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Saxophones Is there a difference or is it all within our selves

Punchysax

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294
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Hitchin
For years I have been reading about set up , brands of horns reeds , mouthpieces , vintage or modern etc equipment I have spent and wasted so much money on buying different equipment here I have my. 2 tenor saxes a 1948 Conn 10m and a Hanson monarch . Both played on a metal Otto link mp 4* tip and rico 2 reed. Ok I’m playing different songs but can you really hear a difference between a vintage great horn and a modern relatively unknown or is it as everyone has been saying We sound like ourself on whatever we play. I’m self taught so no Stan Getz . Your thoughts much appreciated
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Jimmymack

Senior Member
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London
They definitely sound different and from the demos here I would choose the Conn because it has a bit more edge and I would expect that you could get it to kick out a bit, maybe a lot, more. You certainly sound like yourself on both of them and both sound fine. I think the best sax is likely to be the one you are most comfortable with.
 

lydian

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589
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USA
“We sound like ourselves on whatever we play”

Bingo! I don’t understand why most people refuse to believe this until they discover it for themselves. At least my students are quicker to accept it since I can demonstrate on their horn right away. If you don’t have a teacher or peer in your life to prove it to you, it takes a lot of time and money to realize it on your own.

Bottom line, if you want to sound different, change yourself, not your equipment (assuming it’s in good nick to begin with).
 

nigeld

Too many mouthpieces
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I can’t hear much difference. If you had told me that both clips were recorded on the same horn I would have believed you. But if anything, I prefer the Hanson.

This reinforces my belief that one should choose the saxophone that feels nicest rather than for sound. Though of course some second-rate instruments do sound poor.
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
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4,193
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Betelgeuse
“We sound like ourselves on whatever we play”

Bingo! I don’t understand why most people refuse to believe this until they discover it for themselves. At least my students are quicker to accept it since I can demonstrate on their horn right away. If you don’t have a teacher or peer in your life to prove it to you, it takes a lot of time and money to realize it on your own.

Bottom line, if you want to sound different, change yourself, not your equipment (assuming it’s in good nick to begin with).
I couldn't agree more. For various reasons, I have three tenors at the moment and I sound like me on all of them. I can make a bit of a change by swapping mouthpieces, but the saxes all sound much the same. I think musicians generally, and sax players in particular, obsess far too much on their kit.

My take on it all is to buy as good a sax as you can reasonably aford and stick with it. Years ago I had a little windfall, and bought a Yanagisawa T992. It feels fantastic, and the build quality is so high it has needed nothing doing to it since I bought it. It's all the sax I'll ever want. I have no desire for a vintage Selmer, on which I'll still sound just like me but the feel and reliability won't be as good. No desire for an ancient Conn, on which I'll sound like me but the low palm keys will be awkward for my long fingers.

(The three current tenors: The Yanagisawa, a 1970s Buescher Aristocrat, my first sax, which I won't sell as I'm a sentimental old sod. The third is a 1960s King, which was offered to me for a low price by someone who was keen to sell).
 

sax panther

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Both sound nice (but similar) - after listening on some decent headphones though i would lean towards preferring the tone of the Hanson.
 

Jeanette

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I agree that our own sound will come through on any horn and in fact I listened to a recording by @aldevis recently on clarinet.
I've only heard him on sax before but his sound from sax was most definitely there on clarinet.

A good sound too, I guess working on your sound instead of swapping gear is the lesson there.

But trying new gear is fun :)

Jx
 
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Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
At the beginning gear makes very little difference. So long as it's good gear.
As you progress and learn how to push the limits of your gear then the subtle differences will either allow or restrict you being more you.
You're playing very nice horns with a middle of the road set up.
I find reed selection and how to adjust it, to best match it to the mouthpiece in use, has a more noticeable difference than the horn itself
After that, getting to know the idiosyncrasies of each horn takes time. They all have intonation variances that you can fight or exploit to a greater or lesser extent.
Different keys may favour one horn over another.
It's all very subtle.
That being said, that little extra factor may be the ensemble or the venue or the weather.
A good horn is a good horn. Some grab you because of the feel or the name or the vintage or the reputation.
However, till you're pushing the limits you won't find the edge.
 

