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Note bending

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
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1,030
Hi all, I'm after some advice or thoughts in general.

I can bend the notes on my Alto and Sop with no problem at all, but for some strange reason I can't get my tenor notes to bend with the same ease especially with the upper register. :confused:

I'm getting extremely frustrated with this problem and have double checked that I have the correct technique (I know I have because I can do it on the others).

In fact ever since I've been playing the tenor find I sometimes drop out of the higher notes when I try to bend them - when I practice waves of bending very slowly the bend is never more than a semitone, but it is more on the lower register. But I can play a whole scale on the mouthpiece alone though! could it be the tenor itself :confused: it has had regular check ups and servicing so I know it's in good working order.

I have the same mouthpiece and reeds on all 3 saxes - Yamaha 4c and rico royal number 2s and I also use Rico Jazz selects on the tenor. I also have a yamaha 6c for the tenor but problem is still there on that too.

I'd be grateful for any suggestions? could it be a general tenor thing that needs an upgrade of mouthpiece? I'm quite happy with my mouthpieces but am prepared to upgrade if it solves the problem.

I look forward to all your pearls of wisdom :thankyou:
 
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BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Well I'm certainly no expert, but here's my experience for what it's worth.

I recently went from a Yamaha 5c, to a Rico Graftonite B7 on my tenor as a cheapish experiment. I'm very happy with the change. Fuller sound (less "clarinetty") as well as more bendability. Of course, then you have to work on not bending the notes when you don't want to.

I was going to suggest trying a softer reed, but a 2 on a Yammy 4c is quite soft already. Maybe it's an embouchure issue relating to the more open jaw position on the tenor (bigger mouthpiece). Might be interesting to try blowing on a harder reed for a couple of days and/or doing some embouchure exercises to build up the lip muscles before going back to a softer reed to see if the extra lip strength helps. I repeat, I'm definitely not an expert or a sax teacher, and I'm only jumping in here cos no-one else has, but if you have some stronger reeds lying around, I can't see any harm in trying this.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
Well I'm certainly no expert, but here's my experience for what it's worth.

I recently went from a Yamaha 5c, to a Rico Graftonite B7 on my tenor as a cheapish experiment. I'm very happy with the change. Fuller sound (less "clarinetty") as well as more bendability. Of course, then you have to work on not bending the notes when you don't want to.

I was going to suggest trying a softer reed, but a 2 on a Yammy 4c is quite soft already. Maybe it's an embouchure issue relating to the more open jaw position on the tenor (bigger mouthpiece). Might be interesting to try blowing on a harder reed for a couple of days and/or doing some embouchure exercises to build up the lip muscles before going back to a softer reed to see if the extra lip strength helps. I repeat, I'm definitely not an expert or a sax teacher, and I'm only jumping in here cos no-one else has, but if you have some stronger reeds lying around, I can't see any harm in trying this.
Hi Martin, thanks for your reply! The change you describe when you changed mouthpiece - having to work on not bending notes when you don't want sounds exactly what I am looking for! In fact what you describe is what playing my alto is like and I have so much more expression in my playing that is lacking in my tenor playing - I liken it to have plenty of power in a car and just easing of the throttle if necessary instead of having to change down a gear to get that extra umph if that make sense!

