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Hi all, new here. I am 30 years old and I have been playing Alto sax for about 6 weeks now just by watching videos and picked it up quickly. I play sitting down with the saxophone between my legs and with the correct posture and breathing and I tighten the neck strap so the sax mouthpiece comes up between my lips and only put about an inch in my mouth. I have been practising for 2 hours a day for 4-5 days a week.

This is the first reed instrument I have ever played. I am playing on a Gear4Music light gold student alto sax. I replaced the stock mouthpiece it came with and got a Yamaha 4C and Rovner Dark Ligature and got Rico 2.0 reeds and a Legere Signature 2 reed. I got theLlegere reed as I found my reeds tend to dry out easily and found it easier just putting on the reed and playing with no work or soaking the reed first. I followed this video of David Leibman talking about the perfect embouchure, to get my embouchure right: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROPRATRrGjA

After a 3 weeks the Legere reed cracked and had to replace it. Even before then, I found I wasn't getting a good sound from it or the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, maybe down to me being a beginner. I then upgraded and got a Meyer 6M mouthpiece, Rovner Versa Ligature and x2 Legere Signature 2 1/4 reeds. I found after setting it up, I could actually play it and get no squeaks or issues after a few minutes and it instantly improved my sound and tone.

Since using the Meyer 6M, I am able play all notes except altissimo and Bb consistently without issues and can tongue and control the volume of the notes as well and I can almost keep the same tone each time I play. However I am having a couple of issues.

When I first put the reed on the mouthpiece and tighten the ligature (not so tight the reed is constricted), I find the reed squeaks initially and I am unable to stop it doing so. As its synthetic, I know its not an issue with needing to wet the reed as it doesn't need soaking to play. I am not sure why this is happening. I have the reed aligned correctly (It may be ever so slightly below the tip of the mouthpiece if that makes a difference) I tried loosening the ligature and still have the issue for a few minutes, then I find the squeaking stops and I don't squeak anymore but its happening every time I play.

After the squeaking stops, I have found the sound I get is fine, but a little stuffy (a bit darker and duller sounding than clips I have heard with people playing the alto sax with a Meyer 6M). I recently got a Legere Studio Cut 1.75 and found it far too easy to blow and was constantly honking with it, so tried a 2 1/2 and found it too strong for me and took a lot of breath to get a sound from it and when I did, it was very breathy, so I know that isn't the right strength for me. Does anyone what could be causing my squeaking issue? Could it happen if my mouth is a little dry? I noticed if I wasn't hydrated enough, I got a spitty sound and was spitting too much, but that has reduced a lot since I started drinking water before playing. Not sure why the squeaks only happen initially as my mouth can get a little dry after playing for a while and I don't squeak then.

What could cause the stuffy tone? I play with the Rovner Versa Ligature metal plate touching the reed. Could the 2 1/4 reed be a little strong for me? Should I go back to a 2 reed again instead?
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Couple of things I noticed. You say


I play sitting down with the saxophone between my legs and with the correct posture and breathing and I tighten the neck strap so the sax mouthpiece comes up between my lips and only put about an inch in my mouth.
So as you don't mention you have a teacher, (1) what makes you think you have the correct posture and breathing? I would suggest standing as it's the best initial posture for learning to breathe properly

(2) An inch of mouthpiece???? That is way too much for someone starting out.

When I used to teach university students, putting in too much mouthpiece was one of the biggest problems.

Maybe in the future and with guidance from a teacher (not an internet video or post) you might just find that is appropriate but it would depend on your physiognomy (which we here cannot comment on) and genre, or how versatile you want to be.


What could cause the stuffy tone? I play with the Rovner Versa Ligature metal plate touching the reed. Could the 2 1/4 reed be a little strong for me? Should I go back to a 2 reed again instead?
Again, you really need to ask a good teacher who can see and hear you play and so evaluate what the problems are. Trying to rely on the internet as a teacher (especially in the first stages) is not a good idea as you will get so many different opinions. some right, some wrong but the sheer difference will be confusing.
 

