Sax on the Web Forum banner
41 - 58 of 58 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
28,511 Posts
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.
I'm guessing it's just not the horn for you inner voice. I started on alto and actually never really clicked with it the way I did fron the first moment I picked up my Martin and started playing it. It was right out of the shipping carton from Florida and wasn't eithere perfectly sound or adjusted correctly and I knew it was the sax for me. I have owned and played other tenors and owned and played various altos and the one sop I have had for years and tenor is still the sax that is easiest for me to play and feel great doing it. So I don't think one can say any one of the saxes is harder than the others, it's just what fits you best and totally floats your boat IMO. I say that because my first teacher is a pro clarinetist and tenor player and if anything is harder than any sax it has got to be the licorice torture stick. Yet that was his first instrument and the one he loves the most, even though he's an excellent tenor player. I think it's just an individual preference is all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,741 Posts
It's a leak. Go to the repairman.
Maybe let a friend who can play tenor try it.
Uh, not so fast. For those of us that have swapped and shared many instruments with others, its not uncommon to blame the instrument, to then accept the humility of a better player making effortless music on the same horn..

I experienced the exact same scenario when borrowing tenors back when I was an alto player. AGAIN, I thought it was something physical with my embouchure, lol. So wrong. Today, its the opposite: I can wail on a tenor, and my altos are difficult to navigate top to bottom, across octaves, etc. Its not the horns..
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,760 Posts
I'm a tenor player, for lots of reasons that I don't need to go into right here. And it doesn't surprise me all that much turf that you find those low notes on tenor more resistant than on a bari. I remember trying out a bari once in the music store. I had never played one and just wanted to see what it was like. I was really surprised at how easy and effortless the low notes, right down to the low Bb, were to play. So I would say it may be true that those notes respond easier on bari than on tenor.

I've also noticed that the low notes on my Buescher Aristocrat (both the series one & 156 models), and also a Conn 10M I play-tested, speak a little bit easier than on the VI, so you might find a VI to be even a bit more difficult on those notes than your Conn was.

In any case, if you play the tenor enough I think you can adjust. Not sure where the alto fits in with respect to the low notes. But overall, there really are some differences from one horn to the next, especially bari vs tenor vs alto.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
28,511 Posts
I'm a tenor player, for lots of reasons that I don't need to go into right here. And it doesn't surprise me all that much turf that you find those low notes on tenor more resistant than on a bari. I remember trying out a bari once in the music store. I had never played one and just wanted to see what it was like. I was really surprised at how easy and effortless the low notes, right down to the low Bb, were to play. So I would say it may be true that those notes respond easier on bari than on tenor.

I've also noticed that the low notes on my Buescher Aristocrat (both the series one & 156 models), and also a Conn 10M I play-tested, speak a little bit easier than on the VI, so you might find a VI to be even a bit more difficult on those notes than your Conn was.

In any case, if you play the tenor enough I think you can adjust. Not sure where the alto fits in with respect to the low notes. But overall, there really are some differences from one horn to the next, especially bari vs tenor vs alto.
I would love to just try a bari once, just to experience that low A. My only problem is that I can neither pretend that I'm interested in buying one or that I can even lift the sucker. So I guess it will just remain an unfulfilled dream.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
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.
I find that alto needs less air on those bottom notes. I notice this especially when playing some Bach on tenor (the Mel Bay book by J. Michael Leonard), because I'll get to the end of a passage and haven't been able to grab a breath yet, and THEN those low notes need air support I have trouble supplying. But on alto or soprano, that's mostly a non-issue. I did have a bari for a while, though, and it did seem to play easier than tenor also, altho I didn't have the Bach book then as a comparison.

Certainly small leaks will make the low register difficult. After overhauls on my alto and tenor, those bottom notes really popped out much so more easily, it was quite noticeable. Likewise, when the adjustment of the articulated G# goes even slightly off, it affects the bottom notes big time, because of the slight leakage at the G# pad.

Lastly, it's a matter of mouthpiece and reed. Or maybe firstly. Too large a facing can be a problem. I'm playing a .086" facing on tenor - pretty small compared to what's popular, these days but it's what I found works for me. And with a baffle insert, which helps getting more out of such a small facing. When I feel a reed is resistant on the low register (usually feels this way starting at the low D), I'll sand or scrape at the bottom 3rd or so of the vamp until it frees up and the low B and Bb are easier to subtone. I also use a Perfecta-reed gauge to take out side-to-side asymmetries. The difference is amazing, once a reed is symmetric and properly adjusted. I find that getting a reed just right can be a lengthy process. I use Hartmann reeds and completely re-profile them to the way they used to be (with an arched cross-section, not cut straight across).

