Home Alt Forums Problems With Your Sax? Middle C# is flat

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    john springer

    My Middle C# note sounds flat, other notes except Low D sound good. Low D I correct by adding table key – but I cannot find a correction for the middle C#. Is the middle C# typically problematic?


    1st of all make sure your sax is in tune with itself, and the only way to do that is to get your tuner out and play a middle F, then play the overtone F using the Low Bb key. Compare both sounds, they should be roughly the same sound and show up on the tuner as being in tune.

    If you cant get the middle F and Low Bb-Overtone F to be closely in tune on the tuner, then ADJUST your mouthpiece (pull in or out) until they are both as best in tune on the tuner, and sound closely identical in pitch.

    You might have to bend down the Low Bb-overtone F with your embouchure to to get it in tune on the tuner.

    Once you’ve done that, the sax is now in tune with itself.
    What that means is, the sax should now play in tune in all three registers (Low, Middle and High). If you dont get the sax in tune with itself, then all the keys in any one of those 3 registers could be playing too highly pitched, which is more noticed in the keys of the high register.

    Mark that position on the cork. If its a hot day or a cold day, then you can pull out or pull in the mouthpiece a tiny bit to stay in tune.

    Here’s the next problem, when you pickup the sax, you need to let both the mouthpiece, the reed, the mouthpiece neck and your throat warm up, because while everything is warming up, the tuning pitches will vary and then settle down.

    So what i do is get the tuner out, and a pitch generator, and play all the following keys, by going up the sax and back down the sax, listening to my pitch and comparing it to the pitch generator and checking the tuner.

    Low Bb, Low C, Low F#, middle C, middle F#, high C, high F#, Altissimo C.

    What i find is when i go up the sax, the Low C is difficult to play in tune, so i ignore it, but by the time i come back down the sax, the Low C is now very easy to play in tune – HENCE WARMING UP IS IMPORTANT.

    The only other key on the sax that is problematic is the middle D key,
    and thats down to the design of saxophones, so that key is the one key where you may have to bend the pitch with your embouchure, and the tone is very difficult to match up with the tone of middle C.

    If after all this, any keys are not in tune, i suggest you get your sax checked out for leaks.

    Make sure you dont have lots of dried gunk around the inside of the tone holes, and polish off all the dried spit around the body of the sax, this will make your sax sound a lot less DULL sounding.

    Last but not least – The REED, MAKE sure the edges of the reed are lined up with the edges of the rails, and press down on the tip, and make sure the tip of the reed lines up uniformly with the tip of the mouthpiece – A SLIGHT BIT OFF, and you will notice some keys wont sound properly in pitch, resite the reed and you will notice the difference.

    hope this helps


    The other thing i noticed in your comment about the low D.

    All Saxophone keys play out of tune, when you play the sax, you are tuning the keys unconsciously with what your mind perceives each key pitch to sound like.

    Some peoples mind perception of what the sound of each key pitch should sound like can vary differently to what a tuner actually shows the correct pitch to be. Which is where listening to pitch generators and copying what you hear is far more accurate than practicing looking at a tuner needle. This is one good reason to play along with the sax player in a backing track, as you are adjusting your pitch.

    The other thing is, you shouldn’t be pressing other keys to make any sax key sound in tune (this doesn’t apply to altissimo keys, where you may have to add additional keys, to stableise the pitch). This indicates that you should be focusing on changing your embouchure (ie note bending) and getting the key in tune, and this can take days or weeks of practice to get that sax key in tune.


    I can remember when i was learning to play the sax, each week my sax Pro was showing me the fingering positions of each new key.

    He showed me the fingering position of middle F,
    and told me to blow a middle F,
    i just stood there, and my mind went blank
    and he said “Whats up?”

    and i told him
    “i cant play it, i dont know what middle F sounds like”

    Some people will have the same problem when learning to
    play altissimo notes, you haven’t got a clue what the second altissimo G sounds like


    Eb, Bb, B, (fork)f#, B, Bb



    good point Walley…yes C#’s are problematic cause you’re just blowing into the horn with no keys down, we really need to listen and adjust. you’ll eventually get used to what it is you’ll need to do to make it sound more in tune (either bite up or down)

    john springer

    Thanks guys for the great response. I will keep working at it. Very cool suggestion on how to tune the sax to itself. Thanks for the tip


    If you have good hearing, you should notice the before and after putting a sax in tune with itself – its a huge difference in balanced tones when playing across all three registers.

    Håkan Ahlvik

    If you still have problem vith middle c#, try using octave key and lefthand 3 (g). It’s often better in tune…

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