support Tone without tears Beginners' impro Patterns & exercises

Round the bend


Please excuse the long post but I need some advice. I've been playing a hired tenor for about 6 months and having made good progress I decided to buy a sax which i've had for 5 days now .

On the new sax I'm having real problems playing low E, F, F sharp and to a lesser extent D. (Strangely low C, B flat are not problematic). I'm getting a sort of warble like its oscillating between the low and next register. If I really slacken of my jaw and push a lot harder I can get the notes but compared to the sax I was hiring (which I still have) it is really hit and miss particularly when coming down the scale. It's driving me mad.

I thought this is an embouchure problem and I've spent a number of hours playing long notes trying not to push with my lower jaw too hard or bite down too much But even dropping from F to E and maintaining an even pressure the E just dies.

The the middle register sounds good and the intonation even, and the upper register compared to the hired sax sound a lot rounder ( part of the reason I bought it). As I said I haven't been playing long but I have played one other sax recently besides the hired sax and did not have this sort of problem.

I've checked the sax for obvious leaks shining a small LED torch down from the top and then up from the bell.
Here;s what I've noticed;
-The join between the body/ tube of the sax and the U -bend (sorry don't Know the technical terms) is very obvious and uneven ie not completely circular. When I shine the torch down it is possible to see a whitish glue or sealant in the join. By comparison the join between the bell and the u-bend is barley visible.

-When I examined the collar on the external join between the body/and u-bend just above the low C pad there is a visible gap and some of this glue or sealant is visible having leaked out. Elsewhere the collar seems to fit snugly.​

This sax is a well regarded student model which from a brand which has had positive reviews, including on this site.
Are these a likely cause the problem or this an embouchure /breathing issue?
Should the join be a rough as it appears to be?

Help appreciated.

Hi Tono.
If you can play those notes correctly wit the old horn, it sounds like a leak, unrelated with the bow (the U bend) joint. An approximate guess is it is located around the left hand palm keys, but it is just a guess.
The bow should be properly assembled. I cannot understand if it is just an esthetic issue. Please note that one side should be assembled with two screws (probably where you see the sealant) and one side is soldered.

The three brands usually mentioned here are BW, John Packer and Jericho (about student horns). If you are based in the UK, I personally know that JP and Jericho offer an excellent after sale service. Other members have experience with BW.
I would contact them, unless you have a friendly technician available. If it is a small leak it could be caused by slight damage in transit: quite common.

If the problem is a leek, our distinguished members from the Welsh branch can put their expertise to help, while recommending a few mouthpieces.

[enter Tom]
Are you using a new mouthpiece too? I had the exact same problem which was resolved by getting a decent mouthpiece. If it is new and you don't have access to the old one, try taking your Sax to a music shop and try out one or two.
Thanks aldevis,
It's not a cosmetic issue.Externally the sax looks fine. Its just looking inside the hired sax the bow join is not visible but on the new sax it is. I wondered if that obvious join had something to do with I am in NZ the sax is A BW. I wondered if my hand was catching the palm keys which are slightly higher than the other sax but it's no that. Sounds likI'll take it to a technician and see if
Are you using a new mouthpiece too? I had the exact same problem which was resolved by getting a decent mouthpiece. If it is new and you don't have access to the old one, try taking your Sax to a music shop and try out one or two.

Have used the mouthpiece supplied and the hire sax Mp both no brand cheapies i guess. Also tried a selmer (1930s) which seemed to excarbate the problem. Looking at getting a bari esprit . recommendations welcome.
Contact BW and let them deal with it. Don't mess. If it was a self import, it may be a touch harder. But they're still your first point of call.

The feedback from other forum members who've had problems with BW has been very good.
I find it very difficult to believe this is a leaking problem as you can play the lowest notes (even bottom Bb? - am I right?)...then you can play along the entire range on other saxes - this might only point to 2 answers:
a) you haven't yet adapted to the new sax/setup or
b) there is something quite wrong with the sax itself...
Regarding point B; a very wild guess (please don't take it too seriously) might be that the bell has been attached loosely (as you can spot a gap) and maybe the the sax is grossly out of tune - so much that you might be playing a whole semitone down (still playing nice if you play by ear)....this might or might not explain why some mid/low range notes don't come up or warble and wane too quickly as they aren't resonating with the instrument (as the default length of the sax is altered by the gap in the bell) - again, take this "advice" with a pinch of salt (I'm not a technician).
There are some experienced techs out there who might be able to point you in the right direction and as Kev already said, it is better to contact the seller (asap).
Good luck.
I have had this problem in the past warbly D, C and Bb ok. All it took was a reseating of a few pads. I couldn't see the gaps but the technician did. Job sorted.

Yep, one clue to this is that if the pads aren't too far out, pressing hard on the keys will often stop the warbling.

And you may be able to blow through it with a better or louder mouthpiece. Have seen this on a couple of saxes... One was a student level alto which came with a standard mouthpiece and a Selmer S80. It played with the Selmer, but was difficult. With the stock piece it was unplayable. A few pad tweaks and it was playable on stock and really easy on the Selmer. ymmv
Thanks for the response. It would be nice if it was a leak. I've been recommended a technician so I'll get them to look it tomorrow. I also picked up a new mouthpiece to try - Bari Esprit, this evening but haven't had chance to try it out(its after 10.30 and i live in an apartment...
Tried the new Barri Esprit mouthpiece and mouthpiece it has improved things but still struggling with the low D and C and overall the sax still require a lot more breath. I went back to the hired sax with the new mouthpiece and it was very easy blowing. so I guess the technician is the next stop.

Thanks for the posts I'll let you know how I get on.

Similar threads... or are they? Maybe not but they could be worth reading anyway 😀

Support Cafesaxophone

Tutorials CDs PPT mouthpieces

Forum statistics

Latest member
Top Bottom