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Beginner Sounding high

Paysnordiques

New Member
Messages
4
Not been playing my alto very long and having real problems when using the octave key. For some reason all my notes are just sounding very high. In fact the sound is more like a clarinet than a saxaphone.
Trying to teach myself the sax and have no idea what is going on..

Help needed.....
 

TimC

Member
Messages
50
I'm working on that part myself, a good exercise I found in a book is to switch between the one-finger C up to D and try to get them to sound as similar in tone as possible. Faster air when playing notes in the upper octave helps.
 

gregerhillman

Member
Messages
52
It could be that you have too much of the mouthpiece in your mouth.

First a small checklist

1. Patch on the mouthpiece - if you do not have one, get one. Metal mouthpiece - get the thin see through kind Rubber - get the thicker black one.

2. Reeds - can make a huge difference. Even if a certain thickness (nr 2, nr 2,5 etc.) worked fine the "last time" you played, you do not have the same strength in your lips now. Try with 0,5 lower thickness

3. Positioning the mouthpiece in your mouth. THIS IS PROBABLY WHAT YOU NEED TO TWEAK. Try adjusting how much of the mouthpiece you have in your mouth. From your message it sounds like this could be the issue.

4. Other possible reasons could be that your horn needs some work in the shop. But I'd try the above first. (Check if there's a small gap between the octave mechanics "pin" on the sax and the "ring" on the neck. There should be a very small but still a gap there. That could also be the cause of this.)


Good Luck!

Play On!
/Greger



Not been playing my alto very long and having real problems when using the octave key. For some reason all my notes are just sounding very high. In fact the sound is more like a clarinet than a saxaphone.
Trying to teach myself the sax and have no idea what is going on..

Help needed.....
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
Get yourself a tuner their relatively cheap, that way you'll be able to see exactly what notes you are playing and be able to adjust accordingly.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,000
It sounds to me as if the neck octave pad is not closing. The following is an excerpt from an Instrument Care and Repair Clinic handout that I wrote a few years back.

If the instrument will not play in the lower octave


Check to see that there is at least a 1/16" gap between the neck octave key ring and the post extending from the body. Place your thumb between the ring and the body of the neck and then gently push down on the octave key. Should you go too far, place a pad slick or tongue depressor under the pad and carefully push back on the ring until the desired gap is achieved.

To test the octave key adjustment---finger G and forcefully hit the thumb octave key several times watching the neck octave pad. It should not move if in good adjustment. Then finger from G to A while pressing the thumb octave. The neck and body octave keys should alternate opening and closing completely.

If the sax is working properly, the problem may be caused by "pilot error".


Check the pitch of your mouthpiece and neck apart from the saxophone. It should be an Ab Concert Pitch (F on the alto sax). Another way to check your embouchure is as follows:

Play a low A as a long tone and with your free hand flick the neck octave key open for a few seconds and then let it close.

- If the note jumps to high A and stays high for a while, your embouchure is too tight.
- If the note jumps to high A and it sounds flat and "flabby", your embouchure is too loose.
- If the note jumps to an in tune high A and then quickly drops down when the octave key is closed, the embouchure is correct.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,064
The sound you're hearing from behind the mouthpiece isn't necessarily the sound you're creating in the room. Try recording yourself to see what you sound like. The alto has much of the range in common with the clarinet and the sound production is very similar so there is a similarity of sound. A mouthpiece with a small tip opening and a hard ish reed is recommended for classical saxophone. You don't say what you're using.

The alto can sound very sweet. Maybe it's the tenor sound you're trying to create. Lots of alto players try to get a tenor sound.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Some good and interesting ideas above. Suggest you work through Jbtsax's post first as he covers the most likely causes. If it's a problem with the sax (and these are very common, even on new instruments) it needs to go to a repairer. If it's new, the seller. Often helps if an experienced player can test the sax for you. And this could well be the seller - get them to demonstrate that it plays cleanly over the full range.

But we need more info - we're, so far, assuming that the sax is only playing in the upper register. i.e whether you play a note with the octave key or not, it's the same pitch, and this is the same over the range low D to C played with laft hand middle finger only. Please confirm this.

Most tuners will tell you which note you're playing, but not which octave the note is in. And unless you have a tuner with a setting for Eb instruments, you'll need to remember that when you play a written C on the alto, the tuner will show Eb if you're playing in tune.

Don't worry too much about the quality of the sound at the moment, just concentrate on getting the notes coming out at the right pitch. Once you've got this, you can start working on tone as well.
 

Paysnordiques

New Member
Messages
4
Some good and interesting ideas above. Suggest you work through Jbtsax's post first as he covers the most likely causes. If it's a problem with the sax (and these are very common, even on new instruments) it needs to go to a repairer. If it's new, the seller. Often helps if an experienced player can test the sax for you. And this could well be the seller - get them to demonstrate that it plays cleanly over the full range.

But we need more info - we're, so far, assuming that the sax is only playing in the upper register. i.e whether you play a note with the octave key or not, it's the same pitch, and this is the same over the range low D to C played with laft hand middle finger only. Please confirm this.

Most tuners will tell you which note you're playing, but not which octave the note is in. And unless you have a tuner with a setting for Eb instruments, you'll need to remember that when you play a written C on the alto, the tuner will show Eb if you're playing in tune.

Don't worry too much about the quality of the sound at the moment, just concentrate on getting the notes coming out at the right pitch. Once you've got this, you can start working on tone as well.
Thanks all for some good advice. As I am planning on teaching myself a tuner might be a verg good idea.
Any ideas on which tuner? I have seen a few different tuners on Amazon including a Korg tuner for around 48GBP.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
TM40 is good, but too quiet as a metronome unless you use headphones. OK with the flashing lights/needle, though.

Other possible drawback is that you can't set the instrument pitch. But you need to get used to the sax being in a different pitch to concert, so is a good way forward.

Has a 1/4" input socket as well, so you can plug in a guitar lead, or Korg's clip on pickup for guitars and so on.

Price you've seen is VERY high - Thomann sell it for about GBP24 inc VAT, but UK postage is another ten pounds on top of that. Shop around...
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,064
The one I posted the link to is £6.99 + £1 postage. Tunes strings though the clip and wind through the mike. Haven't used the on board metronome.

There's a free on line chromatic tuner here

http://www.tunerr.com/
 

saxyman

Member
Messages
267
If you have a mobie phone you can get an app that you can use. Then you can decide if you want to spend money on another more expensive one.
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
If you have a mobie phone you can get an app that you can use. Then you can decide if you want to spend money on another more expensive one.
That's what I do. I use a tuner called DaTuner on my Android phone, which is excellent and allows you to transpose. I do have a couple of standalone guitar tuners, but I rarely use them now.
 

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
Messages
759
Thanks Sushi. I had found those settings but couldn't figure out which to use. I will use the D# (C ->A) for the alto and the A# (C ->D) for the tenor and see how close I can get to being in tune :)
 

sushidushi

Mine's an espresso
Messages
651
The C->A thing looks counter-intuitive to me. It means that in order to get a concert C you need to play an A for an Eb instrument, but it looks strange to me. But it works well.

Mine is the 'Pro' version, which means I paid a little for it, but as far as I know the free version also has tbe transposition feature.
 
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