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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, it's not like I'm inexperienced. I've been playing saxophone for 42 years now. Given my experience in rock and roll bands in the 80s, I would guess something like a third of my total playing time in my life has been on tenor; probably the majority of my saxophone earnings have come from playing tenor.

Yet, I have always found it harder to play the low register on tenor than any other register of any other saxophone. I don't think it's because I have trouble with low register playing in general, or I wouldn't be able to drop pianissimo low Bbs all day long on baritone and bass sax. And I have no trouble with the low register on alto or soprano, either. But anything below about low F just seems stiff and unresponsive on tenor in a way that's not the case for soprano alto baritone or bass sax.

I experience this on any tenor sax I've played; on the full range of mouthpieces I've played. Obviously some are better and some are worse.

There's a poster here "1saxman" who often comments on tenor necks being different because of the double bend. Suddenly it occurred to me - maybe my lifelong finding that the low register of tenor is harder to play well than any other might be related to the neck design of tenor saxophones. Every other sax either has a simple single bend or no bend at all. I know that a curve in an instrument tube has the effect of changing the apparent volume - I think it's that a bent tube acts like a straight tube of greater diameter, though I'm not sure of that.

Does it seem plausible that this inherent nature of the tenor sax neck might be the reason why I always feel like I have to work harder in the tenor low register than in any other register of any other saxophone?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm not even sure if I want to call it a "problem" given the many thousands of hours I've logged playing tenor. But my facility in that area of the horn is always limited compared to other horns, and the fact that I am more fluid in the baritone and alto low registers than tenor seems to imply that there's something about tenor.

The post is really more of a speculation than a request for ways to fix something, because I don't think there's something to fix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Maybe tenor sax isn't the right instrument for you if you've been playing it your whole life and can't get around the low end.
Well, that's probably a contributor to why I consider myself primarily a baritone player, doubling alto. I still take gigs on tenor, but I'd rather be playing alto or bari.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My main tenors through the years that I've practiced, rehearsed and gigged on have been Conns - 10M and 16M.

Over the years I've played for brief periods, but have never owned the following - mostly giving them a good try-out in the music store:

Martin Committee 3
King Super 20
H Couf
King Zephyr
Yamaha Custom
Keilwerth
Yanagisawa
Buescher Aristocrat
Buffet S1
King Voll-True

I've probably played a bit on a Selmer Mark 6 somewhere along in there.

I also once tried out two different Selmer Supers.

That's what I can remember.

None of these ever seemed substantially freer-blowing than my Conn of the time.

I've mostly played a Meyer 8 but I also spent quite a bit of time with Dukoff D7 the standard rock and roll mouthpiece of the 70s and 80s. I can also remember some Brilhart Ebolins, a couple Otto Links, a C* Selmer Soloist, and an old Conn Eagle that played exactly like a pair of old gym socks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I can't figure out tenor altissimo either, though the low notes on my 10M are sweet since I got my horn worked on. Alto altissimo seems easy on my Cannonball VR. I think my best playing happens on soprano. I wonder if size of one's pharynx has anything to do with it. I'm female and a very high soprano singer. I've never tried bari. I've gotten altissimo on soprano, but I don't mess with it much, because I think soprano is already high enough on regular notes for the audiences I play for. Hearing aids, you know...
I doubt that the physical size has a big effect; I'm a man, with a light tenor/baritone voice, but my best playing is on baritone and bass sax (my voice definitely is NOT resonant and deep) and alto (my voice is not THAT high). I can't really speak to my soprano playing because I just don't play enough of it to say.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Well sure, but he's also said low note response is a problem on EVERY tenor he's ever tried and with multiple mouthpieces.

In this particular case, nothing below F coming out yeah it's probably a leak somewhere.
To recap,

It's not "nothing coming out", it's a general feeling of stiffness and unresponsiveness COMPARED to alto or baritone.

I don't THINK it's about time on tenor since this was something I noticed even back in the 80s when I was playing tenor constantly and only infrequently picked up alto or baritone.

It seems kind of unlikely that every single tenor I've played over the decades (see the list of 15 or so different ones I can remember trying seriously over the years, plus the 5 different tenor saxes I've owned in my life) had a leak sufficient to cause a less responsive lower register while my beat to hell alto and baritone with their 30 year old pads are magically leak free.

