Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've been having trouble playing since marching band started at my college. I think it's my setup, but I'm not sure. Everyone has to use school instuments, and all of the saxophones are Selmer La Voix II's (I'm marching tenor). I'm using the same mouthpiece and reed I use on my Conn 12m, a Rico Metalite m9 and a java green 3, but quite often a note will break, most of the notes feel like they're balancing on a knife's edge if they don't break, and in general, playing it just feels like trying to wade through mud. Switching to a Metalite m7 didn't change much, and switching to the provided mouthpiece made the saxophone almost unplayable.

So I narrowed it down to me or the saxophone. This isn't the first Taiwanese sax I've played, though. I've played a jupiter alto (don't remember the model), and I borrowed a JBS 1000 from my high school once (key word is once). I hated playing both of those saxophones, which makes me think the sax is the problem, but my problems on those weren't nearly as bad as what I'm having now.

I don't think it's a problem with leaks or anything like that. Both my alto and bari have more leaks than I care to count or fix, and the neck socket on my bari is about as round as a box, yet I can still play both of them without this same issue.

So if the problem is me, what could I do to fix it? The saxophone in addition to many other small things are making me not enjoy marching band at this college, and I have considered trying to transfer to a different college (not just because of marching band), but I'm not sure what to do about that yet. I don't want to spend a bunch of money on a setup if there's a good chance that I'll transfer to a new school, and if it's the college that was my first choice, I'd just end up marching bari and probably never playing tenor again.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,933 Posts
I've been having trouble playing since marching band started at my college. I think it's my setup, but I'm not sure. Everyone has to use school instuments, and all of the saxophones are Selmer La Voix II's (I'm marching tenor). I'm using the same mouthpiece and reed I use on my Conn 12m...
Are you saying that you are using a bari mouthpiece on tenor???
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
·
7,412 Posts
'I don't think it's a problem with leaks or anything like that'

I do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
OP: What I learned while trying to learn how to scrape a cheap plastic reed is that if I scrape too much off the window the tone will break on f and e (and all the others also). So is it possible that your green reed is getting soft? Maybe try a red java?

Phil: I went through 42 pages of forum text in your tone threads and copied the important info into notebook where it is saved. You pretty much did the same thing right here. Thank you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
'I don't think it's a problem with leaks or anything like that'

I do.
Where do you think the leak would be? I'll check for leaks, but this saxophone doesn't feel like any other leaky sax I've played, and it doesn't take a lot of air to play low notes

Could you get someone else to play the sax, and see if they have problems with it?
I could, but not for a couple of days. It's locked in the field house until our next practice
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Does this happen on alto and bari or just bari? If the horn doesn't have any leaks and the reed is okay it's probably you. It's possible that you're not taking enough mouthpiece in your mouth so try that.
It only happens on tenor. I can play just fine on both my alto and bari. I take in almost as much mouthpiece on tenor as I do on bari, so if anything, I'd probably need to back off a bit

While I was reading the rest of your post, you said that I shouldn't use a lot of pressure on the mouthpiece, which makes me think my reed is too strong. I've seen most people suggest that a size 2 or 2.5 be used on a mouthpiece as open as mine, so would you suggest trying a softer reed?

OP: What I learned while trying to learn how to scrape a cheap plastic reed is that if I scrape too much off the window the tone will break on f and e (and all the others also). So is it possible that your green reed is getting soft? Maybe try a red java?
I doubt the reed is getting soft. I rotate through a box of 5 reeds every time I play. I started using this box of reeds when band started in early August, and this has been going on the whole time.

Reading Phil's post makes me think my reed is too strong. I clamp down pretty hard on my mouthpiece because my reed is so stiff for the mouthpiece size. Do you think that could be the problem?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
17,962 Posts
Where do you think the leak would be? I'll check for leaks, but this saxophone doesn't feel like any other leaky sax I've played, and it doesn't take a lot of air to play low notes
Do you have the proper leak light and expertise to determine if something is leaking ? Not being a wise#ss, just asking. Because, to me...if you can play Baritone fine and stable, but you feel the Tenor is blowing very unstable, then the FIRST thing to check for is leaks.


