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Southern Gentleman Starting Over

swood

New Member
Messages
16
Hi everyone! I'm a 53 soon to be 54 year old from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA who hasn't touched a musical instrument since I was 15 years old. I played a student Cleveland King Alto for 3 years, starting in the 8th grade. I kept the horn with me all these years and had it serviced a couple of years ago when my oldest son thought he wanted to give it a go. He played Trumpet/tuba/baritone for years and wanted to give a woodwind a try. After several lessons he gave up.

With the kids grown I was in need of a new hobby. I picked up a guitar, but found that instrument to be a witch in my hands!. I pulled out the old alto, found a couple of Method books that my son had, and found that I really enjoyed myself. I remembered how to read music, although I have had to work at timing a bit. After a month of tinkering with the Alto, I felt myself wishing that I was starting back on Tenor instead.

So...to make a long story short; I got a deal on a Yamaha YTS-23 that had been used by someone else for marching band for 3 years. I couldn't resist the price...got it for $475. I had to invest in a mouthpiece so the total was $500 US. Other than a few very minor surface scratches, the horn looks to be in very good condition. Pads look good, etc.

My current setup is a Hite Premium mouthpiece and 2 Vandoren reed. The horn blows a lot more freely than my Alto does; I suspect due to the more open mouthpiece.

After 2 weeks of practicing for about an hour 5x/week, my initial concerns are that the middle D sounds a bit "stuffy". Also the lower notes from F on down are nearly impossible for me to play on the Tenor (but no issues on Alto). If I run a scale from Middle C on down to Low C it isn't too bad, but if I try to tongue each note individually I have to really open my throat and move a lot of air resulting in the dreaded fog horn sound. I can get them to play sometimes, but not on a consistent basis, I'm guessing I have a leak and or leaks.

For now I'm still working with the Method books and for fun playing the occasional bit of sheet music that I can find on the internet, some of it transposed for Tenor.

Any help, ideas, words of wisdom are greatly appreciated. I've already learned a lot just by reading this forum and others.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Big welcome from me. Have fun.

Have a lookg at the G# key/spring, could be that, but a quick look by a tech wouldn't do any harm.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
25,903
Hi

A big welcome from me too. As a total beginner I can't offer you much advice but I am sure you will find all the answers you need on here.

You being from NC reminded me of the best holiday I ever had in Duck on the Outer Banks.

Enjoy your sax and have fun;}

Jx
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Welcome to the caff©, Monsieur Wood.

You've got plenty of time to get better, wasn't there some guy called Methusala or something?

ENJOY!
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Swood!

A Big Welcome to Cafe Saxophone from the Skabertawe Horn Section down by yer in the South of Wales. Glad to have you here, and look forward to getting to know about your saxual dysfunctions!

Re your set up I imagine that the reed you are playing is a Vandoren Traditional (Blue Box) reed. The 2 reed is the equivalent of a 2.5 in most other reeds. I would suggest getting a 2 strength reed in a different brand/model/design, such as a Vandoren Java or Rico Royal or Rico Jazz Select 2S. It should make the lower notes much easier to get. Aside from there being a problem with the G# key, stuffiness can also result from a hard reed. When I started on Tenor I found an ordinary reed OK but would not have managed a 2.5 strength reed, especially as a Tenor requires more air than an Alto.

Have fun
Kind regards
Tom:cool:

By the way, what is the tip opening of the Hite mouthpiece....?
 
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BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
If the low notes come out OK ewhen running down a scale, it doesn't sound like a leak. You just have to get the feel of playing the lower notes (2 weeks isn't very long, you know. You're doing well to get those notes at all.) Might be worth getting someone with more experience to have a look at/blow on the horn, though.
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
Welcome to the Cafe ... Mine is a tea ...

Hey hey swood ...

Sunray waves from Norfolk ...

Have fun here mate ... ;}
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
So not particularly large - equivalent to a "6". I would still try a slightly softer reed, though. The Alexander Superial website has a section in it covering reed preparation, which many of us use regularly - the reed will always play better after this prep and needs to be moist to play at its best. Lower notes do take a time to develop as they do require more air support. Also do make sure that you are not overtightening your ligature which can impede reed vibration.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 
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allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
Gday mate
Welcome from oz
I too are the same age as you and learning the tenor .Previous experience being from 40 years ago on a clarinet.
I am just walking through the squarky G note and i think Im coming out the other side by playing around
with my emouchure. I am now noticing problems with my lower notes as well. cant seem to nail them as i could before
But perseverance will win out Im sure. Get yourself a good teacher and Im sure he will get you on the right track.
However I have found that as the pros say every sax plays diferent and every sax player is different so experimenting
a little within reason could help, reeds, umbouchure etc. also it takes time to strengthen the mouth to develop the umbouchure
so patience my friend, it will come together in time, dont hurry, enjoy the journey.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
So it sounds like an embouchure issue in that case. Too many folks start off trying to master the full range of notes on a sax, whereas most tutor books encourage a much slower pace of gradually introducing notes so that your range gradually increases both upwards and downwards. It is perfectly possible to have a good range on the instrument without using all the fiddly little keys - palm, side and others, so just take your time and let your embouchure strengthen gradually.
 

tommy

Member
Messages
54
give it time if it was easy everyone would be playing sax and as Tom as said give your embouchure time to develop good luck Tommy
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
Welcome to the cafe. The stuffy D is something you will get used to. Playing the sax with an open throat is the right thing to do. You will have to learn to play the tenor with a much looser embouchure than the alto. This will take a bit more time. Also, blow into your hand and observe the cool air. Now breathe into your hand as in "HAW" and observe the warm air. Play your saxophones with warm air. That last piece of advice helped me a lot. Keep having fun.

Jim.
 

swood

New Member
Messages
16
Thanks folks! I did notice today that it sounded like air was leaking in the area of my MP. I tried to make sure it wasn't leaking around my embouchure. After about an hour of practice I noticed that my neck cork was wet for the entire length of the portion that was covered by my MP...so I think I have a leak there. The cork looks like a terrier got hold of it! A new piece of cork ordered from musicmedic.com!! I replaced the cork on my Alto a few months ago, so I think it should be pretty easy to do the same on my Tenor.

I also used a rope light to check for any major leaks from the pads. It looks like the D pad and the 2 pads that close on the bell with Bb are in need of some serious work. :(
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
For now, wrap ptfe tape around the neck cork. It's the stuff plumbers use, no glue. Works a treat. Any key that doesn't close properly will affect notes below it, but not above.

Making those pads close properly is important. Don't fall into the trap of squeezing harder to get them closed. Get it fixed! Sometimes it's bending, sometimes adjustment, or reseat/new pads.
 

swood

New Member
Messages
16
I replaced the Neck cork myself and I can already see a big improvement in how easily the horn plays. I still have to struggle a bit with low D on down due to leaks in those pads. For some reason the leaky D pad doesn't affect middle D so much.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I replaced the Neck cork myself and I can already see a big improvement in how easily the horn plays. I still have to struggle a bit with low D on down due to leaks in those pads. For some reason the leaky D pad doesn't affect middle D so much.
Well done on the cork. Now for the pads. If you haven't got it already, Steven Howards' Haynes Saxophone Manual is really good.
 
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