Subtoning difficult on a horn

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  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member buddy lee's Avatar
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    Default Subtoning difficult on a horn

    What would you point to as possible problems in this scenario:

    - Horn goes to tech, tech removes leaks
    - I play test on a new reed, find the lower octave a little resistant but I can get all notes out
    - Tech asks me to call him in a few days with feedback if necessary
    - I find it very difficult to subtone anything below a D, however, all lower octave notes come out if I don't attempt to subtone them (I tried multiple reeds, new and used, and multiple mouthpieces. some mouthpieces were slightly better than others but none were great)

    Have any of you had an experience like this? Does this mean the horn is still leaking somewhere? If not, any other ideas?
    "Can't never could."

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    If you are at all capable to subtone not being able to do it on a recently overhauled horn would mean that not all the leaks have been addressed after the repadding. Unfortunately there are several examples of horns that are released without a thorough check.

    Horns don’t need to be clamped shut before or after releasing to the customer ( that only creates a temporary seal which , as the felt and leather relax is lost) nor should the tech expect that you are going to bring the horn back and tell him about all the places where the horn leaks. He or she should have been waiting for the metal to spring back ( metal tends to go back to the original shape after bending) and the pads to have settled and THEN regulating the horn accordingly before giving it to you.

    Do not accept any stories about horns needing breaking in or you grip to be firmer. Be clear that your money didn’t come with any caveats and was good to spend as he received it, why shouldn’t the horn good to be played as your money was good to spend?

    Once I have had a tech whop put thin pieces of paper on the corks after he had noticed that they were too thin. I told him that this wouldn’t do and that I wanted new cork and he never played that trick again on me.

    However do buy or make a leak light. In some cases I have put some masking tape on the keys with arrows pointing at all the leaks. Having a leak light is essential.



    Gorilla grip is not the way one should close keys and if a horn isn’t shut it won’t play well.
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    Kenny Garrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    +1 to everything Milandro said.
    never a dull moment when playing your horn

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    Distinguished SOTW Member buddy lee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    No, he told no stories, I've been using this guy for years on all of my horns. He's not a wind player, he plays brass, but states that he uses a light touch when play testing horns and that he was able to play the horn up and down with no problems. So maybe I'm just a crap player, or the horn is still leaking somewhere.
    "Can't never could."

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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Quote Originally Posted by buddy lee View Post
    No, he told no stories, I've been using this guy for years on all of my horns. He's not a wind player, he plays brass, but states that he uses a light touch when play testing horns and that he was able to play the horn up and down with no problems. So maybe I'm just a crap player, or the horn is still leaking somewhere.
    Do you have a chance to play the horn in his shop? "Able to play ... with no problems" is not doing it. Heck, I could play up on down on a horn with a pad falling out, but that doesn't warrant that a horn is correct.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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

    As a Veteran for Peace, I am already against the next war.

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    krazykirb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Before going back, I would do a suction test on the mouthpiece, then repeat with the mouthpiece and neck together. This eliminates any user issues like warped reed (a new reed is no guarantee) and/or a hairline fracture on the mouthpiece. If testing is good, have your tech check the tenon for possible leaks. Sometimes issues with lower notes are caused by leaks way up high.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member buddy lee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr G View Post
    Do you have a chance to play the horn in his shop? "Able to play ... with no problems" is not doing it. Heck, I could play up on down on a horn with a pad falling out, but that doesn't warrant that a horn is correct.
    I did, and that's why he asked if I was playing on a new reed, and then told me what he told me. I have a gig tonight and he asked me to call him Saturday with feedback, so I'm probably just going to be taking it back in for a deeper look.
    "Can't never could."

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    Distinguished SOTW Member buddy lee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Quote Originally Posted by krazykirb View Post
    Before going back, I would do a suction test on the mouthpiece, then repeat with the mouthpiece and neck together. This eliminates any user issues like warped reed (a new reed is no guarantee) and/or a hairline fracture on the mouthpiece. If testing is good, have your tech check the tenon for possible leaks. Sometimes issues with lower notes are caused by leaks way up high.
    I tried multiple reeds and multiple mouthpieces, none of the setups were great. I know I can also try some cork grease around the tenon to see if that helps anything (to help diagnose a tenon leak).
    "Can't never could."

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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    try a softer reed before your gig tonight to help you get those low notes, keep a firm but loose embourchure and dont bite (CONSIOUS EFFORT) or you will strangle the high notes
    never a dull moment when playing your horn

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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Quote Originally Posted by buddy lee View Post
    What would you point to as possible problems in this scenario:

    - Horn goes to tech, tech removes leaks
    - I play test on a new reed, find the lower octave a little resistant but I can get all notes out
    - Tech asks me to call him in a few days with feedback if necessary
    - I find it very difficult to subtone anything below a D, however, all lower octave notes come out if I don't attempt to subtone them (I tried multiple reeds, new and used, and multiple mouthpieces. some mouthpieces were slightly better than others but none were great)

    Have any of you had an experience like this? Does this mean the horn is still leaking somewhere? If not, any other ideas?
    Is it possible it's a reed strength issue? I've had horns feel more resistant after a trip to my tech .... like at some point I may have moved to a slightly harder reed to compensate for something with the horn, and when the horn issue finally gets fixed the reed feels too resistant, which makes subtoning hard.

