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“Clipping” (recording)

Clipping is when the distance to the microphone is not far enough for the volume, it means that you should just be a little farther away. The sound has a sort of flat edge when there should be contours.

The recording doesn’t distinguish between what you play softly and what you play with a higher volume, it all is above the threshold.

Without clipping:


You see contours in dynamics

With clipping:


Everything appears to be at the same level


Hi Neal,

 How are you doing?
 At the moment I have the Elkhart Series II alto I bought in 2004 when I started. When I restarted again now after joined your website I have been thinking about swap this with an intermediate one. What’s the one you suggest me to get? There is a local store here in Cambridge, UK I think I can try for few days before buy it


Probably try out some Yamahas, maybe some Selmers.  Keilwerth, Cannonball, and Yangisawa could be good options too.  What’s available at the store?



And below are a few pages that have been added.



Ask Neal


Music Copyright Discussion

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Gil Ross December 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Hi Neal, what I manily wanted to learn was to play by ear and learn to Improvise. To be able to transpose when playing with different instruments, for example the Piano is in the key of C, Tenor Sax in the key of Bflat, I play Eflat Alto, to be able to be on the same page, and you demonstrating a song slowly to learn has been beneficial, like to get input from other sax players on this website, I know learning by ear takes time and practice, practice, practice.


Neal December 4, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Hey Gil,
All right, let’s start with the intervals. Are you familiar with minor second, major second, etc?

Basically the alto is in Eb so that’s a minor third away from C. So the piano plays Eb, you play an C (to play the same note). If the piano played C, you would play A. You start with the note for piano and go lower by a minor third, which is also three half steps if you want to think about it that way.

What’s the context for you needing to transpose?




Vijai Anand December 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Hi Neal

My main reason is to learn to improvise, play by ear and able to transpose when playing with others. Also to pick a song when hear and play the vocal in sax or play with the song.



Neal December 4, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Hey Vijai,
What ends up happening is that many songs are played in one key most of the time. If you learned the original key and they learned the original key, you’ll be thinking of different keys, but you’ll be playing the same one and it will work.

With vocalists, they’ll want to change the key of the song to make it easier for them to get the range a lot of times. So if you play with vocalists, especially those who don’t have a very large range, you may often need to transpose.

Knowing all of the major scales helps a lot with being able to transpose. To play another major scale, in a way you’re ‘transposing’ a different major scale in one of the simplest ways that you can.

Playing by ear is a little different, but it also helps to know all the major scales. You kind of figure out what key you’re in. It’s easier if the song tends to stay in one key center.

With playing by ear, I would recommend reading The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten. He talks about getting into the other elements of the song – rhythm, feeling, etc before getting the key. That would actually be a great thing for you to read on your trip.

You can play a ‘wrong’ note with a rhythm that fits in and it won’t really sound wrong. It’s a lot more wrong to play a ‘right’ note in the wrong place.



Bengt November 12, 2013 at 9:16 am

Hi all! I ordered a copy of “the Music Lesson”. I have read some of it. I keep it on my bedside table. Reads a small portion now and then. I guess it will stay on that table until I die. It contains more life wisdom than the Bible does for a believer. And it is soo relaxing! I am going on a trip to a foreign contry early tomorrow morning. I choose Wooten’s book as travel company


Vijai December 5, 2012 at 1:35 am

Thanks Neal for explaining in detail. Sure I think the trip may give a chance to learn some theory 🙂


Neal December 5, 2012 at 1:44 am

You’re welcome. The Music Lesson is a lot different in terms of music theory, it’s told as a story, but there’s a lot too it and if you’ve heard Victor Wooten play, you know he’s an amazing musician. Most music theory focuses on harmony, but this one doesn’t and it’s good to see this refocus and look at everything else besides harmony. It’s good to know about harmony too, but not at the expense of ignoring everything else.


Lindsey Duhs December 5, 2012 at 5:25 am

Hi Neal, I need a structured program to help me practice and learn everyday. Learning to improvise, play by ear and transpose when playing with others are goals for me. Really just to be able to pick up the sax and improvise in such a way that there is real feeling and tone in my playing.

It seems that essential technique of seeing a note and telling my finger to push the right key is way to slow. Working on that. I am having to think about it too much. I need to get where I react more quickly and smoother.

Tone seems to be getting better as time goes on. My age might be part of the challenge (53). Songs I can work on, I think for me smooth technique and tone and being able not to have to think about it so much are my goals right now. Confidence in my playing is getting better but still in great need. I think sometimes that I am making it harder than it should be to play.

