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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPractice Room(Moderator: blast) Tenor intonation and bass doubling
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hyperbolica
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« on: Apr 16, 2017, 01:00PM »

I took 10 years off, then started playing again about 3.5 years ago. I'm a tenor player. When I started back, I switched to Elliott mouthpieces with 104 rims for small, medium and large bore horns. I noticed that I had to pull the tuning slide about 2 - 2.5 inches on all horns.

Last year I started playing bass using a DE 108 rim. Now my other horns are about 40 cents sharp, which is no longer tunable (3-4 inches). The othwr part of the problem is that I"m not making stellar progress as a bass player.

I don't think the intonation is a hardware problem because it affects multiple horns.

Is it possible that practicing bass is making my tenor chops play that sharp? Is there something short of selling my bass I can do to recover my tenor chops? Any idea what else it might be?
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« Reply #1 on: Apr 16, 2017, 01:04PM »

Go have a lesson with a good trombone teacher!
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 16, 2017, 01:09PM »

Regular lessons with someone will help - I know Doug is in VA/DC, maybe it's worth it to visit him a few times a month for a while.

From my experience and the advice of folks I respect who I have asked of this, being in tune means constant adjustment - no one is ever just "in tune" all the time. The best players are alway listening for where they are.  I have always found intonation to be directly related to listening and how I'm hearing the group.  Can I hear the bass?  Am I out of tune with a sax player - is he/she in tune with the bass?

When you're out of tune, are you noticing it in an ensemble setting or when you're practicing on your own?  Do you play with drones on each horn?  I put on a tanpura drone and will switch from horn to horn playing the same scale.  It really shows where my tendencies are on each horn.  
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hyperbolica
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« Reply #3 on: Apr 16, 2017, 01:13PM »

Go have a lesson with a good trombone teacher!


Yeah, well, that's the next step if I can't correct this on my own (with a little help from y'all). I've had infrequent lessons with Doug and a local professor.

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From my experience and the advice of folks I respect who I have asked of this, being in tune means constant adjustment - no one is ever just "in tune" all the time.

This was kind of alarming because I was almost a quarter tone sharp with all the slides closed. You can't bring that back in tune with the tuning slide alone. Fortunately I caught it at home with a tuner. I've recently been playing only the bass on gigs.

I have a tendency to play sharp even on the bass (tuning pulled out almost 2"), but it seems to have suddenly affected my tenor playing adversely.
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« Reply #4 on: Apr 29, 2017, 10:18PM »

How's it going with this?  Find any solutions?  Curious to hear how it went. 
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Andrew Meronek

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« Reply #5 on: Apr 30, 2017, 06:37AM »

I've noticed that for some people, having a particular combination of leadpipe and mouthpiece can throw a horn out of tune. I don't know why, and that's not one of the effects I've noticed in my playing on different equipment. I have seen it in a few others, though - even with a very accomplished trombonist.
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hyperbolica
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« Reply #6 on: Apr 30, 2017, 07:08AM »

How's it going with this?  Find any solutions?  Curious to hear how it went. 

I think my initial panic was caused by a horn that appears to have been cut an inch or two. I'm taking some time off bass playing to get my tenor chops back where they belong. I'm also getting a dual bore bass ready to play.

One indication is that my non-musical wife always mixes up the sound of my bass with the sound of my euphonium. So it seems I'm getting too open a sound on bass. Im playing a Kanstul 1662i with a DE 104J8. I'd like to try an Olds P24-G, but I'm having trouble finding one for sale. I've got a 547/562 dual bore 70h that I'm having a plug in valve made for. Before that gets out of the shop, I plan to schedule a lesson with Doug.

So no, I haven't got an answer yet. I'm getting back to baseline on tenor, setting aside the cut horn that caused the initial panic, setting aside the bass, and scheduling a lesson.

