Saxophone Forum


by General George
(9 posts)
12 years ago

How to get that dark velvet sound

Hell- I am a 67 yr old male who has been playing a tenor sax for only about a year and a half and hasn't quite gotten the sound I think I want. I am playing a Yamaha Model 62ii horm with a Yamaha 4c mouthpiece and have been using Fibracell medium synthetic reeds. I would like to have a more dark/full/velvet sound . I think what I have now is kind of a reedy sharp sound. I've been told a Meyer 5m mouthpiece might be what I am looking for. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used this mouthpiece and their opinion. Also what reeds do you use with it and what do you think of the synthetic reeds.

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  1. by MarkLavelle
    (300 posts)

    12 years ago

    Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

    Greetings! I'm 50 and have been playing tenor since Nov. 2005. I've only tried 1 synthetic reed, but I found it totally unsatisfying. I'm still looking for a reed brand/strength to settle on, but Vandoren Javas in the 2 - 3 range have been working pretty well for me. I've tried 4-5 mouthpieces and I definitely recommend going to something a little more open than the 4C. The Yamaha 5C is a cheap way to do that, and a good step up. If you're willing to take a chance on a bigger change, you should wait for the folks who've been playing a little longer to give their opinions... ;-)

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  2. by syrasax
    (75 posts)

    12 years ago

    Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

    The enternal question on this site: What is your set-up? I have a 62 and have been trying for that Gene Ammons sound which in my opinion is dark and velvety . . . and a little tough on a Yamaha which I consider to be a "bright" sounding horn. Right now I use a Rico Royal Grafonite mouthpiece (A7) with an Eddie Daniels ligature and Vandoren Java reeds. I just switched from the Meyer 5M and a Fibracell reed set up and I like the new set up better for that particular sound. I like the synthetic reeds for reasons other than sound. They're indestructible, you don't worry about a bad reed, they don't warp and you can drop it on and play and don't worry about getting it, and keeping it, wet. Cane reeds still sound better, my opinion. Hope this helps.

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    1. by LukEE2017
      (10 posts)

      12 years ago

      Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

      definately get of the synthetic reeds... Those are what are causing your "reedy sound". Vandoren Java reeds are probably the best right now..

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      1. by connsaxman_jim
        (2336 posts)

        12 years ago

        Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

        For the Yamaha tenor, I would suggest an Otto Link New York model with the larger chamber. They have a warmer, darker sound than most metal pieces, but they still have the sustain and projection that only a metal mouthpiece will give you. The Yamaha YTS 62 series II has the potential of being a great sounding horn with the right set up, but I wouldn't recommend a Fibracell reed or the Yamaha mouthpiece. The Fibracell has a synthetic sound. I would recommend a LaVoz medium. That's what I use. They are similar to the Vandoren Java reeds, only better. They sound fantastic! If you prefer a hard rubber mouthpiece, the Meyer G Series mouthpieces are really nice. They have a larger chamber and are designed to produce a more vintage sound.

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        1. by The Brass Eagle
          (4 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Anybody got any advice for a 13 year old alto player? I also get a "bright" sound, and that is really bothering me... Anyway, my sax is a Yamaha alto, so if anybody has any info, please share!

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        2. by Seano
          (132 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Just keep in mind that the equipment can only take you so far, the amount of time you spend with the horn is what really develops your sound. Just keep practising those long tones, try different reeds and listen to the players you want to sound like. I've heard many players play the ass out of a student yamaha with a 4c mthpiece :-) But don't be afraid to experiment with your setup. Sean

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        3. by GzsKerqt
          (77 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          yes i agree, ur setup can only get u so far.. U need prac and embrochure control. Add more air but same volume will get u a 'heavier' sound

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        4. by General George
          (9 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Will someone please explain what long tones are and how do you go about practiceing them. Thanks

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        5. by definition
          (963 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          for long tones, take a noe, say concert Bb, and hold it at a regular volume as long as you can comforatably. Repeat endlessly, and keep every note sounding the same from start to finish. Do it at different dynamics and what not also

