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Beginner Playing the middle and lower register in relative tune

Robin

New Member
Messages
9
Hi,

I've given the sax a couple weeks now and can play up to E3. However, when I cross from C2 to D2 (I.e. from pressing the octave key) it's just not in tune relative to previous notes. I've noticed that to play the top notes I have to push my lower lip forward quite a bit and place a really precise about of force, but no matter how I shuffle my face about, I can't make a one octave D major scale sound nice on the top note :(

Can anyone guess what I'm probably doing wrong?

Many thanks!

Robin
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Too much too soon? Octave D is possibly the worst note on the tenor. Stick with it, it'll come.
 

Robin

New Member
Messages
9
Which mouthpiece/reed combination are you using?
Vandoren 1.5 (blue individual wrapper) and the plastic mouthpiece that comes with a Trevor James Classic.

How do you guys shift your embouchure when moving from C or C# to D (lowest D that uses octave key)?
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Vandoren 1.5 (blue individual wrapper) and the plastic mouthpiece that comes with a Trevor James Classic.

How do you guys shift your embouchure when moving from C or C# to D (lowest D that uses octave key)?
Hi Robin,
The answer to you question, is that I dont shift it between those notes. Generally for higher notes there is slightly more preasure than applied for middle 'C' but I don't notice it (probably due to vibrato). The bigest change is dropping down below middle 'C', where I start to slacken off on the way down to low 'Bb'.
I don't know what others think, but not knowing the spec. of the m'piece, I would change to something like a Rico Graftonite B5, which is a good reliable piece and cheap as well. Keep to 1.5 or 2 reeds and then it's just a case of practice, practice, practice ;}

John.
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
In support of John a decent mouthpiece does play a part in tuning - not all mouthpieces are accurately made. In addition to John-s recommendation I would also look at getting some alternative reeds - maybe Rico Jazz Select 2S or 2M.
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,281
Keep playing long notes from bottom to top, it will come,your facial muscles need time to build up.

Brian
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Keep playing long notes from bottom to top, it will come,your facial muscles need time to build up.

Brian
Yes that's what I said practice, practice, practice, but I still strongly recommend a change of mouthpiece to one of a known quantity. The Rico is around the £20 mark. Tom Knows a good online supplier, my memory is shot! ;}

John.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Yes that's what I said practice, practice, practice, but I still strongly recommend a change of mouthpiece to one of a known quantity. The Rico is around the £20 mark. Tom Knows a good online supplier, my memory is shot! ;}

John.
I'm not Tom, but: rapidreeds.com
 

Robin

New Member
Messages
9
Gents,

I had a quick practice this afternoon in the presence of my housemate who, unlike me, isn't tone deaf. He pointed out that my C# is more out than my D when I keep my embouchure fixed (thanks johnboy for inspiration - I kept my mouth position generally fixed as an experiment). In order to play in tune I have to move the lower lip forward and press harder for the C# (I use all keys open, I don't know if there is an alternative fingering that affects tone). Only then does my D major sound slightly in tune. Is this normal? Do you guys subconsiously play particular notes differently?

I'll splash out on some new reeds (Rico Jazz?) and maybe mp to see if it makes a difference. Any sax user groups / socials meet ups near Cambridge UK?

Cheers, Robin
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Gents,

I had a quick practice this afternoon in the presence of my housemate who, unlike me, isn't tone deaf. He pointed out that my C# is more out than my D when I keep my embouchure fixed (thanks johnboy for inspiration - I kept my mouth position generally fixed as an experiment). In order to play in tune I have to move the lower lip forward and press harder for the C# (I use all keys open, I don't know if there is an alternative fingering that affects tone). Only then does my D major sound slightly in tune. Is this normal? Do you guys subconsiously play particular notes differently?

Cheers, Robin
All of them. And even more so on the alto and soprano.

