Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Yo

Two things have been annoying me when playing tenor, so i figured id record them and stick them on here hoping people can help me with them.

I've only been playing sax for a couple months and not very often at all (I know I need to find more time to practice if I wanna improve but I've been very busy with gigs on my other instruments). My reed (Rico 2.5) has a small chip out the corner, will this contribute to the two issues, its been a while since ive played so I cant remember if this was happening before it was chipped.

My tenor is a 60s Martin Magna, recently overhauled and repadded by one of the well-trusted techs in London.

1) When I'm playing in the higher octave, I notice I am biting a fair bit with my lower lip in order to keep the notes in tune and not warbling, is this normal to have to do this? I figure its likely because I'm using a mouthpiece with a bigger tip opening than I probably should be at this point (a 6* HR Link.) It also seems to happen more when I'm playing G, in the audio clip you can hear I first run through mid C to Low C and then play around the G, letting it warble the first time playing and then when I start biting a bit harder with my lower lip it stops. https://soundcloud.com/demoswb/saxscales/s-YV7Y7

2) When playing A with the octave key, the note I get is massively fuzzy and airy. I know this is a reasonably common issue with saxophones but what are my best solutions for it / anyone got an idea for the cause in this particular case. In the sound file I've literally put the mic right on the octave pip which is why it sounds REALLY f*cking fuzzy but you can definitely hear the difference between it and its surrounding notes. https://soundcloud.com/demoswb/dumbsaxhiss/s-UuY59

Cheers

Buster
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
realised this is probably better suited to sax repair thread so feel free to remove it from here
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/ Forum Contributor 2011
Joined
·
2,574 Posts
The multiphonic on G is a common issue, particularly with tenors. While it could be mechanical (as in a clogged lower octave vent or a lower octave pad that isn't opening properly), it is just as likely to be an issue with air support and the way you are voicing, particularly if, as you say, you are biting in order to make the upper octave come out. I encourage you to spend some time working with the overtone series off of low Bb even if, as is the case with most people starting out, you can only get the Bb octave and the F above.

The high A hiss might be mechanical or acoustic. If the upper octave pad barely opens, it could contribute to a hiss, but it's just as likely an issue where perhaps the octave vent is a little too big.

I really think you should talk with a teacher or other experienced saxophonist and let them both listen to you and try your instrument.

Alan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,481 Posts
Well, as to the first thing, biting on higher notes, let me just say that after 40+ years of playing tenor, I use about a 2.5 reed and a #6 Link sized MP (I mostly use a Meyer). So it's highly unlikely that your embouchure is sufficiently developed to support a setup like that. I would strongly recommend you use something more like a C* Selmer with #2 or 2.5 reeds to build your embouchure muscles without developing bad habits. You write like an adult so I will expect you can understand that strength takes some time to build, whether it's your biceps or your embouchure.

It certainly doesn't help to have "a" reed and it's damaged. You probably ought to buy a box of regular old Rico #2s to start.

As to the second issue, every sax has some degree of air noise at the octave vent. No one but you can hear it. Some people go to all kinds of extremes (you can read up on people putting a strip of hosiery material across the vent, etc., etc., etc.) to mitigate this noise that no one but you can hear, but I would recommend ignoring it. Do make sure that pad lifts up at least 1.5-2 mm.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
·
7,443 Posts
Couldn't detect anything on the second recording but you probably need to check the operation of the octaves. Finger G2 and tap on the neck octave which should be shut. Look at the body octave which should be open. Assuming that is good, I would next want to clear the octave vent holes. The neck is easy but you have to get inventive to do the body vent without taking anything apart - maybe you can bend a pipe cleaner and get to it from the bore.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
Joined
·
19,221 Posts
Take it to a tech and play it for them.
They can see and hear things that we cannot.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,949 Posts
I've only been playing sax for a couple months and not very often at all (I know I need to find more time to practice if I wanna improve but I've been very busy with gigs on my other instruments). My reed (Rico 2.5) has a small chip out the corner, will this contribute to the two issues, its been a while since ive played so I cant remember if this was happening before it was chipped.

My tenor is a 60s Martin Magna, recently overhauled and repadded by one of the well-trusted techs in London.

1) When I'm playing in the higher octave, I notice I am biting a fair bit with my lower lip in order to keep the notes in tune and not warbling...
If your horn has just been overhauled, and you have little-to-no experience playing a saxophone, then PLEASE get some lessons. You commented two months ago that you were going to get help with the horn, and here you are. You are developing bad habits that will take more time to UNLEARN than it takes to do it right.

