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Saxophones Problem blowing Alto

ArtyLady

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Essex
Thought I'd better start my own thread instead of hi-jacking Tommy NG's! I've duplicated what I put on there here.

Basically since I bought my Tenor which I find really easy to blow, I find the Alto really difficult to blow - Alto is Trevor James Classic Horn, Tenor is Trevor James REv II both have yam 4c mp.

I'd be surprised if it was the horn. I had a Graftonite mouthpiece for my TJ alto and it was like blowing through a straw. Once I'd changed to a Meyer there was no problem. Get yourself down to a decent music shop and try out a few different mouthpieces before you change the instrument.
I've got a Yam 4c on it - same as I've got on my Tenor, could it be that although it suits the tenor it just doesn't suit the alto?

I think you should get ya sax checked over and if that's ok check your mp and reed combo.I find them free blowing sax's.
Sax has been checked over twice in the last 18 months - he says it's fine! What mp and reed combo would you recommend?
 
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AndyB

Member
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210
Location
Durham, NC, USA
Tip opening too narrow?

Not sure if this applies but I played for many years as a kid. I got an alto about 2 years ago with a Yamaha 4c mpc. After 4 weeks, my embouchure was returning and I could no longer blow a note on the 4c. The narrow tip opening was completely closing off after my embouchure muscles began redeveloping. If you are the same, I think either you have to go to a thick reed like 3.5 or else a wider mpc opening. I went to a Yamaha 6c and had much better luck, but I later switched to a Meyer 6M which I liked much more.
 

Rogerb

Member
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Costa Blanca, Spain
Well, at that stage I found a Vandoren V5 A27 to be good, but you really do need to try some for yourself. I never got along well with the 'standards' .... 4C and S80.
I'd be surprised if you couldn't find a Vandoren to suit you.
 

chadders

Senior Member
Subscriber
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306
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Wrexham.
I have been struggling on and off for the last few months with a graphtonite mp on a trevor james alto. Sometimes it blows easily, other times its really dull. I bought a second mp, and then accidentally found out it was the ligature that was causing my problems. I am using a rovner dark, and this causes so much variability in sound that I have now gone back to the standard two screw metal lig that came with the sax, and my troubles have been more or less resolved.

I think the trouble with the rovner is that I am not always getting it in an optimum place on the reed, and am not always tightening up enough. I can place and tighten the metal lig much easier.

I have also done much testing and swapping of reeds and found that rico jazz select 2ms are the ones I like best (this week !!)

Chad
 

AndyB

Member
Messages
210
Location
Durham, NC, USA
I have been struggling on and off for the last few months with a graphtonite mp on a trevor james alto. Sometimes it blows easily, other times its really dull. I bought a second mp, and then accidentally found out it was the ligature that was causing my problems. I am using a rovner dark, and this causes so much variability in sound that I have now gone back to the standard two screw metal lig that came with the sax, and my troubles have been more or less resolved.

I think the trouble with the rovner is that I am not always getting it in an optimum place on the reed, and am not always tightening up enough. I can place and tighten the metal lig much easier.

Chad
I had exactly the same problem with the Rovner lig, Chad. Used the metal lig that came with my Meyer and it was great.
 

Phil Edwards

Senior Member
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1,335
Location
East Sussex
I think you'll find TJ horns are "difficult" to blow. When I did one of my periodic trawls around to see what was on the market I found the TJ's require more pressure. I'm told (don't know how true it is) that TJ wanted to re-create the vintage american style and went for a smaller bore. If that's what they wanted they did just fine because playing theirs against my 1936 Martin it feels identical, whereas others (Hanson, Keilworth) are more free-blowing.

I guess if you don't like it you'll have to change, but if you like the tone it's something you'll live with (and in time never notice as it'll become the norm for you)

regards, Phil
 

thomsax

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3,355
Location
Sweden
Artylady
Try differnt reeds (manufactors, hardness, thickness, ....). It can make a big differnece. Next time you're going to play don't place the tip of the reed inline with the tip of the mouthpiece. Place the reed so you can see the tip of the mouthpiece. We're talking about less than a mm. The tone becomes more open and most important, you don't break or reduce the airflow which can be the case if you're blowing/pushing hard. Last autumn, Andrew Clark taught us at a Rocksax workshop to place the reed correct to produce a louder and more open tone. So even an old player like me can be learn new tricks!

Personally I don't like the lig's made of fabric, leather .... with one screw. They doesn't allow the reed to vibrate. It's easy to tighten up the screw too much. You can also try to have the screw on the down side instead of at the top. Most players have the screws on the top of the mouthpiece. A have a Rovner Mass Load lig and it keep most of the "stock" of the reed open/uncovered. I think the tone is more open and louder with this lig.

Thomas
 

MartinL

Member
Messages
378
Location
Bilston, United Kingdom.
Thought I'd better start my own thread instead of hi-jacking Tommy NG's! I've duplicated what I put on there here.