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Teacher or no teacher...
A new sax, a Yamaha 4C and some No. 2 reads really must be good to go - to build technique over many, many months. Surely? Is so much kit swapping going to change anything?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Couple of things I noticed. You say

So as you don't mention you have a teacher, (1) what makes you think you have the correct posture and breathing? I would suggest standing as it's the best initial posture for learning to breathe properly

(2) An inch of mouthpiece???? That is way too much for someone starting out.

When I used to teach university students, putting in too much mouthpiece was one of the biggest problems.

Maybe in the future and with guidance from a teacher (not an internet video or post) you might just find that is appropriate but it would depend on your physiognomy (which we here cannot comment on) and genre, or how versatile you want to be.




Again, you really need to ask a good teacher who can see and hear you play and so evaluate what the problems are. Trying to rely on the internet as a teacher (especially in the first stages) is not a good idea as you will get so many different opinions. some right, some wrong but the sheer difference will be confusing.

It probably wasn't an inch, what I did was put my index finger across the mouthpiece where the ligature starts and put my mouth in as far as my finger started, tried a little less mouthpiece also. I understand putting to much mouthpiece in your mouth can make the sax sound loud and a bit honky and too little can sound a bit soft. I don't have any teachers near me so I am unable to go that route for now that is why I am learning by watching videos. I know the benefit of having a teacher over just watching videos. I got my posture from watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IMkjhOtRRA

A new sax, a Yamaha 4C and some No. 2 reads really must be good to go - to build technique over many, many months. Surely? Is so much kit swapping going to change anything?
I am not sure what it is but I can't seem to play much on the Yamaha 4C without squeaking but can play the Meyer 6M without squeaking after a few minutes and then no more squeaking like I said.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi all,

Thought I'd already replied, guess I forgot to press post. I understand that a good teacher is the best option as they can tell you things you can only know in person and are far better than just using videos to learn from. The only one I could find closest to me, I contacted a few times and they never got back to me, and there are no others anywhere near me, so for now that is why I am using videos to learn from for now. When I said I was using 1 inch of the mouthpiece, I think I was off when I said that, what I was doing was using my index finger to gauge how much mouthpiece to place in my mouth, as shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L63pEiEyRHg I know putting too much mouthpiece in can make the sax sound loud and honky and too little sounds soft as I have tried different amounts and found that out myself.

I was also using this video that shows sitting posture when playing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IMkjhOtRRA I prefer to sit as I sometimes have issues with my hands and forearms being a little sore and I noticed that sitting to play reduces that. I know.

Teacher or no teacher...
A new sax, a Yamaha 4C and some No. 2 reads really must be good to go - to build technique over many, many months. Surely? Is so much kit swapping going to change anything?
I am not sure what happened but I have tried switching between mouthpieces and noticed I can only squeak and not play much with the Yamaha 4C but I can play mostly without squeaking on the Meyer 6M, still not sure why. I know I'll have to work on my embouchure to get it exactly right as I know a good player can play on most mouthpieces and sound good so I doubt its an issue with the mouthpiece. I can make a clear sound with the Meyer 6M mouthpiece easily with no squeaks by just having it on the neck, without the neck on the sax, its just when I put it on the sax and tighten the neck screw, I get the squeaks initially. I always make sure the mouthpiece is aligned straight to my mouth before trying to play and align the neck with the neck strap ring on the sax body.
 

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Hi Dave, I am a beginner so factor that in while reading. I also sit while playing but I put a small box on the floor covered with paper towels to make it soft (and polish the bow). That way the sax is at the same height every time I play and while playing cannot change height or attitude. It forces me to sit properly. If practice goes well as a reward I allow myself to stand for two tunes. Practice does not always go well.
For your squeaks: I always lick the back of my plastic reeds. I think it helps make a better seal until spit can do its job.
 
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