One more thing, actually, and that is that the mouthpiece facing also needs to be symmetric. Even if you don't have a glass gauge, you can lay the mouthpiece against a glass slab and lay different feeler gauges between the mouthpiece and the glass - and they should lie straight across the mouthpiece, not tilting to one side or the other. An asymmetric mouthpiece facing will have the same effect as an asymmetric reed. Less responsive, more resistant.

"Bernie's Tune"
 

·
Registered
Conn NW II Soprano, NW I Alto, 10M Tenor, NW I C Melody & Allora Bari.
Joined
·
271 Posts
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.
I find that alto needs less air on those bottom notes. I notice this especially when playing some Bach on tenor (the Mel Bay book by J. Michael Leonard), because I'll get to the end of a passage and haven't been able to grab a breath yet, and THEN those low notes need air support I have trouble supplying. But on alto or soprano, that's mostly a non-issue. I did have a bari for a while, though, and it did seem to play easier than tenor also, altho I didn't have the Bach book then as a comparison.

Certainly small leaks will make the low register difficult. After overhauls on my alto and tenor, those bottom notes really popped out much so more easily, it was quite noticeable. Likewise, when the adjustment of the articulated G# goes even slightly off, it affects the bottom notes big time, because of the slight leakage at the G# pad.

Lastly, it's a matter of mouthpiece and reed. Or maybe firstly. Too large a facing can be a problem. I'm playing a .086" facing on tenor - pretty small compared to what's popular, these days but it's what I found works for me. And with a baffle insert, which helps getting more out of such a small facing. When I feel a reed is resistant on the low register (usually feels this way starting at the low D), I'll sand or scrape at the bottom 3rd or so of the vamp until it frees up. I also use a Perfecta-reed gauge to take out side-to-side asymmetries. The difference is amazing, once a reed is symmetric and properly adjusted. I find that getting a reed just right can be a lengthy process. I use Hartmann reeds and completely re-profile them to the way they used to be (with an arched cross-section, not cut straight across).

One more thing, actually, and that is that the mouthpiece facing also needs to be symmetric. Even if you don't have a glass gauge, you can lay the mouthpiece against a glass slab and lay different feeler gauges between the mouthpiece and the glass - and they should lie straight across the mouthpiece, not tilting to one side or the other. An asymmetric mouthpiece facing will have the same effect as an asymmetric reed. Less responsive, more resistant.

"Bernie's Tune"
Come to think of it, the notes low D and below, for me, do take some what more of an effort on Tenor. If I don't have enough air support and my embouchure isn't just right those notes won't play as effortlessly as the others. Other wise playing pianissimo or fortissimo is no problem on those notes. The tone of those notes sound as good as the others to me though.

I currently have a 10M with a Conn Steelay mouthpiece. But remember the same thing with the student model Tenors (Yamaha and Bundy) I had in school. When the high school band director gave me a C* mouthpiece it helped a lot for me but didn't completely cure it.

Reed strength doesn't seem to make any difference for me on this issue for those notes. I've been trying softer reeds lately.

FWIW I started out on Tenor and played a little on the Alto and Baritone Saxes in school.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,860 Posts
A good try out is one thing and actually having a horn in your possession for at least a month is another thing. I haven't read every single post yet but your statement here basically undermines or at least, contradicts your first post. If you are stating something as categorical as 'I played them all and, to no avail, all the same', it's just curious to examine exactly what that means. I'm just saying you tried all of these horns and unless you actually wore out your welcome at these stores by playing all of them for several weeks, it's really hard to understand how your Conn horns really differ from them with your specific/individual approach to tenor.

Put that aside, tenor is always special to me because of the fullness of the lower register as well as being able to go quite high as well. There has to be a trade off between spread and focus of timbre and it's an individual thing; it's the calling card of the horn. Very few players develop the lower register on alto and quite frankly it isn't as beautiful as a tenor's. Conversely, it's the mid to high register on the smaller horn that one normally associates it with. To this day, Bird was the most complete alto player because he was able to broaden the alto's lower register as if he were playing tenor. It's actually quite unique.

I'm not really making one singular point in this thread other than you might have to reconsider or at least imagine what the tenor actually means to you and what you want to draw out of the lower register. As far as the bow goes, particularly the pad height of the low C key can make or break how each tenor sounds; it's one of those elemental things. Embouchure too is also something to explore as well.

