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I have large hands. Not Andre the Giant or anything, but larger than average. On tenor my hands arc quite a distance from where I'm holding the instrument properly ready to play. On bari not too bad, and it's generally just a more comfortable instrument for me to play.

I've asked around and my teacher told me (only just started playing horn again after long layoff) I could look into "build ups." She's a pro in Boston but didn't say conclusively or anything. She implied that it was important to play on your finger tips. She also said if your hands are smaller it can create obstacles.

I asked around and even spoke to some other pros. Les Arubuckle said he could do the build ups for me, but he said 2 things: 1. Just get used the horn and you'll be fine; and 2. There's nothing wrong with playing on your first knuckle. He said Charlie Parker, Stan Getz and Michael Brecker all played on their first knuckle.

I'm going to leave my bari alone but I'm still considering it for my tenor.

Thoughts?
 

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Yes. Curving the fingers works best on keyboards, brass, and woodwinds (as well as typing). Using the first knuckle implies the finger is flat and not curved. Straighten your fingers and wiggle them as fast as you can, and then put them in a relaxed natural curve and do the same. You should feel a difference.
 

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Yes. Curving the fingers works best on keyboards, brass, and woodwinds (as well as typing). Using the first knuckle implies the finger is flat and not curved. Straighten your fingers and wiggle them as fast as you can, and then put them in a relaxed natural curve and do the same. You should feel a difference.
Gotcha. But what I'm saying is that I have large hands, and it's difficult to keep my fingertips on the keys. Usually they slide down a little, sort of between the bottom of my fingernail and my knuckle. Perhaps the bottom of my fingertip. On bari... on tenor a little more, but I try to keep my hands relaxed.

Les said he watched Michael Brecker up close and observed him playing on his knuckles. This is arguable the most technical saxophonist on the planet. As I mentioned he said the same thing about Getz and Parker, which would allude that it's not a big deal as the greatest Jazz horn players of all time did so. I just don't know, but Les seemed like a legit source. I'm gonna go over to his shop sometime and talk more to him about this.
 

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Could we clarify something just so I'm clear? You are really not playing on you knuckles are you? If you are, i.e. playing with the top side of your hand with the hand in a claw-like shape, what do you do with the area from your knuckle to your fingertips? Are they curled under. Man that sounds really awkward.
 

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Could we clarify something just so I'm clear? You are really not playing on you knuckles are you? If you are, i.e. playing with the top side of your hand with the hand in a claw-like shape, what do you do with the area from your knuckle to your fingertips? Are they curled under. Man that sounds really awkward.
I'm confused too!
 

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I think he is referring to the finger tips extending beyond the pearls so that the first joint and not the finger pad is directly over the pearl. The only problem I see as a teacher of woodwinds is if the fingers are straight and stiff rather than curved. The worst offenders typically were the trumpet players who thought it looked "cool" to finger their instrument that way. Of course it meant their hands and thumbs were entirely in the wrong position.
 

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My hands are big as well. When I was young I played like you're suggesting, with my fingertips extending over the pearl. In the long run, since you're just starting to learn again, it will be worth your while to learn to play with your fingertips. Mind you, by fingertips, it should be the pad of the finger, not the actual tip. You'll find you have more control doing it this way. You shouldn't have to build up the keys either, you might be keeping your wrists too straight. Try bending them (relaxing them) a little to get the body of the sax closer to your palms.
Lot's of great players play "wrong," but that doesn't mean they can't do it right. Brecker was a monster clarinet player as well, and there's no way you can get around on that instrument using the joints.
 

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I think he is referring to the finger tips extending beyond the pearls so that the first joint and not the finger pad is directly over the pearl. The only problem I see as a teacher of woodwinds is if the fingers are straight and stiff rather than curved. The worst offenders typically were the trumpet players who thought it looked "cool" to finger their instrument that way. Of course it meant their hands and thumbs were entirely in the wrong position.
Yes you got it. My hands are curved, it's just that I have long fingers so it's a lot of space. It' s not bad on the bari, but tenor I notice it a lot more. This is why people get "build ups" which are pads/spacers on the palm keys. They take up space and make it more comfortable. This is all speculation but I learned about it through 2 pros. I'm not gonna do it to by bari but definitely considering it for my tenor.
 

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My hands are big as well. When I was young I played like you're suggesting, with my fingertips extending over the pearl. In the long run, since you're just starting to learn again, it will be worth your while to learn to play with your fingertips. Mind you, by fingertips, it should be the pad of the finger, not the actual tip. You'll find you have more control doing it this way. You shouldn't have to build up the keys either, you might be keeping your wrists too straight. Try bending them (relaxing them) a little to get the body of the sax closer to your palms.
Lot's of great players play "wrong," but that doesn't mean they can't do it right. Brecker was a monster clarinet player as well, and there's no way you can get around on that instrument using the joints.
Cool.. thanks for the post. I'm gonna take notice of my wrists when I"m playing tenor and see if there's something to be improved. So, you don't think build ups are necessary? Hmmm.. that seems to be my instinct based on the few opinons I've heard. I'm still open to the idea on tenor. Part of the problem is that I play bari daily and tenor sparesly. I hadn't played tenor in a month until today and it was very strange. My hands felt gigantic!
 

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Players build up keys all the time. You want the most relaxed feel and smallest motion. Fingers in the pearls is the general rule. On tenor I've built up the Palm D key - on alto (I have a VI) I've built up all three palm keys and RH side Bb, C, and High E keys. Get the temporary rubber palm key risers and see what you think.
 

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"build ups" which are pads/spacers on the palm keys.
Now this makes sense. Unless I missed it, you never mentioned in the original post that you were considering building up your palm keys. Go for it. People do it all the time. You can even buy Runyon palm key risers. They're rubber and pretty cheap.
 

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I was thinking of the stack keys. Have you considered a different style RH thumbrest that will allow the RH thumb to rest more to the right of the body of the sax? This may be a trade off since that would put your hand farther away from the side keys. Maybe you could build them up too along with the palm keys and have a sax no one would steal, since you would be the only one who could play it.:bluewink:
 

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I guess this is only a problem if you have big hands but proportionately short thumbs. Since the thumbs position your hands, a big hand should simply be further from the keys so everything should line up about as well as someone with regular size hands. That's the way it works for me and my son. Long thumb remedies long fingers. You may just need risers for the palm and side keys.
 

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I was thinking of the stack keys. Have you considered a different style RH thumbrest that will allow the RH thumb to rest more to the right of the body of the sax? This may be a trade off since that would put your hand farther away from the side keys. Maybe you could build them up too along with the palm keys and have a sax no one would steal, since you would be the only one who could play it.:bluewink:
Ha! Yeah, she mentioned getting a new thumbrest. I don't think I would change it out myself. Almost sounds like something you need to get "fitted" for? I'd prolly take it to a tech and try different sizes. However, I just found this thumbrest cushion http://www.wwbw.com/Thum-Eez-Alto-Sax-Thumb-Rest-Cushion-460900-i1142710.wwbw

For a $1.35 it's worth a shot.

Ok, I just found these Oleg risers.. they are pricier though

http://www.wwbw.com/Oleg-Sax-Enhancers-473282-i1429285.wwbw
 
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