You're 18. I get it. You want it, and you want it now. It won't happen that way on winds. Learn, progress, evolve...

Enjoy the path.
 

·
Just a guy who plays saxophone.
Joined
·
3,589 Posts
Everything you mention can go away with practice and following the advice of a good teacher.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,296 Posts
realised this is probably better suited to sax repair thread so feel free to remove it from here
I merged your two threads about this topic and removed the double posts.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
38,885 Posts
I am rather convinced that there is nothing wrong with your horn. That, on the other hand, in all honesty cannot be said of your sound emission technique.

From the way you approach the notes, especially where it warbles (but also elsewhere) it is clear, to me, that your breath support is not great and that the pressure gets lower and lower as you approach the G-A interval, which as others have commented too, is a crucial one.

There must be really tons of threads on the same type of problem ( I would encourage you to search the archives for this and any other problem that you will find on your path it is highly unlikely that no one ever, before of you, has experience any given problem and that ’s why the archives are there, you can follow up another thread and get more hits from the membership that any new thread (let alone two) that you start anew would ever get).

try these

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?4194-High-G-warbles-indicate-a-leak
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?118025-high-octave-G-G-key-warbles
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?267674-High-Octave-G-Problem
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?183663-High-G-wobbles-with-the-Vintage-Tenor

There is hardly ever any problem with the horn and the majority of people are having “ operator problems” ( as in most things done by humans). Your sound is splitting in its harmonics.



Your breath support is rather weak and even when you start well , the pressure rapidly decreases ( think of how the water would come out from a garden hose wen you are turning the faucet shut ). This causes the fluttering of your intonation but also the warble.

You need to apply a nice and steady power to the sound emissio and you need to use your belly muscles. In order to “ feel” this, make sure you wear a belt and press the muscles against the belt to feel the pressure.

In my experience the saxholder abdominal rest makes an excellent device to “ feel” your muscles working.

Practice long tones .

TONS of exercise on youtube

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=saxophone+breath+support+exercise
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the help, appreciate it. I was aware it was almost definitely gonna be a combination of my weak embouchure and large faced mouthpiece (im currently looking to downsize) and not the horn itself.

The one thing I would like to know is could the fuzzy A be fixed with technique or is that something I'm going to have to either look at fixing or learn to ignore. Cheers
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
38,885 Posts
I really think that at this stage of your development you are overthinking the role of your instrument and underestimating what you are doing to it, I can’t hear any fuzziness that doesn’t come from you, that second take (I’ve listened 3 times) is of a very poor quality and there are all kinds of things happening. I can hear also what at my end sounds like you are actually softly singing the notes that you are playing or in any case a sympathetic vibration that sounds like that. Your 6* is not overly large a tip for the reed that you are using but if it makes you fell better try something smaller (an cheap) for the time being you are not going to stay there all too long.

Unless you let air escape from the side of your mouth the hiss is not coming from the mouthpiece being too large a tip or the horn hissing like a snake.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,481 Posts
Breathe! Blow through the thing, not at it! Push from the diaphragm! Don't take little huffy breaths way up in the top of your shoulders, suck in a big gutful of air and stream it out through the horn. I hear you running out of air after four or five notes. If you are a full sized adult without physical disabilities, you can play far longer than that if you will learn how to breathe and blow correctly.

And again, no one but you can hear the hiss of air at the octave vent. By the time you get your airstream under control, you won't even notice it. I honestly don't know if there's any "technique" that will affect this, but you don't need to be worrying about that. You have foundational things to be working on at this stage.

And I disagree that a #2.5 reed on a 6* Otto Link is reasonable for a beginner. I think you probably need to be playing on something much smaller, till your chops strengthen and you develop airstream control.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,949 Posts
Thanks for the help, appreciate it. I was aware it was almost definitely gonna be a combination of my weak embouchure and large faced mouthpiece (im currently looking to downsize) and not the horn itself.

The one thing I would like to know is could the fuzzy A be fixed with technique or is that something I'm going to have to either look at fixing or learn to ignore. Cheers
Focus on your breath support and embouchure (ignore the fuzzy A). It will either go away or fade from consciousness.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
To clarify, breath support means pushing the air in the way you do when blowing up a balloon. Or shouting very loud... watch the belly of a kid tighten when he shouts. LIe onk your back and feel what your abdominal muscles do when you blow up an imaginary balloon.

