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What makes your sound?


Senior Member
I've been playing mainly alto for maybe 5 years. I have listened to a lot of music over that time, mainly jazz but also funk, rock, classical, you name it. My sound has seemed (through no conscious effort) to lean towards that kind of Konitz/Desmond kind, with a bit of Cannonball thrown in when I'm in the mood. I recently bought a Philtone Solstice mouthpiece (the "West Coast" one), since that semed to be the way my sound was going anyway. It's a great piece, and it certainly can produce that kind of sound more than my Yani ebonite, which sounds positively classical by comparison. The thing is my sound seems to change from day to day now - it's always a surprise to me what comes out - sometimes dominated by subtone, sometimes quite neutral - and today - to my surprise - really glass-cutting funk kind of sound - I shouldn't complain but it would be nice to be able to control it! I have tried changing reeds, changing mood - I am beginning to suspect it is the way the reed sits on the table - at the same time I bought the Solstice I bought a J Michael lig (skint - seemed like a cheap Rovner copy). I can't see why a different lig would make a difference - read Pete Thomas on the subject - so is it just me? Have thought of buying one of those glass/emery paper sanding kits for reeds - any thoughts?


Wannabe Paul Desmond/Maceo Parker. Confused.


Well-Known Member
Oral cavity? Try shaping your mouth for different vowel sounds --- ""ooh, aah, eeh", etc --- and see if it makes any difference to the sound.

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
As long as the ligature holds the reed securely it's doing the job it's supposed to. Ligatures vary in fit on different mouthpieces, but a fit is a fit regardless of label or price. A cheapy may not last as long and maybe corrode or fall to bits. I don't think this would account for the variety of sounds you're getting.

As well as mouth shape I find the amount of lip in contact with the reed can fine tune the tone. With a new mouthpiece it's more of a conscious effort to get the sound you want. It takes time to develop a subtley new embouchure and for that to imprint on muscle memory. The good news is that all these different tones and sounds are available once you master your new more versatile mouthpiece.


ex Landrover Nut
I've found it's in the head, whjich controls the oral cavity. When I play alto for a while I have to fight to get teh warm earthy sound I want. But it comes and I'm happy. Then I switch to tenor and the tenor sounds so much better then it did before, but after a while I'm back to the same old sound. Seems to be linked to throat/tpongue - I really have to work to get the low notes on sop sounding decent, has the same improving effect on my tenor playing. And I haven't got anywhere near where I want to be with bari, but it's coming. Will be trying BM's suggestions.
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