Beginner Sax Do I NEED a vintage American tenor

eb424

Senior Member
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Afternoon all...further to my last post on vintage or modern...I have a 2010 custom z which really suits the music I ( try to) play...i.e bobby mcgee, obla di obla da and the higher note kind of pop music for want of a better term..I have tried sub toning to little avail on older slowe ballads. My question is do i NEED a vibtage American tenor...you know i do..
 

jazzdoh

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If you are asking whether you need a vintage tenor to subtone then the answer is easy.... No you don't.
Subtoning is a skill you learn and once mastered you could play on any properly setup horn.
 

Jimmymack

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Can’t argue with jazzdoh there. If you’ve got the itch for an old American tenor then go for it, I love them, but you are looking at entering a world of pain.
 

lydian

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In my experience, the effect the horn has on the sound is way down at the bottom of the list. Most of the sound comes from the player, then the mouthpiece/reed, then the neck and finally the horn. If you want a different sound, try to copy those who already have that sound. Then experiment with mouthpieces/reeds. Changing horns will have virtually no effect because you will automatically compensate for the differences and end up sounding essentially the same, whether you intend to or not. Just listen to any great player on several different horns. The differences are miniscule.

As far as subtone goes, with practice you can get a great subtone on any horn.

I've been playing a really long time but have only been on forums like this a very short time. One trend I've noticed in this short time is that beginners love to collect horns far more than they want to practice, refusing to accept the fact that the horn doesn't really matter very much, so long as it's in working order. I know you practice a lot. But to improve, it has to be very focused practice. If you want to improve your subtone, practice subtone A LOT and listen to subtone a lot and experiment with your embouchure a lot. Start on a note you can easily subtone, then slowly work your way down the horn. Repeat until you can't make a mistake.

Example of how the horn makes little difference. Listen to Jay play an American vintage horn vs. French vs. Japanese. Yes, you can hear tiny differences, but there's no way I'd be able to tell which is which just by listening.
 

JayeNM

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I don't subscribe to the notion that the sound of the horn is 65, 75, 85% the player and mouthpiece setup. My drive-by version here:

Horns are built to specific specs. The specs of the body tube, bow, and necktube will give the horn its intrinsic tonality. Over time the old mfr's would tweak these specs and thus the tonality of their products would change. Compare a Chu to a 6M or 10M, for example.

So the piece of hardware in your hands already has a tonality 'built in' to it. A player can massage that tonality this way or that, but the starting point and the 'base' or 'core' tone, so to speak....is always gonna be based on how the horn was designed. And it's always gonna be 'there', built-in.

Thus, a Yama can be pushed in the direction of dark by a player's blowing technique and mouthpiece setup, but it's never gonna sound like a JK or Conn, which are intrinsically darker-toned instruments.
And vice versa....

This can be confirmed simply by trying a bunch of horns using you same mouthpiece setup in the same room...if you have a wide sampling, they will not 'sound the same', because again they aren't designed the same.

View: https://youtu.be/b-Uo8UhIK9M
View: https://youtu.be/ez7jfhbMvH8


I would challenge anyone to listen to these - pretty controlled comparisons: same player, same room, same mouthpiece setup, same recording equipment; the variable is the horn - and conclude 'they all sound the same' (toggle back and forth between several models, and it becomes even more apparent than just watching the vid linearly)...

Yes, you will still 'sound like yourself', but you will sound like yourself on a brighter or darker or reedier or smokier or punchier or smoother horn, so the resulting 'sound' will be different, sometimes significantly. And quite possibly the player may have found the tonality and sound they prefer....

So, @eb424 ...fact is people buy vintage because many believe they simply 'sound better'. I tend to agree with that, if one prefers a darker tone, richer harmonics, more spread.
Within that lies a lot of variety of flavor...some are very focused sounding, some have more edge than others, some sound 'finer' while others more 'balls-out'; some are smoother and smokier-toned.
Then there are signature tonalities of models like the Conn Artist vs. a Comm III or Buescher or Super 20/Zephyr, list goes on...a lot of wonderful variability there.

Generally speaking, for these sonic attributes, people will get a vintage sax. They cannot just 'make' their modern horn 'sound' exactly like one of the above models...

