Saxophone Forum


by saxdad
(1 post)
10 years ago

Learning about Alto's

My son is starting his junior year in h.s. Recently bought a Yanagasawa 901 for $1,100. Has a C* mouth piece, and a rovner ligature and uses #3 reeds from vandoren,or a #3 jazz reed. Question is how can he achieve a richer, not so bright tone? Also, any tips on practice/improvisational skills is welcome thanks

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  1. by karebear1012
    (395 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Learning about Alto's

    I could help you out with improv skills if you want....what sort of thing do you want to know? My teachers basically say practice, practice, practice. You need to really hear the song for all it's worth, and put your own emotions into it while keeping the beat and playing the right chord changes.

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  2. by johnsonfromwisconsin
    (767 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Learning about Alto's

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- My son is starting his junior year in h.s. Recently bought a Yanagasawa 901 for $1,100. Has a C* mouth piece, and a rovner ligature and uses #3 reeds from vandoren,or a #3 jazz reed. Question is how can he achieve a richer, not so bright tone? Also, any tips on practice/improvisational skills is welcome thanks ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- There's a couple of ways to approach this. The cheapest but most difficult way would be to get your son to modify his embrochure to get the desired effect. I've noticed that if you open up your throat and mouth while playing, the tendency is to get a darker and more resonant (less stuffy) tone. That may not work for everyone. Having said that I'd also like to comment that perhaps you could try a different mouthpiece. Yanagisawas I find are centered in tone, neither particularily dark nor bright, though perhaps the 901 is a bit brighter than other yani's [nothing you should have to consider replacing it over]. Vandoren Reeds tend towards the dark end of the scale, as do Rovener Ligatures, but I find that the S80 isn't really that dark of a mouthpiece. It's made and used for concert band a lot, but I feel it is more accurately classified as a brighter concert piece. I would recommend trying a Vandoren Optimum AL3 or AL4. They are notably darker than the S80 C*, or perhaps a Runyon Finesse or a Caravan or Morgan Classical mouthpiece. These get a lot of recommendations from their owners who like a dark sound for ensemble or quartet work. Make sure he tries before he buys! Or at least he should be able to take them out on approval.

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    1. by Saxman2200
      (64 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Learning about Alto's

      I would have to agree, I play on an AL3 and it has a very good tone. But before you spend 80 bucks on a mouthpiece, get him to get a good tone on his current mouthpiece. tell him to open up his throat, you have to pretend there is a softball in there. You should actually see his throat change. Just make sure he does not puff out his cheeks, that is bad. And also make sure he is not playing with a double lip embouchure (curling in his top lip in and biting down on it, sometimes people do this to cut down on the vibration, but this is also bad. If he has a double lip embouchure get him a mouthpiece patch, or even just put a piece of electrical tape where he would bite.) Then make sure he is breathing right, think of it like filling up a glass. It fills from the bottom up, and then when you breath out it should feel like you are pushing it out from the bottom up as well. When his tone is good on his C* then when you get him the AL3 you will notice a world of change. Rather than hiding the problems you have just fixed them.

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  3. by peter090
    (155 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Learning about Alto's

    That setup should be just fine for learning the sax. If you can't produce a reasonably good sound on that gear there is a problem with the embouchure/ breath support/ throat. Changing gear might hide the problem but won't correct it. Work on long tones concentrating on sound. To start learing improv I'd say play along by ear with your CD's. The best thing you can do is find some friends at roughly the same level (or a little better) and play. Before very long you will want to learn your scales and some basic theory. If you don't have access to private teacher there are a lot of books and online information that you can start with.

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    1. by barimachine
      (323 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Learning about Alto's

      just get the scales down and down and down and long tones... alot just as my teacher says RUN IT but he shouts it and makes me play all these licks... speaking of which try a private teacher and get licks for jazz try abersold books o yea and charlie parker OMNIBOOK aka the bebopers bible after a while try diction once he can just learn things by ear and no how its gonna sound to something you really get to solo it took me a long time but now i can sing solos to songs in my head and right there play them its a great skill to have

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      1. by SaxMan
        (559 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Learning about Alto's

        About the double lip - that will give you the darkest tone possible. It opens your throat considerably and enlarges yur oral cavity, but it makes all sorts of stuff hard to do.

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        1. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Learning about Alto's

          I don't think that it's the gear. Is it a really old reed? Try Vandoren traditional 3's or go to 3 1/2's on their jazz reeds. It is possible that the mouthpiece facing isn't level from left to right or the tip isn't laying evenly. Can't diagnose that sort of thing easily over the internet - go to the music store and try his set up with a new S80 C* and see if it still sounds too bright. You can always use a sax mute - a donut shaped thing you put in the top of the bell to drown out the higher harmonics. You can make one or buy one. I use a small ring of bubblewrap. OOoooo. Fancy...

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        2. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Learning about Alto's

          I don't think that it's the gear. Is it a really old reed? Try Vandoren traditional 3's or go to 3 1/2's on their jazz reeds. It is possible that the mouthpiece facing isn't level from left to right or the tip isn't laying evenly. Can't diagnose that sort of thing easily over the internet - go to the music store and try his set up with a new S80 C* and see if it still sounds too bright. You can always use a sax mute - a donut shaped thing you put in the top of the bell to drown out the higher harmonics. You can make one or buy one. I use a small ring of bubblewrap. OOoooo. Fancy...

          Reply To Post


        3. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Learning about Alto's

          I don't think that it's the gear. Is it a really old reed? Try Vandoren traditional 3's or go to 3 1/2's on their jazz reeds. It is possible that the mouthpiece facing isn't level from left to right or the tip isn't laying evenly. Can't diagnose that sort of thing easily over the internet - go to the music store and try his set up with a new S80 C* and see if it still sounds too bright. You can always use a sax mute - a donut shaped thing you put in the top of the bell to drown out the higher harmonics. You can make one or buy one. I use a small ring of bubblewrap. OOoooo. Fancy...

          Reply To Post


        4. by SaxMan
          (559 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Learning about Alto's

          The S-80 is a very bright mouthpiece. Try a rousseau, it is MUCH darker than the S-80, and pretty much any store will have them, there are darker pieces, but not everyone stocks them. The mut should only really be used if you want to play extremely quiet without losing body, or just slightly darker than normal, it should NEVER be a band aid for being too bright, cause it messes with your low notes.

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