Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    I seldom get to play trad bass sax. But just last night I was knocking out the bassline, and I noticed something. My chops got tired and sore in less than 45 min! Red lines where lip meets reed...flabby feeling at the corners...even a little ache in the jaw hinge (I have incipient TMJ syndrome).

    It made playing no fun...and one thing the bass sax is, is FUN. I suspect it was because I was squeezing unconsciously with my lower jaw on each note - literally "CHEWING" on the mouthpiece.

    My plan to avoid this: practice NOT "biting off" each quarter note like a piece of Tootsie Roll! Maybe it'll help my biting habit on every sax, which has been going away and recurring for too long.

    Remember...the bass line is the lifeline. Miss one note and you'll notice. Miss two and the band will notice...three and the folks out front will! And if your chops get tired, YOU'LL MISS 'EM.
    "80 years passed before we heard the tenor...in the hands of cads with centre partings & co-respondent's shoes. They squeezed syrupy, farting, oleaginous sounds from their cavernous chambers & microscopic tip openings." –Captain Beeflat, 2013

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Bass Sax Boss saxtek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    In an age when an electric bass can dominate the ensemble, there is a temptation to blw the walls down on bass saxophone. I have found that the most effective way to play bass on the saxophone is to play lightly and on top of the beat. The other rhythm players will appreciate it.
    Check Youtube for my videos of bass sax, contrabass sax, tubax, and soprillo:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saxtek

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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    The problem I have had in playing bass lines for a couple of hours is irritation of the tongue where it hits the reed. When you play bass lines you are pretty much constantly tonguing, way more than playing normal sax parts. I have drawn blood. I suspect that the reed in question may have had a small split, which would obviously make matters worse.

    I am certain you are more experienced and accomplished on bass sax than I am, but I'll still offer the suggestion that maybe the mouthpiece/reed combo is just too aggressive? I found that going to a Selmer C* true bass MP and #2 1/2 reeds made everything a lot easier to play, but the presence of the bass sax is so strong that even with the very non-aggressive setup it is heard very well indeed. - especially in the trad jazz context which is pretty much the only place I play bass sax.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    I have an "alternate bad habit" - anchor tonguing. I never tip-tip tongue, which at least keeps my tongue in one piece!

    My setups are very easy-blowing - in this case a NY Woodwind bari B6 with a Rico 3 reed.
    "80 years passed before we heard the tenor...in the hands of cads with centre partings & co-respondent's shoes. They squeezed syrupy, farting, oleaginous sounds from their cavernous chambers & microscopic tip openings." –Captain Beeflat, 2013

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    Distinguished SOTW Member DanPerezSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    What is anchor tonguing?

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    You usually have the tip of your tongue touching the inside of the lower lip. You meet the reed further back on the tongue. Not an orthodox technique but often practiced.
    "80 years passed before we heard the tenor...in the hands of cads with centre partings & co-respondent's shoes. They squeezed syrupy, farting, oleaginous sounds from their cavernous chambers & microscopic tip openings." –Captain Beeflat, 2013

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    Distinguished SOTW Member DanPerezSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Oh, that's what I do. Makes it easier to keep a steady, high tongue position when tonguing. Thanks for pointing this out. Didn't know people used the very tip of the tongue on the reed... I've bloodied mine with that, too. Anchor tonguing seems better.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Bass Sax Boss saxtek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Quote Originally Posted by paulwl View Post
    I have an "alternate bad habit" - anchor tonguing. I never tip-tip tongue, which at least keeps my tongue in one piece!

    My setups are very easy-blowing - in this case a NY Woodwind bari B6 with a Rico 3 reed.
    There are lots of ways to approach bass sax tonguing, and ALL of them are correct. I would suggest going with a half size softer reed and reducing the pressure on the reed, and maybe (MAYBE!) taking a bigger bite. Use the flow of air as your back pressure, not the reed or lip pressure. Let the reed do what it wants to do. If the sound gets "honky", shorten the bite by a LITTLE bit, not much, stay loose, and TAKE A HUGE BREATH OF AIR. If you forget everything else, remember the big breath.

    Bass saxophone is the most difficult of all the saxophones. Not because of intonation, or projection, or tone, or any of the usual problems, but because of the production of sound, the most elemental task of the player. TAKE A BIG BREATH (Have I said that before?) and move the air through the horn in HUGE amounts. If you forget this one thing, you are doomed to fail.

