Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Last year I bought my first tenor, a brand new Antigua Powerbell tenor with a very good price. Overall I am quite happy with it, especially for the price I paid for the new horn, except one issue that quite drive me nut: The middle D (D2) note will get squeaked easily when slurring from left hand notes (such as G2, A2, B2, C3). The squeaking note (with D2 fingering) sounds like a twisted A2.

The horn actually got serviced twice by two different local tech, and both said they like the horn as it plays well (the second time was done recently by the best tech in town) so this issue should not be related to adjustment. Also I have tried different mouthpieces and reeds combination and the issue remains (while it becomes most severe with Jody Jazz HR, which is the most free flowing/best responsive one among the pieces I have). Here are some more details:

1. If I hit the note directly (tongue or not tongue), there is no issue.
2. No issue when slurring between right hand notes (F2, E2) down to D2.
3. If Slurring from lower register left hand notes (such as G1, A1) up to D2, it will have a tendency of giving squeaks but not as bad as G2 to D2.
4. The issue is usually less severe during warm-up (first 10~20 mins during practice), and gradually getting worse after that.
5. I don't have this issue on Alto and Soprano at all.

I read somewhere saying that slurring squeaking is usually associated with octave mechanism issue, but my case does not seems to be this since G2-A2 slurring does not involve octave mechanism change. I am also thinking that it could be my right index finger may lag behind during slurring (If I did it on purpose by hitting the right index finger on F pad marginally slower than other fingers, it will give the same squeak).

Last month when I sent my soprano for service at a local sax shop, I asked the store owner if I can try a few tenors on display and he let me try LC sax (made in Taiwan) and a Mark VI. I noticed that I have the tendency getting same kind of squeak on the LC sax, but not on Mark VI. So I am wondering if this is a common issue for the Taiwan made horn? Anyone has the same experience here (especially Antigua owner)?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
34,398 Posts
No, I cannot say that I have ever had that squeak - at least not in the last 40 years.

It sounds like a timing issue (putting all the requisite fingers down at the correct moment), but if you want a second opinion, you should ask someone else to play your horn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,108 Posts
I've had this issue on a vintage bari that was indeed octave key timing. You can either have the mechanism tweaked or change your technique. To figure it out, finger G2 in slow motion and watch both octave pads. The neck octave pad should remain completely closed at all times. If it pops open, even for a fraction of a second, that's the culprit. To avoid it with technique, you'll have to learn to fully close LH3 before the octave key is fully pressed. I personally could never learn to do this, so I had the mechanism adjusted so it worked properly when all keys were closed simultaneously.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No, I cannot say that I have ever had that squeak - at least not in the last 40 years.

It sounds like a timing issue (putting all the requisite fingers down at the correct moment), but if you want a second opinion, you should ask someone else to play your horn.
Surely. The tech who serviced the horn did play test it but didn't notice this issue. My guess is that he was able to overcome the issue since his skill is much better than me, or it could be that he just didn't spend enough time to notice the issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,482 Posts
If the "squeak" on D2 sounds like "a twisted A2" it means it is an overtone of D that is being produced. Some tenors I have played have a tendency for G2 to sound D3 and D2 to sound A2. Part of the issue can be due to how the note D is "voiced". Learning to adjust the voicing can be done by fingering low D and practicing harmonics by raising and lowering the back of the tongue.

As Lydian posted while I was typing, another cause can be the neck octave opening momentarily before the body octave opens. This can happen when the 3rd finger of the left hand is a bit late when going from a note A2 and higher down to D2 which leaves the neck octave open on the D for a split second. Practicing the finger change starting slowly and then increasing the speed and mentally "leading" with the 3rd finger is one way to develop the coordination to make this change.

