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Mouthpiece for Busking

Rico Vandoren

Member
Messages
141
First off- Merry Christmas to one and all!

I'm determined to have a go at busking in the New Year. I will be doing it on my Yani 901 alto and playing to a backing track accompaniment. I use a Meyer 6M, and I'm wondering if it will be a bit too ' mild mannered ' to take onto the High Street. Should I be looking for something that will make itself heard better outdoors? Is that even a consideration when playing outdoors?

I've looked at as many old busking posts as I can find on the forum, but if anyone who has done it has any tips or advice, I'd be grateful.

Thanks.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
A different mouthpiece may not make all that much difference out in the open because there are so many other sounds involved. Some buskers use amplification, often set on "very loud", which for passers-by can be an incentive to avoid that side of the street altogether. Why don't you simply do one session and see how you go? Bear in mind also that your listeners are within earshot for a few seconds only (few stop to listen), and they decide within that time whether to favour you with a coin if your sound is pleasing enough. Have fun.
 

AndyG

Member
Messages
324
Hi Rico

I've always used my usual mouthpiece when busking, you will be heard no problem, especially with the sound bouncing off the surrounding buildings.
You will love it, so get out there.
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,581
Yup I agree with Andy & Beckmesser,

However if you want more volume metal mouthpieces are better, brighter & more piercing if that's what you want.

Tho as has been said...if your sounds pleasing that's what you want!

Good luck.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,793
Berg Larsen, Dukoffs ... mouthpieces are more "piercing" mouthpieces. But I guess you're playing into a microphone - amplifier, so I think it doesen't matter. Play on your Meyer mpc.

Thomas
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Subscriber
Messages
8,890
I think buskers using backing tracks is 'cheating' as it is can be used as a cover for their incompetence.
As for amplification I find it annoying to have someone inflicting an unwelcome noise so far away you can't see them.
Whereas if it appears the busker is playing almost for their own pleasure it is likely to be far more entertaining.
 

dubrosa22

Senior Member
Messages
413
I play pretty loud and with a Berg Larsen but for the life of me I can't imagine why a busker on the street playing a sax would need an amplifier?!
:headscratch:

You're not on stage - you're including yourself into people's public lives in neighbourhoods where people live, sleep and work. Buskers shouldn't be heard anymore than half a block away IMO
 
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Rico Vandoren

Member
Messages
141
I think possibly dubrosa22 and Targa have misunderstood. I won't be amplifying the instrument- that's partly why I asked the original question about mouthpieces. I've never done it before, so I don't know what to expect.

If the use of backing tracks is cheating- well, that's one opinion, perhaps a little harsh. I don't mind admitting that I would feel more confident with a track behind me, but I will make mistakes and they will be out there for all to hear. I'm certainly not in a position where I could improvise freestyle in the street- now that would be frightening!

As a professional DJ I'm quite aware of the negative impact of excess noise, and I will be avoiding it at all costs.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,793
I'm a cheater because I use backing tracks and I also blow into a microphone/PA!

If the backing tracks are recorded straight I don't use an amplifier. But sometimes I think I need to balance my sax to the backing tracks.

Here is a sample of "busking" that took place some years ago outside a theatre were we did a gig. No backing tracks, no charts ,,, but the sax played into a clip-on mic and a small PA. Not much volume just a little reverb. It came out better that way. It's my friend who is playing. He is a far better player than me.
http://s297.photobucket.com/albums/mm201/thomsax/?action=view&current=chickenshack.mp4