    Or it could be a leak ......
    1936 Conn 10M tenor, 1941 Buescher "Big B" alto, 1917 Conn curved soprano

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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Garrick View Post
    try a softer reed before your gig tonight to help you get those low notes, keep a firm but loose embourchure and dont bite (CONSIOUS EFFORT) or you will strangle the high notes
    Quote Originally Posted by dctwells View Post
    Is it possible it's a reed strength issue? I've had horns feel more resistant after a trip to my tech .... like at some point I may have moved to a slightly harder reed to compensate for something with the horn, and when the horn issue finally gets fixed the reed feels too resistant, which makes subtoning hard.

    Or it could be a leak ......
    I've been playing Vandoren Red Java 3 for the past few years. I tried a few new reeds and 3-4 that were already well broken in. Do not have this issue on 2 other horns with the same setups.
    "Can't never could."

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    Sacks Of Phones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Check for leaks.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member 1saxman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Sub-toning the low notes takes a lot of embouchure. Just sayin'.
    The first place I look for a low register leak is the G# key. Lightly finger the lower stack and work the table keys while closely watching the G# to detect any movement. If you a modern sax with screw adjusters for the G# and bis key 'bridge' between the stacks, you can fix those two places which require regular attention regardless of when you had an overhaul. In fact, you're more likely to need some adjustments soon after an overhaul because of 'settling-in' of compressible materials like pads, cork and felt.
    You will need to look over the whole sax starting with the neck octave and fit of the tenon to find any leaks. Without a light, use your eyes to detect movement. Use sound to detect a difference in a leaking pad by tapping on the cups while you hold them shut with normal pressure. This is basic stuff that any sax player does all the time, particularly at band practice while the stupid guitar players/'singers' try to pick out their parts without the benefit of musical knowledge or talent.

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    if you could do it before and can’t now is not a set up or ability problem but a horn problem.

    Playing through leaks. I certainly can, but I will notice that I can’t play softly, for example.

    The horn , I am quite sure, leaks and you should check for leaks yourself.
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member buddy lee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    if you could do it before and can’t now is not a set up or ability problem but a horn problem.

    Playing through leaks. I certainly can, but I will notice that I can’t play softly, for example.

    The horn , I am quite sure, leaks and you should check for leaks yourself.
    Yeah that's what I'm saying, it's not like I couldn't subtone before and now I still can't... it's not an issue for me on other horns. Yes, I can play through leaks too but playing low notes softly is one thing I apparently can't do. I've got a call into my tech and I'm hoping I can get in there this afternoon before tonight's gig.

    I do not have a leak light. What should I buy?
    "Can't never could."

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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Quote Originally Posted by buddy lee View Post
    Yeah that's what I'm saying, it's not like I couldn't subtone before and now I still can't... it's not an issue for me on other horns. Yes, I can play through leaks too but playing low notes softly is one thing I apparently can't do. I've got a call into my tech and I'm hoping I can get in there this afternoon before tonight's gig.

    I do not have a leak light. What should I buy?
    Go to www.musicmedic.com . They have them.

  19. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    These are way cheaper


    You can make one yourself ( rope light, better led than incandescence) or buy one.

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Sax-flute-cla...gAAOSwB09YGTGY

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/12-LED-Leak-L...MAAOSwPhdU1lkX

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/6-Leak-Light-...wAAOSwPhdU9o-0
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

  20. #18
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    Quote Originally Posted by krazykirb View Post
    Before going back, I would do a suction test on the mouthpiece, then repeat with the mouthpiece and neck together. This eliminates any user issues like warped reed (a new reed is no guarantee) and/or a hairline fracture on the mouthpiece. If testing is good, have your tech check the tenon for possible leaks. Sometimes issues with lower notes are caused by leaks way up high.
    A suction test is far from definitive for any diagnostics - false negatives are all too common.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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

    As a Veteran for Peace, I am already against the next war.

  21. #19
    Forum Contributor 2017 mijderf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    I use this 2' long light rope for leak checking, and it works very well. A good length for alto and tenor, and it is very bright. It's also a bargain at less than $3.50.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercia...0001/206714099

  22. #20
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Subtoning difficult on a horn

    I am afraid that Xmas tree style light rope is not in the same league as the LED above. I have had one and I still use a fluorescent tube, but the LED would be better.
    Life is just a bowl... some have cherries in it, some don’t. Those who have the cherries aren’t likely to share them though.

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