I could, but not for a couple of days. It's locked in the field house until our next practice
So basically, you don't get to take the Tenor with you to blow it by yourself, outside of the context of marching practice ? Yipes....that's doesn't seem very logical of the band director.

Just to leave no stone unturned, you could try dropping reed strength by .5 and see if things improve. As well as try a few of Phil's excellent exercises (although just based on what you have provided thus far - my hunch is that won't be the ticket since you say you can voice Alto and BigHorn just fine....)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Where do you think the leak would be? I'll check for leaks, but this saxophone doesn't feel like any other leaky sax I've played, and it doesn't take a lot of air to play low notes
Do you have the proper leak light and expertise to determine if something is leaking ? Not being a wise#ss, just asking. Because, to me...if you can play Baritone fine and stable, but you feel the Tenor is blowing very unstable, then the FIRST thing to check for is leaks.


I could, but not for a couple of days. It's locked in the field house until our next practice
So basically, you don't get to take the Tenor with you to blow it by yourself, outside of the context of marching practice ? Yipes....that's doesn't seem very logical of the band director.

Just to leave no stone unturned, you could try dropping reed strength by .5 and see if things improve. As well as try a few of Phil's excellent exercises (although just based on what you have provided thus far - my hunch is that won't be the ticket since you say you can voice Alto and BigHorn just fine....)
I do have a leak light I can use, and I've been repairing saxophones as a hobby for the past 3 years, so I should be able to find any leaks that make a noticeable difference. I've just never experienced a leak similar to this one, if it is a leak

We can take our instruments home after band practice, but I'm usually exhausted by the end of practice and I don't feel like carrying my tenor to my dorm. The sax has a hard case without backpack straps, and it's about a ten minute walk to my dorm from the field. I'll take it back after our next practice to see if Phil's exercises help
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
What do you mean by a note "breaks"?
It either jumps an octave or plays an entirely different note. Sometimes both at once

KF - What type of Alto and what type of Bari are you playing? Are they vintage horns like your 12M or more modern?
My alto is a Yamaha YAS 23 and my bari is a Conn 12M. The tenor that I'm using that belongs to my school (the one I'm having problems with) is a Selmer La Voix II
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,012 Posts
Finger G and push the thumb key hard several times watching the neck octave pad. It should not raise or bounce. If it does, remove the neck and place your thumb between the ring and the body of the neck and carefully push down on the octave pad then check again. When you finger G to A with the thumb key pressed, the body octave and neck octave should trade places. If the neck octave doesn't rise when you finger A, you bent the ring too far. In that case put a craft stick/tongue depressor under the pad on the neck and carefully push the ring toward the base of the neck. You may have to go back and forth a few times to get the adjustment right.

If the problem is not the octave mechanism, and the problem is intermittent, and you don't have a lot of experience playing tenor, it may be that you haven't yet learned the "voicing" for that instrument. It is quite different from both the alto and the bari. First check the pitch of the mouthpiece alone. Set your embouchure tension to produce a G concert. When you have this embouchure locked in, play the mouthpiece and the neck together. That pitch should be an E concert if your embouchure and voicing are properly set. This takes care of the input frequency into the saxophone. I suggest you play long tones on the notes that tend to "break" for you. If, after dialing in the mouthpiece pitch and the mouthpiece + neck pitch you are still fighting some notes, have your sax checked by a professional tech---preferably one who can play test the sax before and after any repairs or adjustments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
392 Posts
It either jumps an octave or plays an entirely different note. Sometimes both at once


My alto is a Yamaha YAS 23 and my bari is a Conn 12M. The tenor that I'm using that belongs to my school (the one I'm having problems with) is a Selmer La Voix II
Got the situation. Sorry, I’m not fully fluent on instrument numbers. I had thought you had an old tenor sax that played well and a new La Voix for school....but I now understand that the La Voix is your one and only tenor. I think concur with Saxoclese. As I was running through practice on my tenor just now, I noticed some related items that I thought might be pertinent to you..

