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Saxophones Looking for that "dark" sound....

SilverSax

New Member
Messages
13
Hi all -
First, my apologies for a thread which has probably been posted many times. I tried searching, but I couldn't find this topic on this site.

The sax which owns me is an alto Custom Z. It plays wonderfully, but not with as dark a tone as I'd like. I really want to sound like Paul Desmond on "Take Five" - you know, that "smoky jazz bar" type of sound.

I began with a Selmer C Star mouthpiece, which sounds really bright, then I moved to a Vandoren AL3 - darker, but not dark enough. I'd love to have your input before I spend another hundred or so dollars.

So tell me - will I ever get the tone I'm looking for just by changing mouthpieces? Or is the Custom Z an instrument that produces bright tones only?
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
when I started out again 5 years ago I started fiddling around with mouthpieces in search of the sound that I was looking for , thought I needed an ebonite low baffle to produce what I called a dark spread (I called it hollow at the time) sound.

Anyway, I tried alls orts of things but at a certain point I discovered that I could make sound dark and spread (by adapting my embouchure) a metal relatively high baffle mouthpiece, a Ponzol M1. At the moment I am happily playing Brancher mouthpieces on alto and tenor, both of which give me a flexible dark and relatively spread (but centred if I want to) sound.

Try to consciously alter your embouchure and learn subtoning with plenty of breath support , I’ve tried both hard and soft reeds and in the end what works for me is a open mouthpiece and a relatively soft reed (as long as you can control it!).


It is a long journey and I am noway near to have completed it. Good luck!
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,950
S'funny. I would have described Paul Desmond's tone as light rather than dark.

Anyway, I can't really help if you think that a Selmer C* is too bright. It fits my definition of dull pretty well.

You could always go for a vintage one. An old Brilhart for instance. You can often find them pretty cheap since no one wants that old dull/dark sound.

Thought of taking up tenor?
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,285
Have you tried Otto Link mouthpieces,they are renowned for being some of the darkest mouthpieces you can buy,but it would be better if you could try a few because they do vary and there are some great ones and some poor ones,but they might give you the sound your after,but milandro is right there are things you can do with your embouchure to help.

Brian
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I like the Brilhart suggestion - lovely sweet tone. Especially the personalines.

The large chamber Morgan I'm playing on alto pretty much fits the bill for me, with a round throat and large tip. Probably so dull that Nick would fall asleep while I playeed my heart out.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,009
By using a slightly stiffer reed and opening the oral cavity one can make just about any mouthpiece sound like Desmond IF you have the concept of sound you want to achieve in your mind.

In this video Don Menza demonstrates that it is not necessarily the equipment that makes the tone quality:

The Importance of Tone.
 

SilverSax

New Member
Messages
13
@ Nick Wyver, I sure have thought about it - I'll get a tenor as soon as I can afford it.
Thanks
 
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Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,950
In this video Don Menza demonstrates that it is not necessarily the equipment that makes the tone quality:

The Importance of Tone.
Cheers. Interesting video. I think it also shows the limitations of just using that approach. Whatever he did, his core sound remained the same. He should have stuck a Dukoff or something on to illustrate the difference.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I think reeds could help get a darker sound, in addition to a change of embouchure. Do you have a bright sax? The mellowest mpc I've played on Alto was a Selmer Super Session, but I can play dark quite easily so agree it is not mainly an equipment issue but more a breath control issue IMHO.

As you are Stateside I will have a look at what mpc's are available, however, and get back to you. If you want to sound like Desmond you could always try a Phil-Tone Solstice mouthpiece, and maybe some soft Alexander DC reeds - 2 strength should do it.http://www.neffmusic.com/blog/2011/09/phil-tone-solstice-alto-saxophone-mouthpiece/
 
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SilverSax

New Member
Messages
13
I think reeds could help get a darker sound, in addition to a change of embouchure. Do you have a bright sax? The mellowest mpc I've played on Alto was a Selmer Super Session, but I can play dark quite easily so agree it is not mainly an equipment issue but more a breath control issue IMHO.

As you are Stateside I will have a look at what mpc's are available, however, and get back to you. If you want to sound like Desmond you could always try a Phil-Tone Solstice mouthpiece, and maybe some soft Alexander DC reeds - 2 strength should do it.http://www.neffmusic.com/blog/2011/09/phil-tone-solstice-alto-saxophone-mouthpiece/
Thanks, Tom. And thanks to all the other suggestions, too. I have never been taught that this might be partially an embouchure issue.
 

Lorraine

Member
Messages
36
Have you tried Otto Link mouthpieces,they are renowned for being some of the darkest mouthpieces you can buy,but it would be better if you could try a few because they do vary and there are some great ones and some poor ones,but they might give you the sound your after,but milandro is right there are things you can do with your embouchure to help.

Brian
I tried an Otto Link 404 5 the other day - and it did sound lovely - and was quite dark - but still not as dark as my S90 (once the green issue had been resolved!;}). That combined with a Vandoren No 2 and the Wetlklang makes for a very dark sound, which I love - not many others do tho.:confused: .
I tried out a few other saxes (Selmer and BH) and mouthpieces, but couldn't get anywhere near the thick warm sound of mine, being a chunky beast has its advantages.... (the sax that is:))))
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
unfortunately there is no univocal definition of any of the terms such as: “ dark, bright, centred or spread “ when applied to sound so we might all mean something slightly different when applying these rather vague definitions.

Anyway, dark, to me, whatever it means to you, can have or not an edge..... so most Otto Links are , yes dark, but dull too and some other dark mouthpieces can have an “ serrated edge” (another such undefinable definition >:)) .

When it comes to that how about a Brillhart Streamline........Ahhhhhhhhh that Stan Gets sound from 1950 to 1954!
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,285
i kind of agree with you about links they can be dull but there are some great ones out there especially vintage if you got the money that is.

Not tried a S90 or for that matter a Brillhart Streamline, i go for a brighter sound with a bit of edge and darken it myself if i have to.
The Getz sound of that era was magic,but there again he could have played a tin whistle and made it sound magic.

Brian
 
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