Thanks for wanting ideas and wanting to help.



Neal December 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Hey Lindsey,
How would you describe your daily practice right now?

You’ll get the hang of the fingerings and notes with some consistent practice.

With regards to the other, who are your favorite saxophone players?



Vijai Anand December 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Thanks Again Neal. Today is more satisfying as the first part of my 30 mins I only concentrated on the Lindsman and I think I can see some improvement. The second part I tried the F Major scale with 42 bpm. I will send the recording of Lindsman tomorrow. I haven’t tried the St James today but will do tomorrow and send the recording



KT December 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm


I feel like playing slowly is very helpful when I first look at the music. I really enjoy later when I can get into the song more. I want to be able transpose, continue to improve sight reading. For now I want to have fun improving technique and playing songs. Playing by ear is a wish more than a goal.

Does anyone have any suggestions for playing C# smoothly consistently. I cannot hit that note every time it comes up.


Neal December 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Hey Kate,
What exactly seems to happen? Does it squeak? Come out stuffy?

Send me a recording with examples and I’ll listen, maybe can figure it out from there.




KT April 18, 2014 at 4:38 pm


I was out of state a while and didn’t take my sax this time. Will send you samples of C sticking next week when i can practice again.

FYI: i had guitar not sax. Was recording new songs. I hate having to sing to indicate vocal melody I have written…just like writing…but i was told my singing is better each time. When asked how that was happening I could only think of reading music for sax, trying to play by ear, and mostly recording my practice sometimes and listening to it critically. Of course, being able to submit samples and get your feedback has to be improving my knowledge of music and theory.



Lindsey Duhs December 7, 2012 at 5:34 am

Favorite artist’s are Kenny G, Kim Waters, There is a radio website that I have set up for (soft Jazz) that I listen to all the time. You get every kind of artist. Practice times consist of Scales, technique lesson sheets I have, A song or two, Now your lessons.


Neal December 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Thanks Lindsey, seems like you’re on track.


Joanne December 7, 2012 at 5:55 am

I originally learnt piano by ear mainly then learnt to rad music, when I started clarinet I learnt at school so had to learn from sheet music, so now I try and learn from ear on my sax but really struggle, I find I can’t play the music from sheet without hearing it and can’t play the song with music without having the sheet Infront of me even though I don’t read all the notes because I’m doing it from ear. Does anyone else struggle with this? Thanks jo


Neal December 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Hey Joanne, interesting. I have heard of other people doing that. In some ways everyone learns the music in order to read it better, but you probably just want to spend a little time site reading new things each day (not all of your time!) so you can work on it and force yourself to read.


Vijai Anand December 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

I tried doing only the first phrase today. Sent you the recordings in mp3 format. The website of the shop is Please do suggest which one should I try to get(please not an expensive one tho :)). I got the #2 reed, which is better. Also the shop guy made some adjustments which made playing easier than it was

Well try other songs and more Lindeman and let you know how I get on



Neal December 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Hey Vijai,
They seem to have a few options. I would try Keilwerth, Yamaha, Selmer, Yanagisawa. Maybe more if you want. Yamaha will probably be the most reasonably priced out of those four brands.


KT December 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I wanted to hold out for a really, really great sax; I had the image in my head= copper and brass or nickel plated…for sound. Figured it was way too soon for me. Had one that had same mechanical issues since I got it. When shop told me I wasn’t the problem, I took the plunge: a Yamaha 62. I needed a working sax; I wanted a Selmer from Paris! I got a pro model half price with holiday sales. I am happy with the Yamaha, but could have gotten it for the same or less on line. I wanted to play the sax I was buying before paying. I took it in a practice room…took three in…last one was the 62. Two of the three were Yamahas…other was an unknown brand. Great looking! Awful sound!


Neal December 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm

The material of the saxophone shouldn’t really be the biggest consideration. Glad you’re liking the new Yamaha. I would tend to stay away from unknown brands.


KT December 28, 2012 at 12:36 am

Loving Yaaha 62 sound is better than any I was able to try out and fingering is smoother than on student model I started with a year ago. Should have traded in sooner.


KT January 6, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Hi Neal, I got a jazz mouthpiece a while back. I had broken the one that came w the sax. I notice I have to center and raise or lower the reed often on the jazz mouthpiece during practice.

