Saxophone Tips For Creating A Sound

Saxophone Mouthpiece

All the saxophone tips have been picked up through playing experience. Try them to see if they can help you achieve your optimum sound on your journey to learn saxophone. If you have any saxophone tips please let us know via the comments page.

You can loosen off the ligature slightly but only slightly. This gives the reed more freedom to vibrate. If you have a ligature with two tightening screws you can loosen one of the screws completely if you want. Loosening the one nearest my mouth had a more positive effect for me.

You can also move the reed up and down the mouthpiece a little. I found having the reed stick out over the lip of the mouthpiece about 1mm more made it easier for me to get a sound as well.

You can also move the ligature down the mouthpiece if you want to. Or try turning the ligature round so the screws are on the bottom.

A good tip here. Theres nothing to say you can't use a Tenor reed on an Alto sax. I can't remember who but I know one famous player used a Baritone reed on his Tenor. Experiment! This is your play time and there should be very little about it that is regimented.

Get some mouthpiece pads. Firstly, they take away the vibration on your teeth that you will feel when you hit the low notes.(not a pleasant experience) Secondly, they will stop your top teeth slipping along the mouthpiece at inappropriate moments. Thirdly, you will begin to create little groves in them so you will know where to place your teeth. Fourthly, they will stop you marking the mouthpiece, so, if you buy one and you don't like it it will be easier to sell.

Saxophone Fingering

To learn how to play saxophone well you will need to work hard on your fingering skills.

You need to bear in mind that the saxophone creates it's sound through vibration of the reed and that sound then vibrates through the saxophone.

If you hold the sax tightly your grip is going to lessen the effect of the vibration, something that may become evident when you start using the octave key to play the higher notes.

Press the keys lightly, don't try and ram them home. Aside from affecting your tone you'll most likely do some damage to the keys.

Get some fingering exercises. These are designed to give you practice at going between different notes. Yes they are hard at first but you will reap huge rewards later as you will be able to quickly change between notes with no diseranble sound issues.

Learn your fingering charts. Could there be anything more annoying than playing a great tune only to forget the keying of the next note. Learn alterante keying for notes. If you are struggling to play something because of the keying look around for an alternate keying position.

Finally, practice, practice, practice. Great saxophone tip! It's the only real way you are going to progress. Don't expect to practice half an hour a day and be able to turn into Stan Getz. The greats could happily practice for several hours a day. Put the effort in you get the reward out.

Saxophone Effects

There are several effects you can learn to make you sound better. As you progress you start including these naturally when you play.

Some tunes demand effects so if you want to blow a mean sax take the time to learn some of these.

  • Tonguing - Touching the reed with your tongue between notes
  • Slurring - Playing up or down the scale without pausing
  • Growling - Humming whilst blowing
  • Honking - Making the sax honk like a goose.
  • Slaptongue - Making a popping sound
  • Flutter Tongue - Like growling but made with the tongue.
  • Note bending - Starting a note flat and sharpening it up.

Please see the links at the bottom of the page if you want to learn these.

Learn them and use them, but use them in moderation. Think of the K.I.S.S. statement (keep it simple, stupid) You can get too much of a good thing. Saxophone tip No.1 - It's easy to ruin something good with too much effort.

Saxophone Care

Look after your sax! It may seem an obvious saxophone tip but how many people out there play their sax and then put it down with the mouthpiece and reed still on it and a puddle of spit in the bow?

I know I have lots of times. You need to clean it after use. Get a pull through and a pad saver. Take it apart when you've finished and swab it down.

Clean in between the key pads and the tone holes to remove any moisture. This preserves the pads and stops sticking keys.

Take the mouthpiece off and clean it. You may want to get a sealable jar for your reeds. Put a little bit of your preferred liquid in it and put your reeds in after use. Put the mouthpiece on if you are taking a short break. I broken countless reed by being lazy. Brush the reed as you walk past and it will probably break. No, it does break. Fact.

Never pick the sax up any other way than by the bell and certainly not by the neck. The neck is the most influential part of your sax. It shapes the sound. Any damage to the neck and you really need to buy a new one.

Treat it with respect and you'll have years of fun and trauma ahead of you. Treat it badly and it will bite back. You have been warned.

The above saxophone tips are all things i've picked up along the way. It just goes to prove that set up is a very personal thing. Don't let someone tell you it's wrong just because they don't do it. You do what you feel comfortable with. Most of the greats never had a saxophone teacher, they learned with trial and error. If we all followed a pre-set path there would be no experimentation and no real progression. If you have any saxophone tips let us know via the comments

Saxophone Effects

Flutter Tongue
Note Bend
Sub Tone

Other Topics

Learn to Play
Alto Saxophones
Tenor Saxophones
Saxophone Breathing
Circular Breathing

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