The way to check the adjustment of the octave mechanism is to finger G and hit the thumb key hard while watching the neck octave key. It should not lift or bounce. If it does, there needs to be a bit more distance between the post that extends from the body and the ring on the neck. This can be accomplished by placing the thumb between the ring and the neck tenon and carefully pulling down on the neck octave key cup. If you go too far and the neck octave doesn't open when fingering A with the octave key, place a craft stick or tongue depressor between the neck octave pad and pip and carefully push the ring back towards the body. The space between the ring and post should be 1/16" - 3/32".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've had this issue on a vintage bari that was indeed octave key timing. You can either have the mechanism tweaked or change your technique. To figure it out, finger G2 in slow motion and watch both octave pads. The neck octave pad should remain completely closed at all times. If it pops open, even for a fraction of a second, that's the culprit. To avoid it with technique, you'll have to learn to fully close LH3 before the octave key is fully pressed. I personally could never learn to do this, so I had the mechanism adjusted so it worked properly when all keys were closed simultaneously.
Thanks! But for my issue, I got the squeak moving down from G2 to D2, in which the octave mechanism does not change. So I am assuming that it is not related to the octave mechanism.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If the "squeak" on D2 sounds like "a twisted A2" it means it is an overtone of D that is being produced. Some tenors I have played have a tendency for G2 to sound D3 and D2 to sound A2. Part of the issue can be due to how the note D is "voiced". Learning to adjust the voicing can be done by fingering low D and practicing harmonics by raising and lowering the back of the tongue.

As Lydian posted while I was typing, another cause can be the neck octave opening momentarily before the body octave opens. This can happen when the 3rd finger of the left hand is a bit late when going from a note A2 and higher down to D2 which leaves the neck octave open on the D for a split second. Practicing the finger change starting slowly and then increasing the speed and mentally "leading" with the 3rd finger is one way to develop the coordination to make this change.

The way to check the adjustment of the octave mechanism is to finger G and hit the thumb key hard while watching the neck octave key. It should not lift or bounce. If it does, there needs to be a bit more distance between the post that extends from the body and the ring on the neck. This can be accomplished by placing the thumb between the ring and the neck tenon and carefully pulling down on the neck octave key cup. If you go too far and the neck octave doesn't open when fingering A with the octave key, place a craft stick or tongue depressor between the neck octave pad and pip and carefully push the ring back towards the body. The space between the ring and post should be 1/16" - 3/32".
Thanks! You are very right on the "overtone" description as I also get G2 squeak (which yields the D3) occasionally but not as bothering as this D2 squeaking. I heard that many tenor newbie will tend to get a squeaking G2 (which seems like a common issue on tenor), but based on my search not many report the issue about squeaking D2 during slurring as what I am getting right now.

As what I just replied to Lydian, I think that the octave mechanism is fine on my horn (checked it using similar method). Also the squeak happens most during the slurring G2-A2, which does not involve the octave mechanism change.

Therefore I am assuming that this horn tends to make the D2 squeak more easily, similar as what you suggested in the first paragraph. I think I either practice to "voice" it correctly, or move to another horn that does not have this issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,108 Posts
Before the octave key is completely ruled out. Can you confirm it seals perfectly on G2? It might not be moving, but it could be leaking.

I disagree about this just being a quirk of your model horn. There's a leak somewhere OR your tenor technique needs work.

On bass sax, I really have to work and be very mindful to get D rather than the A overtone. It truly is due to the design of the bass. Maybe a new tenor player could have the same voicing issue, although I've never run across it with any of my students. I'd just keep practicing if I were you - G F, G E, G D until the D is clean every time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Before the octave key is completely ruled out. Can you confirm it seals perfectly on G2? It might not be moving, but it could be leaking.

I disagree about this just being a quirk of your model horn. There's a leak somewhere OR your tenor technique needs work.

