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Beginner warming up your alto

neil

Member
Messages
74
Location
Hull
hi folks...i`m pretty much a beginner ..playing the tenor for about 18 months.
I recently bought a gear 4 music alto from ebay for £70 ( 3 months old)...when i tried to play the thing i have to say i didnt really get on with it...harder to blow..didnt like the higher pitch etc ..so it has been stood on the stand for a couple of months....my teacher has been asking me to bring it along for a lesson but i resisted prefering the tenor...anyway...last night i gave in and took it along...as usual for the first ten mins or so i wasnt enjoying playing the alto..BUT...when it warmed up a bit (its never had the chance to warm up before as i give up after 5 mins usually) the sax really changed out of all recognition....the sound was warm....it became much, and i mean much, easier to blow...all in all i really enjoyed the lesson much to the amusemrnt of my teacher...(smug git)...i have read a few threads on here about altos being `stuffy` etc...what i`d say is persevere a bit and you might find a change when it warms up
ps it came with a vandoren v16 mouthpiece...i now think i have a bargain rather than a nice ornament

happy blowing
neil
 

Phil Edwards

Senior Member
Messages
1,335
Location
East Sussex
Nice one, you'll be hard pushed to go wrong for that price, particularly with the mouthpiece it came with. Sounds like it's worth perservering with.

Phil
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,019
Location
Essex
Sounds like a breakthrough! :welldone

Useful to know actually because I played my TJ Classic Horn Alto happily for 18months knowing nothing else - it was no effort. Now I have been "spoilt" with the ease that my TJ tenor plays I find the Alto really hard to blow - maybe I just need to persevere for longer instead of giving up after 2 mintues! after all it used to be fine!
 

Phil Edwards

Senior Member
Messages
1,335
Location
East Sussex
Sounds like a breakthrough! :welldone

Useful to know actually because I played my TJ Classic Horn Alto happily for 18months knowing nothing else - it was no effort. Now I have been "spoilt" with the ease that my TJ tenor plays I find the Alto really hard to blow - maybe I just need to persevere for longer instead of giving up after 2 mintues! after all it used to be fine!
Yeah, keep at it Arty, I recall Art Pepper said something along the lines of "playing the tenor is easy, it's being able to play alto well that takes real skill".

Of course he spent most of his life playing alto (very, very, well) and as an alto player of course I agree with him!

That'll cause some comment, no doubt.

Phil
 

AndyB

Member
Messages
210
Location
Durham, NC, USA
Hi. I don't know if this applies to you, but I was surprised when my Yamaha 62II changed somewhat when it was new. After a few months I had to have some minor tweaking. The tech said "It's just a baby. You're just seeing the normal breaking-in process." So perhaps your alto isn't broken in yet and some pads are beginning to seat well or something like that. The same tech told me that the metal doesn't change, so I guess the the levers and pads can simply require some breaking in. Good luck.
Andy
 
I play Celtic whistles and have found that the metal ones really do need warming up before they start to play and sound well, I think it may have something to do with the moisture content inside the instrument. Maybe it adds a little friction to the passage of air through the instrument body and adds a little touch of "distortion" to the sound, which as many sound engineers know can be very pleasing to the ear when subtle. Who knows maybe its because an Alto has a narrower bore to the body than a Tenor it may be more pronounced. Ive never tried a Sop, but I can imagine the same principle applies too.

Happy blowing

Flipp.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
697
as usual for the first ten mins or so i wasnt enjoying playing the alto..BUT...when it warmed up a bit (its never had the chance to warm up before as i give up after 5 mins usually) the sax really changed out of all recognition....the sound was warm....it became much, and i mean much, easier to blow...all in all i really enjoyed the lesson much to the amusemrnt of my teacher.
It is now the cold season where I live (we call it winter), and my practice area is unheated. I have noticed that it seems to take about fifteen minutes for the instrument to warm up and then perform much better than right at the start (that is, once I have done long tones and perhaps a scale or two).

What I wonder is whether warming up the instrument really makes a difference, or whether it is simply a case of warming up in the sense that athletes do before a eace or whatever.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,232
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
I think it can be quite a challenge going from Alto to Tenor or the reverse, partly due to pitch, partly due to air needed, and partly due to different sized embouchure. Since getting a Francois Louis Spectruoso Tenor mouthpiece, which is almost alto sized, the transition is a doddle. Similarly with my trumpet and trombone playing. The trombone needs lots of air and has larger mouthpieces, but the bore of the instruments are close in size (0.485" on trombone and 0.460" trumpet), and the mouthpieces are a much closer size wise than some (24.7mm trombone & 17.75mm trumpet).

Unless you practice each instrument quite regularly you may be better off making more obvious equipment adjustments.
Kind regards
Tom:cool:

BTW you could easily have paid £70 just for the mouthpiece - I like V16's very much.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,018
Location
Just north of Munich
A semitone! Is "just north of Munich" a euphemism for the South Pole?
lol, Nick. Gets really cold here in winter.

As part of another project I've been doing some research into how pitch is determined. Seems that 10C change in instrument/air temp gives a difference in pitch of 1/3rd of a semitone. Mean temps of instrument during playing are in the 25-28C region, with something like a 10C drop down the length of the instrument. Now take a cold instrument out of your car in winter...... It also implies that as the temperature drops in an instrument, the further away from the mouthpiece you are, the lower the speed of sound is, and so the instrument builder needs to compensate for that as well.....

Part of the change may well be me tightening my embouchure as I warm up :(
 

Pegwill

Member
Messages
56
Hi
I remember reading or seeing on U tube cant quite remember which, but an easy way to warm your sax is to put a cloth in the bell and just breath through the mouth piece a few times.

Hope this helps

Regards

Bill
 
Saxholder Pro

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