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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone!!
Okay so bear with me here... I've been playing the saxophone for a total of about 2 hours... LOL!!!

I had this sudden revelation that the sax might be "THE" instrument for me (i play a lot of instruments at a basic level but i have never really been inspired to want to play any enough to get good at it)

So here I am with my rental alto, 3 basic song books and waiting on my first lesson in two days. So I decided to put it together like described and make a sound (which surprisingly it does...)

So I decided to start using my old trumpet skill builders such as 'long notes'. Why is it that when I don't appear to be changing anything (ie embouchure or breath) that the sound cuts out? I'm trying to open my throat like i would when singing and keeping a constant steady breath (i can hold notes loud and long when singing)

Also, my lip hurts, which I've heard is normal.. i'm playing around with pressure and the one that appears to produce the most pleasing sound involves me biting quite hard on my lip.

I've been trying to use my guitar tuner to see how in tune i am and i'm wondering if i need to change it away from 440mHz or if i'm really playing c# instead of b.... lol

i know... lots of silly questions i'm sure :baby:
 

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What reed/mouthpiece are you using?

If you're having to bite to get a sound, your reed strength may be too hard. And if you're biting, you may be closing the reed off meaning that you're biting so hard that the reed just sticks to the mouthpiece and it doesn't vibrate.

Your embouchure needs to be fairly loose. If you can't get a sound out unless you add significant pressure, your reed may be too hard and you might need to drop down a strength.

You still tune to 440. But because sax, like trumpet, is a transposing instrument, the note you're playing won't be the note the tuner displays. The tuner will show the note a minor 3rd above what you're playing on alto. So if you're playing an "A", it'll show "C" and if you play "C", it'll show "Eb". If you're playing "B", the tuner should show "D".
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The reed I'm using is a 1.5... the lightest they had. The mouthpiece is the one that comes with the sax which is a yamaha yas23. It's plastic...
When I loosen up my embouchure i either get no sound at all or the sound of a fart cushion...sometimes I get a sound as if I'm an octave higher and I kinda gotta move my jaw around to get back to where I was trying to be. I'm playing around with the C major scale (from low C) and the biggest problems I get are from G and E. Could it be that I've tightened the ligature too much maybe? I've tried moving up and down the mouthpiece... I think I have about half of it in my mouth. Does your embouchure change depending on which notes you play like it does with the trumpet? Thanks for your help btw... I'm pretty gung ho about all this right now... driving my dog crazy and the cat is looking at me with a tilted head. lol

So I guess I'm playing everything flat by one semitone... LOL!
 

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Well, the other side of the coin is that if the reed is too soft, it will seal to the mouthpiece too (jaw pressure not a factor) because it's too weak to keep up with the amount of air you're putting in. I started on a 2.5. If you already have experience on a wind instrument, then the reed could be too soft and that might be the problem. And you will be flat if the reed is too soft, especially in the upper range of the horn.

The tightness of the ligature might change things a little, but it's not a huge factor.

Your lower lip should be roughly where the reed meets the mouthpiece. You can find this spot by slipping a piece of paper between the reed and the mouthpiece. Where the paper stops and can't go any farther, that's where the reed meets the mouthpiece. Take a pencil and draw a line on the reed at that spot, then put your lip on the line. You can take a little more or little less mouthpiece but you want to be in that general area.

The embouchure may change a little, but not a lot. It's not something a beginner really needs to worry about. You can play thougout the entire range of the horn without making significant changes to the embouchure.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well I've NEVER played a wood instrument with a reed (the recorder's a woodwind? lol) but I played the trumpet in high school and I sing and practice yoga daily so I got a diaphragm of steel (well no.. something more flexible and muscular than steel hahaha) and a steady breath so maybe that's exactly my problem. They just gave me two free reeds and were out of the 2's so they gave me 1.5's. Would explain how I play the majority of the notes flat I guess (if it's because of the reed size I'll be thoroughly impressed with myself! LOL)

I think where you describe for mpc placement is about where I am. To be perfectly honest that's the only place i can put my lips and get any 'sound' at all.. more mpc and i get nothing and less i get a squeal.

Thanks for your thoughts on this! I couldn't wait til thursday to find out what might be happening... imagine my surprise when the saxomaphone goes sound-nosound-sound without me doing anything differently from when I started blowing! LOL!
 

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I am guessing the reed is waaaayyy to light. While it is possible to play on a 1.5, it is not common among younger players because they have tendencies to bite. When I first started playing, I was playing on a 3 and eventually got to a 4. I realized that I was biting the whole time just to get a sound out. So, I switched to a light 3 and now play on a 2.5. So try getting a reed heavier by a half a size or so. As far as the ligature goes, if it has two screws, turn the rear screw until it is fairly tight and then the front screw until it is hardly snug. This works best for me.
 

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Another issue could be how the reed is positioned on the mouthpiece.
A good starting point is to have the tip of the reed even with the tip of the mouthpiece.
Too far either way and you could have 'issues' with consistant and pleasing sound production.

As for being a bit flat, try pushing the mouthpiece on to the neck a bit farther.
 
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