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Some minor sax issues

ProDigit

New Member
Messages
13
Hi,

I recently bought an LA Sax series 1. Absolutely beautiful dual tone instrument, and went to the store, to buy a mouthpiece, they did not have many in stock, so I was forced to choose between 2 rubber moutpieces or 2 metal ones.

I found that the metal ones really sounded nice, in the studio room I tested it in, but when I play in the band at full volume I can hardly hear myself!
I also found that the metal ones are kind of less dynamic in tone shaping. Is that possible, or perhaps just because of the design of the mpc?

I play with a reed #2.5, which is still pretty hard for me to play, especially because I am still a beginner, and was thinking of upgrading the reed to a #4 in the future.

Not only the volume was way too soft (I had to stand on the edge of the stage, away from the drums, bass and electric guitars, and needed a monitor and mic set to the max they could be without giving feedback), the tone was also yuk!
While my sax sound absolutely wonderful in a small room (studio, slightly larger than a bathroom), and at lower volumes, at higher volumes the only thing I faintly hear is the mid tones of the sax, like I was playing through a plastic reed or something...

Is that normal?

In any case I tried 3 different reeds, a generic wooden #2 reed, which I threw away within 10 seconds of trying, a bari plastic practice reed, which did not do the job very well (not only was it worse sounding, it also was hard to play), and a fibracell #3 reed, which was the best sounding, and easiest to play reed. All used on a Number 6 mouthpiece.

I asked the lady behind the counter the difference between number 6, 7, 8, and 9 mouthpieces, but she did not know, other than the internal chamber size.
I went for the smallest number they had, number 6, because she told me it needed less air and might be easier to play.

None of these could produce the volume I needed. Besides that, I noted that (I'm playing on a Bb tenor sax) the regular octave is pretty in tune, save for the high B and C where I slightly need to squeeze the reed,
but the second octave anything above the high F starts to sound flat!

I have to squeeze the reed hard, and blow hard to be in tune!

I tried to move the mouthpiece further on the cork, but there is no audible difference at all (I could only move it 1,5 inch back or forward on the neck).

Is there anything else I could do? (I could try to squeeze it another inch on the cork, but I fear damaging the cork that way. It's already pretty tight on there).

And lastly to address the issue of volume I was thinking of buying a sax clip on mic. But I'll elaborate on that in another thread.




So, in short:

1- Is it normal to have a different tone at loud volumes, and that the sax sounds bad, compared to good at low volumes?

2- Is it true that metal mouthpieces give less tonal dynamics? I've heard 2 sax players who at first where super about metal mouthpieces, and now they use a regular rubber one, and the other uses an ebonite.

and last:
3- Is there something I can do about the high octave high notes sounding too flat? (20, perhaps upto 30ct on a tuner). I have a mpc number 6, could that number be related to the flat sounding tones?
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
WOW! My heads spinning from reading all that! :w00t:

Too be honest I’ve never heard anyone say their sax was too quiet! :shocked: I would have the sax check by a tech as you may have a leak?

I personally find metal mouthpieces tend to be louder than ebonite.

The mouthpiece numbers 6, 7, 8, etc … relates to the tip opening of a mouthpiece.

On a Tenor the number equate to the following tip opening:

  • #6 – 0.090”
  • 6* - 0.095”
  • #7 – 0.100”
  • 7* - 0.105”
  • #8 – 0.110”
  • 8* - 0.115”

These figures vary from mouthpiece to mouthpiece. Not to mention that the lay, chamber and baffle all have a bearing on a mouthpiece!

Now as a rule of thumb most will play a softer reed with a larger tip opening.

What mouthpiece are you playing? This would help!

Now personally speaking I find a metal mouthpiece really makes the bottom end sound full but high up it can be a bit weak thus you need to push a little more air in at the expense of your pianissimo. Not that you seem to be suffering that?

I tried to move the mouthpiece further on the cork, but there is no audible difference at all (I could only move it 1,5 inch back or forward on the neck).

Is there anything else I could do? (I could try to squeeze it another inch on the cork, but I fear damaging the cork that way. It's already pretty tight on there).