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I've noticed that for some people, having a particular combination of leadpipe and mouthpiece can throw a horn out of tune. I don't know why, and that's not one of the effects I've noticed in my playing on different equipment. I have seen it in a few others, though - even with a very accomplished trombonist


My sharp intonation issues are across all my horns, so looks like a chop problem to me.
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Andrew Meronek

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« Reply #7 on: Apr 30, 2017, 07:42AM »

My sharp intonation issues are across all my horns, so looks like a chop problem to me.

You described switching mouthpieces, plural. On all your horns?


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« Reply #8 on: Apr 30, 2017, 08:35AM »

Playing that sharp is usually caused by a lot of unneeded tension in the face. Also, in my experience, from players who have an embouchure that sits too high in the rim (ie, mostly lower lip in the rim).

There is a partial solution -- the handslide.
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 03:27PM »

Hi,

I play tuba, tenor and bass trombone.  Tuba is my primary but I'm spending more time on the tenor now that I'm in a big band and playing regularly.  Intonation on slide positions can vary by trombone but a closed tuning slide with the horn being sharp definitely is not unusual.  If I put my tuning slide all the way in I would be significantly sharp.  You mentioned that the horn had been cut and that may well have been the issue.  I'm amazed how intonation is so much more difficult in the higher register on the trombone.  I really have to think more about what I'm hearing and less about the slide position and adjust naturally.  I hope you are getting it figured out!  Best wishes.
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2017, 02:58AM »

Playing that sharp is usually caused by a lot of unneeded tension in the face. Also, in my experience, from players who have an embouchure that sits too high in the rim (ie, mostly lower lip in the rim).

There is a partial solution -- the handslide.

Yes, since it is not a hardware problem it must be you. Most likely a tension problem. It could also be an ususlly small mouthcavity, but if the problem is new it is not likely. What mpc did you use before the switch? Have you started any new ways of practicing?

About "to high in the rim" we have exemples of players with mostly low lip in the area that plays very good.
Maybe there some players who play more "normal" who could play better with another mpc placement?

I will discouse the OP:s mpc placement, but I do think there is a tension problem.
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2017, 05:44AM »

Yes, since it is not a hardware problem it must be you. Most likely a tension problem. It could also be an ususlly small mouthcavity, but if the problem is new it is not likely. What mpc did you use before the switch? Have you started any new ways of practicing?

About "to high in the rim" we have exemples of players with mostly low lip in the area that plays very good.
Maybe there some players who play more "normal" who could play better with another mpc placement?

I will discouse the OP:s mpc placement, but I do think there is a tension problem.

I have mostly upper lip in the mouthpiece. The intonation problem has been there since I started playing again 3.5 years ago. I've been using DE XT104, except on bass where I use 108 or a Ferguson V.

I have a hunch its in my buzz or oral cavity somehow. I have a hard time buzzing low, and on bass the low range has taken more work than it should have. Before I stopped playing for 10 years I didn't have a problem with the low range. I may also be overcompensating with tongue/jaw position. Also, I tend to crack low notes where you might think that would be easy to avoid.

I had a lesson scheduled, but it got canceled and not rescheduled yet.
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2017, 07:21AM »

I recently had an issue with a very sharp Schmelzer I was thinking of buying. The hive mind here had a ton of suggestions, but the best came from Doug. He suggested never coming in to a 'hard' first position when tuning, kind of like just touching the springs on an 88h.  It worked quite well to tame the seriously sharp Schmelzer. I have since switched to this for any horn I play and the results are great. I get to play the tuning slides shorter and have the added advantage of tuning all my first position notes perfectly.
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hyperbolica
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2017, 10:46AM »

I recently had an issue with a very sharp Schmelzer I was thinking of buying. The hive mind here had a ton of suggestions, but the best came from Doug. He suggested never coming in to a 'hard' first position when tuning, kind of like just touching the springs on an 88h.  It worked quite well to tame the seriously sharp Schmelzer. I have since switched to this for any horn I play and the results are great. I get to play the tuning slides shorter and have the added advantage of tuning all my first position notes perfectly.

