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Hello; this is my first post to saxontheweb. I've played saxophone for years, and have played Venova since yesterday! Overall, it is a fun little instrument. That said, the low F#, G#, and B♭ all play very sharp for me. I'm playing with the supplied mouthpiece and a Vandoren 3 reed. The supplied resin reed plays less sharp, but I'd prefer to stick to a wooden reed if possible.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised since the manual calls this out specifically:
"semitones such as F#, G#, B♭ tend to easily play sharp, and are hard to resonate. Use fingering, airflow, and embouchure control to adjust inflection."

Still, I'm having a tough time compensating. For those of you who have played a Venova, have you had success playing the low F#, G#, B♭? Any tips?

Thanks!
 

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Just got my Venova for a birthday present last night. I've been sticking with their resin reed, just to keep with the concept of a cheap, bullet-proof, fun little instrument that you can quickly whip out and play.

I spent some time last night playing with a tuner and I agree, there are several notes that require compensation. The upside is that the resin reed seems pretty happy to bend notes. I'm also working on getting comfortable jumping between the different registers and consistently hitting the low C.

For me, it feels like wind players are getting something akin to a Ukulele for guitar players. A very portable, not too serious, fun noise maker. Not so say that there aren't any serious Ukulele players, but generally is a plaything for most folks. I think with that as a starting point, it's pretty fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #123 (Edited)
Hi Matt,

Yep, those are probably the hardest notes to get. There's a couple of ways to approach them. You can "half hole up", from the note below, or close holes lower down. With the low F#, you can't really close enough holes to get it in tune, but one way is to also half close RH1 - the hole you work with your right index finger.

I've been experimenting with the little black rubber widget / thingy that they supply to allegedly switch to German or more sax like fingering. I've found I can fit that in RH1 instead (it's meant for RH2), and it does a better job of half closing it than I've been able to do with my finger. You could try that. Either think of it as training wheels, or maybe just leave it in there semi-permanently. It flattens some other notes, of course, but it's only really noticeable on G.

With my current weapon of choice, a Yamaha 7C with a #2 Rico Plasticover reed, I can bend the G up to pitch without having to think about it much, with the widget left in RH1.

It can only affect notes you finger with that hole open, of course, and it has less effect on A than on G (really not an issue) and even less on B than on A. I'm not suggesting it has to be there, but it is an easier way of making the low F# more playable, than trying to get it just right with your index finger. Mostly, it proves it can be done. No doubt, you could learn to do it without the widget, once you get used to it.

For the G#, half holing up from G isn't too bad, though I find it hard to hold it stable. Half closing RH1 helps with that too (with or without the widget). I have a couple of other variations, which I'll come to shortly.

For the first octave Bb, I can think of three main ways. Neither of them is perfect, so any of them will do, depending on which is easiest at the time (i.e. depending on where your fingers were on the previous note, or need to go next).

a) Half hole up from A (i.e. partially open LH2 - left middle finger) and optionally close RH1 and RH2.

b) Use the register key thumb lever as a Bb side key, raising an A fingering to Bb. Optionally close just about any combination of RH1-RH3 - more for stability than tuning. This one's a bit weak and weedy sounding, but not bad for tuning.

c) Play it like a low C#, but with your middle finger off LH2 - it's a bit like a recorder fingering for that note, but with more holes closed below it. It may be a touch sharp, but I find I can scoop down enough (maybe harder with the 4C).

For the second octave Bb, the recorder fingering works really well - start with the A fingering and add RH2 and RH3, so it looks like this:

TR XXo oXX

(TR meaning thumb hole is closed, register key pressed, X = finger closes hole, o = hole is open)

Oddly, the recorder fingering for a B doesn't work, at least not for me, but I can improve on the one on the chart - play a B, but add RH1:

TR Xoo Xoo - and you may need to blow a bit harder, as with a recorder. It's hard to play that softly.

For the top C, the official one sort of works, but adding RH1 helps keep it stable. Adding RH2 still works, so that's another option.

Not on the chart, but the top C# isn't that hard. There's at least a couple of ways, but try adding RH1 and RH2 to the official C fingering, and optionally adding LH3:

TR oXo XXo or TR oXX XXo

I can sometimes get it to do it just by taking my thumb and all fingers off, but it does tend to fall on the floor :) Holding it with RH2 works about the same. I can't do it consistently though.

