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Tenor Player learning Alto

Antman

New Member
Messages
2
Greetings - I am a semi-pro Tenor player and recently purchased a Alto and a Berg Larsen #8 mouthpiece and am having problems getting a nice tone/sweet-spot. The sax is muffled in the mid-range area

Is there a method I need to practice on the armature or is the issue somewhere else.

Thanks
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I agree with koumou that you might have a leak. Having the Alto checked over will at least let you know one way or the other.

Coming from a Tenor though you're going to have to work on your Alto Chops! The embouchure is much tightier!
 

les3716

Member
Messages
181
Coming from a Tenor though you're going to have to work on your Alto Chops! The embouchure is much tightier!

I agree with Paul.

Les.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I read somewhere that most altoists prefer mouthpieces in the #5/#6 range.

Jim.
Interesting! I play a Link 7* and struggle with anything smaller than a #6. I do tend to agree that the majority play a 5 or 6 but there are plenty that play bigger though. Here's a few:

John Bambridge Arbex - B 7*
Gary Bias Custom Beechler Bellite #8 Diamond Alto #M8S
Dave Boruff Beechler Bellite Alto #8
Nick Brignola Runyon Bionix 8*
Paul Carman Beechler Diamond M8S
Kent Engelhardt Beechler Diamond S7S
Rocky Gordon Beechler Bellite #7
Euge Groove Beechler Bellite #7 and a Beechler Diamond M7M
Craig Handy Berg Larsen 105/1
Everett Harp Beechler Custom Bellite #7
Ray Hutcherson Beechler Diamond M8S
John Klemmer Metal ARB #7
Dave Koz Metal Beechler 7
Oliver Lake RIA 7
Joe Lovano Otto Link 9*
Joe Lulloff Beechler 7 (amongst many)
Derek Nash Beechler Diamond M8S
David Sanborn Dukoff D7 and D9
Tom Timko Beechler Diamond M7S
Chris Vadala Meyer 7
Rocco Ventrella Beechler Bellite #7
Ernie Watts Lawton 9*, Barone Metal

Having said that if just starting to play an Alto then I agree that a Berg Larsen #8 might be difficult to control, until those chops get used to it!
 

koumou

Member
Messages
168
Interesting! I play a Link 7* and struggle with anything smaller than a #6. I do tend to agree that the majority play a 5 or 6 but there are plenty that play bigger though. Here's a few:

John Bambridge Arbex - B 7*
Gary Bias Custom Beechler Bellite #8 Diamond Alto #M8S
Dave Boruff Beechler Bellite Alto #8
Nick Brignola Runyon Bionix 8*
Paul Carman Beechler Diamond M8S
Kent Engelhardt Beechler Diamond S7S
Rocky Gordon Beechler Bellite #7
Euge Groove Beechler Bellite #7 and a Beechler Diamond M7M
Craig Handy Berg Larsen 105/1
Everett Harp Beechler Custom Bellite #7
Ray Hutcherson Beechler Diamond M8S
John Klemmer Metal ARB #7
Dave Koz Metal Beechler 7
Oliver Lake RIA 7
Joe Lovano Otto Link 9*
Joe Lulloff Beechler 7 (amongst many)
Derek Nash Beechler Diamond M8S
David Sanborn Dukoff D7 and D9
Tom Timko Beechler Diamond M7S
Chris Vadala Meyer 7
Rocco Ventrella Beechler Bellite #7
Ernie Watts Lawton 9*, Barone Metal

Having said that if just starting to play an Alto then I agree that a Berg Larsen #8 might be difficult to control, until those chops get used to it!
The OP wrote that he is a semi pro tenor player, so his chops must be ble to handle the mouthpiece in question.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Sounds like a leaky horn to me, the MP doesn't normally affect only mid-range notes!

What MP do you use on tenor? I agree that alto embouchure can be tighter than tenor (though it slightly depends on WHICH embouchure pattern you're using) but a wider lay would mean less compression is necessary in most cases! Swapping won't be a problem once you're used to it, keep practicing if you (or your tech) can't find the leak.

Nick
 

Antman

New Member
Messages
2
Excellent feed-back...appreciate the responses. I am currently using a BL 110/2 M on my tenor and have been using this piece for over 10 years with a rico #4. Whenever I try a a softer reed or a tighter opening on another mouthpiece, I always get choke-up. The Alto I have was just checked over for leaks and I also tried out another Alto to compare...with same results of mid-range (muffled/lack of tone). So, I am leaning towards the issue being with the mouthpiece or just practice - practice - practice.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Could be the key heights are set a touch low, it's sometimes done for speed, but it can muffle things. Was this checked when the leaks were checked? But if it was the same on another sax, looks like mouthpiece/reed/player issues.
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Good advice all round. It might be that your mouthpiece is too big for the job. Your tenor setup is quite "chunky", and that kind of setup may not translate too well to alto as it has more resistance than a tenor given its smaller bore. You might try a Meyer 6 or 7 or similar, maybe a step down in reed strength - that's probably more like the kind of setup that altoists have.

On the rare occasions that I play tenor I use a V16 T95 mouthpiece (more or less a 9 or 9* equivalent) and Vandoren V16 3 reeds. Works to my satisfaction (if nobody else's) on my tenor, but couldn't use such a setup on alto. It would make an incredibly graceless noise - in my hands anyway. I use a Meyer 7 and Java 3s - that seems to demand an equivalent effort from me than my tenor setup.
 

Adrian63

Senior Member
Messages
1,335
Hi. Sorry Paul. I just read the thing in context. Dont do alto man. Ernie plays crazy wide. Just tryin to remember what mpc. It probably is a " Barone ".
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
Hi. Sorry Paul. I just read the thing in context. Dont do alto man. Ernie plays crazy wide. Just tryin to remember what mpc. It probably is a " Barone ".
On the Alto Enrie Watts played a Lawton 9* and a Barone Metal (can't remember the tip opening). On the Tenor he played a Metal Otto Link 13 (0.160") and thats too big for me :)))
 

Saxodent

Member
Messages
194
Re Alto playing
I once read that your throat and oral cavity changes depending on the note you are blowing. This is subconcious and related to singing and a mental adjustment.
If you read an alto lead sheet you could still be mentally using a tenor vocalisation as you are used to the note being a certain pitch.
This is also important and helpful for high notes above the standard range G(cross fingerings etc
Concert A is B on a tenor and F sharp on an alto. The throat position should be identical to keep it in tune.
 

Adrian63

Senior Member
Messages
1,335
160"

Hi. I would really like to get around these huge tips. Ernie plays a 160" link. Scott Hamilton plays a 12 Link. I once heard a story. " Lockjaw " had super soft reeds made for him to compensate for the ridiculous tip. No idea if it is true. Playing bari reeds i dont ever worry over what may suit what. Soft, med, hard. End of. Reed to match tip.
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Geoerge Garzone uses a JJ HR 10 with #4 reeds - another monster set up. Funny thing about Enrine Watts' sound (which I greatly admire) is that his closely resembled Michael Brecker's - and Brecker used a much "softer" setp. His Guardala was equivalent to a 6 tip and he used La Voz mediums.

This whole thing is still more art than science.
 

BirdHead90

New Member
Messages
7
Don't kid yourself, there isn't a substitute for long tones and harmonics practice. You want a good alto tone? Listen to some good alto players and do some tone matching!
 
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