The Fork F♯ (F sharp) on Saxophone is an alternate way of fingering the high F♯ on saxophone. It can really speed up your fingerings and technique moving between high A and F♯, C♯ and F♯ as well as F and F♯.
The Front F♯ (aka “Fork F♯”) is most useful when playing certain note combinations on your saxophone.
I always teach my students the regular high F# fingering first, as it flows naturally when moving chromatically from high D#, E, and E# up to F# using the palm keys in your left hand on the side of the sax.
Differences between Front F♯ and regular High F♯ on Saxophone
Both fingerings let you play the same note, the high F♯. Based on my experience, it's easier to maintain an open and full sound with the Fork F♯ compared to the standard high F# fingering on saxophone.
However, you can achieve the same “openness” in your sound with a bit of practice. It ultimately comes down to two things: Your Embouchure and mindset.
How to play Fork F♯ on saxophone (Front F♯)
First, the embouchure (“The way you form your lips around the mouthpiece and position it in your mouth”) is important as it forms your saxophone sound.
Secondly, it's common for saxophone beginners to increase the pressure on the mouthpiece when you play in the upper register. That's what causes the tone to become thin and fragile.
In contrast, you should maintain an open throat and use a steady airstream and support throughout the entire range of the saxophone.
This does take some time to get used to as it is a bit counterintuitive to what you “think” you should be doing. So, by changing your mindset about how you play high notes on saxophone, including the Fork F#, will actually improve your overall sound.
The Fork F# Sax Fingering (Front F#)
The way you finger Fork F# is pretty simple. You only need two fingers on the front and the octave key on the back. It's played like a high C with the Fork F key added on the front.
Here's an easy way to find the Front F# on your Saxophone:
- Finger a high C on your sax using the octave key on the back
- Add the F Front key (“Fork F Key”) that's directly above the B key on your sax
- Add the 1st side key with the side of your right hand. Thats it.
(*1st side key in right hand is the lowest of the three keys you see on the side of your saxophone)
This F♯ fingering makes it easy doing jumps between several notes targeting that high F sharp.
Rock Sax Sound using the Front F♯ fingering
I've also found that using the Fork F♯ fingering makes it easier to get more of a Rock sound in your saxophone. It's not the same as growling on saxophone but similar. This is also know as a split tone sound on saxophone.
Practicing Front F# arpeggios on saxophone
To get comfortable playing Front F# in different combinations, I recommend that you practice arpeggios incorporating the Fork F#.
Here's an example for doing arpeggios over an F# Major Chord on Saxophone:
Starting from Low F# › A# › Middle C# › Middle F# › High A# › High C# › High F# (Fork F# fingering)
Make sure to practice this slowly to get familiar with the alternate Fork fingering as well as listening to the intonation of each note to make sure you are playing in tune.
The arpeggio exercises are great both for developing your saxophone technique and musical understanding. So, if you are not already practicing arpeggios, I recommend that you make it part of your practice routine.
It will make a huge difference as you progress to learn more chord arpeggio variations on your saxophone.
Learning Fork F♯ on Saxophone is really useful. However, it will not replace the importance of learning all the basic saxophone fingerings.
In some musical situations the Front F♯ will make it much easier to make a passage or jump between notes like High A to High F♯ and High C to High F♯.
You should look at Fork F♯ as yet another fingering to put in your musical toolbox that will help you become a more complete saxophone player.
Want to learn all the Saxophone fingerings?
Great! Make sure to download the free Saxophone fingering chart PDF to keep as a reference when you practice your saxophone.