Basically since I bought my Tenor which I find really easy to blow, I find the Alto really difficult to blow - Alto is Trevor James Classic Horn, Tenor is Trevor James REv II both have yam 4c mp.



I've got a Yam 4c on it - same as I've got on my Tenor, could it be that although it suits the tenor it just doesn't suit the alto?



Sax has been checked over twice in the last 18 months - he says it's fine! What mp and reed combo would you recommend? (bearing in mind I've only been playing Sax for 18 months) :)


My limited experience:- I started with a very cheap ebay sax and very soon swapped it for my TJ. initialy i found the TJ hard to blow, eventually i got a Y4C mouthpiece and that did it for me, never looked back..
 

Rogerb

Member
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766
Location
Costa Blanca, Spain
But that's the very combination which ArtyLady says she now has......so she presumably needs to try something different.
FWIW, the mpcs I have had with high baffles....RPC 80B, JJDV and Jumbo Java, have been the most free-blowing....even though they were more 'open-tipped' than I'd previously been used-to.
Have you tried a softer reed...adjusted exactly as Thomas says (above)? I think many people struggle along with reeds which are too hard for them, or which are set too low.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
Location
Sweden
I think you'll find TJ horns are "difficult" to blow. When I did one of my periodic trawls around to see what was on the market I found the TJ's require more pressure. I'm told (don't know how true it is) that TJ wanted to re-create the vintage american style and went for a smaller bore. If that's what they wanted they did just fine because playing theirs against my 1936 Martin it feels identical, whereas others (Hanson, Keilworth) are more free-blowing.

I guess if you don't like it you'll have to change, but if you like the tone it's something you'll live with (and in time never notice as it'll become the norm for you)

regards, Phil
Phil,

That's interesting. I've never seen a TJ sax (Trevor James Horn?). On my Martins I can't play a large bore mouthpiece. A moutpiece with medium bore and a baffle is best for me.

Thomas
 
OP
ArtyLady

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,019
Location
Essex
many thanks for all your suggestions :)

Well, at that stage I found a Vandoren V5 A27 to be good, but you really do need to try some for yourself. I never got along well with the 'standards' .... 4C and S80.
I'd be surprised if you couldn't find a Vandoren to suit you.
thanks I'll take that on board,

I have been struggling on and off for the last few months with a graphtonite mp on a trevor james alto. Sometimes it blows easily, other times its really dull. I bought a second mp, and then accidentally found out it was the ligature that was causing my problems. I am using a rovner dark, and this causes so much variability in sound that I have now gone back to the standard two screw metal lig that came with the sax, and my troubles have been more or less resolved.

I think the trouble with the rovner is that I am not always getting it in an optimum place on the reed, and am not always tightening up enough. I can place and tighten the metal lig much easier.

I have also done much testing and swapping of reeds and found that rico jazz select 2ms are the ones I like best (this week !!)

Chad
I had exactly the same problem with the Rovner lig, Chad. Used the metal lig that came with my Meyer and it was great.
Never even thought about the Ligature, maybe I'll try a different on - have the leather BG that came with it.

I think you'll find TJ horns are "difficult" to blow. When I did one of my periodic trawls around to see what was on the market I found the TJ's require more pressure. I'm told (don't know how true it is) that TJ wanted to re-create the vintage american style and went for a smaller bore. If that's what they wanted they did just fine because playing theirs against my 1936 Martin it feels identical, whereas others (Hanson, Keilworth) are more free-blowing.

I guess if you don't like it you'll have to change, but if you like the tone it's something you'll live with (and in time never notice as it'll become the norm for you)

regards, Phil
My TJ Tenor is fine:confused: and I have a Yam 4c and leather BG Lig on that too!

My limited experience:- I started with a very cheap ebay sax and very soon swapped it for my TJ. initialy i found the TJ hard to blow, eventually i got a Y4C mouthpiece and that did it for me, never looked back..
But that's the very combination which ArtyLady says she now has......so she presumably needs to try something different.
FWIW, the mpcs I have had with high baffles....RPC 80B, JJDV and Jumbo Java, have been the most free-blowing....even though they were more 'open-tipped' than I'd previously been used-to.
Have you tried a softer reed...adjusted exactly as Thomas says (above)? I think many people struggle along with reeds which are too hard for them, or which are set too low.
Yep I have a Yam 4c, I started on 1.5 and worked up to a 2.5 - I got so used to it I never thought anything of it - until I got my Tenor and now realise how hard the alto is to blow!! I've taken it back to a 1.5 just to be able to play it occasionally - I'll try fiddling with the Lig etc, I can't afford to change it atm, but I'm concentrating on the Tenor for now so it's not vital for the moment - but I would like to go back to it at some time. :(
 

Ben Cain

Member
Messages
108
Location
Essex, UK
Hi Arty-lady,
I play a TJ Sig Series Alto originally with Otto Link ebonite mpc and the lig that came with it. I found the whole experience frustrating and coulf not get a sound I was happy with. Then disovered the delight of a Peter Ponzol M2 steel mpc and rovner dark lig (screw at the top), this opened out the sound and made the alto easier to blow sweetly and then with some power. I am mainly concentrating on tenor but every now and agian it is good to have a blow.
Ben
 

Tommy Ng

Member
Messages
583
Location
South Yorkshire
Thought I'd better start my own thread instead of hi-jacking Tommy NG's! I've duplicated what I put on there here.

