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Beginner Quality Sound - What Affects it the Most?


What part of the saxophone (other than the player) do you feel affects the quality of sound you get the most?

Reed? Ligature? Mouthpiece? Neck? Body?

I see expensive saxophones, expensive reeds, expensive mouthpieces, etc. Just makes me wonder what really makes the most improvement to the quality of sound you get.



Well Known
Café Supporter
Mouthpiece. Doesn't have to be expensive just a good one(good rails and facing etc)

Looks like we can have a sax trio now then..:sax::sax::sax:


Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Combination of many things, mouthpiece and neck especially but also the pads and resonators will make a difference, for example you can get smooth metal and plastic as well as star shaped resonators, all should produce a bit different sound. Pads, most pads are made of various types of leather/hide, the Jim Schmidt ones on the other hand are impregnated with gold so in theory rather than absorb sound should reflect it to a degree and should therefore produce more overall volume.

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Everything affects the sound by varying degrees.

Once your embouchure is developed the balance between mouthpiece and reed will free things up and let you explore tonal and harmonic colours and be the major influence on your sound.

Different saxophones will offer subtle tonal and harmonic nuances and an expensive ones should be better built and so offer effortless technical capabilities.

All this is personal. If an instrument doesn't fit your hands it's useless no matter what the make,though they can be adapted.

And the search for that mouthpiece and reed combination is like the search for the holy grail. I think we are all using the best one at the moment but are always on the lookout for something better, which may or may not exist.

I'm just getting over the flu and playing again after a layoff of about a week. A couple of hours on alto and my tone was coming back. A couple of days on tenor and it's like the horn on a model T ford. Honk. So much for technology if the biology fails.


Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
I used to put this formula on the chalk board in all my beginning band classes.


The key is in its simplicity. "Setup" means a quality mouthpiece with a reed that matches the tip opening and lay. The auxiliary component is the "concept of sound" which helps to define and identify when a "good tone" is achieved. If any one of the three parts of the formula is lacking it is not possible to produce the desired result. An accomplished player with a good setup can sound great on just about any saxophone that is in good working order. A good player playing on a bad reed and mouthpiece doesn't sound much better than a beginner on the same setup.
All the fuss about ligatures, necks, finishes, resonators, key heights, etc. is way overblown in my opinion, since any perceived effect upon the tone quality is miniscule compared to the three factors in the formula above.
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Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
MP but hey its the player ALL the time.Every note is golden,work at every note when blowing.Use them muscles,body,lungs,mouth and a good pair of ears is a huge thing here.Theres no point having a great mp,reed sax combo if your not putting in great study,playing on your horn.Sax = sound so work at it even a few notes can break hearts in the good way or worse if they sound bad.
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