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        6. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          That dark velvet sound comes from the purple velvet that is used to line the cases that those horns were kept in! But I wouldn't go looking for an old case for your new Yamaha. Chances are that whatever case you find, the magic has worn off by now. Perhaps you could find one of those cases that still has the horn in it! Good luck, Jim

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        7. by chiamac
          (586 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          I always used LaVoz reeds (in the blue box) on my 8* link with a old 10M conn... I got a great dark sound (if that's what you're going for). Right now I use a plastic reed, mostly because I don't play enough to get real ones. But yes, they do make the sound bright, they are harder to control, and they mostly aren't great in general, but the do work great just to pick up the horn and play.

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        8. by Stiles B
          (101 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Jim, you jokester! I use a technique called "sub-tone", and although it's kind of hard to describe embouchure technique online, let's have a go. If you have a rather open emboucher and tone such as myself, you probably play with an open throat, which means the chamber in your throat/mouth is large. Try narrowing your wind passage w/o decreasing the amount of air flow you put through the horn. Also try rolling your lower jaw back towards your neck and see what kind of changes in tone you come up with. These are things that work pretty well for me, but we are all different and using different embouchures is the first best way to change your tone. And it doesn't cost you anything. Curious to hear what the other esteemed members have to say. Describing this on-line is TUFF!

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        9. by selmer 4evr
          (309 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Sub tone is easy it is tone without any of the higher partials ,,,,it sounds sort of vah vah vah ,,,almost impossible to tongue and articulate it gets boring after a while plus it develops bad habits ,,your ear gets used to it It has one advantage it is used to see where a horn leaks.

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        10. by General George
          (9 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Yea that conn jim guy is sure funny huh. I bet when he was in high school he was known as the class idiot, oops I ment joker and besides i already tried the velvet case thing and the old velvet kept getting in my mouth. Made the sound smooth but taste terrible.

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        11. by connsaxman_jim
          (2336 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Wow, talk about lacking a sense of humor! And apparently he missed the whole idea behind the joke! Yet, I'm the class idiot? hmm. Well I'm not the 67 year old asking a group of mostly high school saxophone players how to get a good tone out of my sax! I'm here to give advice and occasionally get a laugh here and there! Come on, life is too short not to laugh once in a while! My point is.....VINTAGE! Vintage horns have that dark, velvet, magical sound. There are a number of factors as to why. Maybe the velvet lining in the cases really DOES have something to do with it!(although I doubt it)

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        12. by CountSpatula
          (602 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Haha calm down guys. Plastic reeds...yuck I wont even go there. I play alto but just my opinion java reeds tend to play brighter than the ZZ or classic reeds... Meyers are ok mouthpieces, super session selmers are easy to play on and I like them better. Otto Links have a nice dark tone too. And I'm surprised a 13 year old wants a dark tone. Most kids my age love the bright sound :).

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        13. by GzsKerqt
          (77 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          which is wat age?

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        14. by Mactenor
          (102 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Connsaxman Jim.........idiot?...........if this were even remotely true , I would like to become an idiot effective immediately. I have learned more from this gentleman than I can thank him for...........a class act. Velvet sound ?......vintage Buescher.....Tenney HR Tone Edge mouthpiece......Fancois Louis #2 1/2 reed......close your eyes and and let the sound embrace you. Best Regards Mactenor

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        15. by General George
          (9 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Why do these vintage horns have that smooth velvet sound. If it desirable why have the modern horn makers gotten away from it.

