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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

Recently, I have been having a SEVERE problem with the second octave G and G#. It has been disgusting me, almost to a point where I wanted to give up playing saxophone for a while.

The problem is that when I play a second octave G or G# the notes it almost certainly comes with a little bit of the lower G or G#, sometimes even going down an octave unless I try EXTREMELY hard to sustain the note. The notes after that, A,B,C, and others are all fine.

I do overtone exercises everyday, and I find G and G# hard to sustain, followed by A,B,C, and C#, which are all MUCH EASIER to sustain / play.

The only thing I have been doing different recently is changing my embouchure, from the "Teal" method to the "Allard" principles (tongue position, loose mouth, etc.)

Things I've done:

Changing mouthpieces = didn't help
Different Horns = didn't help... although the "new" horn is a cheap student model one... which probably has some problems of its own
Different reeds = didn't help

So my question is... Is this a problem with my equipment (possibly the ligature? / Two bad mpcs / Two leaking horns) or is it a problem with my voicing / air stream...?

I am a student who played Alto Sax for 3 years, with a nice Yani a901 horn.

I use a Vandoren A27... with a great ligature suggested by my teacher; I don't see any model name on it so I can't name it.

Help would be EXTREMELY APPRECIATED.

Thank You !
 

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I would think the least guilty suspect on your list would be your ligature.
I think it's purely an embouchure/airstream problem. Especially if it's duplicating on different horns.

I'm only beginner too. I had lot of issues with G and G# myself - the same overtones coming though.
My teacher had me practise very slow legato trills between F and G (that's how I describe it anyway) and also A and G#. Then tonguing between them. Slowly, then faster.
My problem cleared up within a few weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the reply !

I guess my introduction to voicing / Allard principles / etc. has loosened up the pressure of my embouchure... which I used to make all the notes including G and G#.
Thanks again !

I'll go practice now haha
 

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I struggled with this same issue for a long time, and many others here have as well. It could be many things, including equipment, but since you said you've tried different horns/mouthpieces etc that pretty much points the finger at you.

The thing with G2/G#2 is that they're the last two notes which use the body octave pip before switching over to the neck pip, hence they are more "unstable" than A2 and higher (imo). FOR ME, the fixes were:

1. Loosening embouchure. I found that even a SLIGHT tightening of the embouchure would make the problem worse. I found myself unconsciously tensing up when these notes would come up because I was afraid the problem would happen. Focus on consciously loosening up when they come up instead, and you'll probably play them with the same embouchure you're playing everything else with.

2. Air support. Make 1000% sure you are supporting your airstream with your diaphragm.

3. Air speed. Arch the middle/back of your tongue to increase airspeed so that the higher harmonic will want to play. Mess around with this during long tones.

4. DON'T GIVE UP! It will get better, and when it does, you will be so happy....
 

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This is a very common problem. At the G and G#, you have half of the instrument closed and half of it open. It often tries to break either up or down, producing in effect a multiphonic combination of tones. This is most often caused by inconsistencies in the embouchure, throat, and even air speed and breath support. Like others have mentioned, this will likely take care of itself over time with consistent, focused practice.

If you are constantly working to loosen or adjust your embouchure, you are creating additional inconsistencies in the embouchure. I think a lot of times when folks talk about loosening the embouchure, they loose the focus in the embouchure, which is generated through and inward focus of the mouth corners. You should keep the teeth pulled down, but still support the reed with the lower lip, otherwise the notes (G2 & G#2) will break downward.

An approach to practicing these notes is to slur up a scale to the desired tone- sustain it once it produces clearly, the replicate the note with an articulation. Over time, you'll learn to produce the tones with consistency.

Randy
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to everyone who replied !

I will follow the advice and keep doing exercises to fix those problems... Thank you for leading me to the right direction ! (rather than blaming the equipment.. haha)
 

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Double check it's not the horn. Make sure the octave vent is not gunked up. Clean the pip out with a pipe cleaner.
 

