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SYOS

Soprano Sax Tuning

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
452
And on Soprano sax?
holding an old sop reed on my Bari HR (same as Branford played, once) I'm at concert Eb, maybe another semitone to be had on top, but my good reeds, ligatures and both my sops are in storage, and I haven't played sop for a year plus.
[ I feel like I'm being tested. Do I pass?? LoL. ]
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
189
holding an old sop reed on my Bari HR (same as Branford played, once) I'm at concert Eb, maybe another semitone to be had on top, but my good reeds, ligatures and both my sops are in storage, and I haven't played sop for a year plus.
[ I feel like I'm being tested. Do I pass?? LoL. ]
You're not being tested. :) I am interested to compare the pitch I create with different embouchures versus the pitches reported by others.

According to various sources, "classical" saxophonists play mouthpiece-only at concert C3 or only lower by a semitone to be accepted classical sound. Range with deliberate adjustment is up to E3 flat and down to E2 flat. And Jazz saxophonists play mouthpiece pitch at or below C3 with significant acceptable variation below that. I'm wondering how far below is still a "good" jazz embouchure.

My own mouthpiece pitch at the moment is concert C3 if I use my understanding of what constitutes a classical embouchure. It is B3 if I use a somewhat looser embouchure. I'm trying to learn to get various pitches without changing the embouchure, just by changing the tongue and oral cavity. I'm finding the mouthpiece exercise a good way to sensitise myself to the effect of oral cavity changes. I can siren range from G2 to E3 but I can't consistently hit each note pitch except for my default embouchure(s).
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,967
p.s. as an aside - i, too, sold my 48/49 SBA Selmer alto, couldn't handle the tuning irregularities, despite numerous attempts to have them ameliorated. '55 Mk6 alto went the same way, for the same reasons. (if I go back to Selmer alto, it would be either a last of run Mk6, or a ref 54 )
Don't tell anyone but the Mk7 altos are excellent horns with good intonation. I play mine in preference to my MkVI or Serie III.

Rhys
 

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
452
I see that Dr. Brian R. Utley, Assistant Professor of Music, Saxophone
thinks I should be at concert C on soprano mouthpiece.

Pete Thomas [ who's he?? :) ] says I should be at concert D

I'm at Eb. What do I win?

the one thing I feel we're not considering here, is mouthpiece shank length:
- try extending your soprano sax mpc shank (i.e. increasing the sounding-length) with a - say - 0.5 cm cardboard cylinder, and suddenly you've lowered the upper pitch limit of the reed+tube by a tone or more.
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
189
I see that Dr. Brian R. Utley, Assistant Professor of Music, Saxophone
thinks I should be at concert C on soprano mouthpiece.

Pete Thomas [ who's he?? :) ] says I should be at concert D

I'm at Eb. What do I win?

the one thing I feel we're not considering here, is mouthpiece shank length:
- try extending your soprano sax mpc shank (i.e. increasing the sounding-length) with a - say - 0.5 cm cardboard cylinder, and suddenly you've shifted the upper pitch limit of the reed+tube by a tone or more.
Actually Pete is at concert C, too (in his Vol 1 book on tone). The Website is a misprint. The Bari pitch is misprinted, too, I think.
 

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
452
here's a page from Dr. Utley's university site, specifically on soprano saxophone. Texas School Music Project: BAND

Incidentally, I didn't know that a flat 3rd space C# (written) was a recognised problem tuning note for many soprano saxophones, although I did always have problems pitching that one note on my Yamaha ( an early YSS62R) and had learned to compensate with RH or favour the full RH long fingering.
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
189
here's a page from Dr. Utley's university site, specifically on soprano saxophone. Texas School Music Project: BAND

Incidentally, I didn't know that a flat 3rd space C# (written) was a recognised problem tuning note for many soprano saxophones, although I did always have problems pitching that one note on my Yamaha ( an early YSS62R) and had learned to compensate with RH or favour the full RH long fingering.
I think it varies by instrument and brand. I didn't have a 3rd line space C# tuning issue on my prior Jupiter nor on my current Yamaha.

On the other hand, most modern sopranos, including both I've owned, carry a split Aux.B key to flatten high C#. This feature allows for a connection from the Aux.B to the octave mech. When a top C# is played, one half of the split key (which has a hole or vent in it) comes down over the Aux.B tonehole and serves to flatten what can often be a rather sharp note.

Clive
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
189
holding an old sop reed on my Bari HR (same as Branford played, once) I'm at concert Eb, maybe another semitone to be had on top, but my good reeds, ligatures and both my sops are in storage, and I haven't played sop for a year plus.
[ I feel like I'm being tested. Do I pass?? LoL. ]
Would you regard yourself as a classical sop player or Jazz?
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
189
holding an old sop reed on my Bari HR (same as Branford played, once) I'm at concert Eb, maybe another semitone to be had on top, but my good reeds, ligatures and both my sops are in storage, and I haven't played sop for a year plus.
[ I feel like I'm being tested. Do I pass?? LoL. ]
Given you haven't played sop in a year plus, I'd think achieving Eb is amazing embouchure sop fitness. Have you been playing clarinet recently?
 