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        16. by Radjammin
          (255 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          It's all about taste, in the end it's just a big brass tube with pretty buttons. One possible difference is the bell diameter, older american horns had a bigger bell then a YTS(Yamaha Tenor Sax) The 62 is gonna pack more punch, and also be a brighter horn. Remember modern horns usuallly play alot of clasical and they reflect that with their design. You really can't ask them to change, their biggest market is school age kids and thier parents. Jim was being a little vauge in his comments but he was tring to tell you that if you got a older horn, a horn designed more with your sound requirments in mind that it would be easier to get that type of sound out of it. But I allways like to give adivce vs. critisism! Critisim is as usefull as listen to a donkey yell at me. Your 62 is a good horn. Above average in my book. If you can aford that horn you really should have a better mouthpiece. All the suggestions are good. To get the velvet tone, I really doubt you will get that from a metal mouthpiece? Try a big chambered Hard Rubber. The sugestions already given are all good. If you care about your tone stop using thouse nasty synthtic reeds. There not great for anything, I would use a worn reed for practicing. Still more responsive. If you can't tell I hate plastic reeds. Worthless other then for marching band. If you are breaking reeds, take better care of them, reed case, mouthpiece cap. And for a strong tone on Tenor, take the long tones advise. Get where noone can hear you and get ready to blow. You want alot of air support on tenor. Not a week girly tone, but a big robust manly tone. When doing thouse Long tones don't forget the tuner!! or piano. Waste of time to just blow them with no tuner near by.

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        17. by Radjammin
          (255 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Oh ya one more thing, if your using 3's use 2.5. Don't go to 3's unless your breath control can do it. No reason to sacrifice overall tone just to sound a little better on the high notes. Big sound!!! most important.

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        18. by General George
          (9 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Thanks Radj. I appreciate that kind of advice. I'm not trying to be a smartass with Jim. I know he knows a lot more than i do about music but a guy has to counterpunch every once in awhile. I think i will go with a Meyer 5m mouthpiece. I already got off the synthetic reeds. When doing the long tones do you stick with the same note doing it over and over or on each blow do you go up or down scale?

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        19. by definition
          (963 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          stick with one note till its strong, then go up chromatically. Take about 10 min of practice time on these for a month or so and you will be fine

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        20. by Radjammin
          (255 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          Well the exersise is for Breath control/pitch control and to hear yourself (color pitch tone) I personally think the meat of the sax is from high B above the staff to low E, last line of staff. Thouse are the notes that are the easiest to keep a large sound behind. They also experience the least ammount of mechanical problems that would impact your tone. (of course problems here can impact your ability to play fast) . Now here is where the piano or tuner is so very important. The idea is to play loud enough to hear yourself very well. Alot of mouthpiece is suggested. Start on High B and work your way down to Low E. Each note should be played long enough that you feel it is very much in tune, based on the Tuner or piano. Don't guess, trust your tuning device. Piano is just as good or better. Piano has the ability of already having a nice round tone. The reason your starting at the top and going down is most player tend to go sharp as they get higher, starting at the top should reduce this habit. Another thing to pay attention to is while your doing this exersice learn about your horn. If a note tends to allways play sharp, remember. If a note is usually flat, remember. Take this time to really learn your horns tendensies. I wouldn't adjust your mouthpice placement between notes, but try to find the mouthpiece placement that gets the most notes in tune. That usually will be a decent amount of mouthpiece in your mouth. What is really telling is that you should have similar mouthpiece placement for low notes and high notes. Extensive adjustments normally points to not enough air support or mechanical problems. Play loud, it will get you used to using alot of air. You should be doing this exercise louder then you normally play. That way when you go to play it won't feel aukward to really fill up the horn. Doing this exersice is really noticiable. Your tone should become fuller thoughout the horn. The high notes should become less clamped off, have the same fatness as lower tones. Your lower tones should have the same exactness in pitch as higher notes do. Velvet good, Wa Wa bad. Sub toning notes is not a good thing. I like everyone else did it for a while, but let me save you the trouble and learn it might sound cool for a while but you have no control or the ability to tounge effectly. You allso will irritate other saxophone players that hate the sub tone sound. It really gets old fast. So enjoy and keep us up to date on your progress... Cheers!

