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Beginner Reed closes under pressure

zebrafoot

Member
Messages
63
Another beginner reed question here.

As per another thread that I posted on, I am using a Yamaha 5C mouthpiece on my tenor. I have recently trialled Rico Royal and Vandoren Java Red reeds, both at strength 2 and I find that I prefer the Vandoren so that has become my reed of choice for the time being.

My problem is that when I try to play really loud, or hit high notes, the reed appears to "shut off" against the mouthpiece, especially after a long session when it has presumably softened up. Is this a technique problem on my part, or is the reed simply too soft for what I am asking of it? Otherwise the reed behaves really well and is a delight to play with.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
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5,959
Is this a technique problem on my part, or is the reed simply too soft for what I am asking of it?

Yes. Both. Probably.

If you intend to do a lot of loud stuff it's probably a good idea to go for a stiffer reed than you might use for your usual noodling around practicing. When you're at a gig and you need to nail that screaming high note you don't want the reed to close up on you. BTDTGTTS.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Happened to me after I joined a sax ensemble and had to play some F and FF parts. Very annoying when the reed just slaps closed. I was using Rico Royal and Select Jazz at 2 and 2 1/2 and they were just too soft. I now use La Voz medium. I changed mpc as well from Selmer soloist C* to Jody Jazz Classic 5. They're personal choices obviously but I can play the whole range of dynamics now without things closing up - but that may change again...
YC
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
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5,219
A simple solution would be to purchase a Rico Royal C3 Tenor mouthpiece - (tip opening 0.085" rather than the 0.070" ish you play on, and get some Java Red 2.5's. The choice of both will allow you a little experimentation to see what works and the Rico is a louder mouthpiece which would allow you to play it with some greater ease.

The Rico mpc is cheapest from www.rapidreeds.com post free at £14.64.
 

zebrafoot

Member
Messages
63
Thank you for all the helpful answers, I will have to look into changing something in the near future. Tom, I had to check that price as I assumed it was a typo, but obviously not! 15 quid is very cheap for a new mouthpiece - although I guess I have to buy the ligature separately do I? (still not expensive at £10).

Another tangential question - the friendly local sax man supplied me with a mouthpiece with a pad attached. I understand that this is to protect the plastic from my top teeth, but I honestly don't think my teeth make much contact with the mouthpiece. Does this matter?

Pete
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
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5,219
Hi There!

1. Your current lig will be fine, but Rico Ligs are good.
2. Always use a mouth patch - more comfortable and prevents teeth digging into the mouthpiece (you'd be surprised)
3. There are thick and thin mpc patches - I mostly use thin ones on all my mouthpieces.

Hope this helps
Tom
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
I'm not sure why Tom recommended a small (C) chamber mouthpiece. Better would be a B chamber imho.

As for teeth... If you're really not touching with your teeth (and this is a legitimate way of playing, known as double lip embouchure), then don't worry about a patch. Otherwise, use one.

But I'd also make the observation that your choice of reed for the current mouthpiece is very soft. Just going harder, in line with Nick's comments above would probably solve the problem.
 

zebrafoot

Member
Messages
63
Thanks Kev - the mouthpiece was the one supplied with the sax, so I just went with that. Originally I was on 1.5 reeds and upped the stiffness to 2 although they don't feel that hard to play IMO; perhaps this is due to an improvement on my part, or perhaps it's due to the difference between french and american cut.

I don't want to go to too high a reed stiffness and lose the finesse of the softer reed - finding the right balance is probably going to take a bit of fiddling about isn't it?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
Yes, go up half a strength at a time. Tone tends to improve as reeds get harder, and so does high note playing, but if you go too hard, the deeper notes disappear. And beware - Vandorens are about half a strength harder than Ricos. (e.g. Vandoren 2 = Rico 2.5).
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
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5,219
I'm not sure why Tom recommended a small (C) chamber mouthpiece.

Kev, you only have to ask.