Yeah, that's good advice. I play that way, just slightly off the bumpers, probably 1/2-3/4 inch. On all horns. Keeps things consistent. Consistently sharp in my case.
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2017, 06:30AM »

Yeah, that's good advice. I play that way, just slightly off the bumpers, probably 1/2-3/4 inch. On all horns. Keeps things consistent. Consistently sharp in my case.

PLaying off-the-bumpers is i.m.h.o the only and best way to tune my trombone. It makes 1st position adjustable upwards in pitch, makes a slide vibrato on 1st position possible, and prevents bumping the slide into my teeth.

I go as far as removing all slide springs from my German trombones, as they prevent me from upwards intonation without pressure increase.

I also seldom bother tuning my trombone tuning slide before playing in an ensemble. I strive to play in-tune, and when/if I find my first position wanders too much off the spot where I want it (or my 6th position too far out), then I adjust with the tuning slide.

Our brass band conductor gives me the long eye when every valve instrument player spends time tuning, and I don't, but never complains about my intonation when playing, on the other hand.

One of my mates uses much time tuning his instrument to the bumpers and plays after that consequently flat on many of his 1st positions.

I don't consider this practice as tuning sharp. I consider it as playing in-tune with room to adjust to the sharp side.
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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2017, 09:56AM »

I've been advocating that way of tuning for years now and got made fun of by Alessi when I asked him about it ..

 :cry:
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« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2017, 10:22AM »

Like a lot of people who grew up with springs in the slide, I got started early tuning out from dead closed slide. I removed the springs my second year of music school. I like to keep that distance more or less consistent rather than variable for several reasons. First, muscle memory. That helps you play closer to in-tune without hearing the note first. Second, my arms aren't that long, and 7th position already starts affecting my embouchure. The further out that goes the worse it gets. Third, tuning to the same slide position requires less concentration while playing. If I have to think "standard 3rd position plus 15 cents", that is a variable distance for each position, plus you have the added factor of different tuning for different partials.

Sometimes we've all had to play without tuning, or adjust the tuning on the fly, so tuning at the slide is a necessary skill. But using it as standard practice I think is an unnecessary added complication. Its understandable that Alessi would disavow it, especially in front of an impressionable audience.

I don't use much slide vibrato, but when I have to use it in first, I just use an alternate position.

I didn't start this thread to talk about the obvious best practice of tuning out from fully closed slide, or the personal quirk of pretending for some reason that the tuning slide doesn't exist. Theres something I'm doing that causes me to play any horn sharp. I'd like to fix that.
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Andrew Meronek

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« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2017, 10:45AM »

Have you read the Tom Bones Malone interview which includes a question on instrument doubling?

http://trombone.org/articles/library/viewarticles.asp?ArtID=47
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hyperbolica
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« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2017, 11:30AM »

Have you read the Tom Bones Malone interview which includes a question on instrument doubling?

http://trombone.org/articles/library/viewarticles.asp?ArtID=47

Thanks for the link. Damn, he's intense. Maybe I'd be better off selling my trombones. Great interview. Tons of great advice. Kind of depressing at the same time, knowing I never really had a chance to get anywhere near that level.
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hyperbolica
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« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2017, 05:48PM »

In the way of an update, I've kind of given up on the intonation issue for now. I can play in tune, and any chop problems I have are not my biggest problems. Plus, just for fun, I plugged a 1 1/4 into the Kanstul bass, and it instantly sounded better. It has taken over a year to develop some bass chops, but I think it's starting to happen. Low Cs and Bs sound much better and I can pop pedals in time. Everything has more of a presence and a developed sounding sound. I had been avoiding bigger mouthpieces, but thats what it took in this case. Intonation is the same as it was, but the low range sounds good, and I think I'm more efficient with my air. All that practice had to pay off at some point.
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