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Thread: trouble moving from alto to tenor

  1. #1

    Default trouble moving from alto to tenor

    I have played alto for years, and have always read that it is fairly easy to double on the other saxes (tenor, soprano). The first time I tried tenor, though, I was surprised to find how very difficult it was. I couldn't play any notes below low-D, and I sounded bad throughout the whole range of the instrument. Is this normal?

    Also --- When choosing a mouthpiece for tenor, is it best to try to get about the same tip opening, etc. as I play with alto, or should it be slightly larger to account for the larger reed, larger instrument, etc.?

  2. #2

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    I use the same tip on alto and tenor the low notes are a little harder on tenor you need a loser embouchure in the long run playing tenor will help your alto sound I know it helped mine
    Tenor Mark VI 82xxx,Oleg Gold plated tenor, Alto Mark VI 198xxx,Yamaha Alto Custom Z, Soprano Mark VI 181xxx

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Forum Contributor
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    Go more or less .020 larger on tenor. And practice your air support.

  4. #4
    Ralph Grant
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    Long tones and more air support will help. A much looser embouchure is required. Be ready for the low end of your alto to really speak once you get it going on tenor! The best thing to happen to my alto sound was the tenor.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Martinman's Avatar
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    I also had trouble with this when I first switched from alto to tenor. It just takes practice and a looser embouchure.
    "Martin owners just change the freakin' bulb and get the job done." - MartinMusicMan

  6. #6

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    I didn't have this problem at all -- in fact when I switched it felt almost more natural. Here's I think why:

    The quality of the horn/mouthpiece/reed.

    I'm guessing that you are using either a crappy horn or one in need of adjustment.

    When I switched, I ended up on a tenor that was much nicer and more free-blowing than the alto, so I took right to it.

    Good luck!
    Tenor: Selmer Reference 54 Lacquer, Vandoren V16 T-75, Superial D.C. 2.5's or ZZ 3's.
    Backup Tenor: Late 70s Yanagisawa 880

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    Forum Contributor 2007 jacobeid's Avatar
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    I'm having the exact same problem. One reason I think is that my reeds are way too soft. Every articulation is squeeky. I'm using java 2 1/2's like on my other horns but on alto and soprano I use fairly open pieces. The tenor piece (vandoren T45) is not as open as my alto or soprano pieces..so I think I need to go up.

    I can get low D and lower if I play fortissimo, but usually that's not the case =p.

    Meh..enough with troubling my gear. The fact is that right now, I'm the problem .
    Alto-Mark VI 118xxx, Mouthpiece Cafe New York Cafe Bros., Hemke 3, bonade inverted.
    Backup: Mark VII 284xxx
    Tenor-Yanagisawa T991, Mouthpiece Cafe Bergonzi Slant Supreme, RJS filed 3S, FL brass.
    Soprano-Yanagisawa S991, Yanagisawa HR 5, La Voz MH

  8. #8
    E-mail problem Nick880's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSH4
    The first time I tried tenor, though, I was surprised to find how very difficult it was. I couldn't play any notes below low-D, and I sounded bad throughout the whole range of the instrument. Is this normal?

    Also --- When choosing a mouthpiece for tenor, is it best to try to get about the same tip opening, etc. as I play with alto, or should it be slightly larger to account for the larger reed, larger instrument, etc.?
    It really is a case of relaxing the embouchure and fully supporting the air stream. I had difficulty at first, but now I find producing a nice mellow tone on low notes on tenor easier than on alto! Long tones moving down the scale is the best way to practice. Re.tip opening I use a link 6 on alto and ponzol 100 on tenor, which works fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Grant
    Long tones and more air support will help. A much looser embouchure is required. Be ready for the low end of your alto to really speak once you get it going on tenor! The best thing to happen to my alto sound was the tenor.
    I guess I haven't applied what I learnt from the tenor back to my alto playing then! There's my task for next week.......

  9. #9
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    I have recently added alto to my arsenal and found it (alto) difficult to play in the low register. I could blister away in the high end of the alto. With a few minutes of getting used to it, I found my way.

    I play a Meyer 6M on alto and a Dukoff 9 on tenor. So I don't think the same tip number would be applicable to both saxes. I tried a Dukoff 8* on alto and couldn't get along with it. It was chirpy and not really louder, brighter, nor edgier than the Meyer. The Meyer was just plain easier to play.

    I like to keep my reeds in the middle strength area (Med or MH La Voz) as this strength of reed tends to be most consistent and this strength tends to allow me to be more versatile. I would pick reed strength first and then commit to your strength choice. Choose a mouthpiece around the reed strength that you like to play. This is what works for me, but might go against conventional wisdom.

  10. #10
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    In addition to most of the above, a few more suggestions:

    Take a look at the angle the mpc is going into your mouth. Some alto players have a slightly more downward-angled position and the tenor is probably better for you going straight into your mouth.

    You might loosen your neck strap just a little from what seemed comfortable on alto (a trick Dino Govoni gave me when I was having similar problems).

    Make sure you are not using a tighter, more clarinet-ish embouchure on tenor, if that's what you've been using on alto.

    Regarding mpc size, I seem to play larger relative openings on tenor than on alto. You might look on a reliable mpc comparison chart, and select a tenor mpc one or two relative sizes larger than your alto mpc. By that I mean, if you played a Selmer C* on alto you might consider a D for tenor.
    ____________________________________________________
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    TK Melody UL soprano
    Selmer S80 Serie II alto
    Julius Keilwerth SX90R tenor


  11. #11

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    Well, I have been playing alto for about 7 years, and I now play a Yamaha pro model horn, soon to receive my R&C, and I played a Meyer M5 mpc, and it seems to let me wail through the entire range of the instrument. Once you find the right horn/neck/mouthpeice/ligature/reed combo for you, everything else just falls into place. I switched to Tenore about 4 years after I started playing Alto, and I never really got too good at it, mostly because Alto was my horn of choice. I am going to buy my own Tenor and Soprano saxes in the next few years, and once I get decent horns & mouthpeices and stuff, I think it will become that much easier. Good luck, and let us know how you solve your problem!

  12. #12

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    I hate to say it but this doesn't look like an equipment probably. If I had to point at a single culprit I would have to say that it may be in your voicing. Make sure you are getting an A on your alto mouthpiece and a G on your tenor mouthpiece. If problems still persist, then you should get your equipment checked.
    Yamaha YAS-62II Alto w/ Selmer S-90, Vandoren Optimum, Hemke 3.5
    Antigua 590 Soprano w/ Vandoren SL4 , Rovner Light Lig and Vandoren 3.0

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Columnist king koeller's Avatar
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    If you listen to Sonny Stitt, he sounds always comfortable on alto, tenor or even Bari.
    He never sounded like a tenor player on alto or an alto player on tenor.
    He always sounded seamless on both horns.
    As if they were really one big horn.

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