Saxophone Forum


by Benders_Here
(3 posts)
1 year ago

Equipment advice for sound searching

I'm not exactly new to saxophone, but I'm new to the world of non-stock equipment and I'm having a bit of trouble finding the sound I want. I currently have a Yamaha YAS-23 Alto, and I love it to death. With it, I've been using a hard rubber Meyer 6, Vandoren V16 (3 1/2) reeds and a Rovner C1HL ligature. I don't dislike the sound the combination produces, it's just not what I want. I primarily use my Alto for Jazz, and not so much Classical. I'm looking for a tone that's crisp and bright, but also very warm. I also should include that I'm a college student, so I don't really have a big budget. I'm not prepared to get a new saxophone either, so I'm more looking for tips on mouthpiece, reed, or ligature modifications. Thank you!

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  1. by agc8
    (14 posts)

    2 months ago

    Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

    Materials used. I'm guessing most if not all horns are made of brass to some degree (percentages) and then covered either w/ lacquered or plating. Or UL. Or are most starting with simply a steel body?

    Most agree plating does nothing to affect the sound and is just cossmetic. 

    But is there a noticeable difference with a "solid brass" or "solid copper" sax (e.g. Rampone & Cazzani...Antigua Winds' Power Bell line has offers it in 10 different "finishes"...one they call "classic brass body and keys" and another "Vintage Copper body and keys". They do mention when a finish is lacquered or a plating. Does that mean these are also plated finishes but just chose not to say so? Or are they mostly "solid" brass or copper? 

    There doesn't seem to be many makers of horns that say they make "solid brass" or copper horns. The only other one that is making that claim is "Sax Gourmet" (besides Rampone & Cazzani). Are there others we know do make actual brass or copper horns??

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    1. by mijderf
      (149 posts)

      2 months ago

      Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

      If you look brass up, here is what you will find:


      Brass is a metallic alloy that is made of copper and zinc. The proportions of zinc and copper can vary to create different types of brass alloys with varying mechanical and electrical properties.


      In other words, any brass is solid brass.  Marketing people try to use this term to imply that the brass is special, but it really isn't logical.  There are some saxophones that advertise that they are mostly copper, but at best they are copper alloys since copper would be an awfully soft material to use.  After all the copper body would have to hold all the many posts in place, and tone holes that are too soft is not a good thing.  Remember, that the vibrations that cause the sound are in the air stream in the horn, not in the body of the horn.  But a lot of people want to believe that there is something magical in the body material, and they will believe it even when faced with acoustical facts about sound generation and transmission.
      A good rule of thumb is do not believe most advertising copy that you read. 

       

      Here is some good information for you to review on this topic:

       

      https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-material

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      1. by agc8
        (14 posts)

        2 months ago

        Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

        Thanks for the link. 

        Clearly theres TONS of marketing in the horn making biz. Play on words. Though, most companies say their horns are "plated" or lacqureed few will outright claim "solid bronze" or "solid copper". Maybe they mean "higher percentage of copper and a lower perentage of zinc" than usual. :) 


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    2. by historicsaxwhisperer
      (235 posts)

      2 months ago

      Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

      https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/msg/d/buffet-crampon-prestige-s3/6594135520.html

      Here is a wonderful copper horn.

      For Sale here locally in the Cincy area

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  2. by agc8
    (14 posts)

    2 months ago

    Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

    Since brass is an alloy made of copper and zinc. And Bronze is also an alloy made of 12% tin and the rest copper. When a company says they can make a "solid copper" sax...are they? Like Rampone & Cazzani. Could it be made of pure copper and not made into an alloy too for strength...adding a smaller percentage of either zinc or tin...or some other metal? 

    Was talking to one of the people at one of the authorized US R&C dealers. Said the "solid copper" horns are, as I guessed, just closer to being 100% copper. But still an alloy..I guess for the needed strength. As 100% copper might be too soft. 

    It's terrific, I think, R&C can still make their horns 100% from start to finish making  their own parts. And doing their own assempy. Last so long in the business. And offer their horns at a reasonable price.  How they haven't given into economics. Like Selmer has (using the odd Taiwanese parts). 

    Are there any other makers who make 100% of their horns? Or is it only R&C? All other horns are part Taiwanese (perhaps only the Japanese brands?? Or are they using some Taiwanese parts too?).


