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Discussion Starter #1
My daugther is in the 7th grade band. She plays a Yamaha YAS23 alto with a Claude Lakey 5*3 mouthpiece and Vandoran 2.5 reed. She has a hard time doing the low notes. The band director says she may need a different mouthpiece, but he does really know a lot about the sax, he's a trumpet player. I read below about the "warm air from the diapram" which she said she has done that by accident and it worked. My question is, would a different mouthpiece help her. She has tried the stock one that came with the sax, but doesn't like it at all. Thanks.
 

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If she doesn't like the Yamaha mouthpiece (which is very good and what I would recommend), then the problem probably is with her embouchure rather than the mouthpiece. Really this is a question for her teacher. If the band director doesn't play saxophone, he should really stop trying to give advice about it.
 

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rdeeno: While I agree that her teacher, if she has one, is a better solution than any of us, you may want to check her instrument. True, many youngsters don't have the "chops" to play the whole horn, but it could be that the horn has a leak or is out of adjustment.

Is it possible to have an experienced player (even a more senior band member, using the other player's mouthpiece) try her saxophone? That would go a long way in determining which direction you go. DAVE
 

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And Dave has a very good point, her teacher will be able to sort out whether it's instrument, mouthpiece, embouchure, breath support or whatever.
 

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I'd first have a tech check for leaks and then maybe switch to a Hite Premier mouthpiece ($25). FWIW, I wouldn't give much weight to a trumpet player's suggestion.
 

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Billt4mn said:
I'd first have a tech check for leaks and then maybe switch to a Hite Premier mouthpiece ($25). FWIW, I wouldn't give much weight to a trumpet player's suggestion.
These are real bargains.
 

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Isn't a Lakey a high baffle mouthpiece, thus making the low notes harder?
 

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Martinman said:
Isn't a Lakey a high baffle mouthpiece, thus making the low notes harder?
My experience is that Lakey's make all notes harder. However, I have a friend that swears by them (rather than at them).

I would never recommend a high baffle mouthpiece for a 7th grader or any player in a concert band setting. The above choices are good, along with selmer C*, Rousseau, or Vandoren 'classical' mouthpieces.
 

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A Lakey 5*3 is not a suitable alto mouthpiece for 7th grade concert band student. The tip opening and baffle are not designed for a concert band concept of sound. Most of the Lakey's in my experience are hard to control and difficult to play in tune for the high school jazz ensemble players who try to use them to get more volume and edge in their sound.

The Yamaha 4C that came with the sax is an excellent mouthpiece. It will feel and sound different than the Lakey, but with a bit of practice will give a more focused sound that is easier to control, especially in the low register.

If you want to invest $100 or more there are some excellent hard rubber classical mouthpieces that are very good for a concert band setting. The one I am most familiar with is the Rousseau 4R. Others can chime in with the Selmer and Vandoren models that they have experience with.

John

(Once again Hakukani thinks and types faster than I do. Oh well, they say great minds do think alike.) :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the quick replies. The Lakey came with the horn and the only info I can find on it, is it is suppose to make you play louder. She has taken some private lessons and I am about to start those again. Also the instructer works on the instrutments so I guess I should have him check it out. Thanks again.
 

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The problem may be that she has got used to that Lakey mouthpiece, which is probably not a good one for her. From what you say, it appears she stopped having lessons, that is a very bad thing. I think when she starts again the teacher should solve all the issues, but she may find that the best solution for now would be to switch to that yamaha mouthpiece. After the Lakey she may find it dull as the baffle in that mouthpiece makes the tone brighter and she may need to work a bit to compensate, but its a great mouthpiece and it would be worth persevering with until a qualified teacher (of the saxophone) suggests something else.

Oh yes , I agree with Bill, the Hite is also a good mouthpiece, especially fro the price.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I am going to start her back in private lessons, but I live in the sticks of East Texas and finding a good teacher is hard. The one she has used before actually plays the clarinet first, sax second, but he is good with young students. I think part of the problem with the Yamaha mouthpiece is that I picked up the horn used and the stock mouthpiece looks like a old chew toy. I will try to locate the Hite and get her some more Rico reeds (she preferres them over Vandoren, says they feel different) Which I understand, being I play the guitar and different Manuf. of strings sound and feel diff to me. For what its worth, both band directors (High school and Junior High) say she has the best tone, with exception of the low notes, that they have heard in a long time playing the Lakey piece. She is also, most the time first chair out of six players. Thanks.
 

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Just updating. After trying the stock mpc, she can easily do a low D, still needs work for a low C, and she is going back for some more private lessons to work on that. Thanks for everyones input.
 

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I would have the horn checked out by a tech first or have another person play the same setup... sometimes it is a mechanical issue, and not the player. I've played a lakey 5*3 and although I don't prefer this mouthpiece, I didn't have problems with any of the registers. Ken Beason was the recommended tech affiliated in my area and he always kept my horn in perfect playing condition... when learning the saxophone, the last thing you need is the gear holding you back.

Lessons are a great idea too. I seriously grew the most in my playing with each teacher that I had. Fortunately & unfortunately for me, I had to switch teachers several times because my family relocated. Each teacher seem to fit exactly what I was focusing on at that time of my life. Might as well give them a shout out: (in this order)
Tom Forgue
?? (A bassoonist - sorry I forgot your name, but I did learn a lot about music that I could apply - might have helped out more later in my career)
Kevin McNerney
Mike Ferrera
Jim Umble
 

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Ive consistently found softer reeds, larger tip makes getting the low notes out a much easier proposition than hard reed small tip. Its not the horn or technique...its just me and my personal preference. No point fighting it.

If the Lakey is the only piece shes ever tried, then she owes it to herself to at least try a few other pieces to see where it lies in the great scale of things. When I got my Beechler Bellite #7 it was like the blinds had finally been opened and I could see what I was doing at last.

I personally would not worry about what is considered a "Classical" mouthpiece and what is considered a "Jazz" mouthpiece and what not...short of something with a big wedge baffle in it, most of the difference in tone is to do with the player, not the equipment. Some pieces are more flexible than others, but lets keep this in context, we are talking school band here, not conservatoire.
 
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