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
452
Given you haven't played sop in a year plus, I'd think achieving Eb is amazing embouchure sop fitness. Have you been playing clarinet recently?
I'm a jazz/world/choro/gypsy guy, mostly, although I use classical exercises to develop tone, range & facility. ---- I've been playing clarinet most days, when I can - I'll probably be putting more hours into it now that I'm "Working from home" ;-)
One caveat - my Bari sop mouthpiece is rather short-shanked, so my 'top' pitch may be higher than other mouthpieces. I may even dig out a soprano sax and give it a blow, I have lots of nice exercises for it, will be interesting to see how much my recent clari practice has helped the sop...
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,615
the one thing I feel we're not considering here, is mouthpiece shank length:
- try extending your soprano sax mpc shank (i.e. increasing the sounding-length) with a - say - 0.5 cm cardboard cylinder, and suddenly you've lowered the upper pitch limit of the reed+tube by a tone or more.
I have a different view about the mouthpiece shank length and mouthpiece pitch.

On a saxophone the length of the "tube" for any given note has a "natural resonant frequency". It is this "natural resonant frequency" that couples with the reed's vibrations to produce that particular pitch. Of course the player has a bit of leeway to "lip" the pitch of the note slightly sharper or flatter, but that note is for the most part "locked in".

By the time the tube becomes quite short as when playing palm D, the "resonant frequency" is weak enough that it allows the resonance inside the player's oral cavity to take over the reed's vibrations and the pitch can be lowered as much as 3 or 4 half steps. When the "tube" becomes extremely short like the mouthpiece shank when playing the mouthpiece alone, the "resonant frequency" of this very short tube is too weak to have much of an effect upon the reed's vibrations. This is why a skilled player can play an octave scale on the mouthpiece alone.

Adding to the length of the mouthpiece shank can have a slight effect upon the mouthpiece pitch, but the voicing and lip pressure are still mostly in charge of the pitch that sounds. In my teaching, I use the mouthpiece pitch test as an embouchure tightness test. I know from experience that a pitch higher than A=880 on an alto mouthpiece usually means the player is "biting" and the resultant tone is going to sound pinched and the upper register is going to be sharp.

One can experiment and tighten the embouchure on an alto mouthpiece to the point that the reed closes off, and then relax just enough to make a sound and see what note is at the "top of the mouthpiece pitch. I haven't tried this, but I suspect that the A Concert is at least 2 or 3 steps below this note. Alternately on a clarinet mouthpiece I suspect the reed closes off not too far above the recommended C Concert.
 

SaxyNikki

Member
Messages
379
I have ordered the Deluxe WAW Sax Thumb Rest for my Tenor. I'll post photos of it with reference to both my Soprano and Tenor when it arrives so you can see it doesn't really work for the soprano because of the limited space above the thumb rest. I find my Yamaha Tenor thumb rest too low even though my Yamaha Soprano thumb rest is just right.
I've also been using the Thumb Splint stabiliser when practising. Initially it stopped my thumb from getting bruised but I noticed it had a good side effect of reminding me to be light with my fingers so I've continued to use it even after the bruising has gone away.
I’m interested to see the thumb rest. Playing my alto saxophone never bothered my thumb much and I’d been playing it off & on since 1973.

When you mention thumb splint stabilizer, do you mean one of these types of special thumb gloves?
1FD7B81D-BD7A-407B-8825-96C4A4561D6C.png


Does it help much? What type did you get?
How is your new horn sounding? Are you still happy you bought it?
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
189
I’m interested to see the thumb rest. Playing my alto saxophone never bothered my thumb much and I’d been playing it off & on since 1973.

When you mention thumb splint stabilizer, do you mean one of these types of special thumb gloves?View attachment 14267

Does it help much? What type did you get?
How is your new horn sounding? Are you still happy you bought it?
My thumb rest is still on its way. I'm not sure if the postal service is disrupted at the moment. I'd been advised 30 March delivery date. I mainly bought it to see if the idea can be adapted for the Soprano. I won't know for sure until I see the actual size and configuration. Tenor thumb rest only bothered me because the Soprano was bruising my thumb! But I would prefer to rest my thumb a tad higher than the supplied Tenor thumb rest allows.

Yes, my thumb split stabilizer is sort of like what you pictured. Mine has two "stabilising bars" that transfer any weight to the base of the thumb. I used the padding to protect my thumb from being bruised on my Jupiter soprano. On the Yamaha I don't need that because my thumb rests just below the thumb rest, making no bruising contact. I still use the thumb splint to remind me not to grip the keys tightly as the Jupiter originally had some leaks that led me to that bad habit with the right hand grip and that exacerbated the thumb bruising.

thumbstabiliser.jpg
I love my Yamaha! I mainly love the feel under my fingers and the dark gold lacquer. The key movement feels very easy and natural. The more I practice my sound is getting closer to what I desire for my Selmer Concept mouthpiece (a pure near-classical tone). I don't have any intonation issues but I didn't on the Jupiter either. Being a relative beginner, I'm spending a lot of time doing long tones, chromatic scales, intervals and finger buster drills, trying to build a solid foundation of good habits. I am experimenting with reeds quite a bit. My favourite at the moment is Hemke 3.0 on my Selmer Concept mouthpiece. I haven't used the Yamaha 4C Custom that comes with the sax but I believe it is like a Selmer S80 so I probably should have a play with it, too.
 
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