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Yamaha Alto - G flattens when moving up from F/E/D

samguitar

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I have just started learning Alto SAX on Yamaha YAS-280. Just learning b,a,g,f,e,d notes at the moment.
I play guitar well and have played flute and harmonica in past, so I think my embouchure is better than a complete beginner and my ear is good with pitch.

I am facing a challenge that if I play in sequence b, a, g and then move down to f, e or d and then come back up to g, the g goes flat (if don't change anything with embouchure ).
At this point if I release all 3 left hand fingers and press back in, to blow "g" again, then it is correct in tune (with no change anything with embouchure ).

it is puzzling to me why "g" goes flat only when coming up from f, e or d.

As an experiment (I have not yet gone to that level) I tried changing embouchure by pressing it a little then I can get back to proper G when moving up from F note.

Is this a "my" Saxophone issue or is this something that happens to all Saxophones?
My all other notes seem to be in tune.

I read article on this site about tuning and I understand now that you have to adjust embouchure to sharpen/flatten notes that are not in tune,
yet just wanted to make sure whether I need to take the Sax to a technician or just work on embouchure just for the flat G?

Thanks
Sam
 

jbtsax

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It is most likely that you are loosening the embouchure as you go down and then playing G with that looser embouchure. The saxophone works best when we don't relax the embouchure as we go lower and tighten when we go higher.
 

samguitar

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Thanks jbtsax. I will keep conscious attention of this when I practice next.
Appreciate pointing it out.
 

samguitar

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I focused on jbstax's suggestion for last 2 days and I am not sure that it is the embouchure.
Because if when I come up from F, E or D to a, b or c there is no flattening. It is only when coming up to G is when this occurs.

Anyways, I will take it to the sax shop and see what happens.

based on no other replies, I suppose no one else has observed or experienced such thing, so perhaps I am doing something wrong. Will see.
 

jbtsax

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How flat are you talking about in cents? If the G is within about 5 cents then for all practical purposes it is "in tune". You might try holding a G as a long tone perfectly in tune, and then without changing the air or embouchure slur down to F slowly and then back to G and see if the pitch changed. Then do the same slurring down to E and back, then down to D and back.

I can't think of any way this could possibly be a "mechanical" problem with the sax unless when the lower stack keys are closed and then released, they don't come back up all the way. That would certainly be noticeable.
 

samguitar

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I have uploaded 30 secs audio to explain the flattening.

View: https://youtu.be/_lRL2Y0UJhw


First 15 secs is where I am switching from Gb to A and F to A. This is smooth and want to set the base that I am not changing or relaxing embouchure when moving from low to high notes.

The next 15 secs is where I am switching from Gb to G and F to G. Here you may notice that there is a slight flattening of G (may be a fraction of second) before it reaches correct G.

Perhaps it's my technique; but I am not doing anything different in these 2 scenarios.

I understand from your comments that unless the pads are sticking, there can't be any mechanical issue.
My sax is new and none of the pads are sticking, so I guess it is something that I will have to work it out with my embouchure.
 

samguitar

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I am using a tuner and I can actually see the needle going to Gb for that fraction of a second and then move up to G.
 

jbtsax

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Thank you for the audio. That explains a lot. This is what I suspect is happening. The keycup just above the F that I call the F# either has a bit of friction or a weak spring and it opens more slowly than it should. The reason you don't notice this when you go from F or F# to A is because the A vents through the G tonehole and the F# lifting slowly doesn't affect the pitch.

Here is a test you can do to see if this theory is correct. Using your finger, close just the key above the F, release and watch how quickly it opens. If it is sluggish there is your answer. Checking for friction from a bent hinge tube requires removing the lower stack keys and is a bit involved so you might adjust the spring tension first to see if that solves the problem. Using your finger or a small screwdriver detach the spring from the spring cradle. Then pull the spring toward you just enough to feel it start to bend. The best tool for this is a spring hook. A #8 crochet hook U.S. size which is 1.25mm is a good substitute. Push the spring back into place on it's cradle and check the movement of the key.

Another step you can take is to use a needle point oiler and place a drop at the ends of the hinge tubes of that key, work the key up and down and wipe the excess with a Q-tip (cotton bud) or paper towel.
 

samguitar

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You guys are spot on. The pad on the hole, above the F key (F# as you called it) is indeed opening slowly. Looks like a weak spring.

Gutted that this should happen on a brand new Yamaha YA-280 and I am outside the 14 days returns policy.
I can't repair this myself of course, so will see what the shop says (dawkes.co.uk). I am sure Yamaha will honour the repair; but so disappointed that the most recommended student sax has such quality issues from Yamaha.

I am pleased though that it is not me doing something wrong. I was getting dejected a bit because of this issue over last few days.

Can't thank you guys enough to point me in the right direction for detecting the fault.
 

Colin the Bear

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The saxophone is a very temperamental instrument. Imo. The very best and most expensive well made instrument will need regular attention and can suffer from poor handling or a knock in the case or a challenging enviroment drying oil or grease out. Screws come loose. Bits of cork and felt can fall off. Pads stick and springs pop out of position for no apparent reason.
You could try a drop of light oil on a pin or needle to the ends of the offending key barrel.
It may not do any good if the horn has had a bump and the pillar has moved.
It may simply need a clean.
 

Phil

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Disappointed understood ut its not likely a return and replace issue. Like Colin said, it can be just some tiny thing. Its very possible the tech can fix it on the spot and it never be an issue again. But yes, its annoying when things dont work properly. Hopefully its not a long trip too.
 

Stephen Howard

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A crude but reasonably effective way of testing whether a sluggish key is down to a weak spring or another issue is to try the key in different planes.
Place it on a table, keys facing up. Press the A key down (to bring the Bis Bb key down) and hold it. Now press the F#/Aux.F key cup down and release it. It'll either rise slowly or not at all.

Now stand the sax up straight and repeat the test. If the Aux.F key opens more smartly, that's a good sign.

Lay the sax flat again and turn it over, so that the keys are facing downwards. Repeat the test. If the Aux.F opens even more smartly it's very likely to just be the spring at fault.

If it doesn't make much difference and there's still some sluggishness, it's more likely to be a binding key.

It's really easy to adjust a spring, you need no special tools.
 

MMM

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Dawkes are a reliable and trusted supplier with their own repair shop so I'm sure they will only be willing to help and fix it for you.
 

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