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We have talked a lot about intonation "problems" with the soprano. It is more of a problem with soprano than with the other saxes. To work out those problems we need to recognize that YOU, the player, are part of the problem. The soprano wavelengths are very small, particularly for high notes. Therefore minute changes in the mouth cause changes in pitch. You must work with a tuner that tunes all notes as you play them, not just a primary note like "A". Today it is easy to get a tuner like this. Guitar players use them. I use one with a needle that cost $100. But I got my granddaughter a tuner for her guitar that cost only $30 and is just as good. It uses LED indicators to show when you're more than 5% off.

It is fairly easy to play the middle tones in tune (once you've adjusted for basic intonation). The trick is the high notes where many of us lose it by tightening up and the low notes where we often make too big an adjustment. It is the high notes where we notice poor intonation. Those notes are thin. Use the tuner to check all the notes as you make a slow run from low to high and back down. Adjust your mouth until you can play them all within 5%. Try to lock in that feeling.
 

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Tom,
Good advice for the younger or beginning players of the soprano. But as a player progresses he/she should rely on there ears more than a tuner. When all the great small tuners started coming out 10-15 years ago I was already beyond needing them.

Too often at seminars and workshops I have to tell even the best of students "don't just play your horn, you have to start listening to yourself while you're playing".
 

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lately I've been using a frequency generator to practice tuning, long notes, overtones, etc. However I think that you're safe to use a tuner from time to time.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2012
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The tuner is a good tool, at home, to become aware which notes need to be corrected and how. But as soon as you play at rehearsals, it is important to detect the (non-)evenness of your tuning by ear. At rehearsals or gigs, I never use a tuner, and I always try arpeggios against the piano Bb or F, to get a better overall tuning.
 

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I have been selling these Cecilio tuners that are really cheap (about $15) and they even have a setting to transpose the readings for the various Bb and Eb horns. That way you see the actual note you are playing and don't need to transpose like some of the Korgs.
 

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Also note that the high end on soprano (and higher saxes) needs to be "voiced" much the same as altissimo on all the other saxes. If they aren't they won't play reliably, or in tune, and will always be thin!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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I'm glad you mentioned voicing Nissan, because I always assumed that voicing was the biggest part of my (ongoing) soprano problem - and of course voicing is related to tuning. I start to experience the problem in the upper register at about the third B, and it really gets tough from the 3rd E on up through G. This is on a Yamaha 875 EXHG which has high F# and G keys and which has been looked at by a good tech that I trust. As Tom mentioned, the middle notes are easy and the lowest, while not naturally in tune, are easy enough to get accustomed to. -- But the upper register is still kicking my butt.


Hey Tom: Thanks to you also for starting this thread.
 

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Good find Betelsax! That's cooler than the other tuner app I found! Only tried it once at a sound check but I think this one is better!
 

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I actually think that using a piano or other keyboard sound and ears is much better than using a tuner. Learn to play in tune by listening to your sound blending with another - a useful skill. Learn to play in tune by watching a light or a meter - not so useful...

One of the first things students need to learn is what a unison sounds like - listening for beats or other weirdness.
 

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Non Resident SOTW Eccentric & 2012 Forum Contribut
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One of the tools I use is recording a keyboard version of the scales arps and tone exercises I am working on and tehn playing along with them. Drum machine for timing and a fairly clean organ tone works wonders for one's ear. I do use a chromatic tuner as a portable reference.
 
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