On bass sax, I really have to work and be very mindful to get D rather than the A overtone. It truly is due to the design of the bass. Maybe a new tenor player could have the same voicing issue, although I've never run across it with any of my students. I'd just keep practicing if I were you - G F, G E, G D until the D is clean every time.
Yes. The G2 pad is tight without leak on the horn. The horn was just serviced a few weeks ago by one of the best shop in my area. And yesterday night I run leak light again to check if any leaks. I particularly paid attention to G2 and G2# pads as they are prone to leaks on my other saxes, and they seat very well. I agree that it could be most probably due to my skill that lead to this squeak.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
299 Posts
I have an Antigua Powerbell tenor, and compared to my other tenors it is more tightly sprung...though it's been breaking in. I find that I have to be a little more conscious of making sure my fingerings are decisive. If I get "lazy hands" I get squeaks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,108 Posts
Yes. The G2 pad is tight without leak on the horn. The horn was just serviced a few weeks ago by one of the best shop in my area. And yesterday night I run leak light again to check if any leaks. I particularly paid attention to G2 and G2# pads as they are prone to leaks on my other saxes, and they seat very well. I agree that it could be most probably due to my skill that lead to this squeak.
I’m talking about the neck octave pad. It’s hard to check with a light.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I’m talking about the neck octave pad. It’s hard to check with a light.
Ic. I get your point. I think the tech I visited a few weeks ago did check the neck, but he checked it without putting it on and fingering the G2. Let me check it again to see if at G2 the neck octave pad move or not following the method you previously suggested.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have an Antigua Powerbell tenor, and compared to my other tenors it is more tightly sprung...though it's been breaking in. I find that I have to be a little more conscious of making sure my fingerings are decisive. If I get "lazy hands" I get squeaks.
Thanks. Let me pay attention to my fingering timing again next time to see if this is the culprit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,333 Posts
Don't neglect checking out your voicing. D2 is inherently unstable (it's the lowest note that uses the body octave key). G2 and G#2 are often culprits as well, as they are the highest notes using that same octave key. G2 "cracking" is something that happens on a lot of tenors; D2 a little less but still not uncommon.

Practice slurring from A2 to D2 ... S L O W L Y. Make sure that all fingers move "instantaneously" and at the same time, but still keep them relaxed. If you still get the cracking on D2, then first play a D2 normally by itself concentrating on getting the best sound. Then try the slur again, and have the concept of that good sounding D2 in your consciousness.

Unless you have a sluggish or bouncy octave key, either the body octave key or the top one, this problem is caused by not voicing the D2 well. Or by sloppy fingering. The above exercise is designed to help you correct that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
Last year I bought my first tenor, a brand new Antigua Powerbell tenor with a very good price. Overall I am quite happy with it, especially for the price I paid for the new horn, except one issue that quite drive me nut: The middle D (D2) note will get squeaked easily when slurring from left hand notes (such as G2, A2, B2, C3). The squeaking note (with D2 fingering) sounds like a twisted A2.
I'm not a professional. I had a dramatic problem when I was playing tenor, decades ago, on the G2 - D3 issue, surely finger (and mpc use?) problem because it was repeating on each and every tenor I was on.

Now I play soprano only and, rarely, I am suffering D2 - A2 issue.

I'm asking if someone has used a slow motion replay of some kind of smartphone reprise to check his finger motion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Don't neglect checking out your voicing. D2 is inherently unstable (it's the lowest note that uses the body octave key). G2 and G#2 are often culprits as well, as they are the highest notes using that same octave key. G2 "cracking" is something that happens on a lot of tenors; D2 a little less but still not uncommon.

Practice slurring from A2 to D2 ... S L O W L Y. Make sure that all fingers move "instantaneously" and at the same time, but still keep them relaxed. If you still get the cracking on D2, then first play a D2 normally by itself concentrating on getting the best sound. Then try the slur again, and have the concept of that good sounding D2 in your consciousness.

