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Beginner Tenor embouchure issues

stom

Member
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59
Hi all,

I've been playing the alto for some months now and making really good progress, just before Christmas I treated myself to a tenor as this is the instrument I really want to play.

After a few weeks I'm really struggling on low E to keep it in the lower register(other surrounding notes are fine). This is now starting to drive me crazy(id mostly contained my sqeeks on the alto after a few weeks)My setup is a yani992 with v16 t6 mouthpiece. I also have a yamaha4c but really dislike the tone(it seems lifeless compared to the v16). The problem is there still on the yamaha mouthpiece but less pronounced.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks

Tom
 

Jeanette

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Hi Tom

Welcome to the cafe

As I don't play tenor I'll leave your question for others to answer, but why not introduce yourself in the doorbell section:)

Jx
 

jazzdoh

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Welcome Tom to the forum.
First of all,make sure your tenor hasn't any leaks,the 992 is a fine horn,but you have to remember that things take time,tenor is a different beast to alto it requires a loose more relaxed embouchure taking in more mouthpiece,keep playing long tones it will come,you also haven't mentioned what reed you are using,this could also be the cause of your problem,but i suspect its your lack of time on this horn thats causing the problem.
 
Last edited:

Colin the Bear

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I'd be sticking to one mouthpiece till you become more proficient. Chopping and changing will confuse your burgeoning embouchure. Once you're comfortable and secure, the search for that certain piece can begin and may take a lifetime.

The change from Eb to Bb can be a challenge. If your instrument has no leaks and you're not fudging any keys it's a matter of adjusting to the change of pitch and timbre. Relax your embouchure and open your throat as if yawning into the instrument. Some recommend singing the note you're aiming for and to use this throat shaping for that note on the tenor.

Accept and realise that the tenor isn't a big alto. It's a similar but very different instrument. The larger the saxophone the more air is needed and the less back pressure there is. You may also find that your physiology may suit one instrument over another and one will always be better than another.

I play sop, alto, tenor and baritone. I am most comfortable on alto. Baritone is probably my second and annoyingly for me, more requested. The tenor is my love and although I can play it to a reasonable standard, it remains elusive and I feel I'll never master it. The sop can sound ethereal and romantic in the right hands but is a frustrating instrument in my experience.

Each one has a distinct personality. Many players recommend sticking to one or the other but I find the differences experienced when switching, focus my attention on which one I'm playing.
 

stom

Member
Messages
59
Welcome Tom to the forum.
First of all,make sure your tenor hasn't any leaks,the 992 is a fine horn,but you have to remember that things take time,tenor is a different beast to alto it requires a loose more relaxed embouchure taking in more mouthpiece,keep playing long tones it will come,you also haven't mentioned what reed you are using,this could also be the cause of your problem,but i suspect it your lack of time on this horn thats causing the problem.

Thanks for this. My reeds are Rico royal 3 and Rico jazz select 3s. I much prefer the RicoJazzSelects as they seem much more consistent. About half of the royals seem a bit muted.

The horn has been checked for leaks by my tutor when I first got it. All seemed ok with everything playing from
PP to FF with his metal jazz mouthpiece.

I'm sure that more time on the horn should cure my issues, however I just wanted to make sure I'm not doing anything daft!
 

jazzdoh

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Thanks for this. My reeds are Rico royal 3 and Rico jazz select 3s. I much prefer the RicoJazzSelects as they seem much more consistent. About half of the royals seem a bit muted.

The horn has been checked for leaks by my tutor when I first got it. All seemed ok with everything playing from
PP to FF with his metal jazz mouthpiece.

I'm sure that more time on the horn should cure my issues, however I just wanted to make sure I'm not doing anything daft!

Rico Royal and RJS are excellent reeds maybe you could try coming down in reed strength for a short time to see if this helps maybe RR 21/2 or RJS 2M or 2H,reeds are a personal thing i use Legere Signature 2.75 which works for me,but experiment and practise will always pay off in the end.
 

