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I just rented a brand new student model yesterday from a trusting store. I had my experienced sax teacher test it out and after a few adjustments at the store, it should be in good playing condition.

I've never played the sax before and my first lesson is in a week.

I got a couple of basics books to try to get a head start.

Here are my main problems.

I play the fingerings correctly and I have sufficient breath support, but the notes I play are exactly one step above what it should produce.

I've moved the neck of the mouthpiece higher off the body as the book suggested to see if I can lower the sound but that doesn't do it either.

I feel like I've tried everything. I've tried moving the position of my mouth, and also my tongue and teeth placements but still the same.
What am I doing wrong?

I've read some articles on tuning but nothing answers my concerns.

Also, when I play above C (note that you play with left middle finger), and I go higher up to D, E, F, etc. the notes are octave lower. I use my left thumb to play the note behind the neck(?) when I go above D, as all the books show, but still plays octave lower. UNLESS I play VERY softly. Isn't it strange?

Please don't think I'm an idiot - I'm a TOTAL BEGINNER. I started last night.

This is frustrating, because I'm so ready to play and I'm off key the entire time!

UGH, if YOU have any suggestions since you all are experienced players please please tell me what I am doing wrong!:?
 

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If you just started last night I would worry about it too much.

You said an experienced sax teacher checked it out. So I would assume everything is fine with the horn. The sax can be a finicky thing so I would wait until you have your first lesson

I play the fingerings correctly and I have sufficient breath support, but the notes I play are exactly one step above what it should produce.
once again, I would wait until I had my first lesson. I'm sure your sax teacher will help you correct everything.
 

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Mzsaucy: I think Stevesklar is correct in advising you to wait until your teacher can help you.

However, I know you want to just noodle around and try to make some sounds. One thing to keep in mind is that when you play above the "break" (the point where you must push the thumb octave touch on the back of the horn - note D2), you should automatically begin constricting your throat.

Many players think about singing "AAAHHH" when playing lower notes and "EEEEEE" when playing higher notes. The lower you play, the more accentuated the AAAHHH becomes; when playing higher the more accentuated the EEEEEE becomes. Assuming everything is working on your horn, making the upper octave speak is usually a matter of embouchure. DAVE
 

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mzsaucy said:
I play the fingerings correctly and I have sufficient breath support, but the notes I play are exactly one step above what it should produce.
Do you know that the sax is a transposing instrument? In other words, a "C" on the sax is not going to be the same pitch as a "C" on a piano. However, an alto sax would be a step and a half below the same note on a piano, but a tenor sax would be one step above. You don't have a tenor sax do you?
 

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if you started last night and your gettting any sound well thats a good job.. congrats. as for the raising of notes, your probably pinch the mouthpeice (squeezing it with your jaw way to hard) this would cause it to raise the notes. wait a couple lessons and see if you get it straightened away.

keep us posted.
 

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Hello. So I finally went for it and bought myself a sax. Just got it a few hours ago, but I have exactly the same problem as mzsaucy.
No matter what I tried, my tuner app always shows that I'm playing 1 notw higher than I'm fingering.

It's not a transposing issue. I mean, I press the keys down for D, bit I get E. And so on.
I can bend it a little up or down, but no way to get it in tune, as it is too far off.
Pulling the mouthpiece further out, doesn't work either. Even at the far end, where it is loose and almost falls off, the problem remains.

I tried two mouthpieces and different reeds and ligatures. And even though my embouchure is certainly not perfect yet, since I just played for the first time, I felt it somewhat when I was blowing wrong or right. And I tries many many times and different tones for over one hour. Always one note too high.

So this doesn't really look like a hardware problem, but what can it be?
 

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If you have an alto sax, then it is a transposing instrument in Eb.
This means that when you finger a C on the sax, the tuner should say you are playing Eb, unless you have set the tuner for an Eb instrument.
So if you are getting a D then my guess is that you are actually playing a semitone too low. Try pushing the mouthpiece in further and see if you can get an Eb.
 

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Yeah, it is not the transposing tone that I mean. I know that C should show Eb.
I mean the actual fingered tone. C shows as D, E as F, F as G and so on.... So it is playing one tone higher up the scale, which means I should pull the mouthpiece back, thus making the tube longer, which equals in a lower pitch.

