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I am not a beginner. Been playing for many years but struggled with my sound and no local teachers. However I have recently felt really good about my sound. I cut a nice reed that plays well and have been jamming to backing tracks for weeks. However I took my tenor along to band practice (I play double bass) and found that my lower register has/is playing well flat. Upper register is consistently in perfect tune but as soon as I drop the Octive key the intonation is off. The whole register is flat and the lower notes are flatter than the highes ones. I have tried everything to alter my embouchure and air delivery. Can’t really work it out. Maybe need some specific exercises?
I have a Vandoran V16 V16 reeds. Yani T701
Last time that I had the sax serviced it was found to have an out of line bell. Quite common I think.
 

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Couple of possibilities off the top of my head:

1) The horn is out of regulation. Might want to have it checked out to see if that can be adjusted.
2) Push the mouthpiece in further. You'll have to adjust in the upper register, but it will bring the lower back into tune.
3) I've noticed that if I'm holding my horn too close to my body parts of the lower register run flatter because I'm obstructing the tone holes (especially the low C#) so maybe adjust how you're holding it.
 

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You didn’t notice the pitch problems until band practice? You were able to play in tune with backing tracks though...that’s weird.
 

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A tuning system that works well for me to find the ideal length for the instrument is to set the mouthpiece into the position to play written low F# perfectly in tune. Then with the same embouchure I check F#2 both with the octave key and by playing the first overtone of F#1. Then I finger low B natural and "overblow" to the second overtone F#2. When all three of these F#'s line up, I have the mouthpiece in the proper place on the cork.

Since the mouthpiece "input pitch" has an effect upon the tuning of the saxophone, I also check that the pitch of the mouthpiece alone on tenor does not go higher than G concert, and that the pitch of mouthpiece plus neck is an E concert, or written F#.

A frequent cause of registers not being in tune with one another is the common bad habit of tightening the embouchure for the high notes and loosening the embouchure for the low notes. If this is the case, pulling the mouthpiece out to tune the upper octave makes the lower octave where the embouchure is more relaxed sound flat. Basically speaking the saxophone should use the same embouchure from low Bb up to high F. There are occasions where the palm key notes may need a little help with the embouchure, but this is not common with a good airstream.
 

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Equipment/regulation issues aside - My guess would be that perhaps you're unconsciously doing something in your embouchure or oral cavity that is making those notes flat. Be aware of any sub-toning that might be occurring, as well as changes in your embouchure as you navigate to the lower register.

A simple method I employ with my students is to begin by fingering a middle B, then slowly move chromatically down to low Bb. While doing this exercise, stay aware of your embouchure, as you shouldn't be making any changes; your embouchure should remain the same the entire way. Check it with a tuner and see if you're still flat.
 

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A frequent cause of registers not being in tune with one another is the common bad habit of tightening the embouchure for the high notes and loosening the embouchure for the low notes. If this is the case, pulling the mouthpiece out to tune the upper octave makes the lower octave where the embouchure is more relaxed sound flat. Basically speaking the saxophone should use the same embouchure from low Bb up to high F. There are occasions where the palm key notes may need a little help with the embouchure, but this is not common with a good airstream.
You must not drop the jaw and loosen the embouchure in attempting to play low notes. This is commonly done but it will give bad results in a number of ways. In fact the lowest notes require significant embouchure presssure or firmness (whatever term you want to use to describe it).

OP, if you have been playing a slightly leaky saxophone and possibly a too-hard-reed-too-open-mouthpiece setup, without instruction, you may very well have gotten into the habit of dropping the jaw and blowing hard with a loose embouchure to get the low notes to speak. Don't do that. If the sax is leak free, you probably need to retrain by going to a smaller opening, softer reeds, and rebuilding your embouchure, then you can work back up to a stiffer setup.

I don't want to hold myself up as a super example in any way, but I find that if anything my lowest notes on alto tenor and baritone have the teeniest bit of tendency to run sharp, not flat. (I've been largely a baritone specialist since the mid 1980s so I've got a fair bit of experience in playing low notes.)
 

