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I just started playing Tenor in a big band after playing Alto for many years. Going well thus far, except for a strange problem. After playing for about 10-15 minutes, I start to have some strange problems with my tone. The notes are an octave higher than they should be, and I get a buffeting sound that almost sounds like a "growl." My first thought was that I was simply not putting enough air through the horn, since my lungs were used to playing Alto. However, I recently noticed that changing to a new reed temporally solves problem, though the problem reoccurs after another 10-15 minutes. I can get some reprieve by taking in more of the mouthpiece into my mouth, but this causes other issues. Since a new reed seems to fix the problem, I don't think the horn has a mechanical problem. I also believe that I am getting enough air through the horn.

I am using a Vandoren T55 Jumbo Java mouthpiece, and Rico Select Jazz 3 Medium reeds (filed, if that matters.) Would a harder or softer reed, or a different type of reed address the issue?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Either your octave key is messed up (check octave G as well) or more likely your way to tight around your mouthpiece and need to loosen up

Don't take more mouthpiece or try to correct it with new reeds, mouthpieces, etc.
It's almost always because higher sax players sometimes need a tighter embouchure which backfires with lower horns

Hope this helps,

Andrew
 

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I mainly play alto.
When I get the tenor out not only is it heavier but takes more air (typical issues).
I don't have the octave jumping problem.
I've been lucky with reed swelling distortion, but worse with tenor reeds.
 

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Sounds like an embouchure issue to me, although the 10 minute time thing does smack of reed issues.
Are you smoothing/flattening the back of your reeds at all?
It could be a combination of both. A too tight embouchure that doesn't cause actual problems until the reed has swollen. Just guessing...
 

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The notes are an octave higher than they should be...
If the notes are jumping the octave (especially the lower notes), that's a classic sign of a leak. Take it to your tech and have it checked out to eliminate (or discover) whether the horn is leaking.
 

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You may be able to get some help from your ligature situation. Make sure the ligature is not closing up before it gets tight and that its the correct shape for your mouthpiece. It should be able to get tight enough so you cannot move the reed side-to-side. When you mount the reed, make sure it comes exactly even with the tip of the mouthpiece when you push it closed, and that it is centered on the table. The ligature front edge should cover bark only, not cover any of the vamp cut.
Speaking of the reed, it should always be moistened at least 15 minutes before trying to play it. It almost sounds like you're trying to play dry reeds which of course wrinkle and warp when they get wet. If you will keep some reeds in a Reed Guard and wet them 30 minutes or so before you will need to play, they'll all be ready to play and you won't have to deal with these major changes.
Otherwise, the resistance in your set-up with that hard reed may be overwhelming your physical ability to handle it. 'Resistance' in a sax means 'hard to blow' and can arise from many factors, like leaks, the reed or even a bad mouthpiece. It is the opposite of 'free-blowing' and 'reed-friendly'. Its best to have a free-blowing set-up so if you want more resistance, you select a reed that provides it. If you can't find a reed that delivers on that mouthpiece, the mouthpiece may have some problems.
 

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could be the reed but it may very well be that your breath pressure slacks and notes break into their multiphonic fundamentals.

See a teacher.
 

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If the notes are jumping the octave (especially the lower notes), that's a classic sign of a leak. Take it to your tech and have it checked out to eliminate (or discover) whether the horn is leaking.

I like this answer. At first the player blows thru the mechanical defect. Cannot keep that up, loses concentration, the least little fatigue, reed softens a bit. Much harder to blow thru the venting, tone becomes unstable, warbles, and jumps octave.

Also, the mechanics themselves could change, spring weakens with use, moisture altering movements somewhere, ten minutes or so into use.

Regardless, it is time to eliminate obvious possibilities by having a tech go over it for being out of spec.

The sax has a lot of moving parts, so to speak. That is why there are so many differing answers to this question. Got to start ticking off boxes, and number one box is "horn in top shape."

Also, changing reed is easy to check. Play an artificial whether you like it or not. Forget about getting the tone you want, just eliminate this source of change. Poor fit to the mpc and reed due to reed swelling will not happen if the reed cannot swell.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
could be the reed but it may very well be that your breath pressure slacks and notes break into their multiphonic fundamentals.

See a teacher.
I think you hit the nail on the head. Once I trained my diaphragm to put enough air through the horn, the problem disappeared. A switched to a softer reed, which probably helped as well.
 

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I am glad to hear that your problem has gone, happy playing!
 
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