    PS - I consider your NY Woodwind bari B6 with a Rico 3 reed to be a fairly difficult setup. Everything is OK, but I would use a number 2 reed, maybe even softer.

    Disclaimer: Every time I think I have the answer to mouthpiece problems, somebody comes along with a setup I HATE and sounds better than I do. Take everything I say with a grain of salt, except TAKE A BIG BREATH OF AIR AND PUT IT THROUGH THE BASS SAX. Over and out.
    Check Youtube for my videos of bass sax, contrabass sax, tubax, and soprillo:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saxtek

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Bass Sax Boss saxtek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Quote Originally Posted by paulwl View Post
    I have an "alternate bad habit" - anchor tonguing. I never tip-tip tongue, which at least keeps my tongue in one piece!
    I don't know whether to say take a bigger bite or take a smaller bite.
    Check Youtube for my videos of bass sax, contrabass sax, tubax, and soprillo:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saxtek

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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Quote Originally Posted by saxtek View Post
    Use the flow of air as your back pressure, not the reed or lip pressure.
    Not that I'm any great shakes as a player myself, but that's what I was thinking about while reading this thread -- when I get tired, it's often because I have been forgetting to feed the sax enough air. Lungs never get tired. Not to say that playing a vigorous bass line on the bass sax isn't work!

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    I have plenty air. I just need to quit clamping down every time I play a quarter note. That actually chokes off a note now and then once the lips and jaw poop out.

    oomp - oomp - oomp - thppt
    "80 years passed before we heard the tenor...in the hands of cads with centre partings & co-respondent's shoes. They squeezed syrupy, farting, oleaginous sounds from their cavernous chambers & microscopic tip openings." –Captain Beeflat, 2013

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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Even today, one can see serious bassoonists moving the jaw when they tongue. That style of tonguing is not needed, especially on bass saxophone or the bassoon. It has to wear you out as you play. It has been many decades since the clarinet player in the famous Philadelphia Orchestra straightened out the bassoonist on this. One would not do this on a smaller saxophone either.

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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    It is really nice to see some teaching from Mr.Saxtek! Seriously, if you ever do a workshop, please put the work out here.

    So contrabass is easier than bass, eh?? Well, saxtek would know!
    Selmer Series II bari, Borgani Jubilee tenor, Buescher Aristocrat alto, Borgani soprano, Buescher bass, Conn CB sarrusophone.

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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Quote Originally Posted by saxtek View Post
    There are lots of ways to approach bass sax tonguing, and ALL of them are correct...
    Haha! That is true except for throat tonguing like klezmer clarinetists use.
    Life is too short for long tones

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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Bass Sax Boss saxtek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Quote Originally Posted by RobBari View Post
    It is really nice to see some teaching from Mr.Saxtek! Seriously, if you ever do a workshop, please put the work out here.

    So contrabass is easier than bass, eh?? Well, saxtek would know!
    My Eppelsheim contrabass has a smaller opening at the corked end than my Eppelsheim bass sax. The contra neck is similar in size to a Conn or Buescher bass neck. The Eppelsheim, and I think Keilwerth, basses have a huge opening in the small end of the neck. They require a lot of air, but the sound is really deep. That's what I'm looking for in a bass sax.

    A bass saxophone only goes a major third lower than a low A baritone. I don't play bass for the extra low notes. I use it for the sound.
    Check Youtube for my videos of bass sax, contrabass sax, tubax, and soprillo:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saxtek

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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Quote Originally Posted by saxtek View Post
    The Eppelsheim, and I think Keilwerth, basses have a huge opening in the small end of the neck.
    H Couf labeled Keilwerth, maybe early '80s? measures 9/16 in.

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    Default Re: Beware of a bad habit..."CHEWING" the bass line

    Quote Originally Posted by saxtek View Post
    TAKE A BIG BREATH (Have I said that before?) and move the air through the horn in HUGE amounts. If you forget this one thing, you are doomed to fail.
    I joke that my Buescher has a sound as big as a pipe organ, and takes just as much air.
    Selmer Series II bari, Borgani Jubilee tenor, Buescher Aristocrat alto, Borgani soprano, Buescher bass, Conn CB sarrusophone.

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