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Home Alt Forums Problems With Your Sax? Sharp high notes

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      Is it the norm that the sax above high D tend to run a little sharp?? I have an issue with my alto where they do run a little sharp but migh high F# is way sharp whereas it’s almost an altissimo G. I use a Claude lakey 7* HR and I have the mouthpiece barely on the cork. I don’t know why this mp needs to be so far off of the cork. Anymore and it will fall off. Other mp I have go on a lot farther.


        Hi Jake, on my alto, every note above Mid C is sharper, i have to embouchure down to get them more in tune (i believe Modern Pro sax’s are more even in all the registers compared to student models like mine).

        I did read somewhere, that its more common for the mouthpiece to be shoved all the way in than being pulled all the way out. two other things apparantly sax necks are like mouthpieces, changing to a different style neck can give a complete change over, and on the negative side, necks are easily damaged sound wise.

        But interesting, like to hear the answer to your question!


          Wow, great idea James. I just through a different alto sax neck on my sax and cant believe how much better in tune it is. The high F# is just about perfect. The Low Bb is right on, Also, the mp goes on about 1/2 way instead of just over the end of the cork. Hmmmm, guess I’m getting a different neck.


            Jake, My experience with intonation on my YAS-52 are that the if I’m properly tuned to say an A (concert C), my notes as I go higher gradually get sharper, and my notes below that gradually get flatter. So if I play a song that uses more notes in the 2nd octave I tune to say an C or D, and vice versa if my song uses more of the lower notes. I actually tune predominantly to a C because to my ear lower notes that are played slightly flat are not as glaringly noticeable as high notes that are played sharp. My struggle then is when I try to “lip up” the lower flat pitches, it easily triggers the unwanted overtones!
            My Tenor has the same intonation tendency, but is not as out-of-tune at the limits as the Alto.
            Glad to hear that a neck change was a noted improvement to your intonation. That gives me hope to find a cure that I haven’t been able to find.
            I thought maybe the MP was a likely culprit, but I have had 4-6 different MP’s on the Alto only to find the same thing once the tuner was turned on.

            One curious thing that was noticeable more than once- I got one of those reed trimmers, and when a favorite reed got a little corner chip on it, I would trim the reed about 1mm shorter and the intonation was better. That’s not a solution I want to have to use to be more in tune, but it was a curiosity…

            Hope more provide there experience with there instrument and setup regarding intonation. I hate not having an instrument(setup) that can be played without having to work so hard with corrective “lip” tuning measures.


              Tuners are great instruments for an average reading, but still not as good as tuning an instrument
              to a generated pitch sound, when you hear a pitch, and you bring your instrument in line with that
              pitch as JF demonstrates that’s the best method.

              The reason why tuners aren’t as good, is they rely on a microphone, the crappier the microphone,
              the crappier the reading, they often give misleading readings if there are other noises happening
              at the same time as they don’t know which pitch to focus on – camera software has the same problem
              in focusing the lens when taking a picture, and often give blurred results.
              Most tuners are reliable within a fixed range, so those very high notes & very low notes – tuners
              might not be so reliable? see the manual for their range/tolerance.

              But saying all that, i rely on a tuner after i’ve tuned up with pitch sounds, as its a pain to
              generate a lot of different pitches to compare to, which is where the good old keyboard sounds
              come in, press & go.

              And just to be more awkward, the old reed changes when it warms up, so more tuning probs…


                OK, i have a problem with my palm key notes being sharp. If i play with yamaha custom 4cm mouthpiece i’m perfect in tune on high D to high F#. But when i play with high baffle mpc i’m sharp as hell up there. No matter what i do i can’t lower pitch on that notes. I can make them even sharpier, but can’t lower them. I know many will say: play with that yamaha mpc, but problem is that yamaha mpc sucks to play. I need to use no.4 reed on that coz it’s so closed. So i would like to stay with high baffle and open mpc, just don’t know how to fix that sharp notes. Any exercises for that?

                P.s.: i play tenor sax


                  first make sure your sax is in tune to itself;
                  to do that you need to play a harmonic:
                  finger the low Bb, as you do with the Altissimo exercises…
                  now while holding that hit the F harmonic
                  once you have the F harmonic sound change you fingering to the actual middle F
                  now you can hear if one F is sharper or flatter than the other.
                  this is how we can see how close the sax is in tune to itself.

                  beyond that, the trick to getting those high notes flatter is to decrease your bottom lip pressure.
                  do the octave exercise: middle D to high D, middle D# to high D# etc
                  make them long notes and experiment with your lip pressure and air pressure.


                    Thanks Johnny. Well Regular F fingering is perfect in tune, but If i press low Bb and play overtone F, then that F is sharp. I can now get High notes in tune, but i need huge air pressure and very low pressure on lips, but tone is not really strong and clean then. I’ll kepp practising and see how it will go.

                    Bill Hammond

                      Reading John’s comment, what could cause a sax to be out of tune? My horn is new and I actually took it to the shop to have it checked as I was having difficulty playing in tune. I always have my mouthpiece out quite away and depending on the day, I have to pull the neck out a bit. Is that normal? I use a guitar tuner that i clip on the sax as well as a tuner on my phone. I will try the technique today of the Bb and F Harmonic.



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