All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Simple question about embouchure technique

ZombieAssassin7

New Member
Messages
5
Ever since I began playing, about 4 years ago, I have played with my bottom lip slightly pulled over my bottom teeth; and from my research I understand that this is the correct technique. My question is though about my top lip. I play with my top lip pulled down under my top teeth. If one curls both of their lips in and presses down, this is my embouchure when playing. Is this correct? And is there anything I can do to get a richer tone for classical playing. I play in a Selmer 80 mouthpiece and a Vandoren V16 size 4 reed. Thanks!
 

kcp

New Member
Messages
1
Both lips curled up over the teeth is unorthodox, you could be hurting yourself and you are not really developing your embouchure since it is your jaw that’s doing the job rather than your embouchure muscles.

The correct technique is much like sucking your thumb. Some players may curl the bottom lip over the bottom tip a bit more or less than others (Everyone is different :) ) – I hope this helps
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
Ever since I began playing, about 4 years ago, I have played with my bottom lip slightly pulled over my bottom teeth; and from my research I understand that this is the correct technique. My question is though about my top lip. I play with my top lip pulled down under my top teeth. If one curls both of their lips in and presses down, this is my embouchure when playing. Is this correct? And is there anything I can do to get a richer tone for classical playing. I play in a Selmer 80 mouthpiece and a Vandoren V16 size 4 reed. Thanks!
I have been told by a very good teacher that the Selmer SA80 mouthpiece and Rico "Hemke" reeds are a good combination for classical playing ...

Here is what it says on the back of a box of Hemke Reeds ...

"Frederick L Hemke reeds provide the dark tone favoured by many classical and traditional jazz saxophonists French filed for freedom and response, especially in the low register, adding clarity to the tone and making soft attacks easier" ...


Dunno if that's all true - but I hope it helps mate ...
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Yours sounds more like an oboe embouchure. Most sax players have their top teeth on the beak of the mouthpiece. And then install a patch to cut the vibration and stop the mouthpiece from getting damaged. However a recognised alternative is to use the top lip(known as double lip embouchure). As long as the mouthpiece is gripped by your lips, but you're not cutting into them with your teeth, it's OK. I've found that pushing the lips forwards away from the teeth helps.

Richness of tone - experiment with long tones. It comes with time. A lot seems to be about looseining up/opening up inside your mouth/throat.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
I'm firmly in the "bottom lip out(ish), top teeth on the beak" style camp - if I'm having any problems I just remind myself of mouth shape, how much tension etc I should have by just sucking my thumb for a few seconds, I re-trained my embouchure a couple of years back as I was biting into my lower lip and now I'm much more comfortable. Hope that helps :thumb:
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
You are using the double lip embouchure and I have heard that Johnny Hodges used it as well. I use double lip on the clarinet but prefer the lip out method on saxophone. If it's working for you stay with it.

Jim.
 

ZombieAssassin7

New Member
Messages
5
Thanks for all the great replies. At least now I know what my technique is called. I will be sure to experiment with the more common traditional, bottom lip and top teeth technique. If anyone has experience using the double lip embouchure please post any tips or pointers you have; Thanks in advance!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I've been using a double lip embouchure since I started. Doing the exercises in |Larry Teal's The Art of The Saxophone helps a lot as you need to develop the muscles that Support the lips and stop you from biting into them. I can't stand the feel of the mouthpiece on my teeth. But tone really improved as my lips became strong enough to push forwards a little.
 

BeBopSop

Member
Messages
274
The Otto Langey 'Practical Tutor for the Saxophone' recommends double lip, I use this book as my bible, but do not use double lip, very rare for sax players to do so, I would say,
 

ZombieAssassin7

New Member
Messages
5
Thanks for the suggestion. I found the exercise book you mentioned in your post on Amazon.com and ordered it. It should be here by Wednesday. Thank!
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,551
forgive me for sounding stupid (?!) but if I suck my thumb, no lips are involved at all - bottom teeth definitely on bottom of thumb, and top teeth on top of thumb.
I have always played sax with bottom lip slightly rolled in over my bottom teeth, and top teeth resting on top of mouthpiece.

I have a patch on my mouthpiece because I found the vibration through the post in my crowned front top teeth quite painful.

I'm sure I read somewhere about imagining you were putting on lip-stick or lip-salve for the shape of your bottom lip over your teeth.

