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Hello fellow sax playa's! I have a question and am also looking for hints, tips and some advice. I play alto and sop in my band and gigs outside are not usually a problem but in cooler to chilly indoor theatre's I have a bit of a problem keeping the sop in tune after being on the alto for 2-3 songs.

We start the set off with the alto for 2 songs say 10-12 min then right to sop. It is usually flat (even if I tune to slightly sharp) but after a few min with the warm air it tunes up.

We have a big gig coming up opening for an international act at the one theatre where I've had the most trouble in the past.

So any advice or tips I welcome but no flaming please.

Someone even suggested that I put a heating pad under it.

Thanks in advance!!

SaxyShanny
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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That's odd, theatres are not usually chilly, or is there air conditioning?

To be cold enough to affect the tuning of a saxophone, I believe those are conditions that are too cold for people to be expected to work in.

First thing I would do is speak to the stage manager and see if they can heat the stage to a comfortable working temperature.

Yes you could get a heating pad, as long as it doesn't get too hot. Something like this looks like it might be useful:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dreamland-Heating-Pad/dp/B000G8O2M8
 

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Consider changing to a Runyon Custom soprano mouthpiece. I find the tuning is VERY easy. The mouthpiece tunes farther out on the cork so you can push in more to alleviate those cold conditions and/or a cold horn. Check those mouthpieces out....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the link Pete! And they usually crank the air down beforehand so it won't be to uncomfortable when a good number of people start filling in the space. Eeek!

And hey Nitrosax! I will definitely look into the Runyon MPC's!!

Thank you both so much for taking the time to read and post, and for your help!

SS
 

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Are you sure it's the temperature that's affecting the intonation, or could it be that your embouchure takes a while to adjust when you switch horns? That is very common with many people switching to soprano. I recommend practicing switching at home, until it becomes second nature.
 

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I have this same problem as well. If I have not played the soprano sax for a few songs, it will play flatter for a little bit....I don't know if it's 30 seconds or 60 seconds. It does not seem to make a difference if I had been playing my alto (my main horn) during this time, or if I had been doing other things such as singing or playing the keyboard.

I play in a covers band, which means that I spend a lot more time "tacit" on the sax, than I do making noise. When I switch to soprano, I try to blow warm air into its mouthpiece for a couple of minutes before I actually have to play my part. I think that this helps, but I'm going to have to think about what jlima said.
 

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Hey Mal 2, Tthat is a possibility for sure! Jlima that could also be a real possibility but the horn seems fine on the 5th song. (First 2 alto then sop then alto then sop and alto finishes out set.)

And harmonizerNJ! I also sing! I play intros & outros with some fills and solos in between. I think I may try to learn the last few lines of the 2nd song that I usually play on alto on soprano. Maybe that would help warm it up. There is a lot going on the last minute or so of the 2nd song so if I was a little flat it would not be as noticeable as would the sop intro in the 3rd song. Whew! hope thats not too confusing!!! Thank you all again so much for your help!!!

SS
 

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I think I may try to learn the last few lines of the 2nd song that I usually play on alto on soprano. Maybe that would help warm it up. There is a lot going on the last minute or so of the 2nd song so if I was a little flat it would not be as noticeable as would the sop intro in the 3rd song.
That would also buy you more time to just blow warm air through the horn while fingering low Bb, which might solve the problem.
 

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Sound-wise my otto link rubber piece wins over my Runyon in fullness and warmth...but my runyon kills the link intonation wise so I play the RUnyon--I have to push my otto link piece all the way down the cork to get it to A442 when it's warm--I can shape the sound with the Runyon and cushion and get a fat sound out of it as well...But I really feel at ease knowing I can pick up the horn and it's 'up to pitch' without blowing into the horn feverishly for 3 minutes before I play it...If you do try a Runyon custom mouthpiece be sure to get a rovner for it...otherwise, the stock metal lig makes the piece loud and harsh...The only reason I recommend these pieces is I've not played another sop piece that helps with the intonation on sop as much as this one...Try a bigger than you'd expect tip size...they run small. Try a 7 or 8 tip...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok Nitrosax, so that's 2 for the Runyon MPC's! How do you feel about the spoiler? And how funny but I actually play on a rubber Otto Link with a 6 tip!
 