Unless you have a sluggish or bouncy octave key, either the body octave key or the top one, this problem is caused by not voicing the D2 well. Or by sloppy fingering. The above exercise is designed to help you correct that.
Thanks! I do also have the squeaking issue on G2 sometimes (for instance, slurring from C3/D3 to G2). I didn't mention this in my original post because the D2 squeaking becomes much more annoying. I will put the slurring practice for those problematic notes into my routine practice on tenor to improve voicing of those notes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
578 Posts
Having read "From the Inside Out" by Dr. Mark Watkins I understand better how critical is voicing to create strong resonance peaks in the vocal tract that control reed vibration and hence yield desired pitches--and suppress undesirable pitches.
I believe squeaks are a symptom of incomplete control, or said differently, as you progress you will have squeaks less and less often (but I'm told that even experienced players who go back to a metal STM after a long while on HR may have a squeaking phase until they re-master the metal piece.)
Disciplined pre-audiation and excellent formation of muscles whose position you can't sense very well like tongue over its entire length and soft palate height and vocal fold apposition are what you develop with guided practice, typically by trial and error and then reinforced muscle memory. I second the recommendation for overtone exercises.
You may find specific remedies in Watkins' book well-buried in voluminous text but a shortcut is a teacher who either understands the voicing concept or has visualization methods that will help you ("speed" and "air direction" are nonsense but may help you form your vocal tract into a useful configuration).
Oh, one more thing told me by Dr. Wally Wallace--if your bottom lip is rolled out too far because you're trying to copy the Masters on the cover of treasured jazz albums from the 40s and 50s, don't. Let it relax to neutral or even tuck it in just a bit (i.e. don't show so much pink bottom lip). Strive for a little more "classical" embouchure if that makes sense, but not all the way. Watch yourself in a mirror. You may find the squeak is cured immediately!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Having read "From the Inside Out" by Dr. Mark Watkins I understand better how critical is voicing to create strong resonance peaks in the vocal tract that control reed vibration and hence yield desired pitches--and suppress undesirable pitches.
I believe squeaks are a symptom of incomplete control, or said differently, as you progress you will have squeaks less and less often (but I'm told that even experienced players who go back to a metal STM after a long while on HR may have a squeaking phase until they re-master the metal piece.)
Disciplined pre-audiation and excellent formation of muscles whose position you can't sense very well like tongue over its entire length and soft palate height and vocal fold apposition are what you develop with guided practice, typically by trial and error and then reinforced muscle memory. I second the recommendation for overtone exercises.
You may find specific remedies in Watkins' book well-buried in voluminous text but a shortcut is a teacher who either understands the voicing concept or has visualization methods that will help you ("speed" and "air direction" are nonsense but may help you form your vocal tract into a useful configuration).
Oh, one more thing told me by Dr. Wally Wallace--if your bottom lip is rolled out too far because you're trying to copy the Masters on the cover of treasured jazz albums from the 40s and 50s, don't. Let it relax to neutral or even tuck it in just a bit (i.e. don't show so much pink bottom lip). Strive for a little more "classical" embouchure if that makes sense, but not all the way. Watch yourself in a mirror. You may find the squeak is cured immediately!
Thanks for the advice! I will pay attention to voicing practice for tenor from now on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,482 Posts
I have found the following exercise useful after doing a "play condition" or overhaul on a saxophone. It checks both the octave mechanism and the RH regulation. Starting on A2 it is as follows:

(Slurred) A G# A G A F# A F A E A Eb A D Another exercise to check the G# adjustment is: G# F# G# F G# E G# Eb G# D keeping the G# down.
The Bis adjustment B, 1 - 1, 1 - 2, 1 - 3
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,288 Posts
Check your octave pip carefully for any gunk build-up. I had this issue on a soprano, where there was some calcium build-up of sorts where the octave pad covers the pip. After 10 minutes of playing that seal would degrade with humidity and my whole low register would start going through the drain. The build up was quite visible, probably from storing it without swabbing it well for many years. After carefully cleaning that with vinegar on a cotton swap (and washing the residue out), my problem was resolved.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top