Home Forums Problems With Your Sax? Low B drives me mad

This topic contains 28 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Matt Curtis 8 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #37834

    Eugene Pefti
    Participant

    Hi folks,
    I’ve been passively following this forum staying silent and taking good and useful hints and advices, many thanks to Johnny for this forum and all forum members!
    It seems to me I developed a problem with my alto sax and it drives me crazy I can’t fix it. I paid too much attention and efforts to altissimo development exercises and now all my attempts to play low B end up in a producing middle B (next harmonic of low B) and an uneven tone. The problem is even worse if I try to play a subtone of low B. It just doesn’t sound good and varies in different pitches and harmonics. Is there any good hint or exercise to practice low notes ?
    And of course it is not a problem with my sax, it is a problem with my embouchure, just didn’t find a better forum section to ask this question 😉

    Hopefully
    Eugene

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by  Eugene Pefti.
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by  Eugene Pefti.
    #37837
    Michael Bishop
    Michael Bishop
    Participant

    Hi Eugene,
    Don’t you just love those lower notes? 🙂 Yeah, they can be real problematic for sure. It’s always a great idea to just take a step back and look at what we’re doing. Sounds like you’ve been working on those exercises a lot. In these cases, it can really help by just revisiting the good-ole basics of the Sax–you can never get too good at them. The better you get at the basics, the better of a player you will be. Try dropping your jaw to get that low B note. If you’re putting too much jaw pressure on these lower notes, they will sound an Octave higher like you mentioned. When we finger a low B, we make those adjustments in our jaw/embouchure to get those overtones, right? Just as we make those adjustments in our jaw/embouchure to get those overtones (in this case a low B sounding like a middle B, just like you said) but we also have to have the control to come back to our original position and play a low B. If you’ve been having a problem with an uneven tone, one of the best things you can do is good ole-fashion long tones, along with using a tuner. Again, we’re talking about the basic fundamentals of the Sax, that’s what it boils down to.
    A quick question about your embouchure; what are you doing with your bottom lip? Most people have been taught to ‘fold” it over your bottom teeth..that alone can cause a lot of problems. You may not notice it, but it can put some tension on your throat/neck muscles and really hurt your tone; it may not feel like it’s enough tension to make a lot of difference, but the tension is there and it will have an effect on your overall tone. Check out Johnny’s video on proper embouchure–take note of the bottom lip position. Again, it all comes down to the fundamentals.

    #37838
    Marc
    Marc
    Participant

    Hi… usually all beginners’ problems with lower notes are due to lack of “warm air”. Teachers usually call warm air that solid, well supported airstream that comes pushed by the abdomen muscles and exits through a well open throat, like when you’re yawning. Try to practice that consistent breath in a slightly higher note (say C#) then practice a short downscale C#, C, B, Bb keeping a good warm air flow.
    You should watch your embouchure as well. Notice that lower notes don’t need too much lip pressure. An unwanted overtone (center B sounding while trying to play low B) could be due to too much reed pressure.

    #37841
    Michael Bishop
    Michael Bishop
    Participant

    There you go, that’s the word I was looking for, thanks Marc 🙂 Couldn’t get the right word out of my head to type on the keyboard of the cpu 🙂 Check out what Marc is saying Eugene about too much reed pressure, that’s what I’m getting at.

    #37845
    jake
    jake
    Participant

    You guys hit the nail on the head. I was working on a song today that had me plAying high B and the dropping to the Lowest B as the next note. I had a B word in mind as I was not hitting that low note rite on cleanly. I was getting all kinds of overtones out of it. Back to the basics for sure!!!

    #37846

    Eugene Pefti
    Participant

    Wow!
    Many thanks to you, Michael and Marc. Didn’t expect such a quick and detailed assistance. Really appreciate it, guys!
    Will try to revisit my habits and roll back to old days before I started putting pressure on the reed 😉

    Eugene

    #37851
    Michael Bishop
    Michael Bishop
    Participant

    @ Eugene- We’re all here to help/encourage each other…I know with my recent setback I sure needed the help/encouragement. I’m happy to say that letting my Masseter muscle in face heal naturally is already working, the swelling has went down a lot…and I do mean a lot. So it has picked my spirits back up to say the least. The hardest thing for me is to resist the urge to wanna pick up the Sax…right now, suffering a setback is just not worth the risk.
    Just remember guys, like Marc is saying, playing in the different registers of the Sax requires adjustments in our Air Support and embouchure. Just to add to his point, it’s important to hear the note before we play it too. Once we fix that sound in our head, it’s becomes much easier to play it because if we’ve been practicing correctly, our mind will tell us if we’re doing it right/wrong and when we do it wrong, then we will know what to do instantly to make the necessary adjustments in our air support & embouchure to hit the note–and that goes for any note were trying to hit… that is, if we’ve been practicing the right things that will allow us to do the things on the Sax that we wanna do. Hearing the notes in our head first is so, so imporant….you would be amazed how much we can change our sound up simply by changing the kinds of music we listen to! That’s how important it is.

    #37869

    Eugene Pefti
    Participant

    Oh-oh, I was injured recently in a skiing accident and had to go through the surgery to fix my fractured verterba in the neck. They opened me up by cutting the trachea to get access to the spine. It all healed finally but restoring an ability to do a full breath was quite a challenge until recent 😉
    I tried all your advices, Michael and Marc. It does seem to work especially “warm air flow”. Still sometimes the sound from low B comes vibrating and pulsating. I wish I can attach a sound file here to demonstrate what bothers me.

    #37870
    Michael Bishop
    Michael Bishop
    Participant

    Be patient with it Eugene, it’s only been 1 day. It’ll take some time and the more you do it the better it will get for you. You can always upload a quick demo to soundcloud.com It’s very easy to open an account and share the link here to Johnny’s site. Another thing to consider is making a leaky pad on your Sax? That can cause similar problems too.

    #37871

    Eugene Pefti
    Participant

    Good idea about the soundcloud.
    Just created an account and uploaded my ugly attempts to blow low notes. They come pulsating and I mentioned.
    What is it? A reed, not enough air flow ?


    #37872
    William Cingolani
    William Cingolani
    Participant

    Eugene, How do you get your soundcloud recording posted on this site, not the link to your soundcloud recording but the the actual soundcloud visual recording

    #37873
    William Cingolani
    William Cingolani
    Participant

    Sounds like a leak. If you have a sax tech close by let the sax tech listen to you

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