Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / I am bored with the alto

Dennis D.
User ID: 9941493
Jan 21st 10:41 AM
I don't know what is wrong. My alto sound is flat, a little out of tune, and I am bored playing it (unless I am squeeling out altissimo notes, but that doesn't sound very good outside of my basement).

In the past 4 years, I have played primarily soprano (church worship team) and tenor (50's band). The alto is my first love, and I keep going back to it, but it just doesn't sound good.

The tenor has a rich, full sound. Very beautiful. The soprano is a sound like no other. It can blend in, or cut through and stand out.

With the intonnation problem, do you think it is because I play a Selmer III soprano, and my alto is a Super Balanced Action (42,XXX)? Is that my problem, that the older alto has more inntonation problems?

I did buy a Jody Jazz #8, and it is a fabulous mouthpiece, but I still prefer sop or tenor. What happened to my first love?
Dave Dolson
User ID: 9614573
Jan 21st 11:07 AM
Dennis: I favor new sops, yet for a long time played vintage altos. Never had intonation problems attributed to playing new and vintage, switching between sop and alto. I'd look elsewhere for a solution to your dilemma. DAVE
stevew
User ID: 1160984
Jan 21st 11:41 AM
Your alto could need regulating, it will go off after time. I have had periods where I lose interest in alto; too easy to treat it politely, I have really got back into it with a great teacher who has got me playing it with abandon and a good deal more passion. There's nothing wrong with your gear as long as the sax is in good shape technically. Maybe a SBA player here could recommend a mouthpiece which might light your fire again..PTL!
danm
User ID: 2414344
Jan 21st 12:12 PM
Dennis D. I seem to be having the same problem. I have a YAS62 and a Chu alto and I know what you mean. I love my tenor (YTS61) and I was hoping that the YAS62 alto would do the trick. No luck. I play the tenor in a "Big Band" and I love my sound. I also play Soprano in Church for the last 5 years and I love the sound of that. I also have a JJ #8 for the alto and it is a great mouthpiece but I am still not there on the alto. If any of you have any suggestions on what alto I should look at please post them. I play the alto in a wind band setup.
Isaac Armstrong
User ID: 9558813
Jan 21st 5:00 PM
I felln out of love for the Alto 2 year after I started on it. I didn't get back into until recently when I bought my 1977 Mark VII Alto a few months ago. I've been playing 13 years, some pro, but I'm a hobbyist now. I strated falling in love with the Alto after I found my Altissimo rocke on it! I had the same problem on Tenor. Just got disinterested in it and went to Bari (have to borrow, cause I can't afford to own). I got back into Tenor after buying a new Amati ATS32B and changing reeds on my RIA 6* metal mpc. I've never seemed to fall out love with my soprano though! Nor Bari (just wish I could afford to own one! I have $ dreams--Mark VI Bari, or SA80II Bari is what I'd like, but too much $$$ even used).
Tom C.
User ID: 9760743
Jan 21st 5:31 PM
Listen to some Phil Woods, that will get you into the alto. Phil can really manipulate that horn!
Dennis D.
User ID: 6013263
Jan 21st 6:39 PM
Thanks for the replies. Danm, sounds like we really have something in common. It bugs me when players blame their equipment for their problems. My SBA and Jody Jazz are fine, although it is time for the sax to be regulated.

One idea I thought of, when I was playing a lot of alto, I developed a very good Eb ear. Now that I am mostly playing soprano and tenor, my Bb ear is stronger and the Eb ear is suffering. Ever have that happen?
MBushaw
User ID: 1536664
Jan 21st 6:52 PM
Dennis D- I gave up on Bb horns because my ear couldn't get used the the change. Although I am thinking about sop. again..
danm
User ID: 2414344
Jan 21st 7:54 PM
Dennis D. When I play in Church I usually do not have any music. I was trained to read music 35 years ago. I had to learn to play by ear and it has taken me more than a few years to do it. I know how all the notes work in Bb but I could not do the same with the alto. I play more jazz on the tenor and more straight music on the alto. I think I like the new Christian music and jazz better. I think that playing the alto helps me when I play the tenor,at least it sure seems easier to play the tenor.I guess I am use to playing in a key that I use my pinky fingers so much.
stevew
User ID: 1160984
Jan 22nd 2:59 AM
I too use mainly tenor and sop at church - if nothing else, our songs are almost all in sharp keys due to being penned by guitarists and it does start to get a little silly on alto..
Dennis D.
User ID: 9941493
Jan 22nd 9:57 AM
Stevew, I agree with what you said about the sharp keys. The guitar players really dislike Eb and Bb. A lot of keys don't make a difference for me, but I would much rather play in the key of D on soprano or tenor, instead of alto.
Don
User ID: 9029153
Jan 22nd 12:31 PM
I'd like to put a good word in for the alto here!!!
Though the soprano is an amazing instrument (i love playing mine) the alto has it's own distinctive and equaly amazing sound.
As for playing in strange keys in church, I would tend to go for the instrument I think goes with a particular song. The key shouldn't realy matter, just press different keys!! I would generally take Alto, Soprano and flute when I'm playing for a church service.
altosaxman
User ID: 9203613
Jan 23rd 5:40 PM
Try Listnin to Dave Sanborn "Straight to the heart" now thats what an alto can sound like!
jd
User ID: 9670323
Jan 24th 9:38 PM
altos is a beautiful horn when in tune! i had a ba that was a little sharp in the upper register, traded it in for a mark 6 . that was it!! plays right in tune and i cant put it down.ive had all the older classic altos .martins.chus,bueschers and they are finnicky with intonation and mps.. the modern ones like the mark 6 and the yamahas kielwerth will help your intonation. my opinion.the alto is tougher to play in tune then a tenor for some reason.the mark 6 ended my battle instantly. you might try a mark 6 neck on your ba also. just an idea ,or mess with mouthpieces for 15 years like i did.. before discovering it WAS the horn
Merlin
User ID: 8931733
Jan 24th 9:44 PM
you may just have discovered it was that particular combo of m/p's and horn...not to mention that in 15 years, your chops change too.
Jim W
User ID: 9335603
Jan 25th 7:10 PM
If you can work the intonation problem out, alto is excellent for praise when a crying out type of sound is called for (such as "Revival" - Robin Mark); I regard soprano as fitting better with worship, when a more ethereal sound is desired. As for the key signatures, what's wrong with C# Major, anyway?