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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I've been teaching myself how to play with theory books and some internet articles since March. My problem is that my tone has not improved at all since the day I first bought the instrument.
Although I have gotten better and better at playing the low notes without squeaking, the tone sounds the same: It's airy, tinny, and doesn't even sound like a saxophone. I may be hitting the notes more often, but they sound just as poor as they ever did.
I've been taking sax players' advice to improve my tone, but nothing has improved yet. This is what I've been doing: putting more of the mouthpiece into my mouth, closing my mouth tighter around it, blowing harder, and standing straighter.
The sax I own was made by a company nobody's heard of and it cost me very little money. There's still a chance that my problem is caused by the quality of the instrument itself as opposed to my embouchure... how can I tell?

thanks for your help
 

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I know you don't want to here this but

Get a teacher.

They will be able to see if you are doing anything wrong and also if the problem is the horn.
 

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PrezFan said:
This is what I've been doing: closing my mouth tighter around it
It's not a matter og having a tight grip on the mouthpiece of your mouth. Too tight will pinch off the reed leading to a thinner sound, trouble in both the upper and lower registers, and intonation problems. Find a good teacher that can show you a proper embouchure and give you daily practice routines to strengthin your embouchure.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys... I would have gotten a teacher a long time ago if I could afford one, though. The cheapest lessons I can find cost $20 per half hour. I suppose one half hour session would be somewhat helpful though.
thanks again!
 

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Some thoughts :
1) if you play, your lips should be tight, but pull your chin down, otherwise you're biting. Biting thins the sound.

2)there is more to sound than just the horn : which mouthpiece do you play and which reed strength? A stronger reed gives more (not necessarily better) sound. It also helps with the intonation.

3) blow harder isn't about blowing harder : you need breath support to get your sound full. Look around on the forum, plenty of advice given on that one. So don't blow harder : use more breath support.

4) If you buy a cheap horn, don't expect it to be a killer. However, any good player will get a decent sound on that horn, even with a crappy mouthpiece. In the end it all come down to practice and keep practicing.

A teacher might help...
 

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I am assuming you are still using the Selmer hard rubber mouthpiece that you mentioned in a previous thread. Please correct me if I am wrong.

The following exercise has worked well with my saxophone students to achieve a better tone:
-Sing an Ab concert on a "La"
-Blow that pitch on your airstream with lots of fast cold air
-Play that pitch on your neck and mouthpiece alone using the same air
-When the neck alone has a big beautiful sound on this note, assemble the sax and play second octave F natural with the same air and embouchure
-When that F has a big beautiful tone, try to get the same sound on E, then D etc. Blow even more air as you go into the lower register.

The formula for a good tone on saxophone is quite simple:

CONCEPT + EMBOUCHURE + BREATH SUPPORT + PROPER SET-UP (MOUTHPIECE AND REED) = A BEAUTIFUL TONE

Notice that the formula starts with the concept. Listen to lots of recordings of great players. My personal belief is that a player just starting out should strive to get a good "legit" sound before moving in the direction of a "jazz/rock/pop tone". Notice also that the saxophone itself is not even listed in the formula---a good player with a good set-up will sound good on any horn. They may have to work harder to get their best sound and play in tune, but the instrument is not that significant in the big picture IMO.

John
 

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Have at least one lesson with a decent teacher (get a recommendation). I do understand the point about cost and i've been there myself BUT... The problems you're having are much more easily put right in person rather than at a distance. You're getting frustrated and you need someone on the spot to give you feedback and reassurance AND sensible advice on what to do! You could even explain the financial situation up front. Many teachers would be quite happy to help you on a one-off basis. They'd rather do that than have one more added to the "tried but failed and therefore I'm a musical idiot" list. Do yourself a favour. All the best.
 

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What Rootytoot said.

I notice you are in Toronto. There's no lack of good sax players there. As an alternative to formally looking up a teacher, go to a club or some other place where live music is played and find a good player and ask him if you could drop by sometime for an evaluation. Many would be willing to do it on a one-time-basis. You really should be having personal help, there's just no substitute for it.

Also, once when I had no money for lessons I made arrangements with a masterful teacher to exchange lessons for working around his house and yard. You can also give this a try.
 

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gary said:
I notice you are in Toronto. There's no lack of good sax players there. As an alternative to formally looking up a teacher, go to a club or some other place where live music is played and find a good player and ask him if you could drop by sometime for an evaluation. Many would be willing to do it on a one-time-basis. You really should be having personal help, there's just no substitute for it.
And if you can't find one immediately, looking closely at what they do with their mouthpiece, lips and facial muscles can give you some valuable clues already. I learned a lot that way too.
 

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Perhaps you can't afford a teach so try this.

Do you know any experienced sax players who could listen/watch you play and at least let you know what they think?
Perhaps someone would be willing to give you a few minutes to evaluate your abilities.
That would be better than nothing at all.
 

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When you play the lower notes are you lowering your jaw as well? I had that squeaking problem when I first started. My teacher always reminded me to think 'toe' on the lower notes, 'tee' on the higher notes.

I fifth the vote for needing a teacher...
 
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