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 clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: LC007 
Date:   2017-12-02 23:23

I am thinking about getting an Alto sax eventually. So I would like to ask all you doublers about the embouchure. I am a beginner on the clarinet and progressing nicely. My first instinct is to wait a good year or 2 and develop a more or less solid grasp of the clarinet before moving on to sax. But the little kid in me says "no no get the sax now !! [rotate] "

So my question is - is the embouchure sufficiently different from the clarinet so as to let one practice both everyday? Or put another way: if I practice 90 minutes on clarinet (which is pretty much my limit) will I have any chops left for sax? I would not want to buy a sax and then discover it is "ruining" my clarinet progress.

Thanks to all that reply.


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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-12-02 23:41

I started out playing the clarinet in the 4th grade and then the sax in the 5th grade. It came to me fairly easy. Fingerings are closely the same, with a few minor differences. As far as the embouchure goes it is easier to go from the clarinet to the saxes. The clarinet requires a more firm embouchure. If you have too tight of an embouchure on the saxes and even sax player do, the lower registers are harder to get out, such as low C. So a more relaxed embouchure is needed.

I don't see any reason why you can't play both now. When getting a horn make sure it is a decent horn and the pads seal well. This alone can cause the lower register notes to not speak.

Go for it.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-12-03 01:29

With saxes you need far more breath support for the low notes (below E) so they don't gurgle or go up an 8ve. That doesn't mean playing louder, just playing with more abdominal support than you would on clarinet.

Saxes are naturally stronger in their lower register (just like oboes as they behave in the same way), but don't tighten up your embouchure as you go up to the top of the 2nd register as you'll push the tuning way sharp.

Keep the embouchure stable and practice with a tuner to get an idea what you're doing and what not to do. Saxes being the opposite of clarinets as you blow saxes down to pitch as opposed to clarinets which are blown up to pitch.

With saxes you have two basic registers (lower and upper) which cover the basic range of two and a half 8ves (low Bb to high F or F#) - you'll soon find yourself getting around some or may things much easier on sax than clarinet, especially when it comes to playing in remote key signatures.

You won't ruin your chops playing sax.


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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-12-03 04:38

Chris P wrote:

> ...Saxes being the
> opposite of clarinets as you blow saxes down to pitch as
> opposed to clarinets which are blown up to pitch.

I don't think I agree with this, or that I even understand what "blown up to pitch" means. I have the feeling when playing clarinet of opening my mouth and letting the pitch settle downward. I don't know how I would blow up to pitch without adding embouchure pressure. Certainly one needs to be able to adjust both up and down for circumstances, but I've always felt that the best pitch on either instrument comes from opening up to let air into the mouthpiece.

To Luc, I don't find the alto and clarinet embouchures so different from each other. But the upshot is that people who hear me play alto sax describe my tone as "legit" as opposed to a big-band or jazz tone quality. A lot depends on what mouthpiece you choose.

I do find, probably because I don't play sax nearly as much as clarinet, that the mechanism of a sax, which is heavier and, to me, less responsive, presents more of a difference than embouchure does.


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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: LC007 
Date:   2017-12-03 06:26

Thank you for the comments gentlemen. I am just testing the waters as it were, getting opinions and playing with the idea. I'm trying to determine if starting the sax after only 3 months on clarinet will undermine me in any way. I don't think the fingering will be an issue regardless of whether they are similar or not. It's the embouchure I'm worried about. I have read on various forums that a lot of clarinet players double on sax, so I know it is very achievable to play both. I just don't want to complicate my progress on clarinet.

I think I will probably just rent one for a month or 2 and see for myself if I can handle both at this tender "clarinet" age.

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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2017-12-03 07:11

I started clarinet soon after beginning saxophone, so it can certainly be done. The difference in embouchure shouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that saxophone fingerings are A LOT easier, and if you end up playing saxophone more than clarinet, you may never learn to “think clarinet”. Clarinet sort of contains everything necessary for saxophone, but the reverse is not true.

If you play clarinet for a couple years, picking up saxophone will be super easy. On the other hand, if you neglect working on the more difficult aspects of clarinet, either because of limited time, or whatever, it will take you a lot longer to learn clarinet. So, do it, but be aware that it may make things harder in the long run.

- Matthew Simington

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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: fromsfca 2017
Date:   2017-12-03 07:46

Clarinet and sax are both resistance instruments. Tone is the result of the combination of air support vibrating the reed and filling the bore to derive an appealing sound.

Sax has a wider bore and mouthpiece, demanding more air, and it is easier to get good response going over the break (b or c to d on sax as opposed to a to b on clarinet).

However, I would strongly recommend having a solid relationship to clarinet before trying sax. Much of one carries to the other, and you will find solid familiarity with one will make learning the other much easier.

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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-12-03 19:50

If you play a sax like a clarinet, you'll have trouble.
If you play a clarinet like a sax, you'll have trouble.

Both are very different instruments regardless of both having a single reed mouthpiece and need to be treated differently.

That aside, enjoy playing both - enjoyment is the key factor.


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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: Tom Puwalski 
Date:   2017-12-16 02:48

I'm playing Sax like a clarinet and I'm not having trouble. I've been working on the unified field theory of single reed playing and I will say this. When you interfere with the vibration of the reed with your lips, the sound of a clarinet will suffer, with a saxophone lip interference makes the sound suck faster and worse.

Now I play all Buescher Saxophones with and Buescher or Rascher mouthpieces and I basically use the same embouchure, double lip on soprano, Alto and Bari, single lip on tenor.

Get a horn, listen to some players on it. Get some good middle of the road gear for a mouthpiece. Play it 15 minutes a day and don't ask anybody on the board for any advice. 90% of every thing I read on this board is wrong. It's a Saxophone have fun with it.

Tom Puwalski

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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-12-17 01:21

Tom Puwalski wrote:

> I'm playing Sax like a clarinet and I'm not having trouble.

That's easy to say if you have experience.

To someone who has no experience it will be a different matter if they treat them both the same.

I hear it all the time with clarinet players who one day pick up and expect to play saxes (usually alto and especially soprano sax) right off the bat. I've even had some complain about how sharp they go up top and want all the palm key ventings closed right down to flatten them when they play perfectly in tune when in the hands of a sax player.


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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: fromsfca 2017
Date:   2017-12-17 02:12

Agreed: embouchures and muscles used for control are completely different.

Tone and intonation come from managing resistance of bore, reed and piece. Clarinet demands smaller and tighter lips. Form a table with bottom jaw with corners in.

Support from your diaphragm.

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 Re: clarinet vs sax embouchure
Author: Tom Puwalski 
Date:   2017-12-17 03:31

I totally disagree it's the exact same muscles used in a clarinet and sax embouchure. The physical tone generator, the mouthpiece and reed are damn near identical, what do you think you're supposed to do differently with your embouchure? The ONLY purpose an embouchure has on any single reed instrument is to create a cushion for the reed and create a seal to allow the pressure on the inside of the mouth to be pressurized to a degree greater than the ambient pressure in the instrument.

Tom Puwalski

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