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  3. by mijderf
    (149 posts)

    1 year ago

    Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

    This is a fairly tough post to reply to because you mention that you want a bright tone, but also very warm.  One thing I recommend is checking out the alto sax mouthpiece reviews from Steve Neff.  One piece that might interest you can be found here:

    http://www.neffmusic.com/blog/2017/01/phil-tone-jz-alto-saxophone-mouthpiece-review/

    Also, if you are looking for better tone, you could consider trying a softer reed, maybe someting like a Rigotti Gold 3 light.  I would work with mouthpieces and reeds first, and hold off on ligatures until after you find a mouthpiece/reed combination that you like.  In general the impact of a ligature is small in comparison.

    Good luck! 

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    1. by Benders_Here
      (3 posts)

      1 year ago

      Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

      Thank you very much! I'll look into his reviews and see if I find something I like. Thanks again for your help!

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      1. by GFC
        (720 posts)

        11 months ago

        Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

        I'd give the ligature a little more priority.  A lot of people discount their importance but I disagree with them.  In my experience "less is more" in terms of contact with the reed to get a free and responsive sound.  Apparently there's some resonance over the table that affects the performance of the reed. For that reason I like the pressure plate type ligs with either rails or forks in contact with the reed.   I once gave a Rovner a try in place of the pressure plate lig on a Link and it sounded dull and constricted in comparison.  

        When I was looking at replacements for a blown out Link lig I was giving serious consideration to the Rico H lig and a Selmer two-screw type lig because they seemed well designed and a less expensive alternative to a good pressure plate lig.  Weinermusic.com has a good selection and good prices.

        Best of luck.

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        1. by Benders_Here
          (3 posts)

          11 months ago

          Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

          Thank you for your help! I'll keep this in consideration while I look into new equipment. I knew the ligature had a large effect on sound, but I wasn't sure how each type of ligature would influence it. I'll look into pressure plate ligatures and see if they fit me better.

          Thanks again,
          David 

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        2. by GFC
          (720 posts)

          11 months ago

          Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

          FWIW, I'm very satisfied with the Francois Louis Ultimate ligature and it's not even in the hoity-toity price range.  There's also a very interesting Bonade "inverted" two-screw type with rails for a little less.

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        3. by bjroosevelt
          (47 posts)

          11 months ago

          Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

          Double on the softer reed recommendation.  It is important for a warm sound.  It is the easiest item to fuss with.  

          I think the ligature idea is good, but it can send you down a long winding path because it completely changes the way that reed vibrates in your mouth.  (You fine lip muscles which are the most difficult to train have to adjust).   My personal experience is that it is far easier to get used to either a different mouthpiece or different reed Than it is to get used to a new ligature.   

          The ligature is going to make your current reed play much differently (harder or softer)...and it is going to take you some time to learn to play your current reed with the new ligature.  If my experience is accurate, the way you play the new ligature over time will change....and so the ligature you select on day one, might sound unexpectedly different on day 35.   This can be a problem if you are trying to watch your budget.

          It my experience that many band teachers tell students to use harder reeds......I think this is because harder reeds squeak less so the rest of the band is not disturbed as much......not because it sounds better.  --  every woodwind in my community band yesterday was playing sharp......probably due to reeds that are too hard.

          My opinion is that I would go to a softer reed first.  If that isn't enough, take the softer reed and go down to a music store and try out a mouthpiece that has a larger tip opening than your current.  Your 'try-out' sound for a new mouthpiece will probably be more reflective of your final sound (after  hours of practice), than the 'try-out' sound on a new ligature would be.

          I'm sure many will disagree with me.........but I'm used to that.
           

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      2. by agc8
        (14 posts)

        2 months ago

        Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

        FInishes. Lacquer vs plating. Lacquering is supposed to limit the sax. How does plating affect the sax's ability? I heard silver plating makes it bright and gold....warmer. Is an unlacquered sax the best way to go for the "best sound quality potentiial"?

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        1. by mijderf
          (149 posts)

          2 months ago

          Re: Equipment advice for sound searching

          I for one, do not buy into the marketing hype behind the materials.  The sound is in he air column, not the body of the sax.  Silver plating is on the order of 12 millionths of an inch thick.    Is that really going to affect the sound?  Mouthpiece, reed and embouchure are far more important than horn material.

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          1. by agc8
            (14 posts)

            2 months ago

            Re: Equipment advice for sound searching



            Original Quote:
            "I for one, do not buy into the marketing hype behind the materials.  The sound is in he air column, not the body of the sax.  Silver plating is on the order of 12 millionths of an inch thick.    Is that really going to affect the sound?  Mouthpiece, reed and embouchure are far more important than horn material.

            That's what I was wondering. All marketing? No audible difference between an unlacquered and lacqureed sax. Or vs a plated version of the same sax? 

            Sure the difference in size of the bell, bore, mouthpiece and even reed are more important and noticeable. 

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