1). I play a Conn Shooting Star - Basically the tenor version of you 12M. I have found that on the Conn (as compared to my modern Selmer Mark VII) I have to use the octave key (left thumb) starting on different notes. For example, when I play G (the G sitting on top of the staff) with the Conn, I always have to have the octave key depressed. The mechanics for the Conn sound perfect every time. On my Mark VII, sometimes I need it, usually I don’t. (Depends not he previous note and whether I am slurring or articulating) Sometimes I just have to depress it part way to get the G to come out just right. Normally, on the Mark VII I need the octave key for Eb (not F or G) and then starting again at A. If I hit the octave key at the wrong time, I will sometimes get a squeak. (It is possible that my Mark VII is out of adjustment - or it could be a Selmer design challenge). I guess my key point here is that my Conn has a different transition point for the Octave Key than my Selmer. You may be facing this too, as your Conn Bari and your Selmer Tenor might require different fingerings with the octave key...

2). The C to D transition is also a challenge on the tenor....so it is easy to get an ‘airy’ D or a squeaky ‘C’. Embouchure development and proper breathing help me in this area a lot.

3). Per Saxoclese, your tenor is in B-flat and that could simply be a development opportunity for you. Stuff is different.

4). How did you end up selecting the Metalite M7 or M9 mouthpiece? Because the airflow through them is so fast, they might be contribution to your squeak. They are super stylized....You might want to try the stock mouthpiece again but with a much harder reed. (I can send you my old Hite Premiere mpc if you want to try it out. They cost about $35 new. They have no resale value, and it is just laying around).

A way you can confirm whether your tenor has technical problems is to take your mouthpiece and stick it on your neighbors tenor at band practice. See if you have the same problem. If you don’t, ask the school to give you a La Voix that is in better repair. Band horns can get banged up.

.....just some thoughts....hopefully one of these ideas will work for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
If the problem is not the octave mechanism, and the problem is intermittent, and you don't have a lot of experience playing tenor, it may be that you haven't yet learned the "voicing" for that instrument. It is quite different from both the alto and the bari. First check the pitch of the mouthpiece alone. Set your embouchure tension to produce a G concert. When you have this embouchure locked in, play the mouthpiece and the neck together. That pitch should be an E concert if your embouchure and voicing are properly set. This takes care of the input frequency into the saxophone. I suggest you play long tones on the notes that tend to "break" for you. If, after dialing in the mouthpiece pitch and the mouthpiece + neck pitch you are still fighting some notes, have your sax checked by a professional tech---preferably one who can play test the sax before and after any repairs or adjustments.
I didn't realize the embouchure would be that different on tenor. This marching season is my first time playing tenor, so that could be it. I'll bring my mouthpiece back to my dorm after practice tomorrow to start fixing that (and annoy everyone around me)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
1). I play a Conn Shooting Star - Basically the tenor version of you 12M. I have found that on the Conn (as compared to my modern Selmer Mark VII) I have to use the octave key (left thumb) starting on different notes. For example, when I play G (the G sitting on top of the staff) with the Conn, I always have to have the octave key depressed. The mechanics for the Conn sound perfect every time. On my Mark VII, sometimes I need it, usually I don’t. (Depends not he previous note and whether I am slurring or articulating) Sometimes I just have to depress it part way to get the G to come out just right. Normally, on the Mark VII I need the octave key for Eb (not F or G) and then starting again at A. If I hit the octave key at the wrong time, I will sometimes get a squeak. (It is possible that my Mark VII is out of adjustment - or it could be a Selmer design challenge). I guess my key point here is that my Conn has a different transition point for the Octave Key than my Selmr. You may be facing this too, as your Conn Bari and your Selmer Tenor might require different fingerings with the octave key...

