Help! Tenor Mouthpiece for Low Notes - Page 3

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  1. #41
    hfrank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Tenor Mouthpiece for Low Notes

    All these responses are great and they might help you one way or an other. Now This is my way. Let's focus for a moment on Low Bb only. Try to sustain the note for a bit. Doesn't matter for now if you have to descend a scale to get there. While sustaining that note try to retain a mental image of how your oral cavity is shaped. Put the horn on the side and try to sing that note, imagining you are doing it through the mouthpiece (not as a you normally sing). Get back to the horn and literally try to voice that note. Please notice the embouchure shouldn't be tight, but don't relax too much either. Try to keep the sides of you face and the muscles of your jaw steady (for now). Have fun and I hope it helps at least a little bit. Ahhh!!! Please notice that even when you nail that low Bb, if you fail to keep a steady embouchure the next B, C might fail or sound weird when ascending chromatically. Help the pitch voicing. Literally sing those notes. You will find your sweet spot if they sound too harsh or too sweet for your taste.
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  3. #42
    Administrator Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Tenor Mouthpiece for Low Notes

    Quote Originally Posted by hfrank View Post
    All these responses are great and they might help you one way or an other. Now This is my way. Let's focus for a moment on Low Bb only. Try to sustain the note for a bit. Doesn't matter for now if you have to descend a scale to get there. While sustaining that note try to retain a mental image of how your oral cavity is shaped. Put the horn on the side and try to sing that note, imagining you are doing it through the mouthpiece (not as a you normally sing). Get back to the horn and literally try to voice that note. Please notice the embouchure shouldn't be tight, but don't relax too much either. Try to keep the sides of you face and the muscles of your jaw steady (for now). Have fun and I hope it helps at least a little bit.
    This makes a lot of sense and reminds me of what I was going to say about the actual question = Tenor Mouthpiece for Low Notes I agree with those who say there is no such thing, a mouthpiece needs to be for all notes equally as far as that is possible.

    The saxophone has a range of two and a half octaves (plus a lot more with altissimo) so the mouthpiece needs to be designed to work optimally somewhere round the middle of that range. (Possibly it may be the middle of each register though, I'll need to think about that but the principle is the same). This means the extra high and low notes will involve some compromise. e.g. you can imagine thatb there is a midway "optimal note" that mouthpiece is best with. (and in an ideal world you'd switch mouthpiece/reed for each note). Naturally is why a baritone mouthpiece is bigger, it's optimal midway note is lower.


    In theory you could make a mouthpiece that is better for low notes on tenor, by designing it for a lower optimal note and it would probably be closer to a baritone mouthpiece. However as you are lowering the optimal note, it is further from the high notes, which will therefore suffer.

    I know this all sounds very obvious, but worth thinking about. So instead a mouthpiece for better low notes, we think of embouchure and air support for better low notes.
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  4. #43
    Distinguished Mouthpiece Designer/Maker/Forum Contributor 2014 Phil Barone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Tenor Mouthpiece for Low Notes

    Quote Originally Posted by Matty Bannond View Post
    Hi again,

    A quick update for those who gave me tips.

    In the last week or so, I've started integrating overtone exercises and "undertone" exercises (playing low tones with octave key pressed). I've also been doing the first exercise from Phil Barone's blog and have switched to a Legere Signature synthetic reed. I'm also generally focusing on puffing my stomach out and keeping my shoulders still when breathing, and trying to position my top teeth so that they're barely on the mouthpiece.

    Big improvement in the low notes already!

    I also played with two layers of patch (one patch cut in half, placed one on top of the other) and it was a useful exercise but I needed a lot of air. The looser top teeth is making a difference: Something the mouthpiece waggles around my mouth a bit if it's too loose, and last night I pretty much drenched our bass player in spit during the last ten minutes of practice, but it is also helping high notes come out fuller.

    All in all, it's making a big difference. For someone like me who doesn't have the time for a teacher, the internet really is fantastic. Thanks everyone!

    Kind regards,
    Matty
    No! You want to take in a lot of mouthpiece. You want to cover the whole facing which starts at one inch on tenor and three quarters of an inch on alto. Also, start doing exercise II when you feel like you have #1. Also, try practicing with your top teeth off the mouthpiece. You can also read the information below which is more about mouthpieces than anything else but it may help. Phil Barone

    This coming year marks my thirty seventh year in the saxophone mouthpiece business, and in that time Iíve learned much more than how to make mouthpieces. Iíve also learned about human nature and, more specifically, how neurotic we are. Iíve seen it manifest itself in mouthpiece selection and saxophone equipment selection in general.

    Humans want what they want "immediately", and when it comes to something like playing the saxophone, that just doesnít happen. And more often than not, a player's ideal tone can be more elusive than just something as simple as just buying a mouthpiece or having one refaced. Itís just not that simple.

    Years and years of propaganda have led many of us to believe that the facing is of utmost importance when, in fact, itís really the chamber. This is because back when the sax mouthpiece was still in its infancy stages, it was being developed by clarinet makers and to this day the incremental differences are too small to make a substantial difference.
    Mouthpiece Chamber Adjustment and Tone

    The chamber is more imporant than the facing, and Iíll tell you why. The facing works in conjunction with your reed and each time you change your reed itís just like changing your facing. Put a reed thatís a little denser toward the back on and itís just like having a shorter facing, put one on thatís less dense or thinner and the facing feels longer. The chamber never changes so you have something much more stable to deal with. I can dramatically change the way a mouthpiece plays and sounds by modifying the chamber because thereís so much material to work with but I canít say that about the facing. Also, since the facing is so important to the mouthpiece playing in tune thereís more parameters that must be met whereas the chamber is more resilient and forgiving.
    Mouthpiece Tip Openings and Tone

    Donít confuse your facing with the tip opening; they are two complete and distinctly different things. The facing is the curve in its entirety, it begins on the two side rails and ends with the tip opening of the saxophones mouthpiece whereas the tip opening is not really part of the saxophone mouthpieceís curve; it's just the opening.

