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Tenor Beginner & Middle G Issues

Lkellogg

New Member
Messages
3
Locality
Iowa
Hello everybody,

Around 8 months ago I had the opportunity to buy the Kielwerth EX90 Tenor that I played over a decade ago in high school jazz band.

Beautiful horn, and I’ve been enjoying picking it back up.

I had the challenges that all beginners have, namely playing anything below middle G without fluctuating in pitch. Embouchure modification helped tremendously.

One issue I’m still having on a frequent basis though deals with middle G. It seems that the sound buffets in and out more often than not. It doesn’t happen 100% of the time, but I can’t seem to improve upon the issue. Pushing a lot of air through the horn and really dropping my tounge low in my mouth helps improve this some, but the issue still persists. I’ve read on this same forum that middle G is one of the more difficult notes to get out successfully on Tenor (for beginners).

A perfect example of the issue that I’ve recorded is in the YouTube link below...so my question to you is: is my breath control and embouchure to blame for this, or is this more indicative of something that needs repaired by a professional? I’m more than willing to take it in for inspection, but would rather look like an idiot on a forum first versus taking it to a repair shop only to find out it’s simply my breathwork or embouchure that are the root of the issue.

View: https://youtu.be/gHcEuxGCflY


I will say that that the next octave higher G comes out fine most of the time but cuts out from time to time too. Oh and also I’m playing on a 3.5 reed.

Thanks!

-Logan
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
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2,066
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Hamilton, Waikato, North Island, New Zealand
What mouthpiece are you using? Hopefully not a Berg Larsen 200/0 with a 3.5 reed? Try a softer reed as above...

Greg S.

P.S. If you purchased the horn second hand a trip to a sax tech to give it a once over for a checkup might be good idea to sort out any leaks, etc...
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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13,019
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Burnley bb9 9dn
Trouble at the bottom indicates a softer reed is needed.
Trouble at the top indicates a harder reed is needed.

Harder reed = better player. No.
 

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
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France
My guts tell me there is a problem with the G# key! :rolleyes:

But that's just a wilde guess based on the fact that you don't complain about the notes below, so closing F probably shuts G# completely...
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,019
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Burnley bb9 9dn
My guts tell me there is a problem with the G# key! :rolleyes:

But that's just a wilde guess based on the fact that you don't complain about the notes below, so closing F probably shuts G# completely...
Certainly a possibility.
 
OP
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Lkellogg

New Member
Messages
3
Locality
Iowa
Thanks to everyone for your input! I have been playing a 3.5 simply because the sax came with two boxes of new 3.5’s. I’m honestly not sure what kind of mouthpiece I have (yes I’m that beginner), but it is a plastic Selmer of some sort. This instrument really is in fantastic condition. It had been a one owner sax prior to me buying it, and the gal who had it before me took very good care of it and didn’t play it very frequently.

I’ll give a softer reed a shot and see if that helps to improve the issue.

Anything specific to look for on the G# key as noted above?
 

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
Subscriber
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3,931
Locality
France
It may no be perciveable with a naked eye, is without a leak light, but if you key a G and press the G#, perhaps you'll see the G# key (that's the next one that's closed after the G#) open very slightly. It is supposed to remain closed unless you press the G#. But it's leaking or not strongly pressed against the tone gone with the related spring, it can vibrate with the air pressure and sound like it does now.

Another thing you can do is while you key the G, maintain the G# down with your right hand. It shouldn't be too busy with other things!

It it them plays beautifully as you'd expect. That's most likely it.

It's probably better then to ask a tech to look at it. Spring tension, if that's what it is can be tricky, particularly there, depending on the horn's mechanism. also, if there is a leak, the tech should be able to sort it.

But @jbtsax or @Stephen Howard might step in and tell you more as they are real techs, unlike me! ;) And may have first hand experience of that model.
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
What I heard in the video is commonly called a "warble" or "motor boating". My investigation of this effect has found that it is caused by harmonics that are out of tune with one another and are fighting for control of the pitch that is heard. This is far more common on the lower notes where the fundamental is weaker than the next two harmonics.

