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Beginner Tenor differences


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Hi all,

I've borrowed a tenor as a friend insisted I can't buy myself an alto if I've not at least had a go on the tenor. Currently it's looking like I'm a convert, although I do have some questions. The 'middle' D (pitches as Concert middle C) seems stuffy - more so than I ever experienced on an alto. The G above that also seems extremely willing to jump down the octave, or rather just burble between them. I only really get this when playing quietly, and it's never something I've noticed on alto.

Playing a T901 with a Yani 7 mouthpiece (ebonite), feels comfortable and getting a sound I like out of the rest of the range.

Are these common issues for folks when first switching to tenor?

Anywho, I'm thoroughly enjoying tenor and quite glad I'm having a go on one before I've spent my pennies - don't know why I didn't even consider one before, now I have a much more difficult decision come May!
Hi Adam

OK, I'm going to try and answer this although I'm a newbie myself. It's just that I have been discussing these same problems with my teacher recently.

Middle D or D2: Sounds like someone has suddenly stuffed a sock into the bell? Apparently it's the worst note on a sax and worse still on a tenor. You have all the main keys down AND the octave hole at the top open - it's almost too much to ask for.

Middle G or G2: Very prone to dropping down the octave or wobbling between the two. Apparently, it's due to the keys for that note being at a point in the instrument where ideally, it could do with another octave hole.

My teacher has advised that the only solution is practice - I was convinced it was my instrument but he played it in front of me and both of these notes sounded just like the others. The suggested practice is slow, sustained, chromatic playing just around these notes, up and down - concentrating on keeping the tone consistent. I've tried it and got a big improvement in just one session.

I'm sure there are others here who can give a more detailed answer but I hope that helps a bit.
D2 is helped a lot by adding the left palm D key into the mix. So octave + palm D + bcdefg all down together.

I found G2 much better if the sax is tuned accurately or a touch flat, but if it's a touch sharp be careful. It also needs more breath support than, say, F2. I find it's also a lot more critical on embouchure and angle of the mouthpiece in your mouth. I tend to tighten up on it a touch, but I'm probably not supposed to.
D2 and even E2 can be closed/dull on some saxes especially older. Most keys are closed on the sax. But todays saxes are better when it comes to this. You can adjust a little bit with mouthpiece and reed. On older saxes they did an additionl/extra tonehole and key to make the sax sing better on D2 ( the procedure is discribed in an article in one of my first Saxophone Journals by a technichan called Saul Fromking;"... the middle D's that were chonically flat. By putting a second hole adjacent to the low C key (for additional venting) which would close the low C key, it resulted with middle D becoming the best note on the horn .." I've seen simular constructions on older Conns, Holtons ...

But I guess it's better to buy a new sax nowadays instead of rebuilding an old one.

- A technician could open up the key-heights, the horn become brighter. But to open keys also means lost action and possibiblity to play fast.
- Open mouthpieces and harder reeds = more open key heights and more tension on the closed key springs. I bought a Beuscher soprano from a classical saxphonist. I had to raise the keys because I used a more open mouthpiece and harder reeds.
- If the D2 is flat and your sax is blowing great otherwise, then you can learn to play the D2 tone with your D3 palm key without octavekey. Or like Kev is descibed above.

Paul Harvey's book Saxophone[/I, published in 1995 by Kahn & Averill, London, contains a lot of interesting information about the saxophone and its playing. On page 39 he talks about the problem you have mentioned. He says:

The lower octave hole on the main body of the instrument, level with the top F hole, opens for G and closes for A. This lower octave hole is in a compromise position; it's at a good point for E, F and F sharp, but rather too low for G and too high for D. This why those are often unstable notes in the 2nd register, especially D, which is prone to fly up to the next harmonic, A. The theoretically perfect saxophone would have at least FOUR octave holes; this has been tried, but, as you can imagine, it proved to be much too mechanically complicated.

In my case have found that the problem is more likely to occur on the tenor than on the baritone. The solution would appear to lie, as others have pointed out, in practice and, perhaps, a more appropriate mouthpiece. The latter should only be considered on good advice.
Thanks for great replies. I'm confident it'll come with practise - I'm already dealing with it, I just have to be more aware of those notes and ensure I attack and control my breath appropriately. :)
With practice it becomes automatic - and when you think about it, it gets a lot worse.... I found the G issue became well solved by running through exercises that worked with and round it. Guess the same will apply to D, but I was lucky with that one. Keep at it!
Playing a T901 with a Yani 7 mouthpiece (ebonite), feels comfortable and getting a sound I like out of the rest of the range.

The T901 is a nice light sax, and has a lighter sound than some. I started off being slightly disappointed with the sound, but once I had recorded it I was pretty satisfied with the results. Ergonomically I think it is great, but took a while to found mouthpieces that produced my desired sound,
generally with larger chambers.

Why not go for a Baritone............;}

Kind regards
Despite Baritone being ridiculously good fun, I can't afford one. And would feel a but off having it as my main sax when I don't have a band to play it in... Yet.

That said if the army goes ahead and chops another load of regimental bands I reckon I might be able to get a good one very cheap :D
Also less enticing when you see the baritone parts written for most popular music. You'll get more fun playing a bass guitar - bom, bom, bom, bom ad infinitum..........
So that's why I learn Bass Guitar then - Baritone substitute! :w00t: Part of why I like Tenor Trombone is that it has the same range as a Baritone/Bass Guitar., just a bit lighter at 1.5Kg.

Kind regards

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