Is there a certain reed that is a better fit than Rico 2 1/2 or Rico 2? I have Vandoren?? #3. But it is hard even get sound with those.


Neal January 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Hey Kate, shouldn’t have to adjust the reed too often, might be good to get a different ligature from what you’re saying actually. Does it seem to not fit on it very well?

Ricos should be fine, I started using Ricos again actually, used Vandoren V16 reeds for years. I’m using 2.5’s. Tip opening on the metal Dukoff I’m using is an 8 though, so it’s somewhat open. Don’t use a 3 if it feels difficult to play.


KT January 14, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Neal or any SaxTribe member,

I hit a roadblock when a song has notes above high C above the staff. Anyone else? Some seem like altissimo, some just not familar. Anyone else hit this roadblock or have a way for me to get over this hurdle?


Neal January 14, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Send me a recording playing C, C#, D, Eb, E, F, F#. I’ll listen to it. Partly it’s just getting familiar with the palm keys and that range. We play the highest and lowest notes less than the mid range. Thanks


KT January 14, 2013 at 10:27 pm

At this point above high C is not worth sending you. I will take a little time and send you those soon.


Bengt January 20, 2013 at 5:28 am

Hi KT and Neal.
I think that many of us have problems playing the highest notes. Even the change from G to A in the first Lindeman set of practices gives me problem. I do not understand why this should be more difficult (for me) than C# to D (higher octave) which causes no problem. I use VanDooren V16, 2. How do we know when it is time to change reed? How do we here it?


Neal January 20, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Hey Bengt,
What specifically seems to go wrong with the higher notes?

Changing reeds… after a few weeks usually 2-4 weeks, more than that is pushing it, sometimes three weeks is pushing it. Depends on the reed.


Bengt January 22, 2013 at 4:35 am

One thing is that I close (High E/F) so that the air does not pass through. The other is th (G/A) where the tone is not clear and nice. Do you mind if I send you sound-proof?
I have reported on steps 5-7. Did you react?
You have split he Jamaica farewell into three pieces. That’s OK burt why not also have all three pieces in one set?


Neal January 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Sure, send me a recording. I emailed you two days ago (January 20th) with regards to steps 5-7. Combining the audio files but leaving space between could be a good idea, thanks.


Bengt January 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Can you please resend your reaction to my 5-7 answers. I never saw it. Perhaps it went to the spam filter, which I seldom check.


Bengt January 31, 2013 at 8:49 am

Do you know of Spotify? Spotify seems to include all the music that anybody wants to listen to. It is a developent from the Pirate Bay and similar websites. And….it is free if you accept advertisements. To get rid of adversitements you have to pay a monthly rate, some 10 to 15 U.S.

Are you familiar with Stacey Kent (my current favourite vocalist) and Jim Tomlinson (her husband and an excellent tenorist walking in the footprints of Stan Getz)?


Bengt February 4, 2013 at 9:49 am

Hej All!
How do you find out that the sound of one sax is superior to the sound of another?

I just found an offer of an old Conn, owned by a professional sax player. I called him and we agreed that I could borrow it. I will do that and bring it with me to my teacher to get his opinion. I am not sure that I can discriminate sound quality between a school Yamaha and a professional Yaganasaki. Can you?

I think this is much more difficult than hearing if a song is played by Getz or Young. The price for the Conn tenor is approximately $2000.


Neal February 4, 2013 at 11:55 am

Hey Bengt,
It’s a matter of trying them out. You want to listen to the tone. Play the entire range.

The feel of the keys is also something to consider.

I can definitely discriminate between a student model Yamaha and Yanagasawa, but actually, I’m not a huge fan of Yanigasawa (personally, I know others like them).

See how you like it, the older Conn might be harder to play.


Bengt March 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

Hi Tribulists!
I was second in line for the Conn sax. So, I did not get to play it. I am going to see if I can have my sax adjusted. The low C to Bb are difficult to start out at. My teacher suggests that it is not my fault. So I have better have the instrument checked.


KT February 21, 2013 at 10:31 pm

My hands are small for the low C. I practice a lot, but found choosing songs with a few low C’s helped a LOT! It’s A Wonderful World had low C just enough to enable me to play it in stride/rhythm. The song is also played slowly enough to assist playing low C.

If you also find that note difficult, I suggest that song as well as practice till that pinky hurts!


KT February 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Low C okay now, and getting close on spatula keys.

Question: has anyone listened to Snake Davis?


