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Hi All,

I'm trying to get full facility in all areas of the horn. At the moment low notes are giving me trouble.

I never have any trouble slurring down to them, even jumps (like a G to a low Bb for example).

However starting them, either quiet, or especially forcefully (think Tower of Power's Gene Kupka on barry - BUP!) is giving me a lot of trouble.

It's almost like the reed doesn't want to start vibrating. When it is I can go to the low notes easily, but when I hit them from "nothing" they usually have a minor squeak at the start (although they come onto pitch pretty quickly (less than a second) and I don't really have to think about it to make this happen.

My horn's not leaking, and I'm definitely pitching the pitch in my mind.

I'm playing a Martin tenor (1953, Committee model I think - "The Martin"), a Pillinger mouthpiece (equivalent to about a metal Link 8* in tip opening), and a LaVoz medium reed. I recently moved up from med. softs because they weren't giving me the control I needed at low volumes and even when I was using them my low notes still weren't good.

The problem happens when I play alto too, though to a slightly lesser degree.

Help would be appreciated here. I've been shedding them but they just don't seem to be getting better. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

-Dan
 

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Try "presurising" air behind the mouthpiece. It should be like you are about to blow up a baloon, but your tounge is keeping the air back. When you want to play, release the air and it will explode. This makes low notes so much easier.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
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Before you blame yourself and go into a swirl of self-doubt try the following:

1) Your mouthpiece on someone else's horn.

2) Your horn with other mouthpieces.

I had low end troubles forever and just assumed is was something I was doing. Switched mouthpieces and all of a sudden - low end played effortlessly.
 

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Hi:
I have two altos (Conn with N prefix, flower engraving; and a JK The New King from 1958).
My question is: Why I can get the low notes (C and below) easily on my JK and I have problems with the Conn on these low notes?. I use the same mouthpiece, same reed and both saxes are recently repaded by a good technician that says both saxes have no leaks at all. It is possible that my JK is easier on low notes than Conn??
Hope my english is not too bad!!

Thanks
 

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For soft entrances try the following exercise:

-Start the low note you are having trouble with at mfand then do a slow diminuendo down to pand hold it at that level as long as you can.

-When this is comfortable do the same and begin tonguing the note at the soft level with a very slow legato with no space in between the notes

-When you can do this speed up the legato tonguing and gradually increase the space between the notes

-Then try making a soft entrance on the note keeping the embouchure, air and tongue the same.

For loud entrances do the same but starting with a crescendo.

Playing low notes softly with control is naturally difficult on sax due to the fact that it is a conical instrument. Playing loud bell notes usually is not as great a problem. Mouthpieces with higher baffles and smaller chambers tend to favor the higher frequencies and can make the low notes more unresponsive in my experience. Sometime a compromise in the setup and reed strength needs to be found between the volume and edge desired and the ease of controlling the low register.

John
 

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Daniel Scott said:
Hi All,

I'm trying to get full facility in all areas of the horn. At the moment low notes are giving me trouble.

....
However starting them, either quiet, or especially forcefully (think Tower of Power's Gene Kupka on barry - BUP!) is giving me a lot of trouble.

It's almost like the reed doesn't want to start vibrating. When it is I can go to the low notes easily, but when I hit them from "nothing" they usually have a minor squeak at the start (although they come onto pitch pretty quickly (less than a second) and I don't really have to think about it to make this happen.

....-Dan
Sounds like you just need to practice using a softer reed and/or smaller tip mpc; your embouchure is not a good match for your setup. Or, maybe your reed is slightly warped and it's leaking air out the side somewhere.
 

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I've been dealing with a similar problem on a newly acquired alto.

Just today, I tried shoving my mouthpiece on a little further, probably about 4mm more than usual, and boom, low notes are speaking soooo much better.

But now the upper register is sharp. I don't have this problem on my other horns, so I suspect a mouthpiece/horn mismatch. Hoping this can be corrected, because I really like the horn and the piece.
 

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Durand said:
Hi:
I have two altos (Conn with N prefix, flower engraving; and a JK The New King from 1958).
My question is: Why I can get the low notes (C and below) easily on my JK and I have problems with the Conn on these low notes?. I use the same mouthpiece, same reed and both saxes are recently repaded by a good technician that says both saxes have no leaks at all. It is possible that my JK is easier on low notes than Conn??
Hope my english is not too bad!!

Thanks
Keilwerths have easy emission of low notes due to the bigger bow/bell section of the sax.
 

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I'm having a problem too with a "wobble" tone in my low D. Seems like if I put a little more of the mouthpice in my mouth it levels out. My upper register is perfect. Can't quite figure out another solution yet?
 

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Try out a weaker reed or a mouthpiece with a bigger tip opening. If you have a lot of spare reeds like I do, try sanding down the reed with some sand paper a little bit. The more you sand it, the easier it will be to play lower notes, but if you sand it too much your higher notes will get real sharp.

Being able to sand down a reed right can take some practice. I recommend buying a box of cheap reeds and experimenting with it a bit.
 

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F1's resident sax player, Forum Contributor 2008
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Definately try softer reeds and different brands. Vandorens are a little bit softer than some other brands - it could be you need to be between strengths on the LaVoz reeds and switching brands could solve it.

Otherwise you might not be relaxing your embrouchure enough - I found when I first started on playing tenor that my embrouchure was too tense to get the bell notes, just as you are saying.

If that doesnt help, try a different mouthpiece. My alto is in for a service right now because its leaking badly, but I could still get the bell notes easily on my Meyer metal, but not any of my other mouthpieces.

Also get someone else to try your horn with their mouthpiece - if they have problems go back to a tech incase a leak was missed or developed since last time.
 
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