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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

A while back I posted about some issues I was having picking up tenor from alto.

My issues were/are high G and G# wanting to jump and flutter between the high and low octave.

Most of the responses amounted to this being common on tenor, playing more, practicing long tones, and trying harder reeds. With these things I was told the jumping would just work itself out.

I admit I probably didn't practice the long tones as much as I should. But I have been doing them a fair amount.

I've also recently started overtones. Which is pretty fun and I'm sure immensely helpful in overall control.

Good news: The octave jumping has improved some. It seems I have pretty decent control of it when I first start playing.

Bad news: It seems that after about 30 minutes of playing, everything falls apart. I can hardly hold a high G or G# without the octave jumping.
And now I'm having similar issues with high A! Which isn't even the side octave vent....

It also feels as though high A is harder to blow or has more resistance than B or C. This is also after about thirty minutes. Weird.

Quite often I feel like I can voice up from middle A, G, and G# with no octave key and it sounds better. This is confusing to me. I'll be holding the voiced note, pop the octave key, and it goes to hell.

So I guess I'm wondering if it makes sense to anyone that even the slightest bit of mouth fatigue is what causes these issues to arise. I don't really feel that tired after only thirty minutes

A tech looked it over. Played it. Says it's perfectly fine. I had a lesson the other day and the instructor said I looked fine. Just practice singing the notes and you'll eventually get it. That's were I'm confused. I can hit them ok voicing from the middle octave.

Is there anything about a horn that can make it act up after playing it for a brief time? Unlikely I'm sure.... Unrelated maybe, but when I play this tenor standing up, spit seems to exit from the upper stack and get on the keys and my fingers. This never happens sitting down.

I'm just reaching out again because this is driving me nuts! I don't remember any issues like this on alto when I was younger.

I'm playing a Chicago style jazz b&s
Brilhart 4
And have tried vandoren Java 2.5 and 3
And d'addario 2m and 2h
And a legere signature 2.25
 

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Maybe you’re bumping a palm key...maybe the sidepip spring is too weak. Maybe you just need more time behind the horn...good luck.
 

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Is there anything about a horn that can make it act up after playing it for a brief time? Unlikely I'm sure.... Unrelated maybe, but when I play this tenor standing up, spit seems to exit from the upper stack and get on the keys and my fingers. This never happens sitting down.
Yes, a leak, even a very minor one, could cause this. I realize your tech told you the horn was fine; but maybe a second opinion would be in order, just to rule it out as the cause. And no, the octave jump is not caused by 'spit' leaking from the upper stack--actually that 'spit' is condensation (water) from the warm air stream in contact with the cooler brass. That condensation is very common, especially in a cool environment and I've never noticed it to cause the problem you describe. Keep a cloth or small towel handy to occasionally wipe your hand and those upper stack keys. Anyway, I'd take the horn back in to the tech, or a different one, and have it thoroughly checked for leaks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Sounds like embouchure issue to me.
Which I suppose would explain it getting worse after some time due to my mouth getting fatigued....

I just don't feel that tired after 30 minutes. I've been playing almost every day for a few months now

I guess my biggest question is why does it tend to sound better when I'm voicing the high g, g#, and a. sans octave key

I'm holding the voiced note and it sounds ok, then I continue to hold the note and pop the octave key and it immediately feels like there's more resistance and it often starts to flutter again.
When I hit the octave key im trying very hard to not change a thing and I'm noticing these issues.

Hopefully Friday I can get up to our main saxophone store and have another tech look for good measure. And he has many saxophones there I can sample and see if the issues are the same
 

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I would look closely at the octave key pips and the mechanism. You might have a bit of gunk in one of the pips, or perhaps a synchronization issue between the two keys. That can be a very subtle adjustment. I had this issue on a Mark VII. It turned out that the lower octave key was a bit clogged, and also not closing completely when it should.
 

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Trying different types of mouthpieces with different resistance levels helps sometimes. You might be feeling too much resistance or maybe not enough resistance. Possibly not enough baffle or too much baffle for how you play. Many of us tried a variety of things in the beginning to narrow down what works best for us as individuals. Stay with it and one day you'll be sharing what worked for you and help other players.
 