So IF YOU are curious about trying a horn which has that sorta sonic signature, go get one. Why not ? Just find one in play shape, and don't pay over market value. That way if you don't like it, your experiment will not have dinged you badly, monetarily.
 
Last edited:

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Oh, and I agree generally with others....subtoning, if stubborn, may be the result of a leak more than the horn model.

Although, I say that with an asterisk, as different horns possess different blowing responses/characteristics (again, as a result of their design).
 

jazzdoh

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I agree with that sonic qualities of a horn are built-in but the most important aspect of the sound has to come from the player, a beginner will sound like a beginner on a student or pro horn, a pro will sound like a pro on a student or pro horn and a pro can manipulate a sound of a horn in loads of different ways, which is evident in the video of Don Menza giving a tone lesson with a Cannonball saxophone, not linked it because I would have thought most of us have seen it.
Some vintage horns have a great vibe but they do come with some compromises.
 

jbtsax

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Before thinking of buying a saxophone that comes with a subtone "built in", have a look at this: ;) Subtone
 

jonf

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Afternoon all...further to my last post on vintage or modern...I have a 2010 custom z which really suits the music I ( try to) play...i.e bobby mcgee, obla di obla da and the higher note kind of pop music for want of a better term..I have tried sub toning to little avail on older slowe ballads. My question is do i NEED a vibtage American tenor...you know i do..
You can buy one from me for not much money if you want........
 

eb424

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london
If you are asking whether you need a vintage tenor to subtone then the answer is easy.... No you don't.
Subtoning is a skill you learn and once mastered you could play on any properly setup horn.
LoL..I was asking whether even when I can subtone well a yam will sound like a conn on slow ballads..I guess it's gas and sentiment...I play with 2 people one plays the 82z and prefers modern music obviously the 82 fits in a trear...but when I play with my other mate who plays a ref 54 and prefers slower ballady music I can't get the yam to sound right...The sax even come with a c1 neck which is the same as the attelier and meant to be darker..It just doesn't seem to work getting a bright sax to play dark and smokey...
 

Pete Thomas

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I've edited your title to help SEO and people here. :)

You do need a vintage American tenor, keep an eye on the Yard sale because my Martin Committee III will be on there soon.
 

eb424

Senior Member
Messages
2,571
Locality
london
I don't subscribe to the notion that the sound of the horn is 65, 75, 85% the player and mouthpiece setup. My drive-by version here:

Horns are built to specific specs. The specs of the body tube, bow, and necktube will give the horn its intrinsic tonality. Over time the old mfr's would tweak these specs and thus the tonality of their products would change. Compare a Chu to a 6M or 10M, for example.

So the piece of hardware in your hands already has a tonality 'built in' to it. A player can massage that tonality this way or that, but the starting point and the 'base' or 'core' tone, so to speak....is always gonna be based on how the horn was designed. And it's always gonna be 'there', built-in.

Thus, a Yama can be pushed in the direction of dark by a player's blowing technique and mouthpiece setup, but it's never gonna sound like a JK or Conn, which are intrinsically darker-toned instruments.
And vice versa....

This can be confirmed simply by trying a bunch of horns using you same mouthpiece setup in the same room...if you have a wide sampling, they will not 'sound the same', because again they aren't designed the same.

View: https://youtu.be/b-Uo8UhIK9M
View: https://youtu.be/ez7jfhbMvH8


I would challenge anyone to listen to these - pretty controlled comparisons: same player, same room, same mouthpiece setup, same recording equipment; the variable is the horn - and conclude 'they all sound the same' (toggle back and forth between several models, and it becomes even more apparent than just watching the vid linearly)...

Yes, you will still 'sound like yourself', but you will sound like yourself on a brighter or darker or reedier or smokier or punchier or smoother horn, so the resulting 'sound' will be different, sometimes significantly. And quite possibly the player may have found the tonality and sound they prefer....

