Saxophone Forum


by miltonnashsax
(5 posts)
2 months ago

Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

Hello my name is Milton Randall and I have a problem with my lips and jaw getting sore after a couple of minutes playing. A couple months or so back I got a new alto sax mouth piece, a S80 C*, and a thicker reed, a 3.5 vandoren. Soon after using them for a couple of weeks, I notice my lips starting to feel sore and tired after playing for 5 minutes. I thought it was my braces, but I never had a problem with playing with them with my old mouthpiece. Then eventually my jaw gets sore. I practice a minimal 2 hours every day. I thought I would get used to the thicker reeds and mouth piece after playing with them for awhile, but it never got better. Do I need to take a break? I heared that you need to relax as much as you practice, but I don't want to stop practicing unless it would cure my soreness. Do I need my muscles to relax and "heal" by not playing for a couple of days so they'll get used to it and won't get fatigued anymore?

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  1. by mijderf
    (90 posts)

    2 months ago

    Re: Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

    It sounds like you are biting down too hard while playing.  There are two things I would try:
    1.  Your horn could be leaking, causing you to blow too hard, and to bite too hard to get the tones out.  You might take your horn to a tech and have him check for leaks.
    2.  A 3.5 reed on a C* is a lot of reed.  I would seriously try playing with a 2.5.  You might at first pinch the reed shut, so start reducing pressure on the reed and relaxing your embouchure.  Don't worry about intonation yet, just try this for a couple of days and see if that helps.  The thing to pay attention to here is how your lips and jaw feel after your practice time. 

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    1. by miltonnashsax
      (5 posts)

      2 months ago

      Re: Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

      Thank you for replying!

      I don't think it would be leaking cause it is brand new, not even a year old yet. But I probably  am biting down too hard cause of how thick the reed is since you said a 3.5 is way too much on a C*. I forgot to mention that when I played the 3.5 reeds with the C* it sounded very airy and spitty. So Ill order 2.5 reeds and see how it sounds and feels. Thank you for your suggestions. 

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      1. by mijderf
        (90 posts)

        2 months ago

        Re: Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

        Being new doesn't mean it doesn't leak.  You would be surprised how many new horns have pads that don't fully seal.
        So try the softer reeds for a few days, and post your finding back on this thread. 

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        1. by miltonnashsax
          (5 posts)

          2 months ago

          Re: Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

          The 2.5 reeds work a lot better than the 3.5. The sound is clear and not fuzzy or spitting like the thicker ones. I also experimented with my embouchure for a bit and I figured out that me biting down was not the problem. The problem was that I did not have the neck strap tight enough. Originally I had the neck strap tight enough so the mouthpiece would lay onto of my lower lip which would press my lower lip into my teeth more making my lips hurt and probably pinched the reed. I have tightened my neck strap more so now my mouthpiece does not put all of the saxophone's weight onto my lower lip. 

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        2. by mijderf
          (90 posts)

          2 months ago

          Re: Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

          Thanks for reporting back.  It sounds like you are on the right road and making good progress.  

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        3. by miltonnashsax
          (5 posts)

          2 months ago

          Re: Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

          So I've managed to take away the pain from playing, but my muscles around my lips still get tired after playing for a little bit. Do I have to get used to the C* mouthpiece still since its only been a couple months?

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        4. by GFC
          (655 posts)

          2 months ago

          Re: Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

          Are you doing long tones?  That's usually the best way to do remedial work on your embouchure.

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        5. by mijderf
          (90 posts)

          2 months ago

          Re: Lips and Jaw get fatigued after just a couple minutes of playing

          If you have been playing this mouthpiece for a couple of months, and you can only play a few minutes until your embouchure muscles get tired, it sounds like you are using a lot of muscle tension in your embouchure.  It is unlikely your embouchure can be analyzed in this forum where it cannot be seen.  I recommend that you find a teacher or experienced player to check out your embouchure and see if they can help your saxophone experience be pain free.

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