The top half of the second octave can also be played as overtones, in roughly the same way that you can do it on a flute - i.e. use a fingering based on a note that's a fifth lower than the note you want to play, put more of the reed into your mouth so more of it can vibrate, and just try to get the overtone. Some are harder than others, so find an easier one first, then try to go from that to ones near it.

You might think that meant you can stretch it past the C#, but I haven't been able to, so far. Let me know how, if you manage it :)

So, here's a rough fingering chart, with some alternatives. I'll leave out the ones that work okay as they're written on the chart. I did this with the widget fitted in RH1, so when you see a h there, that's what I mean. Where you see a h for any other hole, I half closed it with my finger.


Venova fingerings - mostly, just differences from Yamaha's chart, and some alternate fingerings

h = half hole, or fit the fingering adapter plug / widget (in RH1 or RH2)
H = one black key rather than both together (e.g. as for D#)
R = thumb register key or lever
T = thumb on hole - which it almost always is
() = optional, i.e you can close that hole if you want to, but you don't have to


(Starting from low C)

C-E as on the official chart
F T XXX Xho / T XXX XoX / T XXX Xoo X
F# T XXX hXh / T XXX hXo / T XXX hXX (H) / T XXX hXo X
G T XXX ooo / T XXX hoo with bite to bend up (if using it with h plug / widget in RH1, to help get the low F#)
G# T XXh hoo / T XXh ooo? / T XXh XXo X / T XXh XXX X
A as chart
Bb T Xho (XXo) / *TR* XXo (XXX or XXo or oXX) - mostly A + register key, with optional right hand fingers / T XoX XXX (H) (scoop)
B as chart or T XoX XXX H
C as normal but maybe add more RH fingers? Or T XoX XXX X
C# as chart (recorder, thumb open) / - XXX ooo / - XXX hoo
D as chart (scoop) / T XXX XXX (bite, not lever) / - Xoo hoo (easy trill with B) or possibly - Xoo ooo
D# as chart / TR XXX XXX
E as chart
F TR XXX Xho / TR XXX XoX
F# TR XXX hXo / TR XXX oXo
G as chart / TR XXX hoo (bite) / T(R) XXX XXX X (Overtone of C)

G# TR XXh XXo / T XXo XXo (H) / T(R) XXX XXX H (Overtone of C#)
A as chart or TR XXo XXo X / T(R) XXX XXX / T(R) XXh XXX (Overtone of D)
Bb TR XXo oXX (bite) / T XXo XXX / T XXo hXX / T(R) XXX XXh (Overtone of D#)
B TR Xoo Xoo blow! / T(R) XXX XXo (Overtone of E - tricky) / T(R) XXh XXo (Overtone of E - better)
C TR oXo Xoo / TR Xoo XXo (bite) / T(R) hX(X) XXo

C# T(R) oX(X) XXo / TR ooo (oXo) (not on the chart but definitely playable)


One last thing - the register hole, which the thumb key lever opens, is very small, so it gets clogged with water quite easily. A good way to clear it is blowing up the nose pipe, while pressing the register key to open the hole. Oboes have the same problem, but they don't have a conveniently placed pipe to blow through... Maybe they should.
 

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Discussion Starter #124
I've always wondered what happens if you click "Promote to Article"... Should I do it ? :) That last post was the closest I've ever come to writing a reference work.
 

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Andy - Thank you so much for the detailed response! I was hoping for some pointers, and your response went above and beyond my expectations. I'll certainly give your suggestions a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #126
You're welcome, Matt.

I just noticed a mistake, so I've corrected it - the alternative fingering for the second D (bottom of the second octave) should have said

D - Xoo hoo (easy trill with B) or possibly - Xoo ooo

- so it's like the first octave B fingering, but you take your thumb off. It's an easier way to go up from B to D. I wrote the h on RH1 because I had the widget in that hole when I found the fingering, but it may work well enough without it.
 