As zebrafoot was referring to playing "really loud" I made an assumption that this phenomena is more associated with contemporary music, whereas a Yamaha is a more general piece. That may be an inaccurate assumption. I have a Rico C7 which is a really nice contemporary sounding piece which I would place nearer a Java than a Jumbo Java mouthpiece in terms of brightness. I do not know whether you have tried one but they are not so bright and would provide a better contrast imho to the Yamaha 5C, and would have some additional benefit apart from being a slightly larger tip opening.
 

zebrafoot

Member
Messages
63
Ok so this is another variable then - chamber size! I hadn't even really thought about that, but are you talking of the internal diameter of the mouthpiece? Are smaller mouthpieces more subtle sounding?
 

zebrafoot

Member
Messages
63
I just thought of another mouthpiece question which has been on my mind for a bit (tangential of course); my mouthpiece doesn't want to seem to fit very far onto the crook - I have put some cork grease on, but it is still about 1cm shy of the end of the cork. I guess this all depends on the size of the cork, but will it get easier to fit as the cork compresses? I worry about shoving it on too hard in case I damage something (e.g. the octave mechanism) whilst I'm doing this.
 

Big-Al

Member
Messages
32
I just thought of another mouthpiece question which has been on my mind for a bit (tangential of course); my mouthpiece doesn't want to seem to fit very far onto the crook - I have put some cork grease on, but it is still about 1cm shy of the end of the cork. I guess this all depends on the size of the cork, but will it get easier to fit as the cork compresses? I worry about shoving it on too hard in case I damage something (e.g. the octave mechanism) whilst I'm doing this.

The mouthpiece doesn't need to cover the whole of the cork on the crook. How far you put the mouthpiece will adjust the pitch of the saxophone, the further you put the mouthpiece on the flatter the notes will be you can sharpen the instrument by not putting the mouthpiece on so far. This isn't really so important when playing solo but is when playing as part of an ensemble. If you have access to a tuner (or smartphone with the relevant app) you can tune it to the correct pitch.

Al,
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Pete!

1. Generally a larger chamber means a mellower/darker sound, a smaller chamber means a brighter sound. The narrower the entrance to the chamber - the baffle so called - the brighter the sound on the whole (just like squeezing the end of a hose pipe produces a jet of water). The Yamaha is a medium sized chamber, neither very bright nr very mellow/dark sounding.

2. Regarding the cork and mouthpiece lots of folks attach the mouthpiece by removing the neck from the sax. Sometimes a cork is too thick and needs a gentle sanding, if grease alone does not do it. It needs to go on further only if it needs tuning. Sometimes the cork is a loose fit (size does vary depending on mouthpiece) and folks often use some sort of tape to ensure a tighter fit. All corks will compress with time and that may be a help to some, but not to others.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
The mouthpiece doesn't need to cover the whole of the cork on the crook. How far you put the mouthpiece will adjust the pitch of the saxophone, the further you put the mouthpiece on the flatter the notes will be you can sharpen the instrument by not putting the mouthpiece on so far. This isn't really so important when playing solo but is when playing as part of an ensemble. If you have access to a tuner (or smartphone with the relevant app) you can tune it to the correct pitch.
Al,

In fact it is the other way around. If you shorten the total length the sound will become sharper. If you lengthen the total the the sound will become flatter. Sorry about that, Al.
 

Big-Al

Member
Messages
32
In fact it is the other way around. If you shorten the total length the sound will become sharper. If you lengthen the total the the sound will become flatter. Sorry about that, Al.

Tom, yes you are right I wrote the post in a bit of a rush as SWMBO was calling that dinner was on the table. An event that is not to be missed!!!
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Tom, yes you are right I wrote the post in a bit of a rush as SWMBO was calling that dinner was on the table. An event that is not to be missed!!!

So, not so Big-Al after all............................................................;}

I usually have my 10yo Daughter wanting to tell me something which is followed by - "I'm just finishing off an email and then you can have my full attention.....!"

Funny how real life can badly effect your sax career..................:crying:
 
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