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I guess my biggest question is why does it tend to sound better when I'm voicing the high g, g#, and a. sans octave key

I'm holding the voiced note and it sounds ok, then I continue to hold the note and pop the octave key and it immediately feels like there's more resistance and it often starts to flutter again.
That sure sounds like an issue with the horn. I guess it could be an embouchure problem, but I'd want to rule out a mechanical problem with the instrument first and foremost. One thing you might do is try a different horn that's in decent condition (maybe go to a store and try a new horn) and see if you have the same issue. In any case, take your horn in to a good tech and have it thoroughly checked out.
 

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Like most of the opinions here, I agree that either an air leak or a tired embouchure (tight) would be prime suspects. I would also like to suggest that you try a different reed. I have had issues with cane reeds functioning differently when they get saturated with ‘moisture.’.....one of the many reasons I don’t use them any more.
 

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Sounds to me like the neck octave key is staying open. If you're mechanically inclined can be fixed with a little bending. If not, have a tech fix it. I think the fatigue comes from getting worn out over fighting the leak, where ever it may be. Could also be any of the upper palm or RH side keys, C, B or bis. A leak light will tell the tale.
 

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+1 for a leak. Could be neck pip. Might be body octave pip if it's not engaging correctly as well. Git 're checked out!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Like most of the opinions here, I agree that either an air leak or a tired embouchure (tight) would be prime suspects.
I am definitely seeing a correlation with being tired. I'm just quite shocked at the significant issues that arise at the tiniest hint of fatigue. And contrary to what you said (I think) these issues I've described seem to happen with a looser embouchure. So when I get really tired, I have a difficult time keeping my standard firm, yet loose embouchure

Trying different types of mouthpieces with different resistance levels helps sometimes.
I'm only noticing resistance issues/variations under the early mentioned circumstances. When holding a voiced high A for example. With no octave key. Then I pop the octave key and it seems to have more resistance suddenly. Since this seems so isolated, will a different mouthpiece still possibly solve that?

On that note, I did just remember that when I bought this saxophone it also came with a RICO Royal B5 mouthpiece. I have played that a bit today and I have noticed that things do feel a bit different. I'm still having some issues with those notes but they are different and I'm excited to try to mouthpiece a little bit more.

How can I tell if this is metalite or graphite?
It seems like the A, B, and C models are graftonite? And the M series are the metalite?
All the graftonite ones look smooth. And mine has that similar rough texture like the metalite ones


It seems like if the neck pip was malfunctioning it wouldn't be dropping an octave right?


Thanks for your replies. Hopefully I can get to this saxophone shop on Friday. He has many many mouthpieces that I would like to try and he's also a tech. So getting a second opinion will be nice



 

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Hi, Hawee99! I sympathize with your dilemma since I used to have fatigue problems when I was younger. This was particularly true when I was balancing a classical clarinet major with an actual priority on jazz saxophone (and I changed my major to jazz within a couple years). I had fatigue on both clarinet and saxophone.

For me, the culprit ended up being an embouchure that was too tight (even on clarinet!) that I was subconsciously doing to compensate for insufficient air support. My clarinet and saxophone teachers at North Texas -- Jim Gillespie and Jim Riggs, two of the best ever, I was very lucky -- both helped me tremendously by making me focus on dramatically increasing my abdominal strength when playing while emphasizing a very high tongue position ("eee" syllable) to maximize air speed. This made huge and fast improvements in my sound production, intonation, and overall control over the instruments, which made playing MUCH more fun.

It would be difficult to isolate the cause of your issues without working with you one-on-one, but I would recommend focusing on air support and tongue position for a while. And here's an easy test: play a "B" with the octave key on (space above the first ledger line above the treble clef) and see if you can bend it down a whole step, to an "A," without the sound disappearing. If that's tough to do, then your air support and tongue position probably need some work!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi, Hawee99!

And here's an easy test: play a "B" with the octave key on (space above the first ledger line above the treble clef) and see if you can bend it down a whole step, to an "A," without the sound disappearing. If that's tough to do, then your air support and tongue position probably need some work!
Hello! Thank you very much for your well thought out post and advice. I see you have a b&s horn also, that's cool.

