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Tone Suddenly Goes Bad :O

SaxofoneNadia

New Member
Messages
3
Ok, so this is my third year playing saxophone. I had a real passion for it since I started and practiced alot and soon I became the best sax player in the band. I played well and I had a great tone. Recently, I was first chair but then I lost it to the boy in second chair because of my tone. I don't know what happened! Before I had a mellow tone but now it's kind of airy/brassy and I can't keep my air going for longer than about four measures even though before it was about 8-10. I changed sax and that's when this started happening... I have tried many ways to fix it but it continues to sound this way and I don't know what to do anymore. Please help! Also I don't know if I'm squeezing too hard or something but my teeth have begun to become crooked!! How can I stop this from happening?
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Wow, a lot of things going on here!

Why did you change sax?
What have you tried to fix the problem? Have you tried changing back?

It sounds to me like there must be a problem with the new sax. If you can still play all the notes, but with this bad tone, I think there must be a problem with mouthpiece or reed. Is it a new mouthpiece too? Possibly if you are using the same reeds they may not be suitable to use with a different mouthpiece - have you tried changing strength of reed or brand?

Your teeth shouldn't become crooked from playing, perhaps you are biting too hard. Do you have a tutor that can help with this problem? I think it would be best to get a saxophone teacher to go through the possible solutions with you in person.

Good luck,

Nick
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,006
A strident tone can be caused by too much mouthpiece (reed) in the mouth. What happens is that there is not enough dampening of the reed with the lower lip to control the sound.

If the "new" sax came with a different mouthpiece, that may be contributing to the problem. That does not necessarily mean that the new mouthpiece isn't better than the old one. If the old mouthpiece had a small tip opening and wide side rails as some "beginners" mouthpieces do, it would take a stiffer reed and be easy to control the sound even with an undeveloped embouchure. These "beginners" mouthpieces are designed to be safe and produce a fair sound right from the start.

When one goes from a "safe" mouthpiece to one with a wider tip opening and narrower side rails, the tone is harder to control at first because the mouthpiece is more demanding on the player's embouchure. It requires more control and sensitivity with the embouchure muscles as well as more consistency with the placement of the teeth and the angle of the mouthpiece. The reward when this more professional mouthpiece is played with the necessary control is a more vibrant sound with much greater dynamic range.

Without seeing or hearing you play it is very difficult to accurately diagnose what is wrong. That said, here are a few suggestions that might help:

- Reduce the reed strength by 1/2. 3 down to 2 1/2, or 2 1/2 down to 2
- Practice long tones on the mouthpiece and neck only. This "tone producer" should make the note Ab concert.
- Make sure the top teeth are going to the correct spot on the mouthpiece. See: Bruce Pearson Saxophone Embouchure.
- Mark the correct spot with a groove made by your thumbnail in a thick mouthpiece patch.
- Make sure the mouthpiece goes straight into the mouth.
- Have your teacher (if he/she plays sax) or a more experienced player try your sax to see if it is playing properly.
- Have someone who is knowledgeable check the brand and model of the mouthpiece you are using.

If on the "tone producer" (mouthpiece + neck) you can hold a clear, loud, and steady tone for 20 - 30 seconds on the note Ab concert, the sax should sound great if it is working properly. Good luck. Let us know how you are getting along with your tone production.
 

SaxofoneNadia

New Member
Messages
3
I changed the sax because I was told to by my section leader and now I can't get it back because someone is using it. I asked my music director about this and he gave me a couple of tips on how to fix it. Honestly, they have not worked at all and I'm trying to see if I can buy the same mouthpiece as the one I had before. About the reeds, I used to use #3 rico's but then I switched to #3 vandoren's but I don't think that's the problem. Not sure what to do, but thanks for the advice!!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Vandorens are about half a strength stronger than rico. What was the previous mouthpiece? What are you having to use now?
Why did the section leader tell you to change saxes?
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
Vandoren make a range of reeds whose numbers are about the same as Rico. Vandoren Traditionals, the ones in the blue box, are harder, and a #3 would equal a Rico 3'5. Being able to play 8/10 measures is right on the money and I think that your reed is now too hard.

Changing your sax, mouthpiece and reed all at once was a recipe for disaster. I think you should go back to the familiar Ricos for a bit and find a strength that suits the new mouthpiece by going down half steps at a time.

Jim.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,006
The brand of mouthpiece you used to play on, and the brand you are playing on now would be very helpful to give more accurate advise about reeds.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Give us the name of your teacher and we'll send the boys 'round to 'ave a word! >:)>:)>:);}

Be aware that both Rico Royals and Vandoren Traditional reeds are also both French cut and suit short facing mouthpieces - all depends on what mouthpiece you play - most American mouthpieces are longer facing & suit American cut reeds, like Rico Orange, Vandoren Java Green/V16's and similar. But it does sound like a hard reed problem as highlighted above, anyway.

How sad some teachers are with their arbitrary decision making especially if there is no accompanying explanation for the student concerned.
 
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