Moving the mouthpiece on the cork of your crook won’t give you any change in volume. It will just make you sharper or flatter in tone.

and last:
3- Is there something I can do about the high octave high notes sounding too flat? (20, perhaps upto 30ct on a tuner). I have a mpc number 6, could that number be related to the flat sounding tones?

You say that you are a beginner early in your post. So my advice would be practice, practice, practice …
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I have one question. Have you asked other band members if they can hear you clearly?

I found that the metal ones really sounded nice, in the studio room I tested it in, but when I play in the band at full volume I can hardly hear myself!
Maybe using a reflector clipped to the bell might improve you hearing yourself better.
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,418
Have you got a teacher, or a mentor you can talk to? If not, I would find one before you blow a load of money on mouthpieces. As a beginner, there will not be any difference for you between the performance of a metal or HR (hard rubber) mouthpiece - even experienced players argue about whether the material makes any real difference to the sound. The metal pieces are a bit smaller in your mouth and harder on your wallet - that's the main difference for you right now. If you've got a 6, you are in the right area for a beginner. 2.5 reed is about right but you will find softer, i.e. lower numbered reeds easier to play than harder. Try a 2 or even a 1.5. Never abandon a reed after 10 seconds - they need wetting at least and then can take a while to get to optimum performance.

So, to answer your questions;
1. - yes, but practice will eventually over come it
2. - no
3. - practice will overcome all

Get some sound advice - a music shop where the sales person doesn't know the difference between mouthpiece numbers is no help at all.

good luck
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
Paul Inglis;43556 [FONT=Calibri said:
On a Tenor the number equate to the following tip opening:[/FONT]

  • #6 – 0.090”
  • 6* - 0.095”
  • #7 – 0.100”
  • 7* - 0.105”
  • #8 – 0.110”
  • 8* - 0.115”

]


According to Otto Link. Other manufacturers use completely different sizes. For example, an Otto Link 7 is a medium tip opening, whereas a Runyon 7 is very narrow.

Also, some metal mouthpieces are quiet and soft, others loud and raucous. Some ebonite are quiet and soft, some loud and raucous. Ever played an RPC115B? It's a screamer, incredibly loud, bright and strong, and made of ebonite. A selmer Classic is rounded, and to my ears, frankly dull, and it's made of metal. The material makes not difference, it's all in the design. The only corollary is that quite a lot of metal mouthpieces are made to a design that gives volume and brightness, but that soesn't mean that metal per se makes them loud and bright.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
According to Otto Link. Other manufacturers use completely different sizes. For example, an Otto Link 7 is a medium tip opening, whereas a Runyon 7 is very narrow.

Also, some metal mouthpieces are quiet and soft, others loud and raucous. Some ebonite are quiet and soft, some loud and raucous. Ever played an RPC115B? It's a screamer, incredibly loud, bright and strong, and made of ebonite. A selmer Classic is rounded, and to my ears, frankly dull, and it's made of metal. The material makes not difference, it's all in the design. The only corollary is that quite a lot of metal mouthpieces are made to a design that gives volume and brightness, but that soesn't mean that metal per se makes them loud and bright.
Good point! and a Runyon Quantum with a spoiler is a screamer too!
 
Messages
69
So, for the out of tune notes: I would try taking in more mouthpiece as you play higher notes. It's always worked for me.
For the reed, I honestly use a cheap 2.5 Rico. They're flexible, and they are easy to play on.
The mouthpiece... I've tryed metal mouthpieces, but I don't really like them. They are supposed to be louder, but I find them hard to play in tune on, and I prefer the rubber ones. Preferably with a larger chamber. They don't take any more air.
 

Greywolf

Member
Messages
59
If the sax sounds in tune in the lower register but seems to get progressively out of tune as you go higher, then pushing the mouthpiece further onto the crook isn't a solution. It is either a problem with the sax which is certainly possible but I think unlikely or you own technique which as you say you are a beginner would seem to be the more likely explanation. How long have you been playing? It is harder to keep the intonation as you go higher on the instrument and higher pitched instruments can themselves be more difficult to keep in tune. Good technique and experience will almost certainly overcome these problems

I suggest you work on your embouchure with plenty of long note practice. Boring I know and I really should be taking my own advice.
 
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