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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On my alto, slurring down from middle Bb (b-flat) down to middle D doesn't play the D, but rather an overtone? It's not a D, but I don't have perfect pitch, so I can't tell what note it is, but it isn't a D.

I brought my horn into a shop, and the repairman could not find anything obvious using his leak light. He let me play my mouthpiece on a couple other saxophones, and it had the same result, which is when he said "it's you, you're blowing too hard." But then he let me try another mouthpiece which was the same model and it was remarkably better. The D would play easier slurring down from B-flat. On inspection of my mouthpiece, it revealed that there is a scratch on one of the rails about 2/3s of the way down from the tip. The diagnosis was that my reed is leaking through the rail, which is why slurring down from B-flat to mid D has issues.

I'd like to say that the reason I like to focus as much air pressure into playing is from a lesson from an old classical saxophone teacher. His sound was truly amazing, and as a returning sax player, I am again trying to emulate his tone.

Any input would be appreciated. I like leaving my mouthpieces original because I'm not a professional player and from time to time I do have GAS, and you get more money for original mouthpieces.
 

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First, you might, indeed, have found another mpc that made playing easier, but I doubt that a scratch on the rail is going to cause a problem; a dent yes, gouge yes, but not a scratch. And it is possible that other mpcs play easier than yours, but...

it would seem to me that your embouchure is likely too tight. Try these for a week or so and see if it doesn't make a difference:

-Playing only your mpc, play a concert A and notice how your embouchure feels in this position. Try to keep that position as you play.
- Play an (your) A above the staff and (without changing the fingering) bring the pitch down to an Ab - pause -then finger the Ab and blow the pitch down to a G -pause - and continue that process chromatically down.
- Play your F2 without the octave key and then let the pitch drop down to it's lower octave. Continue chromatically down, one tone at a time. Do this slowly.
- And in the meantime, play long tones on your lowest notes.

Do these for a week or two and see if you don't feel a difference. If you feel that they're making a difference do them for another week or two and then come back to them regularly. You could then add to that playing the mouthpiece alone, but this time slurring down from the concert A chromatically, and playing simple, limited-range melodies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for the replies. I haven't tried all the suggestions (mouthpiece by itself), but I did concentrate on how tight my embouchure was... it actually brought back memories of when I was really concentrating on my tone.

In doing so, I took a little LESS mouthpiece. Please note that I have been trying a few different mouthpieces these days and have taken the advice of taking in as much of the mouthpiece as possible. Maybe on this mouthpiece, I was just taking in too much for it to play the way I wanted?? Does this make sense? Now the slur down to D2 is much much better and my G2 does NOT try to drop an octave. I think my sound is much better (more focused sounding).

Does it sound like I'm on the right track, or am I getting into bad habits.

NOTE: The amount of mouthpiece I'm taking in on this mouthpiece is what I took in about 10 years ago when I played regularly (bite marks).

Now I'm wondering is there is a 'perfect' amount of mouthpiece to be taken in for each mouthpiece... because there are short & long facings...
 

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decade said:
I haven't tried all the suggestions...Does it sound like I'm on the right track, or am I getting into bad habits.
This might sound rather direct, but you asked for help and you got a pretty detailed response. However you didn't try all the suggestions and now you ask if you are on the right track? What kind of answer are you hoping to get?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
gary said:
This might sound rather direct, but you asked for help and you got a pretty detailed response. However you didn't try all the suggestions and now you ask if you are on the right track? What kind of answer are you hoping to get?
I'm wondering if there was maybe an underlying problem with taking in too much mouthpiece... I do not want to start practicing exercises when the basics are incorrect. I do value your advice and will get to trying that out as well. I don't have time to practice these days and am trying to make my practice sessions as efficient as possible.
 

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The embrochure should contact the mouthpiece where the facing curve begins...so, your mouthpiece might have a shorter facing curve. There are also anatomical issues here - I have to take in less mouthpiece than most people to get a decent sound. If I try and take in half the beak, I sound terrible.

You might also have the horn looked at. You could have a leak somewhere that's causing a jump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
bruce bailey said:
Don't you mean slurring down to LOW D?
slurring from B-flat to D (Both with the octave key pressed). It's switching from the neck to the side octave (don't know the correct terminology).
 

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To begin with make sure that the neck octave is properly adjusted. Finger low G and hit the thumb octave key hard several times. Does the neck octave pad open or bounce when you do this? If so that is the problem. If it doesn't move or bounce then it is probably pilot error that is causing what you describe.

If the D sounds a higher note it is almost always the high A above which is the next overtone in the series based on low D. Try these ideas to correct the problem:

First make sure you are not playing too high on the pitch. The mouthpiece and neck should make an Ab concert. Then:

-Keep the back of the tongue down as if you are singing "AHH"
-Make sure the mouthpiece is going straight into the mouth, loosen the neckstrap if necessary
-Blow with warm air
-Try directing the airstream down as if you are blowing toward your thumb
-Play the D first then slur to high A and go back to the D---keep the embouchure, throat and airstream the same

When you start to get some degree of control over the D, then try to produce the A overtone with D's fingering on purpose by putting the tongue in the "EE" shape and speeding up the airstream. When you can slur D - A - D with D's fingering using the "AHH - EE - AHH" shaping inside the mouth, you have gained the control necessary to make that slur on the sax without having any problems.

John
 

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Either the neck octave pad is staying open or the body pad is not opening. From A up, only the neck one opens and from G# down, only the body one. Try turning the neck a bit to the side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you for the all the input.

It looks like my octave key(s) is/are working correctly... but I think some pad(s) when wet are having issues...

After I've played for a while and some of the pads get wet, I cannot play D2 even by itself with out it hitting the A... I've brought it into a shop recently, and apparently there is nothing obvious when it's dry (haven't been played on for a bit).
 

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Remove the octave keys and clean the pips (holes). It sounds like the holes are a bit dirty and the water is closing them off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm going clean my pipes. I'll be back after I get the dirt out of my baby's holes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks to all that have responded thus far!

In addition to the problems I have, I noticed my G2 was getting more and more difficult to keep from dropping octaves no matter how I controlled my air pressure and tongue position...

I took the side vent off and noticed that some adhesive (stuff around the pad) had leaked on the seating area. It had dried across where the pad seats on the tone hole/octave vent. After removing this (also put a pipe cleaner in the vent a few times for good measure but nothing came out), voila... no more cracking G and no more problems slurring down from the B-flat to D2!
 
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