Saxophone Forum


by uncrazy99
(12 posts)
9 years ago

Alto Sax Tone Problems

I'm going into 11th grade and I've played alto sax since 5th grade. I think I've gotten quite good since last year...it helped with me getting a new saxophone (yamaha yas-52) and mouthpiece (selmer c*) and finding reeds that work for me (Hemke 3.5). I was a bad kid and didn't play my sax all summer, though. Today I got it out to run through marching band music, since band camp is on Monday. It was REALLY hard to play. Once I got it warmed up and my reed broken in, I immediately noticed a problem with my tone. It was FUZZY! All through middle school I sounded fuzzy, and I'd gotten it to go away in high school, but now it's back. Any ideas?

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  1. by Elke
    (10 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

    I would think it is just your embouchure really out of shape. It is very difficult to analyze anything else without seeing or hearing you play. Also be sure to practice lots of long tones... also helps with pitch and breathing, in addition to tone.
    Elke Overton

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  2. by saxjunkie89
    (393 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

    practice often and maybe take lessons from an experienced player or suggestions from other players. OR 1. maybe your reed may not be on straight 2. there is saliva on the reed, mpc, or neck that is getting in the way. Hope this helps!! Saxjunkie89

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    1. by uncrazy99
      (12 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

      Thanks for your suggestions! I probably just need to practice more. I don't, unless there's auditions or contest coming up. It's just a hobby - I guess I need to decide if I plan to continue saxophone after high school or not.

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      1. by saxjunkie89
        (393 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

        SO How was band camp today? (You said that it started today)

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        1. by Vondermark
          (18 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

          Aren't Hemke's made by the Rico company. They do a better job when they make those reeds but the fact remains that the quality is not always the greatest. I would suggest Vandoren Blue Box reeds. (even though some people on this site would dissagree) I believe that Vandoren does a better job with eliminating problems before they start. You do have to take good care of the few reeds in the box that are good which you will get. Anyway, it could be that the heart of the reed is messed up somehow. Or it could be as simple as the reed is warped. I know that when my reeds don't respond well and sound a tad fuzzy, they are not even

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        2. by Vondermark
          (18 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

          Another thought, to correct this uneven-ness problem. You will need, I forget which, either 220 or 320 "Wet or Dry" synthetic sand paper and a plain white sheet of paper. Take your reed and rub it flat side down on the piece of paper back and forth rapidly 100 times. After this take it off the paper and hold it at an angle to the light and note which parts are shiny and which are not. The parts that are not shiny have not gotten any of the friction from your rubbing, so what you do is you get your sand paper and rub it back and forth over it about twenty times, taking care not to sand the tip of the reed. After you have done this wipe the dust off of the reed and repeat the rubbing process on the piece of white paper and see if the whole reed has gotten the friction. Repeat as necessary until it is even.

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        3. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

          This sounds to me like the horn is out of adjustment - not a reed issue, necessarily. Otherwise, it could be the mouthpiece is out of whack - needing to be balanced or adjusted. When I work on mouthpieces, they normally come out the other side much more "reed friendly" than they were before. When I hear of people desperately trying to find a reed that works with their setup, I always look to everything else first. Certainly, a crappy reed is a crappy reed, and crappy reeds do exist, but what's more typically the case when only 3 of 10 reeds from a box works for someone is they have a mouthpiece that is out of balance and only works with reeds that are - themselves - out of balance.

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        4. by cobra_sam
          (11 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

          I have this problem too and this is with a new brass Otto. Can a new mouthpiece be out of balance, and if so how do I get it balanced ? Thanks Sam

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        5. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

          To be honest, new metal Links are some of the most out of whack pieces out there. The good news is that if properly refaced, they are - in my opinion - some of the best playing pieces available. Babbitt's manufacturing standards have changed considerably over time. Choppy tables, tips that are too flat, facings that are uneven left to right (unbalanced). As I do mouthpiece refacing, I happen to be "in the know" on this. The best thing to do when buying a new Link (metal or hard rubber) is to try a bunch at once - like 3 to 5. If you go through a number of them, you might eventually find one that suits you.

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        6. by cjbass
          (14 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Alto Sax Tone Problems

          What facing is your Otto link. I use a 7 with 3.5 reed to get an airy sound for Jazz. If your playing Classical I would stay away from an Otto link. I use a C* for alto and a Rousseau for Tenor. Otherwise if its still fuzzy everyone elses ideas are good. Cheers CJ

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