Saxophone Forum


by ftv
(2 posts)
2 years ago

Got back into playing: struggling with low notes

I recently picked up my alto again (Selmer Super Action 80 Series II), not having played for over a year. While I'm surprised how well most things still work, I am struggling a lot with the low notes. I've tried different reeds but with no luck. I used to play a lot, over 8 years of experience before I stopped, and never had this problem.

I am now thinking that this is either a problem with my embouchure or a mechanical issue (or the combination of the two). My embouchure as definitely got a lot worse: there is a lot of air coming out through the corners of my mouth when I play for a while. Evidence for a mechanical issue is that the affectend notes are b, b-flat and c# but not c.

Any ideas on what issues to look out for on my saxophone, or advice on how to improve my embouchure to be able to play the low notes?

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  1. by Saxquest
    (317 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: Got back into playing: struggling with low notes

    I would definitely eliminate mechanical issues as the source of the problem first. If you have a repair shop nearby, most shops will give you a free appraisal. Otherwise, its easy to look for leaks on the lower notes yourself. Throw a small but bright flash light down into the bell and then cover the top of the bell with tin foil or some other means of sealing in the light. Then turn off the overhead room light and look at the C# pad seal as is and also slowly close B, Bb and low C. If you see any light leaking out on any sides when closing with light pressure then you have leaks. it could also be leaks further up the horn that are causing you grief with your low notes, but that's a good place to start.

    Once you've either eliminated or fixed mechanical issues, let us know how you're doing.

    It does take some time to get your chops back and if you're questioning it, I would also recommend taking a couple private lessons with a quality teacher who knows how to teach proper embrasure. Getting it right from the beginning is well worth the small effort upfront to avoid the painful process of unlearning bad habits down the road. Best of Luck!!!

    Cheers,

         Mark Overton
         www.saxquest.com

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    1. by ftv
      (2 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Got back into playing: struggling with low notes

      Thanks a lot Mark, that's really helpful. It looks like there's a small leak on the C pad seal.

      I'll get that fixed and then practise, practise, practise :)

      Cheers,

      Dom

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