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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Not sure if this should be here or in the beginner’s section, but I’m a new sax player and recently picked up a like-new YSS 62 (“PL”) with practically no signs of use on it. I can play the horn from bottom to top F# and nail all pitches with a tuner with the exception of the low Bb which is about 15-25 cents sharp. C and B are fine. With the smallest tip mouthpiece 4c I can drop my jaw extra (compared to the B) and get the Bb, but the palm keys suffer a bit, I have to almost bite to get them. With a 6c, everything sounds much better, the top notes are easy to center, but the Bb is quite difficult if not impossible to get.

My question is can there be a mechanical issue to blame, only affecting the Bb? The horn is pristine and I’ve checked with a leak light, no issues. If it’s just a “practice more” issue, that’s great. Just wondering if I should suspect anything else if, again, I can get every single other note in normal range to tune. (“Mouthpiece alone” pitch is correct fwiw, it’s not the culprit!)
 

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Low Bb can be sharp on sopranos. Biting is hard not to do on soprano especially once you get into the palm key territory. Sounds like you need a 5C :).

I don't worry too much about mouthpiece pitch, there are too many different mouthpieces and too many different saxophones for that to be of much use - just my opinion, I know some people use it for teaching. Mel Martin has a video where he demonstrates playing a major scale over a full octave on a soprano mouthpiece.

He says he thinks the correct "input pitch" is a C. I don't know, and frankly don't care. If you notice in this video, Mel does not radically change his embouchure during these exercises. It's done with "voicing" - that is, manipulation of the oral cavity. I can do that same exercise, and there is a device out there where you can put the mouthpiece on to practice this kind of stuff quietly. But I've never checked my input pitch.

About the low Bb, I have a cheap Chinese soprano (I have too many instruments...) where low Bb is about 1/4 step sharp. I glued a piece of moleskin about 2"x1" to the inside of the bell below the Bb tonehole and that fixed it. Did not affect the tone in any way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Low Bb can be sharp on sopranos. Biting is hard not to do on soprano especially once you get into the palm key territory. Sounds like you need a 5C :).

I don't worry too much about mouthpiece pitch, there are too many different mouthpieces and too many different saxophones for that to be of much use - just my opinion, I know some people use it for teaching. Mel Martin has a video where he demonstrates playing a major scale over a full octave on a soprano mouthpiece.

He says he thinks the correct "input pitch" is a C. I don't know, and frankly don't care. If you notice in this video, Mel does not radically change his embouchure during these exercises. It's done with "voicing" - that is, manipulation of the oral cavity. I can do that same exercise, and there is a device out there where you can put the mouthpiece on to practice this kind of stuff quietly. But I've never checked my input pitch.

About the low Bb, I have a cheap Chinese soprano (I have too many instruments...) where low Bb is about 1/4 step sharp. I glued a piece of moleskin about 2"x1" to the inside of the bell below the Bb tonehole and that fixed it. Did not affect the tone in any way.
I have a 5c too haha! I should say, I am now able to get the Bb on the 6c too, but it feels somehow unexpected as compared to the other low notes near it, if that makes sense? Like slurring chromatically down to it from D, everything is one way through C#, C, B, then Bb is suddenly too sharp. Anyway I hope my 62 isn’t comparable to cheap Chinese sopranos (it wasn’t cheap lol!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Low Bb can be sharp on sopranos. Biting is hard not to do on soprano especially once you get into the palm key territory. Sounds like you need a 5C :).

I don't worry too much about mouthpiece pitch, there are too many different mouthpieces and too many different saxophones for that to be of much use - just my opinion, I know some people use it for teaching. Mel Martin has a video where he demonstrates playing a major scale over a full octave on a soprano mouthpiece.

He says he thinks the correct "input pitch" is a C. I don't know, and frankly don't care. If you notice in this video, Mel does not radically change his embouchure during these exercises. It's done with "voicing" - that is, manipulation of the oral cavity. I can do that same exercise, and there is a device out there where you can put the mouthpiece on to practice this kind of stuff quietly. But I've never checked my input pitch.

About the low Bb, I have a cheap Chinese soprano (I have too many instruments...) where low Bb is about 1/4 step sharp. I glued a piece of moleskin about 2"x1" to the inside of the bell below the Bb tonehole and that fixed it. Did not affect the tone in any way.
Also I posted about the “mouthpiece only” scale a while back, about how I can’t get more than a fourth or so on an alto mp. I think maybe you told me not to worry about it!? (Might have been someone else!) 😄
 

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If you notice in this video, Mel does not radically change his embouchure during these exercises. It's done with "voicing" - that is, manipulation of the oral cavity.
Whatever he actually does, he says it's done by dropping the jaw.
 

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Maybe I missed something somewhere in your opening post, but did you say exactly what is wrong with Bb1? Is it sharp or flat?

Out of all the sopranos I've owned, I can recall only one that was sharp on low Bb - a Taiwanese soprano styled on the Mark VI design. The rest (including a new YSS62S) had solid low Bb's.