4). How did you end up selecting the Metalite M7 or M9 mouthpiece? Because the airflow through them is so fast, they might be contribution to your squeak. They are super stylized....You might want to try the stock mouthpiece again but with a much harder reed. (I can send you my old Hite Premiere mpc if you want to try it out. They cost about $35 new. They have no resale value, and it is just laying around).
That could be part of the problem, but I have issues no matter which octave I'm playing in

I started using a metalite M9 on my bari when I first started marching bari because I wanted a cheap mouthpiece that could project, and since that's what I got used to and liked, I decided to buy a couple for tenor this year

Thanks for the offer. I'm going to try fixing my embouchure before trying another mouthpiece, but I'll try to remember if it doesn't make much of a difference
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
517 Posts
Practice playing Low Bb once then Middle Bb twice then High Bb twice. Repeat that until you can play all three with proper pitch good embouchure and air support. Also play those notes in reverse (Down the octaves). That exercise is very good for Tenor sax due to the air support needed for low Bb and the embouchure being correct for octave intervals.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
392 Posts
Practice playing Low Bb once then Middle Bb twice then High Bb twice. Repeat that until you can play all three with proper pitch good embouchure and air support. Also play those notes in reverse (Down the octaves). That exercise is very good for Tenor sax due to the air support needed for low Bb and the embouchure being correct for octave intervals.
Yes, this exercise work, given enough time with it..........however, it isn’t easy.....so don’t get frustrated. The only note I have more trouble playing than Low B-flat is low A-sharp.....Good luck........as the Tenor is awesome. Don’t give it up.....and definitely don’t change colleges......as that will create a host of other problems you aren’t anticipating.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
7,356 Posts
Got the situation. Sorry, I’m not fully fluent on instrument numbers. I had thought you had an old tenor sax that played well and a new La Voix for school....but I now understand that the La Voix is your one and only tenor. I think concur with Saxoclese. As I was running through practice on my tenor just now, I noticed some related items that I thought might be pertinent to you..

1). I play a Conn Shooting Star - Basically the tenor version of you 12M. I have found that on the Conn (as compared to my modern Selmer Mark VII) I have to use the octave key (left thumb) starting on different notes. For example, when I play G (the G sitting on top of the staff) with the Conn, I always have to have the octave key depressed. The mechanics for the Conn sound perfect every time. On my Mark VII, sometimes I need it, usually I don’t. (Depends not he previous note and whether I am slurring or articulating) Sometimes I just have to depress it part way to get the G to come out just right. Normally, on the Mark VII I need the octave key for Eb (not F or G) and then starting again at A. If I hit the octave key at the wrong time, I will sometimes get a squeak. (It is possible that my Mark VII is out of adjustment - or it could be a Selmer design challenge). I guess my key point here is that my Conn has a different transition point for the Octave Key than my Selmer. You may be facing this too, as your Conn Bari and your Selmer Tenor might require different fingerings with the octave key...

2). The C to D transition is also a challenge on the tenor....so it is easy to get an ‘airy’ D or a squeaky ‘C’. Embouchure development and proper breathing help me in this area a lot.

3). Per Saxoclese, your tenor is in B-flat and that could simply be a development opportunity for you. Stuff is different.

4). How did you end up selecting the Metalite M7 or M9 mouthpiece? Because the airflow through them is so fast, they might be contribution to your squeak. They are super stylized....You might want to try the stock mouthpiece again but with a much harder reed. (I can send you my old Hite Premiere mpc if you want to try it out. They cost about $35 new. They have no resale value, and it is just laying around).

A way you can confirm whether your tenor has technical problems is to take your mouthpiece and stick it on your neighbors tenor at band practice. See if you have the same problem. If you don’t, ask the school to give you a La Voix that is in better repair. Band horns can get banged up.

.....just some thoughts....hopefully one of these ideas will work for you.
There is no reason to be playing without the octave key for notes that usually require it in regular playing. You should always be using it on notes from middle D and up.

There is a beginners tone study which involves playing notes that usually need it without it and visa versa. But it's a tone study. And shouldn't be carried into regular playing other than what it does to your throat.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top