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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi guys, I am a sophomore in college and i am in the jazz band. My whole life I was an alto sax player. I was pretty good. I was an all state alto player throughout my high school years. For jazz band this year I decided to switch it up and play tenor. For some reason. When i play any note from about middle g and below, the notes always want to play an octave above and it sounds airy. I gotta play the notes relatively loud for the notes to come out properly but I have to play softly with the section. Almost every time I articulate one of these low notes it plays an octave above. I never had these issues playing alto. Is this something I just have to adjust to because it's a tenor? Or is it a problem with the horn itself? Im using a daddario select jazz mouthpiece, m/o lig, select jazz 3S, super action tenor.

I also add that my alto is a YAS 62

Thanks!
 

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Make sure the body octave key is closing properly, the octave mechanism changes from the neck octave pip to the body octave pip between A & B. You may have a spring in the mechanism that has become unseated.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Make sure the body octave key is closing properly, the octave mechanism changes from the neck octave pip to the body octave pip between A & B. You may have a spring in the mechanism that has become unseated.

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I have a rubber band on the octave mechanism on the neck and theres still issues. Would a rubber band solve this potential problem?
 

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I have a rubber band on the octave mechanism on the neck and theres still issues. Would a rubber band solve this potential problem?
The rubber band is going to react badly with the lacquer. Go to a tech, and have them repair the problem for you.
 

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I have a rubber band on the octave mechanism on the neck and theres still issues. Would a rubber band solve this potential problem?
Get your horn fixed, then see if the problem remains. Alto players often need to learn to relax their embouchure for tenor - and adjust their breath support. You cannot play a tenor like an alto and expect to get a great tenor sound.
 

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Get your horn fixed, then see if the problem remains. Alto players often need to learn to relax their embouchure for tenor - and adjust their breath support. You cannot play a tenor like an alto and expect to get a great tenor sound.
This^^^^. Having gone from alto to tenor, the tenor embouchure is much more relaxed, and you might need to take a bit more mouthpiece into your mouth. This, and getting the right reed stiffness, was very important to hitting clean low notes with confidence.

Also when you say middle G do you mean the G that is written in the middle of the staff, with no octave key?
 

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Once you have confirmed that there are no leaks in the instrument, these are a couple of diagnostics that may help: 1) make sure the pitch of the mouthpiece alone is no higher than a G concert, 2) see how close the pitch of the mouthpiece and neck is to E concert (F#2 on the tenor). The "voicing" on tenor feels different than on alto. For me it is a more open feeling in the oral cavity. When tonguing, make sure not to raise the back of the tongue since this will "encourage" the octave to sound on notes in a lower register. You might also ask a more experienced tenor player to try your instrument to get their feedback on how the low register responds for them. An exercise I use with my students is to slur quickly from low G down to low C and hold it as long as you can on one breath. Once you learn the "taste" of low C, practice starting on that note with the same embouchure, shape inside the oral cavity, and airstream. Once low C is under control, do the same on low B and Bb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This^^^^. Having gone from alto to tenor, the tenor embouchure is much more relaxed, and you might need to take a bit more mouthpiece into your mouth. This, and getting the right reed stiffness, was very important to hitting clean low notes with confidence.

Also when you say middle G do you mean the G that is written in the middle of the staff, with no octave key?
Yes. No octave key on the staff. It's not as bad as the lower notes, but I can feel it wanting to play an octave above
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Once you have confirmed that there are no leaks in the instrument, these are a couple of diagnostics that may help: 1) make sure the pitch of the mouthpiece alone is no higher than a G concert, 2) see how close the pitch of the mouthpiece and neck is to E concert (F#2 on the tenor). The "voicing" on tenor feels different than on alto. For me it is a more open feeling in the oral cavity. When tonguing, make sure not to raise the back of the tongue since this will "encourage" the octave to sound on notes in a lower register. You might also ask a more experienced tenor player to try your instrument to get their feedback on how the low register responds for them. An exercise I use with my students is to slur quickly from low G down to low C and hold it as long as you can on one breath. Once you learn the "taste" of low C, practice starting on that note with the same embouchure, shape inside the oral cavity, and airstream. Once low C is under control, do the same on low B and Bb.
Thank you for your feedback
 

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Get the horn looked over before you start going into tongue-twisting and other exercises that may hurt you in the long run. If there are no leaks (and a flash light will NOT do the trick but even a cheap LED ribbon from HomeDepot will work), start practicing playing soft with a relaxed embouchure and your lower lip pushed out to the front, even if it feels a bit weird in the beginning.