Neal March 9, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Not too much, just looked up a clip. Any recommendations for specific things to check out from him?


J March 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm

On the topic of the double lip technique.

As we have been emailing about Niel, i was taught the double lip method (rolling the top lip under the teeth on top of the mouthpiece). this way your teeth do not come into contact with the actual mouthpiece at all.

I have also come accross a Japanese player of 20 years who uses a thin bit of paper for this same reason, but don’t know it’s actual purpos.

I am not really sure how common it is here in Australia, but i know (and you have confirmed) it is not common in USA.

I have come accross a couple of forums that mention it, but it really does seem to take a lot more control of the ombechure than the other way- in my opinion, and it definately hurts more- until the skin toughens apparently.

I am now trying your way Neal, so i willreport on if i think there is an actual difference in sound or anything else.

If I come accross anyone else teaching it i will ask how common it is over here.



KT March 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm

P. F., T. T., C., S. M., S., D.A.

What do these initials near the top of the topics column indicate?


Neal March 12, 2013 at 10:28 am

A few people who used to be in Saxophone Tribe, but aren’t any longer. They did complete the first steps.


Rachel W March 12, 2013 at 10:01 am

I have a question on reeds and care of them.

I was wondering how you prep your reeds…
Do you sand them initially?? Etc.

And what is best method and tools used?



Neal March 12, 2013 at 11:03 am

Hey Rachel,
There are different things you can do, but there probably isn’t a best method.

You don’t want to sand them unless it’s necessary.You would do that if the bottom wasn’t flat. But I don’t really use knives or sandpaper much on my reeds.

If you want to learn more about how you would do some of that, you can read Larry Teal’s book, The Art of Saxophone Playing. It talks about things like scraping a bit off the side, but never contacting the heart of the reed since that can destroy the sound.

I will soak my reeds before I play them. As you play more, you’ll find that more reeds are ‘playable’ but you’ll definitely like certain reeds more than others.



Rachel W March 12, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I was wondering because I noticed when I buy a box….some sound airy and some will play fine….it seems that some are not as even in thickness when I hold up to light? Does that make any sense?

I have also found that I seem to have had more bad Vandorne reeds and generally liking the LaVoz mediums right now.


KT March 13, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Rachel, I thought it was me. I feel like I have to get some use out of the reeds that don’t fit well straight out of the box, so I flatten them slightly and gently; then I find enough improvement to use them. I went back to Rico 2 or 2 1/2 after buying Vans.


KT May 24, 2013 at 10:41 am

Are most people in Sax Tribe also taking lessons? I am not. Had a 30 min lesson once, but the teacher constantly left to go get things from his car. How many are not taking lessons? Has anyone else never taken lessons? Should I be taking lessons, too?


Bengt May 29, 2013 at 9:23 am

I have taken one lesson per week since I started learning to play, which is about three years ago.


Terry S. May 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Personally, I have never taken a lesson, only because I travel and move around so much.
I basically learn from books and the exercises that are on this site, but I do believe that structure is definitely warranted and required
I have only been playing for 2 months and was basically fumbling around, until I found this site.


KT June 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm


This site is a great help…Neal knows his stuff.


Brooks July 5, 2013 at 11:17 am

I looked up Jens Lindemann (2 n’s) on youtube. He is a very impressive fellow indeed. He is a Ph.D. and professor at UCLA. More importantly he is a concert soloist on trumpet. His recommendations are worth your time. His practice recommendation to only work on one thing for 10 min. before moving on is interesting.


Neal July 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Thanks Brooks, I hadn’t heard of Jens Lindemann before.

It’s Henry Lindeman who came up with the exercises for saxophone though.


Brooks July 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Anyone else have mike fright? I downloaded Audacity to play exercises for Neal. I am using a microphone that I have used often for speaking in the last two years. I am alone in beautiful surroundings and my tune is completely flubbed with mistakes.


Neal July 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Hey Brooks,
That’s fairly natural I think.

I flub up when I record things sometimes too. But it gets better with a little practice.

And I’m not going to be mean about anything you send, so don’t worry about that.

Especially on the first recording you send me, don’t get too hung up over it, just to give me an idea of what you sound like. Later on, we’ll get into more of the details of your playing after you have worked on some things.



Michele Pippen August 22, 2013 at 1:59 am

First Lindeman recording – Please – for the first Lindeman practice to send recording to Neal, is that just the first ‘slow’ version? Not try and do the faster one yet? Or have to send in both?


