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An interesting thought on tone

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Vosk, Mar 25, 2006.

  1. http://www.saxmusicplus.com/articles/issue9.htm

    "Mouthpieces. This is a subject I usually avoid because to be brutally honest, I don't know much about them. (Are they hoots of derisive laughter I can hear?) When my colleagues strike up conversations on the subject of tone chamber dimensions and baffles, (I'm the baffled one!) I quickly steer the subject away to something else. This statement coming from someone who has earned his living playing saxophone and clarinet for over thirty years must seem a little strange. (Yes it's definitely laughter I can hear). How then can I have played such a long time without delving into the black art of mouthpiece secrets? Well, the answer is - I don't really need to.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not still playing the cheap plastic mouthpiece, thrown in as part of the deal when I bought my first sax. However, what I have done, is searched around over the years and found the mouthpieces that work for me on each saxophone and, most importantly in my view, stuck with them. I'm not advocating the idea of never changing - I do from time to time - just don't change for the sake of it.

    I'm a great believer in the power of the mind. The sound we want is in our mind. I've known experienced players who constantly changed their set ups, and spent a fortune in the process. And guess what. They ended up sounding much the same as they always had done. Why? Because whether they realized it or not, they had a sound in their head. A less experienced player doing the same thing would, very likely, end up completely confused.

    I have used three tenor mouthpieces over the years. A metal Berg Larsen (excellent) a metal Lawton 8 star (excellent but difficult to control) and my current metal Otto Link Super Tone Master. This is brilliant. Why? Flexibility and warm character. I can play any style of music on it. I doubt I'll be making any more changes.

    On Alto I've only ever seriously used two mouthpieces. A metal Dukoff (excellent, loud, but difficult to control) and an old Selmer E which is fantastic. I've used it for years. Again, very flexible.

    Soprano? Only two. A Selmer E and a metal version. I only play the metal one these days.

    Pupils often ask "which mouthpiece shall I buy"? If they are beginners I usually advise them to invest in something decent. Whatever they buy, it should not have too wide a tip opening. Something that blows freely with soft to medium strength reeds. The middle of the road approach is best to start with. After that, I advise them to listen to as many players as possible. Their own sound will develop in their head. That sound will eventually be transferred to their horn. Then they can experiment. Finding what suits and not changing too often is the way. All great players have a sound of their own. Whatever instrument or setup they use, they sound themselves. They can't help it. It's in their head."

    Substitue mouthpiece for amp/preamp/bass/eq/scale length/pickups. I think you guys will be able to interpret it. What are your thoughts?
  2. It's more of the bass that feels the best. The preamp that has the easiest controls to sound the way you want. The amp that puts it to the correct volumes. The EQ that fits the room. The pickups that deliver what needs to be delivered without compromising the tone. etc, everything is a preference to make us feel better while playing. Maybe all you need is a 600 dollar used ampeg 810, but maybe you want that shroeder 410 because it does the same job better, lighter, and easier.

    ps-I'm REALLY freakin' drunk right now, help!
  3. Grove


    Mar 18, 2006
    Washington DC Area
    Tone seems to be what it is about. I know that as a trumpet player I was revered for my tone though my musicianship waned to others- yet I was favored for lead. On alto it is a bit more difficult. First with sax one has to yield to an embouchure that is constantly in flux and may be the reason for setupo changes. I have too seen people whom to me sound the same though they constantly change mouthpieces. I think it is a compromise by changing mouthpieces with sax players to help adjust to the emouchure constantly in flux. The trumpet forces you to relax and mentally prepare for your tone because there a more drastic affect with changing rim sizes. This has helped me to develop tone with the alto but I understand and empathize with sax players with a lot of mouthpieces. Many of these players play long hours and it may be a needed break to play with differentreeds and mothpieces. But if it is cutting into practice time there may be a problem.
  4. Grove


    Mar 18, 2006
    Washington DC Area
    With bass and guitar it is more constant. One gets the axe, strings and setup including the amplifier and adjust to a tone. Then it can become the same problem with wind instruments but more contollable on maintaining the tone. How one attacks the neck and the struming or bowing of the instrument certainly has an affect on tone. My God! I spent years on the violin to the point that I realized that it was vibrato I was lacking for the resonation of the tone. I never got the vibrato down and took a long awaited TKO.

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