When it happens on a G it is probably the result of playing too high on the input pitch or using the wrong "voicing" inside the oral cavity both of which can affect the harmonics.

Here is what I would suggest:
  1. As others have said move to a #2 1/2 reed.
  2. Play the mouthpiece apart from the saxophone---adjust the embouchure so the pitch is no higher than G concert.
  3. Using the same embouchure and lots of air, play the mouthpiece and neck---the pitch should be E concert.
  4. Get the pitch of your low G (F concert) and sing it on an "ahh".
  5. Next blow that pitch on your air stream like an airy sounding whistle.
  6. Play the low G on the saxophone using the same embouchure, airstream, and shape inside the mouth.
A few other ideas that might help are: say "Haup" when you take a breath to open the throat, blow using warm air, make sure the mouthpiece is going straight into the mouth. Hope this helps.
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
Could also be mouthpiece position on the crook.

Just because a saxophone has been looked after and loved doesn't mean it can't go out of regulation. Bit's of cork wear or fall off. Leather changes with the weather. Screws come loose or just move for no reason. You have picked the most annoying instrument in the band. ;)
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Could also be mouthpiece position on the crook.
I thought of that as well so I checked the pitch in the video and the saxophone was in tune at least on that note. Sopranos are especially notorious at warbling when the mouthpiece is out too far.
You have picked the most annoying instrument in the band. ;)
Sometimes played by the most annoying people in my experience. There is a tenor player in my area who is so obnoxious I refuse to play sitting next to him in a section. Nonetheless, he keeps calling me to "sub" in the bands he plays in. When I tell him I'm unavailable, I only refer him to other sax players who I don't like either. It seems like the right thing to do. >:)
 

sizzzzler

Member
Messages
218
Locality
London
It’s called motorboating. When it’s the G on a tenor the problem is the regulation. Take it to the most experienced tech you can find who works on saxes and clarinets for classical musicians because this is not discernible with a leak light and needs a tech how relies on their hearing. Or you could just sell the sax.
 
OP
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Lkellogg

New Member
Messages
3
Locality
Iowa
I thought of that as well so I checked the pitch in the video and the saxophone was in tune at least on that note. Sopranos are especially notorious at warbling when the mouthpiece is out too far.

Sometimes played by the most annoying people in my experience. There is a tenor player in my area who is so obnoxious I refuse to play sitting next to him in a section. Nonetheless, he keeps calling me to "sub" in the bands he plays in. When I tell him I'm unavailable, I only refer him to other sax players who I don't like either. It seems like the right thing to do. >:)

This gave me a good laugh! Thanks again for everyone’s input. I’ve got some 2.5 reeds coming and hopefully in conjunction with all of your kind suggestions, I can start to practice the issue away. Having this sax has brought me such joy and picking it up again has been a lot of fun.

I’ll report back on how things are in a few weeks for any beginner with a similar problem who may stumble upon this thread in the future!
 

Nikki

Formerly SaxyNikki
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942
Locality
Canada
I thought of that as well so I checked the pitch in the video and the saxophone was in tune at least on that note. Sopranos are especially notorious at warbling when the mouthpiece is out too far.

Sometimes played by the most annoying people in my experience. There is a tenor player in my area who is so obnoxious I refuse to play sitting next to him in a section. Nonetheless, he keeps calling me to "sub" in the bands he plays in. When I tell him I'm unavailable, I only refer him to other sax players who I don't like either. It seems like the right thing to do. >:)
Hahaha. That’s funny.
I’d also suggest changing your reed and getting your saxophone inspected to make sure there are no leaks or pads that need changing.

Note: wrote this before seeing your post
 

Zugzwang

Member
Subscriber
Messages
601
Locality
United Kingdom
… does anyone else find themselves referring to that warbling problem as “waterboarding” ? Maybe it’s because of the effect it has on me…?
 
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