I should point out that I've only been playing sax for 15 months, but the way I see it is this. No saxophone plays perfectly in tune without some help from the player. The notes are very "bendable", especially on the smaller saxes, which is all part of the instrument's charm but means you have to pitch each note by ear. But any adjustments you make should be small and, as you say, almost unconscious. It's a bit like whistling. You hear the sound you want to make and (after sufficient practice) out it comes without you really knowing how you're doing it. Same thing for variations in tone colour, whatever that is. Does that make sense?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
It's right that all the notes need to help from the player to be accurate - but it seems to me that this needs too much help.

Rico's RJS reeds are good. It's worth a try, but be prepared to get a better mouthpiece.

I seem to remember someone saying there's a good sax shop in Cambridge, but it escapes me.

It's worth getting the sax checked, C# can be affected by incorrectly set key heights (mind you so can all other notes).

It's worth getting a tuner and seeing just how far out the notes are.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
The shop concerned is Wood, Wind & Reed - www.wwr.co.uk

Top budget recommendations for mouthpieces are - Rico Graftonite B3 (best price is at www.rapidreeds.com where they are available for approx £14.00 inc. post. Yamaha 4,5 or 6C - about £30.00, and Runyon 22 5 or 6 tip at about £30 - www.sax.co.uk and others. There is also a sale on here and they have Bari mouthpieces at about £49, which is a good price also. One thing I have noticed is that beginners can sometimes be paying a mouthpiece that is too small for them and the flow of air can be somewhat impeded, which can contribute to intonation problems. a better flow often has a stabilising effect - hence why a tenor sax has less intonation problems that a soprano sax, all thingsbeing equal. A newbie friend of mine was using a Yamah 4C, (tip opening of 0.063") and produced a more free flowing sound on my own mouthpiece which had a tip opening of "0.078" - almost 20% larger, whichcan be a big difference.

So you know what you have to do!
 

Robin

New Member
Messages
9
Rapid reeds only stock the Rico Royal and the Rico La Vox - so I might go for Royal B3 if thats a sensible choice. As for reeds... these have a number and sometimes also a letter (Soft,Medium,Hard probably). Is it a case of medium all the way, or should I keep a variety for different pieces?

Flute teacher tells me that theres a woodwind shop here in Cambridge (www.wwr.co.uk) so will check him out before buying online.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I think a B3 may be a safer choice, but I do have a Rico B5 which you could have a loan of, no problem, just PM me your address. Regarding reeds, I think that the B3 would be more suited to a 2.5 Rico Royal/2M Rico Jazz Select,. A B5 would probably be best with a slightly softer reed - 2 Rico Royal/2S Rico Jazz Select.

WWR are a pretty good shop, with a good choice available.
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Rapid reeds only stock the Rico Royal and the Rico La Vox - so I might go for Royal B3 if thats a sensible choice. As for reeds... these have a number and sometimes also a letter (Soft,Medium,Hard probably). Is it a case of medium all the way, or should I keep a variety for different pieces?

Flute teacher tells me that theres a woodwind shop here in Cambridge (www.wwr.co.uk) so will check him out before buying online.
If it's a Rico B3 m'piece, I think a Rico Royal 2.5 reed would be about right, But with reeds it really is a case of "suck it and see".
Any problems though, we are all here to help :thumb:

John.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I can say that Rico Royals are a very consistent reed for a beginner to start on. Choose either a 1.5 or a 2 depending on your chops. Mouthpiece wise I’d go for a Yamaha 4c or 5c. Beginners seem to get on with them better than the Rico varieties in my option (Sorry Tom and John), good luck getting a Runyon as they are terrible for having available stock :shocked: Also make sure you have the sax set-up by a tech, if it isn’t set-up properly it’ll be a nightmare to learn on.

As for playing in tune, well that’s simple. Practice, practice, practice, oh and tons of patience!

But most importantly, have fun, enjoy the ride! The journey should be as exciting as the destination, as for most it takes a lifetime …

Happy blowing,

DB Blue :cool:
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
He already plays a Yamaha 4C and wants to try something different.......................!
 
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