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        21. by johnsonfromwisconsin
          (767 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          -------------------------------------------------------------- for long tones, take a noe, say concert Bb, and hold it at a regular volume as long as you can comforatably. Repeat endlessly, and keep every note sounding the same from start to finish. Do it at different dynamics and what not also ------------------------------------------------------------------------ I'm not so sure that's exactly right. Me, myself, I like holding for awhile, repeating at different dynamic levels, and practice different attacks comming into the notes. I do some interval work too. I also spend some time playing as soft and low as possible. I don't like having to honk those note out.

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        22. by Radjammin
          (255 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          I don't usually like disagreeing with anyone as every quality post is a positive post. Long tones are for tone building, not really attacking or how long you can hold the note, and not at a regular volume. Your playing louder then normal for 2 reasons: to hear yourself to check in tune and for breath control. If you can play a quality note at a louder volume it becomes easier to produce a quality tone at a lower volume. Both of your exercises are usefull, but I would consider them just normal praticing, not really what people refer to as long tone practicing.

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        23. by a.divesta
          (1 post)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          I find it intresting that transcribing is not mentioned anywhere in these posts. If you are want to learn a certain sound why not go directly to the source of that sound. It is hard to have everyone agree on what that sound is, it is different for everyone. So find the player you want to sound like and listen to him non stop. Figure out not only the notes he plays, but also the phrases, articulations, tone quality and intonation. Try different things, but my suggestion is to imitate the sound with the set up you have, get down the general sound concept and then worry about set up. Set up is different for every one. Good luck, it isn't an easy process but why learn from anyone but the best? Aaron

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        24. by SAX52889
          (12 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          First of all i think vintage saxes have darker sounds because of bore sizes. I dont remember where but I heard that vintage saxes were built in the era without many mics, so they were bigger so they could get louder. This makes since for volume and tone. I have an extremely bright jazz mouthpiece but the lower register sounds beautiful. I almost always use subtones when playing. It is real simple for me to control. I found that a softer reed will make subtones easier, and the selmer C* is hard as heck to make subtones on, even tho thats how i learned it. Also, yamaha horns to me have always been real bright. I wish i could get a Mark VI or Reference 54.. I've played a ref and its tone is so much darker/richer and has more body than my cannonball.

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        25. by Saxon
          (100 posts)

          12 years ago

          Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

          My friend had an alto Yamaha with a selmer mpc and got a dark sound. I tried the selmer on my Conn alto and it made no difference. I then got a C melody with old mpce. Bingo! Maybe it's the large chambered mpc but I don't play the alto anymore. The C melody has the sound I want. I use aquilasax reeds number 3.

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      2. by loganbowen35
        (1 post)

        2 weeks ago

        Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

        I have not played the tenor sax in quite a long time but I do play bari sax. If you are wanting a good dark vintage sound I would think of a jody jazz HR mouthpiece you could get one for like 150$, if you want a good classical sound get a Selmer c* they are good but cost about 200$. Also if you get a jody jazz mouthpiece some reeds that work for me are Vandoren green java reeds. good luck. 

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      3. by historicsaxwhisperer
        (252 posts)

        2 weeks ago

        Re: How to get that dark velvet sound

        Wow, you must be pushing 80 now I hope you have found the sound by now.........

        12 year old post.

         

        I know what your looking for, the whisper.

        A softer reed, mouth control. Air flow control.

        Try to whisper the note. Build your diaphram strength.

        Then, once you are getting the sound you are looking for strengthen the reeds up and keep working on that diaphram. Some tunes you will want a full sound. Those Ballads, "the whisper"

         

        DO LONG TONES. Its all about air control.

         

        Dont get too hung up on the mouthpiece. Its you, not the mouthpiece. Yes, there are better choices. I would recommend an Otto Link 5 hard rubber. Older ones are worth their weight in platinum. Find a nice used one on Ebay.

        Good Luck to whoever is looking at 12 year old posts.

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