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Tone Last resort!

mpj.brennan

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I have tried all sort of things to improve my tone, but no matter what I do it sounds dreadful to my ears. Please have a listen to the attached recording which is a solo over "All Of Me" and if you can suggest anything I could do to improve the tone I would be so grateful. I've stripped off the backing track so as not to confuse the issue. (Don't bother commenting on the phrasing - that's another issue!)

http://www.donmouth.co.uk/all_of_me_solo_002.mp3
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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This is one for the teachers, but it might help if you say what your setup is - saxophone, mouthpiece, ligature, reed.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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It's sounds a little like the mic is too far away? I don't think the sound itself is flawed?
 
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mpj.brennan

mpj.brennan

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OK - Yanagisawa AW020, PPT 6*, Rovner platinum ligature, Gonzalez Local 627 2.5
 

jbtsax

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The sound to me is indicative of a reed that is too soft for the mouthpiece. Go up 1/2 strength and take slightly less mouthpiece in the mouth and record yourself again. Once you are blowing against a bit more resistance it will help to give advice on the embouchure and airstream.
 

Pete Effamy

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I also agree that it doesn't sound "bad". You're certainly hitting each note in the middle, referencing the previous one. It sounds like a buzzy sound, perhaps you're just not into a buzzy sound. As you say, articulations will move your whole tonal concept along - everything is just a little one dimensional in delivery.
 
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mpj.brennan

mpj.brennan

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I am a total novice when it comes to recording so I take on board the comments regarding distance from mic and room noise. I was using the laptop built-in mic. New usb mic arriving tomorrow
WRT reed strength - I used Gonzalez 2.75 previously, but they’re no longer available. I dropped down to 2.5 but maybe I should have gone up to 3 - will try that.
WRT articulation - I’m aware that I play legato far too much and need to vary the articulation to add more interest. Will try harder!
Thanks guys, you have been a great help.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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I was using the laptop built-in mic.
That's at least 110% of the sound problem! When you get the mic, experiment with the distance. Built-in mics rarely if ever sound good. They allow the room to shape the sound. Our ears compare thousands of hours of hearing saxophones recorded in expensive studios with engineers. You gotta at least have a real mic :)
 

BigMartin

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Maybe try losing the vibrato when you're working on or assessing your core sound. For me it was just confusing the issue when listening to your recording. In fact, I'd try taking out the music altogether and just record some long notes. once you have a sound you like, try adding the vibrato back in and see if/when it enhances the sound or detracts from it.

As others have said, it doesn't sound bad to me, but if you don't like it, that's what matters.
 

Morph

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It doesn't sound dreadful!

If you're listening to yourself and wanting to improve your tone - it WILL naturally improve as you develop as a player. Our musical and technical abilities improve in conjunction with each other, so improving your scales will improve your sound, improving your ears will improve you sound, articulation will improve it, etc. We often think we can isolate areas but playing the saxophone really one whole.

Anyway, philosophy aside, it's hard to tell without seeing you play but I too suspected maybe a too soft reed (perhaps). It sounds like you're getting some good volume which is great, it doesn't sound stifled.

There are exercises you could try to work on control which might help...I'm sure you're bored of hearing people recommend long tones? But they're brilliant. Practice playing from ppp to fff. Practice playing scales very slowly, taking care of each note. Experimenting with overtones.

Sound development is very subtle, and involves minute changes in tongue position, the throat, the embouchure etc. Often simply HEARING a great saxophone player (i.e. teacher) play in front of you can instantly improve you sound! Bizarre but true I think.

Finally, I don't want to mention gear too much, but you're looking for softer, darker, rounder sound you could try a mouthpiece otto link, or meyer type piece with a low baffle. I'm not too familiar with the PTT, obviously they're very high quality mouthpieces but with the baffle I'd expect it to offer projection, guts, brightness etc. which can take some experience to tame.

Good luck! Let me know if you want me to expand on the exercises....
 
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mpj.brennan

mpj.brennan

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Vibrato! Now that is interesting! What you possibly heard was a touch of unconscious diaphragm vibrato resulting from singing in a choir. I shall have to watch that.
 

Morph

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I find it's easy for vibrato to become automatic, so it's a great thing to bring awareness to. I think vibrato forms one of the most personal aspects of our sound. A common technique in jazz is to only use vibrato at the end of the note. Although I love Coltrane's wide, slow vibrato in the mid 60s...
 

Fraser Jarvis

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Nothing wrong with it squire. Just another case of cringing at your own sound, no one else has a problem with it.
 

Zugzwang

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I’m with @Fraser Jarvis on this: same as listening to one’s speaking voice - the shock is nasty.
The remedy (and I’m talking to myself here) is to record yourself every day until the horrible novelty wears off, and you/we can start to implement some changes… (you are lucky, mpj, you’ll find you sound fine …)
 
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mpj.brennan

mpj.brennan

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Thanks - investment in a new mic and positioning myself better seemed to work.
 
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