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Discussion Starter #1
Bought the above a week or so ago and had it serviced by a respected technician. My instructor can play it but I have a terrible time getting notes above middle G-- i.e., when the sax 'pipe' is short, I get very poor results, sometimes just a weak tone, no tone, or a lot of squeaking. I can easilly reach low b-flat so I guess there's not a leak. I'm told I have to work on breath control, embouchure, 'pitching' the music in my head and being one with the universe. I'm trying, but not getting anywhere. I've played alto for ten years and thought the bari would be pretty straightforward but I'm almost ready to give up entirely. Has anybody else had this problem? Is this old sax a really hard model to play? Does anyone have a magic bullet cure? I've watched lotsa videos, read lotsa forums, tried different mouthpieces and reeds and have very mixed results. I have a solo in our concert next week and I'm going to have to bail on it if I can't figure this out.

Any help much appreciated.
 

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You've played alto for ten years and are having trouble playing bari. You've already had the sax looked over by a tech.

Given that information, the issue isn't the sax, you are just having trouble adjusting to the requirements of a much larger horn. What type of mouthpiece and reed are you using? I would opt for the easiest blowing setup I could find if I were you, meaning a mouthpiece with a fairly close tip and a soft reed. And work on relaxing your embouchure and increasing your air support. Loose chops, deep breaths, and push with your diaphragm!
 

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Bought the above a week or so ago and had it serviced by a respected technician. My instructor can play it but I have a terrible time getting notes above middle G-- i.e., when the sax 'pipe' is short, I get very poor results, sometimes just a weak tone, no tone, or a lot of squeaking. I can easilly reach low b-flat so I guess there's not a leak. I'm told I have to work on breath control, embouchure, 'pitching' the music in my head and being one with the universe. I'm trying, but not getting anywhere. I've played alto for ten years and thought the bari would be pretty straightforward but I'm almost ready to give up entirely. Has anybody else had this problem? Is this old sax a really hard model to play? Does anyone have a magic bullet cure? I've watched lotsa videos, read lotsa forums, tried different mouthpieces and reeds and have very mixed results. I have a solo in our concert next week and I'm going to have to bail on it if I can't figure this out.

Any help much appreciated.
It's a baritone, yes?

From alto to baritone is a big jump. You have to learn how to take baritone-sized breaths, not alto-sized, and breathe from the diaphragm. The embouchure is different as well. If you have been playing this instrument less than a week I'm not surprised you haven't got it under control yet.

The Conn 12M is one of the best saxophones ever made. It is not particularly hard to play. (I bought my 12M in 1984, so I've got just a teeny bit of history with it.)

Herewith I issue my usual recommendation for tone building and interval exercises, best of all if played outdoors. You can look up my old posts.

Once again, the main thing with the baritone sax is that you have to learn how to take a full depth breath and blow through the thing, not at it.
 

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The 12M needs quite a bit of air but if you can hit a low B flat and play the low and middle register without issue, I wonder if you don't have either a hardware of embouchure issue. You may be biting (bari needs a bit different embouchure than alto) or you may have reeds that are too soft.

Since the problems all start above G2, I am wondering if you have an issue with the neck octave key not opening. On my 12M, if the neck is turned too far in the socket, the key won't open the neck octave key far enough and the result is something like you are describing.

Edit to add: the 12M octave mechanism is a bit antiquated and leaves the neck and body octave keys open for a brief interval when you press or release the G key. It doesn't sound like this is the issue, but you have to get used to making this transition very quickly to minimize the time that both pips are open and voicing the note properly. Once you've played the horn for a couple of weeks, it will be second nature. Another alternative is that you are opening one of the palm keys on accident. 12Ms were made for large hands. I have small hands so I have done this a time or two but again, you get used to it and your tech may be able to bend the keys a bit to put them in a more comfortable position.
 

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Biting + small tip opening + soft reed. If I'm right, you are literally blowing/biting the reed shut against the mouthpiece, cutting off the 'column of air' needed to maintain a tone. You have to find the set-up that suits you better.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Great to see so many responses to my post. There's some great advice here. I'm having a bit of success with a softer reed and am working on embouchure. I honestly thought I could just pick a bari and play it like an alto. I guess I have to be more patient.
 

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I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. You've got ten years' worth of muscle memory in your embouchure and diaphragm and it probably works great for alto!

Keep practicing bari and it won't be long before you sound good on bari, too. Most of what you already know will transfer. Keep at it!
 

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LONG SHOT

Remove your octave keys and check your octave pipes for obstructions... it's a long shot but it would approximate you playing your alto in the upper register w/o opening the or partially opening your octave key...::?? I fought a chunk of solder/slag from a previous repair for a month. Conn 12m (mine) plays well now....
with a NY Link metal MP, sometimes an old Meyer rubber that is only marked 'small chamber', no number for tip opening indicated.

Hopefully this post is no longer needed... Of the old baritones I've touched the Conn gets with it best.
 
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