range, did you buy from a shop or private sale?
The horn might just need a setup.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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5,859
A "better" saxophone should absolutely NOT be harder to play. So something is not right with your setup.

  • Personally I have never been able to play Vandoren V16 reeds comfortably. It would be worth trying something else, and/or a lower strength.
  • If the new mouthpiece is more open than the old one then it will be harder to play the low notes. A simple solution would be to get a good cheap mouthpiece, such as a Yamaha 4C, or a Bari Esprit for now. Hang onto the other mouthpiece, and it may come into its own later.
  • If the saxophone has a leak, then it may be hard to play the low notes. All saxophones can go out of adjustment, even very expensive ones - they are surprisingly delicate. As a general rule, if you buy a secondhand saxophone then you should expect that it will need a service.
 
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john in fla

New Member
Messages
22
thanks guys, The Raven is brand new right out of the box and original packaging. I don't know what, if any setup it has had. Any setup would have been done by Cannonball I guess.
I bought it from a local shop...an authorized Cannonball dealer, and I can take it to them for any service it may need. I have a feeling its the reed and/or mouthpiece giving me issues. The shop threw in a few perks including a pack of assorted Vandoren reeds. The V16 is just what I happened to pick from the bunch. Ill try a different reed and pick up a C4 mouthpiece and see what happens. Are you guys familiar with the Cannonball brand?
 
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john in fla

New Member
Messages
22
;
Any info on the mpc especially the tip opening? It could be it's too wide a tip to manage at the moment. I struggle with wide tip openings and I've been playing a while.

You can experiment by opting for an inexpensive but reliable option of the Yamaha 4C mpc.
I can't find specifics on the mouthpiece. just this from their site:
Hard Rubber Mouthpiece
Cannonball Mouthpieces are made of quality hard rubber and carefully crafted play easily and to create a clear, rich, beautiful tone. They are the choice of many professional saxophonists around the world.
 

Hammie 1982

Member
Messages
122
I would suggest a softer reed and if that doesnt help then a different mouth piece.
Yamaha 4c is generally noted to be a standard student (rated) MP, maybe have a look and see if you can get to try one before you buy it! if its not that then id be looking for someone to give the horn a once over! But its unlikely more than MP issues
 

EdJ

Member
Messages
102
Definitely get the shops technician to check it as "brand new out of the box" only needs one key to be out and leaking a bit (typically a high one). A check by a competent technician should have it sorted
 

EdJ

Member
Messages
102
It is quite common for something to go out of regulation in transit from manufacturer to warehouse or warehouse to retailer.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,675
I forgot to write that Vandoren V16 reeds worked best for me on mothpieces with longer facings/lay. I played Berg Larsen metal when I played V16 reeds. The SMS facing and V16 was not the best combo for me. Better with M facing and V16.
 

MikeMorrell

Netherlands
Subscriber
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1,416
See my post here with links to a couple of videos on different types of Vandoren reeds. You could try first switching to a "lighter" reed (Vandoren jazz Java green). If that doesn't help. Follow up on the mpc suggestions.
 
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