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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here I am, ten or so years after beginning my exploits as a saxophonist, and I'm struggling with getting a simple tone out of my mouthpiece. What tone should I be hearing when I blow through my tenor's mouthpiece? I thought I read that I should be hearing either a G or F#, but what I'm getting is a C.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Berg SMS 110/1. Funny, I thought it was a 115...

As for reeds, I'm using a Rico Royal 2½. As for the pitch, it seems to be closer to a C#.

EDIT: Alright, I can get a G, but I feel like I'm using a lot of lower lip pressure to pull it off. I thought the embouchure was supposed to be relaxed?
 

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You mean the C# BELOW the G?
It's a stainless steel BergLarsen? They are rather long, so that might be why they sound lower. Otherwise you're really, really reeaaaalllllyyy pulling down :)

Try a harder reed and check (you can't pull them down that much).
 

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Hey MasterA,

This is pretty strange.

My tenor pieces all play around the G pretty much straight off. However if I'm pinching, the tone will slot in to the Aflat or A pretty easily. I've been working on trying to play major/chromatic scales dow from G for a few months, and C is about as low as I can go--and not easily.

What are you using to check the pitch?

Rory
 

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just for completeness, what notes should we get out of the other saxes?
 

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teledyn said:
just for completeness, what notes should we get out of the other saxes?
Soprano - C
Alto - A
Tenor - G
Bari - D

These pitches are for a focused classical sound. Many jazz players will play a whole step to a minor third lower for a more edgy/spread out sound. The important thing is to not play higher than this pitch because it will throw the octaves out of tune and make the high register sharp and pinched.

On the alto the mouthpiece and neck should produce an Ab concert. On the tenor the mouthpiece and neck should make an E concert.

The note going into the saxophone has a big influence on the one coming out, in spite of what the naysayers say. :)
 

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jbtsax said:
The note going into the saxophone has a big influence on the one coming out...
Perhaps, but all I want to know is if the original poster is having any intonation troubles with those notes coming out. If he isn't, and he has experience under his belt, the exercise is a waste, no?
 

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jbtsax said:
On the alto the mouthpiece and neck should produce an Ab concert. On the tenor the mouthpiece and neck should make an E concert.
Cool. I didn't know that. Thanks jbtsax.:)

FWIW: The point about the high mouthpiece pitch is definitely true with my Martin tenor: if my embouchure is too pinched the top notes go way sharp in a hurry. I guess this is less true on modern saxes?

rory
 

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Grumps said:
Clutch it then... with all your heart.
Even if it makes absolutely no sense.
That Santy did it must be reason enough...
Hey Grumps,

I suspect there's a whole subtext here that I'm missing, but I can't follow your point here at all. Am I missing something?

I start my all practice sessions in the little practice space I rent by blowing for a few minutes on the mouthpiece only. First I try to play in tune with the G on the piano, and then I practice playing major and chromatic scales up and down (so far I can get to C on a good day) and little melodies. I thought this was a good way to "dial in" mentally on my intonation, and more generally to improve my embouchure. I don't think I have an intonation "problem" with my Martin per se (nevermind that can of worms), but I do have to work at keeping some of the higher notes from going sharp on me.

Seriously: am I wasting my time? Practice time when I can really make noise unselfconsciously is really precious in my case, so if I'm out to lunch I'd like to know.

Rory
 

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Many experienced educators swear by this exercise. Now I (and others) have questioned its usefulness, but in a case where someone is playing in tune otherwise (which may or may not be the case here, we don't know yet), and the exercise is frustrating, why bother? For me, flexibility in how I blow changes the expression in the sound. But I guess the classical cats aren't into that sort of thing.
 

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Grumps said:
flexibility in how I blow changes the expression in the sound.
I know nothing about what the "classical cats" are into, but this I understand. The thing is I thought that flexibility was exactly what I was practicing.


Rory

Thanks again Jbtsax: I checked the tuning of my neck and mouthpiece and found that I was playing almost a whole tone sharp with my usual mouthpiece position on my King tenor. I Moved the mouthpiece out about 3/4 of an inch and presto, much easier to play in tune up top.
 

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Paul Coats is one of the educators who recommends blowing a concert G through a tenor mouthpiece (http://www.saxontheweb.net/Learning/Beginner_Corner3.html). It has certainly helped me. The most important thing for me had nothing to do with embouchure tension or relaxation. It was realizing that I needed to move my lower jaw forward. I noticed an immediate improvement in my playing, which I believe resulted from opening the throat and providing more space for the tongue to move in. From my admittedly amateur perspective, I wonder how many "relaxation/tension" problems are really throat/air stream problems. OTOH, it wouldn't surprise me if very experienced players can do without this drill; I know my teacher doesn't do mouthpiece only drills anymore.
jtbsax said:
. . . These pitches [including G on tenor] are for a focused classical sound. Many jazz players will play a whole step to a minor third lower for a more edgy/spread out sound. The important thing is to not play higher than this pitch because it will throw the octaves out of tune and make the high register sharp and pinched. . . .
gary said:
. . . . Normally, if you're playing an F# your embouchure should be loose enough. But (and here's the real reason for testing like this) if you are playing higher than the F# or squeaking, your throat may not be open like it should be and/or your embouchure is tensed too much.
SOURCE: http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=66625&highlight=mouthpiece
Until a few days ago, I had only heard of playing a concert G through a tenor mouthpiece, but jtb recommends a whole step to a minor third lower for jazz, and Gary, for different reasons, recommends nothing higher than F#. My own experience - starting with blowing a G and ending with an open throat - seems to be yet a different take from these two relatively experienced players.

In any case, I would certainly be interested and grateful if anyone cares to elaborate further on this. It may be a bit off-point from the original post, but I don't think it is very far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Alright, I can get an F# on my link, but it jumps back and forth between F# and B. I get a split tone sound, too, which I can't figure out how to prevent.

My goal here is to get a consistent tone. I figure if I can get a consistent tone out of the mouthpiece, doing the same with the saxophone should be much easier to accomplish. Unfortunately, I'm having a very, very hard time doing so. New tone-related problems seem to be appearing faster than they're going away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah, that helps! Or... something did. I'm starting to get the hang of it. After trying this for a while, I noticed that my sound was significantly bigger and more in tune--even after only trying it for the first time.

I'm eager to keep working on this thing--maybe things will finally take a turn for the better for me!
 
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