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Student sax help 
 

Student sax help

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Student sax help    16:55 on Saturday, January 12, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

MrTodd
(4 points)

About 5 - 6 years ago, we bought my son a used alto sax to play in the school band. Without knowing if he would stick with it, I didn't want to invest too much. At the same time I didn't want to buy him junk. After some research, we ended up buying an old used Bundy. This sax had seen better days, but after a complete tune-up we thought we had a decent sax for a reasonable price. Flash forward several years, a local sax teacher said his sax 'was a clunker'. I dismissed his comments as maybe just being an elitist. To our untrained ears, he sounded OK practicing at home. And now to the present... He's still playing the sax in the HS band. He knows money is tight and doesn't complain, but has expressed issues with the saxophone. My question is... what, if any of the issues can be corrected with another tune-up and/or repair and what issues can only be fixed with a replacement sax. First issue is the "D" note tends to be accompanied by a weird 'metallic' sound no matter the octave. Second, tonal quality is not as good as his peers saxophones. And lastly, he says he can't get the low notes to play. He says when he plays a low note, it's just air and then will jump an octave. He doesn't believe it's his ability b/c he was able to get those notes on a Yamaha rental he used for a short time. I look forward to hearing you thoughts. We are really hoping not to spend too much, but at the same time we want him to enjoy playing.

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Re: Student sax help    12:17 on Sunday, January 13, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

jim22
(245 points)

I suspect that, for money, the Bundy could be greatly improved. I would search out a good tech in your area and have it looked at. Old pads could be changed and keys leveled and adjusted. If the keywork is overly worn it might be better to invest in an instrument in better overall condition, but anything used might need some work. Once the leaks are taken care of, the tone might be addressed by a modest investment in a better mouthpiece. Maybe its time to consider better reeds. A good private teacher is an excellent resource.

Jim

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Re: Student sax help    15:27 on Sunday, January 13, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

MrTodd
(4 points)

Jim, thank you for your prompt reply. It sounds like you're saying most, if not all of his issues may be helped by investing in the sax he has. That would be wonderful. I'm most surprised by your comment on his mouthpiece. How much of the sax's tone is dictated by the mouthpiece? He had been using Rico #2 reeds and now uses a synethetic reed, don't recall who makes it. Are there any bad synthetics? If so, do you recommend a particular manufacturer?

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Re: Student sax help    16:34 on Sunday, January 13, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

jim22
(245 points)

Those are excellent questions. For perspective, I have only been playing sax for a few weeks. I also play flute and some clarinet, and I repair flutes, clarinets, and have done some work on my sax. I play a yahama yas-23. My mouthpiece is a new Yamaha 4C. I play vandoren 2.0 reeds, which are about as hard as Rico 2.5, and a little harder would probably be better soundwise.

Some players like synthetics. My private teacher does not recommend them. It would be worth experimenting with some cane reeds. I would recommend getting the Bundy looked at and possibly worked on. Then definitely try a few private lessons. What mouthpiece is your son playing, and is it in good shape?

Cane reeds take some care to break in properly. I have about 8 of them that I rotate through so they get to rest between sessions. They eventually get tired and need to be replaced. I'm not sure yet how long sax reeds last, probably a few dozen sessions. I suspect even synthetics should be replaced occasionally for best tone.

Jim

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Re: Student sax help    04:32 on Monday, January 14, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

MrTodd
(4 points)

In checking, he maybe using a 'Fibracell' synthetic reed. I believe his mouthpiece is just a generic from the local music shop. Incidently, when we first bought the sax, I spent about $75 to have it tuned up and new pads. Jim, your comment got me thinking maybe it was a 'half-ass' tune-up, so I've been poking around locally. There's a local shop that seems to take pride in their repairs and may be a better option for a 'quality' refurb. The only issue is cost. I was surprised to see an online quote from them for $425 for a complete tune-up. It seemed they would be quite thorough, but man, that seems expensive. From $75 to $425?! Seems like a huge jump in cost. Does that sound reasonable, or are they just being outragous?

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Re: Student sax help    19:46 on Monday, January 14, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

jim22
(245 points)

For a full overhaul it sounds reasonable, but it's important to find out exactly what that includes. It may not need a full overhaul. If the tech is honest, let him look and tell you what he thinks it needs. For that much, maybe a better instrument in ready to play condition would be a better investment. It's not unreasonable for you to give him a budget and let him prioritize the work and do what the budget covers. You can probably have another installment done next summer.

I would replace that mouthpiece and try a fresh reed. Yamaha, Fobes, and Hite make good student mouthpieces. Maybe try a few cane reeds - Vandoren or Rico, maybe one of the intermediate reeds like Vandoren V12, Rico royal or classic. Let the tech check the sax first.

A good private teacher could help with all of this. How much time does your son spend practicing? Is he motivated to improve? How much longer is he planning to play? If he has a couple more years in HS or plans to continue in college maybe that swings you towards a better instrument.

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Re: Student sax help    19:21 on Thursday, January 17, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

rbreslin
(57 points)

Weel - I'm not sure what part of the world you are in - but finding a good technician will really help you.

I have a vintage Martin tenor that is fantastic ! And when I got it, it was only 'just ok'.

100 of spending on a technician has made it into an absolute beauty.

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Re: Student sax help    20:54 on Thursday, January 17, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

MrTodd
(4 points)

We are in the north east US. The big issue is getting my son a decent sax on a budget. He was able to bring home the sax for awhile because the band teacher has convinced him to give the baritone sax a go. The school is providing the 'bari', but it stays at the school. Now I can take a little time to see what's the best decision for his alto. Jim asked some very good questions concerning his commitment and plans to continue. I guess once I have a more reputable shop look at his horn and get an accurate estimate, he and I'll have to talk about his plans and goals for playing beyond high school.

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Re: Student sax help    05:57 on Friday, January 18, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

contra448
(681 points)

Saxes are like cars - complex mechanical devices which go out of adjustment & pads deteriorate over time. Quite often all that is needed is regulation to improve an instrument amazingly & it won't cost a fortune. You take your car to be serviced even when there is nothing apparently wrong & it comes back running much better - the same is true of musical instruments. A reliable repairer should give you a free assessment of the options & costs.

As others have said a better mouthpiece can improve things greatly - after all it is the the mouthpiece & reed that generates the sound. A good teacher will be able to advise on mouthpiece & reed choice; also he/she should be able to point you to a good repairer in your area.

Talking to people directly is a much better way to sort these problems than trying to sort these things on internet forums!

Good luck

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Re: Student sax help    16:25 on Saturday, January 19, 2013 Vote for this post Vote against this post 0 votes

rbreslin
(57 points)

Hi All, have a look at this too ..

a sight reading exercise game called Note Hitter

www.notehitter.scalehelper.com

It's addictive. (iPhone only - sorry)


   

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