As far as I can tell, there are two theories that would fit our evidence: 1) that there's something specifically about the tenor saxophone design that makes it inherently prone to less responsive lower register; or 2) That somehow my own particular configuration is better suited to playing bass, baritone, or alto sax than to playing tenor sax.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Mine is a Pan American Chu Berry. It's basically a NW II but without rolled tone holes and without the crosshatched G# (it's smooth on mine) and yes, no front F. Do the actualy Chu Sops have the Front F?
I doubt very much whether any Conn soprano ever had a front F. I do know that there are the stretch Conns, which I don't know much about, and I've seen pictures of the rare unicorn Conn soprano with Lady engraving - which I don't know if it's a pure New Wonder 2 just with different engraving, or if it had some keywork updates like the also rare unicorn 14M lady bass sax. But the ordinary garden variety New Wonder and New Wonder 2? No front F, I am almost positive. Only older sopranos I'm aware of with front F are the Holtons, and only some of them. After that it was pretty much nada till Yamaha started making sopranos in what, the mid or late 70s? Maybe some of the offbeat Euro brands had a front F.
 

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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
Well... when in doubt... long tones??? :lol:
Thing is, back in the 80s when I was probably playing and practicing 10 hours of tenor for every hour I played baritone or alto, baritone and alto were still easier to play.
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Dear turf3,
If you know for a fact that your tenor has no leaks or sealing issues, then you need to examine your mouthpiece and reed setup and make appropriate changes. There should be no problem playing whisper level on the low end.

I play sop, alto, tenor, and bari, and never had a low end problem with a tight sax and good setup.
All I can say is that over the last 40+ years, with more than one tenor sax of more than one make (the comments above about my not really having "Played them all" in the sense of really getting deeply familiar, are noted), and more than one mouthpiece of more than one make - and certainly a wide panoply of reeds, the tenor saxes have sometimes been tightly sealing with good pads and regulation, and sometimes not so much. Over the same period, the altos and baritones I've played have also been variable. Yet the prevailing tendency has been that I have to work harder in the low register on tenor than on alto (which would be what one would expect) but also than baritone (which one would not expect).

So I'm trying to think, over 40+ years and a range of saxophones in varying conditions of adjustment and a range of mouthpieces and who knows how many hundreds of reeds, why would I always feel the tenor low register is less responsive and stiffer than that of the alto or baritone? And the thing I could come up with is that the tenor has a double curved neck, while the alto and bari have a single curve in their necks. (But what about the loop on the baritone, you say? You got me there, I say.)

At any rate, if we leave off all dozens of posts from people urging me to get my tenor looked at by a technician (which I've just explained why those aren't relevant to my question), no one really seems to have an idea whether the double curved neck vs. single curved except for the stuff Milandro posted just above, which I haven't investigated yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Interesting that the video about the recurved baritone neck he spends a lot of time talking about overtones being in tune with the fundamental, or not, which is a very interesting topic, but then he just plays some notes on his baritone and says "Gotta Run!" No comparison, for example, of a standard neck, with some held notes so you can see the strobe pattern, and then the recurved neck.

Also no discussion about WHY a double curved baritone neck would bring overtones better in tune with a fundamental (if that's actually what happens).

So I'm still a bit mystified, although I can make a kind of theory. Landry is saying a lot of players blow the overtones flat and then implies the double curved neck makes them better in tune. That would imply a single curved neck would have flatter overtones for those players.

If there were something about the way I play that makes the overtones inherently sharper than most people, then maybe in my case a single curved neck gives better "overtone intonation" and the double curved neck makes the overtones sharp - and this "inharmonicity" causes it to blow stiffer? Low register might be more affected because more overtones are present before they get so high as not to matter, and a x% inharmonicity is a bigger absolute difference in Hz than for short tube high pitched notes?

Well, it's a nice theory, but it sounds just plausible enough to be likely that actual facts would contradict it almost immediately. If I had any facts or data, which I don't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
The last time I had a low end problem it was cabbage....

....no....nothing at all I can contribute to this thread, but I figure since I read it all the way through, I'd leave my mark here at the end...

....the same thing happened with the cabbage...
I've got an afternoon flight. I think for lunch I'll have two bowls of my special lentil and cabbage stew, with extra hot sauce, and maybe I'll wash it down with a couple of beers and a glass of milk, then wrap it all up with a handful of peanuts. Whoo Hoo, fun times in the "economy" cabin!
 
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