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  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member Captain Beeflat's Avatar
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    Default Frail sound in palm key range.

    My alto has a robust sound below the palm keys...robust also in altissimo.
    In the palm key area the sound is considerably weaker....having to concentrate, & tighten my embouchure considerably.
    It is improved, but still not strong, with a high baffled mouthpiece & harder reeds.
    The pads are opening sufficiently, also the neck octave pip. Not fully opening the palm keys makes no difference. I have checked that the pip is clear & that the neck is gunge free.
    Any ideas anyone?
    If everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    Expect the palm key notes to be a bit different. After all, for notes that high, the ideal is a narrower tube, as you would find on a sop sax playing notes at the same pitch.

    IMO altos tend to be weaker on palm notes than tenors are.

    Some altos work quite poorly on palm notes because of poor acoustic design.
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    I have found that I actually have to loosen my embouchure on the palm keys to get a bigger sound. Also, check for leaks.
    Website: http://www.soulfulhorns.com
    Horns: 1951 Selmer SBA Tenor, Handmade Guardala MBI; CE Winds Artist Series DS Baritone, Dukoff D7; CE Winds Omega Curved Soprano, Barone Vintage HR, Akai EWI 4000S

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    well, you will get all sorts of comments, I have found that palm notes are very difficult on each sax but more so on the Selmer (and Selmer like) designs. However those who try to correct my sound (and they are many) always tell me to open the throat more the higher I go.

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member Captain Beeflat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    Thanks chaps.

    ekdowlin.....Emphatically no leaks & I have tried every embouchure imaginable.

    Gordon...Thank you, some comfort to to know that the fault is not mine; really I am a tenor (& C Melody) person where the palm key notes are just as easy as all the others, so the weakness is new to me.

    milandro...perfect in the altissimo range, so my throat must be open.

    My thanks again.
    If everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane.

  6. #6
    Distinguished SOTW Member Dr G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    What model is your alto?

    Forgive me if I should already know that.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



    "When you are doing well, don't forget to do good." - Sichan Siv.

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Member Captain Beeflat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    It is a Grassi "Wonderful", a very good copy of an SBA.
    No need for forgiveness Dear Old Thing...no reason in the World why you would know.
    If everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane.

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member Dr G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    I've no experience with the Grassi but I have played a number of Selmers in that range with similar experience. FWIW, it can be adjusted with mouthpiece selection but then you enter the Land of Compromise. If the rest of the horn is sounding sweet, I'd tend to accept where you are and be happy with working on voicing that range.

    Does tightening your embouchure really help achieve the desired response in that range? Or is that how you are (naturally) reacting to the horn? You comment that a good altissimo must correlate with an open throat but, in my experience, it is difficult to pair a tightened embouchure with a relaxed and open throat.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



    "When you are doing well, don't forget to do good." - Sichan Siv.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    I have also been amazed at what a difference the mouthpiece makes for these notes. My Tonalin makes them pop out nice and loud, but there always seems to be a compromise. For me, the pieces that hit the palm notes perfectly are then squirrelly somplace else (usually wanting to overtone a low note). My alto is finally getting a tune-up with a "real" tech, so I'm curious to see if or how this might effect the note-to-note differences or make the horn more "mouthpiece friendly."

    Mark

  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW Member Captain Beeflat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    [QUOTE=Dr G;1479696
    You comment that a good altissimo must correlate with an open throat but, in my experience, it is difficult to pair a tightened embouchure with a relaxed and open throat.[/QUOTE]

    Sorry, I did not express myself very well.
    By altissimo, I meant notes above the keyed range of the horn...in my case F# & above.


    Mark.
    My compromise is rather different. Whichever mouthpiece I use, the bottom end remains solid & easy.
    My choice is simply poor palm key strength or slightly better palm key strength.
    From the responses here I feel that your "super tune up" may not be the answer....but I would like you to report back with any differences.
    If everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane.