My teacher told me to align your bottom teeth with the line delineating lip flesh from face flesh (if it were on the inside of your mouth)
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
forgive me for sounding stupid (?!) but if I suck my thumb, no lips are involved at all - bottom teeth definitely on bottom of thumb, and top teeth on top of thumb.
You're not sucking hard enough! The bottom teeth should be away from the bottom of your thumb/reed since your jaw should be lower to produce the suck. There is of course a cruder more coarse way of describing this, which I couldn't bring myself to write here...

I have always played sax with bottom lip slightly rolled in over my bottom teeth, and top teeth resting on top of mouthpiece.

I have a patch on my mouthpiece because I found the vibration through the post in my crowned front top teeth quite painful.

I'm sure I read somewhere about imagining you were putting on lip-stick or lip-salve for the shape of your bottom lip over your teeth.

My teacher told me to align your bottom teeth with the line delineating lip flesh from face flesh (if it were on the inside of your mouth)
This all sounds fair enough, though the thumb-sucking example should lead to your bottom lip being further forward than this - the reed shouldn't be touching the facial skin at all, and only a small part of the lip (if any) will be over the teeth, which of course are lower down out of the way. Pressure on the reed is provided primarily by the lip muscles rather than the teeth pushing through the lip.

This is only one of the 'correct' embouchures, but this bottom lip-out method is the one the thumb-sucking metaphor applies to.

Nick
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
Top teeth on thumb and lower lip on thumb. I use this method and my lower lip backs up and over my teeth, but the cutting edge of my teeth make no contact with my lip. I never get a sore mouth.

Jim.
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
Hey zom,
I would like to know how come you play with a double lip embouchure?
Did you teach yourself? or did a sax teacher teach/recommend you play this way?
By the way, alot of people on this forum have thier informed opinions that come from years of playing,
but as far as I can tell....... by comments previously made on this forum by those experts is
(the only correct way to play is the way that works best for you!)
P.s. Im only a begginer myself so Ill keep my opinons to myself.
 

jim knight

New Member
Messages
6
Hello mate,


Teeth on top, bottom lip forms a cushion for the reed. How much bottom lip is up to you and what you feel comfortable with. You shouldn't get any red marking under your bottom lip. If you do you're pulling your bottom lip too far into your mouth.

The double lip method you're currently using is incorrect. It will cause you discomfort and makes tuning difficult as well as adding fatigue on your jaw into the mix.


There are exceptions to the rule but they are VERY rare and for good reason. It will feel strange for a while but after a couple of months you'll never look back...

Trust me, I've been there!


Classical mouthpiece-selmer D or D soloist (50s/60s).:welldone
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
The double lip method you're currently using is incorrect. It will cause you discomfort and makes tuning difficult as well as adding fatigue on your jaw into the mix.
I really disagree with this. A double embouchure is perfectly acceptable. Many excellent players -- professionals -- use it (albeit a small enough minority it can maybe be considered unconventional). It has the disadvantage of maybe being a little less secure, and the advantage of forcing you to keep a relaxed embouchure.

Actually, the rolling in of the bottom lip would concern me more than the rolling in of the top. Lips should be in a natural, relaxed position to begin with -- the bottom lip does a lot of work controlling the reed and if you're stretching it or cutting it off or forcing it into a position it can't do that properly.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
As a double lip user, I'm with Morgan on this. Both methods are acceptable and well documented, and most people moving to double from single lip embouchures report improvements in tone....
 

jim knight

New Member
Messages
6
most people moving to double from single lip embouchures report improvements in tone....
Really? That makes no sense at all. Surely that should be.....

"most people moving to double from single lip embouchures report looking like a toothless pensioner whilst playing"
Thats a joke btw...

I know of not one pro that plays with a double embouchure, never met one, ever. If it works for you that's fine but I struggling to see how it's constructive advise on embouchure.

Let me know any of your favorite players that use a double embouchure and I'll eat my words. With a nice Chianti..
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Let me know any of your favorite players that use a double embouchure and I'll eat my words. With a nice Chianti..
Hi Jim, you'd better get down to Oddbins, then! Branford Marsalis plays double lip - and, at least on soprano, he's a favourite player of mine. :shocked:
 

jim knight

New Member
Messages
6
Fair enough...

I get some fine wine to spare my blushes...(it's still wrong though) >:)

To be totally honest if it sounds really killing you could play it through your nose and I wouldn't care. There is no correct way to do anything. Apart from maybe sushi. And operating a car using only thought is tricky though they're working on that....

I'm off to lurk now....
 
Saxholder Pro

Members online

Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom