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Have you ever asked any of the following questions: How can I get a better tone? Why does my reed seem fine some days, but it feels like a fight on other days? Why do I squeak so much? Why does my tone sound fuzzy? Why do I feel so much resistance?
Improving Your Tone
Everyone wants to improve their tone and there are many ways to accomplish this. If you’ve asked any of the questions above, you’re not alone, and there are many answers. Here are just a few to consider to solving the issues above:
- Reed pressure
- Low air
- Mouthpiece placement (see free lessons)
- Instrument repair
- Reed placement
As you can see by the links, we have written on all of these topics but one. It’s strange that we haven’t covered the topic of reed placement, because many beginners have this issue.
The issue is placing the reed on the mouthpiece, but not paying attention to the height of the reed or to see if it’s straight. The process for fixing this is easy. Mostly, it’s just a matter of paying attention to detail.
What is Reed Alignment?
This is placing the reed at the right place on the mouthpiece. The reed won’t play well if it’s placed on the mouthpiece with little concern. It must be straight or the reed may fight you rather than help. All the details are covered in the free lessons, but we’ll cover a few more things here.
Do You Have These Issues?
If you have any of the issues mentioned at the top of this page, then checking reed placement is an important step to resolving your tone issues. If the reed is not aligned correctly, it can produce various results. In fact, you could start questioning the following:
- The quality of your mouthpiece
- The quality of your saxophone
- Your embouchure
- Your ligature
- Your ability to play saxophone
Not placing the reed in the correct place can have you questioning many aspects of your playing and the equipment. And by the way, some people eventually question their ability to play saxophone and quit, not knowing that the problem was their equipment and not themselves. That’s why checking this one simple thing is very important.
How to Check the Reed
Here are 3 things to check. Make sure the:
- Reed tip is lined up with the tip of the mouthpiece.
- Reed is directly in the middle of the mouthpiece (from side to side).
- The other end of the reed (the opposite end of the tip) is also lined up in the center.
Here’s an example:
Check out this video from the free lessons starting at 2:46. It covers points 1 & 2.
A Professional in Not Required
You don’t need to be a professional to place the reed on the mouthpiece correctly. Simply do your best and you’ll most likely get it right. We just need to pay attention to this detail, and the saxophone will play much better for us. In some cases it’s almost like having a new instrument!
Use Your Eye
Keep in mind that you’ll be “eyeing it”, when lining up the reed. We use this skill every day (such as hanging up a picture and making sure it’s straight), and it’s really not any more complex than that.
A crooked reed can be like a thorn in the side. It can really mess things up and be uncomfortable. However, paying attention to detail can easily resolve the issue and make life a lot better.
In this post, there are some details to assist in correct placement, but the number one point I want to make clear is just to make sure the reed is on straight. It’s a simple fix and your tone will improve a great deal if you normally play with a crooked reed.
Give it a try and let us know in the comment section if your tone improved. I look forward to the comments!
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