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Home Alt Forums Saxophone Lessons Right hand side keys C and Alt F#

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    Liam Williams

      Hi Johnny
      1. When is it best to use right hand side key for C?
      Chromatic glissandos? I can brush my right side 1 finger in combination with left hand fingering for a fast passage from C, B, Bb, and A. Even in Pink Panther it seems that the side key C is a smoother move than playing C with left hand 2 finger in all measures.

      2. Should one favor the alt F# right hand 1 F with added F# with 3 finger when moving chromatically instead of playing F# with right 2?
      Thanks Liam


        Great questions for @John to address ya Liam 🙂 and looking forward to some good insight

        i played night train with bis Bb for a time then discovered easy bottom side key/ whoo hoo
        need to hit up my side C a tad more so i’m hip to your queries thanx
        what do you use your side C for in oft elsewhere tunes?
        heya do you have any fave trills off F# key to G and/or other side trills flutters?
        i have F# key but don’t use – just second finger for my F# but guess intonation of your horn?
        like my side C i need to develop this fingering to fit the occasion. lost in a Forrest
        did see an exercise of Johnny’s using alt F# key in a song but can’t place it right now,
        a fave run E F# fall off thang of one of the Greats ..


          i looked up my old notes…

          When F# is next to F – then use the Side F#, unless the Note played after F# is a Low Eb or D.

          When C is next to B – then use the Side C.

          When Bb is in a Scale – use the bis Keys, except for the scale of Gb.
          When Bb is next to C – use Side Bb and middle finger C.

          when playing High E,F & F# very quickly – use the aux. high F key (see Johnny’s altissimo course)

          If you want to trill or repeat a neighbouring key very fast, you might be forced to use alternative key fingering in embellishments. Four key glissandos may force you to use alternative key fingering. Basically any fast key movements will sometimes force you to use alternative key fingering.

          It’s not just a case of always favouring one key position in preference to another, you need to be able to use all finger positions equally. This is where practicing scales fast with a metronome learns finger memory, also practicing Etudes with lots embellishments forces you to use alternative key positions.


            The only important bit i forgot to mention to develop proper finger movements whether using alternative key positions or not – ALWAYS use a metronome when practicing scales (including chromatic scales)

            Why? This forces you to play each finger position in the same amount of time, without a metronome you will end up playing some difficult key positions slower than others this will result in not playing fluidly when running up and down sections of music. It will also show up when you play a music sheet in a certain Key as you end up taking more time to play difficult keys. Hence Scales+Metronome excels.

            If you listen to students playing, you can tell the ones which practices scales and the ones that don’t.

            Liam Williams

              Hi Saxominia and Ja Br. Thanks to both of you for responding and the rules, they make sense. Great advice very much appreciated. I had only been using the C side key in pink panther measure 20 and it goes from C natural to B four times. But then I realized I could use it in the triplet in measure 9. That’s what got me thinking in connection with Johnny’s using the Alt low F# side key with the main F key. I could speed up my down chromatic glissando but I would have to brush my right index finger from the C side key off to allow the B note. Not sure if this is a legitimate technique used by advanced players consistently accurate. What I mean is I would brush the C side while left index is on B and my brushing would move to the B-flat side key when playing the B note before adding middle finger to A thus getting the Bb note and continuing brush off to A. Is this farfetched? I haven’t fully explored yet to make sure that it’s consistent and hitting Bb side doesn’t affect the intonation while producing the B note before hammering into A note. I do know that at least so far clearly separating my right hand index finger from the C to the B-flat side key withOUT a brushing stroke is more awkward up and down then bouncing my Left index and middle fingers between C and B and just using the Bb side key.

              I haven’t really focused on trilling much so I can’t comment on that.

              I think the one song that Johnny was using that alternate F sharp was in the blue sessions glissando. He had made a comment that without doing it that way it would be very difficult to do it fast

              Thanks again to both of you for your input. Rules are really going to help. Looking forward to listening to Jimmy forest when my wife goes out because too many notes for her. Lol


                Liam, check out at 3:40 🙂

                Liam Williams

                  Thanks Saxomonica
                  Cool. Forrest really cool too. Very soft air control and never loses the note. Ps Johnny F and Ja Br citing of alternative fingering and rules got me thinking. Of course there has to be rules after all these years of sax development. So I googled and I found more rules. Like leaving right hand down “trick”
                  when going back and forth between D or E or F to C or C#. Wow. And leaving G# pinky down as it only affects G. These two “tricks” really help on the final walk up in the Born to Run solo. Also using side keys for all chromatic scale glissandos. Wow!!! I can brush downward but no help upward pitches. Exciting stuff. I had to share this with the community. Check out this jazz article summarizing them all. I come from a background of playing Pedal Steel Guitar which in relation to violin and saxophone is a extremely new instrument and the rules are still being formulated so it wouldn’t dawn on me to search for rules unless other members assisting me. Thanks again. Liam



                    Good stuff Liam sounds like you will soon gonna be all over it like a rash with your side key upward glissandos heya!
                    Not to many pedal steel guitar players her in West Australia. A bloke called Lucky Oceans is a great local talent.
                    Thanx for posting the link, way cool.
                    Cheers Mark

                    Says Gilbert K. Chesterton, there are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.


                    Liam Williams

                      Thanks Mark I am psyched on new tricks.
                      W Australia cool. Me, sitting on beach in Myrtle Beach SC, USA.
                      I wondered what happened to Lucky Oceans. Last time I saw him he was with Asleep at the wheel in Central Park NYC in late 70s Schaffer Music Festival. He was one of 8 top band inspirations to us at that time in 70s. We were stealing his licks. Interesting that he listened to sax solos. Where did all that time go. Lol. Thanks again, Liam.


                        Way cool, Liam. Nice one, bro. And saltwater country is you home too?
                        Anywayz here’s a mellow tune from Broome WA, you beaut, bandicoot 🙂
                        Lucky oft plays in Fremantle, Clancy’s Fish Pub. Swim by sometime?

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