Saxophone Forum


by smoothsax71
(3 posts)
4 years ago

Sax Sound Issues

Hey everyone, I have an issue with my sound on alto sax that is disturbing to me, and only seems to have been happening the last 2-3 months. For my alto mouthpiece setup, I have a Becchler metal #7 with a Rovner (dark, I think) ligature. When I start to play the alto, the sound is bright and clear, but after playing for a few minutes, and setting it down for maybe 20 minutes, then picking it back up, the sound is really stuffy and weak, and almost unplayable. I don't think it is my sax (I have an Opus Alto, and a 1918 Conn Vintage Alto), because the same affect happens on any alto sax that I try. I have lubed the metal screws on the ligature, but that doesn't really seem to help much. Is it the ligature? I'm hoping it's not the mouthpiece. It sounds great starting off, so I'm thinking it may be the ligature. Any feedack would be appreciated.

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  1. by cuber
    (653 posts)

    4 years ago

    Re: Sax Sound Issues

    from a personal dislike of rovner ligatures, I say you should get a different one. Rovners, in my experience, dont actually put pressure on the reed, but the sides of the mouthpiece instead, which is obviously not ideal for holding on the reed. Try a BG ligature. they solve this by having a metal plate in contact with the reed. I highly doubt its the mouthpiece or the horn(s), It could be reeds warping a bit, fine-grain sandpaper is your friend here. Check for flatness by setting the reed on a piece of glass, or something else reasonably sturdy that you know is machined flat, put one finger on one side of the stock, another finger on the other side, and try to rock the reed back and forth. if it does move, its warped. If its warped, using sandpaper or a file, carefully rub the reed back and forth, checking every so often to make sure you done knock more off the reed than what you need to.

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    1. by SuperSax875
      (55 posts)

      4 years ago

      Re: Sax Sound Issues

      Sorry cuber, I'm going to disagree with both things you said. Your complaint about Rovners is the exact opposite of others. They actually dampen the reeds vibrations more that most others. However this isn't particularly a bad thing, as some people assume. Every ligature is going to dampen reed vibriation somehow, it is in what way that is important. I play on both a BG and Rovner Dark on regular occasions and find that the BG has a little more brilliance to it and the Rovner is a little darker but not as crisp, but neither is bad at all. I'd say the problem is your reed has dried out and warped also. But I don't see why you would want to possibly ruin a reed when the problem can be solved by just re-soaking the reed, or maybe holding the wet reed flat against the table of the mouthpiece with your thumb for a few seconds to flatten it out. When wetting a reed be sure to wet the entire reed, not just the tip. That might also cause the problem. I recommend getting a mouthpiece cap to use when your not playing to slow the drying of your reeds.

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      1. by kelsey
        (823 posts)

        4 years ago

        Re: Sax Sound Issues

        Cuber, I agree!! Rovner ligatures are terrible. I agree with supersax about the warped reed. How can some one play sax for any amount of time, and still not know to wet the reed first before playing?? When I read this I thought, no that can't possibly be what's happening?? But it makes sense and solves this guys problem, if you start playing on a dry reed , and then set it down, it gotten wet and gets the traditional waves, then picked your horn up you'd get a bad sound until the warp works its way out..........Kelsey
        Barry Kelsey

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        1. by smoothsax71
          (3 posts)

          4 years ago

          Re: Sax Sound Issues

          Thanks for all the feedback everyone. The odd thing is, my reeds aren't warped, and I do get them wet again, and they STILL sound stuffy and unplayable after having set the sax down for a bit. I always wet my reeds again before playing, and it just feels like the sax is dying. The ironic thing is that, I also have a Rovner lig on my soprano sax, using a stock mouthpiece, and I NEVER get these issues on my soprano...it plays super clear, no matter how long I let it sit. I may experiment with some different ligs for my alto, but since it's a Beechler metal piece, and the lig that was sent with it was NOT the stock lig, I will have to do some hunting for a lig that will work with this mouthpiece. But, when everything is on, this mouthpiece sounds GREAT!

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        2. by thesaxman06
          (4 posts)

          4 years ago

          Re: Sax Sound Issues

          You may try changing your reed brands and strengths. When you first get a new reed try soaking it in water for 30 min and putting it on a flat surface such as glass and allow it to dry. Try wetting the reed again the next day and playing on it then. Sounds like the reeds you are playing on since their not warped or not dry you could just need a different reed brand that may work better. There can be dry spots develop in the reed even if you think it is wet. Happens to me all the time especially when its cold weather and that stuff sound starts. I have to take off the reed and soak it and then it will be just fine. Hope this helps.

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