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I was playing Desenclos today in my garage when I noticed that my Low B-flat is much much much sharper than my middle range B-flat. Is this normal? I've never noticed this terrible intonation difference. Am I an idiot? Is something likely wrong with my saxophone? If this is normal, I'm going to be so ashamed and embarrassed. Help! YAS Custom Ex



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Low Bb and, to a lesser degree, low B, are relatively sharp on many horns, if not most. It's why I use a handmade donut mute (in open position) for classical playing--an idea shown to me by Otis Murphy. On many horns, that note can be 15-20 cents sharp without some sort of correction (mute or jaw drop). Since changing jaw position will negatively impact timbre/response, particularly in a classical context, the mute becomes an attractive option (and doesn't actually mute your sound, despite the name). On my horn, that note is 5-8 cents high, but dead on with the mute.
 

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Sharp low Bb and B are simply a byproduct of the nature of saxophone acoustics.

They mutes look like this: http://www.originalswab.com/images/Sax_mute.jpg
I used one when playing under my private teacher's band. He being a sax player, knew that these mutes help slightly reduce a few overtones and make the lower register slightly more in tune. They're a little annoying though, there's just something that bugs me about having something lodged in my horn. You could try an embouchure adjustment.
 
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