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It appeals to me and I am far from a young hipster...I’m probably closer to being an old beatnik, but the Venova looks like it would be fun. it also looks like it’s perfect for the beach or poolside jams. Fun music (even some good music) doesn’t have to be perfectly executed or even perfectly in tune. Sometimes it’s about the people, the environment, and the vibe. I’m sure it’s not an instrument for music snobs or professional stage work, but then they’re not marketing it for those customers. I have some carbon fiber penny whistles that pretty much live on our deck in the summer (we do too) and an old guitar that makes its way outside most days as well. The Venova looks like it would fit in nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter #128
Agreed. I'm also neither young, nor a hipster. Yamaha's [email protected] online advertising campaign pitched it that way, but all that tells us about is the kind of marketing people that Yamaha employ these days. To be fair, maybe they're on to something, and hipsters / wannnabe hipsters fall for that type of lifestyle nonsense. At least they're getting conned into buying something they might enjoy, or learn from, not just plain conned.

But, yes, whatever Yamaha's perceived market for it is, it's an instrument in its own right. It's quirky and imperfect, but it has something about it I like.

I'm probably repeating myself, but I have some expensive instruments and some that are basically just bits of tubing with strategically drilled holes. I value them all, for what they can do, but the ones that cost me less have less to prove.

One thing I like is that if I ever need to, I can get another one, off the shelf, and it will be identical - plus I'll be able to afford to, so long as they stay in production. If I felt moved to modify it, in some way, I could afford to take the risk of messing it up too.
 

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Discussion Starter #129
For me, it feels like wind players are getting something akin to a Ukulele for guitar players. A very portable, not too serious, fun noise maker. Not so say that there aren't any serious Ukulele players, but generally is a plaything for most folks. I think with that as a starting point, it's pretty fun.
I missed seeing that post before. A ukulele is not a bad analogy... Maybe more like a Yamaha guitalale though, and in a similar price bracket.

I own a small collection of cheap ukuleles, and they're fun. They were all badly set up, which is fair enough for the price - you need to learn how to file the nut properly, at least, to get a cheap one to play more or less in tune with itself. Having that done already would have put the price up quite a bit.

I don't own a guitalele, but I assume it goes a step further than those, and actually leaves the factory more or less capable of playing in tune :)
 

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I've always wondered what happens if you click "Promote to Article"... Should I do it ? :) That last post was the closest I've ever come to writing a reference work.
I think you should. This is a valuable resource for any sax player who buys the Venova.
 

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Discussion Starter #131
Thanks, soybean. Well, I tried, but I don't think it worked. There was a pre-filled form, with some buttons, one of which said "Enregistrer"... I pressed that in the end. It showed an article but it said "Not Published", in red, under the title. I may have failed to grasp exactly how that was supposed to work...
 

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It's a very fun instrument and very portable. I use it for some long tone practice in hotels. You can overblow even higher up the instrument, I was using some clarinet-like fingerings from the 3rd register, and a higher D, D#, E, and F were almost stable most of the time.
 

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Thanks for your questions folks. I'm going to follow up with the mods/admins to see if access to the 'Promote to Article' function is deliberate or whether it's just not functioning properly.

Cheers,

Erik
 

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I think it would be really interesting for someone to make a (reasonably) high quality branched cylindrical instrument of this type, with standard Boehm/Sax keywork for chromatics without excessive cross-fingering. As far as I can remember I have never seen such a thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #135
It's a very fun instrument and very portable. I use it for some long tone practice in hotels. You can overblow even higher up the instrument, I was using some clarinet-like fingerings from the 3rd register, and a higher D, D#, E, and F were almost stable most of the time.
Cool. That makes sense. I can't claim to be great at playing those notes on a clarinet, but I do sometimes manage it. Yes, one of the C# fingerings I found would work on a clarinet (oXX XXo). I'll attempt some of the others soon.

If you feel like writing some down, I'll add them to the chart. There doesn't seem to be a limit to how many times I can edit that post.


Thanks for your questions folks. I'm going to follow up with the mods/admins to see if access to the 'Promote to Article' function is deliberate or whether it's just not functioning properly.

Cheers,

Erik
Thanks, Erik. I thought maybe that link was relatively new, but I'm not really a regular. Pete Thomas's comments in that other thread suggests it's been there for years, or resurfaced again recently:

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?132475-Promote-to-article&p=3337889
 

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Discussion Starter #136
I think it would be really interesting for someone to make a (reasonably) high quality branched cylindrical instrument of this type, with standard Boehm/Sax keywork for chromatics without excessive cross-fingering. As far as I can remember I have never seen such a thing.
That would be good. Maybe there wouldn't be all that many takers for one though... I'd like it if Yamaha made a slightly upgraded Venova, with a few more keys. A side F#, G#, and a proper side Bb would be good - rather than trying to use the register key as one, that is.

