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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I don't know if 28 counts as a late bloomer, but I'm going to go with it cause i feel that way anyway.

No matter what I do, my ( cheap stock) mouthpiece won't go on my ( cheap student awfully intonated ) sax far enough to play an e flat with c fingering.

My mouthpiece also by itself blows a g sharp as opposed to an A. I can push it up 50 cents if i really tighten my embouchure etc. which I know isn't the way to play.

I'll have another good quality mouthpiece coming over around the Christmas period when my sister ( lives in NY ) visits me in India cause import duty + shipping etc double the price of musical instruments / accessories here.

In the meantime, anything wrong in tuning the thing to concert D and learning away ( I'm doing it anyway ). I'm a professional musician/ composer by profession and don't really have too many problems on the theory / transposing side. Just thought I'd check what the potential pitfalls to this approach might be if any.
 

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I'd be very very cautious about learning a new instrument with the transposition "built in". Like they say, "first impressions are important": habits and mental models you form in the beginning will be difficult to move away from later. You might say to yourself, "Ah, it's just a transposition, I can change it later," but why set yourself up with habits that will be surprisingly hard to break later?

When I was 12 years old, I studied piano. Someone left a guitar in the house, and I started to play it, assuming the low string was a C...just because no-one told me otherwise. I practiced by myself for a few years and became proficient. Even after I realized my error, it was impossible to move away from the concept that the guitar was tuned C F Bb Eb G C, instead of E A D G B E. I transpose well, so it's never a problem for me...but if I'm playing guitar, and I need to communicate note or chord names to others -- I ALWAYS get it wrong...and confuse the hell out of others.
 

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My alto sax is quite difficult to play if the mouthpiece is not positioned close to in tune - notes will warble or sound bad. I don't know if this is common, but it is very marked in my case.
So I think that trying to play a semitone flat might make the process of learning even more difficult than it normally is.
 

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28 and a professional musician? You're in the wrong forum. Come Back when you're 50 and have forgotten how to read music :D ;)

What do you get when the mp is halfway on the cork? There are some saxophones tuned to C... Is yours new?
 

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No, what you need to do is to develop your embouchure so you can play properly in tune.

There are hundreds of thousands of alto sax players who do not have this issue.
 

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A new mouthpiece isn't going to make any difference. Sand down the cork so you can push the mouthpiece on all the way. Even the worst players usually aren't an entire half step flat due to a bad embouchure.

The pitfall of tuning the sax flat is that it will not be in tune with itself. In other words, even if you get your C in tune with concert D, other notes on the horn will be even more than a whole step out of tune. As a pro, this will be obvious, and hopefully intolerable to you as you play.
 

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Hey, old timer! Is it possible that the issue is that your cork is too thick for that mouthpiece? If you've still got a lot of cork showing, but you just can't push the mouthpiece far enough in, you just need to adjust the cork on the neck. (Either take it to a tech or sand it down yourself.) Also, be sure to check your tuning up and down the horn, and not just your C.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you. This is what I was looking for. My intonation IS horrible, and I assumed it was because it's a 500 usd student sax. But i was unaware that if the MPC isn't in the right spot, it'll affect the whole range. Makes perfect sense now that you point it out. I was having to do radical things with my jaw to compensate and it still sounded terrible. I'll sand it down right away and get the mouthpiece on all the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
A new mouthpiece isn't going to make any difference. Sand down the cork so you can push the mouthpiece on all the way. Even the worst players usually aren't an entire half step flat due to a bad embouchure.

The pitfall of tuning the sax flat is that it will not be in tune with itself. In other words, even if you get your C in tune with concert D, other notes on the horn will be even more than a whole step out of tune. As a pro, this will be obvious, and hopefully intolerable to you as you play.

Cannot thank you enough. Sanded it down. MPC is all the way in and C plays a concert Eb and everything is so much better now. All the notes up and down are much more in tune. The timbre of the thing got fuller. I can actually play along with songs and sound in tune.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey, old timer! Is it possible that the issue is that your cork is too thick for that mouthpiece? If you've still got a lot of cork showing, but you just can't push the mouthpiece far enough in, you just need to adjust the cork on the neck. (Either take it to a tech or sand it down yourself.) Also, be sure to check your tuning up and down the horn, and not just your C.
Yessir. Turns out it was exactly that. I was maybe a little over halfway down the cork and could go no more. Sanded it down and got the MPC down almost till the end and all my tuning issues sorted themselves out. Thank you. You guys have been really helpful, really quick. No community like a musician community.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
28 and a professional musician? You're in the wrong forum. Come Back when you're 50 and have forgotten how to read music :D ;)

What do you get when the mp is halfway on the cork? There are some saxophones tuned to C... Is yours new?
Haha. :)

I get somewhere between a D and a C#. It's defo an Eb horn. Just had to sand it down and get the mouthpiece all the way in and i'm good to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My alto sax is quite difficult to play if the mouthpiece is not positioned close to in tune - notes will warble or sound bad. I don't know if this is common, but it is very marked in my case.
So I think that trying to play a semitone flat might make the process of learning even more difficult than it normally is.
Right you are. My low C wouldn't play properly, but I thought that was because my breathing wasn't on point. But now that the MPC is in the right place, everything down to the low Bb plays perfectly.
 

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Right you are. My low C wouldn't play properly, but I thought that was because my breathing wasn't on point. But now that the MPC is in the right place, everything down to the low Bb plays perfectly.
Thanks for sharing your successful outcome.

Enjoy the horn.
 
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