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Thread: Tuning my Soprano Sax

  1. #1

    Default Tuning my Soprano Sax

    I purchased a Yamaha 5C mouthpiece to replace the one that came with my sax. In order to tune my sax, I have to slide the mouthpiece in a lot, near the end of the cork. Is this "normal" or should I consider replacing the Yamaha mouthpiece? Thanks.

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    I have modern and vintage sopranos (five at this point - had more) and I slide the mouthpiece on quite a bit when I'm tuning (mostly by ear to my tuned piano or a gig's piano). On my '28 Buescher TT sop, I have the mouthpiece right up to the upper octave rib - and I have short mouthpieces. It is normal to shove on a lot. DAVE
    Dave

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    Depends on the player, horn, and mouthpiece. YMMV.

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    Yeah, I tend to play flat too...I need to slide my mouthpiece on very far to get it in tune...

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    Guys,

    I had a student with a yamaha sop and mouthpiece with this exact same problem! We worked on his embouchure for quite some time until I gave him an old Vandoren mouthpiece I had lying around: problem solved! (To be honest, I felt kind of silly not having done this earlier.)

    I think it's the Yamaha mouthpiece that comes with the horn. Years ago a lot of my students on alto had the same problem with their Yamaha's, reason why I had them change to Selmer C* right away.

    Since some time though, let's say a year or so, I haven't come across this anymore: it seems that at least on the alto mpcs Yamaha has made some improvements. I have now many students whose sound & intonation is totally satisfactory when using these.

    Not so on soprano, it appears! I suggest you quickly change to a Selmer C* or similar Vandoren piece. (These are classical pieces with small tip openings which should give you enough sound and perfect intonation for the time being, untill you are "ready" for a more demanding mouthpiece.)

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson
    On my '28 Buescher TT sop, I have the mouthpiece right up to the upper octave rib - and I have short mouthpieces. It is normal to shove on a lot. DAVE
    Same with my TTs. Nature of the beast.
    treat it gentle

  7. #7

    Default Playing flat

    I have the same situation with my soprano.. Tuning my horn requires putting the mouthpiece down on the neck with about a half inch of cork remaining. I got a new G. M. Bundy hard rubber mouthpiece to replace the stock 4C mouthpiece with the same result...half inch of cork left and no improvement in tuning!

    I tend to play flat (about 5-10 cents across the scale), but ESPECIALLY on middle "B" and "C" (those are nearly 20 cents at times!). Strangely enough, high "B" and "C" are pretty close to zero. However, after about 15 minutes of warm up the notes seem to come in line a lot better.

    Try fingering low Bb and blowing through the instrument for 2 minutes before playing...it helps to bring the horn into tune a lot quicker.
    Soprano - YSS-475A, Geo Bundy 3, Vandoren 2 1/2
    Alto - Selmer AS110, Selmer S90 190, Vandoren BB 3
    Tenor - 70's Selmer Signet (LH Bell), Vandoren T25, Hemke 3 1/2
    Baritone - Jupiter 593-BL, Selmer S90 190, LaVoz M-Hard.

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    Come on guys, there is definitely something wrong here. If a soprano is out of tune, it should be SHARP, not FLAT. Really. Especially those of you with the Yama's. Start looking for better mpc's and/or check your embouchures. I don't think you should accept this sort of things from yourselves or your equipment. Be honest: if this sort of thing happened with your altos or tenors you would have solved it by now, right?

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    I also have my piece pushed on pretty much all the way. I remember reading an article by Santy Runyon where he suggested that - sorry, I dont remember all of the details but I do know it works for me - and if the horn is in tune up and down where the mouthpiece is placed then I am not going to worry about anything else.
    "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing"
    Florence Foster Jenkins

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    A soprano out of tune should be sharp? Also mine plays flat, and quite so. I have to admit that my vintage Dolnet soprano is far from ideal.

    I also noticed that putting the mouthpiece further down the cork is not exactly helping to get in tune. I tune basically using the classic fingering for middle C, and then the fingering for low C but with the octave key. I try to shove my mouthpiece up and down until both are as close as possible. When checking with the piano, this way my sax is tuned as exact as possible.