There could any number of reasons that your soprano is not speaking low Bb correctly - mouthpiece placement, the quality of the reed, or some minor leak you may not have identified (many folks think there are no leaks but they just haven't found it yet). DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Maybe I missed something somewhere in your opening post, but did you say exactly what is wrong with Bb1? Is it sharp or flat?

Out of all the sopranos I've owned, I can recall only one that was sharp on low Bb - a Taiwanese soprano styled on the Mark VI design. The rest (including a new YSS62S) had solid low Bb's.

There could any number of reasons that your soprano is not speaking low Bb correctly - mouthpiece placement, the quality of the reed, or some minor leak you may not have identified (many folks think there are no leaks but they just haven't found it yet). DAVE
Sharp. I can get it, but it’s like I have to loosen my embouchure noticeably way extra for just that one note. I can keep my embouchure more consistent for the entire rest of the horn, using perhaps a bit more pressure for high E F and F#, but that’s about it. Everything else is sounding very nice with the mp pushed up to around 3/16” left on the cork so it doesn’t seem like I should reposition it.
 

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Sharp. I can get it, but it’s like I have to loosen my embouchure noticeably way extra for just that one note. I can keep my embouchure more consistent for the entire rest of the horn, using perhaps a bit more pressure for high E F and F#, but that’s about it. Everything else is sounding very nice with the mp pushed up to around 3/16” left on the cork so it doesn’t seem like I should reposition it.
I have an 82ZR which I believe is close to identical to the later 62s. My low Bb was 25c sharp for the first 6 months or so after I started but is well in tune now. What changed is my embouchure which went from lower lip over teeth to lip marginally out (adjacent to lower teeth really) while my input pitch on mouthpiece dropped 100c or so. Before, my palm keys were quite sharp, now they are in tune, too. Before, my mouthpieces were a Yamaha 5C or Selmer D. Now, my mouthpieces are a Theo Wanne Gaia 2 7 and Aizen LS & SO 7.

When I first changed to lip out, my intonation went wild and my cheeks tired quickly but any adjustments are unconscious now. I don't remember how long I took to be unconsciously in tune throughout the range including Bb.
 

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Are your 1st and 2nd overtones of low Bb in tune while using the same in tune low Bb embouchure? Are your C2# and C3# equally in tune with identical embouchure? What happens on these tests if you instead push your mouthpiece on until low Bb is in tune?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have an 82ZR which I believe is close to identical to the later 62s. My low Bb was 25c sharp for the first 6 months or so after I started but is well in tune now. What changed is my embouchure which went from lower lip over teeth to lip marginally out (adjacent to lower teeth really) while my input pitch on mouthpiece dropped 100c or so. Before, my palm keys were quite sharp, now they are in tune, too. Before, my mouthpieces were a Yamaha 5C or Selmer D. Now, my mouthpieces are a Theo Wanne Gaia 2 7 and Aizen LS & SO 7.

When I first changed to lip out, my intonation went wild and my cheeks tired quickly but any adjustments are unconscious now. I don't remember how long I took to be unconsciously in tune throughout the range including Bb.
Unfortunately my embouchure is already essentially lip out! Also none of my other notes are problematic. (Palm keys tend flat, if anything.) But it’s good to know practice has resolved the issue for you, that gives me hope!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Are your 1st and 2nd overtones of low Bb in tune while using the same in tune low Bb embouchure? Are your C2# and C3# equally in tune with identical embouchure? What happens on these tests if you instead push your mouthpiece on until low Bb is in tune?
When I tried pushing in more, the rest of the horn wasn’t as evenly in tune. I will have to check the overtones tomorrow and get back to you, I haven’t noticed where they’re sitting. But everything except for the one note has been feeling smooth and in tune, that’s why I hesitate to reconsider mouthpiece placement.
 

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When I tried pushing in more, the rest of the horn wasn’t as evenly in tune. I will have to check the overtones tomorrow and get back to you, I haven’t noticed where they’re sitting. But everything except for the one note has been feeling smooth and in tune, that’s why I hesitate to reconsider mouthpiece placement.
In tune overtones should be the guide for correct mouthpiece on neck position IMO (but that did not work for me until I had played 6 months or so).
 

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Unfortunately my embouchure is already essentially lip out!
Lip over teeth would normally be used for the narrow tips like a 4C and lip out only for wider tips (.06"+) (although some players always use lip over teeth no matter tip size).
 

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Low Bb is in tune on both my Yany sopranos (S880, S901). I think I am adjusting a little bit though. Most of the time I don't realize I'm doing this, but it seems like I'm opening my throat much more than I would on higher notes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Low Bb is in tune on both my Yany sopranos (S880, S901). I think I am adjusting a little bit though. Most of the time I don't realize I'm doing this, but it seems like I'm opening my throat much more than I would on higher notes.
Yes, it feels like this is what I’m doing! Great to know, thanks 🙂
 
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