Colin the Bear

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Rico Royale is a french filed reed. The Jazz select come in both filed and unfiled. If you're using different types this may account for the sucess of one over the other. .A 3 sounds a little stiff for a 4c to me.

Comparison chart here.
http://www.sax.co.uk/rcc.htm

A saxophone has a complicated mechanical system and a slight knock even when in the case can move things and cause a leak. Also things wear, shrink and perish. Because it wasn't leaking yesterday doesn't mean it isn't leaking today.
 

stom

Member
Messages
59
Both the reed types that I'm using are french filed. I prefer the brighter tone that they produce. Also worth noting that the v16 t6 is the mouthpiece I use. I've got some orange box 2.5s I can try, however I think time with the instrument is what I need!

Thanks to all for the helpful replies I feel I'm at the start of a very long journey!
 

kevgermany

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I agree with Colin. Just consciously open up and relax your embouchure more. It's much looser on tenor than on alto. And give more breath support without blowing harder.

Agree on the single reed/mouthpiece. But a soft reed on a narrow tip is going to make the problem worse.
 

Colin the Bear

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Something that just occured to me is the position of the mouthpiece on the cork. Check with a tuner to see if you're in the right place. Sometimes warbles and squeaks are caused by the tuning being out and trying to compensate with embouchure.
 

Chris

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I think Fraser nailed it, try a softer reed..
 

Saxdiva

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I think Fraser nailed it, try a softer reed..

+ 1 for this. When I started playing tenor (Yani 901) I used a Yam4c with a 1.5 reed. I moved up reed strength to 2.5 and a Yani HR no.6 within a few months but I couldn't have started there.
 

jbtsax

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I second the advice to go to a #2 or #2 1/2 reed for a while until the low notes "speak" more consistently. Here are a few tips I use with my students having similar problems:

Input pitch
Play the mouthpiece and neck (crook) apart from the saxophone and see what pitch it makes with your "normal" embouchure. It should be no higher than an E concert.
Voicing
When playing, shape the inside of your mouth like the first part of a yawn. Keep the back of the tongue down as if singing "AHH".
Airstream
Blow warm air, increasing the volume of air as you go lower. Direct the airstream down as if blowing toward your thumb on the thumb button.
Angle of mouthpiece
Adjust the neckstrap so that the tip of the mouthpiece touches inside the curve above your chin. Then tilt the head down slightly to put the mouthpiece into you mouth (gob).
Exercise
Play G with a full tone and quickly slur down toward low C blowing more air as you go down the scale. Hold the lowest note you can produce as a long tone. Repeat.
 

Justin Chune

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You need a much looser and more relaxed embouchure on the tenor sax. That, and a box of Rico Royal #2 reeds.

Jim.
 

stom

Member
Messages
59
Thanks to everyone for the very helpful replies! I'm overwhelmed by how helpful everyone has been and really impressed by the friendliness of this community!

I've been doing some mouthpiece only practice and am now able to play a scale steadily and reasonably accurately. That seems to be having an effect on my playing as my practice session with the sax yesterday went much better. Noticeably less jumping of octaves when playing E. I'll try some softer reeds when our local shop opens again on Monday.
 

Jeanette

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Thanks to everyone for the very helpful replies! I'm overwhelmed by how helpful everyone has been and really impressed by the friendliness of this community!

I've been doing some mouthpiece only practice and am now able to play a scale steadily and reasonably accurately. That seems to be having an effect on my playing as my practice session with the sax yesterday went much better. Noticeably less jumping of octaves when playing E. I'll try some softer reeds when our local shop opens again on Monday.

Great to hear, don't worry if sometimes you seem to take a step back too, it can happen :)

Jx
 

stom

Member
Messages
59
Mu
in the short term try scraping the back of one of your existing reeds with a Stanley blade, should improve things for you.

Much better today with a scraped reed. My local shop did not have royal2.5's so I have ordered some from the Internet. Thanks all for your help!
 

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