So, @eb424 ...fact is people buy vintage because many believe they simply 'sound better'. I tend to agree with that, if one prefers a darker tone, richer harmonics, more spread.
Within that lies a lot of variety of flavor...some are very focused sounding, some have more edge than others, some sound 'finer' while others more 'balls-out'; some are smoother and smokier-toned.
Then there are signature tonalities of models like the Conn Artist vs. a Comm III or Buescher or Super 20/Zephyr, list goes on...a lot of wonderful variability there.

Generally speaking, for these sonic attributes, people will get a vintage sax. They cannot just 'make' their modern horn 'sound' exactly like one of the above models...

So IF YOU are curious about trying a horn which has that sorta sonic signature, go get one. Why not ? Just find one in play shape, and don't pay over market value. That way if you don't like it, your experiment will not have dinged you badly, monetarily.
Ahh thank god for that thought I was going mad....Ive had a 10m, big B, true tone and tried a military zephyr I'm 100% sure they all sounded different to the Z. Me and a mate even took a challenge on you tube to blindly name 5 tenors it was fun...I realise that I have a lot of work to do on the sax and have always kept a constant tenor and mucked around a bit with a second..I changed that when I got the z and stupidly sold the 10m to pay for it.. The Z is a great horn but I think I will sell the alto as I don't play it and look out for a NRTH 10m...
 

eb424

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I've edited your title to help SEO and people here. :)

You do need a vintage American tenor, keep an eye on the Yard sale because my Martin Committee III will be on there soon.

Think my series 2 YAS 62 may be as well @Pete Thomas....Sorry I always forget re titles and go inquisative...I shall keep my eyes out....
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
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2,745
Locality
West Midlands
but when I play with my other mate who plays a ref 54 and prefers slower ballady music I can't get the yam to sound right
You need a horn with a ballad button on it, ha ha.
A lot of players will own more than one horn, never owned a 10m, had a 6m but I needed a left hand pinky finger like Arnold Schwarzenegger to get the best out of it so that horn wasn't for me, you really need to try before you buy so that you get what you want.
 

eb424

Senior Member
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Locality
london
Before thinking of buying a saxophone that comes with a subtone "built in", have a look at this: ;) Subtone
Thanks @jbtsax....They sell one with subtone built in...I'll have 2...seriously tho i know i have to work on technique but do think there is something special about vintage saxes...i'm sure they have a different tone not than all modern saxes but specifically the z...
 

nigeld

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If you want a vintage horn and you have the money to buy one then why not?

I have owned some vintage saxophones, but I have ended up with modern ones because I personally find them more comfortable and although I agree that the horn does make a difference to the sound, I think the player and the mouthpiece make a much bigger difference. So I have chosen my horns for comfort and my mouthpieces for sound.

Everyone is different, but personally I have found it too difficult to swap between vintage and modern horns to want to own both. I tried owning a modern and a vintage tenor and quickly gave up - the difference in tone didn’t seem to justify the extra effort in swapping between them.
 

eb424

Senior Member
Messages
2,571
Locality
london
In my experience, the effect the horn has on the sound is way down at the bottom of the list. Most of the sound comes from the player, then the mouthpiece/reed, then the neck and finally the horn. If you want a different sound, try to copy those who already have that sound. Then experiment with mouthpieces/reeds. Changing horns will have virtually no effect because you will automatically compensate for the differences and end up sounding essentially the same, whether you intend to or not. Just listen to any great player on several different horns. The differences are miniscule.

As far as subtone goes, with practice you can get a great subtone on any horn.

I've been playing a really long time but have only been on forums like this a very short time. One trend I've noticed in this short time is that beginners love to collect horns far more than they want to practice, refusing to accept the fact that the horn doesn't really matter very much, so long as it's in working order. I know you practice a lot. But to improve, it has to be very focused practice. If you want to improve your subtone, practice subtone A LOT and listen to subtone a lot and experiment with your embouchure a lot. Start on a note you can easily subtone, then slowly work your way down the horn. Repeat until you can't make a mistake.

Example of how the horn makes little difference. Listen to Jay play an American vintage horn vs. French vs. Japanese. Yes, you can hear tiny differences, but there's no way I'd be able to tell which is which just by listening.
Hi @lydian thanks dont know if i practice a lot play a lot maybe need some structure...
 

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