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Saxophone/Yani A5, tending to play flat, mouthpiece?

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Question
My son, age 15, plays a Yanagisawa A5 / Dorado 600 stencil (A5-2731161) in great condition, but is not able to get the Concert B flat in tune.  It plays flat by about -25  on his KORG tuner, with the mouthpiece pushed in as far as possible.  He recently switched from a Vandoren AL3 to an AL4 mouthpiece on the advice of his instructor.  This has improved his sound and brought it closer to being in tune, but as I mentioned, still not very much in tune.  

I am willing to tinker by increasing the diameter of the mouthpiece to allow it to be pushed in further, but not with the new $110 Vandoren AL4.  I am thinking to try this on a $30 used hard rubber mouthpiece is similar to the AL4, if that is feasible.  (Note also, he uses a Vandoren 3 reed.)

We tried a very cheap plastic mouthpiece that has a larger inside bore, it went further onto the neck cork, and his B flat was no longer flat.  However, he found that other notes were then sharp.  We attribute some of this to the vastly inferior plastic mouthpiece.

What might be the problem?  Can it be fixed with via the mouthpiece.

thanks!

Answer
Hello Dave,
This is a really good question... The answer lies with his sax instructor.
Please have his sax instructor play his sax, with the korg tuner, using the sax instructors mouthpiece. Have him tune to high G not low G (concert Bb). If he plays it perfectly in tune then we know it's not the sax or the neck.. Vandoren mouthpieces are long bodied... really grease up the cork and push it on all the way until it stops... The neck might be slightly too long or it could be his embouchure is too loose. A vandoren 3 reed is a somewhat hard reed, I was going to say his reed is too soft, but it's not. The reed is fine. The mouthpiece needs to go further on the neck cork to bring up the pitch... The Vandoren inner shank diameter is too small on the vandoren mouthpiece's. Thats why his cheap plastic mouthpiece works to bring up the pitch. If I was you, I would have him get the greatest mouthpiece out there, a Meyer 6MM, .076" tip. These mouthpieces have the correct round New York chamber for a big sound, hollowed out side walls and a flat table with a roll-over baffle. This is a serous professional hard rubber jazz lead mouthpiece, and it's perfect for high school band, marching, pep band, jazz band, and concert band...that Vandoren AL4 still has a really small tip. By the way...There are fantastic plastic mouthpieces out there, so just because it's plastic doesn't make it inferior. Once again I'm curious what the sax instructors pitch is on his own mouthpiece set-up so we can rule out the sax and neck.
Thanks, Grant Koeller  

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Grant R. Koeller

Expertise

I'm a Professional Jazz Saxophone soloist recently retired from 23 years with the USAF Band Of Flight, WPAFB, OHIO, experienced in performance, technique and equipment. I'm not a buyer/seller or dealer. I have 40 years Alto, Tenor, Soprano and Bari Saxophone performance experience with additional years on the Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bass Guitar, Piano, Drum-set, Guitar and Voice. I'm a third generation professional military musician, my father, Bill Koeller(1939-1997) was in the USAF 1958-1962, and played Jazz Hammond B-3 organ from 1957-1997, and my fathers Uncle, Alfred Koeller (1912-1993), was a professional Acoustic Bassist in the Army Air Corps in WWII, and also performed on Jazz Guitar, Hammond organ, Piano and tenor saxophone.

Experience

Professional Saxophone Soloist, 23 total years with the USAF Bands, 6 years with the USAF Band of Flight, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, performing on Tenor, Alto, Soprano, Clarinet, and Flute. 4 years in Japan, at Yokota AFB with the USAF Band of the Pacific. An Avid Composer and Arranger for the Night Hawk Protocol Combo. Former Lead Alto Saxophonist with the USAF Night Flight Big Band performing the music of Glenn Miller as well as other hits of the Big Band Era. I collect LP records of Jazz, blue's, classical and rock, and have over 12,000 records.

Organizations
USAF,Phi MU Alpha Sinfonia, Men's National Music Fraternity, Johnny Mack Super Big Band, Tom Daugherty Orchestra, Kim Kelly Orchestra, Dayton Jazz Orchestra, Eddie Love Big Band, Gem City Big Band, Jazz Central Big Band, Shin Sings Orchestra, Kim Kelly Orchestra,USAF Night Flight Jazz Ensemble, Different Hats Big Band, Jimmy Baker Blues Band, This Side Up, Freelance, KING KOELLER Quartet, Jazz Central Big Band, GB Work, Sax On The Web,

Publications
Saxophone On the Web; Anchorage Daily News; All Experts; Augustana College Public Radio, WVIK;

Education/Credentials
North Texas State University School of Music, Jazz Studies 1982-1986 Lead Alto, Lab bands 1982-83 and small group leader 1983-1984, Jazz Radio Host WVIK 90.1 FM NPR affiliate Rock Island, IL United States Collegiate Wind Band European tour 1980 Augustana College, Rock Island IL, Liberal Arts Music Mentors/Teachers:My father Bill Koeller, a Jazz Hammond B-3 Organist (1939-1997) Great Uncle Alfred Koeller, Acoustic Bass 1912-1993

Awards and Honors
Paul Shartle Musician of the Quarter Spring 2008; Glenn Miller Festival, Clarinda, Iowa featured soloist; McDonald's All-American Band and Jazz Ensemble 1979; US Collegiate Wind Bands,Paul Lavalle Conductor, tour of Europe,1980; John Phillip Sousa Award, 1980 Dimond HS Anchorage, Alaska; USAF National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star; USAF Achievement Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters; USAF Good Conduct Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters

Past/Present Clients
Performed with, Bob Hope, The Platters, Four Tops, Jimmy Dorsey, Crystal Gail, Helen Ready, James Williams, Dallas Jazz Orchestra, Jack Jones, The Mills Brothers, the G-Clef's, Lionel Hampton at Carnegie Hall, Performed for the King Of Thailand 2005, Tom "Bone's" Malone, Roy Hargrove, Tommy Turrentine, Performed for President Gerald Ford, President George W. Bush, The Maguire Sisters, The USO Girls-Andrew Sisters Tribute, The Four Lads, Lincoln Berry, The Dayton Jazz Orchestra, Louis Bellson, Buddy DeFranco, Walter Bishop Jr, Sadao Watanabe, Bobby Shew, Pete Jolly, Quad City Jazz Ensemble, Augustana College Symphonic Band, Jack Scott, Catfish Jazz Society, Intrigue-Boston Wedding Band, The Mark Herbert Little Big Band, The Pacesetters Big Band, The Ambassadors Jazz Ensemble, Pacific Showcase Big Band, Jimmy Dorsey Big Band under the direction of Lee Castle, Ronny Scott Orchestra, Big Al's Hot Dance Orchestra, The Dayton Sidewinders, Tom Daugherty Orchestra, Johnny Mack Super Big Band, Ken Peplowski, Eddie Daniels, Buddy Guy, Roy Hargrove, Warren Parrish, John OMeara Jr., Dave Holcomb, Albia Silva,Vinnie Demartino, Clon VonFitz, The G Clef's

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