    An important thing to remember is that while the facing is not terribly important, the tip opening is. If two mouthpieces have the same chamber, the more open one will be a little darker. More open mouthpieces are darker and more closed mouthpieces are brighter provided the chambers and baffles are the same but not by a lot. However, if a mouthpiece is more open, it will be harder to play and control which is why I am an advocate for chambers and finding the right one.

    In recent years the refacing industry has become increasingly busy despite the fact that facings arenít that influential to your tone, in spite of what we get pounded into our heads every day via the internet. Chambers are important. So talk to your tech about altering your chamber as a means to finding your ideal sound.
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  5. #44
    Jazz Is All's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Tenor Mouthpiece for Low Notes

    I played alto for several years but don't recall having much trouble with bell notes on it or on tenor when I made the switch. Here are the keys to overcoming the problem as I see it.

    1) Air support from the diaphragm. Practice this without the horn. Exhale fully and then take in air so that it goes down all the way to your belly and your lower back. Practice this every day before playing. See Dave Liebman's comments about this in any of his books or online writings. It's a big part of his teaching.

    2) Learn to form a correct Tenor embouchure. It is looser and more relaxed than the alto embouchure. Do not bite squeeze down on the mpc or pinch your lips at the corners. Watch the video on YouTube by Jerry Bergonzi showing his "No-embouchure embouchure" and learn to do it. I met Jerry 3 times in Barcelona, twice at master classes and this is great advice to get a big fat tenor sound all the way up and down the range of the horn. If many of us can do this with no problems, you can too.

    3) Leaks. Sometimes a slight leak up top can cause problems down low. Slight leaks are hard to detect in a rapid cursory light-leak test so make sure your tech is really scrutinizing the upper part of the horn. In particular check the neck tenon. If there is any leak in that it will screw up the low notes. If there is any looseness in the neck tenon end or it rocks at all or it can't be clamped down to not rotate, then you could have a leak. Get this fixed right away.

    3a) As to the pads, even a leaky palm or side key pad can do it if it is really a tiny one. A big leak will simply cause an octave jump or overtone when you play down low, but for you it could cause difficulty in even getting the low notes out. Most experienced players can generally blow right through these minor leaks and don't even notice them, which is why asking an experienced friend or a teacher to play your sax often doesn't suss out the problem. I had a couple of leaky pads in the upper stack keys that I never even noticed until my tech did a routine leak test while changing my neck cork. I had been playing it that way for who knows how long and simply compensating for it with no adverse effects that I could notice. When you play nothing but R&B and rock in loud bars you develop lungs that can blow down brick walls (which hopefully fall on a guitar shredder or two).

    4) If there are no leaks then while you are working on your air-support exercises you should be doing 10 to 15 minutes of Long Tones at the start of every practice session at the very least. I recommend leaving your horn on the stand so you can grab it at any moment even for just 5 minutes to play long tones. Do them with your focus being on the low notes and not just those above C1. Play triads and 7th chords that include a low note. So play Bb, B and C# Maj, min and M7/m7 chords from top to bottom and then from bottom to top. If you have problems with the bell keys at this point you need to really work on doing long tones on them starting off with very little air and building up until you get a tone and keep increasing it and playing it as long as you can. Once you can do this consistently then you should start the note just tonguing it like any other note so that it is at full volume right from the get go.

    5) Your mpc can make a difference. I don't know what mpc you have and am not going to go back and look for it, but whatever you have use a softer reed on it to help you get the low notes. That of course will make it harder to get the upper range and altissimo but altissimo is not a priority if you can't play the bell notes. No way you can play sax without those under your command. The mpc should be an easy-blowing one, probably with a slight roll-over baffle and a medium large round chamber I would imagine because that will aid you inplaying those. Extreme high baffle pieces are not going to be easy to control for you so avoid them.

    Just my two cents worth based on my experiences and the opinions of others may vary from this as is only natural. Listen to Phil and take in enough mpc or else you will be choking the reed and not getting the potential out of your mpc. Phil designs and makes them and he knows them inside and out better than any of us ordinary players.

    Work at it any you will succeed. Luck has nothing to do with it, so good practice!!
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    'We're going all the way 'till the wheels fall off and burn.
    Till the sun peels the paint and the seat covers fade and the water moccasin dies'.

  6. #45
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    Default Re: Help! Tenor Mouthpiece for Low Notes

    After one year approx. of study in tenor, I totally revised the horn, but the low notes remained difficult, after try the Vandoren V16 T8 my low notes problems was solved.

  7. #46
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    Default Re: Help! Tenor Mouthpiece for Low Notes

    I had the same issue. Recently I got a tenor, and playing the low notes were a form a hell for me. So I tried going to a stiffer reed, tried a 3 and 3.5, and that was a swing and miss. On here, I was told to go with a softer reed. So I went to a 2.5 and it helped but didn't get me to where I wanted to be. I didn't have the cash to get another mouthpiece. So I loosened up my embrocure, more air support, and a crap ton of practicing, and I'm there now.

    It was tough. I played alto mostly, Mark VI, which was a dream. I stopped playing because of kids and life. Bought a Martin Committee III tenor and was hooked again. Everything I remember from college was out the window. Breathing, embrocure, articulation, EVERYTHING! Now I play for 15-20 minutes a day if I can. It's amazing how much better I've gotten in just a few months.

    Keep plugging away. Don't give up, and make it fun.

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