Saxophone Forum


by altocbrute
(9 posts)
1 month ago

mouthpiece placement issue

Hey saxophone world,

I got a question about mouthpiece placement. I've been having issues with this for 
a while. I can't figure out whether it's an issue with my saxophone or my embouchure 
but I have to sometimes push my mouthpiece to end of the cork on my alto neck just to
sound in tune consistently. 

The backstory to this is that I used to play a lot in high school. In college, I never had the time 
to practice so I didn't play for a good 4 years. Now, I have more time since I'm out of college,
bought a Cannonball Brute alto saxophone, and have been practicing daily for the past two
months, trying to get my chops back. It's been 4 years of no practice so it is possible my embouchure could be too weak. However, I have heard some saxophones have intonation issues 
but I'm unsure whether mouthpiece placement has anything to do with intonation. 
The issue I have is that if I don't push my mouthpiece in all the way I will sound flat for most notes on my alto sax. I don't remember having this issue on my old alto in high school which was a beginner alto sax, which leads me to think that it's probably my embouchure.

What do you guys think? My fault or the instrument has an issue? 
To be honest, I'm hoping it's my fault. That makes things simpler. 

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  1. by historicsaxwhisperer
    (543 posts)

    1 month ago

    Re: mouthpiece placement issue

    It is you not the saxophone.

    I get the feeling you dont have an instructor.

    Maybe not even a tuner.

    Do long tones with a tuner.

    If your mouthpiece is too loose, get a roll on plumbers tape at Lowes, or home Depot. Walmart probably has it also.Wrap the worn cork on the neck with it.

     

    Mouthpiece placement has everything to do with intonation.

    You may think you are flat, where it may just be that you need to practice on your tone.

    Remember when you tuned in High school and you adjusted by pushing in or pulling out?

    Do Long Tones!!!

    Good Luck

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    1. by altocbrute
      (9 posts)

      1 month ago

      Re: mouthpiece placement issue

      I'm not taking lessons right now but I did in the past. I studied classical for 5 years and moved on to jazz for 3 years, then I went to college, now I'm done and getting back to playing the saxophone but you're right, I think I just need to keep practicing long tones with a tuner. I use a Korg chromatic tuner and I also have the tonal energy app. I've just lost my embouchure muscle memory and I'm trying to get it back through daily practice. I just want to know I'm headed in the right direction. Thanks for your reply and advice.

      Reply To Post


  2. by mijderf
    (269 posts)

    1 month ago

    Re: mouthpiece placement issue

    You need to provide a few more facts.
    1.  Are you flat when playing against a tuner?  If so, where is it flat?
    2.  What mouthpiece are you playing?  Do you know the tip size of your current mouthpiece?
    3.  Do you know the tip size of your mouthpiece from high school?
    4.  What reed brand/model and what reed strength are you currently playing?  Have you experimented with other reed strengths?
    5.  Are you using good air support when you play?

    So many things factor into intonation that it is difficult to offer any ideas until more is known.
     

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    1. by altocbrute
      (9 posts)

      1 month ago

      Re: mouthpiece placement issue

      1. Yes, I'm flat against a tuner. It's flat on the lower end, from low C to G. 
      2. I'm playing a Vandoren V16 mpc. It's a 5 tip opening.
      3. When I was in high school, I was playing a Selmer S80 C* mpc, I don't know the tip opening.
      4. I'm using Rico 2.5, I've tried Rico 3.0 but it's too hard. I didn't try going lower yet because I've always used 2.5 strength reeds.
      5. I am using good air support. 

      Another remark: I played my horn earlier today. When I pushed the mouthpiece in with a 1/4 inch of cork still visible, I was in tune on the lower end, from low C to G, and the higher end as well. I noticed that the 2.5 Rico reed I was using already had an hour's worth of playing time, so the issue could just be the reed being too stiff and hard to manipulate. I might have to lower my reed strength or wet my reeds thoroughly before practicing. 

      Sorry for wasting your time. I'm just trying to figure out how I can play in tune consistently. I just need to narrow down the variables. 

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      1. by mijderf
        (269 posts)

        1 month ago

        Re: mouthpiece placement issue

        Sounds like you are getting a handle on this.  It also looks like the Vandoren has a slightly larger tip opening, so it could possibly like a softer reed.  I have a number of mouthpieces, and 1 of them pushes to about 1/4" to play in tune. I wouldn't worry about that. 

        It is also not unusual to be flat in the lower register.  Some players make this worse by reducing embouchure pressure to get the low notes out cleanly.  A well formed embouchure and a lot of practice will overcome this problem.

        Good luck and enjoy the re-commitment! 

        Reply To Post


        1. by altocbrute
          (9 posts)

          4 weeks ago

          Re: mouthpiece placement issue

          Okay, I'll keep practicing then and try to find my embouchure strength. It seems like there's always something I need to work on, which I think is normal, and I think it's something that we all experience at some point. Thank you for the advice. It really helps. 

          Reply To Post


      2. by RyanCannonball
        (41 posts)

        4 weeks ago

        Re: mouthpiece placement issue

        Congrats on getting back into playing!

        I think you'll find the mouthpiece pitch test and exercies helpful. Here's one link to get you started:

        https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-mouthpiece-exercises

        Reply To Post


        1. by altocbrute
          (9 posts)

          4 weeks ago

          Re: mouthpiece placement issue

          Hi Ryan.
          Thanks, I'll get back to where I was sooner or later. And I'll check out
          that link. I'm familiar with that website. 
          The sound and resonance are definitely there, which is why I picked this horn.
          Now, all I need to do is work on my embouchure and technique!

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