Thomas
 

littleplum

Member
Messages
441
I started busking this July and I use an amp just to play my backing tracks through. Backing tracks help to give a complete performance and can allow a few seconds respite to your lip, allowing for a longer session.
Have some business cards made p as you may get asked to do other gigs, I have.
I think your pitch is very important acoustically, somewhere where the space is not too big so that your sound actually bounces off opposite walls so you can hear it too.
Don't start a competition with other buskers, just move to another pitch, you can end up wasting a lot of time and energy and not enjoy the experience or make any money at it.
Regarding your mouthpiece I think the Meyer should be fine, just make sure you have a couple of good reeds rather than try to blow a new one in on the street.
You will meet some really nice people and occasionally a plonker, but by and large its great fun and I am going again on Tuesday, just check your councils policy on licenses before you go.
Its great fun and I thoroughly recommend it, you will improve your playing so much because you realise that you can actually relax even with a busy street of people in front of you.
Enjoy
Dave
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
I busk on a regular basis and love it. Firstly I always use backing tracks played at a comfortable volume and I just noodle over the top of them, keeping fairly well to the melody of the tune to keep it recognisable. I don't use a mic as there's no need in my opinion. I think you'll find that the natural acoustics on the street are excellent. As others have said, your only playing to those in your immediate vicinity.
As for mouthpiece choice, stick with what your used to. Believe me, people love mellow. I've had loads of people coming up to me and saying how nice and relaxed my playing is and I'm using a Runyon Quantum 10. As Littleplum said, make sure you check up on your councils regulations for street entertainers. In my experience, most councils just give you verbal permission. Some however will require you to book your slot, and some only allow busking in certain spots. You may be expected to move every so often. This is to prevent the shop keepers getting fed up with you.
If there are other buskers around then it's an unwritten rule not to play within earshot of each other. Some buskers don't follow these rules so beware. Most buskers are pleasant enough, but there are some nasty types too. Without stereotyping, the nasty ones tend to look dirty and have dogs and blankets!
There are some downsides to busking, but not many. I think I've only had one bad experience and that was with the doggy blanket type. The good experiences far out weigh the bad.
I've got about an hours worth of tracks that I play too from Love on the rocks, To make you feel my love, What a difference a day makes, Tears in Heaven and many more. I tend to do between two and three hours and have made some great money.
Play tunes that people will recognise, it's no good playing obscure material. There's no bigger compliment than hearing someone whistling one of the tunes that you've just been playing.
This isn't a brilliant quality video, but it'll give you an idea of volumes.
 
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old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Instead of backing tracks, what is wrong with a traditional one-man-band set up?
 

littleplum

Member
Messages
441
My theory is, you would expect to see a sax player and his band at a gig so why give any less when you are busking? backing tracks help give the complete sound that people know.

regards
Dave
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
In response tothe original question about a louder mouthpiece a rico graftonite C5 or metalite M5/M7 would be a really cheap alternative to try (between £13 - £23 at www.rapidreeds.com).

Metal is not brighter and louder per se - it all depends on the inner workings of the mouthpiece - high baffle/small chamber and such-like.

Hope you are having a good Christmas!
Tom
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
Metal is not brighter and louder per se - it all depends on the inner workings of the mouthpiece - high baffle/small chamber and such-like.
Absolutely spot on. Material makes no difference, it's the design which makes a mouthpiece brighter or louder. It may well be the case that lots of brighter sounding mouthpieces are made out of metal, but hey're brigh and loud because they were designed to be so, not because they are made of metal.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,619
Without stereotyping, the nasty ones tend to look dirty and have dogs and blankets!
..or, in my experience, pan pipes, ethnic shawls and big PAs...
Top busking tip- put your 'hat' about 6' away from you- the psychology of folks donating money is critical- don't put it in too close or they'll have to invade your space to give- too far away and it either doesn't register as yours and might also be at risk.....
 
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thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,793
Absolutely spot on. Material makes no difference, it's the design which makes a mouthpiece brighter or louder. It may well be the case that lots of brighter sounding mouthpieces are made out of metal, but hey're brigh and loud because they were designed to be so, not because they are made of metal.

Right! I did a test with a decibel meter (hand type ) the other year with four differnt Dukoffs (metal – silverite) mouthpieces: LD 10, D 8, X 8 and S 8. I used the same reed and strenght on all mouthpices: LaVoz MH. The loudest mpc was the LD10 (no baffle, c 0.135” tip opening). That mouthpiece is announced as ”warm”, ”mainstream”, ”dark” ….. . So the loudest mpc is with big chamber, no baffle and big tip opening? A traditional classic mouthpiece?

Most important when we are talking about to play loud is you - the saxplayer! If you want to be loud, then you have to play loud. The mouthpiece is not going to do the job for you, it just helps up. The mpc is just an extension of yourself. So practise and do exercises that devolpe you ablity to play loud. And do the exercises outdoors as well. So you’re ready to meet the audience unplugged out in the street.

For you who want to play amplified outdoors it has never been easier. Buy small ”porta-amp” with or without i-phone/i-pod station. The real ”busk-pro” maybe prefer to play without help (a drumbeat, backing tracks). I don’t care how it’s done. Just do it! And have fun.

Thomas

View attachment 1175
 

jazzsaxman

Member
Messages
43
I remember watching a guy busking in Glasgow and he was standing in an archway. The natural acoustics were amazing with a kind of reverb from the arch and buildings. The arch also provided a kind of amplification. I guess the spot you pick will have a great bearing on how loud you sound. Anyway I am sure people will appreciate it and once you have a few sessions under your belt you will be in a better position to decide about whether you need to change anything. Try using a sax reflector if you are out in the open as this will give you a bit of a better feel as to how you sound. Have fun.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
The Golden Arches outside MacDonalds (Have I spelt it correctly? Not that I care.) serve the same purpose. >:)

Shall I send them the penny damages now? :)
 
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