Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / Sanborn sound

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User ID: 1480824
Apr 6th 9:25 AM
Anyone know what mouthpiece setup Dave Sanborn uses? I understand he used to play a Dukoff. I have come close to his sound with a Dukoff 7M, but I would like to get the rest of that buzziness that may be overtones cracking in lots of his notes. It's a cool pop sound.
User ID: 8715613
Apr 6th 9:30 AM
He still plays a Dukoff D8. Used to use LaVoz, but I heard he switched to Vandoran V16 in the last few years. The split tone stuff is done by the player, not the mp.
User ID: 1480824
Apr 6th 11:09 AM
Giles, do you know the technique for that split tone?
User ID: 9600383
Apr 6th 12:08 PM
Steve, Its ALLOT of tricks of the trade. Some in combinations. Singing, or humming , in harmony with the the pitch ... multi phonic fingerings ...overtones ..... again, some of these in combination, and practiced enough to make it all sound effortless and natural. Best to get a book on sax special effect techniques, and dont get discouraged when yours dont saound as effortless as HIS do.
User ID: 7705853
Apr 6th 6:45 PM
sanborns growl is not done by humming.its done by slowing down the airstream and relaxing the emb. pressure until the note splits.this is easy on highf# and altisimo a . the dukoff makes this eaiser as its altisimo performance is top notch
Jody Espina
User ID: 0429484
May 19th 12:45 AM
Steve, The most frequent split tone Sanborn does is on the high F#. For that one try this fingering: 1,3 of the left hand and 1,2 and the Eb of the right hand and the Octave Key. That's B,G,F,E fingers down with the Eb key also down. First play your high F#. The play with a looser grip that lets a lower not come out as if you couldn't hit the high F#. When you get your embouchure in the spot where these two notes meet the note will bust for you. My Mark VI is the same exact vintage as Sanborn's. In fact he's offerd to buy my horn. But anyway bettween my Conn 6M and Buescher Aristocrat the Mark VI works best for me on that particular bust. I get the High A, bust by putting the A and G keys down, playing a high A and then letting the lower note sneak in while still playing the high A.If your having trouble with altissimo, then I recommend Top tones for Saxophone, by Sigurd Rascher, or I hear that Bob Lucky's book on altissimo is very good although I haven't seen that one yet.
User ID: 8185963
May 19th 5:37 AM
jody, thanks for that split tone f sharp trick. my alto is sitting on the stand 5 feet from me but i cant try it yet. its like 6:30 in the morning.!ill give it a go when everyone wakes up
User ID: 9767833
Jun 7th 3:11 AM
Giles, you are right on the money with the reed change he is presently using. Steve, I had a chance to talk to him after a recent concert and he is using a Vandoren V16 #2 1/2. Sanborn is what I consider a true present day soundmaster with awesome ideas. I rank him with the likes of Hank Crawford,Phil Woods, Cannonball Adderley, Johnnie Hodges just to name a few of the greats. He is my favorite of the elite alto group on the scene today (Koz,Boney James,Gerald Albright,Jay Beckenstein, again to name only a few.
User ID: 8666863
Jun 10th 2:14 PM
Yeah respect to Dave
If you see him, tell him I saw him live at Hammersmith odeon, London about 15 years ago, and its still the best concert I've ever seen. I was about 8-10 feet away (al Jarreau appeared half way through, and they brought the house down), and could hear him acoustically, and his sound was awesome. That man can play, take no notice of the people who say he uses effects to get his sound, its for real.
User ID: 8026483
Jun 11th 1:31 PM
Wine, I guess I would have to agree with your assessment.
Mr. K
User ID: 9474683
Jun 11th 2:34 PM
I'm ready to try a Dukoff, but I don't want to be too thin/bright. Yet I still want to get enough of the edge we hear from Sanborn.

I've been blowing a HR Berg 95/2 M. I want to add that lyrical, singing edge to my tone. From bright to dark, I believe, the models go like this: D - M - P. Then, there is an X chamber that's supposed to be as bright as the D with the addition of lots of low end underneath.

As I write this, I'm listening to Sanborn play "Try a Little Tenderness" from the Pearls album. Man, he plays so beautifully, and he's got tone forever. If you haven't heard this cut, go find it or the mp3 right now.
User ID: 1801454
Jun 12th 4:15 AM
That lyrical singing edge you won´t get from a mouthpiece, you get that from years of playing. Some players never get it...
User ID: 9014973
Jun 12th 4:55 AM
Wise words George..
Mr. K
User ID: 9474683
Jun 12th 9:02 AM
George -
I haven't changed mouthpiece brand/material since graduating from music school 31 years ago. I'm just looking to add some spice to what I've already developed.

Sanborn is a favorite of mine. Though I grew up listening to Johnny Hodges, Marshal Royal, Sonny Stitt, etc., on my parents 78 rpm records, those guys never impressed me near as much as Sanborn. Nor did Paul Desmond.

I'd like to hear some cuts by players on this forum, too. I'm sure there are some excellent musicians here.
User ID: 8736803
Jul 6th 4:50 AM
I cant belive you people are compairing dave sanborn to johnny hodges, charlie parker, and some of the greats of the alto sax. He really is a great player but not in their league.
User ID: 9725373
Jul 12th 1:27 AM
Funny you should assess Dave Sanborn's playing that way. He actually has been one of the modern music pioneers in his generation and has probably been most responsible for the contemporary sound of a huge number of today's players. I am sure that the same things you said were also said many years ago about Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt also. Each generation has it's own brilliant creative players and Sanborn is most definately one of ours.
User ID: 8026483
Jul 12th 11:54 AM
I don't think Sanborn would compare himself to any of the old greats. He has gone his own way and created a sound of his own that is very identifiable and pleasing to the ear. We should all be so creative.
User ID: 9063723
Jul 12th 12:17 PM
I second that Steve..... Sanborn, along with the other greats mentioned in the above messages, all distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack by the're very identifiable sound and characteristic style of play.
I don't think you can go any further with comparisons such as what level these players play or played's too subjective IMHO

User ID: 9725373
Jul 12th 12:40 PM
Sanborn by the way is also one of the most humble of celebrity players always taking the time to acknowledge other player and fans. Very deserving of what is being said here about him. On the other hand I have been witness to some fits thrown by one of our infamous elevator music celebrity sax players who is now a millionaire yet cannot even compare with Sanborn's ability and creativity and lastly yes Sanborn most likely would not put himself into the category of the greats mentioned before. Most assuredly though the greats would put him right along side of themselves after hearing what he does and how he has been a major influence.
User ID: 8882983
Jul 12th 2:12 PM
If you have ever read some of the more in depth interviews with David Sanborn, his humbleness really is quite amazing. He never puts himself in the category of his idols and always gives credit to those who influenced his playing, and even is somewhat mystified of why so many players have emulated his sound.
That being said, for Gil Evans to say that he loved having him play in his Big Band for that "Mournful, soulful cry" is quite an endorsement in and of itself.
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