I immediately went and watched a few videos on bending. This one was particularly helpful for me. I'll post if for anyone who comes across this thread and needs it
https://youtu.be/lu5zlX3ZZu8

So, starting on a high B, I can bend to an A with the sound staying fairly consistant. Albeit, a very sharp A, I was able to do this exercise. All with little to no jaw movement and hardly any lip movement.

I tried the same exact exercise, but starting on A. Almost immediately when I started to bend down, it started the octave jump again! I feel like my mechanics are identical from when I tried this starting on high B and bending to A

I plan on trying some more bending exercises tomorrow when I'm more fresh. I played off and on all day today
 

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Those bending exercises are great, but they will not help much if your horn has a leak. Impossible to diagnose this over the internet, but what you describe is indicative of a leaky horn. It is possible to force a leaking horn to play (partly by pressing extra hard on the keys and partly through embouchure adjustments--iow by working harder than you should have to), but in the end you'll be a lot better off getting the horn fixed, assuming it needs fixing. Get it checked out properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Impossible to diagnose this over the internet,
Fair enough. I'm just getting so frustrated I want to try every outlet available.

The first tech I went to just 'looked it over' and played it briefly saying it's fine.
The second tech seemed to give it a more thorough exam. Although he was in his back room so I didn't see anything. He said he even took the side vent mechanisms off to make sure it wasn't clogged with any debris.

I've had two private lessons and both instructors said they had no problem with my sound and that my embouchure looked okay. I know I tend to bite more than I should. But I'm working on it.

I just have such a difficult time believing that I am having so much trouble with these few notes. Something doesn't seem right.

So yes, I'm going to drive an hour to Sax Alley in Colorado in Friday and have another opinion on the horn. And play some other tenors.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I will report back if anything changes after friday. Maybe I'll be coming home with an alto instead
 

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Maybe I'll be coming home with an alto instead
Oh no, don't go to that extreme! :)

Good idea to go to Sax Alley, get it checked, and try some other tenors, just to rule out (or rule in) the horn being the issue!
 

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Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I will report back if anything changes after friday. Maybe I'll be coming home with an alto instead
Might as well try some accordions too, if you're getting that desperate. :twisted: :bluewink:



Tenor - It's all that matters.

Have a wonderful trip and enjoy your visit. I had a TH&C that was overhauled by Sax Alley, so I know they can do some great work.
 

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Fair enough. I'm just getting so frustrated I want to try every outlet available.

The first tech I went to just 'looked it over' and played it briefly saying it's fine.
The second tech seemed to give it a more thorough exam. Although he was in his back room so I didn't see anything. He said he even took the side vent mechanisms off to make sure it wasn't clogged with any debris.

I've had two private lessons and both instructors said they had no problem with my sound and that my embouchure looked okay. I know I tend to bite more than I should. But I'm working on it.

I just have such a difficult time believing that I am having so much trouble with these few notes. Something doesn't seem right.

So yes, I'm going to drive an hour to Sax Alley in Colorado in Friday and have another opinion on the horn. And play some other tenors.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I will report back if anything changes after friday. Maybe I'll be coming home with an alto instead
If for whatever reason, you can't have anybody look at your sax at Sax Alley, try https://kolacnymusic.com/, they usually do a very nice job, too. But I concur with most of what's been said, it is either a leak and when you get tired, you are losing some of the tension on the leaky key, or a spring that is off the hook or does not have enough tension. Another thing to check is the alignment of the neck with the body of the horn, if you are off by a few degrees, this could also do it and that might explain why some of the others who tried your horn did not find the issue, whereas you are setting it up incorrectly every time. Make sure that the MPC is also aligned with the octave bib ... In other words, there are a million little setup nuances that most won't notice because they never did it wrong but you might be just off because you take a scratch for a mark and align something to it. Finally, check your MPC for damage.
 

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Finally, check your MPC for damage.
Yes.

If you have the time, try some mouthpieces while you are there to see if that influences your results.
 
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