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Hi there, been playing for over 4 years now and I have always had issues with intonation. My lower notes are most of the time flat, by about a quarter of a note, and my high notes from say high A to high Dsharp (palm keys) are sharp by a quarter of a note...On the other hand past High D sharp(palm keys) I seem to be pretty in tune, even with the dreaded altissimo G....
I play on series 2 selmer tenor, otto link metal new york model 8*, 2/2.5 alexander reed.The sax had an overhaul a few months ago.

What do you reckon, I suspect I might be doing something wrong with my embouchure, perhaps too slack on low notes... Don't know!!!??...

Thanks for reading this thread, Regards Rom.
 

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I'm in no possible way an authority about these matters but just thinking together with you I'd try first to assess if you do this with other saxophones with your mouthpiece.

Once you found out that you do (if you don't.... it is quite easy to think that it depends upon your horn, or the way it is set rather, could it be that the keys are adjusted too close? .....it is my understanding that closed keys tend to make notes flat.... in that case go to you technician and complain about it), than you have to find out why. Have somebody else play your horn with his/her mouthpiece and then with yours. Any problems or solutions there? If they play in tune with you horn anyway (yours and theirs mouthpiece) it must be you, an ebouchure problem. If they have no problem with their piece and some problems with yours that is a different issue.


It could simply be a mouthpiece incompatibility issue (your piece could be not the ideal piece for your horn) change piece and see what happens.


I hope this helps:)
 

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I'm no expert about those things either.
But from my own experiences I know, that
1. mouthpieces with more open facings (and a 8* really is a more open facing) are more difficult to control, especially intonation - perhaps a more closed one could make it easier to control intonation.
2. finding the optimal position of the mouthpiece on the neck is essential to play the saxophone with a proper intonation.
3. Working on your embouchure is IMHO the only way to get intonation under control - give the book "Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound" by David Liebman a try, it helped me very much to solve my intonation problems on the soprano.


Good luck,

TeeJot
 

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Make sure you don't bite in the upper register. I used to pull the mouthpiece way out so that my upper register would be in tune, then I would bite the lower register to the right pitch. Not so great for tone, to say the least. Then I started playing in a jazz band at the local community music center. The director (a great sax teacher who I later studied with) insisted that I tune the horn so that the third space B and low B were in tune and comfortable and then use my ears to keep the upper register in tune. After a few rehearsals of painful intonation and dirty looks from the rest of the section, I started to figure it out. My ear improved and, most importantly, my sound opened up in a major way. After that, the mouthpiece has crept further and further in on the cork, until now it's almost all the way down. Not coincidentally, I'm closer to being happy with my sound than I have ever been before. Once I start lessons up again next week, I hope to finally develop my tone so that I can be proud to play in public with it.
 

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Tightening the embouchure to play the high notes, and relaxing the embouchure to play the low notes can create the intonation problems you describe.

If you haven't done so you might check the basic mouthpiece pitch you are putting into the sax. Play your mouthpiece alone with your normal embouchure and a strong airstream and see what pitch is produced. For classical playing a concert G is the recommended pitch in traditional saxophone pedagogy. Many jazz players like to play a step to a step and a half below this pitch, which seems to work fine. It is when the input pitch is higher than the G concert that the response and intonation of the (tenor) sax is adversely affected.

Once you have established a solid mouthpiece pitch at concert G or lower, then try playing the enitre range of the sax from low Bb to high F using exactly the same embouchure pressure throughout. This may be difficult at first if you are in the habit of changing the embouchure as you change registers, but it is worth the effort. Once you feel you can do this comfortably, then check the notes with a tuner and see if the high and low registers are more in tune. The airstream and shape inside the mouth and throat do change as you change registers on the sax, but the embouchure should remain essentially the same throughout the normal playing range from low Bb to high F.
 

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I find its easier to play less out of tune (I wont claim to be in tune) with the right reed/mpc combo. To soft and it bends easy...to hard and I bite.

Also, try to take more mouthpiece in. Aside from helping develop a nice core tone it puts the area where you put pressure further up the reed and there is less area for you to bend notes accidently if you do tighten your grip....which is all to easy to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you very much for all your comments, I will take on board what has been said and work at it...
Cheers, Rom.
 
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