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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've been playing the alto sax for about 4 years. I play on an intermediate Antigua and I play on a E Rousseau with Vandoren reeds size 3 reeds with a Rovner ligature. I've always been told my tone sounds "nasally", some days more than others. My director tells me to voice "ahh" so my throat will be more open but it shows no significant change, I've also tried Rico Hemke reeds and no difference. So I was wondering any suggestions on how I can improve my tone instead of it being nasally?
 

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So I've been playing the alto sax for about 4 years. I play on an intermediate Antigua and I play on a E Rousseau with Vandoren reeds size 3 reeds with a Rovner ligature. I've always been told my tone sounds "nasally", some days more than others. My director tells me to voice "ahh" so my throat will be more open but it shows no significant change, I've also tried Rico Hemke reeds and no difference. So I was wondering any suggestions on how I can improve my tone instead of it being nasally?
Two things. I will tell you to do item (1) first, but you (being human) will try item (2) first. Anyway:

Item (1): I say unto you, long tones. Long tones, with lots of attention paid to the tonal quality of the sound. Preferably done outdoors at least most of the time. From ppp to fff, and pay attention to how the tone breaks up and misbehaves at the limits. And don't forget to BLOW THROUGH THE DARN THING!!!

Item (2): You could try a larger chamber mouthpiece (sorry, don't have a lot of names for "classical/concert band" style). I know Rousseau was a student/devotee of Mule and the Mule school tends toward a bright sound; a person with a naturally bright sound could turn out to sound nasally. You might benefit from a larger chamber piece with a bigger facing and softer reeds.
 

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Two things. I will tell you to do item (1) first, but you (being human) will try item (2) first. Anyway:

Item (1): I say unto you, long tones. Long tones, with lots of attention paid to the tonal quality of the sound. Preferably done outdoors at least most of the time. From ppp to fff, and pay attention to how the tone breaks up and misbehaves at the limits. And don't forget to BLOW THROUGH THE DARN THING!!!

Item (2): You could try a larger chamber mouthpiece (sorry, don't have a lot of names for "classical/concert band" style). I know Rousseau was a student/devotee of Mule and the Mule school tends toward a bright sound; a person with a naturally bright sound could turn out to sound nasally. You might benefit from a larger chamber piece with a bigger facing and softer reeds.
A: More Long Tones.
B: some good classical mpcs, with no real order in how bright they are, would include the Vandoren Optimum, Selmer Soloist, S90, and S80, Caravan, and Rascher (though I'm not sure that will work well on your antigua,) and I'll add more to these when I have time.
And if you want a very long list, here's this: http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?39665-Index-of-classical-mouthpieces
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Two things. I will tell you to do item (1) first, but you (being human) will try item (2) first. Anyway:

Item (1): I say unto you, long tones. Long tones, with lots of attention paid to the tonal quality of the sound. Preferably done outdoors at least most of the time. From ppp to fff, and pay attention to how the tone breaks up and misbehaves at the limits. And don't forget to BLOW THROUGH THE DARN THING!!!

Item (2): You could try a larger chamber mouthpiece (sorry, don't have a lot of names for "classical/concert band" style). I know Rousseau was a student/devotee of Mule and the Mule school tends toward a bright sound; a person with a naturally bright sound could turn out to sound nasally. You might benefit from a larger chamber piece with a bigger facing and softer reeds.




Would you recommend AL3 or AL4? Because I'm not too sure about the other mouth pieces
 

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I would suggest trying a Meyer 6 mouthpiece with your Rovner ligature and softer reeds, say 2 1/2, stand when you play, and try to breath from your diaphragm, and relax your embouchure a little.
 

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empressdiver has it right ... though I'm not a Meyer or Rovner fan. Breath support is the key to your sound. Not the hardware. Your abdomen should act like a well trained bellows. A solid unchanging air column is your goal. Long tones are a good way to nail this down. Start at PPP bring it up to FFF then back down to PPP while maintaining a constant sound and pitch (use a tuner if possible). If ... I mean when, the pitch varies, keep working on it ... For hours! I personally hate these exercises ... most of us do. They are important, however. I like a softer reed because you can not bite too much without deadening the vibrations. There should never be dents on the inside your lower lip after playing. As far as making changes to the shape of your throat and mouth, none of that will really help until you are blowing and have a freely vibrating reed. Once you accomplish that, your throat and mouth can make subtle changes to the air column resulting in changes in tone and pitch. It may be time for you to start studying with a private sax teacher. My previous statement is proof that these lessons will stick with you for a lifetime. The next thing i will say it that it takes a whole lot of sounding bad before you earn the privilege of sounding good. Keep working on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
empressdiver has it right ... though I'm not a Meyer or Rovner fan. Breath support is the key to your sound. Not the hardware. Your abdomen should act like a well trained bellows. A solid unchanging air column is your goal. Long tones are a good way to nail this down. Start at PPP bring it up to FFF then back down to PPP while maintaining a constant sound and pitch (use a tuner if possible). If ... I mean when, the pitch varies, keep working on it ... For hours! I personally hate these exercises ... most of us do. They are important, however. I like a softer reed because you can not bite too much without deadening the vibrations. There should never be dents on the inside your lower lip after playing. As far as making changes to the shape of your throat and mouth, none of that will really help until you are blowing and have a freely vibrating reed. Once you accomplish that, your throat and mouth can make subtle changes to the air column resulting in changes in tone and pitch. It may be time for you to start studying with a private sax teacher. My previous statement is proof that these lessons will stick with you for a lifetime. The next thing i will say it that it takes a whole lot of sounding bad before you earn the privilege of sounding good. Keep working on it.


Thank you, as well as empressdiver :)
 

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THANK YOU turf3, TrueTone, empressdiver & Rickster. As an alto newbie, I was experiencing the same problem as AltoFTW. With a week of long tone practice, a relaxed embouchure and new mouthpiece (Meyer 6 replaced a 5), a notable improvement. Wealth of info on this site and I appreciate all who contribute.
 
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