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  1. #1

    Default Tenor vs. Soprano???

    OK, I'm a clarinet player and decided to try to learn the soprano sax because I really like the sound. I researched brands, qualities etc and settled on the Yanagisawa S991 and bought a new one. The reason was that it has an excellent reputation for good intonation and has a tone I like. I got a good one and have had it checked out and regulated by Will Grizzle, who said it is a very good horn.

    I read Paul Coats' article on intonation with the soprano and am trying to follow his instructions, but am still struggling to play in tune consistently.

    My impression is that I will have a much easier time getting good tone and playing in tune with a tenor than with even an excellent soprano. Is this correct? How does the tenor play compared to the clarinet? I know that the embouchure is looser, but how hard is it to play in tune?

    (The tenor is the other sax that I really like to listen to, so I figure it might be a better choice for me.)

    Mike

  2. #2
    rrex54's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm surprised that no one has responded. So, despite rank amatuer/relative novice status, let me take a stab. I have played saxes from soprano to tenor (SACT), as well as very little clarinet (badly). I do find the tenor more forgiving to play than soprano or even alto, as I believe others have. I have even seen some alto players refer to the sloppiness of the tenor embouchure. I suspect you might well find it easier to play tenor in tune -- but you will need not only an extraordinarily (compared to clarinet) embouchure, but more air to push through the instrument (for me far preferrable to the problem of retaining too much that trips me up on clarinet!).

    Having said that, I think you play the most challenging single-reed instrument, so I'm not sure you should give up on the sop. From your post I assume you are adjusting the angle of the sax upward realtive to the clarinet-playing position, relaxing your embouchure, and taking more mouthpiece into your mouth compared to the clarinet. Are you also doing Santy Runyon's mouthpiece-only exercise? That is not only a good exercise, but one I think important in making the transition as it will allow you to focus more clearly on the different feel and response of the sop mouthpiece compared to the clarinet mpc.

    Speaking of mouthpieces, what are you playing on the Yani? When I firsted played sop I had a Runyon Custom 6 that simply did not work well for me because of its very small (exterior) physical size -- close to a metal sop mpc. I have been much happier with larger, hard rubber mouthpieces.

    What is the tip opening on your mouthpiece? Most players on this forum, including Paul Coats, recommend fairly open sop pieces. However, if you are making the transition from a classical style clarinet piece (e.g., Vandoren B45), you may not be used to the greater control needed on a more open mpc. While I suspect Paul would not agree, try something like a Vandoren S15 (sits right between a Selmer C* and C** in tip opening). I really like the way mine plays on my vintage Conns -- even though I use a more open, large chamber mpc on my Martin sop. Even if you later want to "open up" your sound, I think the more closed tip might help you in making the move to axe.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    rrex54's Avatar
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    Oops, make that "an extraordinarily loose (compared to clarinet) embouchure!"

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