Colin the Bear

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PS. I'd be aiming at using a 3.5 American cut reed on a link 4*.
But the again, I don't get on with links. ;)
 

Jez Watson

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I’m making an assumption but on that setup I would imagine and from the sound and the way the notes connect that you don’t put a lot of air through the horn, that’s probably mostly because the Reed would collapse if you put a lot of air through, i would consider moving up in Reed strength and putting more air through?
 

MikeMorrell

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FWIW, I don't think that this is a great comparison between different saxes because the tunes are different.
The first recording IMHO sounded relatively 'flat' in terms of dynamics and musicality. The second recording sounded better in terms of dynamics and musicality. Was this due to the sax or due to the fact that you were more expressive on the second tune?

I remember reading somewhere that around 85% of the sax 'tone' is produced by the player (independent of which kit he/she is playing on). Some 5-10% is determined by the mpc/reed and only 5-10% by the sax. Assuming that the sax is 'good enough'. Bottom line: great players can produce a great sound on cheap saxes. Mediocre players have little benefit from better saxes.

I'm still a mediocre player and I've upgraded my 'beginner sax' only once in 25 years. Over the years, I've upgraded my mpc's only to 'alleviate limitations'.

My well-meant suggestion is to spend more time developing your technique and musicality and less time searching for 'kit' that might help you sound better. A great solo on a cheap sax still sounds great!
 

Dr G

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858
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Northern California
You're playing very nice horns with a middle of the road set up.

I respectfully disagree - a Link 4* and #2 reed is a really soft setup. I don’t know that I could get any volume of that setup without it just closing up on me. I use a 6 (0.090”) with a #3 reed on my classical setup.

I find reed selection and how to adjust it, to best match it to the mouthpiece in use, has a more noticeable difference than the horn itself

Oh, very yes!

However, till you're pushing the limits you won't find the edge.

Amen. And it’s not even about edge, but getting a full tone from your horn, and having greater dynamic range.

If your horn sounds too loud in the mix, then turn down the gain until it sounds right with you blowing with greater intensity. You should have the sensation of blowing all the way through the horn, rather than puffing into the tip of the mouthpiece.
 
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Punchysax

Member
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294
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Hitchin
Thank you for the advice , i like a soft reed and even though a narrow tip i dont put too much air through as i love a soft mellow sound on a tenor .
 

Jez Watson

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309
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UK
Thank you for the advice , i like a soft reed and even though a narrow tip i dont put too much air through as i love a soft mellow sound on a tenor .
Have you tried a 2.5 or 3 Reed?
I would imagine that you will have difficulty on the higher notes with that setup?
Many players use bigger setups than that and put more air through the horn and still get a soft mellow sound when they want it
Your setup in my opinion is only going to give you limited options which would be much more noticeable if you were using it in an ensemble where you need more projection and volume, you may not need that?
 

Dr G

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858
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Northern California
Thank you for the advice , i like a soft reed and even though a narrow tip i dont put too much air through as i love a soft mellow sound on a tenor .

Very well. Be aware that playing a moderate setup will not strip your ability to achieve that.

FWIW, I can get a soft mellow sound on a .110/#3 - it’s all in the support and air stream. At your volumes, there is little difference to be heard between horns of various makes. As long as you have a horn relatively free of leaks, you may be able to get what you want.

Regards,
George
 

Jimmymack

Senior Member
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London
The set up you have is fine if it suits you but you asked about the difference between modern and vintage horns and the set up has an effect on that. I would suggest that your set up is unusual for someone playing modern music making it hard to exploit the potential of either horn and it makes it difficult, for me at least, to give an answer that has any value. But I still preferred the Conn.
 

PMason247

Member
Messages
150
Locality
Kent, UK
“We sound like ourselves on whatever we play”

Bingo! I don’t understand why most people refuse to believe this until they discover it for themselves. At least my students are quicker to accept it since I can demonstrate on their horn right away. If you don’t have a teacher or peer in your life to prove it to you, it takes a lot of time and money to realize it on your own.

Bottom line, if you want to sound different, change yourself, not your equipment (assuming it’s in good nick to begin with).
I could not agree more. The sound is in you. You just need to find the kit thats most comfortable. But whatever you play on, you will sound the same. If you don't like your sound the only thing that will fix it is practice. So pick that setup that feels good and get practicing.
 
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