Tutorials

Tuning the Soprano Saxophone

ropetow

New Member
Messages
6
Hi - i've just purchased a Stagg 77-SSC curved Soprano saxophone and noticed that it seems tuned to A rather than Bb. Has anyone heard of this kind of issue before? Its not one note as it plays in tune along the range in itself - its just that i cant play the same music alongside other Bb instruments without doing some transposing.

Many thanks for any suggestions.....
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
Odd.

Have you checked it with a tuner?

Just so we understand it right, you're saying it's playing a full tone lower than it should - ie. when you finger C, the tuner shows an A..

First guess would be that the mouthpiece isn't far enough on the cork. Maybe as it's new, the cork needs adjusting to allow the mouthpiece to slide on further. Sops are so sensitive to mouthpiece position that it could account for your problem.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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11,939
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London
A semitone on a soprano is not a huge distance on the cork. I am surprised it can play in tune in itself, unless you have a very big chamber mouthpiece.

I would follow Kev's advice of pushing in the mouthpiece first.

Please let us know
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,352
Stick mp on further,find the mark then lots of lipping on certain notes.Only atiny silgt bite or drop in lip pressure and the sop can be sharp or flat.Its a bummer but thats the soprano for you.
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
Messages
657
Location
Løten, Norway
I've just bought a cheap Chinese soprano sax and experienced the same. It was to low whatever I was doing. In the end I removed the cork on the neck and replace it with a new that went further down the neck. I could probably have gotten away with just sanding down the original cork a little bit so that the MP could be pushed in further.
 
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ropetow

New Member
Messages
6
Hi - many thanks for all the replies - just to clarify i dont have an electronic tuner but my Yamaha U3 piano tuned to concert pitch.
If i play a C on the sax its an A on the piano. If i play a C on my Bb Clarinet or Tenor sax its a Bb on the piano.

For some reason i was thinking that increasing the squish on the cork would flatten the sax further and so i was needing a longer crook and having the mouthpiece at the end of the cork to raise it a semitone. I was expecting embouchure and setup to affect the tuning but just surprised that it was so far out.

Will push the mouthpiece on further and let you know the outcome.

Thanks again - great forum
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
Mouthpiece tuning works the same way as the keys - the shorter the tube, the higher the note. So pushing it on further shortens the tube and raises the note.

Just like tenor and clarinet, you should be getting a Bb when you play a C.

Note what Aldevis said about the instrument playing in tune with itself. If the mouthpiece is in the wrong place and you're lipping up or down to play in tune, it'll not play in tune across the range of the instrument.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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11,939
Location
London
I think I can bend about a fifth at the top of the sop. The notes are so close together. It's more like playing a kazoo.

Get a tuner.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Westfield-WF-300-Chromatic-Metronome/dp/B0088CBQRI
A tuner and a soprano are not compatible.
Unless:
a) You have a Sequoia Soprano and a Pillinger PJ mouthpiece (I am ending up using a NYS, but the JP is REALLY in tune)
b) You have one my patent pending tuners that feature a consistent green light regardless of the note played.

Disclaimer: I am a Sequoia endorser.
 

SopJob

Member
Messages
77
Location
Stuttgart region, Germany
Hi,

let me add a few bits:

a) Sax is tight?

b) Have you played soprano before? If not, where are you coming from? I remember that when I started out on the soprano, I was frequently too low, although hardly ever as much as a semitone. My mistake was that my embouchure was tight enough to get the tone going, but then I let loose, applying the same degree of tension I used on the tenor. So: If the rest of the world confirms that your sax is OK, then you need to work on a tighter embouchure. Maybe get a teacher for just a few lessons.
 
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ropetow

New Member
Messages
6
Hi folks just a quick update.

Theres 3 cm of cork on the crook and the mouthpiece was 1cm on it. I've pushed the mouthpiece as hard on it as i can and its now 2 cm on the cork. To the ear theres no noticeable difference in pitch by pushing the mouthpiece on the extra centimetre. A C still plays an A concert pitch.

With regards to the history of the sax itself, its an ebay purchase but it seems in good order. Its not worn and i can play from bottom C to about A an octave above all in tune with itself. Its great fun to play and i'm having a blast with it - its just i cant play alongside my son on the Bb trumpet.

Me? been playing clarinet for about 35 years and tenor sax for about 30. Not self taught - had lessons for about 7 years from a professional musician. Wouldnt say i was anything special in terms of playing ability but reasonably competent - prob grade 4/5 in UK exam terms. Havent played much sax in the last 10 years or so - but rediscovering the fun
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,270
Location
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
On my alto, I was surprised how far I had to push the mouthpiece on to be anywhere near in tune - it's very close to the end of the cork. The tenor is much more relaxed in that regard. It's also taken me a while to get the embouchure/tuning in the right place. Again, tenor was much easier.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
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7,028
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I agree with Colin. Sand the cork if necessary and use cork grease to get the mouthpiece on as far as it will go, even if the cork is covered completely. Rather than tune the C which can easily be out of tune due to improper key heights, check the first finger B which should sound concert A=440. If and when you get the B in tune with concert A, finger the low B and without the octave key overblow that note to the B an octave higher. If both B's are close to being in tune you have a fighting chance to play the sax in an ensemble or accompanied by a fixed pitch instrument.
 
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ropetow

New Member
Messages
6
I'll spend some time on rubbing the cork down on the crook so the mouthpiece covers all the cork and we'll take it from there. I'll also check the tuning on B instead of C as per jbtsax suggestion. Will let you know how i get on. If theres a way to post some video i could show you how far the mouthpiece is on the crook and also how far out the tuning is.

Thanks again
 
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