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Hello,

Recently, I have been having a SEVERE problem with the second octave G and G#. It has been disgusting me, almost to a point where I wanted to give up playing saxophone for a while.

The problem is that when I play a second octave G or G# the notes it almost certainly comes with a little bit of the lower G or G#, sometimes even going down an octave unless I try EXTREMELY hard to sustain the note. The notes after that, A,B,C, and others are all fine.

I do overtone exercises everyday, and I find G and G# hard to sustain, followed by A,B,C, and C#, which are all MUCH EASIER to sustain / play.

The only thing I have been doing different recently is changing my embouchure, from the "Teal" method to the "Allard" principles (tongue position, loose mouth, etc.)

Things I've done:

Changing mouthpieces = didn't help
Different Horns = didn't help... although the "new" horn is a cheap student model one... which probably has some problems of its own
Different reeds = didn't help

So my question is... Is this a problem with my equipment (possibly the ligature? / Two bad mpcs / Two leaking horns) or is it a problem with my voicing / air stream...?

I am a student who played Alto Sax for 3 years, with a nice Yani a901 horn.

I use a Vandoren A27... with a great ligature suggested by my teacher; I don't see any model name on it so I can't name it.

Help would be EXTREMELY APPRECIATED.

Thank You !
Try taking in a little less mouthpiece if the tone is cracking or if your embouchure is too loose push the corners of your embouchure in towards the mouthpiece. I sometimes have a problem with G or G# if I have too much mouthpiece in my mouth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks again !

Nefertiti, Yes that is my problem. I have been trying to do the anchor tonguing for air stream, but I am not getting the feel of it and I am finding it extremely uncomfortable.

Is there a suggestion on how to improve on this?

I have searched the forum many times but have not found anything that clear.. except for that vague "eee" position...

Or how else would I be able to increase my air support?
 

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Air support = making sure your diaphragm is engaged during the playing process = feeling it pulling air into your lungs (try saying "hot" while breathing in deeply through your mouth). While exhaling, your abs should be "working". My teacher eloquently says it as "It should feel like you're taking a crap." I don't know about THAT per se, but you get the idea...

Air speed. Actually say "EEEEE". Do you feel what your tongue, jaw, etc do? That's what they mean. Your tongue should be highly arched in your mouth, the top/sides touching your molars. The higher the tongue in your mouth, the faster (generally) your air speed will be. As a rule of thumb, I use EEEE for anything requiring the octave key and AHHHHH for anything not.

Also, if you search for it here, I think you'll find most people here do not advocate anchor tonguing...
 

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Double check it's not the horn. Make sure the octave vent is not gunked up. Clean the pip out with a pipe cleaner.
Yes! and double check to make sure the octave key is actually opening.
 

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Thanks again !

Is there a suggestion on how to improve on this? ...Or how else would I be able to increase my air support?
I think a really good exercise for this is to play octave slurs without using the octave key (i.e 1st overtones). I think this is one of the key Allard-school drills.

Ideally, use a piano to get the proper pitch going in your head. Singing the note is also good.

Play your G2
Play G1
Play G2 again, but without the octave key and work to get the note in tune
Slur down to G1

You can do this exercise with all the notes from Bb1 to C2. To get moving nicely between the two harmonics, and stay in tune, you need to have good tongue position control and good airspeed control.
 

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Have your embouchure reviewed by a teacher. I had an embrochure that was too loose after trying to cure a biting issue for a couple of years, I had similar problems to the one you describe which have now resolved themselves with specific, one on one advice from a very competent teacher.
 

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I have had the G2/G#2 problem from time to time with different sax makes, different mouthpiece makes, different reed makes and different ligature makes. So in my case the cause definitely has been me. For me the solution has been to take a bit more mouthpiece in my mouth, and loosen the embouchure pressure on the reed. I have managed to localize where on the reed I hold my lower lip when I actually tend to produce the bad G2/G#2. I then have put my mouthpiece further into my mouth just enough to release the spot on the reed where the growling from G1/G#1 appears. I also have done voicing practices that are well explained in other posts in this thread.
 
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