What I'm going to do is go to sax.co. and try some different combinations out and hopefully get the same result as you :welldone
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I also avoided posting, cos I don't know enough. But I'll just second what Martin said anbout wider tips - bending (and volume control) seem easier on a wider tip, but accuracy needs more control. Having said that I can bend well on a Selmer C*, and as you can play a full octave on the mouthpiece alone, I wonder if changing mouthpieces is going to help. Need one of the teachers to say something I guess...
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
Just had a look for the graphonites (they don't appear to do them at sax.co.) and found them here http://www.rapidreeds.com/ligatures-caps-and-mouthpieces-rico-royal-tenor-saxophone-mouthpiece
...............question is which one?!! Im quite weak (health probs cause this - even though I play for at least an hour everyday so not something that will improve unfortunately:() and have never been able to play comfortably anything over a #2 reed on the Yam4c (1.5 on the yam6c) so....................... should I opt for the middle of the road - the B5 (medium/medium) as a starting point? if it suits then I'll be well chuffed for the price! if it doesn't I suppose then back to plan A - visit to sax.co.uk :D
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Just had a look for the graphonites (they don't appear to do them at sax.co.) and found them here http://www.rapidreeds.com/ligatures-caps-and-mouthpieces-rico-royal-tenor-saxophone-mouthpiece
...............question is which one?!! Im quite weak (health probs cause this - even though I play for at least an hour everyday so not something that will improve unfortunately:() and have never been able to play comfortably anything over a #2 reed on the Yam4c (1.5 on the yam6c) so....................... should I opt for the middle of the road - the B5 (medium/medium) as a starting point? if it suits then I'll be well chuffed for the price! if it doesn't I suppose then back to plan A - visit to sax.co.uk :D
Sounds reasonable to me. I've only tried the B7, so I don't know how much difference there is between the different tip openings. You'd probably still want to drop the reed strength I guess. A trip to sax.co.uk sounds like fun anyway, though, and you'd probably get some good advice.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
B5 is a good starting point. But if you're only managing a #2 reed on a 4c, expect to start with a 1.5 max, of a softer brand - like rico, not Vandoren. You may find a B3 better, it's quite a lot wider than the 4c and still wider than the 6c.

Yamaha tips are quoted in mm, going up in 0.1mm increments. 4c starts at 1.7mm, 5c is 1.8mm, 6c is 1.9mm. In thousands of an inch, this is 0.067", 0.071", 0.075".
The ricos are 0.085" for a 3, 0.095" for a 5 and 0.105" for a 7.


This may help:

http://www.jodyjazz.com/facings.tenorsax.html
and the yamaha openings I got from Thomann.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
I also avoided posting, cos I don't know enough. But I'll just second what Martin said anbout wider tips - bending (and volume control) seem easier on a wider tip, but accuracy needs more control. Having said that I can bend well on a Selmer C*, and as you can play a full octave on the mouthpiece alone, I wonder if changing mouthpieces is going to help. Need one of the teachers to say something I guess...
Hi difficult one isn't it! well I can't bend notes easily on the tenor yam6c which is quite a wide opening? but can on the alto 4c so I think it must be a tenor thing :confused:

Sounds reasonable to me. I've only tried the B7, so I don't know how much difference there is between the different tip openings. You'd probably still want to drop the reed strength I guess. A trip to sax.co.uk sounds like fun anyway, though, and you'd probably get some good advice.
I know it would be better to go and try them out but due to the fact I may end up spending money I haven't got >:) I think I'll go down the Graftonite route first and keep my fingers crossed :)
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
B5 is a good starting point. But if you're only managing a #2 reed on a 4c, expect to start with a 1.5 max, of a softer brand - like rico, not Vandoren. You may find a B3 better, it's quite a lot wider than the 4c and still wider than the 6c.

Yamaha tips are quoted in mm, going up in 0.1mm increments. 4c starts at 1.7mm, 5c is 1.8mm, 6c is 1.9mm. In thousands of an inch, this is 0.067", 0.071", 0.075".
The ricos are 0.085" for a 3, 0.095" for a 5 and 0.105" for a 7.


This may help:

http://www.jodyjazz.com/facings.tenorsax.html
and the yamaha openings I got from Thomann.
 
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SaxyMalcolm

Member
Messages
77
Hi fellow sax fiends

I don't know why it is but when sax players ask for advice about technique on playing the saxophone properly the majority of suggestions I hear are "change your mouthpiece/instrument/read/ligature" etc etc. Although your kit is important it is nothing if your playing technique is wrong. How about thinking about what you are actually doing with your diaphragm/vocal track/embouchure. A good exercise to practise for bending notes is the 'F trick' - Play a top F using the front F fingering, think about making an EEE shape with the back of your throat with the sides of your RELAXED tongue touching your top molars, don't allow it to move from that position throughout this exercise. Then using your Larynx only, NOT YOUR EMBOUCHURE flatten the F to an E, then go down in semitones, with practise you should be able to get about an octave if you are doing it correctly. If your Larynx refuses to do what you want it to do, try practising scales on your mouthpiece on its own using the EEE syllable or singing the tone using the EEE syllable from the F downwards or whistling. Throughout this exercise support with the diaphragm and use a relaxed embouchure at all times. A great book to get if you want to develope your vocal track is Donald Sinta's Voicing book "An approach to the Saxophone's Third Register" it goes into a lot more detail than the Rascher book which is also very good.