And what tip opening is your D'Addario select jazz mouthpiece?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Get the horn looked over before you start going into tongue-twisting and other exercises that may hurt you in the long run. If there are no leaks (and a flash light will NOT do the trick but even a cheap LED ribbon from HomeDepot will work), start practicing playing soft with a relaxed embouchure and your lower lip pushed out to the front, even if it feels a bit weird in the beginning.

And what tip opening is your D'Addario select jazz mouthpiece?
I use a d7m with a 3S select jazz reed. I used to use a meyer 5 and it was worse.
 

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The 7M is .105". A #3 would probably be ok for an experienced tenor player, but may be too hard for someone new to tenor. I'd start softer and see if that helps you with the low register. If there are no leaks, then you're obviously biting too hard and probably have other embouchure and technique issues.

I hate to be negative, but I'd stick with alto if tenor isn't coming naturally to you. It's going to take a while for you to become a tenor player, and you probably don't have the luxury of time in the jazz band to come up to speed. If your teachers can't help you, maybe the other tenor player could work with you a little to get you on the right track.
 

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When i play any note from about middle g and below, the notes always want to play an octave above and it sounds airy.
Unless you simply haven't adjusted your embouchure to tenor, and maybe even if you have, this is a strong indicator of one or more leaks.
Before doing anything else, take the horn to a tech and have it checked out, and the leaks fixed if present (which I highly suspect they are).
 

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Well, first thing I echo everyone else, check for leaks. If you don't know how to do this, it's worth this once taking it to the shop.

I will say that a .105" mouthpiece with a #3 reed is a pretty open setup for someone who's never played tenor. I've been playing tenor (and other voices) for 43 years now and I play most of the time on about a .090" piece with a 2.5 reed. Why do you think you need to work so hard?

If you're biting and pinching, using a big open hard-reed setup won't fix that problem. If you learn how to play tenor with a tenor embouchure, tenor-sized breaths, and a tenor-supported airstream, you'll have no trouble with a smaller softer setup and getting good volume out of it.

To finish up, are you on 4th tenor? If you're on that chair, for sure you want to go with an easy-playing setup, as most of the time you're playing low and soft. Personally in big bands I tend to use my old standby Meyer 8 (about .090 or so) on the jazz tenor chair and an old Brilhart Ebolin (I guess about .080?) for 4th tenor. I have a grass-killer Dukoff but only need it for rock and roll.
 

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I will say that a .105" mouthpiece with a #3 reed is a pretty open setup for someone who's never played tenor.
I agree with that, especially the relatively hard reed. The reed is likely more of an issue that the tip opening, especially in terms of playing the low register. Still, I strongly suspect a leak, probably more than one leak, is the main problem.
 

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I use a d7m with a 3S select jazz reed. I used to use a meyer 5 and it was worse.
To echo some of the others, this might be at least a contributing factor. If you are not used to tenor, you might go with a #2 reed for starters, the 2H is probably the best choice for the time being. But really, do yourself the favor and have the instrument checked.

Also keep in mind that all the issues mentioned in this thread are not exclusive but additive / complementary, so here is the checklist:

Have horn checked for leaks
Use a different reed (Select Jazz 2H, Marca Superieure 2 - 2.5, Vandoren ZZ 2 - 2.5)
Take in more MPC and move your lower lip "out"
Make sure you blow into the MPC at a straight (co-axial) direction as a starting point and carefully adjust the angle up/down until you find the sweet spot - the positioning of a tenor is very different from an alto.
Practice soft playing

I don't think there is a need for a different MPC but if everything else fails, go back to alto instead of spending another $500 on another mouthpiece that won't work :cool:
 

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If you learn how to play tenor with a tenor embouchure, tenor-sized breaths, and a tenor-supported airstream, you'll have no trouble with a smaller softer setup and getting good volume out of it.
I love that "tenor-sized ___". Yes!

To finish up, are you on 4th tenor? If you're on that chair, for sure you want to go with an easy-playing setup, as most of the time you're playing low and soft.
That may depend on your type of big band. I have played both dance/swing bands and contemporary jazz big bands. Rather than adopting a low and soft attitude, I'd say listen to the lead players, balance with the corresponding trumpet and trombone parts, and ask the director about the blend of the section. Playing soft may be interpreted as meek and insecure - even if that is not your intention. Rather than just practicing playing soft, focus on playing with control at every dynamic.
 
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