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.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
41,883 Posts
By the way, if the " problem" would be only in the S shape or double bend, there are both vintage (I didn't know this years ago and I learned here) and modern tenors witha straight neck.

But I don't think that it was a problem otherwise this would have caught on

Jan Garbareck played one ( was a Keilwerth ?)


Anyway there were vintage too

Sorry, took a little longer than expected, but thumbnails of a straight necked tenor below:



As far as I (and my tuner) can tell, the intonation is no better nor worse than the goose neck. Without the curve the straight neck is slightly shorter, but I suspect the difference is compensated for by the mouthpiece position. It would take a far better player than I to really put both horns through their paces and draw a definitive conclusion, so if anyone's in my neck of the woods ...;)

If anything it's perhaps just a very little more comfortable to play, as the horn sits slightly straighter.

Of absolutely no real significance, but the two straight neck models I own have serial numbers only 12 apart. The goose neck is some 3000 newer.
AND by the way, this is another chunk of food for thought, if the idea of the double benT S shape was increasing resistance why would Oleg have resuscitated an Idea first used by Orsi the S shaped baritone neck?



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Come to think of it, the notes low D and below, for me, do take some what more of an effort on Tenor. If I don't have enough air support and my embouchure isn't just right those notes won't play as effortlessly as the others. Other wise playing pianissimo or fortissimo is no problem on those notes. The tone of those notes sound as good as the others to me though.

I currently have a 10M with a Conn Steelay mouthpiece. But remember the same thing with the student model Tenors (Yamaha and Bundy) I had in school. When the high school band director gave me a C* mouthpiece it helped a lot for me but didn't completely cure it.

Reed strength doesn't seem to make any difference for me on this issue for those notes. I've been trying softer reeds lately.

FWIW I started out on Tenor and played a little on the Alto and Baritone Saxes in school.
Reeds that play well for me but are harder blowing from low D and down, usually are helped by removing material near the base of the vamp. Mostly the last 1/4 of the vamp, so as not to get into the heart of the reed.

Another factor for low note response is the length of the facing, which varies among mouthpieces. Longer facings ease the low notes, but are not as quick responding.
Theo Wanne has a good discussion of the effect of facing length here: https://theowanne.com/knowledge/mouthpiece-facings/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,035 Posts
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.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
Joined
·
6,356 Posts
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...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,035 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,035 Posts
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!
 

·
Registered
Conn NW II Soprano, NW I Alto, 10M Tenor, NW I C Melody & Allora Bari.
Joined
·
271 Posts
Just remembered someone pointing out years ago that Tenor was a little harder to play because the bore starts out bigger (cork end of the neck) and abruptly gets bigger from there. Can't remember who said it. Just throwing that out there.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
28,511 Posts
Just remembered someone pointing out years ago that Tenor was a little harder to play because the bore starts out bigger (cork end of the neck) and abruptly gets bigger from there. Can't remember who said it. Just throwing that out there.
I am in the same camp as Felix above. The only thing I have ever found difficult on tenor, or any sax for that matter is Altissimo G. I don't know but one of the things that has been part of my practice routine since the beginning on tenor is playing the chromatic scale starting at Bb1 and going all the way up and then back down. I do it at increasingly faster tempos, particularly between low Bb and C as a rapid lick that can be stuck in anytime. I mean one of the most basic things in the beginning books was being able to play those notes well, hence long tones at all dynamic levels. If anything the difficulty of the G3 on the Martin Comm III (I'm not the only one who acknowledges it is difficult to get easily or cleanly) is perhaps steered me towards learning to control the bell notes really well. That can allow me to shine by playing low, loud and full instead of up high and bright. Coming down fast and doing a couple of kill Steamboat Willy Honks on Bb1 as a climax is just as good IMO as a great Lenny Pickett style High Altissimo arrow to the heart.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
434 Posts
I normally play tenor and periodically I have a problem getting the low notes out spot on (C - B - Bb - G). Every single time I have solved the problem by either working on my embouchure or bringing tenor into the right repair shop to fix the leak (or finding the leak myself).

Unfortunately, I recently picked up my Tenor from an "annual physical" from highly recommended repair shop. It was the first time I had used them, and it came back having problems in the low register....no surprise. There was a leak. Had to fix it myself.....voila, the low register is perfect again.

With all that said, when I picked up my tenor, I also tried a mint condition Buffet Bari. Low register was a beauty. Embouchure was much easier....so I totally get that the bari is easier...

.....so I have no conclusion. Possibly a combination of embouchure and imperfect horn.
 
41 - 58 of 58 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top