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Soprano takes a tighter lip, that's all. You're just picking it up right after the alto and it's taking a bit of time to adjust. Think of them separately, and develop different styles for each horn; including how you blow them.

A more open mouthpiece will help make tuning more flexible, but only if you're up for it. Forget the plastic Runyon pieces. They may be free blowing, but they tend to quack; and you don't need that on soprano.
 

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Soprano takes a tighter lip, that's all. You're just picking it up right after the alto and it's taking a bit of time to adjust. Think of them separately, and develop different styles for each horn; including how you blow them.

I know that is so true. I think too that on stage I tend to overblow on sop. With the horn facing totally away from me, even with monitors, (umm, how about turning the guitar OFF in my monitor please, lol ;) it can be hard for me to hear. The alto can take it all, wow I push that horn so hard sometimes but the sop cannot be pushed like the alto. Does that make sense? Ok here's another thing...please no one get mad here but I have been using plasticover reeds. Out of necessity b/c the horn sits for long and the cane dries so quick. BUT BUT!! I am going to TRY go back to the cane, at least on sop. I also use cane in my classical classes on alto so I am not full time plasticover.

A more open mouthpiece will help make tuning more flexible, but only if you're up for it. Forget the plastic Runyon pieces. They may be free blowing, but they tend to quack; and you don't need that on soprano.
Tell me more about what you mean by they tend to quack?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Remember too, my fellow sax playa's that the soprano has only been a problem when the theatre/outside venues are cold. I have no problem any other time. But I am always open to MPC suggestions ;) Typical right!
 

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Tell me more about what you mean by they tend to quack?
I first came on board to the original site here about ten years ago and had been playing the same closed tip mouthpieces for over twenty years before that. Runyon had a bigger commercial presence on the site back then and they were pushed rather hard. So it wasn't long before I ended up with a Quantum for tenor that was more open than what I was used to and way more free blowing. I fell in love instantly, but it wasn't to last. One day I'm practicing something and I was going from room to room while doing it. Then while in one room in particular I heard the dreaded "quack". It was just a terrible sound and not how I wanted to be heard. I'd tried a bunch of other Runyons and comparible pieces for my other horns since then... and I'm sorry to say that to me they're basically pieces of plastic. Some cats dig them, but I prefer Selmer mouthpieces (Super Sessions and Metal Classic) for my sopranos (Mark VI and True Tone). At least the Runyon experience set me on a road to find better matching mouthpieces for all my horns. They just weren't for me.
 

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Like I posted before...the Runyon pieces don't inherently have the warmth and fullness of say a Link HR piece but the intonation on them is spot on, they project and they are smooth...

So, I try use my energy to cushion and fatten up the sound on them instead of worrying about my low register being low and or the whole horn being low when it's cold...

Some players that play a Runyon/Couf-type sop piece are/were Grover, Dave Koz and Nelson Rangel...That can give you an idea...

But given that...they are not for everyone it's possible that you'd absolutely abhor them...who knows.

Gluck
 

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Speaking of spoilers, I'll be one. What does the quality of a mouthpiece have, in and of itself, that compensates for a drop in pitch on an instrument that has been sitting unused on stage?
 

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Probably none whatsoever...but some mouthpieces tune higher on the cork and so you have more room to push in and combat the flatness of a cold horn...Runyon piecs have smaller chambers --I think this is why they tune this way... mthpc gurus can chime in here if they want...

So, you have more cork to work with if you NEED to push in--something I like having on any horn actually...especially if you are trying to tune to trumpets...

You could also just push your current mthpc in all the way...but it depends, again, how much you have to work with once warmed and tuned--If you are already at the end of your cork to reach 440 or 442 while warm...you have little chance of playing it in tune while it's cold right? Runyon pieces also play octaves better in tune for me..

Again, you could absolutely abhor them...
to each his own...
 
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