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Well after about a month of testing, trying out mouthpieces, checking with other players & tech etc etc.... I have finally concluded I play naturally sharp.

Now I'm not very sure if I should "fix" this problem - its not really causing much issue, but I somehow got a feeling that it is a warning signal of me not blowing correctly and it will somehow prevent myself from improving in the future.

Maybe I'm just paranoid, but any suggestions will help.

Thanks!
 

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What I'm hearing you say is ; When you're sharp it sounds in tune to your ears.
This is a common problem that I had when I was younger and can still pop up if I'm not paying attention.
The cure is to play flat and gradually push the mouthpiece in until it sounds right.
Then check with a tuner to see if you're pitch is on.
Remember, some notes may be sharp or flat depending on your horn.
You have to find a happy medium and then use you embouchure to fix the out notes.
Keep a tuner handy at all times.
 

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Well after about a month of testing, trying out mouthpieces, checking with other players & tech etc etc.... I have finally concluded I play naturally sharp.

Now I'm not very sure if I should "fix" this problem - its not really causing much issue, but I somehow got a feeling that it is a warning signal of me not blowing correctly and it will somehow prevent myself from improving in the future.

Maybe I'm just paranoid, but any suggestions will help.

Thanks!
Take a look at this.

http://www.steveduke.net/pdf/steve_duke_mouthpiece_placement.pdf
 

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a while ago i was recording my practice on something and towards the end i knew i was sharp because the reed was on the way out... how much experimentation have you done with your reed strengths..? you might find that your embouchure has developed beyond your reed strength... a bit like trying to drive a car on a freeway/highway in fourth gear as opposed to fifth gear... it may be worth going to a music shop and getting some individual reeds as further trial... if you are playing a 3 strength reed... go and get a 4 to try as well as a harder 3.5 strength reed... you might break a sweat when you play however it could bring some of your tuning issues back into line...
 

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Of course you should fix it. What you need to do is retrain your ears, then placing the mouthpiece will take care of itself. Sit with your horn at a piano. Play a note on the piano and match it on the sax. Listen for it to lock in. When it's close, you'll hear the beat between the two notes. When it's perfect, it locks in together and becomes the same sound, and the two reinforce eachother. Keep at it until you can lock in almost instantly at different ranges of the instrument. Then do the same with perfect intervals (4ths and 5ths), then major and minor 3rds and 6ths. An interval that is in tune rings in a way that an out of tune interval doesn't. Listen for that, and learn what it feels like. It may take a few weeks but once you learn what playing in tune feels like you'll be able to keep doing it.
 

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Of course you should fix it. What you need to do is retrain your ears, then placing the mouthpiece will take care of itself. Sit with your horn at a piano. ...
Amen to fixing intonation. Aside from the piano, I am told that there are CDs of long tones made for this purpose.

One other thing: Every horn has some notes that tend to be sharp. If you are sharp only in the upper register, you may be biting, and you may be using a small chambered mouthpiece. Aside from needing to learn intonation, you need to patiently build your muscles while avoiding the habit of biting. A large chambered mouthpiece can also help if sharpness is in the upper register, but you will still need to use your ears to tune, and you will still need to avoid biting.

pull out your mouthpiece a bit :p
If you are sharp on most notes in all the registers, then this will help. If you cannot pull your mouthpiece out enough while maintaining a good seal, then you should wrap the neck cork with plumbers tape:
 

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If you only play by yourself with no accompanament at all being sharp or flat all the time may not be an issue, but then you aren't learning anything except fingerings and technique.

Fix the issue NOW. Train you ears so that you can tell when you're off.
The first time you play in a group you'll be glad that you did. No one wants to sit next to another player who can't play in tune and blend.
Try pulling out, different strenghts/cuts of reeds, even a different mouthpiece if you need. If all else fails, get a teacher to help you sort things out on a one-to-one basis. They can see and hear what you are doing and give you a lot of suggestions on how to cure your problem better than a bunch of old players on the internet. :)
 

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of course there is the question... do you play sharp on the whole horn, or just the higher register? If you find yourself getting sharper as you go higher on the horn, especially the left hand notes or higher, its probably your tone production. In other words, its how you produce tone. If this is the case many people actually benfit from pushing in and cahnging the way you blow. Get a private teacher who is a good player.
 

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of course there is the question... do you play sharp on the whole horn, or just the higher register? If you find yourself getting sharper as you go higher on the horn, especially the left hand notes or higher, its probably your tone production. In other words, its how you produce tone. If this is the case many people actually benfit from pushing in and cahnging the way you blow. Get a private teacher who is a good player.
I don't quite get this but I guess you mean he needs to not tighten up his embouchure so much up high and to support the note with the airstream?
 

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I don't quite get this but I guess you mean he needs to not tighten up his embouchure so much up high and to support the note with the airstream?
I think what he means is to learn to not tighten up the embouchure anywhere, not just the high notes. A little tightness doesn't affect the pitch in the lower and mid registers as drastically as it does in the upper register, so it's common for biters to play way sharp in the upper register but OK in the others. These folks usually play with the mpc far off on the cork. But once one learns how to play relaxed across the whole range of the horn, the tone opens up and becomes much more resonant, and the overall pitch center drops. From that point, the mpc will have to be pushed further in to play in tune with itself, and with other instruments.
 

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Tune to a keyboard and then play the unison note, regardless of octave. Listen carefully and you can hear the pitch waver slightly when the pitch is sharp. Should the mouthpiece be so far out and about to fall off the neck your embouchre may be too tight or the neck cork is worn out and doesn't expand enough as it dries out.
 

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I think what he means is to learn to not tighten up the embouchure anywhere, not just the high notes. A little tightness doesn't affect the pitch in the lower and mid registers as drastically as it does in the upper register, so it's common for biters to play way sharp in the upper register but OK in the others. These folks usually play with the mpc far off on the cork. But once one learns how to play relaxed across the whole range of the horn, the tone opens up and becomes much more resonant, and the overall pitch center drops. From that point, the mpc will have to be pushed further in to play in tune with itself, and with other instruments.
...and an unforseen positive byproduct of this is that the player plays much lower, some refer to this as centering the embouchure, thus requiring the mouthpiece to be pushed in. I find there's an optimum length of the horn for it to play intune bewteen octaves well, and most people are too far out on the neck to take advantage of this. Many kids for instance, play too hard of a reed so they have to bite to play at all, and thus play too high and have to pull way out to not be sharp when they tune to a tune-up note, perhaps.
 

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. . . so in other words, it sounds like your tone production technique is unable to allow you to comfortably play low enough to be precisely in tune? Or your equiopment is whack and you should make sure there is nothing wrong with it . . . and these things are not necessarily intuitive . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks guys!!! thank you for all of your help!!!

I think I should clarify that I've a high pitch center. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm currently trying all of your suggestions and let's see how it goes in a week or two.

I will also try softer reeds to see if it helps me to loosen my embouchure. [currently using rico select jazz 3m]

P.S. special thanks to bstrom and equake for their very useful video and article!!!!!!
 
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