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Beginner Newbie questions

robcbwilson

New Member
Messages
7
I have just started playing the Alto Sax, I played B flat clarinet at school (sadly a long time ago now). I am having difficulty with the Sax, I am sure it is my setup although as I don't have a teacher I am not sure how to resolve it.

When I play, I cannot get a sound out of the sax excepting the upper notes unless I have the neck on an angle (I am standing not sitting while playing). As I should be able to play with the neck straight I am concerned that I am doing something wrong.

Can anyone suggest some good instructional DVDs I can use to assist me in getting started? Many thanks,

Rob.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Check the upper octave pip (the one on the sax's neck). If it's open whn you play anything below the A above the stave, the link between the octave mechanism and the neck may need adjusting (ask someone more experienced than me how to do it, or take it to a tech). The metal ring on the neck should be just clear of the sipke at the top of the sax when you don't press anything. Rotating the neck can change this.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
That was my thought too. There should about a few mm, or less than 1/8in in proper measurements, gap between the pin and the octave ring. If there isn't you can push it very gently away (I mean very gently) using your thumb until there is a gap. Alternatively, as you are very new to playing, make sure you are not inadvertently holding the octave key open with your left thumb while it's supporting the thumb rest.

Music shops will generaly have some basic learning material, but you will be far beter getting a teacher even if just to show you the basics. There's a list on Pete's main pages here, or if you say where you are you might find someone on here can recommend someone locally.
Finally Rob, why not introduce yourself on the Doorbell section. You'll find a great welcome from all sorts - pros and first time beginners alike - and we are lfriendly.
YC.
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
dear rob
your sax neck must be on at the correct rotation.
the loop from your sax neck must run centrally around the post of your octave key
if this isnt right then your octave key will be premanently depressed allowing notes
only from the upper register to be played.
there should be some marks or othere identifying features to line up the neck
the mouthpiece on the other hand can be rotated into a comfortable horizontal position to go in your mouth.
dont have the bottom bell of the sax too far out to the side but perhaps more comfortably
in front of your groin or leg.
watch some videos of the proessionals on u tube to see where they position thier saxes when playing.
i hope this helps.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
dear rob
your sax neck must be on at the correct rotation.
the loop from your sax neck must run centrally around the post of your octave key
if this isnt right then your octave key will be premanently depressed allowing notes
only from the upper register to be played.
there should be some marks or othere identifying features to line up the neck
the mouthpiece on the other hand can be rotated into a comfortable horizontal position to go in your mouth.
dont have the bottom bell of the sax too far out to the side but perhaps more comfortably
in front of your groin or leg.
watch some videos of the proessionals on u tube to see where they position thier saxes when playing.
i hope this helps.
Yes, but the neck should be able to swivel enough to allow a by the side playing position as well as straight in front, without affecting the playing. .
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
It could be your embouchure, or lack of one, as it is possible to play the second register without the octave key. Can anyone else play your sax?

Jim.
 

robcbwilson

New Member
Messages
7
Hi all,
Thanks for all your suggestions, I think I have discovered part of what is going wrong. I sat down with my sax this afternoon, twisted the neck until I could play the lower notes and then slowly rotated the neck towards straight until I couldn't play anymore.

I then took one hand off the sax while resting it on my knee and lightly put a finger on the pad on the top of the neck. I was able to play the lower notes I was previously unable to play.

This was a fantastic but at the same time worrying development. I knew that I was not broken (well not in this case), but that something is not right with my sax. Looking at the base of the key that presses that specific pad, I noticed that the end has a plastic cover that means it is always flush with the lever. Should I remove this plastic?

Once again thanks for all your kind help :)
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Rob
Bit difficult from your description, but if you mean the thin plastic tube that is round the pin that sticks up from the body and engages with the ring on the neck, then no, do not remove it. It is supposed to be there to protect the pin. As some of us noted before, there should be a small gap between the pin (incl its plastic cover) and the ring on the neck that operates the octave key when you are not pressing the lever with your thumb. It sounds as though something is stopping the octave pad from closing. Presumably the pad closes when you take the neck off the sax? It has a spring under the hinge. It should be in the same position when it is on the sax and should only open when you press the octave lever key with your thumb for notes in the upper octave of A and above, as Martin noted (there is another key and pad that automatically opens for the notes below A and you don't have to worry about that).
Hope that helps.
YC
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
The linkage to the neck pad needs bending slightly so that the pin (on the main sax body), that activates it, has a small amount of clearance. If you can see daylight between them, that is enough. This can be done easily, as the brass material is quite strong, but if you don't have the confidence then you need a Tech. Hold the link open at the sax joint and apply closing pressure at the pad. Don't force it, you dont actually want to feel any movement. Just apply slight pressure and check clearance, then increase pressure, building up until you have clearance at the pin/linkage.

John
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
rob sounds to me like you have a bent octave key
if your a beginner or not mechanically minded I`d take it to a tech.
good work on your detective skills so far.
good luck.
 

robcbwilson

New Member
Messages
7
Hi All,
Well thanks to you all you were spot on with your diagnosis. I bent the octave key ever so slightly and hey presto I can play the lower octave notes with the neck in any position I like. Thanks to you all, now I can really start practising now I know that all is well...

Many thanks,

Rob.
 
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