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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000197.txt from 2002/06

From: "Gary Smith" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] S*x Questions
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2002 09:21:11 -0400

I think you've already gotten the right advice on the first problem -- check
pad height/venting.

As for the off-to-the-right vs. down-the-middle question, I find it depends
on height. I'm 6'0", sit up pretty straight when I play, am perhaps a bit
long-torsoed, and find that the bow of the alto is not far enough below the
level of my right thigh to comfortably stay put. I've tried it; I feel that
when I do I have to hold the sax in place with my arms, and it's quite
fatiguing. On the other hand, I have junior high students who are short by
adult standards; an alto fits them about like a tenor fits me. Going off to
the right is the only way for them, and it's comfortable for them because
their leg ends up in the right place for propping up the instrument.

If you park an alto in the middle of your crotch, you will affect tone and
intonation on many of the notes in the lower end of both registers. The
proper position is to prop it closer to the edge of the chair and keep some
air space around the horn. Those pad guards are just that, they keep the
pads from damage; they don't guarantee adequate venting when your legs are
clamped closely around them.

I heard tell of some big-band leader who insisted that his alto players
dress right, perhaps because of the above issue, more likely so that the
line looked more uniform on stage. I was told about this by the guy who runs
*my* big band. He didn't make it an order, and the other alto players in my
band, all of whom play down the middle, ignored him, so I don't guess it's
an issue. If he paid me more than about $300 a year in jobs, maybe I'd make
more of an effort...

By the way, you mentioned adjusting the horn between standing and sitting. I
find that's a given, and the bigger the horn the more critical it is. When
standing for solos and the like with the bari, I would have to twist the
neck 10 degrees or so and change the tilt on the mouthpiece. I don't know a
way around it, other than playing out of the corner of my mouth or
amputating a leg...

>From: "Kevin Fay" <>
>Subject: [kl] S*x Questions
>Date: Tue, 04 Jun 2002 17:26:06 -0700
>My alto saxophone is a Buffet "Expression" - a model I never heard of
>before I bought it. I have also never seen another one. Becuase it has a
>rather large bell and adjustable palm keys, however, my guess is that it
>was built after Boosey & Hawkes acquired Keilwerth, and is based on that
>tooling. I have two problems with it - one real, and one for fun.
>The real problem is that it doesn't much like to play above a high D - at
>least with my Rascher mouthpiece, the tone turns into sort of a little
>grunt. This isn't a problem for scales or runs, but is found while trying
>to articulate. I can force the note out by adjusting my embouchure and
>voicing it as if altissimo, but that's too much work much of the time. The
>high C is a bit stuffy, too.
>My first thought was simply that it was my fault - that my saxophone
>embouchure wasn't up to snuff. Turns out, however, that I don't have it on
>my older student-line alto or my friend's Selmer Mark VI.
>My second thought was that there's a leaky pad. This can't be, though,
>becuase all of the holes are open for the high F, and the lower notes speak
>just fine. Is this a design problem I have to live with? Any ideas?
>Second problem - for alto saxophones generally, but esp. this one. I find
>that the perfect position for which to hold the beastie while standing
>cannot be replicated while sitting - my right leg is squarely in the way.
>Because I am unwilling to amputate said appendage to advance my saxophone
>playing, I must therefore put the bell between my legs or off to the right
>side. While both positions are serviceable, I find both less comfortable.
>So - a survey, just for grins. Which way do you go?
>Kevin Fay
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