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Discussion Starter #1
I've played sax in general for six years, and now, approaching my senior year in high school, i'm trying to advance my technique as much as I can. I can do some overtones, very little altissimo, but I have a pretty good tone, all things considered.

I usually play concert music more, but I like jazz and as such have been working at it for a few years. I have since got a real Jazz mpc and use it for my jazz tunes. While I admit I need more work on my chops, I'm hoping to get some tips as to what I need to do. The problem described below is using my Jazz mpc, a Kessler replica of an Otto Link Florida #7 (.100)

I can keep in tune easily in mid range, can bring in my low notes, but once I get above B3 I start going pretty sharp. C3 is maybe 20-25 cents, and it just gets worse as I go up. By the time I hit E3, I'm a half step sharp to a tuner. The thing is, my mpc is way farther out than I usually am on my concert mouthpiece, so that now I sit about halfway onto the cork. Out here, the mouthpiece gets wobbly on the neck, but it doesn't seem to impede the sound. I'm sure it's an embouchure thing, but what is it specifically? I try to drop my jaw, but then me tone dies out.

Any ideas?
 

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shove the sucker in. Get the low B in tune and tune the middle B with the low B fingering. Overtone
Once those are in tune everything else should come back in. Worst case scenario you untuck your bottom lip and that should also bring it back a bit
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Really? Push IN for something that sharp?? :O That sounds virtually like saxophone heresy!
 

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shove the sucker in. Get the low B in tune and tune the middle B with the low B fingering. Overtone
Once those are in tune everything else should come back in. Worst case scenario you untuck your bottom lip and that should also bring it back a bit
This is along the same lines I would suggest. You sound like you have a tight embouchure that you really need to loosen. You should use enough pressure to create a seal. Your tuning comes from inside your mouth for the most part. You should be able to put every note in tune by changing your airstream. Things like dropping your jaw are short cuts that lead to a dead end. I tune my low middle and High bs. I get the low one in tune and the rest kind of just falls into place. Loosen up and do your overtones everyday. You should be getting different overtones by changing the airstream using your tongue, throat and soft pallet. The lip and jaw should not be changing pressure on the reed while you do this. Keep it just tight enough to stop air from escaping. The rest happens in your mouth. If it is happening from you jaw and lip you are doing it wrong and creating very bad habits. Once you get the feel for doing overtones the right way the upper register will get better. Try playing scales through two octaves with out using your octave key. The higher you play on the horn the faster you need your airstream to be. Don't get to caught up with playing with your tuner. play along to music that sounds in tune to you and try to match the pitch.
 

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There's a good chance that you are biting, pinching, and/or squeezing the throat in the upper register. With most of my students, I find that by working at opening the throat and moving the air from the gut, the high register tuning improves. If over time things don't improve using this rationale, you might want to try a different mouthpiece. The overtone work mentioned above should help with the throat.

Randy
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Really? Push IN for something that sharp?? :O That sounds virtually like saxophone heresy!
I know it sounds crazy but the more you push in the more the horn will be in tune with itself even if it is sharp. In other words the differences in tuning from one octave to the next are a lot smaller when you are pushed in more. So you need to push in and learn how to open up the throat and loosen your embouchure.
 

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Just out of curiosity, is the horn old -- as in 1940 or earlier? You mentioned a Kessler mouthpiece and I should assume it's a Kessler horn, but if not, some of the ancient instruments some of us love can be quite mouthpiece sensitive.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It's a modern Kessler horn. The handmade red brass tenor, as it were.

Is there a way to help the mpc get a grip better without changing the cork? I know the paper trick, but any other alternative? I just shelled out for a new cork recently, but the issue existed before that too.
 

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It's a modern Kessler horn. The handmade red brass tenor, as it were.

Is there a way to help the mpc get a grip better without changing the cork? I know the paper trick, but any other alternative? I just shelled out for a new cork recently, but the issue existed before that too.
The cork is the last thing you need to worry about. Your issue is going to take months of overtone practice and long tones with a dedication to changing your embouchure. I suggest you find a good local pro and get some private lessons with him.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Already been doing that for a while. It's just seldom in lessons that I get above C3. But I'll definitely be working on it more now that I have a clue.
 

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I have since got a real Jazz mpc and use it for my jazz tunes. While I admit I need more work on my chops, I'm hoping to get some tips as to what I need to do. The problem described below is using my Jazz mpc, a Kessler replica of an Otto Link Florida #7 (.100)...
So you don't have the problem with your previous mouthpiece? If so, dump the new one. Not every mouthpiece is going to work well with every horn; no matter how much we want it to.
 

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I would agree with Randy that it sounds as if you are tightening the embouchure or "biting" to play the higher register. Try this test to diagnose the problem if it exists:

1. Play your mouthpiece and neck apart from the saxophone and adjust the embouchure to play E concert in tune with full volume.

2. Using that same embouchure and airstream play B2 and tune it to be on center with the tuner.

3. While you are holding that note, have someone else press the octave key and check the pitch of the octave as it jumps without you knowing when.

4. Do the same exercise with the note C2 and see where the pitch goes when the octave key is pressed.

Another variation of this would be to play the mouthpiece alone and adjust the embouchure (and throat) to produce a G concert or a half step to whole step lower (for jazz). Then do the octave test with that embouchure setting.

The saxophone for the most part is played throughout its normal range using the same embouchure lip pressure throughout. That does not mean that you do not adjust the shape inside the mouth or the speed of the airstream as you go from one register to the next. What it does mean is that you don't "loosen for the low notes" and "bite down for the high notes" as some players tend to do.
 

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Really? Push IN for something that sharp?? :O That sounds virtually like saxophone heresy!
That's right. Push the sucker in. If you examine where the mouthpiece is placed by most good players(the ones who play in tune( you will notice how far in the mouthpiece is. Your middle register(B-C-C#) is probably flat. Check it with a tuner.
 

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shove the sucker in. Get the low B in tune and tune the middle B with the low B fingering. Overtone
Once those are in tune everything else should come back in. Worst case scenario you untuck your bottom lip and that should also bring it back a bit
Great advice. This is what you gotta do to play in tune.
 

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..or don't get a teacher to help you with that, and just see bergonzi (rico) video in youtube...it will do wonder for ir embouchure and air support.
good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
When I actively try not to change my facial muscles, I usually end up overblowing my octave key. Is that just a support issue?
 

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Could be. I've struggled with the same problem on alto, and still have to remind myself not to bite on the high notes if I've been playing a lot of tenor/bari. Other things I've found useful are backing off a bit on reed strength (at least for a while--too-stiff reeds can make the problem immeasurably worse), and working overtones like crazy. Once you know how to voice those high notes, you'll probably start to relax.

Another thing I've done is practice long tones next to my piano. I'll start around G2 and go up a half step at a time, checking my note against the piano tone (don't wimp out and use a tuner--this is good ear training, too). As soon as you feel yourself start to bite, STOP and put the horn down for a couple minutes. Only proceed if you can without clamping down, and don't worry if you can't get above A2 the first day or two--I couldn't at first. Combine this with overtone practice and be patient, and you'll probably see results soon.

Do you have a teacher? If not, can you come up with the change for a few lessons? If you need recommendations, I'm near you and know a couple people who could really help.

Edit: Just re-read one of your earlier posts. You really need to address this in your lessons--is your teacher a jazz player? If you're just using your concert setup and playing legit stuff in lessons, that's not going to get your jazz setup sorted out. Best to tackle this habit before it gets worse.
 
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