Let me know if you are not sure about anything and how you get on

Malcolm
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Another thought is that you may just need to bite the bullet and play a harder reed on the current setup...
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
Hi fellow sax fiends

I don't know why it is but when sax players ask for advice about technique on playing the saxophone properly the majority of suggestions I hear are "change your mouthpiece/instrument/read/ligature" etc etc. Although your kit is important it is nothing if your playing technique is wrong. How about thinking about what you are actually doing with your diaphragm/vocal track/embouchure. A good exercise to practise for bending notes is the 'F trick' - Play a top F using the front F fingering, think about making an EEE shape with the back of your throat with the sides of your RELAXED tongue touching your top molars, don't allow it to move from that position throughout this exercise. Then using your Larynx only, NOT YOUR EMBOUCHURE flatten the F to an E, then go down in semitones, with practise you should be able to get about an octave if you are doing it correctly. If your Larynx refuses to do what you want it to do, try practising scales on your mouthpiece on its own using the EEE syllable or singing the tone using the EEE syllable from the F downwards or whistling. Throughout this exercise support with the diaphragm and use a relaxed embouchure at all times. A great book to get if you want to develope your vocal track is Donald Sinta's Voicing book "An approach to the Saxophone's Third Register" it goes into a lot more detail than the Rascher book which is also very good.

Let me know if you are not sure about anything and how you get on

Malcolm
Hi Malcolm, as I said on the other posts I can actually play a whole octave on my tenor mouthpiece when it's off the sax, and I have no trouble whatsoever bending the notes on my Alto or Sop - I have analysed in great detail what it is I actually do when I bend notes, and it is very similar to what you describe above - I hadn't thought about it before, but on the tenor - that is what is causing it the note to fail.

I watched one of Pete's videos about vibrato and note bending and starting by practising a long drawn out wave by adjusting your jaw (at least that's how I interpreted it), that works on the tenor a little better but I'm only getting about a semitone of bend as opposed to about a whole tone on the other saxes. :confused::(
 

SaxyMalcolm

Member
Messages
77
Artylady

Can you have a blow on another tenor, you may have a leak?

Something else you may want to think about is that although I said earlier just make the EE shape, I said that to keep things simple to begin with. Try making the vowel shapes EEE (high) to UU (medium high) to OO (medium to low) and AHH (low), the OO and AHH shapes make your Larynx open up for your lower register (Just like singing). Keep your tongue high and relaxed all the time by touching your top molars, with the sides. Hope it helps.

Malcolm
 
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Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,949
Play a top F using the front F fingering, think about making an EEE shape with the back of your throat with the sides of your RELAXED tongue touching your top molars, don't allow it to move from that position throughout this exercise. Then using your Larynx only, NOT YOUR EMBOUCHURE flatten the F to an E, then go down in semitones, with practise you should be able to get about an octave if you are doing it correctly. If your Larynx refuses to do what you want it to do, try practising scales on your mouthpiece on its own using the EEE syllable or singing the tone using the EEE syllable from the F downwards or whistling.
Really? Just your larynx?
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
When you sing or whistle you just use your Larynx, thats how you change pitch.
Malcolm that description is exactly what I always do which as I said before works perfectly on the alto and sop! I thought it was wrong because in Pete's video he says don't vibrato from your throat do it from the mouth. (perhaps you can do it either way? I don't know).

So..... it has to either be the tenor itself (could this be possible?) or the mouthpiece - perhaps due to the difference in size and shape to the alto and sop mouthpieces?

I know I find it easy on Alto and even easier on the Sop! So I know it's not me!
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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Messages
5,949
Actually, now I've bothered to think about it, I change pitch when I whistle with my tongue. My larynx plays no part in this. It only affects my sax playing when I'm growling. Note bending's virtually all jaw.
 
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