Neal August 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Play it slowly first.


KT July 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I have terrible mic fright! I often recorde the same thing more than once. Listen later…send most typical one to Neal. I have been doing public speaking for years! Recording is really the problem, not the mic. I think I will always have it to some degree. That is why I try to record more than what I have to or want to send. Listening makes me aware of problems and lets me hear and playback good songs or practices.


Gil July 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Hi Brooks, yes I have mike fright also, im just recording from my Iphone with Neal, it’s interesting when I record to send to Neal I sometimes tense up or say have the butterflies because you know this is live and your going to get critique on it. To give a Sports analogy, when I played football in High School I would have butterflies b4 but after the first tackle or being hit, I was ready to go and got acclimated to the game. In music I think the more you do it over and over and over again, practice, practice and more practice, you become more relaxed and at ease. That’s my take on it, hope it helps.


Gil July 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm

ps. the other thought I had and when your not recording you seemed to be more relax and do a better job. But again I feel with practice you will pass thru the fright stage and it will be natural to be at ease and relax, remember you want to have fun and enjoy what your doing.


Luke Bong July 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm


I feel tensed when recording too. How I went about it is to not look at the microphone and computer when I play. Then I just play a few notes to calm myself down and only play when I feel comfortable. I remind myself that I can always delete the first few notes used to calm my nerves.



Brooks August 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm

This video popped up on my youtube and I thought Trombone Shorty combines St. James Infirmary and Lindeman in a unique way. Has anyone seen anything like it?


Neal August 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Hey Brooks,
It’s a cool video, one I like. Most of it anyway, the solo gets old kind of quickly.

How would you see it uses the ideas of Lindeman?

To me, the Lindeman is about focusing on individual elements, for example just the movement of one finger.

The circular breathing can be impressive, but I think music sounds better without it most of the time.


Brooks August 4, 2013 at 4:28 am

Not Lindeman butTrombone Shorty could hold a very long note with his breathing technique of inhaling through his nose and using his cheeks as a bellows.


Neal August 4, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Yep, called ‘circular breathing’. People can do it on saxophone too.

Not something I have learned how to do. It’s not really essential, but can be an interesting effect.


Brooks August 22, 2013 at 1:05 am

The common denominator that all sax, guitar or any musical “Gods” share is age and focus. There are no guitar or piano “Gods” who began after 13 years X months. Eddy Van Halen would sit on the side of his bed noodling on his guitar when his brothers and friends went to a movie or what ever. When they came back, he was still there. David Sanborn had polio and they gave him a sax to aid in his recovery. There is something happening in the brain and memory at a golden age. Why does my German brother-in-law have the same accent after living 3/4 of his life in America?
My point is—there is a locus in the human brain where youth and focus meets in a very few to produce genius.


Neal August 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hey Brooks,
I know people from different countries who keep their accents and others who sound just like other Americans. If your brother-in-law wanted to change his accent, I’m sure he could, but it sounds like it doesn’t bother him and maybe he wants to sound like that, and it’s likely not a problem.

Joshua Redman started playing saxophone at 10, but didn’t get serious about it until he was 22 (in law school).

When I was in middle school, another kid had been playing saxophone for six years already, he sounded much better than me. Sometime in high school, he stopped playing saxophone.

One of my professors told me a story about a guy who started singing in college and really focused on it, he got to the top level in the world, but didn’t start as a child.

You say that youth and focus produce genius. I would maybe modify the word ‘youth’ to ‘time’ or ‘consistency over time’. It’s related to youth if the musician starts playing early in life since that allows for more time.

Sometimes adults focus much better than children.


Brooks August 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm

The article, which I read years ago, stated that they could not find anyone whom they considered a musical genius that started on a stringed instrument including piano after 13 years x months. The brain is a sponge in childhood.


Neal August 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Interesting. I wonder if that would still be the case today.

Probably if a person has a passion for music, they would be more likely to start before age 13.

So, statistically, it’s a high probability of such people starting early on.

At the same time, not all children become musical geniuses.

Maybe compare an adult with focus who started music later in life to a child without much focus and think about that comparison.


Michele Pippen August 24, 2013 at 1:05 am

Hi, Can’t recall which part of the sax tribe webpages can share music links? Eg. this a bit of jazz wonderful – Thelonius Monk and Coltrane live – Blue Monk – hope i’m not out of line putting a link here? -


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