I have a more or less Albert system cheap Chinese G clarinet, which has quite bendy keywork, and needed some tone holes adjusting, but it's fun for what it cost. That sort of keywork would be fine - just not quite so bendy. Even made the way it is on the current Venova, with plastic keys and silicone rubber pads would be fine - it would just benefit from having those few extra keys.

Full Boehm is great, but it's more complicated so there's more to go wrong, plus it takes more skill to fix or service it.
 
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I recently bought a Venova to try out reed instruments and maybe move on to a real sax later. The biggest drawback of the Venova for me is the fact that I can only play it in tune at a very loud volume. Is this only a matter of skill or is the Venova simply a very loud instrument? Is it easier to play quietly on a regular alto sax? Because the Venova comes with a Yamaha 4c mouthpiece, my guess is that a regular alto sax with a 4c would be just as loud. Or does the construction of the horn make a big difference?

Also a special thank you to Andy A1S for all the valuable information you posted in this thread! I’m sure many people appreciate it as there is little information on the Venova available online.
 

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Discussion Starter #138
You're welcome, saxsyntax.

I find a 6C or 7C, with a fairly soft reed, helps me play it with less effort, but it is still fairly loud. Maybe I'll develop the skill of playing it more quietly, eventually.

A wider tip opening does need a softer reed, or it can be a struggle. I haven't tried the resin reed that came with the Venova with the 7C. I seem to remember it seemed a bit stiff for the 6C, but I'll go back to it, at some point.

I have played an alto with a 4CM (very similar to a 4C) and I could play it a lot more softly than the Venova, but the sound may well penetrate the walls more. Lower frequencies are harder to stop - hence the party next door effect, where you just hear thudding bass but little else. Higher frequencies are blocked by walls and windows a lot more effectively.

If it's your own hearing you're worried about, rather than annoying the neighbours, maybe ear plugs would be the way to go. I understand a lot of brass players practise with them in. I haven't tried it, myself. They only reduce the sound; they never stop it all together, so you'd still hear yourself playing.

On another note ;) I managed the high D and D# (third octave), with roughly clarinet style 3rd register / lower altissimo fingerings, inspired by what Legere Reeds said. I'll add them to the chart, soon. I briefly managed an E, but I'm not sure how, and I couldn't repeat it. I expect I'll get further if I keep trying it.

I got as far as the G in that register, on my C clarinet, without using the G# key for any of the notes - just half holing - so I expect it's possible... just maybe not all that probable.
 
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Thanks for the fast reply and your words of advice. I use a legere signature reed with the weakest strength available of 2.0. The fact that higher frequencies are more easily obstructed by walls and windows is really interesting because I think people would perceive higher sounds are more obstructive intuitively.
I am actually not too concerned about my neighbors, but was rather disappointed that I could play the Venova only at a very narrow range of volume. However, today I tried this pitch excercise with the mpc only https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-mouthpiece-exercises and came to the conclusion that the way I used to make the embouchure was wrong. With the old embouchure I could only hit B5 but after making some adjustments like taking less mpc in and increasing the lip pressure, I could reach the D6. Now the vibrations does get dampen quite a bit by my lower lip while the reed moved unobstructed with the old embouchure, but I can play with less air and volume and tonguing is also a lot easier. The tone has improve, too, it went from being brash and quaky to more mellow and oboe-like. So I‘m motivated again to practice more and hope to improve further.
Congratulations on reaching new highs in your studies of the Venova! Keep us updated with your findings!
 

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Thanks for the fruitful conversation to everyone, especially Andy A1S for the fingering ideas.

I'm one of those who wants to have some non-professional, easy to learn woodwind instrument with that reedy sound and I've been following Venova reviews. Unfortunately, many say that it is a loud instrument but I'd like to have something to play quietly. So, I'm still in doubt.
Is there any mouthpiece that could be fitted to make it playable in quiet manner? The last post by saxsyntax suggests that something can be done also by learning good playing techniques (which I intend to do) but I'm still not sure if I shouldn't pick some other option. It's not easy to find an alternative good quality "almost sax" instruments, if we discard all those Xaphoons and Chinese "little saxes".
 
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