Saxophone Tuner online - how to tune your saxophone - the complete guide

Saxophone Tuner Online

Written by Greger Hillman, Saxophone teacher and music educator

Using a Saxophone Tuner helps you tune up your sax so that you are in tune with other instruments and musicians. Here's a simple tuner that works great for saxophone. Click “standard” and play a note:

There are some benefits of having a physical tuner in your saxophone case so If that is something you are looking for I've put together a list of good Saxophone tuners on to Amazon here.

On the other hand, If you would prefer using an app on your phone instead I also made a list of the best Saxophone Apps here. These are apps I use myself all the time.

Tuning your saxophone

In order to tune your saxophone the right way there are a few things you need to be aware of. These are fundamental to getting the best result tuning your saxophone.

Start by attaching a saxophone to the mouthpiece, securing it with the ligature so that it seals tight and plays (vibrates) freely. 

You need to warm up before tuning the sax as the warm air going through the saxophone will affect the pitch of the instrument. I recommend that you do a proper warmup with long tones and scales before attempting to tune your instrument.

Keeping a good posture while playing your sax also helps (and affects) your tone and tuning. Make sure you sit up (or stand up) with a straight back to let the air flow freely from your lungs into the saxophone mouthpiece.

I teach my students to visualize having a gold medal around their neck. if you won that medal you want to show it off and the best way to do that is by keeping a straight back, slightly pushing your chest forward, so that everyone ca see your medal. Try it out and you'll see it makes a difference to your air support and overall posture.

Make sure to adjust the neck strap on your sax so that you can keep your head straight without bending or tilting it sideways.

You should be able to stand straight up and position the mouthpiece directly into your mouth without having to alter your posture much. If that happens, adjust the neck strap on your saxophone.

Playing with a good embouchure on your saxophone is one of the most important aspects to be able to play in tune on your sax. However, if the other basic points fail (se above) it doesn't matter if you have a perfect embouchure as it all ties in together to get a solid sax sound.

The tuning note on saxophone

You want your saxophone to play in tune, but often it will be either sharp or flat on certain notes. The master tuning of the sax is normally done playing a Concert B Flat on the saxophone.

That' means that:

  • a soprano saxophone plays an C in order to tune with the Concert Pitch Bb
  • an Alto Saxophone plays a G in order to tune with the Concert Pitch Bb
  • a Tenor saxophone plays an C in order to tune with the Concert Pitch Bb
  • a Baritone Saxophone plays an G in order to tune with the Concert Pitch Bb

In other words, if you play a B flat (Bb) on a piano it will be in concert pitch. A Soprano or Tenor sax are transposed Bb instruments and need to play a C note in order to match that Bb concert pitch.

Similar, if you play a B flat (Bb) on a piano it will be in concert pitch. An Alto Sax or Bari sax are transposed Eb instruments and need to play a G note in order to match that Bb concert pitch.

Adjusting the pitch on saxophone

The actual tuning is done by either pushing in or pulling out the mouthpiece on the saxophone neck. These are gentle and small movements that you use to either make the tuning higher (push in the mouthpiece) or lower (pull out the mouthpiece).

You need to play the tuning note on your saxophone and check it against the tuner or a Bb on a piano. That also include listening to your saxophone intonation to make sure that your in tune.

If you are unsure about your saxophone being in tune or not you can pull out the mouthpiece a bit more, so that your tuning is really flat.

From there, make the adjustments to the mouthpiece and keep listening to the Bb on the piano to find out when your tuning note matches what you hear from the piano.

This can take a bit of practice but that's okay. The important thing to remember is to listen when you play to make sure you find the right tuning.

Known issues tuning a saxophone

You need to keep the cork on the saxophone neck greased to maintain it. If the cork dries up you will not be able to get a good seal between the mouthpiece and neck which result in a squeaking saxophone, a sax sound that lack direction and a saxophone that's out of tune.

This is a known issue that can make your saxophone sound suffer and even make the entire saxophone unplayable.

Saxophone Tuner Apps

There are many tuning Apps in the appstore and I've used many of them. I've found that while they all work they are not all equally good for tuning a saxophone.

My recommendation is to look among the top alternatives while staying away from “guitar tuners” as they are focused on guitars. Not always suitable for the saxophone as it has a more round and direct sound in comparison to an electric guitar.

I've found that the InsTuner and ClearTune App are two great options for a Saxophone Tuner.

In Conclusion

Learning how to tune your saxophone is as important as learning the fingering chart. However, this skill can be developed over time and if you play in a band you will notice that it's equal important for all instruments to be in tune.

Saxophone teacher online Greger Hillman

Written by Greger Hillman

Greger Hillman is a saxophone teacher with +36 years of experience playing saxophone. 

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