Raw sax sound


New Member
I am trying to achieve the raw gutsy tenor sax sound I hear on fifties rock and roll tracks. I am currently using Jody Jazz 7* which cuts through but doesn't give me enough 'grit'. Can anyone advise please? Thanks


Formerly JayePDX
Yes... I think one needs to do more than just switch up your setup...which may indeed move the overall tonality of the horn in a certain direction, but will not really provide an 'effect' for lack of a better term. I believe what you are trying to get at requires some embouchurial work.

John Laughter

Lucy, yes, check out the "growl" lesson for sure by Pete Thomas;

Which Jody Jazz model are you playing? Would you name a couple of the 50's/60's songs that you like which features that raw gutsy gritty tenor tone?

You probably will not like them but a good responsive plasticover can also help a little. Also as indicated above, experimenting with some embouchure changes might help. Sometimes a baffle will get you in that direction although it is not a must.

Some of the old timers, apart from some wider tips, would tune a just a little sharp and relax the jaw with more lower lip on the reed. There are those who will disagree with it but there are many possibilities and approaches to getting certain tones. Just depends on what works best for you and I am sure that other members will post more suggestions.

I am just glad to see someone asking about the 50's tenor sound!


Well-Known Member
Add some Texas to your sax! The Texas honkers were loud players. Many great Texas sax players in the past. In the 50's they used to play in clubs where they didn't had any microphones/PA and the electric guitarits were usally played with thier amplifiers way up. The Texas born tenor player Wilton Felder: " So if you were playing saxophone to in order to be heard, you got a big steel mouthpiece and a hard reed. And you lerarned to play strong".

I play a Rovner #10 with #4 plasticovers baritone reed. Helps me to get big, fat and piercing tone/sound. I'm not a good player. Just stubborn.

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
It depends a lot about where you’re at with your sound at the moment. I agree with the others that you’ll need to put a lot of air through the horn. An open throat and embouchure. Medium to large tip mouthpiece, Jody 7 fine. A hard reed won’t automatically give you a big sound, in fact it’s more likely to make like difficult and give you a fluffy sound. Learn to control a lesser reed and benefit from a buzzy sound.


Old Indian
Welcome to the Caff Lucyd.
First spend years studying all the Texas tenor players.
Listen here: R & B Saxophone Players

One way to get "grit":
Try playing the upper register on the horn without pressing the octave key.
That way you'll be able to allow some of the lower partials into your notes.

Another box've tricks is "honking" that's part of learning to play the saxophone wrongly.
There are a bunch of "grips" which make 'orrible noises.
First off - Honked G - finger LH: 123 + OK and RH 23 + C that should give the sound of a bull elephant on steroids in full charge.
I've got quite a few of these in stock, if anyone is interested I'll try to write some more down.
Often used alternating between the honk note and the standard note of the same pitch.
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Old Indian
The above was a Honk G. These are honkers that work for me.
They may not work on every horn and every set up.
You may also have to lip 'em a touch if you're picky with intonation.
I normally use them with the Octave Key. Numbers indicate closed keys.
A -> LH: 12 RH: 123
Bb -> LH: 12 RH: 123 + Eb
C -> LH: 23 RH: 12
And an interesting E is to finger a normal E and knuckle the front F key with LH1. The front F simply extra vents it and makes the E more gutsy.
Those are the ones I use most regularly, not playing a lot lately due to health reasons, so I've probably forgotten some.
I know there are lots more but many have such complicated fingerings that imo they're not worth the trouble.
I found it best to learn this kind of stuff one note at a time and put it into practice before going on to the next.


Playing alto 2 ⅓ years
They should work, but they're not as effective on alto. IMO.
Yeah understood, thanks. I did mess with playing the octave without the octave key and that sounds promising. Need to learn more control, but I like the idea.


Playing alto 2 ⅓ years
Anyone else reading this with any extra fingerings that work for you, I'd love to read about it and try them.
Saxholder Pro

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