Basically since I bought my Tenor which I find really easy to blow, I find the Alto really difficult to blow - Alto is Trevor James Classic Horn, Tenor is Trevor James REv II both have yam 4c mp.



I've got a Yam 4c on it - same as I've got on my Tenor, could it be that although it suits the tenor it just doesn't suit the alto?



Sax has been checked over twice in the last 18 months - he says it's fine! What mp and reed combo would you recommend? (bearing in mind I've only been playing Sax for 18 months) :)
I bought a Trevor James soprano couple of months ago. I tried the TJ mouthpiece but it didn't work. I then bought a yamaha 4c, this 4c didn't work either. However, with a S80 C*, the sax sounds beautifully.

I might be wrong, TJ doesn't do with yamaha mpcs. You might want to try a selmer mpc...

I am using S80 C* with my Bauhaus alto. Reed=Java#2 or Hemke... it is pretty good.
 

Lloyd

Member
Messages
208
Location
Hertfordshire
Just a thought, but my son uses a Yamaha 6C on his TJ alto Revolution and he gets a really nice sound with it. You may just want to try a wider mouthpiece.
 

Justin Chune

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2,939
Location
The Athens of The North
I started out on clarinet and after I got into playing it I had more than three octaves of free-playing joy. My first sax was a tenor and I quickly found that whenever I tried the clarinet after a session on the sax, it was as if a duster had been stuffed up the bell.

You are finding that alto and tenor saxophones don't play the same and you will have to develop an embouchure to suit each one. I think that there is nothing wrong with your sax,or mouthpiece, and that the softer reeds are the way to go.

It's lucky for us that the tenor is such a dream machine.

Jim.
 
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ArtyLady

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,019
Location
Essex
I bought a Trevor James soprano couple of months ago. I tried the TJ mouthpiece but it didn't work. I then bought a yamaha 4c, this 4c didn't work either. However, with a S80 C*, the sax sounds beautifully.

I might be wrong, TJ doesn't do with yamaha mpcs. You might want to try a selmer mpc...

I am using S80 C* with my Bauhaus alto. Reed=Java#2 or Hemke... it is pretty good.
My TJ Tenor is fine with the Yam mpc :)

I started out on clarinet and after I got into playing it I had more than three octaves of free-playing joy. My first sax was a tenor and I quickly found that whenever I tried the clarinet after a session on the sax, it was as if a duster had been stuffed up the bell.

You are finding that alto and tenor saxophones don't play the same and you will have to develop an embouchure to suit each one. I think that there is nothing wrong with your sax,or mouthpiece, and that the softer reeds are the way to go.

It's lucky for us that the tenor is such a dream machine.

Jim.
The Alto certainly seemed easy enough until I bought the tenor, so on the Alto I have gone back to 1.5 reed as this is the only way I can play it! :shocked:

The Tenor certainly is a dream to play I love it! Even the squeaking and squawking has stopped! :welldone I think thats because after the alto I was just blowing way too hard and I just need to develop a different embouchure as you say ;}
 
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Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,416
Location
brighton by the sea
At the risk slightly hijacking this thread- does anyone else find that the small embouchure change needed between tenor and alto is the trickiest transition of the lot? 90% of my playing is done on tenor; I can jump to my curved soprano without problem, I used to honk and old baritone (though I had a Runyon mouthpiece which was similar size & feel to a tenor one) but I've always had problems on alto- the embouchure never feels natural or comfortable for me (ok- obviously there's a lack of familiarity issue but next to sop and bari it always feels like work to try and get a decent alto tone). anyone else find the same thing? I was chatting with a guy in the shop the other day who also reckoned small embouchure changes were harder than bigger ones....
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,611
Location
Betelgeuse
Not for me. No problem switching between alto and tenor, but any sax to clarinet takes days to get used to.
 

Rogerb

Member
Messages
766
Location
Costa Blanca, Spain
I have a 'chat friend' on SOTW who's a very experienced pro (with a 'full set'of MKVIs!) , and he thinks the alto is one of the harder saxes on which to learn, despite its convenient size/price.
He reckons the tenor is much easier to blow.
I rather wish I'd started on tenor....but the size was an issue (as well as the price)....taking a tenor case on flights is considerably more 'risky' than an alto.
 
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