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    sx poet

      One of THE most important things with playing any musical instrument is being able to play in time (Sheet reading + Metronome, there are no shortcuts) – don’t be fooled by advertised shortcuts.

      If you want to stand out like the Great Saxophone Players above the rest of the crowd, Sadly, no matter how good your time keeping is, you won’t ever achieve this goal unless you sound great.

      The choice of a mouth piece will only give you three things
      1) a dark or a bright sound – whether you want to play classical music or Rock music
      2) the level of difficulty to blow – only measured by how fast your your embouchure becomes tired and your lips turn to jelly
      3) The clarity of the tone – how nice it sounds when recorded.

      Unfortunately buying any mouthpiece and playing it for the 1st few days wont tell you how your tone is going to sound several weeks later. The reason for people owning lots of mouth pieces.

      Contrary to belief, a mouth piece overlooked because it initially doesn’t sound good when tried out in a music shop is NOT a true indicator that mouth piece will always sound bad.

      5% of a mouth piece will give you a good tone, the rest of the percentage will give you the style of music and how difficult it is to control.

      If you want to sound great – long tones and compare your pitch to a recorded pitch, or the pitch in backing track, or the pitch of experienced sax players.

      sx poet

        Think back to the first few days you started learning to play the Sax, over a period of the 1st year your sax sound at the end of the year was sounding a lot better than the 1st few weeks.

        What had changed? your mouthpiece certainly hadn’t changed – so you can’t blame the mouthpiece for how bad your sound was. Switching to an identical mouthpiece will make no difference.

        Switching to the same brand of mouthpiece of a higher value will be different – your embouchure will have to get stronger and your lung power will have to change. This is exactly like starting over again – you will sound crap for the 1st few weeks, but months down the line your sound will be a lot better.

        However there is a limit to how high you should go up a mouthpiece strength – that limit is determined by how long you can play the mouthpiece in terms of hours in a day. Some people get round this obstacle by choosing a lower reed strength.

        Changing a reed strength is the difference between blowing over a piece of cardboard or blowing over a piece of tissue paper over. Going down a reed strength will only make your lungs become lazier and change your blasting power on a sax to cut through other sax players.

        Likewise changing to a completely different designed mouthpiece will just be like starting all over again in terms of how the sound is.

        So next time you go in a sax shop and test out a mouthpiece, just remember 6 months down the line your sound will be different to what it sounds on the day in that shop.

        Play safe and just go up mouthpiece strenghts of the same type of mouthpiece if you are a beginner. Also if you are going through the development stages of improving your lung control and embouchure control to get a better tone – don’t choose a mouthpiece that sounds great in the shop – the reason being is that it is harder for you to tell if your tone is improving over the next few months. Choosing a mouthpiece that doesn’t sound too tonally nice means that over the next few months you will notice the difference when your lungs and embouchure has improved.

        Best to take your teachers advice, they usually can hear when you’ve outgrown a mouthpiece and need to go up a strength.


          sx poet

            @saxomonica – have you tried out the half-whole Diminished Scales?
            They’re good to know if you want to improvise in jazz.
            If you learn three of them ex C#, C and B half-whole diminished scales, and play top to bottom on your sax, then you can play all the half-whole diminished scales as all the notes in the scale rotate around minor 3rd’s.
            ex C C# Eb E Gb G A Bb C C#


              Heya James, thanks very kindly mate. i appreciate your lovin’ input and tuning us in to something new!

              Found some likewise info here, tone semitone formula.
              Repeats every tone and a half up scale.
              eg A C D# F#

              Again, thank you. Cheers, Mark 🙂


              sx poet

                there’s two types of scales Half-Whole and Whole-half diminished scales.
                the easiest way to learn them is to play 4 note chords built on jumping a minor 3rd every time.

                B D F Ab B each note is a minor 3rd apart – play these 4 notes up and down the sax from bottom B to altissimo B.
                C Eb Gb A C each note is a minor 3rd apart – play these 4 notes up and down the sax from bottom C to altissimo C.
                C# E G Bb C# each note is a minor 3rd apart – play these 4 notes up and down the sax from bottom C# to altissimo C#.

                if you practice those 3 chords up and down the sax starting at different notes in any chord. Then you should be able to pick any note on the sax and go up and down the sax in minor 3rds.

                Once you can move around the sax in minor 3rds you can combine any two chords to make a diminished scale.
                ex if you combine chord C Eb Gb A C with chord C# E G Bb C#
                would give you C C# Eb E Gb G A Bb C half-whole diminished scale starting on C

                likewise combine chord A C Eb Gb with chord B D F Ab
                would give you A B C D Eb F Gb Ab A whole-half diminished scale starting on A.

                by first practicing up and down the sax in minor 3rds (3 semitones) makes it a lot quicker to jump into dimished scales.

                i often wondered how the pink panther tune evolved, then when i started listening to dimished scales i could see the connection?



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