    Indeed, warming up the horn is essential for a soprano to play in tune. And using the right reed as well. When my reed gets old, I play more out of tune than with a new one. That might be an embouchure thing as well off course.

    Are there other tricks to get a flat soprano sharp enough again?

    greetzz

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    Really, I don't mean to disrespect anybody, but I think all you flat-players should check your embouchures. Do you realise that the sop-emb. is supposed to be much tighter than on any of the other saxes? It should feel like playing above middle A on alto all the time.

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    Makemyday: I, for one, play in tune - and have been doing so for about 50 years now. I KNOW soprano saxophones. That all of mine require the mouthpieces to be shoved far on the cork is not an indication of incompetence or inexperience or poor embouchure. DAVE
    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by makemyday
    Come on guys, there is definitely something wrong here. If a soprano is out of tune, it should be SHARP, not FLAT.
    It's much better to be sharp than out of tune.

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    My problem is that I tend to play with a loose embrochure. Once a get warmed up though, I'm in good shape. I also need to use harder reeds (3.5 or 4) on soprano.

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    Quote Originally Posted by makemyday
    Come on guys, there is definitely something wrong here. If a soprano is out of tune, it should be SHARP, not FLAT. Really.
    Why?
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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

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    Dave: Good for you. As already stated, I didn't mean disrespect. I was talking to the people in this thread who play flat all the time.

    Dave: I don't know. My teacher and I discussed this same issue years ago and we decided it's just the way the horns are built. We should be happy, because it's easier to make corrections downward. Assuming there is nothing wrong with the sax, I would always look for a mouthpiece or embouchure that gives me enough "room".

  17. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Member Dr G's Avatar
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    Isn't all this about finding the correct place for the mouthpiece? Why should the whole range of any horn play sharp or flat? That is nonsense to me. That one depends on LOOKING at the cork instead of LISTENING to the horn escapes me.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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

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    Quote Originally Posted by makemyday
    Come on guys, there is definitely something wrong here. If a soprano is out of tune, it should be SHARP, not FLAT. Really.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G
    Why?
    I'm not entirely sure that makemyday's statement was meant to be taken seriously.

    A saxophone is never either sharp or flat.

    If a saxophone is sharp you just pull the mouthpiece off or adjust (slacken) your embouchure and it becomes in tune.

    Likewise, if a saxophone is flat, you push the mouthpiece on or adjust your embouchure and it becomes in tune. (As was the case for the original post on this topic)

    Saxophones that are "out of tune" all the time are those that have flat parts and sharp parts. Depending on which note you tune to they are often either sharp or flat as you go higher or lower from that note.

    I would suggest that if you have to push the mouthpiece on a lot, e.g. to the end of the cork, but the saxophone plays in tune, then you don't really have a problem.

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    Most guitar players will tell you that you can get away with being a little sharp but a little flat will always get you noticed (in a bad way).

    Remember that Sopranos are tempremental - the smaller the horn the less laxity you get with small changes - mouthpiece chamber, position, reed choice, sax design(toneholes). Larger saxes like Bari's are much more forgiving.

    But, as with all saxes - the choices that you make in terms of reed strength, facing and chamber size of your piece will make a difference in terms of tuning.

    I think most of the players on the forum realize that the emboucher has to be tighter on the smaller saxes. If you're playing a 1.5 reed on a sop then you are just asking for trouble (with allowances for new students working up to a stiffer reed)

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ari
    Most guitar players will tell you that you can get away with being a little sharp but a little flat will always get you noticed (in a bad way).
    Yes, except that on a saxophone, if there are sharp notes, it's better for them to be at the low end of the horn. If you have a problem that your high notes are flat, tune to a high note. Your low notes will then be sharp and this is better than low notes in tune and high notes sharp.

    If your high notes are sharp and low notes in tune, then it;'s more of a problem but in this case not a good idea to tune to a high note as your low notes will be flat.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ari
    I think most of the players on the forum realize that the emboucher has to be tighter on the smaller saxes. If you're playing a 1.5 reed on a sop then you are just asking for trouble (with allowances for new students working up to a stiffer reed)
    I would disagree with that. It is harder for me to coax a wayward note in tune with a hard reed. I have worked towards playing with softer reeds as I find them more flexible for bending notes and getting them in tune with whoever or whatever I'm playing with.

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