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I cut a nice reed that plays well and have been jamming to backing tracks for weeks. However I took my tenor along to band practice (I play double bass) and found that my lower register has/is playing well flat.
Sounds like you are generally more relaxed when playing to backing tracks and when you play with the band, either you have to adjust your volume (too loud or too soft) and, along with a change in embouchure that's what causes the "selective" pitch shift. Just try not to sound nice but in tune instead. Also, there is a lot of subjectivity when you play to backing tracks compared to be on the grand stand. Record yourself when you play backing tracks and see whether you are still in tune when you listen to the play back. I'm thinking you are not.
 

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As a follow-up question, and perhaps one I should have asked initially - when you're playing with backing tracks, do you truly know, for sure, that you're "in-tune," and not just sort of feeling in-tune, along with the track? Perhaps nothing has changed, but when faced with the tuner, or other players that have recently tuned their horns, you're noticing the anomaly, whereas, with the backing tracks, you're not aware.
 

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Another possibility is that you are biting more as you move up into the upper register, either due to a reed that is too hard (what size V16 are you playing?*) or simply because there is a tendency to bite down more on the higher notes. The result is that the higher register is playing sharp in comparison to the lower register. So in effect when your high register notes are in tune, the low register will be flat.

To solve this, push the mpc in further to where the lower register is in tune and then in the upper register keep your embouchure relaxed enough to bring those higher notes in tune. It will take some practice to do this. One exercise (not the way to normally play) is to hold your upper teeth up off the mpc which will prevent you from biting. Then when your air support is sufficient to get a decent tone that way, simply rest the upper teeth gently back down on top of the mpc to gain a bit more control.

*V16 reeds run a little harder than most other brands, so anything above #2.5 would be a fairly hard reed. And a 2.5 is harder than most other brands at 2.5.
 

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Unless I have been playing a half or a whole tone flat with the backing tapes?
?? Not sure what you mean here. Were you playing a half or whole tone flat? That would be very noticeable and painful.

I guess you're saying you wouldn't notice unless you were off by that much, which may be true, especially if you were playing much louder than the backing tracks. One thing you can do is check your intonation with a tuner. That will allow you to see if, and by how much, you are out of tune. But in order to learn to play in tune, you can't do it just by watching a tuner. You have to use your ear. Get a tuning CD or other type of drone to match tones with, using your ear.

Have you tried pushing the mpc in and relaxing your embouchure, as I suggested? That won't necessarily solve it overnight (it takes time to overcome a habit like biting too hard), but it's worth trying.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have been addressing my embouchure problem for ages and I feel that apart from some problems relaxing my tongue, my technique has improved in the last 6 months. I have been reading the contributions above. Thanks for your input.
I pushed the m/pace in and tried upping the support and air flow and this has improved the tuning markedly. Still some work to do though. Still struggling a bit with the concept of strong support and air flow when playing low volume in the bottom notes which for me is the most interesting sound that comes out of a tenor.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I play a vandoran V16 45 with matching number 2 reeds.....and one of them waddyyacallthem leather ligatures..the original lig broke and I nearly passed out when I saw the price of the replacement....bought cars for less in my youth
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Another possibility is that you are biting more as you move up into the upper register, either due to a reed that is too hard (what size V16 are you playing?*) or simply because there is a tendency to bite down more on the higher notes. The result is that the higher register is playing sharp in comparison to the lower register. So in effect when your high register notes are in tune, the low register will be flat.

To solve this, push the mpc in further to where the lower register is in tune and then in the upper register keep your embouchure relaxed enough to bring those higher notes in tune. It will take some practice to do this. One exercise (not the way to normally play) is to hold your upper teeth up off the mpc which will prevent you from biting. Then when your air support is sufficient to get a decent tone that way, simply rest the upper teeth gently back down on top of the mpc to gain a bit more control.

*V16 reeds run a little harder than most other brands, so anything above #2.5 would be a fairly hard reed. And a 2.5 is harder than most other brands at 2.5.
I know this problem is linked to my dodgy embouchure and will try these exercises....but one thing that could be contributory is that it is only relatively recently that I have learned that many reeds have to be ground down with a blade edge or sandpaper. Now I have never been shown how to do this and have learned through YouTube. I think that I may have been taking too much off the reed? I should also perhaps get face to face with someone on this. Difficult to find good teachers in my town...might have travel ..not my forte.
Thank you for your suggestions
 
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