I actually disagree that this means pressure against a belt around the abdomen. The muscles that push air out under pressure are the abdominal muscles and the intercostal (i./e. between rib) muscles.
If you tighten those abdominals your stomach goes flatter, which does not press against a belt. To press against a belt we must relax the abdominals and tighten the diaphragm muscle &/or the intercostals.
Many musicians, especially those with distended stomachs, seem not to use their abdominals. They push out their weak/relaxed out-of-form abdominals against tight skin, like the bladder inside a football, and then just use their intercostals for exhaling.
(BTW, contrary to what many people say, the diaphragm is actually passive - doing nothing - when we exhale air under pressure. The diaphragm's purpose is to inhale.)

BTW the role of the octave vents is to have air whizzing in and out of them at a great rate. Depending on the design of the hole, and the assertiveness of the playing (and the related hardness of the reed), and the particular note, etc, the player may or may not hear that rushing air. If that is what is bothering you, get used to ignoring it, rather than focusing on it.
 

·
Formerly mdavej
Joined
·
1,324 Posts
Sax players automatically make many tiny, unconscious adjustments for every note in every register of the horn in order to produce their ideal tone. This can only develop with lots of playing time. You can't just blow and achieve a good sound on every note.

Find your favorite note, the one you think has the best tone quality. Then go up and down in half steps from that note, trying your best to match the quality of the original note. Go back and forth and play each note long enough to start developing muscle memory of what it takes (embouchure, bite pressure, air pressure/support/angle, tongue position, mouth shape, throat shape, etc.) to produce a good sound.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,818 Posts
To clarify, breath support means pushing the air in the way you do when blowing up a balloon. Or shouting very loud... watch the belly of a kid tighten when he shouts. LIe onk your back and feel what your abdominal muscles do when you blow up an imaginary balloon.

I actually disagree that this means pressure against a belt around the abdomen. The muscles that push air out under pressure are the abdominal muscles and the intercostal (i./e. between rib) muscles.
If you tighten those abdominals your stomach goes flatter, which does not press against a belt. To press against a belt we must relax the abdominals and tighten the diaphragm muscle &/or the intercostals.
Many musicians, especially those with distended stomachs, seem not to use their abdominals. They push out their weak/relaxed out-of-form abdominals against tight skin, like the bladder inside a football, and then just use their intercostals for exhaling.
(BTW, contrary to what many people say, the diaphragm is actually passive - doing nothing - when we exhale air under pressure. The diaphragm's purpose is to inhale.)

BTW the role of the octave vents is to have air whizzing in and out of them at a great rate. Depending on the design of the hole, and the assertiveness of the playing (and the related hardness of the reed), and the particular note, etc, the player may or may not hear that rushing air. If that is what is bothering you, get used to ignoring it, rather than focusing on it.
This is all true to a point, but I was taught long ago to push my belly out when breathing IN, and keep tension there when playing so that you are sure that air is being pushed out from the bottom of your lungs.

Too many people squeeze in the middle of the chest, and this is a recipe for a weak, unsupported sound. Keeping tension in the lower abdomen and the upper chest relaxed ensures that air can flow freely, and also ensures that you can control the flow of air from the belly area, and not squeeze your chest or throat.

My marching band teacher in high school taught us to shout the word "RUM!" very loudly, and observe how our belly/diaphragm behaved. And to use those same muscles to support both yells and notes :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,481 Posts
It is semi-important to note that when I talk about "breathing from the diaphragm" and "putting air into your lower abdomen" and "push from the diaphragm" I understand that these terms are not anatomically correct. These are the terms that were used when I was a young'un, and they make sense to me. If there are better vocabulary words to describe the feeling that any experienced wind instrumentalist is familiar with, you are certainly welcome to use them. What I'm trying to convey is the sensation of breathing correctly to put air through the saxophone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,021 Posts
The terms "breath support" and breathe from the diaphragm have never made sense to me as a student or as a teacher. Years ago I switched to teaching my students to hold the ribcage high, relax the shoulders, and fill with air. That took care of the diaphragm mumbo jumbo. The instruction to play with "pressurized air" replaced the term breath support.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,333 Posts
Buster,
You need to find a good woodwind teacher to get started in the right direction. Because you play other instruments you may have a leg up theory wise, which is great, but all instruments have their specific fundamentals that require solid instruction. Practicing bad habits is very detrimental and will require lots of work later on to get you straightened out. Also, a good teacher will be able to assist you with your equipment do's and don'ts. A chipped reed is a no brainer though, throw it out and get a new one! In the mean time, here's a clip that may help you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-0N7XETP5M
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top