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010 harmonizerNJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    An my alto, I don't like the sound of E3 and F3 using the palm keys. D3 and D#3 are a little thin, but not as bad. Unless I am playing a gentle ballad, such as in church, I don't use the palm keys for E3 and F3. For most cases when playing E3 or F3 I use the front F based fingerings. E3 in particular has a lot of "oomph", which works well for pop/rock songs in my covers band, where we play a lot of songs in so-called "guitar keys".

  12. #12
    Distinguished SOTW Member Honeyboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    Have you tried harder and/or different reeds? I have found a similar issue with weaker /older reeds.
    11th Commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's axe.

  13. #13
    Forum Contributor 2014 skeller047's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    Captain Beeflat,

    Now I have to ask your forgiveness too - do you play tenor? I ask this because, believe it or not, starting to play tenor a lot really improved my alto playing when I was younger, and I was a pretty damn good alto player.

    What it did for me was teach me to play with a looser embouchure. You have to have good chop strength to do this, or your pitch will be all over the place, but push in a bit (say, 1/4") and try to play in tune that way. The end result is a palm key area that sings.

    My progression into saxophone was this - clarinet, then alto, then tenor for a bit in high school, then alto exclusively for 6 or 7 years (I added flute at this time). Once I needed to actually make money playing (got married, had a kid, etc.) I added tenor to the mix - and my alto playing, even though I was well known as a good lead player, got even better, for the reasons mentioned above - and my palm key notes are full and strong.

    I have an SBA, similar to your horn I guess from what you say, and it's just fine. I use a modified Meyer.
    Steve Keller

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Beeflat View Post
    ... ekdowlin.....Emphatically no leaks & I have tried every embouchure imaginable..
    Embouchure is one issue. The open throat is a completely separate issue.

    And another completely separate issue is the shape of the mouth cavity resonant chamber, which can be adjusted by the shape of the tongue, especially the part of the tongue just back from the hard palate.

    A 4th issue is breath pressure.

    It takes compromise attention to all of these issues to overcome the the idiosyncrasies of a particular range of notes, or a particular model of sax.
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    To add to what Gordon said... alto is different from tenor, and you have to learn to play well in the upper range. Like you, I moved to the bigger horns and found they improved my air support on alto. Trouble is, when you go back to alto, you have to sort out the voicing to make the top of the range sound good, and there are really no shortcuts. Long tones, working up and checking each note with a tuner. Resist the urge to bite. Practicing overtones helps a LOT.
    "Nothing is worse for a musician than getting an opportunity you aren't prepared for." - Quincy Jones

  16. #16

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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    I had similar problems with my Yani 880 using, in turn a Rovner, meyer9, meyer6, yani6 HR and Dukoff D8. I recently got a Meyer G7 and am much happier. I tried the long tones etc and on tenor these notes are strong so if you've done all the technical stuff I would look at mouthpeices.

  17. #17

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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    I had similar problems with my Yani 880 using, in turn a Rovner, meyer9, meyer6, yani6 HR and Dukoff D8. I recently got a Meyer G7 and am much happier. I tried the long tones etc and on tenor these notes are strong so if you've done all the techinal stuff I would look at mouthpeices

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    "Waiuku New Zealand"
    Wow! Another Kiwi!
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    Hey cap, it could also be the instrument and not you, One of my own personal saxes is a grassi tenor, so I know the brand relatively well. Some altos (no brand specific) really struggle in the palm range and I believe its a lot to do with the pip location. Example If I find one after repair struggles in the palms the first thing I do is fit a yammy 275 neck in, most times it just pops the notes straight out, now this could be to do with an altered neck shape and chamber etc, but I personally believe it has everything to do with the location of the pip. I use the 275 neck because the pip is located pretty high up the neck, apporx 140mm from the edge of the tenon
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  20. #20
    Distinguished SOTW Member Captain Beeflat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Frail sound in palm key range.

    My thanks to all for your contributions....your knowledgeable input is much appreciated.
    If everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane.

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