But I tried all of that. In, Out, doesn't matter. The tone doesn't change that much and is still way way off.
I suspect that it has to do with the way I blow the air. Maybe a throat issue?! Because it feels right, but I don't know if it actually is. All I know is, that every other way I tried to blow was worse.

Or maybe it really is the app's fault (tuner). I will try tomorrow against my piano.
 

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Wait, wait. If when you play a C on an Alto, the tuner reads D; and when you play the D on the Alto the tuner reads E....then it's a half-step flat (assuming the tuner is calibrated to 440). So ....push IN the mouthpiece.

...then when you blow the Alto's C it should read Eb on the tuner. When you blow Alto's D it should read F on tuner....

Transposing tone, fingered tone...these aren't really clear descriptors.

I would wait until I had my first lesson. I'm sure your sax teacher will help you correct everything.
+1
 

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This is a very common issue these days.

The alto saxophone C should sound Eb on a piano (or concert pitch tuner) . D should sound F.

many beginners play flat due to both slack embouchure and not knowing how to tune the mouthpiece position.

So the mouthpiece is too far off, not enough air support and/or slack embouchure so the pitch is flat and instead of the C soundng Eb as it should, it sounds D (one whole tone instead of a minor third) and the D sounds E instead of F.

To understand more about the saxophone being a transposing instrument see here:

https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-transposition
 

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Do not pull the neck out as it will also make the octave lever not work thus nte drop when you go to D, E, F. Put the neck all the way on and tune at the mouthpiece cork.
Fingering C on the horn should sound Eb on the piano.
 

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Also, when I play above C (note that you play with left middle finger), and I go higher up to D, E, F, etc. the notes are octave lower. I use my left thumb to play the note behind the neck(?) when I go above D, as all the books show, but still plays octave lower. UNLESS I play VERY softly. Isn't it strange?
No it isn't strange. The octave key is not "automatic" - it is there to help but you also need to do some work which would probably be more air support, correct breathing, open throat and better embouchure.This won't happen in a day, and without a teacher it will take a bit longer. I suggest you get a good teacher (not Professor Youtube) there is a limit to how much people on the internet can diagnose and help without being there in the room with you to see and hear the issues.

A teacher can do that.
 

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Hey everyone. Thanks for your advice and sorry I didn't respond earlier. Didn't have the chance to try out what I wanted to, because I had a sore throat :D

I'm happy to report, that it seemed to be the app's fault. The tuner responded correctly when I tried it on my piano, but for some reason it has a problem with the sax.
Maybe because the tone is not set and perfect, but "wavey". At least reading the app was difficult for me.
Yesterday I tried the "Soundcorset" app, and I like it much much better. After setting the transpose right, it shows both notes. Concert and fingered pitch.
My mouthpiece was pushed a little further in, rather than out, how I initally thought, based on what the app displayed. Now everything seems fine.

With all the trying around, I discovered that the best way to push air out is with my throat doing "HAAAAA", like if I would blow warm air onto a cold window to write on it.
Maybe it's right, maybe it's wrong. For now it seems it produces a more fuller sound.
Trying out the octave key, I have to direct my air a little or pushing with more speed, otherwise I don't get a good tone. At first I thought my octave key is broken, because it didn't do anything.

As much as practicing around is, time flys by so quickly, that a few hours have past and I don't have any air left to play some tunes.So my practice sounds okay-ish, and my tunes suck :D
Gotta create myself some sort of list or structured way to train. So much to fit in though...
For now I'm sticking to the Cmajor scale and play it randomly up and down and with steps in between or in (melodic) intervalls, plus the notes and their octaves to get used to the embouchure change.

It's funny how I was expecting the whole tonguing thing to be the difficult part, when I'ts rather intuitive and quite easy. Playing legato seems far more difficult. I always run out of air, haha.
 

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I'd suggest that you buy a Korg tuner or something similar as opposed to the phone app. If the tuner app is getting different readings for the piano than it does for the saxophone, there is something really wrong with that app. Aside from actually working as a tuner, the Korg is a metronome which you are going to need. Life is too short to mess around with buggy software when you don't have to.
 
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